Category: flights

United Quietly Tests Selling Economy Plus as P…

United Quietly Tests Selling Economy Plus as Part of the Fare:

Just this week, United quietly started filing a handful of fares that include Economy Plus seating in the Newark to Ft Lauderdale market. The fares are pretty terrible right now, and they aren’t showing on the website just yet, so this is clearly a very preliminary test. If this does become the norm, United will once again find itself following Delta’s lead.

Today, United sells tickets including a regular seat assignment when available, but if you want to buy an extra legroom Economy Plus seat, you have to buy it as an add-on. That can happen during the purchase process or at any time before travel. When you go to, it looks something like this:

Then when you pick your flight, United gives you a bundle option on the next page:

I’d never really examined this upsell before, but it is a terrible value. The price seems to have been set at $1 below the most expensive Economy Plus seat. On this flight, that lousy exit row middle seat is running $89. Every other Economy Plus seat (many of which are better than a middle seat) are cheaper. So you should skip this, and when you do, you’ll go to the seat map where you can choose to add-on an individual seat:

This particular flight was for June 25. I picked that day because United’s new Economy Plus fares appear to be limited to 14 day advance purchase or higher, and it was June 21 when I first tested this. When I price the regular fare in Sabre, I get the same fare as I got on

But, if I use the new “EP” brand code, it gives me this Economy Plus option:

Of course, this fare is even worse than United’s upsell with a $114 premium. So why would anyone buy this? Well, there may be a reason for a corporate traveler. If a company won’t allow ancillary purchases to be expensed, then this could be a way for a traveler to still get the same seat without going out of pocket. (Then again, with 14 day advance purchase on these fares, it may have more limited appeal to corporates.) But if that’s how United is approaching this, corporates are going to find out quickly and be really mad that they’re getting fleeced. That’s why my thought is that this is really just a test, and those fares were set high on purpose.

The mechanics work similarly to how Basic Economy works. At United, Basic Economy fares book into N class but are also based on the lowest selling regular fare in the market. With Economy Plus, it books into B class but again relies on being a bump above the lowest selling regular fare. (This may be somewhat confusing since American actually uses B class for Basic Economy, but then again, how many people need to know that or even care? Not many.)

This brings up a ton of questions. I asked United for answers, but I unsurprisingly didn’t get any. Airlines don’t talk about future pricing for legal reasons.

  • Does United plan on rolling this out to all markets or just a subset?
  • Will United allow travelers to have the choice of buying Economy Plus in the fare or as an add-on? Or will United move toward the Delta model where it’s all in the fare?
  • What does this mean for elite travelers? Will they now have to upgrade into Economy Plus the way that they upgrade in Business? There are lot of variations on this question.

I like the idea of having an Economy Plus fare because it would allow United to sell premium economy fares internationally — remember, the new true premium economy cabin is coming soon — that would include Economy Plus seats on a domestic leg. But I also like the ability to just pick a seat outside the fare.

Were I a betting man, I’d say that United will end up doing pretty much what Delta has done, but we’ll just have to wait until United decides it’s ready to start talking.

June 14, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

Cranky Concierge is Hiring for Overnight and W…

Cranky Concierge is Hiring for Overnight and Weekend Concierges:

I haven’t written about it much, but Cranky Concierge has been growing a lot. We’re now up to 14 people on the team, but we need at least one or two more. Specifically, we need more people to help with nights and weekends.

That job has changed since I last posted about it. We now have teams, so instead of having to be available when a specific client is traveling, our concierges now work shifts. It makes it much easier for concierges to plan their lives, and the existing team has been really happy. But we need more help, so, if you’re interested, please keep reading.

You can find the full job description here. Read through the whole thing, and if you are interested in joining the team, you can send over your information as requested in the job description to

We’ve built a great group over here, and if you’re looking for a flexible way to earn some money while flexing your AvGeek skills, then this will be right up your alley.

Back to our regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow…

June 13, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

David Neeleman on the A330neo and Doubling TAP…

David Neeleman on the A330neo and Doubling TAP’s Presence in the US (Across the Aisle):

I’ve lined up a handful of interviews here on the blog which you’ll see in the next few weeks. Today, I’m starting with David Neeleman. As you know, David has been behind a lot of different airline projects, most famously the founding of JetBlue. But today we’re focusing on TAP Air Portugal. Since David and the team took over TAP a couple years back, the airline has been transformed, but there’s a lot more change coming with a whopping 71 airplanes on order, and I had questions.

