Alpha Flight Guru Travel Blog
05.26.2016

TRAVEL NEWS RECAP FOR WEEK OF MAY 23

Posted By AFG Team

In our news recap series, we summarize the latest news in the air travel industry every week! On our blog every Thursday, you can read all the top stories quickly. Keep reading for this week’s news!

Delta Comfort+ Now Available For Flights to Asia and Latin America – Customers can now purchase Delta Comfort+ flights for travel on or after September 19, 2016, to and from the Asia-Pacific region, excluding China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and the Latin America/Caribbean region, excluding Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Chile. This is an expansion of Delta’s recent launch of Delta Comfort+ fares within the United States and Canada. Delta Comfort+ offers Sky Priority boarding, reserved overhead bin space, extra legroom, free alcoholic beverages, complimentary snacks, and free premium entertainment on most flights. Delta allows Delta Comfort+ to be displayed and purchased through travel agents. For Delta-operated international flights not included in this expansion, Delta Comfort+ will continue to be offered as an add-on seating option.

Head of TSA Security Operations Replaced – Kelly Hoggan, the head of security operations at the Transportation Security Administration, was removed from his position, and the TSA did not give details about his reassignment.  A replacement was named in a memo sent from TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger to TSA senior leaders.  Darby LaJoye is now the Acting Assistant Administrator of the Office of Security Operations.  This comes amid growing concerns of massive security lines at airports this summer due to more travelers and a shortage of screening officers. Neffenger also blames fewer people than anticipated applying for the government’s PreCheck program, which lets passengers go through security faster after a background check. LaJoye’s appointment will enable more focused leadership and screening procedures at significant airports.

Airlines Offer Shorter Security Lines for High Prices – Travelers looking for faster ways to get through airport security have expensive options. Three major airlines offer credit cards with perks including shorter airport security lines. American Airlines’ AAdvantage Executive Citi card has an annual fee of $450, and includes club access, priority airport screening where available, eligibility for rebates on Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fees. United Airlines’ MileagePlus Club Chase card also has a $450 annual fee, and provides access to airport clubs and to priority security screening at select airports. United may let customers not included in exclusive groups purchase premier access, including the priority security lane, for a specific flight. Delta’s Reserve SkyMiles American Express card also has a $450 annual fee and entitles cardholders access to an expedited security line called Sky Priority at participating airports.

UberAIR Promotion to Nantucket for Memorial Day Weekend – On May 23, Uber users had the option  to enter code FLYUBERAIR in the Uber app to travel to Nantucket via private plane on Memorial Day weekend. UberAIR gave the choice to reserve a seat one-way or round-trip to Nantucket with a fare of $300 per seat and the ability to reserve 1 to 8 seats, depending on availability. On May 27, passengers will skip the TSA lines and go directly to Logan Airport’s Signature Terminal where they can relax in the private BLADE lounge prior to take-off. BLADE is a crowdsourced, short-distance aviation company based in New York City. The flight duration to Nantucket Memorial Airport is less than an hour. An Uber ride to and from each airport is included in the ticket price.

New Real Estate Startup FlyHomes Rewards Homebuyers with Airline Miles – FlyHomes is an online real estate brokerage and platform that rewards house seekers with airline miles when they buy a home. This Seattle-based startup is launching a beta version of its product in Boston, with plans to expand service to Silicon Valley in June. FlyHomes purchases discounted miles from Alaska Airlines to provide homebuyers with miles that can be used with numerous airlines, using an algorithm to determine how many miles each house is worth. The goal of FlyHomes is to offer one mile per dollar spent on a home. The overall FlyHomes experience is flexible, offering agent services to customers or a do-it-yourself option. FlyHomes will also begin testing “House of the Day,” which will be worth extra miles if the specified house is purchased that day.

Allegiant Air Begins Flights from Jacksonville to Three New Cities – This week, Allegiant Air started its summer seasonal travel with direct flights from Jacksonville to 3 new destinations. Allegiant offers new routes to Columbus Rickenbacker International Airport, MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, and Asheville Regional Airport. In about a year, Allegiant has added significant service to and from Jacksonville, going from 0 flights to 9. Allegiant considers Jacksonville an ideal city for growth, based on size and popularity with travelers.

American Airlines to Offer Tucson-New York Nonstop Flight – In October, American Airlines will begin offering daily nonstop flights between Tucson International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The Tucson Metro Chamber and the community worked together for over a year to gather approximately $3 million in revenue guarantees in order to get the new flight. This new flight increases the number of nonstop destinations to 18 at Tucson’s airport. JetBlue discontinued its red-eye flight from Tucson to JFK in 2008. The new American Airlines flight is a daytime flight aboard a 160-passenger Boeing 737-800 aircraft, featuring 16 first class recliner seats, 30 seats with additional legroom, and 114 coach seats. Nearly 230 people fly out of Tucson to the New York area every day.

Hartsfield-Jackson Partners with Israeli Airport for Atlanta-Tel Aviv Flights – Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport signed a sister airport agreement with Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport, in hopes of resuming direct Atlanta-Tel Aviv flights via Delta Air Lines. The memorandum of understanding allows the airports to share their expertise with each other while increasing travel and trade. Atlanta airport officials will be invited to Israel to focus on security issues. Hartsfield-Jackson and the Israeli government offer incentives for new international routes. 2011 was the last time Delta Air Lines flew the Atlanta-Tel Aviv route.

Food Delivery to Your Gate at Philadelphia International Airport – Over 1,000 Apple iPads will be installed in Terminal B of Philadelphia International Airport in collaboration with American Airlines, retail manager MarketPlace PHL, and food and beverage provider OTG Management. iPads will be available at seats in 15 gate areas and at 8 new restaurants, allowing passengers to get flight information, surf the Web, play games, and order food and drinks with direct delivery. Over the next 18 months, 60,000 square feet inside the security perimeter will be expanded to include retail offerings and a food hall with menus created by 9 local chefs. Every seat in all the restaurants, and 75% to 80% of gate lounge seats will have a 110 outlet, a USB port, and an iPad. OTG has built restaurants in seating areas and installed iPads at gates in 8 other airports so far.

‘Lufthansa Surprise’ Chooses Your Destination – German carrier Lufthansa now offers an option called “Lufthansa Surprise,” which lets customers book flights to surprise destinations from Frankfurt or Munich. The first step is to choose at least 2 categories among 9 categories, each of which has 7 to 12 cities. After selecting your categories and cities, you can book anytime from 1 to 42 days in advance for specific dates or between flexible dates. Categories include nature, sun and sand, shopping, sightseeing and culture, gourmet cuisine, romance, and more.

Delta Air Lines Suspends Regina-Minneapolis Route – Beginning August 1, Saskatchewan’s Regina International Airport will no longer offer any direct daily flights to the United States. Delta Air Lines is suspending its Regina to Minneapolis daily routes indefinitely, so Regina residents will have to travel through other Canadian cities to fly to the United States. Delta blames lack in both demand and revenue. Delta will accommodate passengers affected by the suspension, which could be a refund or involve another airline to reroute passengers. Nonstop flights between Saskatoon and Minneapolis are still available.

Pilot Shortage Causes Austrian Airlines to Cancel 150 Flights – In June, Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines plans to cancel 150 flights because of a pilot shortage again this year. The airline is transferring its Fokker 70/100 fleet to Embraer E195s as part of a fleet renewal program that requires pilot retraining. Austrian has leased one Airbus A320 from German leisure airline Condor, one Boeing 737-800 from Turkish carrier SunExpress, and one Bombardier Regional Jet from Slovenia-based Adria Airways to stabilize operations. Last year, Austrian canceled many short-haul and medium-haul flights because of pilot illness during the summer season.