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: Aucklandnz.com)

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 Routesonline.com. 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

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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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.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-4-07-59-pm

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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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.

Havana

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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Routes: SFO, LAX, DFW, New Orleans, Orange County, Miami, JFK, Houston

An Etihad Boeing 777-3FX (Photo: Etihad)

Etihad will shrink its San Francisco schedule and increase DFW service. (Photo: Etihad)

In international route news, Etihad will trim its San Francisco schedule and grow at Dallas, but WOW Air will increase service at SFO and Los Angeles; British Airways adds a new U.S. gateway; Southwest drops a Mexico route out of southern California; and Mexico’s Volaris adds more U.S. service.

Two years ago, Etihad Airways added San Francisco to its route map with daily flights to its Abu Dhabi base using a Jet Airways B777 and prompting “Jetihad” snickers. Etihad finally deployed its own metal on the route earlier this year, but now Routesonline.com reports that Etihad plans to cut its schedule by more than half. Effective next February 1, Etihad is due to reduce SFO service from seven flights a week to just three – and that is expected to continue into next summer. Then on February 2, Etihad will boost its Dallas/Ft. Worth-Abu Dhabi schedule from the current three flights a week to daily service, noting that traffic on that two-year-old route has “exceeded expectations.”

Skúli Mogensen, the founder and CEO of WOW Air (Photo: WOW Air)

Skúli Mogensen, the founder and CEO of WOW Air (Photo: WOW Air)

While Etihad cuts back west coast service, ultra-low-cost Icelandic carrier WOW Air will grow. Last June, the company started operating five flights a week from San Francisco to Reykjavik, and four a week from Los Angeles. But on March 26, WOW will increase its schedule to daily flights from both west coast cities – with one-way fares starting as low as $99 (plus heavy-duty fees, of course). WOW operates single-class A330-300s, although it does offer some extra-legroom seats for an extra charge.

On March 26, British Airways will begin flying a transatlantic route that currently has no non-stop service: New Orleans to London Heathrow. BA will fly the route on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays with a three-class 787-8 and a 9:10 p.m. eastbound departure.  The carrier said roundtrip fares will start at $734 in economy and $2,145 in Club World business class (based on current exchange rates).

British Airways will use a Dreamliner on its new route to New Orleans. (Image: British Airways)

British Airways will use a Dreamliner on its new route to New Orleans. (Image: British Airways)

Southwest Airlines flyers in southern California’s Orange County will have to find another way to get to Mexico City after January 4. That’s the date when Southwest is due to discontinue its daily 737 flights between John Wayne Airport and the Mexican capital.

Mexico’s low-cost Volaris just keeps expanding its transborder network. According to Routesonline.com, the carrier has plans to bring on four new U.S. routes this winter. On February 1, Volaris will begin daily service between Miami and Mexico City, along with four flights a week linking Miami with Guadalajara. Then on March 1, it will add daily flights from Mexico City to New York JFK and four a week between Mexico City and Houston. Just this month it added nonstops between SFO and Mexico City.

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Routes: Airberlin to SFO, LAX; Emirates, Lufthansa, Etihad, Southwest

Airberlin will add Berlin service from San Francisco and Los Angeles. (Image: Airberlin)

Airberlin will add Berlin service from San Francisco and Los Angeles. (Image: Airberlin)

In international route news, Airberlin plans a big increase in U.S. service for 2017, including new flights from Berlin to San Francisco and Los Angeles; Emirates adds another U.S. gateway starting in December; Lufthansa will add more capacity out of Denver; Etihad will more than double frequencies out of Dallas/Ft. Worth; and Southwest sets the starting date for its new Havana service.

Airberlin, which started new routes this year from Dusseldorf to San Francisco and Boston, will increase frequencies in those markets for 2017 and will also add more new U.S. routes including San Francisco-Berlin, Los Angeles-Berlin and Orlando-Dusseldorf. The company said its current U.S. operation will have up to 50 percent more flights when its 2017 summer schedule kicks in during May.

Among the changes: San Francisco-Dusseldorf service will increase from the current five weekly flights to daily service, and so will the current four flights a week between Boston and Dusseldorf. New service to Berlin’s Tegel Airport will include four weekly flights from SFO and three a week from Los Angeles. The new Florida route will bring five flights a week between Orlando and Dusseldorf; the carrier already flies to Miami and Ft. Myers. Airberlin said it is getting three more A330-200s to handle its increased U.S. schedules.

Emirates will use a 777 on its new Ft. Lauderdale route. (Image: Emirates)

Emirates will use a 777 on its new Ft. Lauderdale route. (Image: Emirates)

Emirates has announced a December 15 start for service to its 11th U.S. destination. The carrier will begin daily flights from Ft. Lauderdale to its Dubai base using a three-class 777-200LR. Emirates already flies to Orlando, a route it launched last year. The new Ft. Lauderdale service will benefit from Emirates’ code-share partnership with JetBlue, which has a hub at that Florida airport.

Lufthansa sees room for growth on its Denver-Munich route, which began earlier this year, so the carrier said it will boost frequencies on March 26 from the current five flights a week to daily departures, using a 255-seat A330-300. “Preliminary data show that for the first summer of service, the number of people traveling between Denver and Munich has increased by nearly 50 percent,” a Denver Airport spokesperson said, adding that the top connecting markets for Denver-Munich passengers include Budapest, Prague, Krakow and Kiev. Lufthansa also flies from Denver to Frankfurt.

Etihad will boost frequencies out of Dallas/Ft. Worth (Photo: Etihad)

Etihad will boost frequencies out of Dallas/Ft. Worth (Photo: Etihad)

Finding more traffic than it initially expected on its almost two-year-old route between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways plans to boost service from the current three flights a week to seven effective February 2. The carrier will continue to use a 777-200LR on the route. Etihad offers connections to 100 destinations from its Abu Dhabi hub, and also offers American travelers pre-screening by U.S. Customs and Border protection at that airport.

