More transpac + Slim-line seats slammed + More A321s + New SFO club + ATL free wi-fi + New Hilton brand

Seattle (pictured)  nabs two new nonstops to Asia (Photo: Jim Glab)

Seattle (pictured) nabs two new nonstops to Asia (Photo: Jim Glab)

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U.S. carriers launch new transpac routes. Transpacific travelers are getting several new options this month. Delta last week started daily non-stops from Seattle to Seoul, and on June 16 will add daily flights from SEA to Hong Kong. At San Francisco International, United plans a June 9 start for non-stop 787 service to Chengdu, China three times a week. (TravelSkills will be on the inaugural flight so stay tuned for our report!) And June 11 is the launch date for American’s new daily non-stops between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Shanghai Pudong. Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific last week added a fourth daily frequency to its LAX-Hong Kong route, and Etihad kicked off daily Los Angeles-Abu Dhabi transatlantic flights.

Survey slams slim-line seats. Those new slim-line seats that some airlines are installing in economy class aren’t a big hit with passengers, according to a new Tripadvisor survey of 4,300 flyers. Almost two-thirds said the slim-line seats are less comfortable than traditional seating. Uncomfortable seating remains air travelers’ top complaint (73 percent), followed by high fares and fees (66 percent), flight delays (45 percent), long waits at security (35 percent) and whiney kids (32 percent). Have you spent much time in slim-line seats yet? What did you think?

Delta's new A321s will be made in Mobile, Alabama (Airbus)

Delta’s new 195-seat Airbus A321s will be made in Mobile, Alabama (Airbus)

Airlines go for A321s. After years of adding Airbus A319 and A320 narrow-bodies to their fleets, U.S. carriers are now trending toward the larger A321. Delta just ordered 15 more (for a total of 45, starting in 2016); American selected specially-configured A321s for its new transcon fleet, and JetBlue will use them for its new premium-cabin (Mint) transcon service as well. What’s the attraction? They can carry many more passengers (e.g., 192 seats on Delta’s version, vs. 150 for its A320s) for almost the same amount of fuel burn.

Eagle getting new jets. American Airlines has taken delivery of the first of 30 new CRJ-900s that will fly under the American Eagle banner. They’ll have 12 first class, 32 Main Cabin Extra and 32 main cabin seats, and they’ll be equipped with Gogo Wi-Fi technology. No word yet on which routes get them first.

US Airways adds code-shares to Germany. American Airlines has long had code-sharing with oneworld partner airberlin, and now AA affiliate US Airways does too. US Airways’ code has gone onto airberlin flights from ORD, MIA and JFK to Berlin; and from MIA, JFK and Ft. Myers, Fla. to Dusseldorf.

2 most popular TravelSkills posts last week: 5 key questions to ask at hotel check in | Tip: What exactly is “high tea?”


Free Champers at the brand new United Club at SFO on opening day! (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Free Champers at the brand new United Club at SFO on opening day! Stay tuned to TravelSkills for a slideshow! (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

New UA Club at SFO. United recently opened a temporary 5,000-square-foot United Club at San Francisco International. It is located on the mezzanine level over the corridor connecting the new Boarding Area E with Boarding Area F. The temporary 100-seat club is expected to be open for only 16 months while a brand new United Club is being built nearby. It supplements existing Clubs in T3’s Boarding Area F Rotunda and the International Terminal. TravelSkills was there with a camera on opening day so stay tuned for a slideshow! 

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ATL offers free Wi-Fi. Travelers at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson can now access the Web anywhere, for no charge, using a system operated by ATL itself. Previously, a $4.95 fee applied. “The lack of free Wi-Fi put our airport at a competitive disadvantage and it was the number one complaint we would receive from our customers,” a spokesman said. Have you had a chance to try it yet? Let us know about your experience in the comments below! 


