In international route developments, Delta announces a major new transpacific flight and a Mexico route; Saudi Arabian Airlines is the last carrier to be relieved of the laptop ban; Cathay Pacific introduces a new way to upgrade; WOW enters a Midwest market; and United trims some Europe service.
Delta’s three existing U.S. gateways for non-stop flights to Shanghai (Los Angeles, Seattle and Detroit) will be joined by a fourth next year when the airline launches the only non-stop service to Shanghai from Atlanta. Set to begin in July 2018, the new route will allow passengers to connect to more than 50 destinations beyond Shanghai via Delta code-share partner China Eastern Airlines. Delta currently offers two other transpacific non-stop routes from Atlanta, to Seoul and Tokyo. The airline said it will fly the new Shanghai route with a 777-200LR that has 37 Delta One lie-flat seats, 36 seats in Delta Comfort+ and 218 in regular economy.
Although its new joint venture partner Aeromexico already has several flights a day between Los Angeles and Mexico City, Delta plans to begin its own once-a-day service in that market on December 1. Delta will use an A319 on the route, with a 9:30 a.m. departure from LAX, and plenty of connections available at MEX on Aeromexico.
Speaking of Mexico, Alaska Air’s expansion in the US-to-Mexico market is resulting in some pretty amazing deals. For example with its new MexiCaliRica sale, nonstop roundtrips between Los Angeles or San Francisco and Mexico City are running as cheap as $220 round trip for late August and fall flights. Seattle to Mexico City is just $320 round trip. LAX to Los Cabos is just $240 round trip. Fall is a perfect time to visit Mexico as it cools off and prices tumble. Fares are available on Alaska Air as well as other carriers such as Aeromexico, Delta, United and Volaris on these routes.
The U.S. “laptop ban” is now over, as Saudi Arabian Airlines has become the last carrier to have the ban lifted. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said recently that airlines and airports that complied with new, tougher inspection standards could be relieved of the ban – although any airline/airport worldwide that didn’t also increase security practices to meet those new standards could have a laptop ban imposed. This could create some new inconveniences for travelers, however – e.g., CNN said this week that Mexican aviation authorities are now advising passengers on U.S.-bound flights to show up at the airport three hours in advance so their personal electronic devices can be subjected to more stringent inspections. The U.S. ban against carrying laptops and tablets into the passenger cabin was issued in March against carriers operating non-stop flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.
Cathay Pacific has introduced a new Upgrade Bid program that lets passengers make cash offers for an upgrade to a business class or premium economy seat. Persons who book through the airline’s website will see an Upgrade Bid eligibility notification on their booking confirmation page, where they can make their best offer for a better seat – although they can change or rescind it up to 50 hours before departure. Successful bidders will be notified by email two or three days in advance. The only U.S. route where the program is currently offered is Chicago-Hong Kong; it is also available on several other routes out of Hong Kong including Amsterdam, Bangkok, Dubai, Rome and Seoul.
Iceland’s low-cost carrier WOW Air has started service from another U.S. gateway, operating four flights a week from Chicago O’Hare to Reykjavik, where passengers can connect to major European cities. Frequencies will increase to six a week during August. The carrier is using an A321 on the route
United is planning some changes to its Europe service later this year, all on routes operated with 757s from the carrier’s Newark hub. On October 5, United will discontinue its daily service from Newark to Birmingham, England, and its year-round flights from Newark to destinations in Scotland and Ireland will be changed to seasonal service. Newark-Glasgow flights will be suspended from October 28 to May 3, and Newark-Shannon service will be suspended from November 25 to March 8.
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