There’s just no escaping April Fools’ Day, especially if you’re engaged in monitoring social media all day. And while I’m not an enormous fan of it, there are some good ones today in the airline and travel world. Here are my favorites:
- Exclusive: Memo Details New United Airlines ‘Super Elite’ Level by Christopher Elliott: Did you hear? United plans a new Global Services Plus level beginning June 1. Members must be addressed as “your highness” or “your royal highness” at all times. United agents are encouraged to call non-Global Services Plus “gate lice” and “kettles” in the presence of this super elite group. And there’s a lot more!
- Doug Parker Decides ‘Small is Beautiful’ – Doesn’t Want AA-US Merger After Livery Concerns by Brett Snyder: “Everyone knows the most important part of any merger is how you paint the airplanes. This one was just too difficult for us to figure out,” sighed Parker, according to Brett’s post. And another possible reason for the merger failing according to one source was, “I mean, would you want to live in Dallas?”
- Yes! I Bought a Bank by TheMrPickles: The one and only himself bought a bank, which offers probably the best and most unique travel loyalty credit card out there. You’ll have absolutely no issues with Vanilla Reloads, points will transfer to other banks’ loyalty programs and SPG and Hyatt will treat you like royalty. And there’s so much more in this rather elaborate post.
- WestJet Announces ‘Furry Family’ Pet Program: As they did last year, Canadian airline WestJet produced a fun video about a new service. This year, they announced the easing of restrictions surrounding “pets” traveling in-cabin. No longer will they have to be in an approved container, instead allowed to roam free in-flight. And by pets, I mean goats, bears, ducks and baby crocodiles. Well done, WestJet, well done!
There are many more out there, including spoofs from Delta, JetBlue, Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic, as well as a couple from fellow BoardingArea bloggers. Do you have a favorite?
Cruel, Yet Hilarious, Airport Prank
The Funniest Thing About United’s Outage Today
April Fools Air New Zealand Style
- At the risk of beating a dead horse, have you heard an announcement is likely this week regarding a possible American-US Airways merger? Board meetings scheduled for today were pushed to Wednesday.
- Delta Air Lines today announced a new expansion of Terminal 4′s Concourse B at JFK that will add 11 more gates. The new project is in addition to the previously announced $1.2 billion redevelopment at Terminal 4 set to open in May.
- JetBlue celebrated its 13th Birthday today. JetBlue inaugurated service between New York’s JFK and Fort Lauderdale with two daily nonstop flights on February 11, 2000. Oddly, there’s no press release for this year’s milestone. But they do have mention of it on their landing page.
- There’s a report surfacing today that an off-duty British Airways crew was in a “drunken rampage”on a Heathrow to Washington D.C. flight last month. According to the article, “Stewards and stewardesses were seen downing bottles of champagne and red wine in front of stunned onlookers in First and Club premium cabins.” British Airways is investigating.
- United Airlines has been fined $130,000 for failing to notify passengers on a Chicago to Tokyo flight they could deplane after repeated mechanical delays. The tarmac rule states an airline must advise passengers of their right to deplane if a plane is delayed at the gate. The aircraft, however, did push at least once from the gate, according to the article.
- Las Vegas drew 39.7 million visitors in 2012, beating a record set in 2007 by a half-million travelers. Viva Las Vegas!
- Starwood Hotels now has a Luxury Collection property in Poland. Hotel Bristol in Warsaw officially re-opened today after a multi-million dollar renovation.
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel News: February 5, 2013
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel News: February 1, 2013
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel News: January 31, 2013
- 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
- United Airlines had a major SHARES outage late this afternoon, bringing their website down and halting operations at some airports. United is apparently offering a travel waiver for impacted customers, but as of this posting, no link has been posted online. [Edited (thanks Kris): The waiver is now posted.]
- In other not-so-good United news, a Boeing 767 bound for Chicago returned to London’s Heathrow Airport after pilots reported an engine surge. Firefighters had to spray the smoking engine down upon landing.
- A gay couple is suing United Airlines for “severe emotional trauma” and “intentional harassment” after their bag made the rounds on the carousel with a rather large sex toy prominently displayed taped to the outside after the bag allegedly broke. My take on the lawsuit: really? First maybe consider leaving it at home and second, will the article with your picture prominently displayed on it not cause even more trauma? Get over it and move on. [Edited to add: Yes, I agree the baggage handlers were very wrong in their actions... more in the comments below.]
- Southwest Airlines is adding new routes. Beginning March 9, 2012, Southwest will add flights from Newark to Nashville, New Orleans and Austin. Also new will be Dayton to Orlando and Key West to New Orleans.
- Spirit Airlines also announced new routes. Service from Houston Intercontinental to Chicago O’Hare and Las Vegas begins in October. Service from Denver to Phoenix-Mesa Airport also begins in October, and flights between Portland and San Diego commence in November.
- JetBlue launched fixed-price “Go Packs,” where by September 6, you can buy blocks of 10 one-way tickets for a single price. Rates start at $899 plus $7 per flight for a “Pittsburgh to Boston and New York” pack to $2,499 plus $7 per flight for a “Boston or New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco” pack.