Every time I do one of these, there are at least one or two comments asking for information that I didn’t cover. This time, you can go find it yourself. This Friday (June 15), David will be promoting TAP’s stopover program on the ground in Brooklyn at the corner of Bogart and Grattan Streets from 3p to 4p ET with what the airline is calling an “Aviation Geek Meet-Up.” Head on over, get some goodies, and you can ask him all the questions you’d like. It’s an AvGeek dream. Now, on to the interview.

Brett Snyder, Cranky Flier: We are here to talk about TAP, and I’m specifically interested in the A330neo that you’re taking delivery of. Do you have one on the property yet?

David Neeleman, Co-Owner TAP Air Portugal: We haven’t got it yet. We’re gonna get it in September. It’s flying around — it’s got our colors on it — it’s flying around the world on test flights, but it hasn’t been certified yet. I’m actually gonna go next week to fly to Toulouse and then fly it back to Lisbon on a part of its certification journey.

Cranky: You won’t get the keys until September, and when do you expect to have it in service?

David: It’s about a year late so we’re kind of frustrated. There have been issues with the engines like everyone else, but we’re gonna get it and get them pretty quick. We’ll get 18 of them in 15 months with 7 by the end of the year so they’re going to be coming like popcorn.

Cranky: I didn’t realize it was that accelerated. Where are you planning on putting these into service first?

David: Probably North America. Probably JFK and Boston. Brazil’s obviously a great market for us, Sao Paulo and Rio [will follow] closely after. We have 4 A330-300s that are ex-Singapore Airlines that are going away and then 7 old Pratt-powered A330s. We’re gonna have retired 15 airplanes when they come on.

Cranky: So it’s primarily replacement.

David: Yes, primarily with some growth. And we’re getting [14] A321LRs for growth. Because the LR is going to be able to do a lot of the Transatlantic as well, southern and northern. So we’ll have a few units of growth and then we’re gonna have replacement.

Cranky: Are the 330neos that are coming going to have the same seats you have today?

David: It’ll be an upgraded seat. I don’t have exact details, but it’ll have lie flat, big screens, the whole bit. I think it’s going to be 35 [Ed note: actually 34] biz class seats on it and a premium economy section. [The 96-seat Economy Xtra section is an extra legroom section like Economy Plus, not a true premium economy]

Cranky: That’s new for you, right?

David: Yeah.

Cranky: My biggest question about the neo… it hasn’t been the most popular aircraft. It’s taken a few hits lately with Hawaiian going away from it and American choosing the 787. Why is this the right aircraft for TAP when others are coming to different conclusions?

David: I can’t speak for Hawaiian or American but it’s common to our existing fleet, so our pilots can fly the neo and the [A330]-200 so that’s important for transition and all that. And the economics are really good. I don’t know, Boeing’s being pretty aggressive with the 787, and the 787-9 and -10 are good airplanes, so it just depends on the individual airline. [The A330neo] is a great airplane, gonna offer us fuel economy. Our -900[neo] which is equivalent to an [A330]-300 are going to have lower fuel burn than an [A330]-200. So we’re going to have almost 300 [Ed note: actually 298] seats onboard in total and we’ll be burning less fuel than we’re burning today with 274, and our customers are going to love it.

Cranky: You talk about what routes it’s going to go on first, it’s replacement routes, but as you mention you have a few extra shells for growth. What does this open up for you that you can’t do today? Are we going to see you here on the West Coast?

David: Yeah, we totally plan on flying to the West Coast. In the Bay Area there are a lot of Portuguese that live there, and a lot of traffic to the Azores in the summer time. There’s a lot of Portuguese, and we think it’s a great market for us. It’s not just the West Coast, but we’d like to do equal the number of cities in North America as we’re doing in Brazil. We have 10 markets in Brazil, and we think North America including Canada can support 10 cities.

Cranky: How many today? You have 4 or 5? I guess it depends how you count Newark and JFK.

David: Toronto, Boston, JFK, Newark, and Miami, so we have 5 today with at least 5 to go.

Cranky: This we should see in the next couple years?

