MORE GOOD NEWS. SORTA. Worldwide airline passenger traffic dipped just 1 percent in August compared to the same month last year. That’s the smallest year-over-year drop in 2009, says the International Air Transport Association. The biggest decline this year was in March, when traffic dipped 11 percent year-over-year. Despite the recent improvements, airlines are still having a very tough time withpricing—economy class ticket prices are down 18 percent; first and business class fares are down 22 percent.
AIRLINES BAGGING BIG BUCKS. Those irksome new baggage fees are helping to keep a lot of airlines afloat in these lean times. According to the DOT, it’s the low-cost carriers that are bagging the most fees as a percentage of their overall revenues .The top four fee earners in q2 are (in descending order) Spirit, Allegiant, AirTran and Frontier. Nearly 9 percent of Spirit’s revenue was baggage fees. AirTran earned 7 percent of its revenue that way. Delta came in at 3 percent. Southwest, which does not charge for the first two checked bags, bagged less than one percent of its revenue that way.
FULL NAME AND BIRTHDATE, PLEASE. The TSA now requires airlines to book your ticket under the EXACT name as it appears on the ID you will be using to check in for your flight. IMPORTANT: Check your online booking profiles to be sure that your profile name matches your ID and modify it if necessary. Airlines are also now required obtain your birth date. Why? Supposedly this should help folks mistakenly placed on terror watch lists.
ALASKA AIR ARRIVES AT ATL. It’s been a while since Atlanta welcomed a new airline. On Oct 23 Alaska Airlines arrives from Seattle, into a market already crowded by AirTran and Delta flights. (Look for the friendly Eskimo face on the tail!) The two-class Boeing 737 flight departs Atlanta at 6:10 p.m. and arrives SEA at 8:35 p.m. Coming back, you leave SEA at 9:10 a.m. and arrive ATL at 5:10 p.m. Introductory fares are currently running about $240 roundtrip. Good: You can earn Delta SkyMiles on Alaska Air flights.
BUSINESS TRAVEL DECLINE BOTTOMING OUT? Every year at about this time American Express peers into the coming year with its Global Business Travel Forecast. (Last year, it had to postpone this annual release because, due to the uncertainty brought on by the financial system meltdown.) Anyway, things are looking brighter this time around with pent up demand for business travel expected to drive up prices slightly in the second half of the year. The cost of an average domestic business trip will rise only about $5 to $1,108. Airfares will rise 2-7 percent. However, mid and upper tier hotel rates will continue to decline anywhere from one to six percent. Car rental rates are expected to remain mostly flat.
AIRTRAN WI-FI PRICES: Hoping to determine the optimal price point, AirTran has been testing wi-fi pricing over the last month, trying a $6 fee per flight regardless of device or flight length. It was also testing a fee as low as $2.95 for shorter flights, and $10 for longer flights. Stay tuned for the outcome. In case you missed it in the previous issue, AirTran now offers in-flight wi-fi on 100% of its flights. We’ve tried it and we REALLY like it, especially on flights longer than 2 hours.
$100 FLIGHT CREDIT. Renew your AirTran/Barclay’s bank card and you’ll get two $50 discount certificates for use on future AirTran flights.
SILVER MEDALLION: SORRY NO WAIVERS. Adding fuel to our view that the most you can expect from your Delta Silver Medallion status is early boarding, we have learned this: Delta does not waive its fee for same day flight changes for Silvers. (We thought the fee was waived for all Medallions, but Delta tells us that Silver medallions have never had it waived.) We have also learned that Delta has INCREASED that fee from $25 to $50. (Gold and platinum members still can still confirm same day changes with out a fee.)
DELTA MOTHERHOOD STATEMENT REVISED. Delta has revised its “motherhood statement” which is always attached at the end of every press release. It illustrates how Delta wants to be perceived by the public. “Delta Air Lines is the world’s No. 1 airline. From its hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-JFK, Salt Lake City, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam and Tokyo-Narita, Delta, its Northwest subsidiary and Delta Connection carriers offer service to 355 destinations in 64 countries and serve more than 170 million passengers each year. Delta’s marketing alliances allow customers to earn and redeem either SkyMiles or WorldPerks on more than 16,000 daily flights offered by SkyTeam and other partners. Delta’s more than 70,000 employees worldwide are reshaping the aviation industry as the only U.S. airline to offer a full global network. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and flight status at delta.com.”
GET COZY WITH AIRTRAN. Starting Oct 1, AirTran will offer Swiss Miss hot chocolate on all flights. Minute Maid lemonade will take a break over the winter. Speaking of in-flight bevs, Bud Light Lime has replaced Bud Select on all AirTran flights.
KEY WEST JETS. You may have read in last month’s issue about AirTran’s new flights between ATL and Key West—touting it as the only full size jet flights between the two cities. Well, that made Delta stand up and take notice, it will add a mainline B737 to its mix of mostly ASA RJ flights in Dec 18.
WSJ: DELTA STINGIEST WITH INTERNATIONAL UPGRADES. The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney recently compared travelers’ ability to upgrade on international flights. It’s not news to frequent Delta flyers that getting international upgrades is tough. But the article brings to light how Delta stands out among its peers for being the toughest. It also points out Delta’s frustrating practice of enticing travelers to buy more expensive tickets for the CHANCE of using their miles for an upgrade, versus other airlines fairer approach of requiring a co-pay of a few hundred dollars, but making some sort of guarantee they you’ll get a cushy seat up front if you pay it.
DELTA ADDS DOMESTIC BIZ ELITE. Delta is now flying 757’s equipped with international business class “cradle” seats on all nonstops between Los Angeles and and New York-JFK. By the end of October, the cradles will be on all JFK-San Francisco flights. Big seats are a nice addition and should do well competing against similar internationally configured nonstops from American and United as well as the swanky first class on Virgin America. Bad news is that chances of upgrades in DL flights are now slimmer— previously, the 757’s had 24-26 first class seats while the new ones will have only 16 business class cradles. (Sure would be nice to see these planes on ATL long hauls…)
AA SHRINKAGE: Ever since American bought TWA, folks in St Louis have worried that their airport would lose flights. Looks like that worry is a new reality: American will soon cut its daily departures from Lambert in half. And even though Raleigh-Durham’s got a nice new airport, it’s not enough to keep American from dumping nine flights there.
Don’t Forget! BOOK ALL YOUR ONLINE TRAVEL VIA LINKS FROM THE TICKET!
airtran.com | delta.com | Hotwire
AiRtran may be the official airline of the Falcons, but Delta still handles all of their game charter flights. AirTran’s planes aren’t big enough for the Falcons’ actual travel needs!
Well, you never know when you might find yourself on a Delta route out of NYC whether or not you are ATL based. And sometimes these planes will get tossed into the mix at ATL and you might get lucky.
What is newsworthy about JFK domestic biz elite to ATL traverlers?