- Vienna’s first Ritz-Carlton hotel opened. The 202-room hotel includes 43 suites and a rooftop bar. And Malaysia’s first Grand Hyatt hotel opened in Kuala Lumpur, offering 412 rooms and 42 suites.
- The TSA fired six “officers” and suspended 14 others at Boston’s Logan Airport for inattention on the job. These agents all happened to work in the same checked bag screening room. Guess they missed the gay couple’s sex toy and can’t be blamed.
- Lufthansa flight attendants could strike beginning tomorrow after refusing the latest offer of a 3.5% pay raise from the airline. Flight attendants were looking for 5% after a three-year pay freeze.
- With business travel picking up and successful growth in overall market share, Virgin Australia enjoyed a AU$22.8 million net income for its recent fiscal year. Business travelers now make up 20% of the airline’s domestic revenue.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Friday, August 24, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
- Qantas canceled orders for 35 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, valued at $8.5 billion, amid the airline’s first full-year loss since it was privatized in 1995. Qantas isn’t giving up on the revolutionary aircraft, though, and still has options for 50 787-9s.
- Delta Air Lines seeks to upgrade its 5X weekly Detroit to Beijing service to daily flights with Boeing 777 aircraft. Delta’s Pacific traffic rose 5.9% YOY through July and the airline says there’s an “appetite” for daily service to China’s capital out of Detroit.
- Staying with Delta, the SkyMiles program is offering 3 miles per $1 spent shipping items with FedEx, plus 1,000 bonus miles with every fifth shipment. This isn’t something that’ll make me ship more (or at all), but if you’re already FedEx’ing things, it’s a nice bonus.
- The world’s largest Sheraton will open September 20 in Macau. The first tower of the 3,896-room Sheraton Macao will open at that time with the second tower due to open early next year.
- A body was found inside the landing gear carriage of a British Airways Boeing 747 at Heathrow. The flight originated in Cape Town, South Africa.
- I don’t have an “air traveling” idiot of the week candidate today, but I do have an “airline employee idiot of the week.” A JetBlue worker stole an unaccompanied minor’s wallet containing $200 in cash. Yep, really. Karma will certainly find this woman.
- Finally, a story hit the news recently about a family traveling on buddy passes. Every JetBlue flight was full, so they slept in Salt Lake City’s airport for days not having the money to buy confirmed tickets (or even feed their children properly). Who came to their rescue? United (yes, really) gave them a hotel room for one night and an anonymous viewer bought them confirmed tickets home.
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel Industry News: August 22, 2012
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel Industry News: August 21, 2012
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel Industry News: August 20, 2012
In other airline, hotel and travel industry news last week…
- Delta Air Lines introduced new ancillary options available at booking called Trip Extras. The initial offerings are priority boarding starting at $9 per segment, a mileage booster starting at $29 for 1,000 miles (terrible value!) and a 24-hour Wi-Fi pass for $12. Since Delta’s own blog mentions them as being the “first offerings” to be available at booking, Trip Extras will certainly be expanded further growing the ever popular unbundling and ancillary product trend.
- Virgin America announced it will begin service to Portland, Oregon on June 5, 2012 – its 18th destination. The airline will fly two daily roundtrip flights PDX-LAX and one PDX-SFO. CEO David Cush is hoping their entry will bring fares down noting, “Although there are strong business and leisure travel ties between California and Portland, the West Coast-to-PDX market generally has higher fares than similar flights to Seattle and the reason is competition.”
- I posted some of the insights I gleaned from United Airlines’ presentation at the J.P. Morgan investors’ conference last week and Southwest Airlines also participated revealing they expect to realize a first quarter 2012 loss. Citing an average fuel cost of $3.50 per gallon, Senior VP-Finance and CFO Laura Wright said, “Based on the current revenue and fuel estimates, we currently do not anticipate a profit in the first quarter.” The first and fourth quarters are typically the most challenging for airlines and given Southwest has earned a full-year net profit for 39 consecutive years, I wouldn’t be too worried as an investor.
- Besides the already reported new flights by American and United out of Washington’s Reagan National Airport, Air Canada, Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Sun Country and Virgin America have applied for a piece of the remaining four slots open to “beyond perimeter” flying out of DCA. Both JetBlue and Southwest are hoping to begin service to Austin, each claiming United has a high-priced monopoly on their existing service from nearby Dulles International Airport.
- Google’s Flight Search expanded its legs last week and now offers U.S.-based users the ability to search international fares and flights. I honestly haven’t been back to it since my initial underwhelming review of the ITA Software-powered search tool, and probably won’t return until I start hearing rave reviews. It might be a good tool for the general traveler with simple flight search needs, so perhaps my more advanced knowledge and ITA Matrix experience is jading my opinion.
- Hyatt Hotels plans to install new TV technology allowing guests in North American properties to stream movies from their own Netflix or HBO accounts, as well as connect their laptops to use other services. Guests will have to pay the $9.95 daily internet charge to use the service, which will include the ability to request items from housekeeping, order room service and get information on local restaurants and city tours.