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

A guest room at the Radisson Red in Minneapolis. (Image: Radisson)

A guest room at the Radisson Red in Minneapolis. (Image: Radisson)

Recent U.S. business hotel openings include a pair of properties in Minneapolis, and another pair in Nashville; a dual-branded hotel in Chicago; big Bay Area/Silicon Valley hotel re-flags, and a new Marriott brand in Atlanta.

In Minneapolis, Radisson has set a November 16 opening for the first U.S. location of its new Radisson Red brand. The Radisson Red Minneapolis Downtown is a new build at 609 Third Street South, part of the Minneapolis Downtown East mixed-use development; it’s linked to the Wells Fargo Office Tower and the new U.S. Bank Stadium via the city’s skyway system. The hotel has 164 rooms (Radisson Red calls them studios) with free high-speed Wi-Fi. Its OUIBar + KTCHN focuses on locally sourced cuisine and craft beverages. And it offers a fitness center plus a 1,000 square foot “Events & Games Studio” for activities that can liven up meetings. Radisson is offering triple Gold Points for stays through February. Rates start at $139.

A King room at Marriott's new AC Hotel in Minneapolis. (Image: Marriott)

A King room at Marriott’s new AC Hotel in Minneapolis. (Image: Marriott)

Another newly built, newly opened property in Minneapolis is Marriott’s AC Hotel, part of a fast- growing new Marriott group with a style that reflects AC’s European origins. It’s located on Hennepin Avenue at S. Fourth Street, across from the city’s main library. The property is connected to the skyway system and to the Midtown Parking Garage. Its 245 rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and smart TVs that can stream Netflix, Hulu and other services; and the hotel has several conference rooms and a fitness room. There’s no full-service restaurant; the AC Kitchen serves breakfast only, and the AC Lounge offers drinks and tapas plates in the evening. Marriott Rewards advance purchase rates start at $149.

Accommodations at Hilton's new Hampton Inn in Chicago's West Loop. (Image: Hilton)

Accommodations at Hilton’s new Hampton Inn in Chicago’s West Loop. (Image: Hilton)

In downtown Chicago, Hilton has cut the ribbon on a dual-branded hotel in the West Loop neighborhood. With a combined total of 336 rooms, the Hampton Inn by Hilton Chicago Downtown West Loop and the Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown West Loop are at 116-118 N. Jefferson, between Randolph and Washington. That’s about halfway between the river and I-90, two blocks west of the Boeing headquarters. The Hampton Inn offers a daily hot breakfast, free Wi-Fi, 24-hour business center and a fitness center. The Homewood Suites has all-suite guest accommodations; each unit comes with a fully equipped kitchen and separate living and sleeping areas. There’s a hot breakfast buffet, evening social, free Wi-Fi and grocery shopping service. HHonors advance purchase rates start at $90 at both properties.

Lobby of the Pullman San Francisco Bay hotel (Image: Accor Hotels)

Lobby of the Pullman San Francisco Bay hotel (Image: Accor Hotels)

The big Sofitel located along Highway 101 and the shores on San Francisco Bay just south of the SFO near Redwood City is not new, but has a new name. It’s now the Pullman San Francisco Bay Hotel— still part of Accor, but likely a brand many Americans have not heard of. The only other Pullman hotel in the US is located in Miami. Have you stayed at a Pullman? What makes it different than a Sofitel? Its website states: “Today Pullman appeals to the new generation of professional travelers, the Pullman global nomads, and captures the significance of each moment and their pursuit of a work-life blend.” Rooms start at around $300 per night.

A room at the new Thompson Nashville. (Image: Thompson Hotels)

A room at the new Thompson Nashville. (Image: Thompson Hotels)

Thompson Hotels, known for its luxury boutique properties, has opened its newest U.S. location in Nashville. It’s at 401 11th Avenue South, in a trendy area called The Gulch where former industrial buildings have been transformed into commercial ventures. The hotel is on the same block as a popular music venue called The Station Inn. Dining options at The Thompson Nashville include a southern/seafood restaurant called The Marsh House; a bar and small-plate venue called L.A. Jackson; and Killebrew, serving coffee, breakfast sandwiches and grab-and-go lunch fare. The 12-story, 224-room Thompson ties into the local music culture with things like a classic jukebox in the lobby and vinyl records for sale in the minibars. Introductory rates start at $247.

The Westin Nashville is in the heart of downtown. (Image: Westin)

The Westin Nashville is in the heart of downtown. (Image: Westin)

Nashville’s other new hotel is the 27-story, 453-room Westin Nashville, at 807 Clark Place in the heart of the city, close to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium and other attractions. The hotel has a rooftop pool and bar called L27 with daily live entertainment; a spa with nine treatment rooms; a casual lobby eatery called Decker & Dyer and a fancier venue called Oak Steakhouse Nashville. The Westin also has a dozen meeting rooms. Guests can use the WestinWorkout fitness studio or take advantage of the hotel’s suggested three- and five-mile jogging routes. Rates begin at $279.

Marriott's new AC Hotel in Atlanta's Buckhead district. (Image: Marriott)

Marriott’s new AC Hotel in Atlanta’s Buckhead district. (Image: Marriott)

In addition to its new AC Hotel in Minneapolis, Marriott has also cut the ribbon on an AC in Atlanta. The 166-room AC Hotel Atlanta Buckhead at Phipps Plaza, located at 3600 Wieuca Road Northeast, is the first new hotel in the city’s Buckhead district in eight years. Like other ACs, it lacks a full-service restaurant, but offers the AC Kitchen for breakfast and the AC lounge for drinks and evening small plate dining. Plus there is plenty to eat at the nearby Phipps Plaza or Lenox Square malls. There’s also an AC Library and a 24-hour fitness center with a heated indoor whirlpool. Marriott Rewards advance purchase rates start at $211.

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Trip Report: The long flight home SIN-SFO

Singapore Airlines map

Photo of the inflight map of the northerly course of our SIN-SFO flight on Singapore Airlines (Chris McGinnis)

(INFLIGHT SIN>SFO) Well, that was a quick trip! If you’ve been following TravelSkills this week, you know that I jumped on Singapore Airlines’ new nonstop A350 flight from San Francisco to Singapore on Sunday. (Read part 1: Southbound SFO>SIN post)

Here it is on Thursday morning, and I’m northbound,somewhere out over the big dark Pacific Ocean, on the return flight (SQ 32). Our flight started out over the South China Sea, then passed between the Philippines and Taiwan, continuing up along the east coast of Japan. Then it was out over the Northern Pacific, where we skirted past the Aleutian Trench on course to arriving at SFO.

I love a good exotic flight board and the one a Singapore Changi does not disappoint! (Chris McGinnis)

I love a good exotic flight board and the one a Singapore Changi does not disappoint! (Chris McGinnis)

We departed Singapore at 9:25 am on Thursday, and we’ll arrive in San Francisco at 8:40 am on the same day– after flying for about 14 hours. Crazy to think that we’ll arrive before we left. Tailwinds have been kind to our flight, cutting about two hours off our flight time. The southbound journey on Sunday-Monday took 16 hours and 11 minutes, departing noon Sunday, and arriving at around 7 pm on Monday evening.

On this return flight, I was able to watch one movie– Captain Fantastic– highly recommended, a tear jerker but I’m always easily brought to tears on planes for some reason. You? I was also able to get some work done on the laptop, sleep for about four hours, enjoy two gorgeously presented meals (see below) and write this post.

