Flights

Even more ways to get to Iceland – and beyond

How can you not go to Iceland?

The number of cities that have flights going to Iceland just keeps getting longer.

This weeks Icelandair announced new seasonal nonstop flights between Kansas City and Iceland, and between Baltimore and Iceland.

The thrice-weekly flight from Kansas City International Airport (MCI) to Keflavík International Airport (KEF)  begins May 26 and is MCI’s first nonstop transatlantic service.

The flight to Iceland from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport will operate four days a week, with flights starting on May 28. This isn’t, technically, new service: Icelandair last offered service from BWI over a decade ago and a company representative said year-round service could be possible.

Flights to both cities wilil be serviced by Icelandair’s Boeing 757-200 aircraft. Seasonal service is scheduled to end October 15.

This also means Icelandair’s glacier and aurora borealis-themed planes will be making stops in these cities. So even if you’re not flying to Iceland, keep an eye out for some cool-looking planes at these airports.

Two ways to fly free on JetBlue

If you’re lucky – or fast – you might score a free flight – or a year’s worth of flights – on JetBlue this week.

As part of the carrier’s newest version of its All You Can Jet promotion, anyone who purchases a non-refundable ticket on jetblue.com by December 15, 2017 is entered into a contest that will award 3 lucky winners an All You Can Jet pass good for flights for the winner and a companion anywhere the airline flies – for one year. Winners will be announced December 27, 2017.

(More details – including a way to enter without purchasing a ticket – can be found here.)

Another way to get a free flight is to purchase a JetBlue Get Packing board game, which goes on sale at Amazon for $19.99 today (December 12, 2017) at 12 p.m.

Each game comes with a roundtrip JetBlue flight certificate for JetBlue flights to/from JetBlue cities on JetBlue-operated flights. (All travel must be booked and flown within January 2018 – December 2018.)

Good luck!

JetBlue’s new board game includes a flight

JetBlue is doing its bit to help make holiday get-togethers a bit more fun and rewarding by rolling out a limited edition travel-themed board game called Get Packing!

The Get Packing game goes on sale at Amazon.com on December 12 for $19.99 and the list of what’s in the box reads: 6 Packing Boards, 60 Packing Cards, 48 Wild Cards, 1 die, 1 rule book and 1 certificate for a JetBlue flight, making this a potentially great travel deal even if you don’t actually sit down and play the game.

Blame Trump: Alaska Airlines to drop its LA – Havana flights

Blame it on Donald Trump’s Cuba policy:

Today Alaska Airlines announced that  – effective January 22, 2018 – it will be canceling its daily flight between Los Angeles and Havana, Cuba.

The Seattle-based airline began offering the flight on January 5 of this year.

According to the airline, about 80 percent of the passengers who flew to Havana on Alaska Airlines visited under a U.S. allowance for individual “people-to-people” educational travel.

Last week, changes to U.S. policy eliminated that category of Cuba travel and, as a result, the airline said it will redeploy the aircraft and other resources it had been devoting to the Havana route to other markets instead.

“Travel is about making connections, and we were honored to have played a role in helping people make personal connections by traveling between the U.S. and Cuba,” said Andrew Harrison, chief commercial officer for Alaska Airlines, in a statement, “We continually evaluate every route we fly to ensure we have the right number of seats to match the number of people who want to go there.”

Other airlines may announce service cancellations in response to the most recent restrictions placed on Cuba, but even before this JetBlue, American, Southwest had trimmed their Cuba service, while Frontier, Spirit and Silver Airways had dropped Cuba service completely.

 

 

 

 

 

That 18 hour United flight between LAX and Singapore

With the launch of new non-stop service between Los Angeles and Singapore, United Airlines set a new distance record among U.S. airlines flying to or from the United States.

Thanks – or rather, due – to headwinds facing westbound aircraft, the published length of the 8,700-mile trip from Los Angeles International Airport to Singapore’s Changi Airport clocks in at whopping 17 hours and 55 minutes, with the return/eastbound trip scheduled to take ‘just’ 15 hours and 15 minutes.