Hilton adds a new brand. Like Marriott’s Autograph Collection, Hilton Worldwide has created a new brand of independently owned and operated hotels that will participate in Hilton’s reservations and marketing networks and its HHonors program. Initial members of the new Curio-A Collection by Hilton are the SLS Las Vegas; Sam Houston Hotel, Houston; Hotel Alex Johnson, Rapid City, S.D.; and Franklin Hotel, Chapel Hill, N.C.

The brand new Park Hyatt  Vienna is open! (Photo: Hyatt)

The brand new Park Hyatt Vienna is open! (Photo: Hyatt)

New hotels from Hyatt, Loews. Hyatt has opened its first hotel in Austria. The Park Hyatt Vienna, on Am Hof Square, is a rebuild of a 100-year-old bank. Meanwhile, an early July closing is expected for Loews Hotels’ acquisition of the Graves 601 Hotel Wyndham Grand in downtown Minneapolis; and the Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis will be rechristened the Radisson Blu July 7 after a massive renovation.

In Case You Missed It…

>There are five questions you should always ask when checking into a hotel.

 >Take a tour of United’s first and business class lounges at London Heathrow’s brand-new Terminal 2.

>Pricing your summer trip to Europe? Be prepared for sticker shock!

>June 30 is the launch date for the reincarnation of 1980s low-fare carrier PEOPLExpress, operating three routes out of Newport News, Va.

–Jim Glab 


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JetBlue goes transpac? + Seattle battle + More 787s + Dirty planes + Centurion Lounge at MIA + New hotels for ATL SFO

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  • Bhavit

    I flew 737-900 sfo-ewe with the slimline seats. Extremely uncomfortable. One passenger called them lawn chairs as he was boarding

  • Bhavit

    United is replacing 757 with 737-900ER

  • Steve

    I flew on slim-line seats with China Eastern to Shanghai, and they were awful.When they recline, there’s no back support, so your back starts to ache. And then you keep sliding out of your seat, so every two minutes I found I was pushing myself back up into the seat.

  • musicmansf

    Will not fly on domestic United because of slimline seats – especially if they’re putting them on the 737 fleet too. Absolutely miserable from SFO-EWR last fall on those A320 suck buckets. All hail Virgin America!

  • Aaron

    I’ve also experienced Southwest slimline seats and didn’t hate them. So I think it does vary by airline. They may all look similar, but I believe they’re custom-designed for each airline.
    You can tell that the airlines are trying really hard to market these new seats as better for the passengers, but I really think it’s all about weight and space so they can cram in an extra row.

  • Chris McGinnis

    Yikes! Thanks, Aaron. I just rec’d an email yesterday from some who flew Alaska’s slimlines from SEA… and liked them! — chris

  • Aaron

    Just flew in a UA A319 a couple days ago that had the new slimline seats, and it was perhaps the most uncomfortable flying experience I’ve had in a long time. The seats have very little cushioning, especially on the back, and no lumbar support. I might have been more comfortable sitting on two wood boards. To make matters worse, the recline was broken, so I couldn’t even get that tiny 2-inch recline (not that it would’ve made much difference). Thankfully it was only a 2 hour flight. If it had been a transcon or international, I would’ve been in pain by the end.

  • Chris McGinnis

    Nearly all of them have started to install them.. Alaska, Southwest, Delta and United immediately come to mind…. — chris

  • AG

    It looks like United and Delta have installed the Slim Line Seats and have conducting their own survey’s that say that some customers like them better. I guess a survey needs to be done on which airlines Slim Seats are actually lacking.

  • John

    I believe US Airways was the first to use the A321 here in the United States. When I first saw them several years ago at SFO, they appeared to be the 757 replacement. Not sure if United is heading the same direction as it’s competitors as they keep up their current Airbus orders.

  • Chris Walker

    Finally! ATL joins the rest of the airports of the world and offers free wi-fi. It’s about time! Glad to see the airport is reacting to complaints about lack of an otherwise universal service.