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NEW CHARGES FOR PREMIUM BOOZE AT SKY CLUB. Delta is quietly unveiling new charges for premium brand liquor, wine and specialty cocktails at its Sky Club lounges, while well brands and non-premium beer and wine remain complimentary. Other airlines charge for premium brands in their airport lounges, but Delta’s offering appears significantly more expensive with drinks such as mojitos and premium, top-shelf or call-brand cocktails fetching between $10 and $35. Prepare for the up-sell from your
bartender mixologist! Not all clubs have instituted this program yet, but watch for it coming to a lounge near you soon– expect a formal announcement from Delta within days about this. (UPDATE: A TICKET reader just sent us what he says is a new Sky Club premium liquor menu, which includes $35 for Jose Cuervo 1942 tequila, $24 for Talisker 18 scotch, $18 for Johnny Walker Green, $12 for Bulleit bourbon or Ketel 1 Vodka, $199 for a bottle of Dom Perignon among others.) Have you paid for a cocktail yet at a Sky Club? What do you think about this new policy? Do you mind paying more for a premium brand that may not have been available before?
NEW TRUSTED TRAVELER LANES AT ATL. The AJC reports that the TSA’s beta test of a trusted traveler program called “TSA PreCheck” has begun at ATL. About 2,000 Delta frequent flyers and those with “Global Entry” status on their passports chosen for the program can use a special lane for expedited screening at the South security checkpoint. The lane has a metal detector instead of a full body scanner, and does not require travelers to remove shoes, belts or jackets. TICKET reader Rupert Barkoff of Atlanta was startled to find the new expedited line open at ATL on Tuesday, and wrote, “If I hadn’t prepared for going through security (i.e., shoes, coat, pockets, etc.) I would have made it through South Security at Hartsfield from entry into the security area through the machine in less than a minute.” What do you think? Is a “trusted traveler” lane the answer to our woes, or is the current special lane for elite members enough for you? Please leave your comments below!
NICE ‘N EASY AIRTRAN A+ DOUBLE POINTS PROMO. Fly to any AirTran destination from September 15 through November 7 and earn double A+ Rewards credit for every flight. With this offer, you’ll earn two A+ credits for each one-way flight, which means you can earn a round reward flight after just 4 legs. Plus, if you book in business class, you will receive three A+ Rewards credits for each leg. You must register to get the bonus. And don’t forget, those A+ Rewards will eventually convert to Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
GOGO EXPERIMENTING WITH PRICING. Gogo has launched a new $1.95 15-minute in-flight wi-fi pass perfect for those who need to make a quick scan of email or check a website on a short flight. Right now, these bite-size passes are available on select flights only and appear on the Gogo home page when logging on during the flight. It’s also offering a $4.95 flight pass available on flights up to 650 miles, which is quite reasonable. On the higher end, Gogo is experimenting with raising rates. On a recent transcontinental flight, your TICKET editor paid $14.95 for wi-fi– $2 more than the standard $12.95 rate he was used to. A Gogo spokesperson told The TICKET: “We are currently testing some new pricing structures on various routes to better gauge the value of the service on a per route basis.” Question: What’s the most you’d pay for wi-fi on a transcontinental flight? How much is too much? (I’ve always thought that charges for inflight wi-fi were quite reasonable given how much more productive I am on long haul flights. However, price seems to be an object for the general public—only about 7% of all passengers opt for wi-fi.)
SPEAKING OF GOGO. In a recent issue of The TICKET, you read that Delta Connection’s fleet of regional jets would soon begin getting Gogo wi-fi access. The first CRJ-700 of Atlantic Southeast Airlines is now ready to surf the web with 250 more to follow rapidly, and all regional jets with first class (CRJ-700s, CRJ-900s, EMB-170s, EMB-175s) will have wi-fi by early 2012. Have you flown one of these Barbie jets yet with wi-fi? Did it work just as well as mainline or was it faster due to fewer passengers on board? Good luck fitting your laptop on those tiny RJ tray tables, though!
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IS DELTA GETTING INTO BED WITH VIRGIN? Delta and Virgin Australia will launch a transpacific codeshare beginning in November as part of their existing joint venture. V Australia’s flights will move to Delta’s terminal at LAX to boost the number of passenger connection opportunities. This codeshare easily opens up nonstop flights to Brisbane and Melbourne from LAX in addition to Delta’s existing B777 service to Sydney. Earning and redeeming miles on each other’s flights and reciprocal lounge access are other benefits for consumers. And with Richard Branson’s near constant mentions of Virgin Atlantic’s interest in joining a global alliance, will this help SkyTeam bag one of the industry’s hottest names? Only time will tell! (Remember back in the day when you could redeem SkyMiles for Virgin flights to London from JFK?)
MCGINNIS ON BBC.COM. Have you read TICKET editor Chris McGinnis’s recent business travel columns on BBC.com? Here’s a sampling of his most popular recent posts:
EASIER ROUND-THE-WORLD SKYMILES TIX. If you’ve racked up enough SkyMiles to take a trip around the Earth (and that would be 180,000 miles in economy and 280,000 miles in business class), it just got a lot easier to plan. In the past, travelers were forced to endure long phone calls with agents crafting together these complex itineraries with rules (like no geographical backtracking). Now, SkyTeam has launched a user-friendly tool on its website that allows travelers to piece together their own round-the-world itineraries themselves before calling Delta to book them. The awards cannot be booked online and must be booked through a special service desk, but this new online tool eases the experience considerably. Here’s the link. Bon voyage!
LATIN/CARIBBEAN SKYMILES BONUS. If you have flight plans between Atlanta, JFK, or Boston and several destinations in Latin America or the Caribbean this fall, there are some bonus miles in your future. Register for this Sept. 15-Nov. 15 promotion at and fly one of the promotional routes to qualify for double SkyMiles. Destinations include Santo Domingo, Bermuda, San Juan, Buenos Aires and Rio.
DELTA HUBS TOPS IN ON TIME PERFORMANCE. FlightStats ranked airports based on on-time departures during September, and Delta’s hubs performed quite well. Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma, Portland, OR, and Minneapolis/St. Paul airports all exceeded 90% on-time departures. The average on-time departure performance for the group in September was 78% up over 6 percentage points from August’s 72%. On the downside, New York La Guardia and JFK ranked near the bottom.
- SLC Salt Lake City – 92.01%
- SEA Seattle – 90.84%
- PDX Portland – 90.79%
- MSP Minneapolis – 90.17%
- MEM Memphis – 86.66%
- OAK Oakland – 86.01%
- TPA Tampa – 85.58%
- YVR Vancouver – 85.28%
- ATL Atlanta – 85.21%
- PHX Phoenix – 85.14%
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