Routes: SFO, LAX, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Miami, Newark, JFK

United is boosting capacity on its new route from SFO to Auckland. (Image:

United is boosting capacity on its new route from SFO to Auckland. (Image:

In the latest international route news, United boosts capacity on a new transpacific route out of San Francisco but drops a transatlantic route; a Chinese carrier starts new flights to Los Angeles; Chicago O’Hare gets a new route to Taiwan; low-cost Icelandic carrier WOW adds another U.S. gateway; KLM revives Miami flights; and Delta resumes service to a Canadian destination.

United Airlines just started its San Francisco-Auckland service in early July (after a 13-year hiatus), but now the New Zealand Herald reports that the airline is increasing capacity on the route. It said United has boosted flight frequencies between SFO-Auckland from five a week to daily service, and has also switched out the 787-8 it was using on the route to a larger 777. SFO-AKL fares are currently in the $1,000 roundtrip range, but occasionally dip slightly below that.

Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, United plans to drop its current service linking Newark with Belfast, Northern Ireland effective January 9. Why? Because the subsidy paid to United over the last three years ran out. The cancellation has caused much consternation as it was the only nonstop link between Northern Ireland and the US.

At Los Angeles International, Chinese carrier Sichuan Airlines is due to start new service on December 6 to Jinan, with continuing same-plane service to Chengdu. The carrier will use an Airbus A330-200 for the service, which will operate twice a week, according to News of the new route comes just a couple of weeks after Sichuan Airlines, with little fanfare, kicked off its first U.S. route; in mid-October it started flying, also twice a week with an A330, from LAX to Hangzhou with continuing service to Chengdu.

EVA's "Hello Kitty" 777-300ER now flies between Houton and Taipei. (Image: EVA)

One of EVA’s  777-300ERs  has “Hello, Kitty” livery. (Image: EVA)

Taiwan’s EVA Air last week started flying between Taipei and Chicago O’Hare, operating four flights a week with a 777-300ER. EVA offers extensive connections beyond Taipei to other Asian destinations, including 27 cities in mainland China. EVA also flies to New York, San Francisco, Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver.

Wow Air, Iceland’s fast-growing low-cost airline, will add yet another U.S. gateway on June 17, when it begins service from Pittsburgh International to its hub at Reykjavik’s Keflavik Airport with an Airbus A321. The carrier will offer fares starting as low as $99 each way to Iceland, with connecting service starting at $149 each way to European destinations including Paris, London, Frankfurt and others – plus add-on ancillary fees, of course.


Wow Air will use a narrow-body for new Pittsburgh service. (Photo: WOW Air)

KLM, which dropped service to Miami in 2011, started it up again last week. The Dutch airline is offering three flights a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays) from Miami to Amsterdam Schiphol using an Airbus A330-200. The seasonal service will continue through June 2017.

Delta Air Lines will revive service from its New York JFK hub to Halifax, Nova Scotia, effective January 9. The carrier said it will use a 76-seat CRJ-900 on the route, offering first class, Comfort+ and regular economy seating.

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Most popular: Cheap flights to London | Transcon sale | Free Vegas | Hilton promo | Best Credit Card

Washington DC

What a great week to be in Washington DC on the eve of an election for a Boarding Area conference (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

TravelSkills’ 10 most popular posts over the last week (descending order):Weekend Edition

British Airways adds yet another Bay Area nonstop

Routes: Delta, ANA, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, JetBlue, Alaska

Deal Alert: Transcon fares plummet in December

5 fabulously free things to do in Las Vegas

The view over the Venetian from my room at the Palazzo in Las Vegas (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Don’t miss our post about free things to do in Las Vegas.  (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