Inflight wi-fi from Panasonic has been extremely fast and reliable on this flight (less so on the way down)– I’m amazed that I can upload photos and post this from the plane. Crazy! I purchased a 24-hour in-flight wi-fi pass for $22— very much worth it to me.

Hainanese pork chop with fried rice (Photo Chris McGinnis)

Hainanese pork chop with fried rice (Photo Chris McGinnis)

As usual, for meals, I tried to go native and order Asian/Singaporean dishes. For dinner, I chose the Hainanese pork chop with fried rice. It was good, but a little tough. Breakfast was far better- I opted for the oriental dim sum and loved every bite.

Four choices for breakfast in Singapore Airlines business class- I went native! (Chris McGinnis)

Four choices for breakfast in Singapore Airlines business class- I went native! (Chris McGinnis)

Breakfast onboard Singapore Airlines SQ32 somewhere over the northern Pacific (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Breakfast onboard Singapore Airlines SQ32 somewhere over the northern Pacific (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

This has been a quick trip– just two quick days in Singapore and three very bumpy nights of not-enough-sleep. I’m surprised I have the will and wherewithal to write this! Hope you’ve enjoyed my reports.

I’ll close with one more unusual photo from this trip: A word of warning about some monkey business going on outside my window at the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort on Singapore’s southern coastline.

Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa

A warning about monkeys at the lovely beachside Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa resort (Chris McGinnis)

(Read part 1: Southbound SFO>SIN post)

–Chris McGinnis

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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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Airport news: San Francisco, Atlanta, Newark, Philadelphia

San Francisco's Terminal 1 overhaul is leading to some closures. (Image: San Francisco International Airport)

San Francisco’s Terminal 1 overhaul is leading to some closures. (Image: San Francisco International Airport)

In the latest airport developments, San Francisco warns travelers about some upcoming closures; Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson starts work on a major project; an international carrier opens a lounge at Newark Liberty International; and American will adjust its presence at its Philadelphia hub.

At San Francisco International, officials are advising travelers that due to ongoing renovation work in Terminal 1, some facilities and areas there will be closed in the days ahead, possibly resulting in some inconvenience or congestion. On Monday (October 24), the connecting walkway linking Terminal 1 and International Boarding Area A will be closed, so passengers will have to use AirTrain to transfer between those points. Also, the Southwest Airlines ticket counters will move to a new location closer to Delta and Frontier. On the arrivals level, October 21 is the starting date for closure of the traffic lane closest to Terminal 1 from Doors 1 through 10; and on the departures level, closure of the lane closest to Terminal 1 from Doors 1 through 5 starts October 28. Click here to see details and suggested tips for affected passengers. The airport has created a cool video simulation of the reconstruction process for T1. Worth a look but turn down the volume to avoid the Game of Thrones-like soundtrack 😉

Atlanta, ATL canopy

A dramatic new canopy and a new tunnel are part of Atlanta Airports $20 billion in improvements (Photo: ATL)

Preparatory work has begun at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson for the installation of those massive overhead glass canopies above the pickup and drop-off areas outside the domestic terminal. It’s one of the most visible parts of the airport’s ongoing $6 billion expansion and renovation project. The initial stage of the canopy project – construction of the foundations — has led to some lane closures in the area around the terminal. The closures started earlier this month for shuttle and commercial vehicle pick-ups and drop-offs in the outer lanes of Terminal North, and similar closures will begin October 30 at Terminal South.  Airport officials are advising travelers to build in extra time if they’re going into those areas.

Air Canada opened a Maple Leaf Lounge at Newark. (Image: Air Canada)

Air Canada opened a Maple Leaf Lounge at Newark. (Image: Air Canada)

At Newark Liberty International, Air Canada has opened a new Maple Leaf Lounge for premium passengers near its departure gates in Terminal A, beyond the security checkpoint. The facility offers free Wi-Fi, refreshments, and work areas that include free printing. Air Canada operates up to 23 flights a day from Newark (including United code-shares), serving Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. The airline said it will open a new Maple Leaf Lounge in Montreal next month, and an expanded facility in Vancouver next summer.

American Airlines inherited a hub at Philadelphia International from its merger with US Airways, and it is planning some changes to its operations there in the months ahead. On January 1, American will consolidate its arrival and departure banks – scheduled to maximize connections – from eight a day to six. This will mean rescheduling of flight times in many cases, so if you’re a regular PHL traveler, check AA’s schedules.  The airline also reportedly plans to reduce the number of flights it operates at Philadelphia, although in some cases it will switch from smaller to larger aircraft to minimize the impact on passenger capacity.

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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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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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Most popular: Fare sale + Card wars + Narrow seats + New biz class + more

Hilton San Francisco

The spectacular view from the brand new CityScape bar atop the Hilton San Francisco. Note the cranes on the new Salesforce Tower, soon to be the tallest building in town at 1,070 feet and 61 stories. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

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

Deal Alert: Major domestic fall winter fare sale (Sale expired with all airlines matching)Weekend Edition

2 Amex spars with Chase, Citi Big news for big spenders as card wars erupt

3 Kicking “support animals” off the plane

Airport news: Newark, Seattle, Phoenix, Dulles, Boston

5 10-across is just not right Airlines increasingly narrow-minded about seat width

United Polaris

United’s new Polaris eyeshades are concave on the eye-side (Photo: Scott Hintz)

Deep Dive: United Polaris business class (Part 3 of 3) Bedding, Amenities, Service

7 Little rascals Another airline adds “kid-free” seating

Deep Dive: United Polaris business class (Part 1 of 3)

9 Comfy new way across Pacific Hawaiian’s classy new lie-flat seats now on sale

10 Kinda corny, but amassed over a million views in a week: A new Jennifer Aniston ad from Emirates

DONT MISS! The 100,000 points question!

ICYMI: Surprise winner for best hotel loyalty program

Airport Encounters now playing in LA (Photo: Larry Gene Fortin)

Airport Encounters now playing in LA (Photo: Larry Gene Fortin)

TravelSkills reader T.M. sent along a great recommendation for frequent flyers living or visiting LA: “People watching has always been a fun way to kill time between flights. Now, thanks to a cast of more than two dozen actors and eight writers, we can watch ten terminal vignettes in the new Los Angeles-based play, ‘Airport Encounters.’ Staged in the intimate 50-seat Lounge Theatre in Hollywood, the play is an entertaining take off on air travel and its passengers. Here’s the link to get tix: neoensembletheatre.org

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

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)

American Air to roll out “true” premium economy section in November

Free airport lounge wi-fi passwords for hundreds of airports around the world

Fares down under dip below $1,000 roundtrip on Air New Zealand

Hilton HHonors app

Book a stay on the Hilton HHonors app this fall to earn triple points

Samoans complain about weight discrimination on Hawaiian Airlines

What do Delta and Donald Trump have in common? 

SkyTeam launches online tool for retroactively claiming flight credits

Study: Headphones can make in-flight meals taste better

Austrian Airlines plans to add a premium economy section

Qatar Airways places huge order for Boeing widebodies

UN-affiliated aviation group agrees to set carbon emissions limits for airlines

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson will get hundreds of electric vehicle chargers

Don’t miss out on these popular TravelSkills posts:

Kicking support animals off planes | Shocked passenger refuses to pay $3 for water | Marriott-Starwood: Higher prices, better rewards | The 10,000 points question! | Eye-catching maps explain state of the world | Test your planespotting skills!

