The coronavirus (COVID-19) is bringing with it a lot of fast-breaking, bad news for travelers and the travel industry.
Over the weekend, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines announced the temporary suspension of flights to Milan, Italy and United Airlines announced a temporary suspension of flights to Tokyo Narita, Osaka Singapore and Seoul.
And, because travelers are holding back on buying new plane tickets, on Sunday American Airlines announced it will join JetBlue and Alaska Airlines in offering a change fee waiver on new tickets purchased in the next two weeks.
The airline says using wipes to clean armrests and tray tables is fine, but they’re asking passengers not to use cleaning wipes on the leather seats because commercial wipes will deteriorate the top coat of leather.
“The wipe might look dirty, ” says Alaska, “but it’s actually the leather dye color that’s coming off.”
Bad news for travelers may keep coming for a while, so it was refreshing to have Saturday Night Live do this silly bit about traveling through New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
The all-access Club at MSY should open early next year and a United Airlines club lounge is promised in 2020.
Stuck at The Airport stopped into the Delta Sky Club during an opening day tour of the airport. We are delighted to report that in addition to all the features you’d expect in a lounge (comfortable seating and lots of outlets) the 2nd-floor lounge definitely celebrates the New Orleans vibe and culture.
The menu includes regionally inspired snack and meals, including oysters, gumbo and muffuletta sandwiches. Of course, the bar menu includes local beers and cocktails.
And all the artwork is by Louisiana artists.
Delta was kind enough to share images of the artwork. Here are a few more of our favorites.
Stay tuned for more details about the amenities at the new terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). Next up: all the food!
My story this week for CNBC online is all about the (possible) move to free Wi-Fi in the sky.
Who’s doing it? Should we have it? Will we have it? Give this story a read and let me know if you think we are indeed on our way to having free Wi-Fi in the sky:
It wasn’t all that long ago (2000 or 2006, depending how you measure) that being able to access the internet on an airplane was a pie-in-the-sky idea.
Once the technology became generally available and
airlines began equipping their planes with Wi-Fi service, passengers soon found
they couldn’t bear to fly without it.
In 2013, 66% of passengers surveyed by Honeywell Aerospace
said the availability of in-flight Wi-Fi would influence their flight
By 2018, Inmarsat’s
Inflight Connectivity Survey found that more than half (55%) of all airline
passengers considered inflight Wi-Fi to be a crucial amenity. And almost as
many (53%) said they’d be willing to forgo an alcoholic drink, tea, coffee, and
other in-flight amenities in exchange for Wi-Fi access.
price of staying connected in the sky
While free messaging is
available on Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines and on a variety of
international airlines, most all domestic airlines levy a charge for accessing
the internet for email, streaming and other purposes.
And the cost to
access that Wi-Fi varies. Sometimes widely.
Southwest Airlines charges $8 a day
for its Wi-Fi service, which prohibits access to Netflix and other
high-bandwidth applications. Gogo,
which provides inflight Wi-Fi to airlines such as United, Delta, Alaska and Air
Canada, sells a variety of buy-before-you-fly passes. Order ahead and you’ll
pay $7 for one hour of Wi-Fi access on domestic flights and $19 for 24 hours of
Wi-Fi access on domestic flights.
Wait until you’re
in the air to buy Wi-Fi access, though, and on most airlines the cost will be
How much higher?
“Prices will vary,” is all several airlines will tell you. And it is rare, if
ever, that purchasing an hour or a full day of Wi-Fi access is cheaper once
you’re up in the air.
But the tide on paid inflight Wi-Fi may be turning.
In 2016 JetBlue
became the first domestic airline to offer its Fly-Fi streaming-quality Wi-Fi service
free on all its planes.