17 moments in 17 hours on Singapore Airlines Airbus A350

These two Virgins are splitting up

Delta details plush premium economy plans

How to choose the best travel credit card

New hotels: Minneapolis, Chicago, Silicon Valley, Nashville, Atlanta

10 New device offers drivers a heads-up, hands-free display

Don’t miss: More cheap flights across the Atlantic-KLM, AirFrance, BA


Hilton HHonors members who book through the HHonors App (get it here) and pay with a Visa credit card for stays during November 2, 2016 – January 31, 2017 will earn an additional 5,000 Bonus Points.  How? Here are the details

hotel hall corridor

REDRUM! We checked out this gorgeous new hotel recently and will write about it this week. Any guesses? (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Links to stories from other sources that we thought you’d like to read:

Post-takeover layoffs begin at Starwood

Marriott installs “like” buttons throughout hotel

A beautiful behind-the-scenes planespotting tour at SFO (Slideshow)

Airlines bump up capacity for bigger Thanksgiving travel crowds

Airlines: Profitable, but worried

Delta rolled out updates to its already awesome app last week. Details included in this short video:

New pet relief rooms in concourses at ATL include fire hydrants

Delta finished Wi-Fi installations on its long-haul aircraft

Study: Most companies’ travel policies don’t cover Uber/Lyft rides on international trips

Uber unveils a big redesign of its app

Hello Gorgeous! New spa for Delta employees at ATL

Judge refuses to throw out price-fixing suit against major U.S. airlines

Lufthansa retires its last 737

Survey: Business travelers are more concerned about maintaining a good work/life balance

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More cheap flights across the Atlantic?

Air France's bhub at Paris Charles de Gaulle. (Image:

Air France’s hub at Paris Charles de Gaulle. (Image:

As ultra-low-cost carriers and well-financed Middle Eastern airlines continue to expand internationally and capture more global market share, Air France-KLM and British Airways are trying new strategies to fight back with cheap flights.

Air France-KLM just announced it will create a new long-haul operation – it currently calls the project ‘Boost’ – to be based at Paris Charles de Gaulle, as a “response to the Gulf State airlines which are developing at low production costs on key markets where Air France-KLM is pursuing its growth ambition.” And British Airways is mounting a competitive response to Norwegian on a pair of North American routes, using reconfigured aircraft with more seats that will permit lower operating costs. (Note those new nonstops just announced between Oakland & London- resulting in a nice fare war putting cheapest flights in the $500 roundtrip range)

Air France-KLM said that the new company, which will have 10 long-haul planes by 2020, “will propose a simple, modern and innovative offer, whose positioning will not be low cost. It will offer its customers business and leisure destinations with standards comparable to those of Air France in terms of product quality and the professionalism of the crews.” But it said the new operating unit will be “competitive and innovative,” and will serve as a laboratory for new products, technology, catering, cabin design and customer service innovations.

The company said Boost will allow it “to go on the offensive by opening new routes, reopening routes closed due to their lack of profitability and maintaining routes under threat.” It is expected to start operating in about a year, initially focusing on routes to Asia.

British Airways B777

British Airways will fly nonstop between Oakland and London-Gatwick using a Boeing 777-200ER (Photo: British Airways)

British Airways, meanwhile, is focusing on long-haul competition to the U.S. from ultra-low-cost competitor Norwegian. BA recently announced plans to start flying next year to Ft. Lauderdale and to Oakland from Norwegian’s U.K. base at London Gatwick instead of BA’s big hub at London Heathrow. Norwegian already flies both of those routes from Gatwick.

And news came out this week that BA’s new Gatwick routes will eventually use reconfigured 777s that are packed with more seats. According to the U.K. publication Business Traveller, BA plans to increase economy seating in its Gatwick-based 777s from nine-across to 10-across. The aircraft will still offer Club World business class, but with the seat count in that cabin decreased from 40 to 32. The total seat count on the planes will grow from 280 to 332.

BA said the reconfiguration will give its Gatwick-based 777s a lower per-seat operating cost than Norwegian’s 787 Dreamliners.

