DELTA’S TOKYO-NARITA SKY CLUB DURING EARTHQUAKE
JAPAN EARTHQUAKE. Having just visited Japan last year, our hearts go out to its gentle people this morning. News is happening faster that we can cover here in The TICKET. But anyone with plans to travel to Japan over the next month should re-consider. The US State Department has sent out an alert advising travelers to stay away until at least April 1. All flights to Tokyo have been canceled or diverted to cities in southern Japan. Delta is waiving change fees. All public transport in and around Tokyo is shut down. While the US west coast is under a tsunami warning, public transport (such as BART in SF) is operational. Low tides there could cancel out any significant impact of the wave.
DELTA’S #1. FORTUNE magazine puts Delta in its own elite status category, recently naming it “Most Admired Airline” worldwide in its annual survey that takes into account feedback from industry professionals and airline analysts. This is the first time Delta ranked at the top of FORTUNE’s heap, besting legendary greats like Singapore Airlines and Southwest Airlines. The honor ranked Delta highly in areas such as social responsibility, competitiveness and quality of management. However, when it comes to “quality of product” Delta ranked far below competitors. I’m certain that there is divergent opinion among TICKET readers about this, so please, fire way! Click on the link below to leave your comments.
ELITE PARKING FOR ELITE FLYERS. Driving to an Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field later this spring? Delta is offering a new benefit to hometown loyalists that extends beyond the airport. SkyMiles Medallion level members will enjoy private parking in the Green Lot close to the stadium featuring 500 spaces reserved just for them. Flash your current membership card and pay the standard parking rates ($12) and save yourself a few steps. The Delta lot is directly across from the Turner Field main entrance at the corner of Hank Aaron Drive and Ralph D. Abernathy Drive. (NOTE: Keep an eye out for more Atlanta-specific bennies like this as Delta prepares to wage war with Southwest later this year.)
A NOTE ABOUT AIRTRAN. More AirTran news and updates forthcoming. While the Southwest and AirTran deal is scrutinized by regulators, no one is saying much. The deal should close in May….and there will be a LOT to say after that. One thing we have noticed is that Southwest’s once high-flying on-time performance record has tanked over the last year. It will be interesting to watch Southwest try to pull out of that hole once it’s largest hub is delay-proned ATL. Stay tuned!
BUSINESS CLASS TO LONDON: Delta’s new flights to London from Miami and Boston must be kinda light…the carrier is discounting Business Elite to just $599 each way from certain cities (not ATL) March 26-May 17.
SPRING BREAK WARNING. We are in the midst of Spring Break. That means business travelers should be prepared for crowded airports and airplanes full of rowdy students, especially on flights to/from beachy climes. Beware, especially on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays when most students are traveling. AirTran lines at ATL always seem to swell surprisingly at this time of year. To avoid noise, consider asking for hotel rooms away from hotel pool areas at this time of year. Book away from the beach. (Unless, of course, you’d like to join the fun!)
DELTA FACE-FIRST INTO FACEBOOK. Social media mavens will be glad to know the popular @DeltaAssist Twitter contact is now making a presence on Facebook. Followers of @DeltaAssist have been pleasantly surprised with the nearly instant responses to questions and concerns regarding their travel plans. The positive feedback has led to the expansion of DeltaAssist to Facebook. Kudos to Delta for jumping face-first into the social media landscape. Customers now have another way to connect for anything from an unanswered complaint to a flight irregularity. (Speaking of Facebook, are you following The TICKET? Please do!)
AWARD LEVELS TAKE A LEAP IN ASIA. Delta has made some changes to the SkyMiles award chart. There was no warning this was going to happen so those planning to redeem miles on certain routes are now slapped with higher rates. For example, awards within Asia used to cost one flat fee of 20,000 miles in economy. Now, it varies based on distance—so for example, it’s 15 ,000 miles for a Tokyo to Seoul roundtrip, but Tokyo to Bangkok roundtrip clocks in at 45,000 miles. To be fair, the old redemption rates were fairly generous for longer trips, and this change puts the mileage cost more in line with the actual cost.
JAPAN-BOUND TRAVELERS RACK UP Traveling to the land of the rising sun soon? (SEE ABOVE WARNING) Score triple miles for purchased Business Elite tickets and double miles for economy class tickets of all fares between now and May 31. Simply register and fly on Delta’s new nonstop flights between Detroit or Los Angeles and Tokyo Haneda Airport. Register here. (Tip: Be sure to check arrival and departure times at Haneda. Flights are restricted to wee hours of the morning, and getting to/from the city by train might prove difficult.) Also, Delta’s swapped out 747’s for 777’s on Haneda routes…I guess the business they’d hoped for has not materialized. Have YOU flown to Haneda? LET US KNOW! Leave a comment below…
REDEMPTION DEALS? Delta SkyMiles may be tough to redeem for some, but for the savvy, it’s not so bad. The trick is knowing which routes are more likely to have award seats. Clearly, busier or higher revenue routes like ATL-London Heathrow are going to be slim pickings. But consider some less-traveled routes and you might luck out. For example, some better-than-normal redemption opportunities can include routing yourself via new Raleigh-Durham/San Antonio flights to get to Cancun; JFK-Cairo (once the route resumes May 1– despite predictions, tourism is already picking back up); and JFK-London Heathrow might be opening up a little now that a third flight has been added to the schedule.
NEWER, LARGER REGIONAL JETS ON THE WAY! We’re all glad to see more of those those 50-seater CRJ-200s get axed from the Delta schedule, but that doesn’t mean that bigger jets are going to replace them. For now, the older Northwest DC-9 aircraft are helping to fill a gap in some markets, but these old planes will be retired within a year. Eventually, Delta will add newer, larger regional jets to the mix, many of which offer first class cabins and in-flight Wi-Fi. In addition, Delta is getting some new Embraer-170 aircraft from Virgin Blue of Australia. These jets will soon appear on the Delta Connection network under the Compass Airlines brand and they’ll offer coach seats only at first but will eventually be updated with first class seats.
BONUS MILES FOR FREE (ALMOST). Purchasing miles to top off your SkyMiles account? Score an extra 50 percent bonus between now and March 31. Simply purchase new miles or gift/share miles with a friend or family member’s account to earn the bonus miles. Register here first. This is the ideal way to reach that next award redemption level quickly.
MORE SKY CLUB ACCESS OVERSEAS. Delta’s Sky Club membership comes with access to a few partner lounges overseas in addition to Delta’s own branded clubs. Visit Delta’s list of lounge locations and select the Delta Sky Club member drop down to see the complete list (read the rules carefully as only certain lounges participate). The list includes one of Air France’s lounges in Paris or Johannesburg, one of KLM’s lounges in Amsterdam, and the Air France lounge in Zurich. Note that certain SkyTeam lounge locations like London Heathrow do not participate in the Sky Club member access program. Important: Many lounge agents overseas are unfamiliar with this unique Sky Club agreement so be sure to have a printout of the list and rules handy. This list should not be confused with the more substantial list of lounges accessible to Business Class and SkyTeam Elite Plus members, however.
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