Europe and the Middle East are about to become destinations JetBlue flight numbers serve, even if it isn’t JetBlue-operated flights making the trips. The NYC-based carrier is teaming up with Dubai-based Emirates to extend their codesharing agreement to a bilateral one. Currently Emirates has their code on JetBlue-operated flights to 28 destinations; the new agreement will see the JetBlue coded flight numbers on Emirates-operated flights to Milan and Dubai.
The new bilateral codeshare is in addition to the frequent flyer reciprocity that the two programs already share. There is no elite reciprocity but members of either program can earn
and redeem for flights on the other.
Back when Emirates announced the timing of their Milan-JFK flight it seemed likely that feed to and from JetBlue flights would be a big part of making that flight work. This announcement plays into that theory. There are still only a limited number of onward flights late-night after the Emirates flight arrives from Milan but it is better than nothing.
Yes, 37E is a middle seat. Yes, it also happens to be in the last row of the United Airlines A320, which means limited recline. In just about every situation it is the least desirable seat on that plane (though I’d say 37B is worse because of the lav on that side, but only by a small margin). It is simply not where you want to be sitting. And yet I was incredibly happy to be there.
Do you want to sit here??
I was on my way home from Colorado and really wanted to get home in time for a reasonable dinner at home. Alas, the flight which let me do that meant a 28 minute connection in Denver and – not surprisingly – they don’t let you book those normally. So I booked the cruddy connection and planned to just run for it when I made it to Denver. Of course, when booking the cruddy connection I didn’t actually mean to book the REALLY bad one which would get me home near midnight but apparently that’s what I actually did. All of a sudden this SDC/standby game became much more important for my sanity. We landed on time into Denver and I checked the flight on mobile.united.com and it said seats were available. I was off to the races, from B69 to B37 (about half a mile, at altitude with a rocking hangover and people to dodge).
I made it to the new gate at T-12 minutes, and that’s when the agent told me there were no more seats available. Ughhh. The cutoff for passengers to be on-board is T-10 minutes and there were two not yet on-board so I had a chance. She added me to the list and told me I was first in line. They paged the passengers again and one showed up. Then the other showed up. Not good news for me. Except that apparently one of the passengers was intent on playing shenanigans.
It seems that one of the two was a non-rev, looking to fly on her pass benefits. She gave her name to the agent and a BP was printed and then, as the passenger was getting on board, the agent called out to stop the boarding. Apparently there were two people on the flight with the same name, one male and one female, and the non-rev accidentally got the paid guy’s BP. I’m not 100% certain that they were playing games with refundable bookings and trying to block a seat for the non-rev, but it sure seemed that way to me. Either way, it was now T-10 and the one passenger hadn’t shown up. The gate agent printed my new boarding pass and I was off down the jetway as the last passenger to be loaded on the flight.
View from all the way down the back of the plane
So, yeah, not the most comfortable place to spend 3.5 hours, but I got home in time for a late dinner and I even managed to sleep a bit in that middle seat with limited recline. I’m not going out of my way to choose it again for next time, but it turns out I survived just fine.
Competition does strange things, like making the airlines offer better products to attract customers. Hard to say that’s a bad thing, right?? Delta is adding some new benefits for passengers in their Economy Comfort seats on flights on their main transcon routes. For flights between New York City‘s JFK and either Los Angeles or San Francisco customers in the Economy Comfort (extra legroom/recline) seats will now include free drinks, a free "premium snack" and free newspapers.
Like many things in the airline industry this seems to be a case of things coming full circle, with complimentary snacks and drinks returning to the coach cabin in the name of competition. Virgin America already has free snacks/drinks in their comparable offering (Main Cabin Select). American Airlines is going to be competing with frequencies, upping to roughly hourly shuttle service in the coming year as they get their new A321 planes with fewer seats. United is also pushing new configurations out in the market, though no other special features noted.
In about 90 minutes I’ll be boarding a flight from JFK to Doha, Qatar. It is the start of a 29,000 mile, 6 day adventure. I’ve got four nights on airplanes and two in hotels, 12+ hours stays in five different cities and the majority of it is in business class. I suppose I could call it a mileage run but the pricing isn’t really good enough for that to make sense. Yes, it is based on one of the RGN mistake fares so in that context it is a mileage run, but getting to RGN to start and back from Johannesburg at the end mean the straight CPM calculations aren’t very good. But I decided the stories would be, so here I go.
The most ridiculous part of the trip, however, I didn’t realize until I got in the shower this morning and started thinking about packing. It suddenly occurred to me that I’ll be visiting five continents in less than three days. As booked I leave Singapore (Asia) on Saturday morning and touch Australia (PER), Africa (JNB), Europe (IST) and be back home in North America by the end of the day on Monday. Even crazier is that if I take the ferry over to the Asia side of Istanbul – a very likely event – the total amount of time I’ll spend to touch those five continents is just under 60 hours. Had I thought about it a bit more I probably could have added a late night JFK-South America flight and touched the six with commercial service quite quickly.