Southwest is the latest U.S. carrier to announce a starting date for its new rights to serve Havana, Cuba. The company said that on December 12, subject to Cuban government approval, it will begin flying to Havana from both Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa. (Southwest also set a November 13 inaugural date for flights from Ft. Lauderdale to the Cuban beach resort of Varadero.) The carrier is offering introductory Havana fares starting at $59 each way for purchase through November 20. Southwest set up a web page at www.Southwest.com/Cuba with details of the requirements for travel to Cuba and its flight schedules.

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New California routes: Southwest, AA, Delta, JetSuiteX, Mokulele + more

Southwest will add two more California routes in March. (Image: jim Glab)

Southwest will add two more California routes in March. (Image: Jim Glab)

In domestic route news, much of the action is in California, including a pair of new Southwest routes, new American flights from northern California and LAX, a new Delta market from Los Angeles, and new intrastate service from JetSuite and a small Hawaiian carrier; meanwhile, Alaska upgrades its equipment on two California routes.

Southwest Airlines, which has focused much if its recent growth on California, plans to add another pair of routes there. The carrier said that beginning March 9, it will start new service to Salt Lake City from both Sacramento and Burbank. Southwest is offering introductory fares starting at $59 one-way for booking through October 20.

American will begin Phoenix flights from Santa Rosa's Charles M. Schultz Airport. (Image: Charles M. Schultz Airport)

American will begin Phoenix flights from Santa Rosa’s Charles M. Schultz Airport. (Image: Charles M. Schultz Airport)

On February 16, American Eagle/SkyWest will kick off new daily non-stops between Sonoma County’s Charles M. Schulz Airport in Santa Rosa and AA’s Phoenix hub. The carrier will use a CRJ-700 on the route. Elsewhere in California, American plans to initiate summer seasonal service next year from Los Angeles International to Grand Junction, Colorado. The flights will operate from June 3 through August 19, also with an American Eagle/SkyWest CRJ-700.

Outside of California, American will begin new regional jet service on February 16 from Phoenix to Bullhead City, Arizona; and AA this month began American Eagle/Envoy Air flights twice a day from its Chicago O’Hare hub to Akron/Canton.

As we mentioned the other day in a post about the expansion of lie-flat premium seats on transcontinental routes, Delta plans to launch new service on April 24 between LAX and Washington D.C.’s close-in Reagan National Airport, using a 757-200 equipped with fully-flat seats in the front cabin. At the same time, Delta will drop one of its two daily Salt Lake City-DCA flights, replacing it with a Salt Lake-Washington Dulles service.

This Phenom 100 jet from JetSuite seats six (JetSuite)

A Phenom 100 jet from JetSuite (JetSuite)

JetSuiteX, which offers small-plane public charters within California, will begin new service October 17 between San Jose and McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, north of San Diego. The company will use a four-seat Phenom 100 to fly the route four times a week, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On the same day, JetSuiteX will boost frequencies between San Jose and Burbank to two flights a day– and currently flights from both Concord and San Jose to Burbank are on sale for just $59 each way (for November trips) and that includes checked bags and wi-fi.

Following United’s recent decision to stop flying between San Francisco and Santa Maria, California, that town just got new service from an unlikely source: Hawaii-based Mokulele Airlines. The carrier is flying four times a day between Santa Maria and Terminal 6 at Los Angeles International Airport using nine-passenger Cessna Grand Caravan turboprops.

In nearby Santa Barbara, meanwhile, Alaska Airlines has started to use new 76-passenger Embraer 175s on its routes to Seattle and Portland, replacing 70-passenger CRJ-700s. The new planes have first class, Preferred Plus and regular coach seating, and are equipped with Wi-Fi service.

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Gorgeous new hotels: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Maui, Buffalo

The impressive lobby of the new Four Seasons New York Downtown (Image: Four Seasons)

The impressive lobby of the new Four Seasons New York Downtown (Image: Four Seasons)

In domestic hotel developments, Four Seasons adds a second Manhattan location; the hotel closest to Los Angeles International Airport gets a makeover and rebranding; Hilton adds a DoubleTree in South Beach; Marriott Rewards members get a new option in Maui; and Starwood opens a Westin in the heart of New York State’s second-largest city.

At TravelSkills, we love NEW hotels– don’t miss our archive of the best of this beautiful new bunch here

Four Seasons Hotels, which has had a flagship property in midtown Manhattan for many years, has now opened a downtown location in the Big Apple. Located at 27 Barclay Street, at the corner of Church Street, The Four Seasons New York Downtown is close to the new World Trade Center and a block from City Hall Park. The property has 189 rooms and suites ranging from 400 to 2,400 square feet, and is home to the first Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Manhattan, called CUT. The hotel has a spa, an indoor lap pool and a 6,000 square foot fitness center. The building housing the hotel also has 157 Four Seasons private residences from one to five bedrooms, with access to hotel facilities. Rates begin at $629.

A refurbished suite at the Hyatt Regency at LAX (Image: Hyatt)

A refurbished suite at the Hyatt Regency at LAX (Image: Hyatt)

The Concourse Hotel, a block from Los Angeles International Airport at 6225 West Century Blvd., was already a Hyatt affiliate, but now the 580-room property is getting a $75 million overhaul and has been rebranded as the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport. The work should be finished in a few months, equipping all guest rooms with the Hyatt Grand Bed, wall-mounted 55-inch TVs with HDMI streaming, free high-speed Wi-Fi, and rain shower heads in the bathrooms. The redesigned lobby will feature a pair of new eateries: Open Market, with grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, soup, noodles, pastries and Illy coffee; and an all-day dining option called Unity LA. Free shuttles for guests depart to LAX every 10 minutes. Rates start around $186 for Gold Passport members.

Hilton's new DoubleTree in Miami's South Beach (Image: DoubleTree)

Hilton’s new DoubleTree in Miami’s South Beach (Image: DoubleTree)

What was once the 1954 Ankara Motel in Miami’s popular South Beach has been rebuilt and is now the newly opened Gates Hotel South Beach-A DoubleTree by Hilton. Located at 2360 Collins Avenue, the 235-room property is a walk away from Ocean Drive and the area’s dining and nightlife options. The hotel has a lobby bar that exits to an outdoor pool with solar-powered device charging stations. There’s a restaurant called The Continental; free Wi-Fi throughout the property; 24-hour business center and fitness center; guest bicycles; and free transportation to the beach. Rates start at $122.

