This is Part 2 of this weekend’s Catching up on Travel News with TravelSkills. ICYMI here’s Part 1
United regional jets will get Wi-Fi. United said it will expand in-flight Wi-Fi service to more than 200 of its two-cabin United Express aircraft, including Embraer 170s and 175s, and CRJ700s. The service should be available on some planes before year’s end, with the whole job finished by next summer. “Early next year,” a spokesman said, “United expects to expand personal device entertainment to these aircraft, enabling customers to select from a wide range of movies and television shows to view on their Wi-Fi-enabled iOS and Android devices using United’s mobile app, as well as on laptop computers.” Some good news: Gogo’s wi-fi works very well on smaller aircraft where there are not too many passengers hogging bandwidth. While this installation announcement is great news, United still lags behind other major carriers when it comes to consistent inflight wi-fi.
Delta’s 747s disappearing faster. Like other airlines, Delta is phasing out its 747 fleet– last summer we reported that it was unloading four 747s in the coming year. This week, the carrier announced that it is speeding up that process. Delta’s CEO said the airline’s 747s — used on Pacific routes — should all be gone by 2017. It is acquiring new Airbus A330s to replace the Boeing jumbos. How do you feel about this? Leave your comments below.
SFO is hot hot hot. The technology boom is playing out at SFO with airlines from around the world clamoring to get in, or expand their service there. Here’s a roundup of all the action:
- United’s new nonstop from SFO to Tokyo Haneda starts Oct 26. (It will continue to offer flights to Narita, as will ANA. JAL now flies SFO-HND.)
- United added new nonstops to Taipei and Chengdu earlier this year.
- Etihad’s new “Jetihad” flights using a Jet Airways 777 to Abu Dhabi start on Nov 18.
- Emirates deploys a big A380 on SFO-Dubai (SFO’s longest route) on December 1.
- Hawaiian Airlines will fly nonstop SFO-Maui starting November 20.
- On Dec 16, China Southern cranks up thrice weekly 787 nonstops to Guangzhou and Wuhan. (Still unconfirmed by carrier…)
- Turkish Airlines nonstops to Istanbul start on April 13, 2015.
- British Airways new A380 flights to London start on April 2, 2015.
- Virgin Atlantic to double its SFO-LHR service for summer months in 2015
- Swiss International will increase its “Roche coach” frequencies between Zurich and San Francisco from seven to 13 a week from July 4-August 23, 2015.
- On the domestic front, JetBlue’s new flights featuring lie-flat Mint seats crank up on Oct 26. And it adds new nonstops to Las Vegas on January 5.
Foreign carriers boost U.S. service. Subject to government approvals, Ethiopian Airlines plans to launch new 787 service next June between Addis Ababa and Los Angeles three times a week (via Dublin, Ireland, which means you can now fly to Ireland on Ethiopian Airlines) … Effective November 10, Delta’s Skyteam partner KLM will boost its Atlanta-Amsterdam schedule from seven flights a week to 12 … Air France will deploy an Airbus A380 super-jumbo on its Paris-Miami route from December 1 through March 28 … In March 2015, Philippine Airlines will begin new east coast service, flying from Manila to New York JFK via Vancouver four times a week, using a two-class A340-300.
Virgin upgrades transatlantic fleet. Delta’s joint venture partner Virgin Atlantic has taken delivery of its first new 787-9 (the “stretch” version of the 787), and will put it into service October 28 between London Heathrow and Boston six times a week. Over the next few months, Virgin will deploy other new 787-9s from Heathrow to Dulles, Newark and JFK. The aircraft have 31 seats in Upper Class, 198 in economy and 35 in Premium Economy; the latter section has a new “Wander Wall” — “a social space where customers can stretch their legs and mingle with other passengers,” the company said.
London Bonus: Did you know that you can earn 7,500 to 35,000 MileagePlus bonus miles for United or Air Canada flights from the US or Canada to London this fall? To get the miles, register online and book between now and December 12 for trips through December 12.
Hilton’s new brand. What exactly is a “lifestyle brand” in the hotel industry? The definition is decidedly vague, but now Hilton is launching one of its own — Canopy Hotels. The company says the properties will provide “simple, guest-directed service, thoughtful local choices, and comfortable spaces, so guests simply feel better going forward.” (Isn’t that what all hotels do?) They’ll start opening in 2015; Hilton has letters of intent for Canopy properties in Portland,. London, Miami, Washington D.C., San Diego, Nashville, Savannah, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Ithaca, N.Y.
Another new Hyatt in NYC. Just two months after opening its posh Park Hyatt on West 57th Street, Hyatt has cut the ribbon on another new Manhattan property. The 122-room Hyatt Herald Square New York is on West 31st Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway– a still somewhat gritty area that is now packed with new, primarily “limited service” hotels. This full service Hyatt has three food and beverage outlets including a rooftop cocktail lounge with views of the Midtown skyline.
NOTE: This is Part 2 of this weekend’s Catching up on Travel News with TravelSkills. ICYMI here’s Part 1
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In Case You Missed It…
>The intersection of America’s obsession with food and travel.
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>Frequent travelers are getting some new perks and facilities at SFO.
>AT&T has a new plan for international calling.
>See Virgin America’s new facilities at Dallas Love Field.
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