Survey: Travel hassles inhibit trip activity. Everyone knows air travel is a hassle these days, with flight delays, ever-higher fees, security logjams and such. Now the U.S. Travel Association has measured the impact of the hassle factor in a traveler survey: It found that consumers avoided 38 million air trips last year, or eight percent of total demand, because of the problems and costs. That’s an economic cost of $35.7 billion. More than half said they would pay higher fares if it led to an improved air travel experience. Would you pay more for fewer hassles when flying? Please leave your comments below.
Delta’s big boast. It might be a matter of some debate among business travelers, but Delta seems to believe it is “The World’s Most Trusted Airline” — believes it so strongly that it has applied for a trademark on that phrase. Any opinions from our readers?
Delta upgrades JFK-LAX service. Delta said it now offers flat-bed BusinessElite seats on all of its eight daily flights between New York JFK and Los Angeles International.The carrier added three reconfigured 757-200s to the 767-300ERs on the route; 757s have 16 full flat-bed seats arranged in a 2-2 configuration plus 44 economy comfort seats and 104 economy seats while the 767s have 26 BusinessElite seats in a 1-2-1 layout, 44 Economy Comfort seats, and 108 standard economy. Delta plans to start adding the fully-flat premium seats to JFK-SFO (757s only) and JFK-SEA flights later this year.
Another all-biz-class airline. At media reception at a second-floor NYC restaurant last week, executives from airline start-up La Compagnie announced plans to launch new boutique-style, all-business-class flights between Paris CDG and Newark starting on July 11. It plans service with a single 74-seat 757-200 flying 4-5 round trips each week before scaling up to daily by December. Business class fares for the carrier’s less desirable “angled lie flat seats” will likely run in the $1,800-$4,600 range, but the company won’t release official fares until it gets the green light from US authorities. By comparison, United and Air France business class fares between NYC and Paris currently range between $4,900 and $6,000 round trip. La Compagnie is the combined vision of airline vets Frantz Yvelin and Peter Leuthi, both apparently undeterred by the failures of similar ventures, and so far, the reception elsewhere in the blogosphere has not been especially warm. Hopefully for La Compagnie, the fire alarm that sounded during the presentation isn’t a harbinger of stormy skies ahead. It’s website, which will not be live until July is: www.lacompagnie.com/en/
New routes from JetBlue, AA, Frontier. JetBlue last week started new service from Washington Reagan National to Charleston, S.C.; Hartford, Conn,. and Nassau, Bahamas, and said it will add Ft. Myers and West Palm Beach nonstops in December … American will beef up LAX operations, adding routes to Edmonton, Alberta; Vancouver, B.C.; and San Antonio October 2, and Tampa November 6 … Filling the gap left by United in Cleveland, Frontier add nonstop to Chicago-O’Hare, Washington-Dulles and New York-La Guardia this October.
United expands Latin America network. United Airlines will give travelers more options to Latin America in December. On December 3, it will inaugurate daily 737-700 flights between its Denver hub and Panama City, Panama; and on December 7, it will begin daily 767-300 flights from its Houston hub to Santiago, Chile.
AA slashes Venezuela service. Due to an unresolved dispute with the Venezuelan government over its ability to take money from ticket revenues out of that country, American Airlines plans to cut 38 of its 48 weekly flights to Venezuela on July 1, including all service to Caracas from DFW, New York JFK and San Juan. It will still fly from Miami to Caracas and Marcaibo, but with reduced schedules.
Oneworld debuts LAX facility. Oneworld alliance members Qantas, Cathay Pacific and British Airways cut the ribbon on a new business class lounge in the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. It’s open to first or business class passengers on any Oneworld airline, or those with Emerald or Sapphire status. Currently accommodating 400 passengers, it will be expanded by 50 percent by next winter, and a new first class lounge will be added as well.
More pay-for-play lounges. Airspace Lounge has opened its newest facility at San Diego International Airport, between Terminal 2 East and West. Operated by Swissport, Airspace Lounges (which are also at BWI, CLE and JFK’s Terminal 5) are open to all travelers for a daily fee starting at $25, which includes a $10 food and beverage credit; office equipment and showers are also provided. Entry is free for American Express Platinum Card holders and up to two guests.
AmEx recruits top chefs. No word yet on when American Express will open new Centurion Lounges at SFO and LGA, but it said menus at the facilities will be created by renowned chefs. The SFO club’s menu will be directed by Christopher Kostow of the three-Michelin-Starred The Restaurant at Meadowwood in Napa Vallley; the LGA club’s kitchen will be helmed by Cedric Vongerichten of New York’s Perry St, an affiliate of the famous Jean-George restaurant run by his father.
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In Case You Missed It …
>Emirates will use A380 super-jumbos on its SFO and IAH routes starting in December.
>Popular ride-sharing apps like Uber face legal challenges.
>TSA security fees on airline passengers will increase on July 1.
>Ever hear of “smart luggage”? AT&T is working on it.
-Jim Glab & Ian Livingston
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