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Best/worst days, airports & airlines for Thanksgiving


Carving out some time for Thanksgiving travel this year? I’m not! (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

The crazy Thanksgiving peak travel week is almost upon us; it can be a great time for reuniting with family and friends back home, but it can also be a time of travel trauma when you’re actually trying to get there.

Overall, travelers, the airlines and airports seem to have gotten the Thanksgiving travel drill down in recent years. When everyone plays by the rules and the weather cooperates, everything goes pretty smoothly and there’s a collective sigh of relief and a “well that was not so bad after all” when it’s all over. Hopefully that will happen again this year.

Did you think Thanksgiving travel was crowded and hectic last year? Well, in 2016, according to the airline trade organization Airlines for America (A4A), you can expect to see 55,000 more passengers per day than you did during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday period. “Highly affordable air fare is driving that increase,” A4A said. Airlines have bumped up capacity to handle the extra loads.

U.S. airlines expect to carry an average of 2.27 million passengers a day during the Thanksgiving period, which A4A defines as the 12 days from Friday, November 18 through Tuesday, November 29. Thanksgiving is Thursday, November 24. The group said it expects the busiest travel days to be – in descending order – Sunday the 27th, Monday the 28th, and Wednesday the 23rd, with the lightest travel, as usual, on Thanksgiving Day itself.

But the travel search engine Skyscanner looked at its data and came to a different conclusion: It predicts the busiest day for air travel will be Saturday, November 19, “with travelers taking advantage of the short workweek to get away for a longer period of time,” said Randi Wolfson, the company’s communications chief for the Americas.

And where will it be the busiest on that day? Skyscanner predicts that passenger traffic will hit levels three times or more above average at New York LaGuardia; Washington Reagan National; and Orange County, California’s John Wayne Airport. Traffic is expected to be twice the usual level or more at both Chicago airports, all three Bay Area airports, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, New York JFK, Newark, Philadelphia, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Los Angeles International and Burbank.



Another take on holiday travel trauma comes from, which conducted a study of airline cancellation rates over the holidays during the past six years at the nation’s 50 busiest airports.

Its main conclusion? “If you have only one holiday to choose for a flight home, make it Thanksgiving” instead of Christmas, Milecards said. Why? Because the flight cancellation rate around the late December holidays is five times greater than at Thanksgiving – 2.1 percent of all flights vs. 0.4 percent. The days when your flight is most likely to be canceled are December 26 and 27, the company said, while the best odds for avoiding a cancellation are on December 23 and 24.


With a hub at New York’s JFK, which has been hit by snowstorms during recent holidays, JetBlue takes a hit. Chart:

The worst holiday-period cancellation rate is at Newark Liberty International – almost three times the national average, and it’s worse around Christmas than Thanksgiving, with a cancellation rate of almost 6 percent. Airports with the lowest cancellation rates around the holidays are Honolulu, Oakland and Seattle, while the lowest rates for major connecting hubs are at Salt Lake City and Denver.

Milescards found that cancellation rates are much higher for shorter flights, such as San Francisco-Sacramento, than for longer flights such as transcons.

You can see several charts here documenting the findings of’s holiday flight cancellation study.

I’m staying put in San Francisco for Thanksgiving this year, with our feast just a short drive away. What about you? Will you brave the skies this year? 

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These two Virgins are splitting up

Virgin Atlantic is one of several carriers putting 787 Dreamliners onto Bay Area routes. (Image: Virgin)

Virgin Atlantic flies 787 Dreamliners on its San Francisco route. (Image: Virgin Atlantic)

Are you a member of Virgin America’s Elevate loyalty program hoping to book an award flight on partner Virgin Atlantic? Then you better act fast – really fast.

Virgin America said on its website that the two airlines “will be sunsetting their frequent flyer partnership on November 13, 2016.” The last date for Elevate members to claim award travel on Virgin Atlantic with Elevate points is November 12, following the usual booking procedure.

And Elevate members will no longer earn points for travel on Virgin Atlantic after November 12.

