Category Archives: Airlines
In what is almost non-news United Airlines announced to Milepoint.com and Flyertalk.com that they will be retrofitting their narrowbody airbus fleet. The upgrades include wifi internet and AVOD and power in first and economy plus. However, the upgrades are almost entirely overshadowed by the notice that United will be installing Recaro’s slimline seats. These seats have been adopted by Southwest and numerous European carriers to universal disappointment of travelers. The seats allow the airline to reduce pitch and cram in more seats into an already cramped space.
How far we have fallen from the days of more “room in coach.” You may remember the ads from TV and here is a 2000 NYT article detailing American Airlines plan to put “more room in coach.”
United Airlines has pledged to pay for extra padding, head rests, and adjusted the seat design so that travel will not be as painful as it is on Southwest or the other European carriers that have adopted the seat. However, this remains to be proven true. Based on the description provided it looks like the seat will probably look like Recaro’s current long-haul seat the CL3620 imaged below.
While the current design is up in the air the other development, wifi, interests me more. Again taking a page out of Southwest’s book, United is going to add wifi internet and streaming AVOD. Southwest’s current offering is described here. I think we can expect to see something similar adopted by United, just more expensive. United previously made available to its first class passengers free Direct-TV on flights with Direct-TV. This will probably not extend to the wifi equipped plane and we will start to see first class passengers being asked to pay wifi. Cramped planes, expensive wifi, no other IFE, UA’s airbus fleet will have the same experience as US Airways’ fleet, just with more pitch and worse food.
The race to the bottom continues.
Today the DOT released its decision on what to do with the DCA slot pair that Spirit Airlines returned to the DOT when it shifted service from DCA to Baltimore/Washington Airport. There were three bids for the slot pair and today the DOT awarded Southwest the slot to start HOU-DCA.
Cute title aside US Airways is giving out bonus miles for people who purchase US Airways miles for the month of May. It is up to a 100% bonus on miles purchased, but is it a good deal?
The transportation business has been fraught with fraud since the time it came into being. Ever since there were commercial sailing vessels there have been people unable to pay who tried to stowaway on the ship. Of course in ye ol days, stowaways would get tossed overboard at least there was the deterrent factor of a watery death to dissuade people from stealing a ride. With the invention of airlines fraud came as well. Apparently, it used to be easy, or at least purported to be. Helen Hays plays the part of an airline stowaway in the 1970 film “Airport” and goes into great detail about how to stowaway on airlines. In addition to stowaways there are other ways to defraud airlines through their loyalty programs.
In the age of decreasing benefits and angry elites (how many times has UA been sued over benefits?) one airline is bucking the trend. ANA has tweaked their program providing some awesome benefits for Japan based flyers. First, for middle and top tier (Gold and Platinum) they will get unlimited upgrades to premium economy on international flights. Even though this benefit is contingent on availability at boarding it’s available on any fare class. NH’s product isn’t just UA’s Economy Plus, it’s an actual premium product, NH’s premium economy product has the same pitch as United’s domestic first and only slight less with 18.5in v 20in. Either way on a 10hr flight I’ll take it.
The less sexy but fundamentally more interesting addition, are the “Super Flyers” credit cards. These credit cards which are only available to mid and top tier elites grant a sliding scale of benefits based on the annual fee. For about $120.00/year the holder gets Star Gold status (lounge access), international premium economy upgrades, and 50% bonus redeemable miles. Seriously, this is greatest travel credit card ever made. Of course the catch is you have to be elite to apply, but not to renew every year.
My suggestion to any Japan based flyers is to get status one year, then get this card. Then it doesn’t matter if you fly or not, you still have basically the best mid-tier airline status in existence.
Internet check-in is a huge benefit. People can check-in online and skip some of the lines at the airport. Domestically this works really well, internationally not so much as one passenger found out.