The pool at Marriott's new Residence inn in Maui (Image: Marriott)

The pool at Marriott’s new Residence Inn in Maui (Image: Marriott)

Marriott Rewards members looking to redeem points for a Hawaii vacation have a new option: the newly-built, newly-opened Residence Inn by Marriott Maui Wailea. The all-suite property has studio, one-, and two-bedroom units with fully equipped kitchens and balconies. Recreational facilities include an outdoor pool and hot tub, putting green and basketball court. Guests get free hot breakfasts, grocery delivery service, and access to a fitness center, Wi-Fi, 24-hour grab-and-go market, and a business center. The hotel is located close to a shopping center, beaches, golf courses and a tennis club. Rates begin at $269.

Buffalo's new Westin is in the heart of downtown. (Image: Westin)

Buffalo’s new Westin is in the heart of downtown. (Image: Westin)

Got business in Buffalo? As part of an ongoing revival of the city’s downtown, Starwood Hotels has opened the newly-built Westin Buffalo at 250 Delaware Avenue, in the midst of the business and entertainment districts. All 116 rooms and suites have the signature Westin Heavenly Bed and Shower. The Westin offers 7,300 square feet of meeting space and a pair of dining venues: a signature restaurant called Patina 250 and the casual bistro-style Jake’s Café. Guests can take advantage of the WestinWORKOUT fitness center, and can borrow workout gear from New Balance or bicycles from the local Reddy Bikeshare program. Rates start at $166.

At TravelSkills, we love NEW hotels– don’t miss our archive of the best of this beautiful new bunch here

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Routes: LOT at LAX, AA seats, KLM popup, 2 new US cities for Icelandair

LOT Polish will use a 787 for new Los Angeles service in 2017. (Image: LOT Polish)

LOT Polish will use a 787 for new Los Angeles service in 2017. (Image: LOT Polish)

In international route news, LOT Polish Airlines will begin new service to Los Angeles and Newark; American Airlines officially launches its new international premium economy class in a few weeks; British Airways drops a Philadelphia flight but American adds one; KLM will fly to Minneapolis-St. Paul and offers San Franciscans a 787 sneak peek; and Icelandair plans to open up two more U.S. gateways.

LOT Polish Airlines will kick off the first non-stop service between the West Coast and Poland on April 3, 2017 when it begins service between Los Angeles International and Warsaw. LOT will fly the LAX route four times a week using a 787-8 Dreamliner. Also in April, the Polish carrier will resume service from Warsaw to Newark Liberty International, a hub for its Star Alliance partner United.  The Newark flights will begin April 28, initially operating three times a week with a leased 767-300ER, but switching to a 787 in August. With the addition of Newark flights, LOT will trim its 2017 summer schedule out of New York JFK from 12 flights a week to nine.

American's new Premium Economy section will have leather seats in a 2-3-2 layout. (Image: American Airlines)

American’s new Premium Economy section will have leather seats in a 2-3-2 layout. (Image: American Airlines)

When American Airlines puts its new 787-9s into international service next month, they’ll come equipped with the carrier’s new premium economy cabin – a first for U.S. airlines on international routes.  The first flights to offer the premium cabin will be from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Sao Paulo on November 3 and from DFW to Madrid on November 4. The premium economy service is in addition to (and priced higher than) the airline’s extra-legroom seating in the regular economy cabin. Premium economy seats have a 38-inch pitch, greater width than regular economy, adjustable headrests and footrests, larger video screens, noise-reducing headphones, free drinks and more.

British Airways’ longstanding Philadelphia schedule of two daily flights to London Heathrow will change in March 2017 when it drops one of them – the 10 p.m. departure. But joint venture partner American Airlines will pick up the slack, boosting its own PHL-LHR schedule from one flight a day to two.

Delta’s transatlantic joint venture partner KLM plans to kick off service on March 27 from Delta’s Minneapolis-St. Paul hub to Amsterdam using an Airbus A330 for three flights a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday). It hasn’t flown the MSP-Amsterdam route for 15 years, according to Airlineroute.com. Delta serves the route with two to three flights a day. Elsewhere, KLM is about to resume Miami service, as previously announced. October 30 is the launch date for the carrier’s three weekly flights from MIA to Amsterdam, which will continue through March 23 with a two-class A330.

KLM 787

Business class seats on KLM’s 787 Dreamliner (Photo: KLM)

In San Francisco, meanwhile, KLM is inviting travelers to visit a Pop-Up location that the carrier will open at Union Square (445A Sutter Street) October 14 to 22, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Pop-Up’s purpose is to promote KLM’s 787 Dreamliner, which it put onto its SFO route a few months ago. Visitors can experience the airline’s World Business Class and a virtual reality simulation of the 787, and will get a chance to win free tickets to Amsterdam.

Icelandair will expand its U.S. network in 2017 with the addition of two new gateways. The carrier will begin seasonal summer service to Reykjavik from Philadelphia four days a week beginning May 30, along with year-round flights from Tampa twice a week starting September 6. Also for the 2017 summer season, Icelandair will boost Denver-Reykjavik service from seven to nine weekly flights from June 1 through mid-September; and will increase its Portland schedule from three a week to four on May 20, adding a fifth weekly flight June 14 through August 31.

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Airlines start rolling out Havana schedules, fares

Cuba cars

Vintage cars serve as tourist taxis in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion (Chris McGinnis)

One Caribbean capital is about to experience what could be the biggest influx of new airline service from the U.S. of all times. In early July, the Transportation Department approved routes to Havana, Cuba for several U.S. airlines. Those route awards were finalized in late August, and airlines have started to announce their inaugural service dates for late fall and winter. Some are still subject to Cuban government approvals.

Alaska Airlines, which will have the only non-stop service to Havana from the West Coast, has set a January 5 start for its new Los Angeles-Havana flights, which will depart LAX at 8:50 a.m. The flight will originate in Seattle. Roundtrip fares from LAX start at $490.