“Virgin America will continue to offer a range of other airline partners through the Elevate program, including Virgin Australia, Hawaiian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Emirates,” the company said.

Why the split-up? Virgin America said Virgin Atlantic “is introducing some changes to its loyalty program, and due to technical limitations, the Elevate program will no longer be compatible with (Virgin Atlantic’s) Flying Club once Virgin Atlantic upgrades the back end of its program on November 13.”

Of course, other factors could be in play as well. Barring government intervention, Virgin America is about to be acquired by Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines is involved in a major market share battle at its Seattle hub with Delta Air Lines. Delta Air Lines is the owner of a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic. Connect the dots.

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Delta details plush premium economy plans

Delta's premium economy cabin will debut on its A350s in about a year. (Image: Delta)

Check out the waffle weave on Delta’s premium economy cabin which will debut on its A350s next year. (Image: Delta)

Last spring, a few months after American Airlines announced that it would put a new premium economy class of seating into its international fleet, Delta promised that it would do the same – but it offered no specifics except to say the product would debut on its new Airbus A350s. Well, today Delta unveiled the details of that new seating class.

Delta said the new cabin, called simply Delta Premium, will be introduced on select international A350 flights starting in fall of 2017; in 2018, Delta Premium will spread to the airline’s 777 aircraft, and “additional fleets may be added,” Delta said.

The new seating will provide “up to” 38 inches of pitch, 19 inches of seat width, and seven inches of recline, Delta said, along with adjustable leg and head rests and power ports. Seatbacks will have 13.3-inch high-res video screens, and Delta Premium passengers will get noise-canceling headphones, Westin Heavenly in-flight blankets and Tumi amenity kits.

Delta Premium

Delta’s A350s will have 48 premium economy seats- this one is in the recline position note footrest (Image: Delta)

At the airport, Delta Premium customers will be offered a pre-departure beverage service and the benefits of the airline’s Sky Priority service – faster check-in and security screening, priority boarding and expedited baggage handling. There’s no word yet on the pricing premium that Delta will charge for the new seating category.

The new Delta Premium cabin will be distinct from and superior to the airline’s extra-legroom Comfort+ economy seats, which it started selling earlier this year as a separate fare category. Speaking of Comfort+, will that option still be there in between regular economy and Delta Premium seating? “Comfort+ will not be available on the A350,” a Delta spokeswoman told TravelSkills.

Delta said the A350s will have 32 Delta One suites, 48 Delta Premium seats in a 2-4-2 layout and 226 main cabin seats. These are the same planes on which Delta will introduce its new Delta One suites, which it calls “the world’s first business class cabin to feature a sliding door at each suite.”


Singapore Airlines also has premium economy seating on its new A350s, which started flying to San Francisco last month. See Chris’s first-person trip report plus images of SIA’s premium economy cabin.


Delta's A350s will also debut its new Delta One business cabin. (Image:" Del;ta)

Delta’s A350s will also debut the new Delta One business cabin. (Image: Delta)

This is a busy time for new international cabin classes on U.S. carriers. American’s new premium economy product will make its first appearance starting this week on the airline’s new 787-9s flying from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Madrid and Sao Paulo.

And in just a few weeks – starting December 1 – United’s new Polaris international business class is due to start appearing on its 777-300ERs, and United officials will cut the ribbon on a new Polaris business class lounge at Chicago O’Hare — the first of nine new lounges coming to the airline’s primary international airports.

Delta’s announcement leaves United as the only one of the U.S. Big Three international carriers that has not yet issued any plans to add premium economy seating to its long-haul fleet.

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Deal Alert: Transcon fares plummet in December

Smaller airlines are concerned that they can't gain access to New York's airports. (Image: Jim Glab)

Low fares but high hotel prices in NYC this December (Image: Jim Glab)

Looking for a nice, easy trip during one of the slowest travel periods of the year? Maybe you are taking a mileage run? Then take a look at these fares for transcontinental trips (East, West coasts & Florida) during the first two weeks of December. 

