Flush with cheap fuel profits, airlines are rapidly expanding their footprints in cities across the U.S. To wit:
Spirit grows at Atlanta, LAX. Two ultra-low-cost, fee-heavy airlines have new growth spurts coming up. Spirit Airlines is aiming to grab a bigger piece of the seemingly impenetrable Atlanta market from Delta and Southwest by adding nine new routes there. Keep in mind that Spirit offers a knee-numbing 28 inches of non-reclinable seat pitch– the least in the industry. Plus, you pay extra to carry on a bag or reserve an aisle or window. (See fee schedule here.)New flights include Cleveland, Las Vegas and Orlando starting May 7; Baltimore/Washington, Philadelphia and Tampa beginning June 18; Los Angeles as of August 20 and Boston and Ft. Myers starting September 10. (Will Delta and/or Southwest match those low fares? Hopefully they won’t match Spirit’s fees.) Spirit also announced two other new routes out of Los Angeles — Baltimore/Washington and Kansas City, both beginning July 9 …
Meanwhile, Frontier Airlines said it will launch new seasonal service out of Philadelphia April 30 to Houston and Minneapolis. On April 14, Frontier will begin new Chicago O’Hare service to Los Angeles and Austin, followed by new non-stop beginning April 30 from ORD to San Francisco and Raleigh/Durham. Would you ever use an ultra-low-cost airline? Under what circumstances?
New routes: Southwest, AA, Delta. Southwest plans to add four new domestic routes on August 9, including Oakland-Columbus, Boston-Columbus, Orange County, Calif.-Portland and Washington Reagan National-Ft. Lauderdale … Subject to Transportation department approval, American Airlines plans to take over Alaska Airlines’ Los Angeles-Mexico City route on June 4, boosting frequencies from one to two a day, according to the trade journal Travel Weekly … Delta is set to launch daily service between Boston and Milwaukee June 5, using a two-class, 76-seat CRJ-900, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
American Express in a pickle. Last week Amex lost its fight to prohibit merchants from encouraging customers to use other credit cards. The court ruling handed down this week means that merchants can now convince customers to use Visa or Mastercard plastic instead of Amex, something which was prohibited (and enforced) before. Why would a merchant want to do this? Because the fees American Express charges merchants are around twice as much as other cards. Amex has long been able to get away with this because it claims that it brings higher value customers to merchants, and uses the higher fees to fund the popular Membership Rewards program, and offers bennies like the popular Centurion lounges.
JetBlue offers The Wall Street Journal. A new partnership between JetBlue and The Wall Street Journal will give the airline’s passengers free unlimited access to the newspaper’s WSJ.com website content through the Fly-Fi Hub, JetBlue’s lineup of free media offerings via its in-flight Wi-Fi system to passengers’ personal electronic devices.
Court fight over Love gates. Southwest Airlines is going to federal court to challenge a Transportation Department advisory that essentially told Dallas airport officials to find some way to allow airlines currently using Love Field to keep using it. The airline in question is Delta, which is currently operating its DAL-Atlanta flights with a pair of gates subleased from United. However, United last month transferred those gates to Southwest, which has said only that it will let Delta keep using them through July 6.
Austin’s biggest hotel opens. Marriott officials have cut the ribbon on the 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin, which they said is the city’s largest hotel — it takes up the whole block bounded by Second and Third streets, Brazos Street and Congress Avenue, within walking distance of the convention center and State Capitol. It has 112,000 square feet of event space and 42 meeting rooms, along with a fifth-floor pool deck and bar, three restaurants and a full-service Starbucks.
Easy 1,000 HHonors points UPDATE. This week Hilton sent TravelSkills an announcement that the login process for all Hilton HHonors members was being updated. PIN numbers will no longer be accepted and members will have until March 25, 2015, to create a new password or update their existing password. It said that those who update the password by by March 8, 2015 get 1,000 bonus points as a thank you. BUT, since getting this, we’ve learned that there is a technical issue with this process right now and the deal has been put “on hold.” A Hilton confirmed to TravelSkills that the bonus will indeed come back as soon as the tech glitch is fixed. So standby. Eventually (and hopefully) once the issue is resolved, you will log in to your Hilton HHonors account, then go to “personal information” to change your password.
Did you miss yesterday’s issue of our Weekend Edition? No probs! Here’s the link:
In Case You Missed It…
>Should airports restrict the sale of alcohol to passengers?
>Fortune magazine designates “most admired” travel-related companies.
>San Francisco’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel will change hands next month.
>Planespotting: The 757 vs. 767.
Have you been following our super popular Planespotting 101 series? Check out our first three installments here:
Planespotting 101: Boeing 757, 767 (latest)
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