While still long, for many travelers this flight significantly shortens the journey to the Lion City. Until now, passengers had to make a stop somewhere along the way.

“This flight shaves hours off that journey,” said Patrick Quayle, Vice-President of International Network for United Airlines.

The new LAX to SIN flight (UA37) is scheduled to leave Los Angeles daily at 8:55 p.m. and arrive in Singapore at 6:50 a.m. two days later, local Singapore time. The return flight (UA 38) leaves Singapore’s award-winning Changi Airport daily at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport at 10:15 a.m. the same day, local time.

United also serves Singapore with a daily non-stop flight from San Francisco, which at 8,466 miles is now the second longest scheduled flight operated by a carrier from the United States.

In addition to being the longest flight from the United States to anywhere in the world, the new United Airlinesnow holds the record for both the longest (LA – SIN; 8,700 miles) and second-longest flights (SFO – SIN; 8,466 miles) on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. That record is destined to fall in March, 2018 when Sydney, Australia-based Qantas begins flying a 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft between Perth and London, a distance of about 9009 miles.

While these will be the longest flights on Boeing 787-9 aircraft, they won’t be the world’s longest flight. That record is currently held by Qatar Airways, which flies between Doha and Auckland, a distance of 9,032 miles.

Courtesy UNITED

Shortening the flight time between Los Angeles and Singapore is not only appealing for leisure travelers heading to Asia, it gives Southern California an economic edge.

“Over 71 Singaporean companies have operations in the six counties of Southern California,” said Stephen Cheung, President of the World Trade Center, Los Angeles, “They create over 3,300 jobs for the local region and together contribute over 200 million in annual wages. So this new direct flight increases the opportunity for Singaporeans to invest in Los Angeles.”

If you’re going to be on a plane for 18 hours – or any long stretch of time – comfortable seating, upgraded amenities and the aircraft can make a difference in how you feel on arrival.

United’s 8,700-mile non-stop flight is serviced by a Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner with 252 seats: 48 in Polaris business class, laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration; 88 premium economy seats and 116 economy seats, in a 3-3-3 layout.

While the 787-9 United used on this route doesn’t have its newest Polaris business class seats (and won’t be retrofitted with them for several years), the business class section does have lie-flat seats and benefits from the airline’s Polaris service, which includes Saks Fifth Avenue-branded bedding and fleece-lined slippers.

The aircraft itself offers benefits to long-haul fliers. The composite carbon fiber material (as opposed to aluminum) used to make the aircraft means the cabin pressure and humidity can be higher than on other airplanes. That makes passengers feel as if they are flying at a lower altitude than on a standard flight and can helps cut down on the fatigue, dryness, and jet lag travelers usually experience.

United Airlines is about to retire its entire fleet of 747 aircraft, known as the “Queen of the Skies,” and through January 2018 is giving passengers flying in Polaris premium cabins a collectible 747-themed amenity kit.

In addition to amenity-kit basics such as a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, tiny tissue pack, ear plugs, lip balm and hand lotion, this kit contains some commemorative items, including 747-themed socks, a 747-themed padded eye-mask and a pack of five 747-themed trading cards. There are 15 commemorative 747 cards in the full set, giving passengers on the 18 hour LAX to Singapore flight, and others, an excuse to strike up a conservation and swap cards along with road warrior stories.

     

Eating and snacking are important on a long haul flight. United’s Polaris passengers on the Los Angeles to Singapore flights can plan on having a four course dinner, with ice-cream sundaes and Asian sweets for dessert, breakfast before arrival and a choice of serve-yourself snacks, including Ramen noodles, sandwiches, fruit and candy during the flight.

Singapore Airlines, which – like United – flies direct between San Francisco and Singapore, plans to re-introduce direct flights between Los Angeles and Singapore soon. For now, though, United Airlines is the only carrier offering direct flights between LAX and SIN.

Last week, after dipping to as low as $177 for a short time, roundtrip economy fares for United’s non-stop flights between Los and Singapore were as low as $600 (including taxes) for some early December flights.

(My story about United Airlines’ new 18-hour flight between Los Angeles and Singapore first appeared in a slightly different version on CNBC).