ECONOMY COMFORT EXPANDS. Good news for sore knees! Following in the footsteps of rival United Airlines (and its Economy Plus seating), Delta is expanding its popular Economy Comfort seating from just international flights to nearly all aircraft fleet wide—including domestic flights. The first three to five rows of the main cabin on all Delta mainline and regional jets (except CRJ-200’s) will soon feature three more inches between rows. Passengers seated in this section will enjoy priority boarding—but there will be no free booze in domestic Economy Comfort. The first domestic 757 with Economy Comfort will enter service this month, and Delta says all aircraft will be equipped with the seating by late 2012. Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallions can select these seats at time of reservation free of charge. Silver Medallions may request them 24 hours prior to departure free of charge or reserve them at a 50% discount at time of reservation. All other passengers may purchase these extra legroom seats for a fee of $19-$99 depending on the length of the flight. Note: With Southwest doing away with AirTran’s popular business class seating, Economy Comfort will be a welcome option on those long transcons out to the west coast. What do you think about Economy Comfort?
HOLIDAY FARE SHOPPING? AirTran and Southwest launched another winter fare sale today (must book by Nov 14), but as usual the fine print reveals multiple blackout dates around Thanksgiving or Christmas. That’s not great news for holiday travelers, but if you’ve avoided business trips due to high fares, you’ll find some great deals for flights during the first three weeks of December, and much of January. So get out there and see some clients you’ve been avoiding! Here’s more advice on holiday travel peaks and valleys.
FREE BLURBS ON DELTA/GOGO PORTAL. Gogo wi-fi users will notice a new landing page when they launch their web browser on Delta flights. It includes details for your flight including the remaining flight time. Additional free content will include select news stories, PEOPLE magazine content, destination information and events, and shopping opportunities.
MORE SOUTHWEST CHANGES COMING. Bloomberg reports that Southwest plans to cut back on AirTran flights from ATL to smaller cities and focus on adding more nonstops to larger cities that are more profitable. Southwest’s first flights to/from Atlanta (with no biz class…and no bag fees) begin in February. Stay tuned! Have you decided whether you’ll give Southwest a go when it comes to town? Leave your comments below.
SNACK BASKET CHANGES. First class loyalists have learned to love the famous Delta snack basket on flights without a meal (increasingly common). First class customers now get Walker’s shortbread cookies, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, fun size Snickers, Chewy granola bars, and the traditional peanuts, pretzels, Twix and M&Ms. What is noticeably missing, however, are Delta’s famous Biscoff cookies (oddly still available in coach) and those puffy bags of SunChips. Delta confirmed the case of the disappearing Biscoff from the first class basket during afternoon and evening flights, but said that they are still offered on morning non-meal flights. Thoughts on the new snack additions (and deletions)? Is Walker’s shortbread a suitable substitute for the beloved Biscoff? Please leave your comments below.
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LAST MINUTE MQMs? Remember when Delta teamed up with certain SkyWish charities last December offering valuable MQM’s to those who gave generously? AID Atlanta hauled in a tidy $745,000 as a result of the promo. Generous SkyMilers were able to avoid those pesky end-of-year mileage runs. Delta built a lot of goodwill. Everybody won! We are now trying to determine if Delta will offer something similar this year for those hoping to snag or maintain Medallion status by the end of the year. So far our Delta sources say there’s nothing in the works, but that could change. Another reason to stay tuned to The TICKET!
DELTA IN THE BLACK. Delta reported its financial figures for the third quarter of 2011 and continues to stay in the black partly due to wise fuel hedging, growth in ancillary fee revenue (ya know, those change fees, baggage fees, etc), and a slight decrease in capacity to adjust to travel demand (that’s why flights are fuller these days). In the end, when Delta succeeds, it can spend more to invest in a better product…right?
DELTA #1 FOR FEES. Delta collected more baggage fees and reservation change fees than any other airline in the second quarter of 2011, according to the DOT. In the second quarter, it brought in $226 in baggage fees and $201 million in reservation change fees. American Airlines ranked #2. Overall, airlines brought in an extra $1.5 billion in fee revenue in the second quarter.
DELTA EXPANDS AT LGA. In case you were wondering what happened to the slot exchange at New York LaGuardia (LGA) and Washington Reagan National (DCA) between Delta and US Airways, well, it’s back on. The Department of Transportation has approved the exchange, allowing Delta the right to the majority of US Airways’ landing and takeoff slots at LGA in exchange for a major chunk of Delta’s slots at DCA. The move will allow both airlines to strengthen their position in the marketplace. Delta plans to use the neighboring US Airways’ terminal at LGA, build a connecting bridge between the two terminals, and add an additional Sky Club in the new terminal. A specific timeline has yet to be announced, but this swap will certainly mean more nonstop destinations for Delta passengers at LaGuardia.
HOW TO TRAVEL LIKE A FLIGHT ATTENDANT. Delta’s new Sky Store (www.deltaskystore.com) offers a selection of travel items including luggage, bag tags, apparel, and electronics. Many of the products come recommended by Delta employees themselves who provided the suggestions and inspiration to include certain items in the store. This new venture is designed to showcase the expertise of Delta’s own employees to help travelers find the best, most durable gear for their own travels. A special introductory offer includes a free Gogo wi-fi pass with your first purchase. NOTE: This is different than the Delta Shop (www.deltashop.com), which sells Delta-branded gear, apparel, and merchandise.
TICKET READERS RAVE: Did you see all the positive comments regarding the TSA’s new Pre-Check trusted traveler lanes at ATL? Who knew the much maligned TSA could provoke that kind of praise from jaded biz travel vets like TICKET readers? The program’s still in beta-testing, but let’s see what happens.
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:
>Business Trip: Atlanta (Lemme know if I got it right!)
ATL’S TERMINAL F. Have you been watching the construction and wondering what ATL’s newest terminal will look like on the inside? Then see this very cool virtual “fly through” of the new International terminal. Well done. Can’t wait to give it a try when it opens this spring…
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