I posted the third annual TravelPlus Airline Amenity Bag Award winners over on my Road Warrior blog last week. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention them here, as many of you know I’m an amenity kit aficionado.
Not surprisingly, the top honors in each category went to non-U.S. carriers. United Airlines, however, did receive a readers’ choice nod for “collaborative initiative” for its Global First amenity kit. Here were the results:
First Class Female – Emirates Airways supplied by Harmony-gategroup
First Class Male – Etihad Airways supplied by Watermark
First Class Unisex – Singapore Airlines supplied by Harmony-gategroup
Business Class Female – Virgin Australia supplied by buzz
Business Class Male – Qantas supplied by buzz
Business Class Unisex - Turkish Airlines supplied by FORMIA
Premium Economy – Condor supplied by Skysupply
Economy – Virgin Atlantic supplied by Harmony- gategroup
In-flight Amenity Gift – Singapore Airlines supplied by Harmony- gategroup
Children’s under 6 – Qantas supplied by buzz
Children’s over 6 – Qatar Airways supplied by buzz
Ethically Sustainable – Finnair supplied by Skysupply with a Highly Commended Award going to Cathay Pacific supplied by Watermark
I’ve got a lot of work to do to build up my collection, as I only have one of the above – the Virgin Australia female business class kit. TravelPlus photographer David Jenner has a great photo collection of the winners here.
It’s an event I’ll be marking on my calendar to attend next year in Hamburg and it also coincides with the Aircraft Interiors Expo the same week.
Amenity Kit Reviews
The Cost and Allure of Airline Amenity Kits
Ranking the Top Amenity Kits Reviewed (as of June 2012)
Amenity Kit Review: United Airlines Global First Class
Will Qantas also axe oneworld alliance membership? That question hasn’t been answered, but very significant news tonight/today was announced from Australia courtesy of my friends at Australian Business Traveller:
Stay tuned for further updates.
- 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
As I’m sure many of you did, I received an email from American today offering up to 20,000 bonus AAdvantage miles for flying Qantas-operated flights to Australia. Flights booked as American Airlines codeshares apply.
Registration is required using offer code QF20K at this link and the travel period is from April 19 through June 30, 2012. Sadly, tickets purchased prior to today’s announcement for travel during the promo period are excluded from this offer. Bonus miles accrued for roundtrip travel are as follows:
Economy fare buckets N and Q are excluded from this promotion.
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 and travel industry news last week…
- United Airlines shifted its Washington Dulles to Buenos Aires flight over to Newark on Friday. They didn’t totally Continental it up, though, as they’re using a legacy United 3-cabin 767 on the route. The airline is also ending service to Accra and Copenhagen later this year, according to Airline Route. Washington Dulles to Accra ends July 3 and Newark to Copenhagen terminates on September 26.
- US Airways has completed conversion of 14 of its 16 Airbus A330 aircraft with the new Envoy Class and is expected to get the remaining two birds completed by the end of summer. The seats are actually pretty darn nice looking and setup in a reverse herringbone 1 x 2 x 1 configuration. The airline was also awarded the “2012 MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) of the Year” award last week by Aviation Week and Overhaul & Maintenance magazine.
- Virgin America officially launched service to Philadelphia last Wednesday from Los Angeles and will begin San Francisco-Philly service tomorrow. Sir Richard Branson greeted the first arrival at PHL and hosted a “tailgate on the tarmac” party with a bunch of invited guests. Later that night, the official launch party was held at Hotel Palomar downtown and based on some Twitter reports, it sounded like a fantastic time.
- Allegiant Air began charging passengers with new reservations from last Wednesday for large carry-ons, joining Spirit Airlines in charging for the privilege to use the overhead bins. One bag is still free, but it must fit underneath the seat. You can get a discount on the $35 fee if you book the space in advance online.
- Southwest Airlines shifted some the flying it took over from AirTran in Atlanta back to the carrier, including flights to Los Angeles, Chicago Midway, Phoenix, Denver and Las Vegas. A combination of IT issues and route optimization appear to be the reason. A Southwest spokesman said, “In some cases, until we get to a point a little bit further down the road, it makes sense to transfer some of that flying from Southwest to AirTran.”
- Starwood Hotels will open a dual-branded ski resort complex in China later this year. Both a 257-room Westin and 296-room Sheraton are opening in August next to the slopes of the Changbai Mountains.
- My “air traveling idiot of the week” award goes to a man who tried to smuggle a knife through security in a jar of mayonnaise. What? Yes, that’s correct. He was flying from New York’s Kennedy airport to Mexico City when the banned items were found and confiscated during routine screening. Amazingly, he was still allowed to catch his flight.