Starting on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (Nov 29) and running up until the Christmas holiday peak, fares are just $267 round trip on all carriers flying between San Francisco and New York City.

Fares are slightly higher at around $285 round trip between Los Angeles LAX and New York City, too. Any time I see a California-New York nonstops drop below $300 I know I’ve got a great deal on my hands.

And it’s not just California– lowest fares are running at about $282 between Seattle and New York, too on Delta, Alaska and JetBlue.

Google flights for trips Dec 5-Dec 12

Google Flights for SFO-JFK trips Dec 5-Dec 12

Caveat: Early December may be a cheap time to fly to NYC, but it’s not a cheap time to stay in a hotel there… those first few weeks of December when the first flurries fall and 5th Avenue gets all decked out in holiday splendor are super expensive at hotels. On early December weekends it’s tough to find a decent hotel for less than $500 per night. But everyone has a friend with a sofa-bed in NYC to stay with, right? 🙂

And for New Yorkers headed west, December is a fabulous and festive time to be in Wine Country. And in LA and SoCal, you can still go to the beach.

Delta SkyClub

Fly California to Atlanta to see Delta’s new Sky Club on Concourse B for less than $300 round trip (Photo: Chris Rank, Rank Studios)

SFO-Atlanta is super cheap in December, too. I’m looking at just $248 round trip on United’s ATL-SFO nonstops. Delta’s are higher, but still a bargain at about $313. If you are willing to chance it with Frontier on ATL-SFO, you can go for $197 roundtrip, but you’ll pay dearly for extras like checked bags.

And hold on… are you ready for it? You can fly nonstop between LAX and Atlanta during December for just $192 roundtrip on American! Delta is slightly higher at around $260 round trip.


Super low fares on ATL-LAX in December! Source: Google Flights

From LAX there’s even more! Check Google flights on LAX-Ft Lauderdale or LAX-Orlando and you’ll find roundtrip fares in the $200 (or less!) range. Vamos! 

NOTE: These fares are available on Google Flights Wednesday, Nov 2 and subject to change.

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Stronger rights, better protections for travelers under Obama

Delta Connection/SkyWest is putting upgraded E175s into West Coast service. (Image: delta)

Airlines will soon have to include on-time performance of sluggish regional partners in overall rankings  (Image: delta)

While there’s a roaring debate these days about whether or not the last eight years have been good for the U.S., there’s little doubt that the period has been pretty good for travelers.

Last week the Obama Administration released new rules designed to enhance the rights of airline travelers, and to ensure they have access to full and unbiased information when they select a flight. These consumer protections are just the latest in an ongoing series of steps that the administration has put in place over the past eight years– and that’s in addition to other traveler-friendly strides such as the implementation of PreCheck and Global Entry, and the relaxation of rules regarding travel to Cuba.

The Transportation Department this month said it has started a rulemaking proceeding that would require airlines to refund the fees that passengers pay for checked baggage in the event their bags are “substantially delayed” after their flight. The proceeding would determine what constitutes a substantial delay.

In October, DOT also issued new final rules that will:

  • Require airlines to report on-time arrival and departure performance for all domestic flights that operate under their brand – not just their so-called “mainline” flights. Currently, airline on-time performance statistics only include mainline flights, but major airlines typically put their brand identity on the flights of smaller regional airlines that are usually independently owned and operated, and that often do not operate on-time as much as their larger partners.
  • Ban airlines and online travel agencies from “undisclosed biasing” of flight listings that consumers search through. Airlines sometimes enter into special agreements with online agencies, offering them more remuneration for preferred placement of their flight listings in the overall search results. And historically, the higher up a flight is listed, the more likely it is to be booked.
  • Change the way mishandled baggage incidents are reported. Instead of relying on passenger reports of lost bags, DOT will require airlines to report the total number of bags they mishandled vs. the total number of checked bags they carried.

