United discounts partner awards. Travelers may not be getting much of a break on airfare these days, but this week we saw some nice discounts pop up on United for award redemptions with partners. What’s nice about this is that it nearly always costs more miles to fly on United partners than it does to fly on United. What this latest sale does is bring partner award prices inline with United award prices. So for all the TravelSkills readers who complain about the state of United, here’s your chance to see what it’s like to live outside the United bubble for a while. Fly Aer Lingus’ new business class, try out Singapore Air’s new B777 between SFO and Hong Kong (if you are lucky), try ANA to Japan! To get the discounts, you must book by February 28, but you can travel anytime between now and the end of the year!
Delta SkyMiles award chart disappears. This week, Delta once again ticked off its most valuable customers by taking down its (admittedly broken) online award chart. That means there is no longer a baseline or standard for award prices….SkyMiles members can no longer quickly check the award chart to determine if you may (or may not) have enough SkyMiles for an award trip. Now, the only way to do that is to enter dates and destinations and see what the (admittedly broken) Delta award booking site presents on its calendar. Maybe this is the way Delta thinks it can reduce the bitter complaints that rates posted on the award chart don’t reflect reality? Who knows, but this just seems like another takeaway by Delta. Grrr. Thoughts please!
Delta goes all-Starbucks. A couple of years ago, Delta introduced Starbucks as its in-flight coffee of choice on West Coast shuttle flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as transcon flights to both cities from New York JFK. Passengers must have liked the brew, because Delta is now rolling out Starbucks systemwide. The specific varieties will be Starbucks Pike Place Roast and Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Italian Roast decaf. Have you ever had a “good” cup of coffee on a plane? Do you think Delta’s brew will taste much different now that it’s Starbuck vs Seattle’s Best, Delta’s previous purveyor (which ironically, is owned by Starbucks)?
More seats in United 777s? The trade journal Aviation Daily reports that United Airlines is “considering” a refit of some 777s that would add nearly 100 seats to each aircraft by making its regular economy seating 10-across instead of the current nine. The nine-across configuration would be retained for Economy Plus, the report said, adding that it was unclear how many of the airline’s 74 777-200s might be affected if United decides to go ahead with the plan. Stay tuned…
Southwest ads challenge Delta in Atlanta. Now that it has fully absorbed AirTran’s routes and obliterated its identity, Southwest Airlines is seeking to boost its market share in the former AirTran hub market of Atlanta with a new ad campaign. Southwest also targeted Atlanta travelers with a fare sale through the middle of this month. One of the TV ads in Southwest’s new “Heartlanta” campaign assures business travelers that they’ll all get friendly treatment no matter what their status — “We don’t care if you’re diamond, platinum or pewter.”
American has collectible amenity kits. First class and business class flyers on American Airlines’ international and transcontinental flights will soon start seeing retro-themed collectible amenity kits that pay tribute to the various airlines that have become a part of American over the years, including AirCal, Allegheny, America West, Piedmont, PSA, Reno Air, TWA and US Airways. The amenities come in a felt case “sized specifically to be re-used as a mini-tablet computer case,” American said. Related on TravelSkills: Unusual collection of retro amenity kits!
Do you know how to tell the difference between a Boeing 717 and MD-80/90? See our Planespotting series!
LAX-SFO private jets. BlackJet, a ride-sharing service of sorts for private jets, has started offering trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco for around $1,500 per seat each way, citing “strong demand” from its members for the route. Taking a page from the Uber playbook, BlackJet says it uses “proprietary technology to set flights and departure times according to customer demand instead of a rigid published preset schedule.” In addition to the fare, members must pay a $5,000 membership fee. Would you? Could you? Please leave your comments below.
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New Latin America routes. American Airlines will inaugurate several new Latin America routes during the first week of June, including daily service from Los Angeles to Guadalajara, Mexico and from Miami to Barranquilla, Colombia, as well as six flights a week from Miami to Monterrey, Mexico, all starting June 4; twice-weekly flights from LAX to Belize City, Belize, and once-a-week service from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Managua, Nicaragua and from DFW to Grand Cayman, all beginning June 6 … Aeromexico set a March 26 launch date for new daily service from Miami to Monterrey, and a June 1 start for Boston-Mexico City flights operating six days a week … On June 24, Copa Airlines will kick off new service from New Orleans to Panama City four times a week.
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