This week, the fine folks over at Gadling posted an American Airlines commercial from 1981 themed “Full service no matter what you pay.” It’s a quick look back at what air travel used to be like, with (relatively) low fares, free meals in coach and a swarm of airline and airport employees with smiles on their faces. Times have changed, particularly for American right now, and it made the Gadling staff sad (me, too).
Watching it got me headed over to YouTube to look over other vintage American commercials and I found the one appearing below showcasing the luxury of the carrier’s 747, 707 and DC-10 fleet in 1972. It takes a quick look through each aircraft, showing off the coach lounge on the 747 and DC-10 and the “new” interiors of the 707B. When describing the DC-10, the commentator mentions, “Its takeoffs are quieter and virtually smokeless.” Different times, indeed.
In other airline industry news this week…
- United Airlines announced new daily nonstop service from Newark to Istanbul effective July 1, 2012. Initially the route will be flown with United’s current international 767-300ER aircraft with three classes of service, but beginning August 28, the airline will swap in a new configuration that features BusinessFirst, Economy Plus and standard economy. United is planning to convert the current domestic 767-300 fleet typically seen on the Hawaii routes into this new layout.
- Delta Air Lines completed the installation of Wi-Fi on all Delta Shuttle aircraft flying the New York-LaGuardia to Boston, Washington National and Chicago O’Hare flights. According to the carrier’s local Senior Vice President Gail Grimmett, “We are thrilled that Wi-Fi is now available to our Delta Shuttle customers as it’s a perfect complement to other Shuttle amenities including free morning coffee and newspapers.” The carrier expects to have internet service available on more than 800 aircraft by this summer.
- Sticking with Delta for the moment, they announced expanded codeshare agreements with both China Eastern and China Southern Airlines this week. The Civil Aviation Administration of China approved the link-up of codes and flight numbers and once implemented, codeshare service will be seen across 34 cities within the U.S. and China with China Eastern and 18 cities with China Southern.
- American Airlines issued another letter to its employees this week notifying them of the necessity to “re-gauge” their fleet in order to match supply with market demand, particularly from their hub in Chicago. Current contracts with the pilot’s union prevent the carrier from subbing larger regional jets into markets currently flown with larger mainline aircraft, causing an industry-losing position in unit revenue. The letter also states the airline will focus on premium international business traffic once it exits Chapter 11 protection, hoping to grow their share of the lucrative segment.
- US Airways filed a formal objection with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday claiming Philadelphia’s planned airport expansion would “harm its finances and business operations and force it to shift flights elsewhere.” The carrier controls 70% of the market flying to, through or from PHL, and as a result, the airline would take the brunt of the all but likely increases to airport rates and fees charged to fund the expansion. The city, meanwhile, claims the proposed new runway and terminal expansion are essential to sustain further growth.
- Survey results were released this week from Buyology and uSamp (who?) revealing the most desired brand in the United States. Sorry, Apple, top honors went to Southwest Airlines. Buyology CEO Gary Singer thinks Southwest did so well largely due to its no-fee ad campaign and because of what its service represents in the minds of passengers.
- Finally, and hopefully not an omen of things to come at United, Cathay Pacific continues to have issues a week after it converted from an in-house reservations system to GDS provider Amadeus. Passengers with award tickets are still unable to manage their bookings online and the carrier is working through additional “teething issues” (their words) with the system migration. With United’s upcoming switchover, let this be a reminder to passengers to be proactive and have as much detail about their itineraries as possible in print.