David: Yeah, you’ll see some next summer and the summer afterwards. Between the next few summers, you’ll see us get to 10.

Cranky: TAP obviously is an old-line carrier [that’s] been around for ages, and you stepped in to make a push to reinvent the airline. I know a big part of that is making Lisbon as a gateway to Europe, trying to increase connecting flows. How has it been working? Has it been going as you thought?

David: Yeah. Portugal is having a moment like no place ever has. People are loving that place. It’s unbelievable how much is being written and said. What we’ve done to that place, we brought more service from more places. Our [free] stopover program will bring in an extra 150,000 customers a year. And those people talk to their friends and relatives and associates at work saying “Wow, have you tried going to Portugal? It’s amazing.” The airport’s brimming with people, and we’re working closely with the government and ANA [Ed note: the Portuguese airport operator] to get it expanded as quickly as we can.

Cranky: What’s the split local versus connecting traffic?

David: Depends on where you’re talking. Brazilians go beyond more — more than 50 percent. But North America we’re getting more than 50 percent who stay in Portugal. We fly a lot from Northern Brazil, so we’re the only way to Europe without going back down to the South of Brazil. It’s like if you live in New York and you want to go to London, you have to go via Denver. That’s what people in Brazil have to do. We carry about a third of all traffic between Brazil and Europe because of what we have. The proximity between Brazil and Lisbon and pretty close, 7 hours away.

Cranky: From the US, it’s mostly Portugal destination. Is that something you want to change? Are you really trying to push to grow connecting?

David: Yeah. I’d like to have more.

Cranky: One way I know you do that, you have really low business fares. I guess in coach as well. But that’s part of the strategy, trying to drive [traffic] through price, or is that something that will shift now that you have the new aircraft with a newer, upgraded product?

David: We have more seats to sell. It’s more of a leisure market, so you know, we charge less. No different than JetBlue with Mint, they charge less than American does.

And that’s as far as we got. Again, if you have questions for David, go ask him yourself from 3p to 4p ET on Friday at the corner of Bogart and Grattan Streets in Brooklyn.

June 12, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

FAA Publishes Means to Comply with Part 23

FAA Publishes Means to Comply with Part 23:

Last August, the final rule overhauling the Part 23 airworthiness standards for general aviation airplanes officially went into effect. Now, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued 63 means of compliance (MOCs) for Part 23 that will foster faster installation of innovative, safety-enhancing technologies into small airplanes, while reducing costs for the aviation industry.

On May 11, the FAA published a notice of availability in the Federal Register accepting 63 MOCs to Part 23 that are based on consensus standards published by ASTM International. The MOCs listed in the notice are an acceptable means, but not the only means, to comply with the applicable regulations in Part 23, amendment 23-64, for normal category airplanes. The public comment period ends July 10.

The FAA participated with industry and other stakeholders in developing these consensus standards. The agency accepted 46 of the ASTM consensus standards as MOCs without change; the other 17 MOCs are a combination of the ASTM standards and FAA changes.

Accepting MOCsbased on consensus standardsto Part 23, amendment 23-64, is consistent with the Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013 and the FAAs stated intent in issuing the overhauled airworthiness rules

A summary of MOCs accepted by this notice is available on the FAA website. Guidance for proposing additional means of compliance to Part 23 for FAA acceptance is provided in Advisory Circular 23.2010-1.

June 11, 2018 at 06:56PM News and Updates

Who the F*&@ is Primera?

Who the F*&@ is Primera?:

It’s been awhile since I did one of these posts, but the time has come to take a look at Primera, an airline you may be surprised I’ve ignored for this long. After all, Primera had aggressive plans to use narrowbodies to fly between the US and Europe this summer. While there have been problems, it is actually flying on some routes. So let’s take a look.

Primera started out as an Icelandic company back in 2003. Its original focus was the usual story for an upstart in a cold weather climate: carry leisure passengers in cold places to the sun. It did just that primarily as a charter operator. That changed over time, and while the sun-chasing element is still there, it’s now doing it mostly with scheduled flights. The company relocated to Riga, Latvia with a subsidiary airline operating out of Denmark. You can see its European destinations here:

As you can imagine, Primera’s routes are pretty much taking the dots on the top half of the map and connecting them with the dots on the bottom half. The number of destinations may make you think it’s bigger than it is. The airline has, according to its website, 10 737s buzzing around Europe, and that’s it for now (but MAXs are on order). It seems to have carved out a decent niche, and that would normally be the end of the story. But Primera has decided to dream very big.

