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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AIRLINES

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?”

AIRPORTS

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! 

HOTELS

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.

Which credit card is currently offering $500 in free travel (among many other bennies) when you sign up? Click here to find out about this “no-brainer” offer! 

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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