In international route news, United will boost its London schedules from San Francisco and Los Angeles while cutting back from Houston; also, United this week launches its promised New Zealand service; Lufthansa kicks off its delayed San Jose inaugural; Brussels Airlines rolls out a premium economy class; Wow Air adds another U.S. gateway; and a Mexican low-cost carrier adds a Chicago route.
United Airlines announced plans to add a second daily San Francisco-London Heathrow flight to its schedule starting October 30. The new LHR flight (UA900/901) will depart San Francisco at 4:15 p.m., using a 219-passenger 787-8 with BusinessFirst, Economy Plus and regular economy seating. Also on October 30, United will trim its schedule from Houston Bush Intercontinental to London from three daily flights to two, although it will use larger 777-200s on the remaining IAH flights instead of the current 767-300s and 787s. Then next spring (effective April 5), the airline will lay on a second daily Los Angeles-LHR flight (UA60/61), using a 252-seat 787-9. That flight will leave LAX at 3:10 p.m.
Meanwhile, July 1 is the launch date for United’s newest transpacific route, from San Francisco to Auckland , New Zealand. The carrier will use a 787-8 to fly the route three days a week, then will expand capacity starting October 28 to daily frequencies that use a larger 787-9. United has slated a 10:45 p.m. departure time from SFO for the 13-hour, 10-minute (westbound) flight. United will operate the route as part of its Star Alliance partnership with Air New Zealand.
Another new Bay Area international route starting up this week is Lufthansa’s non-stop service from Frankfurt to San Jose. Originally planned to begin on April 29, it is now set for a July 1 launch. Lufthansa will operate the route five days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday), using an Airbus A340-300 with business class, economy, and premium economy seating. This plane, which is smaller than the A340-600 on SFO-Munich, has 18 business class seats, 19 premium economy seats and 261 economy seats– no first class. Even though SeatGuru.com shows the seats on the A340-300 to be of the old “angled lie flat” variety, a Lufthansa spokesperson tells TravelSkills that the planes have been reconfigured with the carrier’s latest, greatest true lie-flat offering, like what you’ll find on its A380 and A340 flying from SFO. Currently, fares from both SFO and SJC to Frankfurt appear to be identical: about $5,200 round trip in business class, $2,700 in premium economy, and about $1,300 for economy.
International premium economy seating continues to proliferate; the latest carrier to add that feature is Brussels Airlines, which is due to start offering it July 1 on the Airbus A330s that it flies to its U.S. gateways (New York JFK and Washington Dulles) from Brussels. The new seating option, located in the first four rows of the economy cabin, offers extra legroom and seats that recline more than twice as far as regular economy seats. It also provides enhanced in-flight services and amenities. The carrier is offering the new seating for a surcharge of $139 one-way until September 15, when the price will rise to $169.
Elsewhere in the New York area, Icelandic low-cost carrier Wow Air – which recently started flying from San Francisco and Los Angeles — said it will add Newark Liberty International to its route map on November 25, offering daily flights to Reykjavik and connections to the U.K. and Europe. The airline will use A321s or A330s on the new route, depending on the season. One-way fares to Iceland will start at $99, with service to European capitals from as little as $149.
Mexico’s low-cost Volaris Airlines has kicked off a new route linking Chicago O’Hare with Monterrey, Mexico. The carrier will operate the service twice a week (Mondays and Fridays), using a 174-passenger Airbus A320.
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: How to get the BEST summer fare deals | One airline fee fading fast | Trip Report: Aer Lingus Economy Class | 5 top jobs for frequent travelers | First class phase out coming soon