American Airlines flight attendants authorized their union leaders today to call a strike against the second-largest U.S. carrier if they are freed from further negotiations. According to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, about 97 percent of those voting cast ballots to support a walkout.
The vote is a signal to American’s management that the attendants will push toward a strike unless contract issues including compensation and retiree benefits are resolved. A walkout can’t occur until the union and American complete several additional steps required under a federal law governing airline labor talks.
Contract discussions resumed yesterday, about a month after the National Mediation Board ordered the two sides back to the bargaining table. Flight attendants had asked the board to find talks at an impasse and trigger a 30-day cooling off period that must come before a strike.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Alaska Airlines is offering passengers free wireless Internet through July 31 as the airline launches Wi-Fi service today on six Boeing 737-800s. Through an airline agreement with Visa, passengers can sign up to use the service free by entering the promotional code ALASKAVISA on the login screen. See www.alaskaair.comfor details. After July 31, cost on flights within the continental United States will be $4.95 per flight for flights up to 1.5 hours; $9.95 for laptops and $7.95 for mobile devices for flights of 1.5-3 hours; and $12.95 for laptops and $7.95 for mobile access for flights longer than three hours.
- Spirit Airlines is warning employees that the airline might have to “shut down operations permanently” if its pilots union goes on strike, as it is threatening to do as early as June 12, adding more tension to what could become a high-stakes showdown. Spirit considers ultra-low fares to be its brand, using ancillary revenue and industry-leading low unit costs to help fuel its profits. But the leader of the Spirit union says pilots want a new contract that brings them closer to parity with pay at carriers such as JetBlue and AirTran, which is 20% to 30% higher.
- Frontier Airlines said it is ending its frequent-flyer partnership with AirTran Airways as of July 16. The partnership, launched in November 2006, allowed passengers on one of the two airlines to use their miles to fly on the other. No specific reason for ending the partnership was given. However, Denver-hubbed Frontier is in the process of merging with Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines, which has a history of fierce competition with Orlando, Fla.-based AirTran.
Google announced on their blog today that they’re partnering with Virgin America to provide free WiFi on every Virgin America flight between November 10, 2009 and January 15, 2010.
“Whether it’s using Gmail to confirm an airport pick up time with your brother, doing some last minute gift shopping for your niece on Google Product Search or searching Google.com for a good sweet potato pie recipe before touchdown — we hope this makes it a bit easier to stay connected with family and friends while you’re up in the air.
You can find out more about our partnership, where Virgin America flies and how the in-flight WiFi service works at www.freeholidaywifi.com.”
Virgin America currently serves 10 major markets, including San Francisco (SFO), Boston (BOS), Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), Orange County (SNA), San Diego (SAN), Seattle (SEA), Washington-Dulles (IAD).
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- The Detroit Free Press reports that Northwest Airlines is changing nearly all of its current flight numbers this week – so be sure to confirm your Northwest Airlines flight number before heading to the airport. The changes are due to the takeover by Delta Air Lines and go into effect Saturday (10/26) for international flights and Sunday, Nov. 1st for domestic flights.
- AirTran Airways is expanding its mobile device options for customers to help manage their air travel. The expanded mobile Web services will allow flyers to book flights and change or cancel travel plans using their mobile devices, according to an AirTran release. The new services complement existing ones offered by AirTran, including being able to view flight status and check in for flights.
- JetBlue said today that its expanding its service at Boston’s Logan International Airport. The New York-based carrier said that five daily nonstop flights from Boston to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport will begin on March 1, 2010.
- There was an interesting debate carried out in a recent edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in which Kate Hanni, the Executive Director of FlyersRights.org, and James May, President and CEO of the ATA, offered their perpsective on the proposed legislation for a “Passenger Bill of Rights”. Give it a read and comment here to let us know which side of the debate you fall on.
- If you’re interested in capturing information on hotels in nearly any city or town in the United States , visit Yapta’s new hotel browse pages. You’ll find background on hotels from Abbeville, AL to Worland, WY.