Airlines

Global airline execs on flight shaming, 737 Max return and more

Courtesy Korean Air

Your next flight – and flights you take in the future – will benefit from discussions and decisions made by top brass from the global air transport industry in Seoul, South Korea last weekend.

More than a thousand airline CEOs and industry leaders were on hand for the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). On the agenda was everything from climate change and “flight shaming” to the future of the beleaguered 737 MAX, congested skies, baggage tracking and a myriad of ways to improve the flying experience.

Also on the list: A downgrade for the industry trade group’s 2019 profit expectations.

“Although 2019 is expected to be the 10th consecutive year of airline profits,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO told the group, “Rising costs, trade wars and other uncertainties are likely to have an impact on the bottom line. The prolonged grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft is taking its toll. And aviation, like all industries, is under intensified scrutiny for its impact on climate change.”

In December 2018, IATA forecast a profit of $35.5 billion for the global air transport industry in 2019. The revised outlook  downgrades that forecast to $28 billion.

“Airlines will still turn a profit this year, but there is no easy money to be made,” said de Juniac.

Restoring public trust when Boeing’s 737 MAX back returns to the skies

In his air transport industry report, IATA’s de Juniac said the two recent Boeing 737 MAX crashes and the grounding of the aircraft have damaged the aviation industry’s reputation,

“Trust in the certification system has been damaged – among regulators, between regulators and the industry and with the flying public,” said de Juniac, who called for improved coordination in the industry.

“To be clear, I am not advocating for knee-jerk reactions. But governments and industry must find a way to maintain public confidence in safety with fast and coordinated responses,” he added.  

Estimates for when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will give the 737 MAX the green light to fly again range from this summer to the end of the year. But even airline CEOs that don’t have 737 MAX planes in their fleets worry about what may happen if one country’s regulatory agency lifts the ban before others decide to do so.

“I do indeed believe this is what we are facing,” said Carsten Spohr, chairman and chief executive of the Lufthansa Group, during a panel discussion of airline executives, “Probably we will see the MAX flying domestically in the U.S. first before we see if flying somewhere else. But this is a global industry and we need global trust. [It will be] difficult to explain to our global passengers that the aircraft is safe in some part of the world and supposedly not safe somewhere else.”

To try to avoid this scenario, later this month IATA will meet with representatives from Boeing, 737 MAX customers and regulators from the FAA and other countries, said Gilberto Lopez Meyer, IATA’s senior vice-president for safety and flight operations. 

Airlines continue to combat carbon emissions

Climate change, and what airlines can and are doing to reduce and offset carbon emissions, is gaining more attention as global air travel is set to increase significantly and as the “flight shaming” anti-flying movement that started in Sweden starts to spread. 

In 2017, private and commercial aviation created about 859 million tons of CO2, or about 2% of all man-made carbon emissions, according to IATA.

To reduce emissions as air traffic increases, the industry has agreed to a wide variety of standards, mitigation measures and targets. And, at its meeting in Seoul, IATA members passed a resolution calling on governments to implement a global plan calling for carbon-neutral growth as of 2020 and a 50% reduction in the industry’s net CO2 emissions by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.

Fuel efficient airplanes, improvements in air traffic management and increased use of biofuels are among the tools helping the aviation industry reach reduced carbon emission goals and carbon offset programs are in the toolbox. But, while passengers tell IATA they support voluntary offset programs and more than 40 of the group’s member airlines offer them, IATA has found that take-up rates are low.

In fact, few hands were raised when a room full of airline executives were asked if they’d purchased carbon offsets for their own flights to the meeting in Seoul.

Airline industry’s to-do list:

Looking ahead, IATA member airlines, which represent more than 80 percent of all global air traffic, passed several other resolutions that could have a real impact on your travel experience.

One commits airlines to move forward with plans for using bar-coded baggage tags with radio-frequency identification (RFID) inlays, which can help keep checked luggage from going astray.

Another focuses airline attention on improving the air travel experience for people living with disabilities.

Celebrating route launches to London, Paris, Hong Kong and other cool places

Airports and airlines around the country hosted celebrations on Sunday for the launch of several new routes.

Dallas-Fort Worth International celebrated the inaugural Air France flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle.

The flight will operate up to five time a week on the Airbus A330 aircraft.

At Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the party was to welcome American Airlines’ first nonstop flight to Phoenix from London.

In Washington State, United Airlines began flying daily nonstops between Paine Field (PAE) in Everett and both San Francisco and Denver.

And on Sunday, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) celebrated two new routes.

Japan Airline (JAL) started flying from SEA to Tokyo’s Narita Airport and Cathay Pacific began flying between SEA and Hong Kong.

The festivities for Cathay’s Pacific flight included a Lion Dance, a special cake and the ceremonial cutting of a roast pig, which is a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

Free stuff from airlines? Look for it on the ground

Courtesy UW Digital Collections

Don’t throw out – or delete – your airline boarding pass once you tough down.

Here’s a story I recently put together for CNBC about all the hidden perks airline – and railroad – boarding passes can provide.

Bonuses for air travelers include everything from free ski lift tickets, to complimentary wine tastings and discounts on meals, ground transportation and adventures.

Some of the deals below are offered for limited times or only during certain seasons. Others can be used multiple times. Read the program details and, of course, don’t be too quick to delete your boarding pass image from your phone or crumple up that paper pass after your trip.

Ski free

Skiers can score a free lift ticket and, in some cases, free or discounted gear rental by showing an Alaska Airlines boarding pass at a dozen ski resorts in Alaska, California, Canada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Utah. Most of the deals invite travelers to hit the slopes on the days they arrive or depart and can represent a savings of up to $200.

