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Everything posted by exAC

  1. There are many aspects of Rouge costs that are Ultra. The pilots are paid less than mainline and a 767 driver is possibly on par with a WestJet 737 driver The 767 on Caribbean routes will have seat costs well below most other LCC's just because there are so many seats If the A319's come with bulked up seating they will be on par or less per seat cost than an EasyJet flight These crews will operate on longer duty days than mainline and everything will be YYZ start and stop
  2. On Friday, the Internet erupted in fury over Congress’s vote to reverse the automatic cuts that were causing air-traffic controllers to be furloughed, delaying hundreds of flights—see, for instance, Josh Barro at Bloomberg View or Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo. Critics pointed out that it was appalling for Congress to undo the sequester cuts that inconvenienced travelers while leaving in place the cuts to such programs as Head Start and Meals on Wheels that affect tens of thousands of poor people, many of them children and seniors. The obvious conclusion is that Congress cares much more about the problems of rich air travelers (who are regular voters) and will act quickly to solve them. This criticism is entirely valid and correct—but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. The group that Congress is helping the most by lifting the FAA sequester isn’t business flyers. No, lawmakers are helping themselves. There is no more pampered class of air traveler than members of Congress. At Washington’s Reagan National Airport, they have their own special parking spaces—right up close to the terminal—that they don’t even have to pay for. As Bloomberg Television’s Hans Nichols reports, this perk costs the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority $738,760 in foregone revenue. (The best part of this clip, though, is seeing Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky haul ass to get away from Bloomberg’s cameraman.) Being a member of Congress also means never having to rush to catch a flight. The airlines allow lawmakers the special privilege of simultaneously booking themselves on multiple flights, so that if they are late or their flight is canceled, they’re guaranteed a spot on the next one. A few years ago, a prominent senator paused in the middle of a conversation with me to bark at an aide, “Book me on the 6, 7, and 8 p.m. shuttles!” To members of our fly-in-Tuesday-fly-home-Thursday Congress, these perks are a big deal. Most fly a lot, and many fly first class. They don’t just jet home to their districts. Sometimes, they’re jetting around the world at taxpayer expense ($23,646, to be specific), as Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas did in February. Or to a golf junket in Scotland with their lobbyist pal. Or for a nude, drunken dip in the Sea of Galilee. The point is, Congress’s decision to lift the sequester was even more self-serving than you probably imagined. After casting their votes on Friday, most members raced to the airport and went home. Green is senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek in Washington. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaGreen.
  3. Fraport AG, the operator of Europe’s third-largest airport, said it will start operating a third passenger terminal about 3 years later than previously planned as demand for air traffic slows. Construction of the new Frankfurt terminal will start in 2015, as the operator will only need it from about 2020, the company said today. Passenger growth will be unchanged this year and remain “weak” in 2014, Fraport said, paring an earlier forecast for higher passenger numbers next year. Chief Executive Officer Stefan Schulte made the comments in an interview with Bild newspaper, and spokesman Christopher Holschier confirmed his remarks. Airport operators in Europe are suffering from airlines adding capacity at a slower pace as they drop unprofitable routes and aim for higher load factors of their planes in a push to restore profitability. Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA), which uses Frankfurt as its main hub, said on May 2 that it will add less capacity on long-haul flights than previously planned, while reducing short-haul services. Lufthansa operated 6.2 percent fewer flights at its passenger airline business in the four months through April, contributing to a 4.8 percent decline of aircraft movements in Frankfurt. At Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris, movements were down 3.4 percent in the same period, while Heathrow, Europe’s biggest hub, had 2.9 percent fewer movements in the period. Additional Spend Construction of the first phase of the terminal will cost about 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion), Fraport today said. The company earlier had estimated the cost to be about 1 billion euros, with an additional 500 million euros to be spend on infrastructure connecting the terminal to existing buildings and highways, parking facilities and apron areas. Fraport earlier had said inauguration of the new terminal was planned for 2016 or 2017, while construction would start after all individual construction stages had been tendered by the middle of 2013. “The timing of Terminal 3 is strictly driven by demand capacity,” Schulte said on a conference call with analysts on May 8. “We still have around 10 million spare passenger capacity in Frankfurt, so there is no need to start now. We start with construction only when the demand is projected to come. Our philosophy is better to have Terminal 3 too late than too early.” Frankfurt handled 57.5 million passengers last year, behind Charles de Gaulle with 61.6 million and Heathrow at 69.9 million. To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Weiss in Frankfurt at rweiss5@bloomberg.net
  4. CTV Edmonton did a report: http://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/all-inclusive-first-class-lounge-opens-at-edmonton-international-airport-1.1285406
  5. ITA discontinues airline reservations system By Jerry Limone ITA Software, a Google subsidiary, said it will no longer pursue clients for its airline passenger services system. Passenger services systems include the technology needed to run an airline, including reservations. Cape Air is ITA’s lone customer for the passenger services system, and ITA said it would “continue to work with them under our agreement.” With the discontinuation of the passenger services system, ITA said it can focus on its other products, including Google Flight Search and its airfare pricing/shopping engine This is too bad as ITA put out a new an innovative product. They just could not integrate it into complex airline systems.