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Routes: SFO, Seattle, Oakland-Rome, JFK, Boston, Montreal, Detroit

China Eastern is using an A330 for its new San Francisco flights. (Image: Airbus)

China Eastern is using an A330 for its new San Francisco flights. (Image: Airbus)

In international route developments, Norwegian hints at Oakland-Rome nonstop; China Eastern adds San Francisco service; China’s Xiamen Airlines comes to Seattle; Delta will add new Europe routes from the East Coast next spring; Air Canada plans a very long haul from Montreal; and Aeromexico will begin a Detroit route.

Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines, a member of Delta’s SkyTeam global alliance, this week kicked off new service to San Francisco from Kunming – the capital of Yunnan Province in southwest China – via a stop in Qingdao, a port city in Shandong Province. China Eastern will use an Airbus A330 and will operate the flight three times a week, with SFO departures on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

A Xiamen Airlines 787 now flies to Seattle from Xiamen (Image: Boeing)

A Xiamen Airlines 787 now flies to Seattle from Xiamen and Shenzen (Image: Boeing)

Another new China route also opened up this week: Xiamen Airlines started service to Seattle from its hometown of Xiamen, operating via a stop in Shenzen. It’s the airline’s first U.S. route (although it also flies to Vancouver) and the first non-stop service between Shenzen and the U.S. The carrier’s future plans include service from Xiamen to Los Angeles and Fuzhou-New York, officials said. Xiamen has inked a partnership pact with Alaska Airlines for easy connections at SEA. It’s also a member of the Delta-led SkyTeam Alliance. The carrier will use a 787 Dreamliner on the route, which operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Rome Colusseum

A new nonstop between the Bay Area and Rome? Hope so! (Photo: Pixabay)

It was really big news when Norwegian Air announced new Oakland-Barcelona and Oakland-Copenhagen nonstops starting next spring. When TravelSkills attended the announcement event at Oakland’s Jack London Square, we snagged a few minutes with Norwegian Air execs. They told us that since they’ve received such a positive reception in the Bay Area, the carrier will soon announce nonstops between Oakland and Paris…. AND that the carrier is looking to add Oakland-Rome and Oakland-Madrid, too! Stay tuned for more details.

Delta will add some new service to Europe next spring. On May 25, Delta will begin daily flights from Boston to Dublin as well as daily service from New York JFK to Lisbon. At the same time, Delta will resume daily flights between JFK and Berlin. The Dublin and Lisbon routes will use 164-seat 757-200s, while the Berlin service will be operated with a 225-seat 767-300, Delta said. Meanwhile, Delta also announced an expansion of its six-month-old code-sharing partnership with India’s Jet Airways. In addition to the existing connections at Amsterdam to Delhi and Mumbai, starting October 30 Delta flyers will also be able to connect via Paris Charles de Gaulle to Jet Airways flights to Mumbai and beyond to 20 other Indian destinations. Delta joint venture partner Air France KLM is also a party to the code-sharing deal with Jet.

Air Canada will put a 787 onto its new Montreal-Shanghai route. (Image: Air Canada)

Air Canada will put a 787 onto its new Montreal-Shanghai route. (Image: Air Canada)

A new route between North America and China will begin on February 16, when Air Canada is due to begin flying once a day from Montreal to Shanghai with a 787-8. It will be Air Canada’s first use of a 787 out of Montreal. Onward connections at Shanghai will be available from Star Alliance partners Air China and Shenzen Airlines, Air Canada said. The carrier plans to begin another ultra-long-haul starting July 1, with three non-stop flights a week between Toronto and Mumbai, using a 787-9. Air Canada hasn’t served that route since 1991. Also on tap for the Canadian carrier: Daily Vancouver-Taipei 787 flights beginning June 8, and three 767-300ER flights per week between Vancouver and Nagoya, Japan, starting June 1.

Aeromexico will add a new U.S. route starting January 10, when it begins flying between Detroit and Monterrey, Mexico. The carrier will use an Embraer 190 for the daily service.

Don’t miss out on these popular TravelSkills posts! Kicking support animals off planes | Shocked passenger refuses to pay $3 for water | Marriott-Starwood: Higher prices, better rewards | The 10,000 points question! | Eye-catching maps explain state of the world | Test your planespotting skills! )

DONT MISS! The 100,000 points question!

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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.

Don’t miss out on these popular TravelSkills posts! Kicking support animals off planesShocked passenger refuses to pay $3 for water | Marriott-Starwood: Higher prices, better rewards | The 10,000 points question! | Eye-catching maps explain state of the world | Test your planespotting skills! )

DONT MISS! The 100,000 points question!

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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.

DONT MISS! The 100,000 points question!

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! )

DONT MISS! The 100,000 points question!

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Most popular: NYC/SF warning | Cool maps | Doomed jumbos | Credit card question | New SkyClub

DONT MISS! The 100,000 points question!

New Triplex Suites atop the New York Palace hotel have huge outdoor decks w Jacuzzis (Chris McGinnis)

Triplex Suites atop the New York Palace hotel have huge outdoor decks w Jacuzzis. Sweet! But I’m not sure if this is where the President stays. (Chris McGinnis)

Obama

President Obama (Photo: Wikimedia)

Fair warning for New York or San Francisco bound travelers this week: Beware of traffic, sold out restaurants and hotels, long waits for taxis and Uber/Lyft surge pricing. Why? In New York, blame the meeting of the UN General Assembly (which will include a Sunday-Wednesday visit and address by President Obama, which makes traffic even worse). As we’ve reported here on TravelSkills, the President now stays at the Lotte New York Palace hotel (Madison and 50th) which means near constant gridlock in that part of town. When we checked, the few rooms left at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square were running $754 per night. Layer on the additional security in the city due to this past weekend’s bombings, and you have a recipe for for some big travel headaches.

In San Francisco, blame the huge Oracle Open World Conference this week, which fills the city and airports to the gills with techies- and everything is overpriced. Both Sting and Gwen Stefani will have private concerts for attendees. Airports (and airfares) will be most crazy on Sunday (start) and Thursday (end). Hotels are mostly full, but what’s left over is overpriced– like the handful of rooms left at the Hilton Financial District going for $600 per night. Also, since so many attendees extend their visits, both weekends will be pretty crazy. And a reservation at a top SF restaurant? Feggedaboudit! And it’s not over yet! The even larger Dreamforce 2016 conference packs the city similarly– It runs Tuesday Oct 4 – Friday Oct 7, and includes a concert by U2!

Headed to SF? Here are 8 Mistakes Every Traveler Must Avoid in San Francisco!

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

1 Gotta see this: Eye-catching maps explain the state of the world

2 A new way to London: Trip Report: British Airways 787 Dreamliner San Jose-LondonWeekend Edition

3 Bummer! Are double-decker jumbo jets doomed?

4 Comments say “yes!” Would you fly a 737 transatlantic for $69?

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

Airport news: LaGuardia, Atlanta, Heathrow, Chicago Midway, Nashville

7 And the answer is… The 100,000 points question

Gorgeous light thru new stained glass inside the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Gorgeous light in Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral. A must-see on any trip to Barcelona, even if you’ve seen it before- because it’s always changing (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

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

9 More than a facelift in La-La Land: An amazing upgrade for LAX- in pictures

10 Most drink more on trips than at home Are you a boozy traveler? 

Last year CNN dropped by for some advice about traveling to the Bay Area– see this video to find out what Chris had to say.