This did get me thinking about just how quickly the trip could be made. My flights have reasonably long layovers and I’ll be mostly flying west-bound which is slower. Taking advantage of Istanbul’s position and a decent layover there can really make things go quickly. Had I done Istanbul to Houston and continued on to Bogota or Caracas I think I could make it even faster. I haven’t checked the timetables too closely yet, but I think it can be done.
Anyone else have an idea of quick itineraries for touching the six continents? How would you do it better?
Also, for those curious, this is a combination of three tickets. The first is one of the business class fares ex-RGN. That gets me RGN-SIN-PER-JNB. To get to RGN I have a United Airlines award booked mostly on Qatar Airways metal via Doha and Bangkok. And to get home I purchased a revenue ticket from JNB-IST-JFK on Turkish. Like I said above, the price point isn’t great, especially considering the award costs for positioning. But I’m really looking forward to the trip.
Passengers will have one more option for flights between Milan and New York City starting this Fall. Emirates will launch the route in October 2013 ending their 5 year hiatus of service between New York and Europe. Their previous iteration of service was to Hamburg, Germany which ended in 2008.
Flights will depart New York at 10:20pm, arriving in Milan at 12:15pm the following day and continuing on to Dubai at 2:00pm. The westbound flight will depart Milan at 4:00pm, arriving in New York at 7:00pm the same day. The eastbound flight time is nice, providing useful onward connection options in Europe. It is also a late enough flight such that sleeping should be reasonably easy for passengers. Westbound the timing is great for passengers who want most of a day in Europe before heading back to New York City. Onward connections are limited, however, with the late arrival at JFK.
The route will compete directly with Delta, Alitalia and American Airlines There is also a flight on United Airlines into Newark. And the Emirates 777-300ER will be the largest plane on the route, adding a lot of capacity and also adding an option for first class service.
I now know which route I’ll be looking over the winter for bargain deals.
We are another step closer to the merger of US Airways and American Airlines today following a hearing in the bankruptcy court in New York City. The planned merger was approved by the judge overseeing the bankruptcy reorganization of AMR, American’s parent company. The approval was expected and allows the two carriers to move forward with their efforts, though it is also far from the last approval needed.
But it was not all smooth sailing during the hearing. Tom Horton, the current CEO of American, is due to receive a severance payout of $19.9 million in cash and stock as part of his stepping down for Doug Parker to lead the combined company. That part of the deal was blocked by the judge who stated, "Approving it today is just not appropriate." It seems that there are issues with the way the bankruptcy code is written and the fact that the merger was consummated in bankruptcy rather than after AMR emerged from the court’s protection. The judge noted that he doesn’t object in principle to the payout but that the law simply didn’t allow him to approve it at this time.
Perhaps this is why Horton was so adamant for so long about wanting to emerge from bankruptcy before agreeing to merge with US Airways. Odds are that he’ll get paid anyways eventually so maybe this is more of a delay than denied. Still, it is always interesting to watch these processes play out.
I was only a bit surprised to find a wide range of choices available for award flights from New York to Northern Germany in mid-March. After all, it is the middle of winter and most spring break folks are headed to sun and surf or other more traditional destinations. We had our choice of the non-stop United flight to Hamburg or taking a connection in Frankfurt and flying in to Hannover. Given our initial destination of Hildesheim is much closer to Hannover, plus the better flight time (9pm departure rather than 5:30pm) I figured we’d take the extra travel time. Plus it meant I’d get to experience Singapore Air in their economy cabin, rounding out the full set (I did suites a couple months ago and business a year ago). So, thanks to some MileagePlus points I got us booked on JFK-FRA-HAJ with a reasonable layover in Frankfurt for breakfast and a shower in the Senator Lounge.
We got to JFK a bit early so that we could have dinner. We considered the options in the Swiss lounge in T4 and quickly decided to have a real dinner instead. There is a branch of The Palm in the terminal and, despite some previous bad experiences with other airport steakhouses, we gave it a go. Mostly because it was the only reasonable meal option there. And it was surprisingly good. It was helped by our waitress Victoria who was old-school NYC in a good way. But the food was also quite tasty. And by virtue of sitting there rather than in the lounge we got to see this guy and his sparkly backpack. All sorts of good happening there.
Once on board we were treated to the bonus of having the middle seat between us empty. We almost got lie-flat coach but I was slow to jump into the seat across the aisle. Yeah, loads were light. That was good because the space on board isn’t particularly generous down the back of the plane. There is a foot rest which mostly just got in my way, preventing me from extending my legs under the seat in front of me. And the seats are the articulating ones so the recline slides the bottom forward a bit. Reclining decreases legroom. Yuck.
