A sampling of industry news that caught my attention today:
- Delta Air Lines will launch hourly Shuttle service from Los Angeles to San Francisco beginning September 3. It’ll reportedly be all Embraer 175 service with upgraded amenities, including free newspapers, beer and wine for all passengers. This bumps Delta’s frequency on the route up from 11 to 14 daily (Mon-Fri).
- United Airlines introduced new “Bistro on Board” fresh menu items in economy class today, including a tasty looking caprese baguette and Asian-style noodle salad.
- US Airways is offering up to a 100% bonus on purchased miles this month. You need to buy between 30k-50k miles for the full bonus, and they’ll eventually become American AAdvantage miles when the programs merge. (Hat tip: View from the Wing)
- American Airlines launched a codeshare agreement with LAN Colombia, opening up more destinations for both carriers. Later this year, LAN Colombia is expected to join oneworld and American will begin new Dallas-Bogota service, adding to its existing flights from Miami.
- Starwood announced its fall promotion whereby SPG members will earn double Starpoints on all eligible stays from September through December 15, as well as bonuses after every five nights stayed (up to 20 nights). There’s a big list of non-participating properties and registration opens at the end of this month. Check out Mommy Points for further details.
- A new Hyatt in downtown Chicago will open in 2015. Conversion of a former 22-story office building will begin later this year to become the “Hyatt Chicago The Loop,” featuring 257 guestrooms (including 38 suites) and a rooftop bar and lounge.
- A new common use lounge at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport has opened. The Club at ATL is located on Concourse F in the international terminal and has been designated as a PriorityPass lounge. Day passes can be purchased for $35.
- Google has updated its Flight Search functionality to include “tips” (shows alternate flight options +/- one day if cheaper, among other items) and “best flights” (most popular flights by other searchers). Perhaps I should pay a revisit to Google Flights since I haven’t been back since my initial scathing review.
- Hipmunk has added “Tonight Only” hotel deals to its iOS and Android mobile apps, joining the ranks of other sites offering last-minute hotel deals.
- The air traveling idiot of the day award goes to a female passenger onboard a Delta Air Lines flight last night from New York to Athens. The flight had to be diverted to Shannon, Ireland after her alleged abusive behavior resulted in those lovely plastic zip-tie handcuffs being required.
- Finally, as a reminder, always double check your reservations for errors online after booking over the phone. United made a mistake on my booking yesterday, which I quickly fixed by calling back.
– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel News: July 31, 2013
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel News: July 30, 2013
Notable Airline, Hotel and Travel News: July 29, 2013
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.