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

Details on Delta’s new SkyClub at ATL Concourse B

Another VERY easy 500 points from Virgin America

Apple headphone changes: a problem for airline inflight entertainment

American Airlines Assisted ‘Sully,’ But Won’t Show the Movie on Its Planes

Cathay Pacific pilot attempts round-the-world flight in home-made plane

The spa at Virgin Atlantic's London Heathrow Clubhouse (Photo: Josh Friedman)

The spa at Virgin Atlantic’s London Heathrow Clubhouse (Photo: Josh Friedman)

There’s a downside to Delta’s consolidation at London Heathrow T3

New Delta CEO has a vision for Salt Lake City hub

UberX Lyft make progress at ATL, but legal rides still months off 

American starts renovating cabins of its international 757-200s

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines specialty aircraft, named Missouri One—a Boeing 737-700, in Kansas City, Mo. (Photo: Ashlee Duncan, Southwest Airlines)

Southwest Rewards elites can now fly standby for same-day flights

Uber tests self-driving  cars in Pittsburgh

Hyatt rebrands three of its U.S. properties as Hyatt Centrics

Chris McGinnis water Lake Tahoe

Do you follow Chris on Instagram? Come on! CLICK THE PIC. It’s fun! (Photo at Lake Tahoe)

DONT MISS! The 100,000 points question!

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! )

twitter-floowmeDo you follow us on Twitter? It’s a great way to keep up with the latest news!

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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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JetBlue, Delta slugfest could mean lower fares

JetBlue and Delta are adding new flights out of Boston as JetBlue invades the Boston-Atlanta market. (Image: Jim Glab)

JetBlue and Delta are adding new flights out of Boston as JetBlue invades the Boston-Atlanta market. (Image: Jim Glab)

Delta Air Lines, already embroiled in a tough struggle for market dominance with Alaska Airlines at Seattle, is now facing a new battle in the Northeast.

Just a few weeks after Delta announced plans for a significant increase of service out of Boston next year, JetBlue has unveiled its own strategy to keep ahead of competitors in that city with route expansions of its own. And part of JetBlue’s plan includes a strike into Delta’s base, by launching several flights a day between Boston and Atlanta. JetBlue served Atlanta back in 2003 with nonstops to New York-JFK and Long Beach, but only for a few short months.

JetBlue said that on March 30 it will start flying five times a day between Boston and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, a route dominated by Delta and Southwest, with a few Spirit Airlines flights as well. What’s more, “In addition to Boston-Atlanta flights, JetBlue also intends to add service between Atlanta and its focus cities of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, New York JFK, and Orlando,” the company said.

In a challenge to Delta’s (and American’s) Shuttle service in the northeast, JetBlue had earlier announced plans to start flying between Boston and New York LaGuardia on October 31 of this year, with six flights a day on weekdays. JetBlue already serves the Boston-New York JFK and Boston-Newark markets.

JetBlue A321

More JetBlue A321 with posh Mint class coming soon to SFO-BOS (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Delta’s announcement last month noted that it will resume Boston-San Francisco service, with two daily 757-200 flights, starting June 8; and will boost its Boston-Seattle schedule from one flight a day to two. JetBlue responded this week with a plan to add a fourth daily Mint-equipped roundtrip to its SFO-Boston schedule starting next July. The airline noted that its existing three daily BOS-SFO flights will all have Mint service by September 21 of this year, as will all its Boston-Los Angeles flights by November 18.

The addition of two SFO-BOS flights a day by Delta and a fourth by JetBlue could mean lower fares for travelers in a market where United and Virgin America are competing as well.

JetBlue

Economy Class on JetBlue (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Delta said it will also begin Boston-Nashville service, add a second daily Boston-Milwaukee flight, and begin weekly service from BOS to Montego Bay, Jamaica; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and St. Thomas, USVI. In response, JetBlue said its existing seasonal service from Boston to St. Thomas and Montego Bay will be extended to year-round operations.

Delta said that by next June, its increased schedule will give it 90 flights a day out of Boston to 26 destinations. That will leave it well behind JetBlue, which currently has 140 weekday departures from Boston, and plans to increase that to 200 flights a day to 63 destinations.

If you could choose between JetBlue and Delta, which way would you go? Please leave your comments below. 

(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)

twitter-floowmeDo you follow us on Twitter? It’s a great way to keep up with the latest 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 Roundup: United, Delta, JetBlue, AA, Southwest, Alaska, Frontier

United SFO

United & Delta adding even more flights at SFO (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

There’s plenty of domestic route news to catch up on from the last few weeks. United and Delta are adding routes from San Francisco; Alaska and Delta are doing the same at Seattle; United is growing at San Jose; JetBlue is adding service at Long Beach; and new routes are coming at American, Southwest and Frontier. (We’ll post an international routes update later this week.)

At San Francisco, United plans to begin service next spring to both Detroit and Cincinnati. Effective June 8, the airline will operate one daily A319 roundtrip in each market, competing against Delta. And from December 17 through April 1, United will fly once a week (on Saturdays) with a CRJ-700 from San Francisco to Kalispell, Montana.

United also revealed plans to bulk up at San Jose by adding new 737-800 flights starting March 9 from SJC to its hubs at Chicago O’Hare and Newark. The carrier will fly twice a day to O’Hare and once a day to Newark. (United’s planned San Jose-Newark flight will begin just three days before Alaska Airlines’ recently announced new service on the same route, which will have the same departure time from SJC.) American and Southwest both fly from SJC to Chicago, and JetBlue serves the SJC-New York JFK market. Meanwhile, United on September 7 is due to launch new service to Chattanooga, Tenn., from both Newark and Chicago O’Hare, with two daily flights in each market.

In October, United will discontinue its existing twice-daily intra-California service between San Francisco and Santa Maria, which is operated by United Express/Skywest with a CRJ-200. On the other coast, United set a November 29 termination date for its twice-daily United Express service between Newark and Binghamton, New York.  But on December 16, United plans to resume seasonal flights between its Washington Dulles hub and Ft. Lauderdale, with one flight a day through January 4, then two a day until May 4.

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

Delta's premium economy seat, Economy Comfort (Photo: Delta)

Delta adding SFO-Boston nonstops using a 757s (Photo: Delta)

Delta has unveiled plans for a growth spurt at Boston next spring, including a resumption of Boston-San Francisco service. The carrier will offer two BOS-SFO flights a day, using 757-200s, beginning June 8. On the same date, Delta will double its Boston-Seattle schedule from one daily flight to two. Delta will also begin new Delta Connection/Endeavor Air service between Boston and Nashville, with one daily flight using a two-class CRJ-900. Also coming from Delta is new service from Seattle to Eugene, Oregon, with three daily CRJ-700 flights beginning April 1; and a new daily roundtrip between Seattle and Raleigh-Durham effective June 8.