  6. Four-in-ten 'never redeem air miles' Published: 14/05/2013 - Filed under: News » . Forty per cent of people who collect air miles have never tried to redeem them, according to new research. And 60 per cent complain that it takes too long to collect sufficient points to gain anything of value, said a survey by incremental revenue experts Collinson Latitude. The potential for free flights and saving money were cited as the most popular motivations for collecting air miles. While almost half of UK residents flew at least once last year, only 23 per cent said they collected airline loyalty points. Seventy per cent of scheme members said that making rewards more accessible would encourage them to collect, while 60 per cent wanted to use their points for other travel services. Sixty-two per cent said that being able to use their points to purchase goods such as electrical items or travel accessories would act as an incentive, while the ability to top up rewards with cash to buy goods was popular with 63 per cent of those who collected points. James Berry, product director for Collinson Latitude, said: “This study doesn’t paint a particularly pretty picture of many airline loyalty programmes. While there is clearly desire among consumers to collect these points, the way in which the loyalty programmes are being managed is throwing up barriers. "Rewards seem to be beyond reach or are simply not attractive enough. Consumers are also being frustrated when they attempt to redeem their rewards by a lack of availability of flights. “On a positive note, consumers are throwing the airlines a lifeline by highlighting ways in which these programmes can be improved. What’s important is for airlines to listen to the messages coming from their customers and take action.” The study of 1,005 UK residents was conducted for Collinson Latitude by independent research company Aurora in late 2012. To discuss this and other topics, visit our forum. Report by Graham Smith Notice that the question was not asked "Does the loyalty program determine your selection of airline".
  7. That is the core of the problem. Summer is a busy period for them for people exiting the region trying to escape the heat. Ramadan is a busy period for them for people entering the region trying to be with family and the holy sites. Which will prevail?
  8. The interesting factor about Easter is that in the Winter for a primarily leisure airline like WestJet you can get the opposite result. More demand for southern flying in March which bumps up the results and brings down the April results. The most interesting calendarization effect occurs with the Arabic carriers where Ramadan changes by 11 days every year.
  9. To all of those who poo-poo the Air Canada Q1 results: Lufthansa Group reports (13-May-2013) the following traffic highlights in Apr-2013: •Passenger numbers: 8.6 million, -2.0% year-on-year; ◦Lufthansa Passenger Airlines*: 6.2 million, -1.4%; ◦SWISS**: 1.4 million, -1.4%; ◦Austrian Airlines: 922,000, -6.4%; •Passenger load factor: 78.3%, -0.2 ppt; ◦Lufthansa Passenger Airlines: 77.0%, -0.5 ppt; ◦SWISS: 84.6%, +1.1 ppts; ◦Austrian Airlines: 76.3%, -0.5 ppt. [more – original PR] *Includes LH regional airlines and Germanwings **Includes Edelweiss Air Lufthansa Group: “Capacity, sales and load factor of the Passenger Airlines Group were virtually unchanged versus previous year in the month of April. The pricing developed positively, while it has been down year-on-year in March. March saw a higher share of leisure travel and April a higher share of business travel as the Easter holiday break fell entirely into March this year.” Source: Company statement, 13-May-2013.