The airline made a big splash last year when it decided to take A321neos and fly them across the Pond. This summer, Primera is flying twice daily from Newark (one to Paris/CDG and the other to London/Stansted), once daily from Boston (3 weekly to Paris/CDG and 4 weekly to London/Stansted), once daily from Toronto (3 weekly to London/Stansted and 4 weekly to Paris/CDG), and toward the end of the summer it begins flying 5 weekly flights from Washington/Dulles to London/Stansted. I find this all very confusing, because the best I can tell, it only has two neos flying right now, so the math doesn’t add up. I know it has had to get creative — Newark to Paris is on a 767 right now — but presumably this is all due to not having enough airplanes in the fleet just yet. Eventually this should be all A321neo if it can make it long enough to get all those airplanes in the air.

The neo is configured with 198 seats onboard, which isn’t all that dense. (Hawaiian’s A321neo has 189, but all-coach operators can easily squeeze in over 220.) It does have two cabins, similar to what you’ll find on most longer-haul low-cost airlines, but it’s not an overly-generous premium cabin.

There are 16 seats in the premium economy section. This looks to be a fairly standard premium economy offering. Here’s the photo the airline shares.

Don’t be fooled. That first row does have a nice leg rest, but you can clearly see the rows behind do not. It looks like it’s just a domestic-style First Class seat with a footrest in most rows. You get a meal, a small amenity kit, and a power outlet when you fly. Oh and you get water. If an airline has to point that out as Primera does on its website, I’m not sure how “premium” it really is.

In the back, Primera provides the usual no-frills offering that you’d expect on an airline like this. One article says that the airline has 30-inch seat pitch in the regular seats which isn’t all that tight. But there is also an extra legroom section which apparently has two more inches, not all that roomy. You have to pay for any seat assignment, of course, and any food or drink you might want. The only thing included without charge is a USB power outlet.

The airline has strangely chosen the generic slogan of “Fly better, fly Primera Air.” The point, however, isn’t supposed to be that you’re flying “better” but rather that you’re supposed to be flying CHEAPER. And it IS cheaper at a quick glance. Looking at one way fares, I could get a coach seat the next day for $799 with no frills from Newark to London. I could also get premium economy for only $899 on that same flight. And if you have any kind of advance purchase, rates plunge. On July 7, when I checked on Friday, it was $279 with no frills to London or $749 in premium.

So what do I think of this? I don’t get it. An efficient widebody can get you lower seat costs than even the most efficient narrowbody. So on major Transatlantic routes like the ones Primera is flying, it’s going to be hard to compete. Even Norwegian knows to put 787s on those routes (when it isn’t leasing in some stray aircraft out of necessity). Sure, Primera can be a spill carrier in the summer when fares are high on the other airlines, but the rest of the year will likely be a bloodbath. This isn’t likely a sustainable model.

To me, the more interesting idea is that one that Primera had to scrap this year. It was going to fly from Birmingham in the UK over to North America this summer. A321neo delivery delays, however, killed that plan. That’s not entirely correct. It did start flying from Newark with a leased National 757, but with neo delivery dates slipping, it pulled the plug for all flights from June 21. It says it’ll try again next year.

That kind of market seems far more promising. There isn’t any Transatlantic service to speak of from Birmingham now, and a narrowbody could create a decent niche, especially during the summer. But we won’t know if that’ll work or not since the service is gone.

Primera apparently likes to think of itself as one of the “world’s top low-cost long-haul carriers,” but that distinction appears to be based upon weekly departures, not exactly a helpful metric. Just because you’re getting bigger doesn’t mean you’re doing well. This summer was a big jump for the airline, so we’ll see if the results are positive or not. Chances are, summer may be ok if enough people find that the airline exists, but when demand falls off into the fall, that’s when it will get tough. Personally, I’m hoping Primera makes it until next year. Then we can see if that Birmingham plan might work.