Long Beach, California will get more service from JetBlue next year. The carrier set a January 4 launch for new Long Beach-San Jose service, where it will offer four daily roundtrips. The airline will also beef up its schedules on existing Long Beach routes, adding three more flights a day to Las Vegas, one extra departure to San Francisco, and one more to Salt Lake City. (The Bay Area will also get new service to Long Beach from Southwest in June, when the carrier is set to launch four flights a day from Oakland.) Elsewhere on its system, JetBlue plans to add new daily service on January 12 between Chicago O’Hare and Ft. Lauderdale, but on January 11 it will discontinue service between O’Hare and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

JetBlue will begin San Jose-Long Beach flights in 2017. (Image: Jim Glab)

JetBlue will begin San Jose-Long Beach flights in January. (Image: Jim Glab)

Alaska Airlines will continue to build up its Seattle hub next spring with the addition of two more routes to the Midwest. On April 13, Alaska will kick off new daily service from SEA to Wichita, Kans., with a SkyWest Embraer 175; and on May 11 it will add new daily 737 roundtrips between SEA and Indianapolis.

The spring schedule from Southwest Airlines, which begins in March, includes new daily service between Houston Hobby and Omaha, along with new twice-daily flights between Newark and Ft. Lauderdale. At the same time, the airline will begin seasonal daily service linking Las Vegas with Minneapolis-St. Paul.

SkyWest, operating as American Eagle, will begin new daily service November 4 linking AA’s Phoenix hub with St. George, Utah. The flight will use a 50-seat CRJ-200. On the east coast, American has scheduled a December 15 start for new American Eagle/Republic Airlines service between New York’s Westchester County Airport and Miami, offering two flights a day with two-class E-175s.

Ultra-low-cost Frontier Airlines plans a December 6 expansion at Phoenix, where it will begin service to Milwaukee and St. Louis, each with four flights a week; and to Nashville and Des Moines, each with three flights a week.

On December 15, American will launch daily roundtrips from Phoenix to Santa Fe and Sioux Falls. The Santa Fe flights will use a SkyWest CRJ 700, and the Sioux Falls service will be operated by a Mesa Airlines CRJ 900.

–Chris McGinnis

(We’re back from summer vacation! In case you missed our other recent round-up posts, here they are: Tips 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

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Routes: United, Virgin America, Spirit, Frontier

United will use 737s on two new Florida nonstops (Image: Tampa International)

New nonstops to connect bay cities (Image: Tampa International)

In domestic route news, there’s lots of extra capacity coming to Florida, including new United routes from San Francisco and Spirit Airlines routes from Ohio, plus a new Florida destination for Frontier Airlines. Meanwhile, Virgin America plans to increase  capacity from the West Coast to Newark Liberty International Airport.

United will use 737s on new San Francisco routes to Florida. (Image: United)

United will use 737s on new San Francisco routes to Florida. (Image: United)

United’s newest domestic routes from San Francisco will be to Florida, starting in late fall and winter. The airline said it plans to begin a daily San Francisco-Miami flight on December 16, reviving a route that it dropped 12 years ago. United will also introduce a daily SFO-Tampa flight beginning February 16. Both routes will use 737s.

Just a few days after Alaska Airlines announced some new routes to Newark, Virgin America said it will also take advantage of the FAA’s plan to open up more slots at that airport this fall. Effective November 18, Virgin plans to increase Newark frequencies from three flights a day to four from both San Francisco and Los Angeles. The extra SFO flight is scheduled for a 9:40 a.m. departure from San Francisco, while the fourth LAX departure will be at 7 a.m.

Spirit Airlines is adding new service from Ohio to Florida (Image: Spirit Airlines)

Spirit Airlines is adding new service from Ohio to Florida (Image: Spirit Airlines)

Spirit Airlines plans a big expansion of service at Akron/Canton, adding four Florida destinations beginning November 10. The schedule includes new daily flights from Akron to Ft. Lauderdale and to Orlando, along with seasonal service from Akron to Ft. Myers four days a week and to Tampa three days a week. On the same date, meanwhile, Spirit will also suspend service between Cleveland and Dallas/Ft. Worth, changing that route from year-round to seasonal; the DFW flights will begin again on April 26.

Punta Gorda, Florida is about 25 miles north of Ft. Myers, and it has an airport that’s a lot less busy than the latter city’s Southwest Florida International; Punta Gorda is currently served only by Allegiant Airlines. So Punta Gorda is the newest airport that will go onto Frontier Airlines’ route map. On October 30, Frontier will add new service to Punta Gorda from Trenton, N.J., operating year-round four days a week. On the same date, Frontier will begin seasonal service three days a week between Punta Gorda-Philadelphia and Punta Gorda-Chicago O’Hare, continuing through April.

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

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Routes: United, Singapore, Delta, American, Airberlin, LATAM, Volaris

United will add a second daily San Francisco-Shanghai flight with a 787-9. (Image: United)

United will add a second daily San Francisco-Shanghai flight with a 787-9. (Image: United)

In international route news, United will increase Shanghai service but drop Vietnam; Singapore Airlines will reroute its eastbound Houston to Singapore flight; Delta will increase its Caribbean presence via code-sharing; American will trim its LAX-Brazil schedule; Airberlin will add more U.S. flights and expand code-sharing with American; LATAM adds a new Miami market; and Mexico’s Volaris plans two new U.S. routes.

According to Routesonline.com, United Airlines plans to add a second daily flight between San Francisco and Shanghai Pudong, and has already opened it up for reservations. The second frequency is due to begin on October 14, using a 787-9 Dreamliner, although the carrier is expected to replace that with a 787-8 next spring.  Meanwhile, United also plans to discontinue service to Vietnam at the end of October when it terminates its current Hong Kong-Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) route, which it serves with a 737-800. A United spokesman tells TravelSkills that the carrier is working with its joint venture partner ANA to offer a greater number of new connections to Ho Chi Minh City via Tokyo Narita than United currently offers through Hong Kong.

Effective October 30, Singapore Airlines will make a big change in its eastbound flight from Houston Bush Intercontinental to Singapore, which currently operates via a stop in Moscow. After October, the carrier will drop Moscow from that route, replacing it with a stop in Manchester, England. The five-days-a-week service will depart Houston at 8:15 p.m., arriving in Manchester at 10:05 a.m. and eventually in Singapore at 8:20 a.m.

Delta will add Caribbean destinations via code-sharing with Seaborne Airlines. (Image: Delta)

Delta will add Caribbean destinations via code-sharing with Seaborne Airlines. (Image: Delta)

Delta has filed for Transportation Department approval to begin code-sharing with San Juan-based regional carrier Seaborne Airlines. The planned code-sharing would put Delta flight numbers onto Seaborne flights from San Juan to five destinations not currently served by Delta: Beef Island in the British Virgin Islands; Dominica; Nevis; Anguilla; and La Romana in the Dominican Republic. The code-sharing would also increase Delta-coded flights from San Juan to destinations already served by the Atlanta-based carrier, including St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.

American Airlines plans to reduce frequencies between Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, Brazil from seven flights a week to five effective December 1, and will also change planes on the route from a 787-8 to a 777-200ER.

Airberlin will boost U.S. schedules this winter. (Image: Airberlin)

Airberlin will boost U.S. schedules this winter. (Image: Airberlin)

In Europe, meanwhile, American has added more code-share routes with partner Airberlin, putting its code onto the latter’s flights from Dusseldorf to Bologna, Florence, Stockholm and Venice; Frankfurt to Palma de Mallorca; and Munich to Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg. Meanwhile, effective with its winter schedule starting in November, Airberlin will increase Miami-Berlin service from two flights a week to four, and New York-Dusseldorf service from seven flights a week to eight. The carrier is also adding a new daily New York-Berlin flight, and extending its Los Angeles-Dusseldorf service from seasonal to year-round. Airberlin will also boost Chicago-Berlin frequencies from four flights a week to five, and Ft. Myers-Dusseldorf from three a week to four.