  10. I said they BARELY make 100,000 (so maybe 120,000 is the bottom figure) as cash salary. The annual report only contains information on the top 5 paid VP's (or executive VP's as they are called). There is no information on what the rest of them are paid. Also, less than half of what is reported by people as compensation comes as cash. The rest comes as fairy-tale-stock-options and other incentives. Those employees are lucky to see 1/10 of the remaining 'compensation'.
  11. The title means nothing. There are VP's at Air Canada that barely make $100,000 a year, while at the same time 95 of the top 100 paid people at Air Canada are pilots. When I left 12 years ago I got a pay rise for what amounted to a new part-time job at another company. The middle management that you talk about is highly underpaid.
  12. FAA budget issue might obscure more weighty air industry factors By Danny King Last month’s agreement by Congress to reverse FAA staff furloughs stemming from the federal budget sequester might have done far more to allay political constituents than to make things better for U.S. airline passengers as the country enters the peak summer travel season. In fact, at least one study suggests the furloughs actually had little impact on airline performance. Moreover, it suggests that the April 26 bill passed by the House of Representatives to eliminate FAA furloughs might have served to mask inefficiencies in a bloated air traffic control system and a consolidating airline industry that has been continuously reducing its labor force to regain lost profits. The FAA, along with aviation industry members and some travel advocates, trumpeted the bill as a shield against increased flight delays and cancellations. For the four days ended April 24, the FAA attributed almost 3,500 of the nearly 7,900 flight delays to the furloughs, which led United Continental Holdings CEO Jeff Smisek to call the FAA “irresponsible.” Katie Connell, spokeswoman for the trade group Airlines for America, said, “Bringing a halt to the furloughs was truly a win for our customers and for the U.S. economy. We don’t think [the furloughs] ever should have happened.” However, other reports suggest that the FAA furloughs served primarily as fodder for political grandstanding. “We’re the only developed country in the world that would have a sequestration program that impacts air traffic control,” said Washington-based airline analyst Vaughn Cordle, partner at Ionosphere Capital. “We’re the only country that hasn’t depoliticized this.” Indeed, for the one week during which the furloughs were in place, 79% of flights serving the largest 36 U.S. airports were on time. According to research firm FlightStats, that was identical to the on-time percentage for the two months leading up to the first day of furloughs. FlightStats’ earlier numbers are consistent with data from the Transportation Department (DOT), which late last month reported that 80% of flights within the U.S. were on time in February, the most recent month tracked by the DOT. Either way, the resolution, which enabled the FAA to return to normal operations on April 28, might do little to prevent non-weather-related delays caused by the combination of an antiquated air traffic control system and an airline industry binging on staffing cuts. With little capital available to invest in the latest air traffic control technologies, the FAA is spending more to process fewer — albeit fuller — flights, furloughs notwithstanding. Between airline consolidation, the after-effects of the recession and the shrinking inventory of smaller regional flight routes, the number of annual domestic and international flights in the U.S. fell 12% between 2007 and 2012, to 9.8 million flights, according to the DOT. Yet the annual FAA budget rose 6.7% between fiscal years 2008 and 2012, to $15.9 billion. “It’s a bloated, inefficient system,” said Cordle, a proponent of privatizing air traffic control services. “Clearly, the system isn’t paying for itself.” Meanwhile, the aviation industry has been going in the opposite direction, reducing staffing as the number of passengers continues to rebound. U.S. airlines employed about 380,000 workers in February, down 2.5% from a year earlier, the DOT said last month. February marked the sixth consecutive month of year-over-year employment declines in the industry. At the same time, air travel continues to grow. U.S. airlines flew 55.3 million passengers in January, up 