June 11, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

Cranky on the Web: Billions of Dollars Pour In…

Cranky on the Web: Billions of Dollars Pour Into LAX, Singapore’s Longest Haul:

Los Angeles’ Massive Airport MakeoverIcons of Infrastructure
I stopped doing freelance writing a long time ago, but Icons of Infrastructure asked me if I’d take a crack of some of the projects being done at LAX, and I was happy to jump back in the game. This piece focuses on just three projects – the northern part of the Midfield Satellite Concourse, the Delta SkyWay, and the Landside Access Modernization Project. Read the article for details.

Is now the right time for SIA’s relaunch of the world’s longest flight?Travel Daily Media
I didn’t write about it here on the blog, but Singapore has its new A350-900ULR aircraft coming in and that means Newark is back (with LA to follow). I was asked about why it failed before, and whether it’ll work this time around.

June 09, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

3 Links I Love: Airline CEOs Gather in Sydney,…

3 Links I Love: Airline CEOs Gather in Sydney, Heathrow Steps Ahead, Elite Airways:

This week’s featured link:
So Long, Sydney: Take-Aways From IATA’s Meeting of World’s Airline ExecsStuck at the Airport
I’ve still never been to IATA’s annual general meeting (AGM), because there always seems to be some kind of conflict. One day I hope to go since it’s quite the impressive gathering of airline CEOs. I didn’t find all that much newsy coming out of the event this year, but Harriet put together a brief synopsis with some links for those who want to see more about what went on.

Two for the road:
Heathrow Airport: Cabinet approves new runway planBBC
Another step forward for Heathrow’s 3rd runway. Now they say 2026… sure, right. I’ll believe it when I see an airplane landing on it.

John Pearsall of Elite AirwaysBill Green’s Maine
The opening shot of this local program seems to be about the Maine-est thing possible. Frankly, Elite is an airline that’s been around for a long time doing a lot of random things, and I’ve almost completely ignored it. Apparently 757s are now coming? I don’t understand how this airline even exists, but something tells me that the profitable sports charter business allows them to try other strange things (like Bimini, which surprised Bill Green as well) and still survive.

June 08, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

FAA Establishes Restrictions on Drone Operatio…

FAA Establishes Restrictions on Drone Operations over DOJ and USCG Facilities:

At the request of federal security partners, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been using its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 99.7 Special Security Instructions to address concerns about drone operations over national security sensitive facilities by establishing temporary Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) specific flight restrictions.

Information on the FAA Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), which defines these restrictions, and all of the currently covered locations, can be found on our website.To ensure the public is aware of these restricted locations, this FAA website also provides an interactive map, downloadable geospatial data, and other important details. A link to these restrictions is also included in the FAAs B4UFLYmobile app.

Additional, broader information regarding flying drones in the National Airspace System, including frequently asked questions, is available on the FAAs UAS website.

In cooperation with Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the FAA is establishing additional restrictions on drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of the following federal facilities:

  • United States Penitentiary (USP) Tucson near Tucson, AZ
  • USP Atwater near Atwater, CA
  • USP Victorville near Victorville, CA
  • USP Florence High near Florence, CO
  • USP Florence ADMAX near Florence, CO
  • USP Coleman I near Sumterville, FL
  • USP Coleman II near Sumterville, FL
  • USP Marion near Marion, IL
  • USP Terre Haute near Terre Haute, IN
  • USP Big Sandy near Inez, KY
  • USP McCreary near Pine Knot, KY
  • USP Pollock near Pollock, LA
  • USP Yazoo City near Yazoo City, MS
  • USP Allenwood near Allenwood, PA
  • USP Canaan near Waymart, PA
  • USP Lewisburg near Lewisburg, PA
  • USP Beaumont near Beaumont, TX
  • USP Lee near Pennington Gap, VA
  • USP Hazelton near Bruceton Mills, WV
  • United States Coast Guard (USCG) Baltimore Yard, MD
  • USCG Base Boston, MA
  • USCG Base Alameda, CA
  • USCG Base Los Angeles/Long Beach (LALB), CA
  • USCG Base Elizabeth City, NC
  • USCG Base Kodiak, AK
  • USCG Base Miami, FL
  • USCG Base Portsmouth, VA
  • USCG Base Seattle, WA
  • USCG Operations System Center (OSC) near Martinsburg, WV

These changes, which have been highlighted by FAA NOTAM FDC 8/8653, are pending until they become effective on June 20. Note that there are only a few exceptions that permit drone flights within these restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA.



