- A lawsuit filed by a United Airlines Million-Miler will proceed, as a judge threw out United’s request to have it dismissed. Well… parts of the lawsuit were dismissed, but others are still in play. The judge said, “At this stage of the litigation, the court finds it plausible that defendants had a contract with Million Miler members which differed from the contract they had with other Mileage Plus members.” Will Regional Upgrades and 100% bonus miles return?
- In other United news, Seth at Wandering Aramean reports that United will drop a second appetizer choice from existing service on two-cabin international BusinessFirst flights (think legacy Continental). Not a big loss and the single cold appetizer is certainly nothing special. The change takes effect March 1.
- Hyatt Regency will take over and reflag a former downtown Los Angeles Marriott property in May. It marks a return for Hyatt to downtown L.A. after an eight year absence. And in other Marriott news, the chain is adding/reflagging seven hotels in Thailand in the upcoming months.
- A JetBlue flight was diverted because a passenger was miffed that a fellow traveler didn’t pay for the “premium seat” next to her. Apparently, a passenger was moved from his non-premium seat to one next to her due to an inop seatback monitor and she couldn’t handle it. Really people?
- In other bad behavior, American Airlines apologized and refunded Kristen Chenoweth a pet-in-cabin fee after a flight attendant allegedly made a mistake in claiming the actress/singer failed to properly document her pooch. The FA reportedly yelled at Chenoweth causing her to break down in tears.
- Allegiant Air began scheduled Las Vegas-Reno-Las Vegas service today. The twice-weekly service occurs on Fridays and Sundays, and a look at their fares today reveals a decent bargain on many dates for less than $100 round-trip (assuming you don’t assign yourself seats, buy with a credit-card or check bags). I’ve been meaning to try out the likes of Allegiant and Spirit just for the hell of it. Now that I’m Reno-based, I might just have to give the Vegas flight a try.
- And finally, in exciting news to my Amenity Kit Series, Delta Air Lines will begin issuing new BusinessElite amenity kits this month. The new offering will feature a bag by Tumi and skin care products by Malin+Goetz. Sounds (and looks) like an upgrade to me.
Delta BusinessElite Tumi Amenity Kit
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel News: January 31, 2013
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel News: January 30, 2013
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel News: January 29, 2013
In other airline, hotel and travel industry news last week…
- United Airlines will begin new nonstop service from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to San Francisco on August 15. North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue broke the news on Wednesday. United will operate a 154-seat Boeing 737-800 on the route and the flight will be timed to allow for connections to the popular international bank of departures leaving in the 11 o’clock hour from SFO.
- Sacramento International Airport is trying to court Virgin America. The airport received approval from the county to offer VX up to $400,000 to begin flights to Los Angeles. Also in the works for the debt-ridden airport are deals for two new airport hotels by 2014.
- Allegiant Airlines officially announced new service to Hawaii. The airline took delivery of its first Boeing 757s last year that it will use on the route, but they have yet to receive FAA certification. Allegiant plans to operate flights to Honolulu three times weekly from Las Vegas and one flight each week from Fresno. The planned service is scheduled to begin at the end of June.
- Free Wi-Fi will be coming to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in September this year. DFW reached an agreement with AT&T to offer the service in every terminal and passengers will have to view a 30-second commercial for every 40 minutes of network usage.
- The Qantas A380 that suffered an uncontained engine failure near Singapore last year will return to service later this month. Final testing is underway and the total cost of repairs came to about $143 million. The airline claims the entire cost is covered by insurance and represents more than a third of the current $389.9 million list price for a new A380.
- Hilton Hotels & Resorts will be shifting 447 properties up or down a category level on April 30. 330 hotels are going up a level while 117 are being downgraded. The full list of properties affected can be found here.
- Hong Kong International Airport will be getting the world’s first airport IMAX theatre in June. It will replace the former 4D Extreme Screen in Terminal 2 and is located before security. A mix of Hollywood movies and “edutainment” films will air in the 358-seat cinema at a cost of about $20 per ticket.
- Finally, my air-traveling idiot of the week goes to a woman who stripped naked at Denver International Airport on Tuesday. She was apparently smoking inside the terminal and decided to take her clothes off after being asked to put her cigarette out. An airport police spokesman said she wasn’t arrested, but instead taken to a hospital for evaluation.
In other airline, hotel & travel industry news this week…
- Analysts expect United Airlines to place a major aircraft order early next year for as many as 200 narrowbody aircraft, possibly splitting it up between Airbus and Boeing. In a much better financial position for such a large order than American, I would anticipate these new birds would eventually replace the 757 fleet and oldest A319 and A320s. Separately, United’s old world headquarters in Elk Grove Village, IL remains up for sale with no takers for the past two years. One real estate agent claims no corporation wants such a sprawling campus anymore and cites a changing workplace that desires “open, lots of light in a cubed environment.” Actually, that’s exactly what those buildings have. I worked in two of the buildings and while there are offices, the majority of the layout is open & light filled.
- For severe delays, United has historically sent a proactive email with compensation choices, but easyJet in Europe is taking a remarkably different approach. Here, if you’ve paid for the full ‘Flexi fare’ ticket and your flight is delayed more than 15 minutes, you’ll get a free ticket anywhere the carrier flies. Pretty generous, although their route network only goes so far as it’s more of an intra-Europe Southwest-style airline.
- Additional consumer protection rules for airline advertising will begin January 24, 2012 whereby airlines will be required to display advertised prices inclusive of all taxes and fees. Allegiant, Southwest and Spirit challenged the Department of Transportation claiming it would create an undue burden on internal systems and create confusion in the minds of travelers. Their motion for a stay was denied. Also coming in January will be the free 24-hour hold or cancellation policy for carriers who don’t have it today, notification on e-ticket receipts spelling out baggage allowances and fees, and a rule prohibiting post-purchase increases in airfares.
- Good and bad news for Qantas this week. The carrier announced it will begin offering in-flight internet on their flagship Airbus A380 aircraft early next year on a trial basis. Qantas’ former CEO John Borghetti promised onboard Wi-Fi back in 2007 for the superjumbo, which will also include internet and email access via the seat-back screens. For the bad news, Qantas experienced two days of strikes this past week by ground staff forcing them to cancel 30 flights on Tuesday and a few on Friday. Other flights were delayed anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour.
- Delta Air Lines and Virgin Australia’s codeshare agreement has won approval to officially begin selling each other’s flights on a limited amount of routes, extend lounge access to members of both frequent flyer programs and co-locate operations. In Los Angeles, V Australia flights will now arrive and depart from Delta’s Terminal 5 at LAX, which will undergo a renovation during the next several years. Delta is looking to modernize the terminal, lounge and boarding gates and will cover nearly $12 million in costs of the overall $229 million terminal refresh.
- Finally, American keeps losing battles in court with regard to restricting Online Travel Agencies from selling the carriers flight unless they adopt a direct connect system to bypass GDSs. This week an appellate court ruled American must allow Orbitz to sell the carrier’s flight as “Customers searching for travel packages want to book the flights they find.” Separately, a court date has finally been set to hear the arguments between American Airlines and Sabre where the airline alleges the GDS sponsored a boycott of the carrier and other anticompetitive practices. Both sides will present their cases beginning June 13, 2012.