Because the purpose of a traveler’s visit must fall within one of a dozen specific categories, and other formalities and requirements must be met, Alaska has posted  a handy blog page with details for customers to know before they book their flight. Alaska said it is working with Cuba Travel Services to help customers obtain visas, accommodations and ground transportation at the destination.

Here is a link to the U.S. government’s official restrictions on travel to Cuba; scroll down to Page 10 to find specifics of the 12 categories of travel.

Havana nonstops

Nonstops to Havana from U.S. airlines. (Image: Great Circle Mapper)

Delta has targeted December 1 for the launch of daily flights to Havana from Miami and New York JFK along with one-stop service from Atlanta. For travel in February, we found roundtrip fares starting at $200 from Miami, $410 from JFK and $452 from Atlanta.

United Airlines has set a November 29 start for daily non-stops from Newark to Havana, followed on December 3 by weekly Saturday service from Houston Bush Intercontinental to the Cuban capital. Fares in January start at $413 roundtrip from Newark and $513 from Houston.

November 30 is the target date for American Airlines’ new daily flight to Havana from its Charlotte hub. American was also awarded rights for four daily roundtrips from Miami, although it hasn’t yet announced a starting date for those. January roundtrip fares start at $421 from Charlotte.

Shave in Cuba

Chris getting a shave in Cienfuegos, Cuba in May 2016

Frontier Airlines on December 1 is expected to start daily service from Miami to Havana, and will offer connections to that flight from Denver and Las Vegas.

Other new Havana routes expected to start in the next few months include JetBlue service from JFK, Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando; Southwest Airlines flights from Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa; and Spirit Airlines from Ft. Lauderdale. Several airlines have already started or are about to launch service on routes to secondary cities and beach resorts in Cuba; those routes were awarded earlier.

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Routes: New JetBlue transcon + more Mint, Delta, OneJet, United, AA

JetBlue will add Los Angeles-Orlando flights. (Image: Jim Glab)

JetBlue will add Los Angeles-Orlando flights. (Image: Jim Glab)

In domestic route news, JetBlue announced a new transcontinental route out of Los Angeles and has scheduled more transcon Mint service; Delta Connection starts using new jets on the West Coast and wants more; small-plane OneJet adds another Pittsburgh route; United expands Puerto Rico capacity with big jets; and American adds a New England route out of LaGuardia.

JetBlue has announced a January 5 start for new transcontinental service between Los Angeles and Orlando, operating one daily A320 roundtrip (the eastbound segment will be a redeye). That will give the airline a total of 17 daily departures at LAX, including service to all four of its focus cities in the northeast and Florida. Meanwhile, JetBlue said the next expansion of its premium-cabin Mint service will come on May 15, when it will introduce Mint on both of its daily flights between San Francisco and Ft. Lauderdale. Mint is already slated to debut on JetBlue’s LAX-Ft. Lauderdale flights on March 20. In other news, JetBlue said it is expanding its partnership with Cape Air, putting its B6 code onto the latter’s flights from Boston and San Juan to small airports in the northeast and in the Caribbean.

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

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

Delta Connection partner SkyWest has started flying the first of several new, upgraded Embraer 175s for Delta on the West Coast. SkyWest will be getting 19 of the new jets, to be used mainly as Delta Connection aircraft on the latter’s West Coast Shuttle routes linking Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The 76-seat E175s offer in-seat power outlets, seats similar to those on Delta mainline flights, faster Wi-Fi and ambient lighting. “This brand new E175 comes with all the trim and finishes of a mainline aircraft on a plane with 76 seats,” a Delta official said. “We designed the interior of this aircraft, in cooperation with SkyWest Airlines and Embraer, for a consistent brand experience.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reports this week that Delta wants to buy up to 50 new aircraft in the 70- to 76-seat range, part of a continuing effort to replace smaller 50-seat planes in its regional fleet. The report noted that over the past three years, Delta has eliminated half of the 309 50-seat jets in its Delta Connection fleet. The big hurdle for the new planes: Delta must obtain the approval of its pilots’ union, which has veto power over any plan for new, larger regional aircraft to be flown by Delta’s partner carriers instead of Delta itself.

OneJet uses small Hawker 400XPs on short-haul routes. (Image: OneJet)

OneJet uses small Hawker 400XPs on short-haul routes. (Image: OneJet)

OneJet, a small but growing operator that specializes in “nonstop travel in small and medium size markets, at relatively low cost,” will add new service between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati on October 19, with two flights a day. The carrier has been growing at PIT, where it also offers flights to Hartford, Indianapolis, Louisville and Milwaukee. The company uses small Hawker 400XP jets and concentrates on underserved markets of less than 700 miles.

United Airlines said it will give a big capacity boost to its route between Newark Liberty International and San Juan, Puerto Rico this winter. The carrier plans to increase its EWR-San Juan schedule from one flight a week to six – using a 344-passenger 777.

American Airlines will expand its presence at Burlington, Vermont on December 15, launching a new daily flight to New York LaGuardia and a second daily flight to its Charlotte hub.

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Routes: Finnair to SFO, Delta, Virgin Australia, Austrian, AA, SAS + more

Finnair will use an A330 on its San Francisco route. (Image: Finnair)

Finnair will use an A330 on its San Francisco route. (Image: Finnair)

In international route news, Finnair will add San Francisco service next year; Delta expands sales of Comfort+ seats and Caribbean code-sharing, Virgin Australia will revive Melbourne service, Austrian Airlines is coming to Los Angeles, American suspends some Europe flights, SAS comes to Miami Aer Lingus adds a pair of gateways, United code-shares to India, and a Mexican carrier adds three U.S. routes.