1.5% from a year earlier, the DOT said last month, citing a separate study. Last year, the number of passengers on U.S. airlines and foreign airlines serving the U.S. rose 1.3%, to 815.3 million. At least some airline staffing cuts can be attributed to increased efficiencies, according to Scott Hamilton of Seattle-based aerospace consultant Leeham Co. “Airlines have been investing in check-in kiosks, Internet technology and operations technology for years, which improve efficiency,” he said. “One can hardly say that about the FAA. It’s always ‘tomorrow’ for them.” While the focus of the industry’s attention was the furloughs of the FAA’s 47,000 workers for at least 10% of their workdays, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials have maintained that sequester-related budget cuts will not impact airport-customs staffing. That didn’t stop the airline industry from taking a shot at the TSA. “Customs lines at our own U.S. airports have been and remain an ongoing issue for our customers who are traveling into the U.S. from around the world,” said Connell of Airlines for America. “They continue to wait in exceedingly long and completely unacceptable customs lines at many of our U.S. airports.” In the meantime, sequestration, which is estimated to save the federal government $85 billion a year, has forced the Smithsonian Institution to shutter some exhibit areas, while the capital’s U.S. National Arboretum instituted grounds closures. The National Parks Service will keep its shorter winter-staffing hours through summer, close some of its campgrounds and suspend two annual military celebrations. New York’s Fleet Week and Los Angeles’ Navy Days, which take place each May and August, respectively, have been canceled for this year, while San Francisco’s Fleet Week festivities, which take place each fall, will be substantially scaled back with the cancellation of the Navy Blue Angels air show. Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.
  13. Anything is possible. The one constant is that the participants are always arguing with each other about what costs are included and at what amount. It keeps a few people busy everyday.
  14. YEG-EWR-Europe is all part of the joint production between AC and UA Profits are shared so AC could not care less that you are flying this route.
  15. More than a few times I have been stunned when being told what some airline people have deemed to be logical.
  16. Airlines have gone too far in their increases of J fares. While still flogging economy fares to the bottom feeders at 1/10 the price of a J fare.
  17. Taiwan's EVA Airways is set to formally join the Star Alliance network next month, with June 18th tipped for the official ceremony in Taipei. EVA's entry into the world's largest airline alliance will bring with it reciprocal point sharing through EVA's Evergreen Club and the frequent flyer schemes of other Star members such as Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and United, along with reciprocal access to airport lounges and other standard alliance perks. Read: Frequent flyer basics: Star Alliance elite tiers & benefits EVA is Taiwan's second-largest carrier behind China Airlines, which last year signed up with the SkyTeam alliance. The airline counts Brisbane as its sole Australian port, with twice-weekly flights between Brisbane and Taipei. In March this year Qantas ended its codeshare agreement with EVA Air, saying that it would "continue to offer a range of fare products servicing the Australia/Taipei market via Hong Kong and Shanghai, connecting with Cathay Pacific and DragonAir."
  18. Not all business classes are created equally – but you might be astounded at just how unequal their pricing can be Want to fly from Sydney to Singapore but can't bear being squeezed into economy? Based on a booking for the end of May, business class on Qantas will set you back $5327 one-way. Singapore Airlines comes in at $3087. But there's a third airline offering business class on the same route and the same day for just $649. Advertisement That airline is Scoot, the recently-launched low-cost offshoot of Singapore Airlines. And Scoot's not alone in undercutting the big brands for business class. On the Melbourne-Singapore route, Qantas faces competition from Jetstar with a tempting $699 ticket in business class. In both those cases, their one-way business class prices turn out to be lower than the economy fares of Qantas and Singapore Airlines. Malaysia's