In addition, DOT has started a separate rulemaking to determine whether airlines should be required to share information on all passenger fees with the online agencies that sell many of their tickets. In recent years, most airlines have started to assess separate charges for many things that used to be included in the passenger’s ticket price, such as checked luggage, advance seat selection, in-flight meals, ticket change and cancellation fees, and so on. DOT rules haven’t caught up yet with these changes in the way air travel is marketed.

When checked bag fees started seven years ago, airlines quickly realized they were onto something big. (Image: Jim Glab)

Soon, airlines will have to reimburse fees paid for checked bags if they are lost or delayed (Image: Jim Glab)

These are just the latest rule changes. Five years ago, the administration finalized other consumer protection rules, including: (See our post from 2011)

  • A requirement that airlines must reimburse passengers for the checked-bag fee if their luggage is lost and not recovered. Previous rules said airlines had to compensate passengers for the lost bag and contents, but did not cover the checked bag fee.
  • An order that the fares advertised by airlines and ticket agents to consumers must include not only the air fare itself, but also all government-imposed mandatory taxes and fees. Previously, taxes and mandatory fees were split out from the basic fare, and were often hidden in tiny type at the bottom of ads. Airlines were also required to prominently display on their websites all the potential fees that a consumer might have to pay in addition to air fare and taxes.
  • A rule that doubled the amount of compensation airlines have to pay passengers who are bumped from a flight on which they hold a confirmed reservation (not counting passengers who voluntarily accept an airline’s offer in exchange for agreeing to take a later flight). The amount depends on how long it takes the airline to get the bumped passenger to his destination on a later flight; compensation is set at twice the cost of the ticket, up to a maximum of $650 for shorter delays and $1,300 for longer ones.
  • A mandate that airlines must let customers hold a reservation for at least 24 hours before deciding whether to buy it or cancel it, assuming the booking is made at least a week before departure.

And the one that got the most notice due to repeated press horror stories about hungry and impatient passengers stuck on board their plane for hours without taking off or going to the gate:

  • A “tarmac delay” rule initially introduced in 2009 that said airlines had to provide food and water after two hours and give passengers the option to get off the plane on domestic flights after they had been stuck on the tarmac for three hours (or face stiff fines). Two years later, that rule was expanded to set a four-hour tarmac delay limit on the international flights of U.S. and foreign airlines.

So what do you think? Has the air travel experience improved for you over the last eight years…or not? Please share your observations and experiences below!

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Delta, JetBlue dive deeper into “sharing economy”

Airbnb was at GBTA for the first time with a cool hipster like lounge booth (Chris McGinnis)

Airbnb’s cool hipster like lounge booth at recent business travel conference (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

“Sharing economy” companies continue to go after business travelers by forging loyalty program connections with major airlines and hotel chains. In the latest examples, Delta is teaming up with Airbnb and JetBlue has a new tie-in with Lyft.

Delta SkyMiles members can now earn one mile per dollar spent on qualifying stays (not counting taxes and fees) when they book Airbnb accommodations through a link on the Delta website ( New Airbnb customers can earn up to 1,000 bonus miles and a $25 coupon code applicable toward their first stay.

The new Delta connection comes just a few weeks after Airbnb forged a similar link with Qantas’ loyalty program. That one also earns one point per dollar spent, and also requires booking through the Qantas website. Virgin America has had a similar loyalty program link with Airbnb for over a year, and United recently added Airbnb to its MileagePlus X smartphone app, enabling customers to pick up three miles per dollar spent on accommodations.

Meanwhile, ride-sharing service Lyft this week announced a partnership with JetBlue Airways. Members of the airline’s TrueBlue program who link their accounts with Lyft can earn 30 TrueBlue points for each Lyft ride to and from any U.S. airport, up to a maximum of 1,200 points per year. Here’s how to link accounts.

