Tag: Spirit Airlines

Flying Coach Is About To Get a Little More Cramped

small airplane seats

If you think flying coach sucks is a cramped and claustrophobic experience, then you’re going to hate what’s coming in the months ahead.  An increasing number of airlines are starting to install more paid-legroom seats on their planes (because people buy them), eating into the legroom of the standard coach seat – which we all know is already limited.

Airlines such as JetBlue, American, United, Frontier, and Spirit are introducing a new class of roomier seats with names such as Economy Plus (United) and Classic Plus (Frontier) that offer passengers more space to spread out but at a higher price tag.  To make room on the plane for these pricier seats, the standard coach experience gets a little more cramped.

In the past, the economy section on an average long-haul plane represented about 90% of the seats, with first-class seats making up the balance.  Today, 10% to 30% of the spots on a major airline are extra-roomy economy seats. To make room for the new seats, airlines have eliminated 10 to 40 standard economy seats per plane.  On some airlines, many of the remaining economy seats got pushed closer together.

Get ready to love thy neighbor.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • There could be changes on the horizon for how you buy an airplane ticket online. Starting next year, a group of airline carriers agreed to start using a new system that could lead to personalized pricing for flyers.  Airlines will begin asking customers for more personal information, travel history, frequent flyer membership and credit card use.  Using this detailed information, they will then produce a customized ticket price.
  • The Chicago Tribune warns, “Procrastinators beware: Don’t put off booking holiday airline travel this year, unless you want to pay more and get stuck in a middle seat in coach.  Holiday ticket prices will generally rise from here. Count on paying $3 more per seat for every day you put off booking.”
  • ABC News revealed that many of the country’s busiest airports also rank at the top for TSA employees fired for theft.  Sixteen of the top 20 airports for theft firings are also in the top 20 airports in terms of passengers passing through.

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.

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.

AA Flight Attendants Vote to Strike

AA Strike

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.

JetBlue and Hilton Partner on Points

jetblue_logoThe New York Times reported today that JetBlue has teamed up with Hilton so that members of the airline’s loyalty program can earn additional points when staying at any of Hilton’s 3,500 hotels worldwide.

This is how it works:  Hilton HHonors members earn one TrueBlue point for every $2 spent at a Hilton, including restaurants and spas.  For example, travelers flying to CanHilton_Logocún on JetBlue can earn about 60 additional TrueBlue points by staying at the Hilton Cancún Golf and Spa Resort and paying a nightly rate of $119.

And through July 15, in celebration of the new partnership, 860 select properties will double the points, offering HHonors members one TrueBlue point for every $1 spent. Click here for a list of participating hotels in the limited time promotion and to sign up for the program.

Hilton Worldwide properties include Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts, Conrad Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites, and Hilton Grand Vacations.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Spirit Airlines is being criticized for installing seats that don’t recline on its newest planes. According to the Sun Sentinel, the fixed upright seats will allow Spirit to squeeze in more passengers, and save money because non-reclining seats are cheaper.
  • After first refusing to obey European Union rules, budget airline Ryanair now says that it will reimburse expenses for passengers stranded during the mass shutdown of European airspace.  Previously, Ryanair had announced that that his airline would ignore EU rules and only reimburse up to the amount paid for each ticket.  Airlines operating in Europe must provide–or reimburse for–meals, hotels and similar costs when passengers are stranded due to flight cancellations.  The EU rules  require monetary compensation for canceled flights except during extraordinary circumstances.  A volcanic eruption qualifies as extraordinary and airlines will not have to pay passengers for canceling flights, but the requirements for expense reimbursement still apply and stranded passengers may file claims when an airline refuses to provide meals and accommodations.

united us airways mergerAccording to the New York Times, United Airlines and US Airways are reportedly in talks on a potential merger that would create one of the biggest carriers in the world.  No announcement of any deal would be expected for at least several weeks – and talks may still collapse, according to the Times.

Combining United, the third-largest US carrier, with No. 6 US Airways would create one of the world’s largest airlines, with an extensive route network. United has hubs in Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and at Washington Dulles International Airport, while US Airways has hubs in Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Charlotte, N.C.