On the plus side, economy class got amenity kits (socks & a toothbrush) and earplugs/eye mask were available on request from the flight attendants. Also, free drinks with the dinner service, though it was really only beer & wine. Liquor was available but not on the drink cart so the delay in having the FA go to the galley to get it made it a rather unappealing option. The meal was OK. Nothing special, really, either good or bad. I suppose that’s about all one can really hope for in coach these days.
On the plus side, Singapore has quite a selection of movies loaded up on their IFE systems. Most were relatively new releases but there were a few from the archives as well. It took three reboots for my IFE to actually work properly (others around me had similar troubles) but once it got working it was pretty good. The in-flight internet was not working, making me 0/2 on trying that product out with Singapore Air. I’m happy my plan was to sleep and not be working.
Oh, and just because I can, a laviator shot on board showing off my RouteHappy shirt.
Overall I’d say that the timing of the SQ flight was still better than the UA option I had. But seat comfort would have been better on United, especially vis a vis personal space since I can get EconomyPlus for free. The meal was maybe a smidgen better on Singapore Air but with the later departure that matters less. And United’s IFE selection is sufficient for my tastes, maybe even better if you like the classics more than current cinema. In premium cabins there are a many more reasons to favor Singapore Air over United. In economy I’m not so sure about that choice. Especially if you’ve got elite status.
I love a good wedding. And I love travel. And I love great stories. Today is a day I get to see all three mixed together into pure awesome.
JetBlue is sharing the details today of their in-flight crewmembers going above and beyond to make a NYC wedding happen. The gist of it is that a couple was flying in to NYC to get married and it happened to come up in conversation with the Flight Attendants on the transcon flight. The FAs feted the couple in flight, which is great, but one of the three went even further. You see, in New York there is a requirement that a third party serve as witness to a wedding. The couple didn’t know that and they didn’t have anyone else to fill that role in New York. So Virginia, one of the FAs, offered to fill that role.
I’ve filled the role in a similar situation, helping a random couple who I met via FlyerTalk get married on the Brooklyn Bridge nearly 5 years ago. I cannot agree more with the attitude one of the other FAs on board, Dan, expresses, "I don’t even think it’s going above and beyond—it’s just about doing something human, and caring for other people."
Just a great story in every sense.
It seems that, despite JetBlue‘s desire to not operate any airport lounges in their hub facilities there is apparently sufficient demand in their flagship JFK T5 terminal for a lounge to open. AirSpace, the company which currently operates a lounge at BWI and which is opening a lounge in Cleveland next month, will be opening a lounge inside T5; it is expected to open in May 2013.
The lounge will have many of the typical features available at airport lounges, including a bar and snacks/food. It will also have showers, quite useful for a redeye arrival or pre-flight on one of the midnight flights to the Caribbean or evening flights to Europe when Aer Lingus moves in to the terminal later this year. The lounge will be located near Gate 24, towards the end of the terminal where the international expansion construction is taking place. Not much of a surprise there, really.
The lounge lacks windows, which is unfortunate, but I suppose that can be overcome with a free drink (only 1st drink is free with the paid admission) and some food. I happen to think that T5 is one of the best terminals in the USA these days and I’m generally quite happy to sit out in the food court area rather than searching out a lounge, but it is nice to see that the option will be available for those who want it.
Check out the link to Jaunted for some renderings; I’ll see about getting in once it is open to get real world photos.
I’m not particularly interested in American Idol so I had no idea what to expect when I saw the announcement that Phillip Phillips was performing at JetBlue‘s JFK T5 terminal. To be honest, I didn’t even recognize the name. But the show was on Monday and I had the day off for President’s Day and nothing better to do so I headed out to the airport, grabbed a quick lunch and then settled in to watch the show. As they were getting set up for the performance I noticed that his band included a cellist; that was definitely a positive bit. I decided maybe this wouldn’t be all bad.
Phillips filmed a couple PR segments prior to the actual show. Not surprisingly the area was mobbed, mostly with teen and tween girls. I was quite surprised how many managed to get to the airport for the show, though it quickly became clear that most of them were JetBlue crew kids. And there were a few crew who commuted in for the show; the two women sitting next to me were flight attendants down from Boston for the day. Most impressive to me of that scene, however, was that Phillips hung out when he finished filming the promo spots and took photos with everyone there who wanted one. That was a classy move.
And, right when it was supposed to, the show kicked off. Seeing a concert in an airport terminal isn’t especially common. It is always entertaining, however. Watching the people unaware of why it is happening trying to navigate the crowds is quite amusing. And the show itself was pretty good, too. Phillips performed six songs: Hold On; Gone, Gone, Gone; Man on the Moon; A Fools Dance; Wicked Game and Home. There was another photo session after the show for VIPs at the event. I have no idea how the VIPs got that treatment but it was fun to see how excited they all were to attend the show and get the photo. I got a picture, too, though the PR folks haven’t forwarded it over to me.
Here is the video I shot of the concert. Decent, I think, given how far away I was and no tripod. Enjoy.
Definitely not your typical airport experience.