AirAsia X offers a similarly cut-price Premium cabin against Malaysia Airlines' business class on flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to Kuala Lumpur – and further on to Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul, as long as you don't mind a stop-over in KL. The high cost of doing business Of course, stacking up any of those low-cost carriers to their full-service counterparts is like comparing apples to oranges. All that the cheapies and the big brands have in common is that they'll get you from A to B in roughly the same amount of time. But for some people, that's enough – and with savings of more than $9000 for a return ticket (using our Sydney-Singapore example), the other differences between those airlines can become difficult to justify. Yet those differences are many, in both quality and quantity. On the ground, business class fares on most low-cost airlines don't include access to airport lounges, even those who are siblings of full-service carriers such as Qantas or SIngapore Airlines. The same goes for frequent flyer points. The reason is simple: low-cost carriers eschew airport lounges and frequent flyer schemes, preferring to compete on prices rather than perks. (That said, for an extra $200 each way, Jetstar's Business Max fares will give you access to Qantas lounges along with earning Qantas Frequent Flyer points and status credits.) The meals served free in a low-cost business class cabin are drawn from the same "buy on board" menu that is available to economy passengers. So while they'll fill your stomach, there's no way they can come close to the in-flight dining of a full service airline. Don't expect anything fancy in the way of wines, either. However, the business class seats of international low-cost airlines aren't nearly as bad as you might expect. Scoot and Jetstar favour recliners that are akin to business class of a decade ago, but Air Asia X's angled flat bed isn't too far from what some full service airlines are still flying. (Note that an angled flat bed isn't the same as a fully lie-flat bed: the surface itself is flat but you sleep at an angle to the floor rather than being completely horizontal.) A good recliner is comfortable enough for a daytime flight, although less so for any overnight return leg. Jetstar in the ascendancy While people associate Scoot, Jetstar, Air Asia X and other low-cost carriers with "cheap seats" for holiday-makers, they also stand to take a bite out of business travel – especially for the self-employed, who can't justify blowing several thousand dollars on one flight. According to Jetstar, its business class cabins carry a healthy mix of leisure, small business and corporate travellers. "The proportion of business class bookings made through corporate travel agents is substantially higher than is the case for economy fares," a Jetstar spokesman says. "We're seeing that the price of our business class fares suit companies with 'best fare on the day' policies. Jetstar can offer passengers a more comfortable travelling experience in our business cabin whilst also delivering substantial cost savings." Jetstar's success has seen the airline catapult into new markets, with Jetstar Asia based in Singapore and Jetstar Hong Kong due to launch by year's end. It's also no accident that several low-cost airlines are buying new aircraft such as Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, where greater fuel efficiency and longer periods between major maintenance will drastically reduce the running cost compared to older aircraft. It's Jetstar, not Qantas, which is in line to receive Australia's first Boeing 787 in the second half of this year, with 13 more to follow. Scoot, the cut-price offshoot of Singapore Airlines, has 20 Boeing 787s on the order books. UK holiday airline Thompson has eight 787s more. And while low-cost airlines invest to keep ticket prices nailed down, other airlines are bulking up their business class offerings to add depth to the overall experience. Qantas has recently joined Emirates and Etihad in adding a door-to-door chauffeur service, amping up its business class menu and providing mattresses and duvets to help ensure a better sleep on red-eye flights. When it comes to business class, how much is too much? Would you rather pay less for your ticket by forgoing some of the perks – and if so, which ones? David Flynn is a business travel expert and editor of Australian Business Traveller.
