DELTA RAISES AWARD PRICES BY 25%…Thought Delta had punched you in the gut enough already? It ain’t over. Delta is bumping up the prices for those already scarce low-level BusinessElite seats by as much as 25 percent for flights after June 1, 2014. The advance notice is appreciated to allow flyers to book trips at the 100,000 level, but only if they can find them using Delta’s frustrating delta.com website. The pricing tool is often broken or confusing, and the calendar feature can be misleading showing low-level awards when they are not really there. Delta claims this change is actually positive, in a way, since the introduction of new flat-bed seats across the fleet (coming soon to 757s flying overseas) and new amenities like Tumi amenity kits and Westin Heavenly Bed pillows and duvets have made the flying experience better (hence, the seats are more valuable). We believe, however, that those upgrades were actually just catching up with the competition. Burn your miles now before they are devalued yet again. Tell us what you think! Please leave your comments below.
AWARD HOLDS GONE…Delta has also shortened the window to hold awards down to 48 hours on delta.com. The change goes into effect Sept. 9 and is hailed as a positive since it will free up seats for people ready to book awards. While this may be the case in some situations, Delta is making it seem that it will drastically improve award availability. However, it’s almost guaranteed that delta.com will still deliver the same clunky errors and poor award space results as before. Still, Diamond and Platinum Medallion members can book rewards and cancel or modify them prior to 72 hours before departure.
DELTA CEO WANTS TO MOVE TOKYO HUB TO HANEDA…Richard Anderson is urging the Japanese government to open the country’s skies to greater competition from non-Japanese airlines and wants to move Delta’s Narita hub to the more convenient Haneda airport. (It’s located just 30 minutes south of central Tokyo while Narita is 90+ mins to the east.) The government controls the slot restrictions heavily at Haneda and often prioritizes domestic carriers All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines before catering to foreign companies. Ever wonder why some of Delta’s Haneda flights have such odd departure and arrival times? Slots. The government contends that the airport is full and that adding more than the planned 42 daytime slots coming next spring could pose a safety concern. Delta wants 25 more slots in order to make the move. Have you flown into Haneda; what did you think?
NONSTOP SEATTLE TO SEOUL AND HONG KONG…Delta is beefing up its Seattle presence even further adding nonstop flights to Seoul Incheon and Hong Kong. The Seoul flight will operate aboard a Boeing 767-300ER while the Hong Kong flight will ply the route using an Airbus A330-200. Both are outfitted with lie-flat beds in BusinessElite and Economy Comfort seating. This announcement continues the growth at Seattle/Tacoma, but also comes in the shadow of Delta announcing the cancellation of nonstop Seattle to Osaka service.
BRAND NEW TERMINAL FOR ALBANY. The Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in Albany debuted a shiny new $11 million terminal earlier this month, which replaced the aging McAfee Terminal. Delta Connection serves the airport with three 50-min flights per day to/from Atlanta. Roundtrip fares are about $250. (Hat tip to long time TICKET reader Charles Gillespie for bringing this to our attention!)
DISAPPOINTMENT WITH CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION…The traveling public is not the only group of people annoyed with the inefficiency of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Long entry times at numerous airports (including Delta’s new terminal 4 at JFK) have created a tremendous backlog of missed flights and delayed passengers. Each passenger traveling internationally pays a portion of taxes included in their ticket to support the immigration and customs process so it is only fair to have this service rendered appropriately and efficiently. Even Global Entry kiosks, hailed by many as a time saver, are often not functioning or have lengthy lines of their own. Delta’s CEO recently joined the chorus of rants about CBP saying, “I think it’s an embarrassment for our government that as much as we as an industry pay into Customs And Border Patrol that we have issues at not just JFK but at Newark, at Chicago, at Los Angeles where we cannot seem to get our government to perform a very basic service. And those of us that travel extensively around the world and go to countries like Japan and China and Europe, Customs is a breeze. And in the U.S. despite all the investment that we make as an industry – we collect a fee from every passenger – we cannot get the kinds of levels of support … we’re pursuing every avenue in Washington and in Congress to get this problem solved.” Relatively speaking, CBP does a pretty good job at ATL. Agree or disagree? Have you experienced lengthy waits at U.S. entry points recently?
SKI BUMS GET NEW SERVICE…Delta will add new nonstop, daily, seasonal service to Aspen/Snowmass, Colo. from Atlanta and Saturday-only flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul beginning Dec. 21. The flights will be operated with CRJ-700 regional jets featuring nine first class, eight Economy Comfort, and 65 economy class seats. Aspen’s airport cannot accommodate larger aircraft, which is why the CRJ-700 is performing this lengthy flight. Aspen is providing Delta with financial incentives to offer the new flights.
MORE DL LOVE FOR LAX…Delta is extending its chauffeur-driven Porsche service to the tarmac of Los Angeles International Airport. In a service similar to what’s offered in Atlanta, high-valued passengers, especially those with extremely tight connections, will be shuttled to their next gate in style. Like Atlanta’s offering, it is an unexpected offering that is never guaranteed, but meant to surprise important travelers with wallet power to continue being loyal to the widget.
STAR POWER…If you thought Atlanta and New York were the only thing on Delta marketing folks’ minds, think again. The power list at its latest LA glamour party included local bigwigs and Hollywood celebrities including John Stamos. Why that one singular star was invited is vague, but the effort by Delta to make in-roads in the Hollywood and greater LAX market is not. As one of the U.S.’s biggest travel markets, the impressive market share by Delta is growing. Most recently, announcements to launch daily Cancun and Puerto Vallarta year-round service and double-daily Guadalajara summertime flights and Delta’s new LAX-SFO California Shuttle have bolstered the schedule.
CENTRAL U.S. TO CARIBBEAN BOOSTED…Delta is following the footsteps of package-tour and charter operators (a la USA 3000 Airlines) and launching service from Middle America to the Caribbean on weekends when planes are otherwise sitting idle from operating business-heavy flight schedules. New flights from Pittsburgh to Punta Cana and Nassau have been added to the schedule, which already includes Saturday-only flights to Cancun and regular flights to Paris. Indianapolis also picks up weekly service to Punta Cana and Nassau in the winter in addition to its weekly Cancun flight. Atlanta flyers should only find joy in these announcements as it boosts upgrade possibility from Atlanta by diverting Medallion-stronghold Midwestern traffic to nonstop flying.
TSA STILL TELLING ATLANTA PASSENGERS NO GUNS…As if you did not know by now, guns are not allowed on airplanes. As reported in The TICKET last month, TSA officials in Atlanta are still reporting record numbers of passengers passing through security with armed weapons. (ATL holds the dubious title of the airport where this happens most often.) Warnings were recently issued by TSA officials in Atlanta of jail sentences and fines up to $7,500 of passengers caught bringing armed weaponry through the checkpoint. While TSA is far from perfect (seen more random gate checks of your coffee and ID at the gate lately? Thank your tax dollars for that), there seems to be a subset of travelers that has not watched the news in over a decade. Keep your eyes peeled at security!
SOUTHWEST NO-SHOW POLICY TAKES EFFECT…Beginning Sept. 13, the full no-show policy will go into effect on Southwest tickets. Customers who cancel a Wanna Get Away or Ding fare before departure can reuse their funds toward future travel without a change fee as in the past. Customers with other fully refundable fares either request a refund or hold funds for future travel. HOWEVER, if the ticket is not canceled prior to departure (no show), travelers lose the entire value of the ticket.
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