At some resorts, such as Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows in North Lake Tahoe, California, guests who show a same-day boarding pass from any commercial airline receive a complimentary lift ticket for the day they arrive.

Sip and ship wine for free

In Oregon, Washington, Idaho and parts of California, an Alaska Airlines boarding pass is a win-win for fans of wine.

Through the airline’s “Wine Flies Free” program, members of the airline’s Mileage Plan frequent flyer plan may check a case (12 bottles) of wine for free when flying domestically on Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air and SkyWest flights from 29 west coast cities, including San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Boise, ID.

In the wine regions of both Oregon and Washington, hundreds of participating wineries also offer complimentary tastings to anyone showing an in-bound Alaska Airlines boarding pass and proof of Mileage Plan membership.

And as part of Washington’s Taste and Tote program with Alaska, the drop-off fee will be waived for one-way Hertz rental cars picked up in Yakima, Pasco/Tri-Cities or Walla Walla and returned at one of the other two cities in the program.

Boarding pass deals from international carriers

Turkish Airlines passengers with layovers of between six and 24 hours in Istanbul can show their boarding passes at the Hotel Desk and join a free highlight tour of the city.

Korean Air’s Excellent Boarding Pass program offers a full week of perks in Korea to passengers who hold onto their international boarding pass from an overseas region. Passengers traveling from Korea to an international destination can take advantage of boarding pass offers for a full month.

In Korea, the perks include discounts on everything from meals, attractions and cultural performances to cell phone rentals, rail tickets and medical services. Worldwide, the perks range from discounts at outlet malls in the United States and 30 percent off single visits to the aquarium, zoo and other attractions in Sydney, Australia. 

Singapore Airlines’ Boarding Pass Privileges program offers Singapore Airlines and SilkAir passengers a full month of discounts on hotel stays, car rentals, meals, purchases and attractions, including the Gardens by Bay, the Singapore Flyer, and the Singapore Zoo. Deals are updated every six months and include discounts on shopping, dining and spa services inside Changi Airport as well.

The Magic Boarding Pass program from Asiana Airlines offers passengers discounts on tours, transportation, hotels, restaurants, shopping, theater and attractions around the world for up to a month after a flight. In Korea, the perks include discounts at Seoul’s Lotte World Aquarium and JeJu’s Teddy Bear Museum. In the U.S., Asiana Airlines passengers get a discount when riding the Hawaii’s Waikiki Trolley. And in Rome, pass holders gets a free gift with purchase at the Hard Rock Café.

Train travelers get boarding pass perks too

The boarding pass perks aren’t limited to air travelers. Amtrak and Eurostar riders get bonuses too.

In California, Amtrak has a discount offer on Disneyland Resort theme park tickets for passengers with reservations on the Pacific Surfliner. Many transit providers along the route also provide free bus or shuttle rides to passengers who show their Pacific Surfliner ticket. Train passengers may also purchase discounted day passes for the Los Angeles Metro and San Diego MTS buses and trolleys in the Surfliner’s Café Car.

A “Car Free” promotion in Santa Barbara  offers discounts on tours, attractions and meals to Amtrak ticket holders as well.

And Eurostar boarding passes entitle passengers to 2-for-1 tickets on entry and special paid exhibitions at museums in destination cities including London, Brussels, Paris and Lille, France.

Have you found a hidden perk in your boarding pass? Let us know!

Airlines offering change fee waivers due to wildfires

Airlines are offering change fee waivers and refunds in response to the California wildfires.

Some airlines are also helping out with emergency relief efforts for those affected by the fires.

See the links and tweets below for specific dates and details of the alerts airlines have posted.

 

Wildfires seen from space. Courtesy NASA

American Airlines  – The travel alert posted on November 11 offers change fee waivers for passengers booked travel to, through or from Burbank, California (BUR), Los Angeles, California (LAX), Oakland, California (OAK), Sacramento, California (SMF) and San Francisco, California (SFO) through November 13, 2018. Waiver is available for rebooked flights through November 18, 2018.

American will also give you 10 miles for every dollar you donate to the American Red Cross on donations of $25 or more.

Here’s the latest information from Hawaiian Airlines:

JetBlue is offering to waive change/cancel fees and fare differences for customers traveling through Tuesday, November 12, to/from the Burbank (BUR), Los Angeles (LAX), Oakland (OAK), Sacramento (SMF) and San Francisco (SFO).

The wildfire travel advisory for Southwest Airlines currently applies to flights booked through November 16 to, through or from Burbank (BUR), Los Angeles (LAX), Oakland (OAK), Sacramento (SMF), San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose (SJC).

“Customers who are holding reservations on the abovementioned dates, and want to alter their travel plans may rebook in the original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with our accommodation procedures) without paying any additional charge,” Southwest says on its website.

Here’s the most recent information on wildfire waivers from United Airlines:

Airlines are likely to update their policies regarding waivers and refunds as the fires continue.

If you’ve got travel planned to or through California, be sure to check your airline’s website or social media channels for the latest information.

And stay safe!

Airlines offer change fee waivers as Hurricane Michael roars in

 

 

 

Many airlines are offering waivers on change fees for passengers with booked flights to, through or from cities likely to be hit by Hurricane Michael.

Full refunds are available from some carriers as well.

 

This Weather Channel map should travelers make many travelers sit up and take notice.  Airlines certainly are.

Here’s a link to travel advisories from American Airlines and JetBlue and Tweets from some other airlines that have issued weather alerts.

If you’re getting on a plane soon, check with your airline for cancellations and complimentary changes you might be allowed to (or need to) make as this storm does its thing.