Finally, here are some other noteworthy items from last week:
- A TSA screener throws coffee on a pilot at JFK.
- A Delta Air Lines flight attendant was removed from a flight for irregular behavior.
- Alaska Airlines will begin testing a nextgen ATC system at SEA in June.
- Qantas’ stranded A380 in Singapore will return to service in May.
Knowing I collect airline memorabilia, one of my readers contacted me last week and asked if I might like a piece of her family’s history – two certificates issued to her recently departed grandmother bestowing “Freeman of the Air” rights for crossing the equator.
My reader’s grandmother, originally from Australia, was married to a U.S. Navy man and living here in the United States, but needed to return to Australia to visit with her dying father. She flew British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines in December of 1952 and was issued the following certificate commemorating her first crossing of the equator by air.
It’s truly an incredible piece of aviation history and a reminder of just how much the industry I love has changed to one where such a crossing today has become so very commonplace without pomp and circumstance. My reader’s grandmother returned to Australia on another trip in 1978 flying Qantas and received a similar certificate.
I’m so very appreciative and thrilled to add these to my collection and thought some of you would be equally interested to see a piece of an era long since passed.
P.S. If there are any Boeing historians out there who have a deep insight about the original design process and development of the 747 (particularly of the team working on it), please shoot me an email as my reader is looking for information about her grandfather’s role on that team.
In other airline industry news this week…
- Delta Air Lines announced this week new interiors featuring lie-flat seats in BusinessElite and “slim line” seats with individual entertainment units as well as an Economy Comfort section in coach will be seen on all 747-400 aircraft by October 2012. A total of 48 seats will occupy the BusinessElite cabin in an angled herringbone configuration allowing aisle access from every seat. The Economy Comfort section will seat 42 passengers and offers up to four inches of additional legroom and 50 percent more recline than standard economy seating.
- A handful of original People Express executives announced the return of a rebranded PeoplExpress carrier on Monday. The new airline will be based at the Newport News-Williamsburg Airport in Virginia and expects to begin service this summer to Newark, Pittsburgh, Providence and West Palm Beach. COO Mike Morisi said service will be operated with single-cabin Boeing 737-400s and fares will be at a “pricing structure that is significantly more affordable than regional service provided by feeder airlines.”
- American Airlines posted a $1.1 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2011, accounting for half of the airline’s $2 billion loss for the full year. Executives mentioned much of the quarter’s loss stemmed from one-time charges attributed to reorganizing the company in bankruptcy. Jet fuel prices were also a factor and American paid an average of $3.01/gallon in 2011 versus $2.32 in 2010. The carrier expects to slash 13,000 jobs this year and is being very closely monitored by both Delta and US Airways for a possible acquisition.
- United Airlines this week confirmed it will adopt Continental’s “PetSafe” policy for transporting animals who don’t travel in the passenger cabin effective March 3. According to a company spokesperson, the rates aren’t significantly higher than the now current fees for checking an animal, with the exception of Japan whose government requires an extra fee be paid to a third-party handler. This change has many military families outraged as what cost some $130 when moving to Japan with their pet will now be in the $1,400 range under the new policy. PetSafe has been praised by pet transport professionals for taking exceptional care of animals in their care.
- Speaking of pets traveling in the cargo hold, more pets died on Delta Air Lines last year than any other carrier – 19 out of the total 35 reported deaths. Delta claims less than 0.2 percent of pets carried were injured or died while in its care and noted its size as the country’s largest carrier in terms of passengers carried often means it transports more pets than other airlines. Delta did institute changes to its policy and now bans certain types of dogs that are prone to respiratory problems. The Humane Society of the United States advises owners should not transport pets by air “unless absolutely necessary.”
- Low-fare carrier Spirit Airlines will resume service out of Denver this May. Daily nonstops to Chicago, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale and Las Vegas will commence on May 3 and enable passengers to connect to an additional 29 cities in the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America. Denver is a hub for United, Frontier and (effectively based on passenger volume) Southwest. While I’ve noticed United tends not to match Spirit’s fares, it remains to be seen what impact Spirit’s entry will have on Southwest and Frontier fares.
Finally, here are some Quick Hits:
In other airline and travel industry news last week…
- United Airlines reported its January 2012 operational performance and enjoyed another month of increased consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) – up 8.5 to 9.5 percent. On-time performance and the number of flights successfully completed also grew about 1.1 percentage points from a year prior to 82.2% and 98.9%, respectively.
- Staying with January performance figures, Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) saw its strongest January in air ticket sales since 2001, realizing a 10.7% increase from 2011 and a 22.3% gain over 2010. ARC acts as a clearinghouse between travel agencies, airlines, and other companies that sell airline tickets to ensure funds are settled as expected. Adding to the good news was the fact that total transactions were up 3.2% vs. declining transaction figures the entire previous year.