This is the first time the Agency has placed specific flight restrictions for unmanned aircraft, or drones, over Federal Bureau of Prisons and US Coast Guard facilities. The FAA has placed similar flight restrictions over military installations that remain in place, as well as over ten Department of Interior facilities and seven Department of Energy facilities.

Operators who violate the flight restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.

The FAA is continuing to consider additional requests by eligible federal security agencies for UAS-specific flight restrictions using the agencys 99.7 authority as they are received. Additional changes to these restrictions will be announced by the FAA as appropriate.

June 07, 2018 at 07:08PM News and Updates

Why Won’t American Let Me Use Miles on a Conne…

Why Won’t American Let Me Use Miles on a Connecting Flight? (Ask Cranky):

It’s time for another Ask Cranky. This one is a follow-up on a post I wrote last December.

I read your post in December [about American opening up more award space on connecting flights] and I am NOT seeing this space open up. In fact it has gotten worse. I’m trying to fly from Houston to Champaign, IL and despite [a MileSAAver] being available on both Houston to Dallas/Ft Worth and Dallas/Ft Worth to Champaign, I cannot book [a MileSAAver] from Houston to Champaign.

Is there anyone at American you can reach out to and see why the situation has not improved? I have tried calling and speaking to their agents and even supervisors, but they say, “The computer says no.” I am frustrated.

Good catch here, and sure enough, this is happening. It’s the exact opposite of what American said it was doing last December, so it had me a bit puzzled initially. But I suppose it does make sense.

You’ll remember back in December I said this:

Thanks to improved revenue management techniques, American has become much more skilled at maximizing its revenues on every flight it operates. So if the airline is going to open up more award availability, it wants to do it in a way that can have the lowest impact on ticket revenue.

In the original example, that meant American was fine selling cheap award tickets from Richmond to LA via Philly but not on the two local markets where it could get a high fare. But this can work in reverse as well. Let’s take a look at what Jon was talking about.

No need to share the dates here, but you can rest assured that these are all on the exact same date. First, here’s the availability from Houston to Dallas/Ft Worth:

Then there’s Dallas/Ft Worth to Champaign:

And finally, here’s the Houston to Champaign display:

We can really dive in and examine why this might or might not make sense on these specific flights, but I can guarantee you that American isn’t doing that manually.

Sure, Houston to Dallas is a big market with competition and cheap fares. So if American can take 7,500 miles instead of the $100 it’s likely to get on a fare, then that’s not bad at all. Might as well open things up and let travelers burn their miles. And on Dallas to Champaign, well, it’s an incredibly tiny market (less than one person a day) so the airline might think keeping seats open could help move people on to that flight instead of going via Chicago. But again, that’s a TINY market, and American can’t really be bothered getting into that type of detail.

Instead, what’s probably happening here is that American is setting up rules and letting the computers decide when to open up availability. Recently, American gained the ability to limit those by true origin and destination (Houston to Champaign) instead of just by individual flight, so that allowed the airline to manage things much more intricately. I have no idea how sophisticated the system is, but certainly the expected ticket price, mileage amount, and demand should come together and allow American to make a decision on whether it makes sense to give mileage seats at the low level or not.

This might be good for travelers, but frankly, we will never know. How so? Well, since American can control availability by full origin and destination and not just by flight leg, that means it may find that it’s worth opening up space more often than it used to.

Let’s zero in on that Dallas/Ft Worth – Champaign flight. Before, American had the binary option of leaving mileage availability open or closed for anyone who wanted to take that flight regardless of actual origin and destination. American might have made the decision in that scenario to not open it up. But now that it can open it just for the few people traveling on the local route, it may feel safe opening up availability that never would have existed before.

It’s also possible that before, American just would have left this open for anyone, and now it’s shutting down availability on connections because it has the ability to do so. That baseline is what we don’t know, and it’s why we can’t tell if this in particular is good for bad for travelers.

What I do know is that American has shown interest in giving people more opportunities to burn miles. That means that overall this is going to make more seats available. That doesn’t mean that in every situation there will be more availability, but more broadly, it does.