Air Lines is taking its first steps towards offering free Wi-Fi
Atlanta-based carrier started a two-week pilot test on May 13 that includes
free Wi-Fi on around 55 domestic short, medium and long-haul flight segments a
accustomed to having access to free Wi-Fi during nearly every other aspect of
their journey, and Delta believes it should be free when flying, too,”
said Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Delta’s Director of Onboard Product, in
a statement, “Testing will be key to getting this highly complex program
right – this takes a lot more creativity, investment and planning to bring to
life than a simple flip of a switch.”
test flight segments change daily; passengers learn if they’re on a free Wi-Fi flight
from a pre-flight email or via a push notification from the Fly Delta app. Gate agents and flight attendants are also making
Only free ‘basic’
Wi-Fi is offered as part of the test, so passengers who need a more robust
service for streaming will have to purchase the paid service. Right now it costs
$16 for a North America Wi-Fi day-pass on Delta, if purchased pre-flight.
Is free in-flight Wi-Fi here to stay? And will
other carriers follow?
“It’s nice to see an
airline offering a desired amenity on a complimentary basis,” said travel
industry analyst and Atmosphere Research Group founder Henry Harteveldt, “But
I’m uncertain whether Delta will be able to increase its market share, customer
preference or revenue premium enough to warrant offering the free Wi-Fi.”
Other industry experts
expect Delta will continue down the full-time free Wi-Fi path, though, and that
other airlines will have no choice but to follow.
“Delta tends to go first with these kinds of
customer-friendly initiatives,” said Seth Kaplan, an
aviation journalist and author of the book “Glory Lost and Found: How
Delta Climbed from Despair to Dominance in the Post-9/11.” Kaplan said American
Airlines and United Airlines sometimes match Delta rather than lose customers, even if they’re reluctant
to do so. “But Delta’s move makes widespread free Wi-Fi much more likely than
it seemed until recently,” said Kaplan.
“Millennials and younger generations expect free Wi-Fi
access everywhere, especially when they are traveling,” said Kelly Soderlund, a
travel trends expert with Hipmunk, “Much like hotels, which have been successful in
leveraging consumer loyalty through free Wi-Fi, I would expect airlines to follow
suit and meet that demand.”
Airports across the country will be marking Mother’s Day with complimentary flowers, music and more.
Today between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the post-security Great Hall at Los Angeles International Airport, the Mother’s Day celebration will include a photo booth, complimentary wooden roses, and appearances by some of the pups from the Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUPs) program.
And, as they have for many years, this weekend volunteers at Florida’s Jacksonville International Airport will likely be handing out flowers to arriving moms and those waiting for their moms.
We’ll add more Mother’s Day activities as they roll in.
Delta Air Lines
rolling out free in-flight WiFI
Starting May 13, Delta Air Lines is kicking off a
much-welcome two-week pilot program to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi in all cabins
on 55 short, media and long-haul flights.
The carrier says this is the first step towards offering complimentary
Wi-Fi for everyone, all the time.
“Customers are accustomed to having access to free Wi-Fi during nearly every other aspect of their journey, and Delta believes it should be free when flying, too,” said Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Director of Onboard Product in a statement. “Testing will be key to getting this highly complex program right – this takes a lot more creativity, investment and planning to bring to life than a simple flip of a switch.”
Wi-Fi service won’t support content streaming, but will let passengers browse,
email, shop, message, and engage with social media for free.
Delta’s Wi-Fi for purchase
and free mobile messaging will remain available throughout the test.
Batik Story Quilts: Yoruba and Other Cultural Proverbs, displays Batik tapestry quilts made by artist Tunde Odulande.
The exhibit includes seven quilts:
“The Fairytale of the Blue Ghosts and Their Magical Spree,” Musicians Make Music While the Audience Makes Orchestration,” “Has Man Finally Arrived?,” “If you Don’t Know Where You Are Going, Any Road Will Do,” and “Our Heritage” are on display across from carousel 1 in the Terminal 1 Baggage Claim area.
“Sweet Mother” and “Mask of Peace” are on display near the A Concourse entrance. Batik Story Quilts: Yoruba and Other Cultural Proverbs is on display at STL through October 23, 2019