New users who sign up for the ride-sharing service through JetBlue will get a $15 ride credit or 720 TrueBlue bonus points, and will have access to discounts via in-flight and digital promotions. Lyft will also get a special pick-up and drop-off area at JetBlue’s New York base, Terminal 5 at JFK Airport.

Are you more likely to give Airbnb a try now that you can earn Delta miles? Please leave your comments below. 

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British Airways adds yet another Bay Area nonstop

British Airways B777

British Airways will fly nonstop between Oakland and London-Gatwick using a Boeing 777-200ER (Photo: British Airways)

Brexit does not seem to be having much impact on British Airways’ plans for the burgeoning San Francisco Bay Area.

Today the airline announced that it will add a nonstop flight from Oakland to London-Gatwick on March 28, 2017. This is this is in addition to its recently deployed daily 787 Dreamliner nonstop between San Jose International and Heathrow, as well as its two dailies between SFO and Heathrow using an Airbus A380 or Boeing 777.

This means that you can now fly BA to London from all three Bay Area airports- no other carrier offers that. It also means that British Airways will be flying about 1,250 seats per day, each way, between the San Francisco Bay Area and London.

The new OAK-LGW flights will operate four days a week using a Boeing 777-200ER that seats 275 passengers: 203 in economy,  24 in premium economy and  48 in business class. (That’s a lot of room for upgrades or award flights!) The new flights will allow BA to tap into the populous and wealthy East Bay suburbs full of travelers who don’t (or won’t) cross the Bay for a flight out of congested SFO.

Gatwick Airport (LGW) is 28 miles south of central London but still convenient and even preferred by many travelers. Why? Because the easy 30-minute, approximately $25 Gatwick Express train can whisk you from the airport to Victoria Station in the heart of the city every 15 minutes. London’s Heathrow Express, while speedier, drops you off at Paddington Station, which may not be as convenient. On the flip side, those traveling into Oakland from London can now get to downtown San Francisco via a new BART spur that connects the the airport to the city in about 30 minutes for about $10 each way.

London's three primary airports. The Gatwick Express train connects the airport with Victoria Station (Image: Visit London)

London’s three primary airports. The Gatwick Express train connects the airport with Victoria Station (Image: Visit London)

This surprise move by BA comes on the heels of Norwegian Air’s introduction of Oakland-Gatwick nonstops last May.

To celebrate this announcement, British Airways has launched special fares for travel from March 28 to May 12 at about $600 roundtrip per person in economy and $1,115 in premium economy.  Business class fares run about $3,600. These fares include taxes, fees and charges.

These sale fares are higher than Norwegian Air base fares (which can run as low at $400 round trip), but keep in mind that Norwegian is a bit more fee-happy than British Airways. For example, you’ll pay $65 each way ($130 round trip) to check a bag on Norwegian Air for the flight to Gatwick– if you fly beyond Gatwick, you’ll pay a whopping $130 each way ($260 round trip) for that checked bag. British Airways does not charge a fee for the first checked bag for economy class passengers.  Both carriers charge fees for booking specific seats ahead of time. Norwegian Air flies a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route that has economy and premium economy seats, but no business class.

BA Club World (business class) travelers flying out of Oakland receive up to five days of free parking in OAK’s Premier Lot, an added value of $190. Also, an airport spokesperson told TravelSkills that British Airways and MAG, which manages Oakland’s new airport lounge, are working out an agreement to provide BA customers with complimentary access to a new Escape lounge located in Terminal 1 near BA gates. But at this time, no agreement has been reached. One-time passes to the lounge (opening in mid-November) go for $45.

Don’t miss! Trip Report: British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class San Jose-London

British Airways B777-200ER

Seatguru layout of British Airways B777-200ER (Image: Seatguru)

 Don’t miss! Trip Report: Oakland to London on Norwegian Air (kinda)

British Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance.