Finland’s national carrier is coming to San Francisco next year. Finnair said it will operate seasonal SFO-Helsinki flights three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays) from June 1 through September 30, using an A330. The new service will be a part of the transatlantic joint venture that includes Oneworld partners American, British Airways and Iberia as well as Finnair. “Thanks to Helsinki’s geographical location, Finnair’s new northern route to San Francisco will offer competitive travel times for customers from Scandinavia, the Baltics, Russia as well as from many European cities,” a spokesperson said. Finnair currently flies to New York, Chicago and Miami. At first glance, SFO-HEL roundtrip economy fares appear to be in the steep $1,900 range, but we’ll be on the lookout for lower introductory promo fares.

Delta said it has expanded the sale of its extra-legroom Comfort+ economy seating to a number of international routes, including: from the U.S. and Canada to Latin America and the Caribbean (except Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile); between North America and Asia-Pacific destinations (except China and Hong Kong); and on flights within the Asia-Pacific region (except China and Hong Kong). Last fall, Delta created a new fare category for Comfort+ and started selling it for travel within the U.S. and Canada. Meanwhile, Delta has expanded its agreement with Caribbean-based Seaborne Airlines to allow single-ticketing for connections through San Juan to St. Croix, Anguilla and Beef Island in the British Virgin Islands; and between St. Thomas and St. Croix.

The new business class on a Virgin Australia 777-300. (Image: Virgin Australia)

The new business class on a Virgin Australia 777-300. (Image: Virgin Australia)

Virgin Australia has set a launch date of April 4, 2017 for a revival of service between Los Angeles and Melbourne. On the same date, it will trim LAX-Brisbane schedules from seven flights a week to six. The carrier also flies from LAX to Sydney. Its transpacific operations are part of a joint venture with Delta. Virgin said it will fly the LAX-Melbourne route five times a week (no westbound departures on Wednesdays or Mondays), using a 777-300ER.

Los Angeles will get another new international route beginning April 10, 2017, when Austrian Airlines plans to launch up to six flights a week between LAX and Vienna, using a 777.  The 12 and a half hour seasonal flight will depart Los Angeles daily except Sundays at 3:05 p.m. Austrian, a part of the Lufthansa Group, also flies to New York JFK, Newark, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Miami.

American Airlines plans to cut back its international schedule out of Philadelphia. After ending its Philadelphia-Brussels service last month, American now says its seasonal PHL-Zurich service, which ends September 30, will not be revived next year; and its year-round PHL-Frankfurt flights will now operate seasonally, with no service from October 30 through April 5. AA also plans to drop its twice-weekly Philadelphia-Halifax flights in January.  Elsewhere, American will suspend Chicago O’Hare-Paris CDG flights from December 5 through December 13, and from January 10 to March 25; and its New York JFK-Manchester flights from January 9 through March 29.

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On September 28, SAS is introducing new non-stop service from Miami International to Copenhagen and Oslo. The carrier will offer flights to Copenhagen on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays; and to Oslo on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Aer Lingus is adding two U.S. routes this month. (Image: Aer Lingus)

Aer Lingus is adding two U.S. routes this month. (Image: Aer Lingus)

Aer Lingus this month introduced new daily year-round service between Dublin and Newark Liberty International, using an Airbus A330. And on September 28, the Irish carrier is slated to inaugurate a new route linking Hartford, Connecticut with Dublin, operating four days a week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday) with a 757.

United flyers will get a new option for travel from the West Coast to India next month. United is putting its code onto Star Alliance partner Air Canada’s new Vancouver-Delhi seasonal service, which will operate from October 20 through April 6.

Mexican low-cost carrier Interjet will expand its transborder network this fall with a trio of new U.S. routes. On October 20, it will inaugurate twice-daily service between Mexico City and Los Angeles, followed on November 10 by a daily Las Vegas-Mexico City roundtrip and on November 17 by two daily Mexico City-Chicago O’Hare flights. The airline will use Airbus A320s for all the flights.

Don’t miss out on these popular TravelSkills posts! Shocked passenger refuses to pay $3 for water | More Delta SkyMiles for Asian tripsTips from a Hawaiian Vacation | JetBlue-Delta slugfest means lower fares | Test your planespotting skills! )

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5 airports with best/worst cell phone reception

Southwest at Oakland

A study finds Oakland International has the nation’s best cell phone service. (Image: Oakland Airport)

Although Los Angeles International is one of the busiest airports in the nation, a new study of cell phone service quality at the 50 top U.S. airports in passenger volume finds that LAX ranks dead last. By contrast, Oakland International ranked number one. (See rankings below)

When it comes to carriers, Verizon ranked highest, AT&T came in second. T-Mobile ranked third and Sprint came in last place.

RootMetrics collected data on data speeds and connection reliability for the four major network carriers (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint) by sending testers equipped with off-the-shelf smartphones to all 50 airports. Results vary not only by airport, but by carrier as well, so the company compiles overall composite scores for each facility.

The company carries out these surveys twice a year, and the results show significant changes. For instance, in the second half of 2015, Oakland ranked 33rd overall and now ranks first. Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport jumped from 16th place last year to second place today, and California’s Orange County Airport rose from 35th to fourth place in the rankings.

BEST

Cell phone reception

And Los Angeles? “Due to very slow speeds and shaky reliability, LAX has routinely appeared in the bottom five. This time, LAX placed dead last for the same reasons. It’s not necessarily a surprise, though, given the fastest median download speed we recorded at LAX was 88.0 Mbps slower than that of our #1 finisher,” RootMetrics said.

What does that difference mean in practical terms? Say you want to download an HD episode of a 45-minute TV program, which takes up 600 MB. RootMetrics said that if you were at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson (which ranked sixth overall) and used AT&T (with a median download speed of 40.4 Mbps at that airport), it would take 2.0 minutes. By contrast, a Verizon user at LAX (median download speed 0.5 Mbps) would take more than two and a half hours to do the same thing.

You can read the full report here, including a comparison of the overall performance of the four network carriers; the full rankings of all 50 airports; and an interactive feature that lets you compare median download speeds and connectivity rates for the four carriers at Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Ft. Worth and New York JFK.

Airports in the top 10 in addition to those mentioned above include Southwest Florida International in Ft. Myers (3rd), Boston Logan (5th), Indianapolis (7th), Sacramento (8th), Dallas Love Field (9th) and Chicago Midway (10th).  Among very large airports, Newark was in 11th place, O’Hare 14th, San Francisco 19th, Miami 24th, DFW 25th, JFK 29th, and LaGuardia 40th.