The plan was to go from Puerto Plato, DR to Newark airport on United Airlines. The passenger in Puerto Plato was able to check-in online and print his boarding pass. When he arrived at the airport he was turned away from security for not having the right boarding pass and that he needed to get one from the check-in desk. It is easy to understand why that is. I assume most people traveling out of Puerto Plato are either unable or unwilling to use on-line check-in. So, the passenger went back to the check-in desk which had closed by the time he got there and was directed to the ticketing desk. The ticketing desk said since it was 55 minutes until departure and the cut off time is 60 minutes they were unable to issue a boarding pass. Not being able to get through security, the passenger was forced to purchase a walk-up ticket on another carrier.
Downright classy I think.
BA expects to take delivery of their A380’s this summer and after training flights expects to put them into service on London-Los Angeles and London-Hong Kong
March 4, 2013 J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation, and Defense Conference: Doug Parker CEO U.S. Airways Recap
Doug Parker spoke today at the J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation, and Defense conference today on the proposed merger with American Airlines, who did not speak. Doug was speaking to a group of industry analysts so he was primarily in the roll of selling the merger to the bankers. He spoke and took questions for about 40 minutes and the entire webcast is archived at the link below for at least the next few months. Beyond the normal this merger is the greatest thing ever, I want to highlight a few pieces of information that he did say. Looking at the combined carrier, they expect to be the third largest on the West Coast, largest in Middle American and the largest carrier on the East Coast. Doug sold this as creating a viable third option to United and Delta. With the movement of US from Star Alliance to Oneworld it will give each alliance an equal share of the domestic market. This is just another way of stating that Delta, American, and United will all be about the same size. Finally as part of his presentation, Doug mentioned that the new AA would have over 100,000,000 members in the new loyalty program.
The question and answer section had a lot of interesting information if you look at it. In response to a question of merger difficulties he said that no matter the supposed cost benefits, the throughput costs of imposing the smaller airlines systems on the larger airline would be more expensive. This referring to United Airlines’ SHARES hiccup which wasn’t really that bad. But it does suggest that a lot of the systems will be coming from AA. Responding to a livery question Doug refused to pass judgment on AA’s new livery and said only that livery has to be professional and represent the brand. He also said what everyone already that passengers don’t care about what’s on the outside of the plane. In response to a route network question, Doug said to expect some Asia expansion but not to the level of Delta and United. Finally, when asked about the disparate nature of AA’s and US’ fleet Doug stated that there is no real advantage to eliminating large sub-fleets over 100+ aircraft but there is a distinct advantage to eliminating the small sub-fleets. Assuming current orders are correct, that would mean that Doug is going to look at eliminating AA’s 767-200s and some of their 757s. This is not unexpected, but on the US side it would include eliminating their entire widebody fleet A330’s and 767-200s, as well as their 757-200s and ERJ-190’s. Airbus has been cutting Doug sweetheart deals for aircraft for some time now. I don’t see them giving Airbus the boot, so it will be interesting to see what happens to US’ widebody fleet.
I’ll have the other participants summaries up as I write them.
Allegiant Airlines today started service with their new acquired A319s. Allegiant is set to take delivery of 7 A319s from EasyJet and 9 A320’s from Iberia.
American finalized a sale and lease-back deal with ILFC for 15 737-800’s delivery to start in May and one 777-300er with delivery this month.
Currently, I am going over the webcasts from the J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation, and Defense Conference. Speakers are from JetBlue, Southwest, Boeing, United, Delta, US Airways, and Alaska Airways.
Back on February 20th I wrote a post about how the DOT was putting additional US-Brazil route authorities up for bid. The deadline to submit a bid is today and so far only one airline has applied for the slots. American Airlines submitted an application yesterday to start Los Angeles-Sao Paulo on Nov 21 of this year and Chicago-Sao Paulo on November 20, 2014. They plan to start service using 777-200s. For the United customers in LAX this will mark a welcome change from having to first get to IAD, IAH, or EWR, and will bring some competition with United on the ORD-GRU route.