This does add complexity, and it’s already created an issue that’s fairly annoying. Jon can buy two tickets from Houston to Champaign for 20,000 miles if he’s willing to split them. Of course, if he’s checking a bag that’s likely to be problematic for him. But his other option is to spend a whopping 50,000 miles which would just be crazy. It would be nice if American had the ability to allow end-to-end redemptions, but I doubt that’s something we’ll see anytime soon.

In summary, this is frustrating for travelers who used to know you could just piece itineraries together flight by flight. But it should result in greater availability overall, so it’s not necessarily bad. What we do know is that this is reality, and it’s not going to change regardless.

June 07, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

Air New Zealand Starts Dating Its Former Best …

Air New Zealand Starts Dating Its Former Best Friend’s Worst Enemy:

There have certainly been some dramatic airline spats over the years, but down in Australia and New Zealand, quite the doozy is developing. Here’s a short synopsis for you to consider.

V and Q had a falling out years ago, and they don’t get along. N shows up on the scene, and V ends up befriending N. They start hanging out and bonding over a mutual dislike of Q. V and N hatch a plan to try and bring down Q once and for all. While this is happening, N and Q actually become friends, and N hurts V’s feelings along the way causing a rift that seems like it can’t be repaired.

If that sounds like the first half of the movie Mean Girls, it’s because it pretty much IS the first half of Mean Girls. (And, if you have a problem with Mean Girls, shame on you. Tina Fey is a national treasure.) But it could also very well double as a mostly-accurate representation of what’s been going down with Qantas, Air New Zealand, and Virgin Australia.

I wrote about the unwinding of the relationship between Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand just about a month ago. The two airlines came together to allow them both to better compete against Qantas in the Australia/New Zealand market. Though Qantas and Virgin Australia were always competitors in some fashion, things intensified when John Borghetti arrived as CEO of Virgin Australia. John used to be at Qantas and was spurned for the top job years ago. There was bad blood there, and Borghetti decided to build his vision at Virgin Australia instead.

Combining forces made sense previously, but Virgin Australia strayed. It took on a bunch of new investors to keep pumping money into the company when it couldn’t generate the cash itself, and Air New Zealand didn’t like the direction that the airline was taking. So the relationship frayed and Air New Zealand went its own way. It was all understandable. But now Air New Zealand is turning to Qantas and that is quite the surprise.

This new relationship doesn’t go as deep as what Air New Zealand had with Virgin Australia. That included a joint venture across the Tasman Sea. This one will, at least for now, simply be a codeshare with a few extra perks.

The idea is simple. Air Zealand will put its code on up to 85 routes Qantas flies within Australia. That means Air New Zealand can sell tickets to passengers on Air New Zealand aircraft to Australia and then beyond the gateway to a variety of Australian cities the airline either doesn’t serve today or will stop serving when the Virgin Australia deal ends in October. Qantas will put in turn put its code on up to 30 routes Air New Zealand flies within New Zealand, so it can fly people to the main New Zealand airports and then connect them on to smaller cities. This should all be new connectivity for Qantas since it doesn’t have a partner in New Zealand today except for its own handful of Jetstar routes that are flown between big cities. (That, for the record, isn’t changing.)

Beyond the codeshare, the two airlines will “coordinate check-in and handling” on the ground, and there will be reciprocal lounge access. Further, they’ll look at trying to cooperate on “biofuels, freight and ground-handling opportunities” in the future. In short, each airline had a need to better penetrate the other airline’s home market, so they found a way to put something together that benefits everyone. If there’s some gravy on top of this with things like biofuels, then that’ll be welcomed as well. But outside of this, they’ll remain competitors as always.

Virgin Australia must be livid. Not only has it lost its feed into New Zealand and Air New Zealand’s feed on its own domestic flights, now it has to watch those travelers be provided with a new option that makes for an easy replacement. And since that new option is with John Borghetti’s former employer and nemesis, it must sting.

Of course, there could be more to this story. Maybe it’s all a ruse. Imagine that V and N have planned to have N become best friends with Q, so it could infiltrate the inner circle and do some intelligence gathering. Then things will spiral out of control, and the regulators will gather everyone in the hangar and make them all talk through their issues. Sure, Q may get hit by a bus, but she’ll recover and everyone else will live happily ever after. But wait, that’s just a movie. It couldn’t happen in real life….

June 05, 2018 at 01:45PM Source: