Tag: Delta Air Lines

You Like $45 Baggage Fees So Much, You May Get More

baggage

Florida-based Spirit Airlines was roundly criticized in August 2010 when it announced that it was going to be the first – and so far only – airline to charge passengers up to $45 in fees to stow carry-on luggage in overhead compartments.  A pair of federal lawmakers even threatened to impose a tax on all airline revenue generated by such fees, a penalty that has yet to be adopted.

But the Los Angeles Times is reporting that an industry consultant on airline revenue has declared Spirit’s carry-on baggage fee a “major success”.  In the 12-month period after Spirit launched the fee, the airline flew 24.5% more passengers compared with the same period in 2009.  And it’s estimated that the airline will earn $50 million in revenue from carry-on bag fees this year.

No doubt such numbers look enticing to executives at other airlines – and while there’s rampant speculation that baggage fees will rise across the board – msnbc.com reports that there’d be an uproar in Washington, D.C.” if that happened.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Ever wonder what your luggage experiences after you hand it over to the airline?  Delta Airlines was curious too, so they drilled out a bunch of holes in a box, stuffed it full of video cameras, and sent it on a flight from Atlanta to New York after hitting all the record buttons.  Give it a watch.  It’s pretty cool.
  • Here’s an interesting flight safety factoid that will ease your mind:  According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the number of deaths in airline accidents globally is at the lowest level since 2006, the first year for which the IATA reported data in that category.  Through November, 486 people had died in air crashes, compared with the previous low of 502 in 2008.  By these numbers, you’re far safer 30,000 feet above the ground than you are in your car.
  • And yet another interesting factoid that will make you scratch your head:  According to SplatF, of the 355 million people who have flown on planes equipped with Gogo’s inflight Wi-Fi since 2008, only 15 million sessions have been logged, which means that only 4% of people are going online.  To put that in perspective, that’s about 2 – 10 people on average who pay for online access during each Wi-Fi enabled flight.  So why the low uptake?  Some think it’s the Wi-Fi quality.

tsachildpatdownA video of a Transportation Security Administration worker patting down a 6-year-old girl at Armstrong International Airport in April has prompted changes to the TSA’s policy for screening children.  While no specific changes have been detailed by the TSA yet, here’s what we do know:  The changes will apply to kids 12 and younger are intended to ultimately reduce  - though not eliminate – pat-downs of children.  We’ll keep you posted as the new policy changes become a little clearer.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Jews and Israelis, or passengers carrying any non-Islamic article of faith, will not be able allowed to fly Delta Air Lines flights from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia under Delta’s new partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines.  Although Delta announced in January that the Saudi airline would join its SkyTeam network next year, the implications of the deal only came to light recently.  (Nice due diligence folks!)  Saudi Arabia bans anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport from entering the country, even in transit.  Religious items such as Bibles that are not related to Islam may be confiscated at the airport.
  • The International Air Transport Association recently unveiled a prototype for the “Airport Checkpoint of the Future” at a conference in Singapore.  After arriving at the airport, passengers would enter one of three security lanes and be checked according to risk.  Advances in screening technology could eliminate the need for passengers to remove clothes or unpack their belongings.
  • Spirit Airlines says it will begin charging customers $5 to have their boarding pass printed by an airport agent.  Customers can avoid a fee by checking in online or – for a few months – by using a self-service airport kiosk.  Similar to other fee announcements the carrier has made in the past, Spirit justified the new fee by claiming it would lower its fares by the same amount to offset the charge.

And The Top Performing Travel Websites Are…

Speedy Gonzales

Knowing most Yapta users prefer to book their flights direct from an airline website, we thought you’d appreciate knowing which airline sites perform best.  Compuware Gomez, which monitors website performance, conducted an exclusive 15-month study (at the request of USA TODAY) and ultimately determined that  AirTran was the best-performing (or fastest) home page, while Delta, Hawaiian and Frontier were tied for second. Delta’s website was No. 1 for performing transactions, and AirTran’s site, No. 2.

As for hotel sites, Gomez named Marriott the  the top-performing hotel booking site.

Also worth noting, among the 46 online travel agents included in the study, the fastest average home-page load of any travel website (1.231 seconds) went to…(insert drum-roll here)… Kayak.  It’s nice to know that the engine that’s powering Yapta’s flight search is the fastest on the track.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Airfares from American Airlines are now allowed back on Orbitz as an Illinois court granted Orbitz “injunctive relief” from the airline in their ongoing disagreement over distribution costs.  And if you’re tired of following this on-again, off-again relationship – just use Yapta to search (and track) American flights and forgettaboutit.
  • Close to 35 million Americans traveled over the Memorial Day weekend according to AAA.  That’s about 100,000 travelers more than last year, which suggests a fairly busy summer season ahead.  The Air Transport Association (ATA) predicts that U.S. airlines will carry a total of 206.2 million passengers from June through August – about 3 million more passengers than during the same period last year, an increase of 1.5 percent.  Yep, we’re really feeling the bite of higher fuel and airfare prices, aren’t we?
  • Since Delta began charging fees for checked bags — $25 for the initial piece on domestic flights; $35 for a second — the airline has been offering $2-3 discounts to travelers who prepaid those fees online instead of at the airport.  Not anymore.  Starting yesterday, passengers will now pay the full price regardless of when or where they pay the fee.

Holiday Flights: Pull the Trigger & Bite the Bullet

book now

Our holiday travel advice to you:  Book Now.

Flights for the 2010 holiday travel season are already expensive – and it’s only going to get worse.  In a statement released by the Air Transport Association yesterday, it’s estimated that 24 million travelers will fly during the 12-day period surrounding Thanksgiving, with daily passenger volume up 3.5 percent over last year.  The surging demand – coupled with the fact that there’s simply fewer seats available – is making fares more expensive, and more quickly than normal.  Prices are already trending 18% higher this year compared to last year at this time.

Those who wait around until the last minute to pull the trigger on their flight arrangements, will be the ones biting a serious financial bullet.    You’ll save a lot of money simply by booking as early as possible – and then tracking your price with Yapta.  In the event that the price does drop, Yapta will let you know when you can re-book your ticket at the lower available rate and get credited for the difference.

Dispair not tracker-slackers (def. those that track pricing on multiple flights, but for whatever reason can never bring themselves to actually book a flight), there’s still hope for you:

You may still find reasonably priced flights for the Thanksgiving holiday on November 22, 23, 25 (Thanksgiving Day) and 30.  The best days to fly over the Christmas holiday are December 20, 21, 24 (Christmas Eve), 28, 29, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.   (Sunday Nov. 28th will be the busiest day during the Thanksgiving period, defined as Friday, Nov. 19th through Tuesday, Nov. 30th.  Second-busiest is expected to be Monday, Nov. 29th followed by Friday, Nov. 19th, and Wednesday, Nov. 24th.  Avoid these dates wherever possible.)

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • If the New York Jets win this year’s Super Bowl, customers of JetBlue and MasterCard will refund select one-way and roundtrip flights.  Flights must be booked Nov. 1 or 2 and must originate from LaGuardia, Newark or John F. Kennedy (JFK) airports and travel must be completed Dec. 1-31.  Considering that some online betting sites (that will remain unnamed) recently laid 7 to 1 odds that the New York Jets would win the Super Bowl, it’s a interesting gamble. (JetBlue also recently painted an Airbus A320 green in honor of the New York Jets.)
  • According to the website for U.S. News & World Report, Delta Air Lines is the worst of the major airlines based on factors like on-time arrivals, mishandled baggage, passenger bumping, and overall customer satisfaction.  Delta scored the lowest with the most delays and passenger complaints, followed by United, Alaska, and American.  Hawaiian ranked as the best, followed by AirTran.
  • The blue skies are getting greener thanks to a new inflight beverage option from American Airlines.  As of November 1, the airline will be serving Java City coffee, which is 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified.  In order to achieve Rainforest Alliance Certification, companies must ensure that their farming practices protect the environment, including native wildlife, while keeping local communities and workers best interests in mind.

American Airlines Ripe for a Merger with JetBlue?

Merge Ahead

With the recent flurry of airline mergers between Delta & Northwest, AirTran & Southwest, and United & Continental, airline industry analysts are now speculating that American Airlines may be the next to merge in order to compete with these mega-carriers.  But with who?

According to a Forbes blog post, analysts from Morningstar believe that American Airlines “needs to make a big splash” to remain a player in an increasingly competitive market.

“Once the industry’s largest carrier, [American Airlines] is now the third-largest…and any scale advantage it may have garnered is gone,” the Morningstar analysts write. “Ironically, AMR is at a substantial disadvantage, given that it steered clear of bankruptcy during the recession,” [Basili] Alukos and [Adam] Fleck say, pointing out that American’s labor rate is the industry’s highest on an equivalent basis.”

Given that it lags behind United-Continental and Delta, Morningstar figures American is ripe for consolidation and would make a solid fit for partner JetBlue.  The two cooperate on domestic and international flights at JFK and Boston’s Logan Airport, and JetBlue’s lighter cost structure would help American be more competitive while beefing up the combined company’s international business.

Late last month JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said his airline does not need to find a merger partner to remain competitive with rival Southwest.  Time will ultimately tell as Southwest’s pending merger with AirTran will certainly enable them to apply some competitive pressure in JetBlue’s key expansion markets like Boston and the Caribbean.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • The tarmac rule imposed earlier this year seems to have had the desired affect — with only one delay exceeding 3 hours in the entire month of August, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Last year, 66 flights sat on runways for at least 3 hours in the month of August, according to the DOT.  The department added that the new rule has had no impact on cancellation rates in August, with the rate of 1% unchanged compared to the prior year.  The tarmac rule has been broken eight times since it was imposed earlier this year on April 29 through the end of August, according to the DOT. That’s compared to 529 runway delays exceeding three hours, during the same time period in 2009.
  • Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic on Sunday completed its first manned free flight of a spaceship intended to eventually take customers on commercial space flights.  A seat on Branson’s spaceship will cost $200,000 per person, with refundable deposits starting at $20,000.  Thus far, Virgin Galactic has managed to sell 700 seats.  While you can’t yet track the price of these flights on Yapta, we don’t expect prices to drop anytime soon.
  • Budget Travel published a list of the “Weirdest Travel Gear” that included products like GasBGone, a flatulence filter that comes in a pillow or an undergarment form.

JetBlue Brings Back “All You Can Jet” Offer

JetBlue

JetBlue announced that it’s again offering an “All You Can Jet” Pass that provides travelers unlimited flights to more than 60 cities in a one month period.  Jet Blue offered this type of pass last year at the same time (post-Labor Day) – and it was wildly successful, so why not bring it back?

The ticket purchase price for the all you can jet offer is a flat $699 and will be valid seven days a week for flights between September 7th and October 6th. Customers can also select a less expensive pass that costs $499 – but blacks out Friday and Sunday flights.

You must join JetBlue’s frequent-flier program, TrueBlue, to buy the pass.  (Membership is free.) Those who buy a pass can start booking flights (online only) on August 23rd.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • According to Travelocity’s Labor Day data report, there’s good news for travelers looking for cheap flights over the upcoming holiday weekend.  The average domestic airfare is at its lowest point of the summer, and Labor Day weekend is the least expensive of the three summer holiday weekends to fly.  Additionally, the average year-over-year fare increase is lowest for Labor Day weekend travel.
  • Reuters reports that hotels on the Las Vegas Strip may be forced to lower their rates with the December opening of  the $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas which will introduce 2,000 more hotel rooms to market.  The two 50-story Cosmopolitan towers are wedged between two MGM-run resorts — the multi-tower CityCenter and the Bellagio — on the west side of the Strip.
  • The blog0sphere is reporting that US Airways is expanding service to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport in retaliation for Delta’s expansion at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport.  At the end of the day, this competitive air tussle is good for you, the traveler, as it increases capacity and drives prices down in these markets.

More Flight Attendant Flare-ups on the Horizon?

flight attendant

The stress on airline employees got a lot of attention this week after JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater “lost it” by cursing at a (jerk) passenger over a plane’s loudspeaker and then jumping down the emergency slide with a beer from the galley.  However, this may be just the beginning of flight attendant flare ups.  According to reports, U.S. airlines have cut jobs for two straight years and airline employment in the U.S. is now at its second lowest point in 20 years.  Meanwhile, annual passenger traffic has jumped about 65 percent during that same period.

Diminishing staff and fuller flights are adding to the stress among flight attendants, pilots and other workers – and experts think that U.S. airlines will continue to show overall declines in staffing despite some sporadic hiring.

The bottom line:  Flight attendants are over-worked, under-paid and often treated poorly by passengers.  Give em a break and be kind.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • British Airways recently announced a “London for Free“  promotion where you can book a round-trip fall airfare from the U.S. to U.K., and get up to two complimentary hotel nights at select 3-star and 4-star properties.  The airline also reduced fares from its 19 U.S. gateways. Round-trip fares are from $498 from New York (JFK or Newark), from $654 from Chicago, and from $576 from San Francisco. For the free hotel deal you need to book by midnight August 19, for travel October 21 to December 19.
  • From now until September 6, 2010, the New York Marriott East Side hotel offers a special sightseeing package. This last minute deal is perfect for guests who want to explore the best of New York City with less strain on their wallets. With the Summer in the City deal, guests receive two NYC Explorer passes and guidebooks in addition to breakfast for two. This special Midtown Manhattan hotel offer is available to guests staying at least two nights and can be reserved online at http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/nycea-new-york-marriott-east-side/.
  • Delta Air Lines has received approval to begin a $1.2bn terminal renovation project at JFK Airport in New York.  The airline will dismantle Terminal 3 to accommodate parking spaces and will operate its international traffic from Terminal 4, which will also be upgraded with nine additional gates and baggage claim space and will be linked to Terminal 2.  The project will begin in September and is expected to be complete by mid 2013.  The fund will include $900m in special-project bonds, $215m in passenger facility charges (there’s the rub) and $75m in equity from Delta.  Delta said the renovation is aimed to attract corporate passengers as it builds a major air hub in New York.

bumper carsThe Obama administration’s recent proposal to significantly increase compensation for airline passengers bumped from a flight means that airlines will have a lot more incentive to persuade passengers to give up their seats willingly.

Currently, passengers who are forced to give up their seat and don’t arrive at their destination within two hours (four hours for international flights) of their original scheduled time receive a $400 check.  They receive $800 if they land later than that.

Under the new proposal, which would go into effect later this year, passengers denied boarding would receive between $650 and $1,300.  A $1,300 check suddenly makes getting involuntarily bumped seem a lot more palatable.  And a lot less likely to happen.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Spirit Airlines has canceled all flights through June 15 after pilots went on strike over the weekend.  According to the airline’s website, passengers scheduled to fly through June 15 would be credited the full amount of their purchased tickets, plus $100 for future flights.  Pilots said they are seeking pay on par with low- fare competitors Jet Blue, AirTran, and Southwest Airlines.
  • Continental Airlines introduced the benefit last fall on its Chase credit card, followed by Delta with its premium Skymiles American Express card.  Both cards waive the fee for a flier’s first checked bag – a $50 charge on a round trip — for up to nine people traveling together on the cardmember’s reservation.  It sounds like a good deal, but there’s a catch: another fee.  In the case of Continental, it’s the $85 annual fee for the OnePass Plus card, and for Delta it’s $95 for the Gold Skymiles card.
  • Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Air France-KLM Group have begun introducing seatbelt-mounted airbags in their economy-class cabins as authorities tighten regulations aimed at reducing the risk of fatalities in plane crashes.

3 Horses

According to recently released data from the U.S. DOT,  Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines carried the most passengers in 2009.  Southwest carried 101 million passengers, followed by American with 85 million and Delta with 67 million.

According to the 2009 year-end data, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport held onto its coveted title of world’s busiest airport.  Chicago’s O’Hare came in second and Los Angeles ranked third in the list of top 10 largest airports.

Also worth noting is the fact that U.S. airlines carried 5.2 percent fewer domestic passengers (618.1 million) in 2009 and 6.3 percent fewer international passengers (85.8 million) than in 2008.

If you’re a travel geek and want to see the complete air travel statistics for 2009, click here.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • US Airways passengers who check in online will now find more than a seat assignment and group number on their boarding passes.  Just in time for the spring-break travel rush, the airline has started including advertisements, weather and other tourist information on the boarding documents.  This leaves United as the last major carrier to hold out from printing the adds on customers’ boarding passes.  Anyone want to fathom a guess as to when United will fall in line?  The person closest to the actual date will get a $10 Starbucks gift card, courtesy of Yapta.
  • If you live in Seattle, this news if for you:  Alaska Airlines announced that it will allow passengers to earn and use its Mileage Plan miles on Seattle’s Kenmore Air and book Kenmore tickets through Alaska.  Mileage Plan members will earn 250 miles for each Kenmore Air flight starting April 15, with Double Miles for Kenmore flights between April 15 and May 31. Members can redeem miles for award travel starting in June, with one roundtrip award ticket on Kenmore Air between Seattle and any Washington destination or Victoria, B.C., for 10,000 miles, or between Seattle and any other Kenmore destination in British Columbia for 15,000 miles.
  • According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the airline industry globally is expected to bounce back to its pre-recession traffic levels in two or three months.   I’m hoping this news means that airlines will pull some planes out of the desert and increase capacity.

Summer Airfare Sales Have Arrived

SALE

It may only be March, but the first Summer airfare sales are already here.  AirTran, US Airways, United, Delta and American Airlines are all offering sale prices on flights through November 16th.  That’s right, November 16th!  That’s like 200 days!

So what’s the catch?  Well, the airfare sale period only lasts for 2-days.  In general, tickets have to be purchased by midnight Thursday.  There are also blackout dates around Memorial Day and other holidays.   Also, you may need to make a connection or travel to a smaller, alternative airport to get the lowest fares.

We made note of AirTran’s sale yesterday.  However, if you want dig around for the other sale prices (and you will have to dig a bit), you can find them here:

U.S. Airways

United Airlines

Delta Air Lines

American Airlines

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • If you’re a fan of “The Bachelor” on ABC and are wondering where Jason and Molly are heading for their honeymoon -  our friends at Down Under Answers are booking their trip and are telling all.  Check out their new Web page that has all the honeymoon details.
  • Have you’ve ever been curious about the U.S. govenment’s mysterious “no-fly” list – including how people get on or off the list?  Well, the Associated Press has revealed some of the Voodoo behind it all.  You might say that some people are dying to be de-listed, but never will be.  (Envision wringing hands and maniacal laughter.)