Thanks to ANA for inviting TravelSkills along for what turned out to be a very bumpy ride. All 787′s are currently grounded, and new San Jose – Tokyo flights are in limbo for the near future. Currently, it appears that the crux of the issue is the overcharging of the plane’s highly volatile lithium ion batteries.
Now I’m reviewing all the news I missed on this side of the Pacific last week. Lots happened here that will have an impact on TravelSkills Readers– BATs!
>American Airlines rolled out a new livery for its planes (see above). So long to its polished silvery birds. As usual, pundits have generally panned the new paint-job, but at TravelSkills, we like it. What do you think? Too bad that American’s presence continues to dwindle in the Bay Area as it focuses on other key hubs.
>The movement to re-name SFO for Harvey Milk is stirring up controversy– some city leaders and gay rights advocates embraced the idea early on, but the tide seems to be shifting away a name change, at least according to the letters to the editor in the San Francisco Chronicle. In any case, it appears that San Francisco voters will likely be seeing this on a November referendum. Let’s go ahead and vote on it now! How do you feel?
Please leave any additional comments you have about renaming SFO in the comments box below.
>The TSA has decided to remove all “backscatter” screening machines that use low-dose X-rays made by Rapiscan. Instead it will be using only the L3 millimeter wave machines (that use radio waves) nationwide. At SFO, only millimeter wave machines are in use. However, in San Jose, backscatter machines are still in use. Millimeter wave machines are circular, glassed-in units. Backscatter machines require passengers to stand between to large blue boxes.
>United has changed its boarding process, reducing boarding groups from an unwieldy seven to six. “Preboarding” is for Global services, uniformed military and passengers requiring assistance. Group 1 will now be for paid first/business class, Premier 1K and Platinum. Group 2 is for Premier and Star Alliance silver, gold, Mileage Plus Awards and Explorer card holders (good luck!). Groups 3-5 will be for everyone else. Will this help or hurt the boarding process?
>United has installed satellite based wi-fi on one 747, which means that passengers on that jet can log on on the long over-water flights. It’s also put it on two A319 flying domestic routes. (Good luck determining which ones and whether you’ll have it on yours…) Too bad you still can’t log on over the good old USA on most UAL flights, as you can on all Delta and Virgin America flights, and most Southwest and American flights. However, United says that the wi-fi access should be available on over 300 mainline aircraft by the end of this year. In an interesting new twist, the price is tiered– standard speed runs between $4 and $15 based on flight duration. For faster speeds, you’ll pay between $6 and $20.
>Starting in 2014, Delta Air Lines will require its elite level members to hit certain spending thresholds (from $2,500 to $12,500) in addition to miles flown to attain or maintain “medallion” status. This is seen by many as the first step in a process that will turn SkyMiles into a program based on how much money passengers spend instead of how many miles they fly. Virgin America and Southwest have already moved to revenue-based plans. Could United be next? Probably not until it has put its operational house in order… but you never know… stay tuned…
>The flu epidemic that has missed California is now hitting the state rather hard. Time to wash hands frequently, travel with a handkerchief and handiwipes, and keep your fingers away from your face. And if you get sick, please cough into your sleeve, collar or a hanky– not into your hand! Or just stay home and off planes…