Air Travel News
Briefs: UA raises some bag fees; JetBlue, Virgin add foreign partners
In news of U.S. airlines, United increased some international checked-bag fees and rolls out its first renovated 767-300; JetBlue and Virgin America have both signed new interline deals with foreign carriers; and Delta could soon shed a large number of 50-seat regional jets.
• United Airlines has raised the fee from $70 to $100 for economy class passengers checking a second bag on many international flights, matching a move that Delta made several months back. The increase took effect this month for United flights from the U.S. to Europe, the Middle East, India and some African destinations. The second-bag fee remains at $70 for Asia (except Japan), Australia and New Zealand. In other news, United said it has put its first renovated 767-300 into service. In all, the airline is remaking 14 767-300s, giving them flat-bed seats in a new BusinessFirst cabin. The reconfigured planes will have 30 BusinessFirst seats plus 49 in Economy Plus and 135 in regular economy. The aircraft also received improved in-fight entertainment systems and other enhanced amenities.
• JetBlue Airways has taken on Air China as its newest international interline partner, promising easy transfers for connections between the two carriers at New York JFK and Los Angeles International. Air China has two daily flights from LAX to Beijing’s Capital International Airport, and one a day from JFK. Interline ticketing is expected to start later this summer, subject to government approval, JetBlue said. Air China offers domestic connections through Beijing to a number of Chinese cities.
• Virgin America Airlines said it has inked a deal with Japan Airlines making that carrier its 15th international interline partner, and connecting flights between the two at San Francisco and Los Angeles can now be booked through the major global distribution systems used by travel agents. JAL flies daily from LAX to Tokyo Narita and from SFO to Tokyo Haneda, and offers connections from those two gateways to other cities across Asia. The agreement calls for one-stop ticketing and automatic baggage transfers on interline connections.
• A new labor agreement between Delta and its pilots – if it is ratified by the pilot union’s membership – will reportedly mean the elimination of a large number of 50-seat regional jets from the Delta Connection fleet. The deal would cap the number of 50-seat regional jets for Delta at 125, down from the current total of 343 – meaning that 218 of them would have to be replaced by larger aircraft. Delta recently reached an agreement with Southwest to take on 88 two-class, 117-seat 717s currently in use at Southwest’s AirTran subsidiary. The pilot deal also envisions Delta adding two-class 76-seat regional jets more quickly as it phases out the 50-seaters.