This isn’t the first time the two airlines have considered merging.  In 2000, Chicago-based United and US Airways announced a $4.3 billion deal, only to withdraw.  And in 2008, the two carriers held talks again on a merger before abandoning the effort, less than two months after Delta Air Lines Inc. agreed to acquire Northwest Airlines Corp., making it the world’s biggest airline.  The previous talks between United and US Airways were held up because of the complexity of putting together the various union contracts covering each airlines’ employees, as well as sorting out which union would represent workers and how to account for their seniority.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Low-cost carrier, Spirit Airlines announced Tuesday that it will charge passengers as much as $45 for each piece of carry-on luggage.  This move goes beyond the baggage fees that other airlines that have instituted on checked luggage.  According to Spirit’s new policy, carry-ons that fit in the overhead bin will cost fliers $45 ($30 if paid online).  Fare club members pay $20 for each carry-on bag.  There is no charge for carry-on items that fit under the seat.  The carry-on bag fee is in effect for reservations made after Monday for travel on or after Aug. 1st.  Will this move prompt other airlines to do the same?  Only time will tell.
  • iPad owners will get a small reprieve when going through airport security.  According an AP report, the TSA said that iPads generally do not need to be removed from carry-on luggage when going through X-ray screening.  Since the iPad is much smaller and thinner than laptops, it’s easier to see on the scanner.  Also, the organization said that iPad users generally would not be carrying multiple bulky accessories, such as hard drives and chargers, which might otherwise obstruct a clear view of the device as it passes through X-ray equipment.
  • This last news item is right out of the film, “Weekend at Bernies”:  Two women were arrested in the UK for allegedly trying to smuggle a dead man on an EasyJet flight from Liverpool to Berlin.   The women apparently brought the man to the airport in a taxi and then tried to check him in on the flight.  The man was seated in a wheelchair and had sunglasses on.  The women claim they thought he was sleeping.  However airport staff soon noticed that something was seriously wrong and alerted security.

Spirit Airlines Cashes in at Tiger Woods’ Expense

SPIRIT-AIRLINES-TIGER-WOODS-ADSpirit Airlines is attempting to cash in on the media frenzy surrounding Tiger Woods by running a 10-second online ad promoting its “Eye of the Tiger Sale” – which features a tiger that crashes an SUV into a fire hydrant.

It seems a little disconcerting (and tasteless) that an airline would be touting a fare sale with the depiction of a crash scene.  However, the ads are drawing some attention online and from a number of media outlets, including The Huffington Post, the Orlando Sentinel and E! Online – so perhaps it’s “mission accomplished” by the airline?

The USA Today reports that, “this is certainly not the first time Spirit has courted controversy with its advertisements.  Just last week, a Spirit press release touted a ‘We’re no Virgin’ fare sale, clearly aimed at rival Virgin America’s new service from Spirit’s Ft. Lauderdale base.”

And in case you’re wondering, the Eye of the Tiger Sale is offering fares from $9 each way.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • The first plane designed to fly day and night without fuel, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA, lifted off for the first time today in Switzerland.  Test pilot Markus Scherdel flew 350 meters down an icy runway at an altitude of one meter in a flight lasting 28 seconds.  The Impulse is as wide as a Boeing 747, but weighs only about 1.7 tons.  The 12,000 solar cells mounted on the wing are designed to provide renewal solar power to the plane’s 4 electric motors.
  • With wintry conditions expected throughout Southeast Texas this weekend, Continental Airlines is offering passengers the chance to change flight reservations at no charge.  Passengers with reservations to or from George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Dec. 4 and Dec. 5 will be allowed to make the penalty-free switch provided the rescheduled travel begins by Dec. 20.  Refunds may also be requested for canceled flights.
  • Just in time for the holiday season, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, an official sponsor of Cirque du Soleil touring shows, today announced exclusive discounts for Wintuk — the seasonal family show performing in New York — as well as stays at its Wyndham hotels in the city.  Wyndham is celebrating the return of the winter adventure to Manhattan with a double discount: 30% off the regular ticket price of any Wintuk show and a special 15% discount when booking at its participating NYC hotels.

BTW – If you’re planning to stay at a NYC hotel (or any hotel) you should be tracking prices with Yapta before you book.  That way you’ll know when prices drop and you can save big!