Air Travel

New airport trading cards. Collect them all.

37 new cards are now out in circulation as part of the North American Airport Collectors Series.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) issued its third trading card in the series, which now includes trading cards from more than 80 airports.

The airport trading card series launched in 2014 and this fall 37 new cards were added.

Most airports hand these out for free (while supplies last…) at their information booths and at in-terminal events, so don’t be shy about asking the volunteers on duty if the new cards available.

As airport souvenirs go, these cant be beat.

So long, Sydney: take-aways from IATA’s meeting of world’s airline execs

The Vivid Sydney festival – which lights up iconic buildings and structures around the city – was a great backdrop for this week’s meeting of the world’s airline executives at the World Air Transport Summit (WATS) and the annual general meeting of IATA – the International Air Transport Association.

All sorts of briefings, reports, discussions, debates and newsy announcements take place at this event each year and will generate stories that will spool out over the course of the next few weeks.

In the meantime, here are just some of the highlights from the past few days:

Courtesy IATA

In his annual report, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said that airlines are expected to achieve a collective net profit of $33.8 billion. That’s an average profit per passenger of $7.76 for the airlines, he explained, “A thin 4.1% net margin” in 2018.

Read his full report that also touched on safety, security, environmental issues and other topics here.

 

 

A bundle of 20-minute on-stage interviews were offered, on topics ranging from alternative fuels, gender equality in aviation, airport privatization and the benefits and risks of travel and tourism. Follow the links for more details from those sessions and videos of the interviews.

 

CNN’s gregarious Richard Quest was on stage with a panel of airline CEOs, including Calin Rovinsecu of Air Canada, Tim Clark of Emirates Airlines, Rupert Hogg of Cathay Pacific Airways, Pieter Elbers of KLM and Christoper Luxon of Air New Zealand.

 

Among the notable moments was when the all-male panel was asked to address gender equality (or the lack of it) at the top echelons of aviation:

Other sessions addressed everything from some creative ways getting passengers to and from airports more efficiently to the role airlines play in human trafficking.

For media attendees, the meeting wrapped up with a final debriefing session with IATA CEO and Director General Alexandre de Juniac, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, who will serve as chairman of the IATA Board of Governors for the next year, and Alan Joyce, CEO of the Qantas Group, which hosted the IATA AGM in Sydney.

The Qatar Airways CEO is well-known for his bravado and controversial comments, but at an event in which other CEOs expressed a committment to increasing the role of women in the upper ranks of their companies, Akbar Al Baker’s comment that of course his airline had to be run by a man, “Because it is a very challenging position” was met with disbelief.

His comment may have been a ‘joke,’ – and he did go on to mention that Qatar has women serving as pilots, as senior vice presidents and in other top-level positions – but the comment did not sit well with the group assembled (I literally jumped out of my seat!) and just underscores the fact that this sector of industry has some real homework to do.

This summer everyone may be at the airport

The Memorial Day weekend signals the start of the busy summer travel season and it looks like a lot of people will be spending a lot of time in airports.

According to the trade group Airlines for America (A4A), a record 246.1 million passengers — an average of 2.68 million per day — are expected to travel on U.S. airlines between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2018.

That number is up 3.7 percent from last year’s record of 237.3 million passengers.

Below is the group’s handy infographic that explains what’s in store.

A4A’s tally doesn’t include the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but if you’re headed to the airport this weekend keep in mind that security checkpoint lines are apt to be longer than usual (I’ve gotten a couple of  alerts from my my airline already, which makes me a bit nervous) with many kids and out-of-practice travelers in the mix.

As always, arrive early and pack your patience.

The end is near for separation between Virgin America & Alaska Airlines

The end is near. For most all outward appearances of Virgin America.

Alaska Airlines, which has spent the past 18 months folding Virgin America into Alaska’s operations, wrote to customers yesterday to let them know that, starting April 25:

  • There will be only one website (alaskaair.com) for all check-ins.
  • There will be only only mobile app (Alaska’s).
  • There will be one call center (Alaska’s).
  • And there we be only Alaska flight numbers.

At the airport, all check-ins for flights operated by the company will take place at Alaska’s ticket counters and kiosks.

The final switchover will take place on the night of April 24, says Alaska:

“We’ll complete physical changes at 29 airports around the U.S. and Mexico that are served by both Alaska and Virgin America. The only branding and signage will now be for Alaska Airlines. Signs and screens will all change to Alaska branding at curbside locations, lobbies, ticket counters, gates and baggage areas. While there will be some Virgin America painted aircraft still flying for a period of time after April 25, tickets will be sold only under the Alaska name.”

Airline amenity kits you might fight the kids for

A wide range of airline amenity kits, for both adults and children, were on display last week in Hamburg, Germany as part of the World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo.

Amenity kits for adults were lovely, of course, but those for kids just look like lots more fun. Especially the Super Hero kit I spotted (below) that includes a backpack with a built-in cape!