SOUTHWEST TO ATL? Southwest Airlines is currently trying to buy Denver-based Frontier Airlines in bankruptcy court. If it gets the carrier, that would mean Southwest Airlines would finally start flying into ATL (taking over Frontier’s nonstops between Denver and ATL). This means die-hard bargain hunters might not have to drive to Birmingham anymore for cheap flights to the west. Would you fly Southwest if it came into Atlanta? LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW! Many folks in Denver are not so enthusiastic about the possibility since it’s the hometown airline with lots of local ties. Stay tuned…
VIRGIN AMERICA TO ATL? Maybe. According to Bloomberg aviation reporter MJ Credeur, the mod San Francisco based carrier is studying the possibility of ATL-SFO nonstops. In the article, Virgin’s CEO David Cush said, “Atlanta is certainly on the list. It’s a big corporate headquarters city.” Would you fly Virgin America between Atlanta and San Francisco? LET US KNOW! Leave your comments below.
BIG DELTA CHANGE AT LA GUARDIA. Delta has announced that it will create a mini-hub at New York’s La Guardia airport. Delta will take over the US Airways terminal (located conveniently adjacent to the Delta terminal) and give US Airways the Marine Air Terminal, which Delta currently uses for shuttle flights. Delta will spend $40 million dollars to connect its two terminals with completion set for 2010; it will take over many of US Airways turboprop flights to small/medium sized cities and add new ones using larger regional jets; US Airways will move its NE shuttle operations to the Marine Air Terminal and its mainline flights to LaGuardia terminal D. Hmmm. While this won’t affect ATL travelers much, we are wondering how Delta’s overall on time performance is going to suffer…. Imagine operating hubs at LGA and JFK, the two most congested and delay-hobbled airports in the country?
BIG AIRTRAN CHANGE AT NEWARK. AirTran will stop flying between ATL and Newark Airport on Oct 25 and move those flights to New York La Guardia and Washington Reagan National. AirTran has served Newark for nearly 10 years. Its exit leaves only Delta and Continental flying between ATL and EWR. Hmmm. Should be interesting to see which way fares move…In any case, unless you’ve got business in northern New Jersey, there’s not much reason to fly into Newark if you are only want to get to Manhattan. Is there? LET US KNOW how your travel might be affected by this move. Please leave your comments below.
DELTA STILL HURTING. BUT STRONG. Delta reports that its second quarter passenger revenue dropped 25 percent (-$2 billion) compared to the same time last year. Cargo revenue really tanked—down a whopping 54% (-$200 million). Good news: It still has $4.9 billion in cash, which should help it weather the current storm. And then some.
AIRTRAN LIVES UP TO WI-FI PROMISE. In May, AirTran stunned competitors when it announced that it had been secretly installing in-flight wi-fi on it’s aircraft, and planned to have its entire fleet online by the end of July. Well, it’s delivered on that promise—it’s entire fleet is now wired. AirTran and other carriers charge $5.95 -$12.95 (depending on flight length) and $7.95 to use a wi-fi capable handheld device for any flight length. NEW: You can also buy a one-month pass for $49.95.
FREE WI-FI FOR AIRTRAN ELITES. AirTran is offering free in-flight wi-fi for elite members of its A-Plus Rewards program through Aug 31.
MY WI-FI EXPERIENCE. Your TICKET editor has used in-flight wi-fi twice on AirTran and was very satisfied with the experiences. Signing on is simple. The connection is as good as the one I have at my office (except when streaming video.) The only downside is that wi-fi hogs battery power and there are no in seat power plugs. So my laptop shut down a couple hours into the four-hour flight between ATL and SFO—so I’m not sure I got my three-hour’s worth for $12.95 While this should not pose a problem on AirTran’s mostly short stage-length flights, I’ll bring an extra battery for my next transcon flight.
DELTA’S WIFI INSTALLATION. As of July 29, Delta had planes flying with wi-fi, representing about 68% of it’s pre-merger fleet. (All MD88 and MD90’s have it, as do 84 B757’s.) The remainder of the Delta fleet should be outfitted by the end of the year. Next year, about 200 Northwest jets will get it, totaling nearly 500 planes.
SPEAKING OF WIFI. We are getting an increasing number of reports from TICKET readers that they’ve been able to get around blocks on VOIP for conference calls—and have had no problem talking using their headsets with microphones. Have you? LET US KNOW!
DELTA INCREASES CHECKED BAG FEE. Falling in line with other major carriers, Delta is now charging non-elite passengers $20 for the first checked bag, and $30 for the second checked bag. NOTE: That’s an extra $100 round trip! Fees are reduced by $5 if you pay for your checked bags ahead of time online…but who would do that? Anyway, most TICKET readers are Medallion level SkyMiles members who are exempt from the fees for the first two bags, but must now pay for the third checked bag.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT. Delta announced big changes for Medallion level SkyMiles members last month. Check out last month’s issue for our analysis.
ALL YOU CAN FLY FOR ONE MONTH FOR $600. Now here’s a truly cool deal for folks who’ve got some time on their hands… Through August 21, JetBlue customers can buy an unlimited travel pass for $599, allowing them to visit any of the airline’s 56 international and domestic destinations as often as they like between September 8 and October 8, 2009. Pass holders will have access to every available seat on every flight with no blackout dates, and can book travel up to three days prior to departure through October 5. Too bad JetBlue skedaddled from ATL many years ago. DETAILS.
NEW DELTA OVERBOOKING PROCEDURES COMING. Delta was slapped with a $375,000 fine for failure to communicate all options for compensation to bumped passengers. However, it seems that the DOT is giving Delta a $200,000 credit on that fine to develop an automated system to handle overbooking situations. Travel Technology Update says that the new system will notify passengers of oversold flights at online or kiosk check in and ask if they’d like to volunteer for compensation.
