Southwest grows at Love again. It was just a couple of weeks ago that Southwest Airlines announced plans for a new round of expansion at Dallas Love Field on April 9, when it will add non-stop service to 10 new cities. And now the airline says it will grow even more, adding eight more destinations from Love starting August 9. Those cities, which will each get one daily roundtrip, include Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Omaha, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham and Salt Lake City. On the same date, Southwest will increase frequencies between DAL and Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore/Washington, Houston Hobby, Little Rock, Chicago Midway and Seattle; and will boost DAL-Charleston, S.C. service from weekly to daily. Meanwhile, Southwest has sent out a targeted promotion to select Rapid Rewards members offering them double points on flights to and from Love Field through July 31. (Virgin America has been running a double miles promotion for Texas flights through March 31. Will Southwest and Delta use the same tactic against new competition from Spirit and Frontier at Atlanta?)
Umm BBQ on United. Last month, United Airlines introduced upgraded meal service for premium-cabin domestic travelers in its mainline fleet. And this month it is doing the same for the front cabins of United Express flights. The new cuisine, served on china, was introduced March 1 on Embraer E170s and E175s, and will be rolled out on CRJ700s and Q400s starting in April. Breakfasts include things like a fresh fruit plate, yogurt and breakfast bread; lunches and dinners offer two entree choices like a barbecue chicken and coleslaw sandwich, or ginger and garlic marinated beef. Desserts will be triple chocolate chunk cookies. First and biz class meals seem to be getting a LOT better on all airlines these days. Agree or disagree? Leave comments below.
Survey probes mileage plan changes. Now that both Delta and United have switched their loyalty programs from a miles-flown basis to a money-spent regime, website MileCards.com surveyed more than 1,000 “active frequent flyer program members” to see what they thought of the changes. Perhaps most surprising, 71 percent said they didn’t even know about the switch. (They must not be reading TravelSkills!) And of those who did, more than three out of five said it didn’t matter to them. Why not? A great many frequent travelers have credit cards from their preferred airline, and of those who do, three out of five say they earn more miles on the card than they do in the air. Still, 24 percent of the respondents said they would probably book Delta or United less often because of the change, while just 9 percent said they would book those airlines more often. What about you? Has the move toward revenue-based programs changed your travel habits at all? Or is your attitude more “whatever!”
New HHonors promotion. Hilton has revived its “Double Your HHonors” promotion, offering double HHonors points or double airline miles for stays from March 1 through May 31. Members can register for the promotion and see all the details at www.HHonors.com/Double.
Delta upgrades Wi-Fi. Delta said it plans to enhance and expand coverage of its in-flight Wi-Fi service by switching from Gogo’s air-to-ground technology to its new satellite-based 2Ku service, starting next year. Delta said the upgrade will go into more than 250 of its aircraft, bringing faster Internet service to long-haul domestic routes as well as flights to Latin America and the Caribbean. Aircraft getting the upgrade include 757-300s and -200s, 737-800s and -900ERs, and Airbus A319s. New A321s coming in 2016 will also have the upgrade. The airline said it also plans to enhance Wi-Fi service on its short-haul domestic fleet by using Gogo’s next-generation air-to-ground technology, bringing “faster connections at broadband speeds.” That includes 717-200s, MD-88s and MD-90s. Currently, only Virgin America has Gogo’s faster ATG-4 system fleetwide.
Virgin adds new payment option. Virgin America said it has become the first U.S. carrier to add Visa Checkout as a payment option on its website (www.virginamerica.com). “After signing up once, Visa Checkout removes the need to enter card details during the online checkout process wherever consumers see the Visa Checkout button,” Virgin said. Visa Checkout accepts all credit and debit cards, including Virgin America-branded cards. Customers who use Visa Checkout on Virgin’s website through March 15 can get $25 off a future flight.
Coming in tomorrow’s Weekend Edition: Following up on United’s fare errors, new transcon lie-flat biz class, new Mileage Plus redemption options, Marriott’s expiring points, update on Hilton’s 1,000 bonus point snafu.
In Case You Missed It…
- Starwood Preferred Guest plan adds Uber partnership.
- Will LaGuardia open up to transcontinental flights?
- Virgin’s first class opts for plush pillows over lie-flat transcon seats.
- Ultra-low-cost carriers are invading Atlanta.
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