The year-round, 4x per week OAK-LGW flights will depart Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. BA will use Gatwick’s South Terminal where it moves into new digs in January– improvements include a brand new business class lounge, and upgraded check in area, and easier access to the Gatwick Express. (Currently, BA operates out of Gatwick’s North Terminal.)

BA seems to be on something of a roll recently. In addition to the new Oakland flight, British Airways has announced new nonstops to Ft Lauderdale and New Orleans from London in the last month.

Would you fly British Airways between Oakland and London? Why or why not? Why do you think BA is making this move? Please leave your comments below. 

–Chris McGinnis

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Routes: Delta, ANA, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, JetBlue, Alaska

Delta and ANA have shifted routes from Narita to Tokyo's close-in Haneda Airport. (Image: Haneda Airport)

Delta and ANA have shifted routes from Narita to Tokyo’s close-in Haneda Airport. (Image: Haneda Airport)

In international route news, Delta shifts a pair of Tokyo routes to a new airport and ANA does the same; Delta and Virgin Atlantic expand code-sharing to India with Jet Airways, and Delta drops a couple of Italy routes; British Airways adds a U.S. gateway – but not from Heathrow; JetBlue sets the launch dates for its new Havana service; and Alaska postpones the start of its new Cuba route.

New rights to fly to/from Tokyo’s close-in Haneda Airport took effect over the past weekend, resulting in some route changes at Delta and at Japan’s All Nippon Airways. Delta has started its new nonstops from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Tokyo Haneda, which replaces its MSP-Narita service; Delta also shifted its Los Angeles-Tokyo flights from Narita to Haneda (and earlier this month, Delta dropped its New York JFK-Narita route as well). Delta still flies to Narita from Seattle, Portland, Detroit and Atlanta.

ANA, meanwhile, has shifted its New York JFK and Chicago O’Hare routes from Tokyo Narita to Haneda.

Delta's code-sharing with India's Jet Airways is expanding to London and to Virgin Atlantic. (Image: delta)

Delta’s code-sharing with India’s Jet Airways is expanding to London and to Virgin Atlantic. (Image: Delta)

Across the Atlantic, Delta and partner Virgin Atlantic announced an expansion of Delta’s code-sharing partnership with India’s Jet Airways, which is currently available for connections to India via Paris and Amsterdam. Starting November 2, passengers on Delta and Virgin Atlantic flights into London Heathrow will be able to connect onto Delta code-shares operated by Jet Airways to Mumbai and Delhi, and beyond to 20 domestic destinations in India.

In other transatlantic news, for 2017 Delta will no longer offer summer seasonal service from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Rome or from New York JFK to Pisa; both routes had been planned to launch May 25. And to South America, Delta has just switched aircraft on its Atlanta-Buenos Aires route from a 767 to an A330-300, providing a 20 percent increase in the number of seats it flies.

British Airways next summer will add a new Florida route. The carrier said that starting July 6, it will fly to Ft. Lauderdale four days a week during summer and three days a week the rest of the year. But it will fly the route out of London Gatwick, not Heathrow. BA will use a 777-200 on the route, which will be its fourth into Florida.


Refrigerator magnets from a recent trip to Havana (Chris McGinnis)

JetBlue is the latest U.S. carrier to announce the starting dates for new service into Havana. JetBlue, which won rights for three routes into the Cuban capital, said it will begin daily roundtrips out of its New York JFK base on November 28; daily flights from Orlando on November 29; and daily service out of Ft. Lauderdale starting November 30 (increasing to twice a day December 1)

Alaska Airlines, meanwhile, has pushed back the start of its single new Havana route. The carrier had planned to start Los Angeles-Havana service on November 29, but now won’t begin flying the route until January 5.

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Most popular: Longest flight + California airlines + Best credit card + New lounge + Qantas

Chris McGinnis

Chris excited and looking fresh before this week’s 17-hour flight from SFO to Singapore- and back in just 4 days (Photo: Charles Schuler)

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