Worst

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-10-17-30-am

 Readers: Do you run into issues with cell phone reception at airports? Which carrier do you use and why? 

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An amazing upgrade for LAX- in pictures

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The planned east intermodal facility at LAX will connect an automatic people mover with a new light rail link. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

The planned east intermodal facility at LAX will connect an automatic people mover with a new light rail link. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

Departing passengers coming into Los Angeles International Airport too often ride into a traffic nightmare as they try to get to their terminals. Los Angeles World Airports – the agency that operates LAX – has big plans to make that better, and it just came out with some renderings of what the “new” LAX might look like after it implements its years-long overhaul of intra-airport transportation.

“Today, regardless of transportation mode, passengers, employees and visitors face uncertain travel times, congestion and overcrowding to and from LAX. Approximately 63 percent of all departing air passengers used private vehicles, taxis, limousines, or Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber or Lyft to get to LAX in 2015; this percentage is even greater for those departing passengers who are residents. During peak periods, over 6,000 vehicles enter the airport on an hourly basis,” the agency said in its new Draft Environmental Impact Report for LAX’s Landside Access Modernization Program.

New walkways woll link people-mover stips with the adjacent passenger terminals. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

New walkways will link people-mover stops with the adjacent passenger terminals. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

You can see the full report here, as a .pdf file – but keep in mind it is really long. Basically, LAWA’s plan aims to bring more people to the airport via mass transportation, and get them to their terminals on a new Automated People Mover (APM) system that will run up through the middle of the central terminal area, with the APM stops linked to the terminals on either side by new pedestrian passageways.

Here's a map of the people-mover route through the central terminal area. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

Here’s a map of the people-mover route through the central terminal area. Dark yellow lines are new pedestrian walkways linking the people mover stops to terminals. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

The APM line will originate on the east side of the airport at a new consolidated car rental center – which will also take the many rental car shuttles off airport roadways. It will be linked to an intermodal transportation facility on the east side of the airport for passengers connecting to or from a new light rail line that will be part of the city’s mass transit system; and another one closer to the terminals for bus connections.

Don’t get too excited yet; all of this construction will take several years. But the airport is well into the planning stages for improving passenger access to LAX terminals, many of which are getting their own massive upgrades. Keep scrolling down to see more renderings:

An automated people-mover station with LAX's iconic theme building in the background. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

An automated people-mover station with LAX’s iconic theme building in the background. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

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The plan calls for terminals to get new facades as well. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

The plan calls for terminals to get new facades as well. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

 

The west intermodal facility will let passengers connect with bus lines. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

The west intermodal facility will let passengers connect with bus lines. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

 

This map of the east side of LAX shows the planned consolidated rental car center, intermodal station, light rail line running top to bottom and peole mover running right to left. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

This map of the east side of LAX shows the planned consolidated rental car center (CONRAC), intermodal facility (ITF East), light rail line running top to bottom and people mover running right to left. (Image: Los Angeles World Airports)

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Routes: AA, Air India, Cathay, WOW, Air Canada, Royal Air Maroc + more

Business class seats on an American 777-300ER. (Image: American)

Business class seats on an American 777-300ER. (Image: American)

The latest international route developments include American’s launch of a new transpacific route, along with its plans to add some flights to Europe and cancel others; Air India boosting San Francisco frequencies; Royal Air Maroc adding a new U.S. gateway; a new SFO route from a U.K. carrier; increased service between Boston and Hong Kong; a European carrier adding Miami service; and new U.S. routes from Air Canada and Aeromexico.

American Airlines last week kicked off its new non-stop daily service between Los Angeles International and Hong Kong, a 15-hour trip with an unfortunate LAX departure time of 1:55 a.m. American also code-shares with Oneworld partner Cathay Pacific’s three daily LAX-Hong Kong flights. American is using a three-class 777-300ER on the route; it also flies to Hong Kong from its Dallas/Ft. Worth hub.

Across the Atlantic, American plans to add a trio of new routes next spring, and to cancel some others. May 5 is the starting date for new daily AA service from Chicago O’Hare to Barcelona, using a 787-8; from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Amsterdam, with a 767-300ER; and DFW to Rome, using a 777-200ER.  The airline will discontinue its New York JFK-Birmingham 757 service effective January 6, and will not operate the seasonal summer service it had previously offered from Chicago to Dusseldorf, Philadelphia to Brussels, and Philadelphia to Zurich. Meanwhile, American will also change aircraft this winter on two routes out of DFW, replacing 777-200ERs with 787-9s on flights to Paris starting January 9 and to Seoul as of February 16.

Air India's first flight from New Delhi arrived at SFO before dawn. (Image: Peter Biaggi)

Air India uses a 777-200 on its San Francisco route. (Image: Peter Biaggi/SFO)

Air India started flying between San Francisco and Delhi last December, with three flights a week. But now it plans a big change in that route, one that will let it increase frequencies to six a week. The schedule increase takes effect November 21. Air India will still use a 777-200LR, but will change the flight from a transatlantic one to a transpacific routing. Although the transpacific distance between the cities is longer than the current routing, the flight time from Delhi to SFO is expected to be reduced by three hours due to strong tailwinds on the eastbound sector.

Moroccan carrier Royal Air Maroc has added its third North American gateway, launching new service last week between Casablanca and Washington Dulles. The airline also flies to New York JFK and Montreal. Royal Air Maroc is using a 787 Dreamliner on the Dulles route, which departs Washington three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Virgin Atlantic will be getting a little competition on the new San Francisco-Manchester route that it announced last spring. Virgin will fly the route three times a week starting next summer, using an A330. Now Thomas Cook Airlines, a leisure-oriented U.K. carrier, says it will also fly between SFO and Manchester, operating two flights a week starting in May 2017. The carrier already flies to six other U.S. cities from Manchester.