LATAM Airlines Brazil has set a September 24 start for new once-a-week service on Saturdays between Miami and Recife, Brazil, using a two-class 767.

Mexico’s low-cost Volaris Airlines has added a couple of more U.S. routes, launching service three times a week from Seattle to its Guadalajara hub, and twice a week from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Monterrey. Both routes use A320s.

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

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Tokyo Haneda daytime rights: The winners are…

Four U.S. airlines won rights to use daytime slots at Tokyo's close-in Haneda Airport. (Image: Haneda Airport)

Four U.S. airlines won rights to use daytime slots at Tokyo’s close-in Haneda Airport. (Image: Haneda Airport)

Ever since Japan opened up Tokyo’s close-in Haneda Airport to transpacific flights, U.S. carriers have struggled to make their Haneda routes work – mostly because they were stuck with consumer-unfriendly takeoff and landing slots in the middle of the night. Since the U.S. and Japan recently negotiated some changes that allow for daytime slots at the airport, U.S. airlines have been clamoring to win those rights – and now the Transportation Department has made a tentative decision on those applications.

The agency said its initial decision awards daytime slots at Haneda to American Airlines and Delta from Los Angeles, United from San Francisco, Hawaiian from Honolulu and Delta from Minneapolis-St. Paul.

“Three of the cities – Los Angeles, Honolulu, and San Francisco – already have service to Haneda, but those services have been required to operate at night only.  Under the new agreement, carriers may arrive and depart Haneda during more favorable daytime hours.  The new route from Minneapolis also is included in that group,” DOT said.

Earlier, DOT had awarded Hawaiian a new nighttime slot for service from Kona and Honolulu to Haneda. The agency said service on all the newly awarded Haneda daytime routes could begin as soon as this fall.

American had also applied for daytime slots at Haneda for service from Dallas/Ft. Worth, but that was not among the new rights granted by DOT. Likewise Delta did not win authority for new Haneda service from Atlanta (it already flies Atlanta-Narita). The DOT suggested that if Delta’s service to Haneda from Minneapolis-St. Paul doesn’t work out, those rights might be shifted to American for a DFW-Haneda route.

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

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New Routes: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Newark, JFK, San Diego

Hangzhou, China is United's newest transpacific destination. (Image: City of Hangzhou)

Hangzhou, China is United’s newest transpacific destination. (Image: City of Hangzhou)

In international route developments, United kicks off another transpacific route from San Francisco to China’s Silicon Valley; Turkish Airlines and Philippine Airlines boost capacity in a key west coast market; an African carrier begins service to Newark; New York JFK welcomes a new European airline; and a Mexican carrier drops a San Diego route, but adds a new one from SFO.

July 13 is the launch date for United Airlines’ fifth route to mainland China and its 14th transpacific route from San Francisco International. That’s the day when United begins new service from SFO to Hangzhou, the capital of China’s Zhejiang Province. The carrier will fly the route three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday) with a 787-9, departing SFO at 2:15 p.m. for the almost 13-hour flight. Hangzhou is about 102 miles southwest of Shanghai. Regarding Hangzhou, United says it is a city of nearly 9 million on China’s southeastern coast, is one of the country’s Seven Ancient Capitals and today boasts a vibrant and entrepreneurial business climate. Known as the “Silicon Valley in Paradise,” Hangzhou has a growing reputation for innovation in technology and e-commerce, and is an important manufacturing and logistics base for coastal China.

Ethiopian is using a 787 on its new Newark route. (Image: Ethiopian Airlines)

Ethiopian is using a 787 on its new Newark route. (Image: Ethiopian Airlines)

Ethiopian Airlines last week revived the Newark route that it abandoned in 2004. It is now flying between Newark and Addis Ababa via a stop in Lome, Togo, three times a week, using a 787 Dreamliner. Connections are available from both Lome and Addis Ababa to other African destinations. Ethiopian also flies to Addis Ababa from Washington D.C. and from Los Angeles via Dublin. It plans to add a fourth weekly flight on the Newark route starting August 5.

Need to get to Belgrade? Air Serbia has kicked off the first direct service between Belgrade and the U.S. in 24 years, with a new route to New York JFK. Air Serbia is a reincarnation of the former Yugoslavian carrier JAT, aided by a big capital injection from Etihad Airways, which owns 49 percent of Air Serbia.  The Serbian airline is flying to JFK-Belgrade route five times a week, using a two-class A330-200 leased from India’s Jet Airways – which is also partially owned by Etihad.

Turkish Airlines is using a 777-300ER on its new Atlanta route. (Image: Boeing

Turkish Airlines is using a 777-300ER on its expanded LA service. (Image: Boeing

A couple of airlines are adding more flights to their Los Angeles schedules. Turkish Airlines, citing “growing consumer demand,” this week boosted frequencies on its LAX-Istanbul route from seven a week to 11, adding second eastbound flights on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The carrier will use 777-300ERs, representing a total capacity increase of 64 percent.  Meanwhile, Airlineroute.net reports that Philippine Airlines plans to upgrade its Los Angeles-Manila schedule from the current four flights a week to daily service starting December 6, with a 777-300ER replacing the Airbus A340-300 that the airline currently uses on the LAX route.

Mexico’s low-cost carrier Volaris is ending its service to San Diego from Mexico City after a six-year run. It’s currently down to four A320 flights a week on the route, and will drop that to two a week on August 18, before eliminating the route August 28. On July 1, Volaris launched nonstops between SFO and Guadalajara.

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

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Routes: San Francisco, LAX, Houston, San Jose, New York, Washington, Chicago

United will use a 787 for a second daily SFO-London flight. (Image: United)

United will use a 787 for a second daily SFO-London flight. (Image: United)

In international route news, United will boost its London schedules from San Francisco and Los Angeles while cutting back from Houston; also, United this week launches its promised New Zealand service; Lufthansa kicks off its delayed San Jose inaugural; Brussels Airlines rolls out a premium economy class; Wow Air adds another U.S. gateway; and a Mexican low-cost carrier adds a Chicago route.

United Airlines announced plans to add a second daily San Francisco-London Heathrow flight to its schedule starting October 30. The new LHR flight (UA900/901) will depart San Francisco at 4:15 p.m., using a 219-passenger 787-8 with BusinessFirst, Economy Plus and regular economy seating. Also on October 30, United will trim its schedule from Houston Bush Intercontinental to London from three daily flights to two, although it will use larger 777-200s on the remaining IAH flights instead of the current 767-300s and 787s. Then next spring (effective April 5), the airline will lay on a second daily Los Angeles-LHR flight (UA60/61), using a 252-seat 787-9. That flight will leave LAX at 3:10 p.m.

Meanwhile, July 1 is the launch date for United’s newest transpacific route, from San Francisco to Auckland , New Zealand. The carrier will use a 787-8 to fly the route three days a week, then will expand capacity starting October 28 to daily frequencies that use a larger 787-9. United has slated a 10:45 p.m. departure time from SFO for the 13-hour, 10-minute (westbound) flight. United will operate the route as part of its Star Alliance partnership with Air New Zealand.