BIZ CLASS FALLS OFF. Business and first class travel on airlines fell 24% year-over-year in May, worse than the 22% decline in April. Coach class travel declined 8%. The International Air Transport Association, which provided these numbers, notes that this is especially bad for airlines because premium class travel may only comprise 10% of tickets sold, but as much as 30% of airline revenue.
COKE WINS. Well, we never thought that they’d ever switch anyway, but for a while there was a question about whether Delta would continue to serve Coca-Cola products exclusively after it merged with Northwest, which was a Pepsi airline. Of course Coke won out, but Pepsi got a consolation prize: its Frito-Lay products (Ruffles, SunChips) will now be served on Delta flights.
ON-TIME PERFORMANCE CONTINUES TO IMPROVE. The DOT says that 76.1% of the flights operated by the nation’s 19 largest airlines arrived on time in June, compared with just 70.8% in June 2008. There’s a combination of factors at play here, including less congestion and more padding of schedules on the part of airlines. (Note that Delta’s partner Comair remains in last place for June, with just 60% of flights arriving ontime.)
PLANES ARE STILL FULL. Don’t’ think that the down economy means you might find an empty seat next to you on the plane this summer. Airlines are pulling their large planes out of the skies, parking them in the desert, and using smaller planes instead. They are also cutting back on flight frequencies. As a result, Delta’s planes are running 80-90 percent full this summer…about the same as last summer.
HOW MUCH ARE THEY MAKING IN LUGGAGE FEES? According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airlines are raking in the bucks when it comes to those obnoxious new checked luggage fees. So far this year, Delta’s earned $103 million in fees; AirTran’s made about $31 million. American leads the pack at $108 million. Which airline has made the LEAST on baggage fees (since it does not charge for the first two bags)? Southwest, of course, at just $6 million. And it even managed to turn a profit in the second quarter!
BUSIEST DOMESTIC ROUTES? If we had to guess which routes ran heaviest in the U.S., our first guess would be NYC-Chicago. Or NYC-LAX. The real answer is a surprise: Based on number of passengers flown, ATL-Orlando was the busiest route between May 2008 and April 2009. The top five: 1- ATL-Orlando, 2- LA-SF, 3- ATL-New York, 4- NYC-Chicago, 5- ATL-Washington DC.
NEW BIZ CLASS SEATS ON AIRTRAN. AirTran is removing the older, less comfortable business class seats on 22 of its 717 aircraft (due to lots of complaints) and replacing them with the newer, ergonomically designed Recaro seats you get on its 737’s.
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW!!
Kalin Thomas says
I like the new format, it’s easier to read.
I am not so big on the video. It is rather difficult to speed read or scan through the topic with a video. You are forced to listen to “crap” that you really do not want to listen to.
Video is nice sometimes, but please let me read the content and decide what I am interested in and what I can skip.
Love the Ticket!
Rich Orlick says
It’s disheartening that AirTran is pulling out of Newark. I’ve ben flying at least twice a month to manage my parents’ medical care in central NJ. I like A.T. and would prefer to use them, esp since I have elite status on them. Tre is no direct rail link from Laguardia to NJ and I will not use ground transportation to get here.AirTran has set the prices to Newark as they are a discounter. With only the two Full Fare Lines flying there now, fares wil rocket up. I will not follow AirTran to Laguardia.
Phil Brown says
I’m no stranger to playing the contrarian, although I notice it happening with increasing frequency the older I get. Am I getting more comfortable expressing my opinion, or am I just getting crotchety? Tough call. Anyhow, I have to disagree with your statement that “Frequent travelers clearly prefer online video as a way to get their news…” Not only do I generally despise watching video in a web browser (or on any iDevice), but I do a lot of my catching up on newsletters and such by caching them in my browser and then reading them on the airplane — where streaming video isn’t an option (inflight WiFi notwithstanding, which I wouldn’t use for watching video regardless per the above rant). Thus, a video-oriented newsletter is of much less interest to this frequent traveler. I rather suspect I occupy a lonely niche, though, based on trends driven by the Ritalin set.
Chris Gorman says
Love the videos, but the audio is not always the greatest. Maybe get a lavier mic to attach to speaker. 🙂 Love the new site though.
Pat Little says
I won’t fly SW until I can reserve a seat in advance. Perhaps their policy has changed since I last flew SW which was 3-4 years ago. I have the luxury of booking most of my flights well in advance, so getting a decent seat is very important to me.
Christine Colborne says
I don’t like the news that Airtran is pulling out of Newark. I fly in and out of their all the time; if you have business or family between Manhattan and South Jersey, it’s the closest airport. Philly is too far. LGA is an awful place and not convenient. I hate this! And you can bet that Delta and Continental will be upping their fares. And how is it that Southwest always manages to make a profit without gouging its passengers? Only $6M in baggage fees compared with Delta’s $100+M. Hmmmm….
ann larson says
Nice!- Your new format.
Fingers crossed for SW to Atlanta-YES!
Carl Withers says
I don’t take Delta’s news about expanding it’s presence at LGA as a good sign. We don’t really have a predominant carrier in NYC the way other cities (ATL, ORD, DFW, MSP, SLC)do.
Already I’ve noticed higher prices on previous NWA routes since the Delta merger, and I suspect that is the motivation behind the expansion. Less competition equals higher fares.
Nice new format too – easy to access and read on an iPhone.
Cathy Logan says
Can’t wait for Southwest to come to Atlanta!
Bill Grant says
Marvelous improvement…will probbaly access more due to the better format. Thanks.