Cathay Pacific, which started flying from Hong Kong to Boston last year with four flights a week, announced plans to expand that schedule to daily non-stops beginning on March 27. The carrier uses a 777-300ER on the route, with first class, business class, premium economy and regular economy seating.

WOW Air will use an A330 on its new Miami-Reykjavik route. (Image: WOW Air)

WOW Air will use an A330 on its new Miami-Reykjavik route. (Image: WOW Air)

WOW, the Icelandic ultra-low-cost airline, plans to add Miami as its next U.S. gateway. The carrier will use an Airbus A330 to begin service April 5 between Miami and Reykjavik, offering one-way fares to Iceland starting at $99 and connecting fares to European capitals starting at $149 – plus add-ons, of course.

In North America, Air Canada said it will begin new service on February 5 linking Vancouver with Dallas/Ft. Worth, operating a daily 75-seat CRJ-705 flight under the Air Canada Express brand. And on November 17, Aeromexico will start flying four days a week between Mexico City and Austin, using a 76-seat Embraer 170.

Don’t miss out on these popular TravelSkills posts! Shocked passenger refuses to pay $3 for water | More Delta SkyMiles for Asian tripsTips from a Hawaiian Vacation | JetBlue-Delta slugfest means lower fares | Test your planespotting skills! )

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Bay Area to Barcelona, nonstop, $199 + more low fares to Europe

Barcelona El Prat's big bright and gorgeous international terminal (Chris McGinnis)

Barcelona El Prat airport’s big bright and gorgeous international terminal (Chris McGinnis)

Norwegian Air will add the Bay Area’s first nonstop service to Spain when it launches Oakland to Barcelona flights next summer. Introductory economy fares on the route are as low as $199 each way, including all taxes and fees. Norwegian has announced that it will also add new nonstops between Oakland and Copenhagen in March (starting at just $179 each way), with both routes using its fleet of new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The schedule is a little thin, though– flights to Barcelona and Copenhagen from OAK will run only twice per week during the peak summer months.

This expansion makes it clear that Bay Area travelers are responding well to Norwegian Air’s low-fare, low-frills service. With Barcelona and Copenhagen, Norwegian now flies to five cities in Europe from Oakland. (It does not offer service from SFO or San Jose). With the addition of these new flights, Oakland will become California’s third major gateway to Europe, beating out San Diego.

In addition to Oakland, Norwegian will offer nonstops to Barcelona from Los Angeles (starting June 5 2017), Newark and Ft Lauderdale. Oakland to Barcelona starts on June 7, 2017; Copenhagen starts March 28.)

Norwegian will fly a brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner between Oakland, Oslo and Stockholm next year.

Norwegian Air will fly a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner between Oakland and Barcelona next year. (Photo: Oakland International Airport)

This low-cost carrier flew into the Bay Area in two years ago with nonstops to Stockholm and Oslo from Oakland. Then earlier this year, it added nonstops from Oakland to London-Gatwick. Gatwick (LGW) is 28 miles south of central London but still convenient–the easy 30-minute, approximately $30 Gatwick Express will whisk you from the airport to Victoria Station in the heart of the city.

Don’t miss: Trip Report: Oakland>London Gatwick on Norwegian Air

On its 787 Dreamliner, it only offers seats in economy class (259) and premium economy class (32). All premium economy seats offer in-seat power outlets if you want to stay up and work across the pond. Norwegian refers to its premium economy seats as simply, “Premium.” Premium fares to Barcelona will start at $1698 round trip. Plus in-flight wi-fi is free on its intra-Europe flights.

Take a look at how Seatguru describes economy and premium economy seating on Norwegian Air’s 787 Dreamliner.

But limited recline is disappointing for those expecting lie-flat.

Limited recline in Norwegian’s premium economy seats might be disappointing for those longing to lie-flat. (Photo: Nancy Branka)

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Economy cabin has a clean look and decent seat pitch on Norwegian Air

Norwegian 787 economy class cabin has a clean look and decent seat pitch, configured 3-3-3. (Photo: Nancy Branka)

We checked today and the $199 fare is indeed available for SFO-Barcelona in June (see below). However, the least expensive return from BCN to SFO in June is $256, making the lowest round trip $455 all in– that’s quite a deal and it won’t last long.

Fare check on Weds Sept 7

Fare check on Weds Sept 7

Have you flown Norwegian Air yet? What did you think? Please leave your comments below.

–Chris McGinnis

(We’re back from summer vacation! In case you missed our other recent round-up posts, here they are: Domestic Routes RoundupTips from a Hawaiian Vacation | August’s most important travel news)

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International routes update: Delta, Air China, United, Hainan, Turkish, Southwest, American + more

Air China will use an A330-200 between San Jose and Shanghai. (Image: Mehdi Nazarinia/Wikimedia Commons)

Air China will use an A330-200 between San Jose and Shanghai. (Image: Mehdi Nazarinia/Wikimedia Commons)

In international routes news, Air China comes to San Jose; Delta is dropping routes to Tokyo and Moscow; Las Vegas gets a Beijing flight; Southwest and American plan new service to Mexico from LAX; LaCompagnie suspends London flights; Copa doubles up on San Francisco service; Air Canada trims San Diego-Vancouver capacity; Turkish trims flights to US and EVA adds more seats from Seattle to Taipei. Also, stay tuned to TravelSkills for some really good route news for Oakland coming out this Thursday.

Mineta San Jose International Airport added another international route last week when Air China kicked off new service from SJC to Shanghai – the airline’s only route to Shanghai from North America. Air China is using a two-class, 237-seat Airbus A330-200 on the route, departing San Jose on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Departure time from SJC is 1:30 p.m. for the 12.5-hour flight, with arrival in Shanghai at 4:40 p.m. the next day.

Delta, which recently won new rights to operate daytime flights to Tokyo’s close-in Haneda Airport from Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul, said it plans to discontinue its daily New York JFK-Tokyo Narita service on October 2. On October 3, Delta will axe its daily Narita-Osaka flight, and on October 29 it will end its daily Narita-Bangkok service. The airline will still fly to Narita from Seattle, Portland, Detroit and Atlanta. Meanwhile, Delta this week suspended its New York-Moscow non-stop service for the season, with plans to resume the flights in May 2017.

