In news of U.S. airlines, United shrinks the number of boarding groups at the gate; American and Qatar Airways launch a new partnership; Delta puts off a change in its policy for interline baggage; and JetBlue reportedly starts selling expedited security access separately.
Air Travel News
Leaders of the Allied Pilots Association—American Airlines’ pilots union—said they have approved a memorandum of understanding that could pave the way to a combined pilot contract if American and US Airways move ahead with a merger plan.
A few weeks after American Airlines rolled out new bundled pricing options that include fixed sets of amenities and services, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Delta has quietly added a couple of new bundled fare options of its own.
United Airlines said on its website that some changes are coming to its United Club airport lounge program effective January 1, including higher prices and the elimination of one membership option.
The conventional wisdom says that when major competitors in a given industry start to merge, that consolidation leads to higher prices for consumers and less competition overall. But a new study from the consulting firm PwC US finds that is not really the case—or at least, it hasn’t been for the U.S. airline industry in recent years.
Four U.S. airlines—US Airways, American, Alaska and Virgin America—have set new code-sharing partnerships with foreign carriers that will provide for seamless connections all around the world.
Southwest Airlines has carved out a consumer-friendly reputation for itself in the airline business by not charging some of the most onerous fees imposed by its rivals. But those fees do generate huge amounts of revenue, and Southwest executives told an investors’ conference in New York that they expect to bring in an extra $100 million in 2013 by adjusting their fee policies.
United Airlines has come out with a raft of new route announcements for winter and spring, including one new transcontinental market and other new routes to Latin America and Canada.
Reports are emerging in various media that as American Airlines moves closer to the conclusion of its reorganization in bankruptcy court, it might also be moving closer to a merger plan with US Airways, urged in that direction by its pilots.
© Artiga Photo / Corbis.
Nine out of 10 airlines said they plan to sell tickets via smartphones by 2015, establishing mobile as a mainstream distribution channel for airlines, according to SITA’s Airline IT Trends Survey 2012. By 2015, most airlines plan to have core services available via mobile, such as flight search, check-in, boarding passes, ticket purchase, flight status notification and ancillary services, followed closely by customer complaint handling and missing baggage management. In addition, nine out of 10 airlines said they are investing in social media over the next three years. Four out of 10 promote flights via social media already, and almost 90 percent said they plan to do so by 2015.
You may already check in for a flight on a kiosk, but one day you’re likely to use a self-boarding machine that checks boarding passes at the gate. At least 17 airlines in Europe and Asia use self-boarding machines, and several U.S. carriers—including Delta, United and American—have tested the devices, according to the International Air Transport Association. Besides cutting labor costs, proponents say the devices leave agents more time to upgrade passengers, police the size of carry-on bags and sell seats with more legroom. One agent can purportedly monitor more than one self-boarding gate.