- The TSA announced they will significantly expand the PreCheck trusted traveler program to include more than 15 new airports in the near future. The program is currently limited to select frequent flyers flying out of Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and Minneapolis. American and Delta were the launch airlines, but the program has since expanded to other carriers. I’m hoping to soon receive notice from United that they’ll be participating at my home airport, LAX.
- Airport administrators across the country have a love-hate relationship with the newly passed long-term FAA funding reauthorization bill. While they are happy with the stability it brings, many airports are balking since the bill didn’t include an increase to passenger facility charges (PFCs), the funds they use for airport improvements. The current cap is $4.50 per flight segment, originally set in 2000, and they feel it no longer covers the increases seen in construction costs during the last decade.
- Alaska Airlines announced two new nonstops from their Seattle hub this week. Beginning June 11, they will launch daily service from Sea-Tac to Philadelphia in direct competition with US Airways, and on July 16, commence service to Ft. Lauderdale. The new Ft. Lauderdale flight will replace existing service to Miami. According to Joe Sprague, Alaska’s VP of Marketing, “By redirecting our flight to the lower-cost Fort Lauderdale airport, we can serve the same geographic area and continue to offer our customers low fares.”
- I think I need to start a new series here on Frequently Flying devoted to the airline-traveling idiot of the week. This past week, a passenger attempted to bring a hallowed-out grenade through security in his (or her – the article is gender neutral) carry-on bag. The TSA caught it (unlike previous items), confiscated it and the passenger was denied boarding. (S)he is now also under investigation by the TSA.
And finally, here are some Quick Hits:
In other airline industry news this week…
- Air New Zealand was named Airline of the Year by Air Transport World Magazine as part of its 38th Airline Industry Achievement Awards. ATW bestowed the honor to NZ due to “industry-leading innovation and motivation of its staff which resulted in exceptional performance across market position, customer service, financial performance, fiscal management and operational safety.” The only U.S. carrier to receive an award was Alaska Airlines – the Joseph S. Murphy Industry Service Award – for service benefitting the airline industry and being involved in numerous environmental and corporate-giving initiatives.
- United Airlines, read Continental Airlines, received a lot of heat this week for their numerous amount of flights from Europe to the East coast that have recently required fuel stops due to unusually strong headwinds. The Wall Street Journal reports that United confirmed 43 flights operated with Boeing 757 aircraft had to stop for fuel last month due to the winds and limited range of the aircraft, up sharply from 12 the year earlier. That caused delays and misconnections for thousands of passengers and brought using the limited range jet into question. To the airline’s credit, though, the headwinds are the most extreme they’ve seen in the past 10 years.
- American Airlines will cut their Chicago-New Delhi nonstop March 1st and totally withdraw from Burbank effective February 9th, as well as lay off 150 employees citing “operational and business changes” resulting from its bankruptcy filing. The carrier is also hoping to delay their lawsuit against Sabre, a GDS, by three months while it focuses on reorganization. The still separate regional entity American Eagle, meanwhile, has hired Bain & Co. – to the tune of $525,000 per month – to assist in labor-cost assessment and negotiations.
- Tony Webber, a former Qantas executive, has boldly come out and proclaimed, “People weighing more than average should pay more for their airfares than slimmer passengers.” Ouch. He claims the extra fuel needed comes out to about $472 per plane and is affecting the airlines’ profits. As it stands, the airlines have an average weight they predict per passenger and while I don’t remember the figure from my days in Flight Dispatch with United Airlines, I do recall it being awfully low. Instead of an airfare increase, airlines need to up their average passenger weights and adjust their loads accordingly. Would you step on a scale at an airport?
- Horrible airplane etiquette continues in 2012 with a 65-year old man having been arrested for allegedly assaulting a Delta Air Lines flight attendant on a Tokyo to Honolulu flight. He was forced to surrender his passport and stay on Oahu to appear at a hearing on January 20th. His bad behavior was apparently due to over imbibing on multiple glasses of wine.
- Southwest Airlines will launch a daily flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles beginning June 10th. This is in addition to AirTran’s existing three daily flights already in the market. Southwest officially launches service February 12th with 15 daily nonstops to five cities: Baltimore, Chicago (MDW), Denver, Houston (HOU) and Austin. Las Vegas and Phoenix service from Atlanta commences March 10th.
- Finally, Hawaiian Airlines set a new company record for the most passengers carried in a single year – 8,666,319 in 2011 – a 17% increase from 2010. I imagine 2012 will be another record year as the airline continues to expand on the mainland with new service to JFK beginning in June.