Las Vegas will also get new service to China by year’s end. Hainan Airlines has applied for government approval to fly three times a week between Las Vegas and Beijing, with a starting date of December 2. Hainan has been growing its U.S. presence in recent months, and currently flies from San Jose to Beijing, Los Angeles to Changsha, and Seattle to Beijing and Shanghai.

(We’re back from summer vacation! In case you missed our other recent round-up posts, here they are: Domestic Routes RoundupTips from a Hawaiian Vacation | August’s most important travel news)

Southwest will add three routes from LAX to Mexico. (Image: Jim Glab)

Southwest will add three routes from LAX to Mexico. (Image: Jim Glab)

Both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines apparently see room for growth in the Los Angeles-Mexico market. American is planning to start new daily 737-800 flights on December 15 from LAX to both Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. And Southwest on December 4 will launch twice-daily service from LAX to both Cancun and San Jose del Cabo, as well as one flight a day between LAX and Puerto Vallarta. Meanwhile, Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris plans to begin new service December 1 between Denver and Monterrey, Mexico, operating two A320 flights a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays).

United is switching up equipment on key routes between SFO and Europe for the winter season starting October 30. On SFO-London it will run two 777-200ERs instead of the current 777 and 787 Dreamliner. On SFO-Paris, the current 767-300ER will be replaced with a 787.

Panama’s Copa Airlines, a member of United’s Star Alliance, plans to increase service between Panama City and United’s San Francisco hub. Effective November 1, Copa will increase its schedule on the route from one to two 737-800 flights a day. (Regrettably both departures from SFO are red-eyes, arriving Panama City in the morning.)

All-business-class La Compagnie blames Brexit for dropping Newark-London flights. (Image: La Compagnie)

All-business-class La Compagnie blames Brexit for dropping Newark-London flights. (Image: La Compagnie)

La Compagnie, a niche carrier that offers transatlantic all-business-class flights with 74-seat 757s, said that it will drop its route linking Newark with London’s Luton Airport effective September 25. In October, the carrier will add a second daily flight to its Newark-Paris CDG route. In explaining its decision to drop Newark-London service, La Compagnie said that the recent decision by British voters to take the U.K. out of the European Union – aka Brexit – “has created an unprecedented level of legal and economic uncertainty for airlines that service Great Britain.” 

Taiwan’s EVA Air will boost capacity this fall on its route to Taipei from Seattle. The carrier plans to add a second flight three days a week, for a total of 10 a week, beginning November 19. EVA will use a 777-300ER for the extra flights.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines is cutting back on weekly frequencies, but not to SFO, pictured here (Chris McGinnis)

Turkish Airlines is reducing frequencies to several US cities in the wake of the downturn in demand due to recent events as well as the slower winter season ahead. Airline Routes is reporting service cutbacks (but no elimination of service) between Istanbul and Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami.

Air Canada currently operates an Air Canada Rouge A319 on its daily San Diego-Vancouver route.  But the carrier plans to temporarily suspend the route effective October 17, and when it resumes service December 14, it will downsize to a CRJ-705 operated by Air Canada Express. Elsewhere in Canada, Westjet plans to convert its seasonal Calgary-New York JFK service into a year-round route, operating six flights a week when its winter schedule begins October 30.

(We’re back from summer vacation! In case you missed our other recent round-up posts, here they are: Domestic Routes RoundupTips from a Hawaiian Vacation | August’s most important travel news)

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Routes: LAX-Paris for $446 + Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas, New York

Norwegian started new 787 flights from LAX and New York to Paris. (Image: Norwegian)

Norwegian started new 787 flights from LAX and New York to Paris. (Image: Norwegian)

In international route news, a low-cost airline launches a pair of new transatlantic routes; Delta will beef up Atlanta-London service; San Francisco attracts a Mexican airline; and Emirates and Etihad reshuffle their U.S. A380 plans.

European low-cost specialist Norwegian this week kicks off its newest transatlantic routes, beginning service to Paris Charles de Gaulle from New York and Los Angeles with two-class 787s. The carrier’s schedule calls for twice-weekly flights from LAX and four flights a week from New York JFK. When we checked Norwegian’s website, we found low-season (i.e. December) roundtrip no-frills fares as low as $446 from Los Angeles and $396 from New York. This comes on the heels of Air France warning about its concerns about France as a destination.

Related: Norwegian Air- low fares, low frills

According to Routesonline.com, Delta will adjust its Atlanta-London schedule next spring along with partner Virgin Atlantic. Effective May 25, Delta is due to restore a third daily ATL-London departure, while Virgin will scale back from two flights a day to one. Meanwhile, Delta is also planning to end its seasonal  Pittsburgh-Paris CDG service at the end of September, a month earlier than previously planned. The carrier will cut back frequencies in early September from daily departures to five a week.

Mexico's Volaris will start San Francisco-Mexico City flights this fall. (Image: Volaris)

Mexico’s Volaris will start San Francisco-Mexico City flights this fall. (Image: Volaris)

Mexican low-cost airline Volaris will introduce a new route linking San Francisco with Mexico City starting October 10. The carrier plans to operate four flights a week on the route, on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with one-way fares starting at just $125. It’s a trip for night owls, however: The southbound flights are scheduled to arrive in Mexico City at 2:29 a.m.

A schedule update posted by Emirates for its Dallas/Ft. Worth-Dubai route says that the carrier will not put an Airbus A380 super-jumbo back onto the route September 1 as previously planned, but instead will keep operating it with a 777-300ER. Meanwhile, Etihad next spring is planning to go all-A380 on its Abu Dhabi-New York route after June 1, 2017. The carrier will use the super-jumbos on both of its daily JFK flights after that date; currently, one of the two uses a 777-300ER.

Related: How Emirates welcomes a new A380. Wow!

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: How to get the BEST summer fare dealsOne airline fee fading fast | Trip Report: Aer Lingus Economy Class | 5 top jobs for frequent travelers  | First class phase out coming soon