Lufthansa will use an A340-300 on its new San Jose-Frankfurt route. (Image: BriYYZ/Wikimedia Commons)

Lufthansa will use an A340-300 on its new San Jose-Frankfurt route. (Image: BriYYZ/Wikimedia Commons)

Another new Bay Area international route starting up this week is Lufthansa’s non-stop service from Frankfurt to San Jose. Originally planned to begin on April 29, it is now set for a July 1 launch.  Lufthansa will operate the route five days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday), using an Airbus A340-300 with business class, economy, and premium economy seating.  This plane, which is smaller than the A340-600 on SFO-Munich,  has 18 business class seats, 19 premium economy seats and 261 economy seats– no first class. Even though SeatGuru.com shows the seats on the A340-300 to be of the old “angled lie flat” variety, a Lufthansa spokesperson tells TravelSkills that the planes have been reconfigured with the carrier’s latest, greatest true lie-flat offering, like what you’ll find on its A380 and A340 flying from SFO. Currently, fares from both SFO and SJC to Frankfurt appear to be identical: about $5,200 round trip in business class, $2,700 in premium economy, and about $1,300 for economy. 

Brussels Airlines is adding premium economy seating to its U.S. A330 flights. (Image: Brussels Airlines)

Brussels Airlines is adding premium economy seating to its U.S. A330 flights. (Image: Brussels Airlines)

International premium economy seating continues to proliferate; the latest carrier to add that feature is Brussels Airlines, which is due to start offering it July 1 on the Airbus A330s that it flies to its U.S. gateways (New York JFK and Washington Dulles) from Brussels. The new seating option, located in the first four rows of the economy cabin, offers extra legroom and seats that recline more than twice as far as regular economy seats. It also provides enhanced in-flight services and amenities.  The carrier is offering the new seating for a surcharge of $139 one-way until September 15, when the price will rise to $169.

Elsewhere in the New York area, Icelandic low-cost carrier Wow Air – which recently started flying from San Francisco and Los Angeles — said it will add Newark Liberty International to its route map on November 25, offering daily flights to Reykjavik and connections to the U.K. and Europe. The airline will use A321s or A330s on the new route, depending on the season. One-way fares to Iceland will start at $99, with service to European capitals from as little as $149.

Mexico’s low-cost Volaris Airlines has kicked off a new route linking Chicago O’Hare with Monterrey, Mexico. The carrier will operate the service twice a week (Mondays and Fridays), using a 174-passenger Airbus A320.

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

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Airport news: SFO, Denver, Washington, Hartford, Uber/Lyft

San Francisco will break ground next week on a big Terminal 1 overhaul. (Image: San Francisco International Airport)

San Francisco will break ground next week on a big Terminal 1 overhaul. (Image: San Francisco International Airport)

In airport news this week, San Francisco next week will break ground on a massive overhaul of Terminal 1; Denver International gets its first Delta Sky Club; Washington Reagan National will get a new concourse as a part of a massive renovation; a new passenger lounge comes to Hartford Bradley; and a leading newspaper offers a recap of Uber/Lyft status at major U.S. airports.

On June 29, officials at San Francisco International will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for a $2.4 billion, multi-year project to renovate and upgrade the airport’s Terminal 1, which dates back to the early 1960s. The overhaul will cover the terminal’s north, south and central areas, and will give T1 a new Boarding Area B (primarily Southwest, Frontier) with new boarding bridges and concessions, a revamped Boarding Area C (Delta), a new central area with a consolidated security checkpoint, new baggage system and claims area, and new mezzanine with links to the AirTrain and central parking garage. TravelSkills will be there for the groundbreaking, and next week we’ll show you what all the changes will look like.

Delta's new Sky Club at Denver International. (Image: Delta)

Delta’s new Sky Club at Denver International. (Image: Delta)

Delta Air Lines has cut the ribbon on its first Sky Club at Denver International Airport. The 4,600 square foot lounge, which can seat 90, is on Concourse A, and it opened just after Delta inaugurated service between Denver and Los Angeles International, with five Delta Connection/SkyWest flights a day. That gives the airline a total of 40 weekday departures at DEN. The facility is decorated with works from local art galleries, and it offers free beer (New Belgium Ranger) from a Colorado craft brewery along with other amenities. Later in 2016, Delta expects to open additional new Sky Clubs at Atlanta (Concourse B) and Seattle (between Concourses A and B).

Washington Reagan National this fall will break ground on its ”biggest building project in nearly two decades,” according to the Washington Post – a $1 billion effort that will improve life for passengers on regional flights by replacing Terminal C’s Gate 35X, where travelers now  board shuttle buses to their aircraft, with a new commuter concourse. Renovations also include National Hall, the glass-enclosed walkway on Terminal B and C’s concourse level, where security screening will be moved up to the arrivals level. The changes are expected to relieve congestion at space-constrained DCA, which has been setting new passenger records annually for the past six years, and now handles more travelers than the much larger Dulles International.

Rendering of the Escape Lounge coming to Bradley International. (Image: MAG USA)

Rendering of the Escape Lounge coming to Bradley International. (Image: MAG USA)

Northern Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport, which serves Hartford, Conn, and Springfield, Mass., will be getting a new passenger lounge this fall, developed by MAG USA, which has been creating pay-per-use Escape Lounges at various U.S. airports. (It has one at Minneapolis-St. Paul, and will open another at Oakland International this summer.) The 2,000-square foot lounge will be in Bradley’s East Concourse, and will offer free hot and cold food and drinks, restrooms, free high-speed Wi-Fi, flight information screens, and newspapers and magazines.

Airports where Uber is available | Airports where Lyft is available 

What’s the status of Uber/Lyft ride-hailing app services at your favorite airport? USA Today has compiled a roundup of Uber/Lyft services at a number of major U.S. airports, indicating when they started operating, what kind of airport surcharge applies to rides, and approximate fares to and from downtown. It notes that the services are still absent from the nation’s busiest airport, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, where “rules were expected to be in place by July 1, but talks have been delayed over discussions on driver background checks.” Unfortunately the lists are not exhaustive and don’t cover some major airports like Newark, Miami, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Seattle, but it’s a start!

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

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Singapore Airlines adds another nonstop from US

Plenty of TravelSkills readers will soon soak in this view of the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

TravelSkills readers will soon soak in this view of the Marina Bay Sands whether flying United or Singapore Airlines (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Just two weeks after United Airlines started flying non-stop from San Francisco to Singapore, Singapore Airlines confirmed to TravelSkills that it will do the same beginning this fall – and that it will boost Los Angeles service as well.

While United is using a 787-9 Dreamliner for the route, Singapore said it will rely on a new Airbus A350-900. The airline plans to start flying the non-stop San Francisco route, a trip of about 16 hours, on October 23. Singapore said that in addition to the new non-stops, it will continue to offer daily one-stop service between SFO and Singapore via Hong Kong, using a 777-300ER.

The daily SFO non-stops will replace the airline’s existing daily San Francisco-Seoul-Singapore service; that will be relocated to Los Angeles on October 23, increasing Singapore’s schedule there from one daily flight (LAX-Tokyo-Singapore) to two, with the second one operating via Seoul.

The LAX flights will both use 777-300ERs with first class, business class, premium economy and economy seating. The carrier currently uses an Airbus A380 on the LAX route, which will be phased out. See our Trip Report covering business class on the new 777-300ER.

All Singapore's west coast flights will feature its new business class. (Image: Singapore Airlines)

All Singapore’s west coast flights will feature its new business class. (Image: Singapore Airlines)

The company said the actual flying time for the San Francisco non-stops will range from 14 hours 35 minutes to 17 hours 45 minutes, depending on direction and time of year. It estimated the distance at 8,451 miles.

This new non-stop news is separate from Singapore’s announcement last fall that it will resume non-stop service to New York and Los Angeles in 2018 using a new, ultra-long-haul version of the A350 being developed by Airbus – designated the A350-900ULR — just for that purpose.

Related: Take a spin inside a brand new Airbus A350

Singapore's long-range A350s will fly non-stop to Los Angeles and New York in 2018. (Image: Airbus)

Singapore’s long-range A350s will fly non-stop to SFO starting Oct 23 (Image: Airbus)

Singapore Airlines is a big believer in the A350: It started to take delivery of the next-generation wide-body this year, and has ordered more than 60 of them. The airline first put the plane into service on the Singapore-Amsterdam route a few months ago, and more recently started flying it between Singapore and South Africa.

Related: First class phase out picks up steam

The Singapore Airlines A350-900 is configured with 253 seats – 42 in business class in a 1-2-1 layout; 24 in premium economy; and 187 in regular economy (No first class). A company representative said the aircraft will be equipped with an enhanced in-flight entertainment system that offers more than 1,000 on-demand options, as well as innovative technology designed to reduce jetlag via advancements in cabin climate, lighting and noise levels.”

About 16 hours each way between SFO and Singapore (TravelMath)

About 16 hours each way between SFO and Singapore (TravelMath)

Which airline would you prefer for the new SFO-SIN 16-hour odyssey? Why? Please leave your comments below. 

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s newest, longest flight + Tipping Uber drivers + Qantas 747 Trip Report + Confusion over PreCheck policies + No-fee earlier flights

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Routes: Air China is back + WOW arrives + Lufthansa’s next month

Fully reclined business class seat on an Air China A330-200. (Image: Air China)

Fully reclined business class seat on an Air China A330-200. (Image: Air China)

Air China’s on-again, off-again plans to fly out of Mineta San Jose International Airport are on again, but with a new starting date; and a low-cost Icelandic carrier brings new, cheap transatlantic options to San Francisco and Los Angeles this month.

Just last week we reported that Air China had scrapped its plans to begin new non-stop flights from Mineta San Jose to Shanghai, which had been announced for a June 16 inaugural. But now the Chinese carrier is back on board with that route. This time, Air China has pushed the new transpacific route back to a September 1 launch date. Air China plans to fly the route three days a week, using a two-class A330-200. Currently, roundtrip fares on AirChina.us for early September are about $1,500 in economy and $7,000 in business class. 

The new service will be San Jose’s second China route following Hainan Airlines, debut of San Jose-Beijing flights last year. SJC also got new London non-stops from BA recently, and will welcome Lufthansa’s delayed SJC-Frankfurt service on July 1 with an A340-300.

San Jose will be Air China’s tenth U.S. gateway. The new flight will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with a 12:30 p.m. departure time from SJC. Air China is a member of United’s Star Alliance.

WOW Air

Meanwhile, Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW air (www.wowair.com) started flying out of San Francisco International this week, and will make its debut at Los Angeles International on June 15. The company first announced these plans back in January, when it started selling tickets on the new routes. ”Demand was instantaneous, with flights selling out within just 24 hours,” a spokesman said.

The carrier will fly from SFO to Reykjavik five days a week, and from LAX to Reykjavik four days a week, using single-class A330-300s that carry 350 passengers. From Reykjavik, passengers can connect to WOW air flights to 23 cities in Europe, including London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Copenhagen.

And how low is low-cost? WOW said its San Francisco-Reykjavik seats can be had for as little as $99 one-way (available on Thursday flights from late September through early December). Connecting flights to Europe start at $199.

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s newest, longest flight + Tipping Uber drivers + Qantas 747 Trip Report + Confusion over PreCheck policies + No-fee earlier flights

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Routes: LAX, Denver, Paris, Minneapolis, NYC, Atlanta, Boston, Houston

XL Airways A330

More flights between California and Paris this week on XL Airways (Photo: SFO)

International route news this week includes a new French carrier coming to Los Angeles (and back to SF), a new Denver route for Air Canada, Delta transatlantic flights from the Twin Cities and New York JFK, Air France non-stops to Paris Orly, a Lufthansa subsidiary’s introduction of Boston service, and United’s decision to put a Dreamliner on a key South American route.

The French carrier XL Airways has started service to Los Angeles International, operating three flights a week to Paris out of Terminal 2 with an A330. The airline offers two-class service, including regular coach and Premium Galaxy class. The leisure-oriented carrier provides all passengers with one free checked bag, a hot meal and a snack – with upgraded cuisine and wines in the front cabin. XL also flies to Paris from New York, San Francisco and Miami. Also this week, XL’s seasonal SFO-Paris flights resumed. 

 Air Canada, a partner in United’s Star Alliance, this week kicked off the only non-stop service between Denver and Montreal. The daily flight leaves Denver at 6:25 p.m., using a 73-seat Embraer regional jet with business and regular economy seating. The aircraft is Wi-Fi equipped and offers free digital seatback entertainment and a power port at every seat.

Brussels

Delta plans to revive Atlanta-Brussels flights in 2017. (Image: City of Brussels)

Delta has launched a new seasonal transatlantic route and plans to add two more routes to Europe in 2017. The airline last week began daily summer non-stop service from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Rome, using a 226-seat 767 that departs at 5:25 p.m. from MSP. It will continue through Labor Day.

Delta also announced that it plans to resume non-stop flights between its Atlanta hub and Brussels next year; the seasonal service will begin March 27 and continue through the summer, Delta said, using a 767-300. Delta also offers year-round service to Brussels from New York JFK. And on May 25, 2017, Delta will start up new daily seasonal service from New York JFK to Glasgow, Scotland, using a 164-seat 757-200ER. A few weeks ago, Delta launched JFK-Edinburgh flights.

Also at New York JFK, Air France this week started flying to Paris – not to Paris Charles de Gaulle, where it offers multiple daily flights with SkyTeam partner Delta, but to Paris Orly. Its only competition on the New York-Paris Orly route is from British Airways subsidiary Openskies, which flies to the French airport from both JFK and Newark. Air France is flying the route with a 777-200 that has business class, premium economy and regular economy seating. The carrier noted that it recently opened a new premium lounge in Hall 3 at Orly, available to La Premier and business class passengers, as well as Flying Blue elite members.

Eurowings, the low-cost subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group, has started new U.S. service to Boston from Germany’s Cologne-Bonn Airport. The carrier flies the route three times a week with an A330-200 that has business class, regular economy and extra-legroom economy seating.

According to Routesonline.com, United Airlines plans an equipment change on its Houston-Santiago, Chile route effective June 30, replacing the current 767-300ER with a 787-8 Dreamliner.

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s newest, longest flight + Tipping Uber drivers + Qantas 747 Trip Report + Confusion over PreCheck policies + No-fee earlier flights

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