  19. Craving Wi-Fi, Preferably Free and Really Fast By SUSAN STELLIN Published: April 30, 2013 TRAVELERS hitting the road with their mobile electronic devices have three questions about staying connected away from home: will there be Wi-Fi, how much will it cost and how well will it work? Marty Katz for The New York Times Southwest Airlines has adopted an $8 charge for a daylong Wi-Fi pass. Increasingly, it is that last question that matters most. Hotels, airports and airlines are struggling to keep up with customers streaming movies on their tablets and hosting online meetings on their laptops, with varying degrees of success. While hoteliers and airport authorities have been fighting the bandwidth battle for years, airlines are still installing Wi-Fi on many aircraft and are already confronting challenges. Travelers who want Wi-Fi in the air cannot always tell if a plane will have Internet service when they book their tickets. Prices for service are still evolving, and the quality of the connection does not come close to matching what most people are used to on the ground. “No matter what the system is, none of them right now are showing the ability to keep up with passenger demand,” said Mary Kirby, editor in chief of Airline Passenger Experience magazine. “I’ve heard complaints about every single system.” Acknowledging the technical hurdles involved in delivering Internet service to a plane traveling 500 miles an hour, Ms. Kirby said airlines and their connectivity partners needed to better manage passenger expectations. “It’s time for the industry to say, ‘Here’s reasonably what you can expect, and it’s not an at-home experience,’ ” she said. “A passenger should expect to be able to use social media and check e-mail. But you’re not going to be able to send e-mails with really big files, and you’re not going to be able to stream video.” A new Web site, Routehappy.com, is helping travelers find out if a flight has Wi-Fi — information many airlines do not reveal until after a ticket is booked. Routehappy lets travelers search for flights on a particular route, like New York to San Francisco, then sort the results based on various “happiness factors,” including whether the flight offers Wi-Fi. For a weekday in mid-April, Routehappy calculated that 24 percent of domestic flights offered Wi-Fi, 56 percent did not and 20 percent might. John Walton, Routehappy’s director of data, says the “maybe” category reflects the fact that airlines are busy installing this technology, so it is not always possible to determine weeks in advance if a flight will have it or how well it will work. “You never know how many other people are going to be using Wi-Fi at the same time,” Mr. Walton said. Airlines and Wi-Fi providers say typical demand is 5 to 10 percent of passengers, but use is often higher on longer flights. On Virgin America, which offers Wi-Fi on all its planes, 20 percent of passengers typically log on, said Abby Lunardini, a company spokeswoman, and more than a third use Wi-Fi on transcontinental routes. Most carriers use an air-to-ground system provided by Gogo, which relies on a network of ground-based cellular towers to communicate with aircraft flying across the United States. Gogo’s system can deliver Internet speeds of 3.1 to 9.8 megabits per second, usually much slower than a typical home connection. Looking to address these speed limitations, Gogo and other Wi-Fi providers are moving toward satellite-based systems capable of delivering faster Internet service. Satellite systems also work over the ocean, enabling carriers to offer Wi-Fi on international flights. American Airlines has international Wi-Fi on its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which fly between Dallas or New York and London, and between New York and São Paulo, Brazil. United Airlines also offers Wi-Fi service on some international flights but does not specify which routes. Delta is considered a leader on the Wi-Fi front in the United States, providing Internet service on more than 800 aircraft, including many regional jets. American has about 450 Wi-Fi-equipped planes, Southwest Airlines more than 400 and United 50. JetBlue plans to introduce a satellite-based Internet service this year, promising faster speeds than its competitors offer — and at least basic Wi-Fi free. The cost of in-flight Wi-Fi is still all over the map, as carriers figure out what customers are willing to pay. Southwest has taken a simple approach, charging $8 for a daylong Wi-Fi pass; other airlines charge fees based on the length of the flight, the connection time and the device. It can cost just $2 to connect with a smartphone for 30 minutes, or $4.95 to $21.95 a flight for a laptop. But some fliers simply will not pay to log on. “What we’re seeing is a reluctance to pay,” said Ms. Kirby of Airline Passenger Experience magazine, “which is quite fascinating because these systems cost a lot of money on aircraft.” Airports and hotels are confronting a similar situation. Of the 10 busiest airports in the United States, those in Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Charlotte, N.C., offer at least some free Wi-Fi service. But the trade-off can be overloaded networks that frustrate passengers, which is why Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — the busiest in the United States — is upgrading its infrastructure before switching to free Wi-Fi this year. “Our system wasn’t built to accommodate the number of customers we expect to have with the free Wi-Fi,” said Myrna White, a spokeswoman for the airport, which dropped its Wi-Fi fee to $4.95 a day last fall. Recognizing the challenge airports and other public locations face, the Federal Communications Commission is working to increase the amount of unlicensed spectrum available for Wi-Fi, which is how passengers at a busy terminal connect to the airport’s broadband service. “What we have proposed is to provide more space on the airwaves to accommodate the growth of Wi-Fi,” said Julius P. Knapp, chief of the F.C.C.’s office of engineering and technology. “That translates to faster data speeds and reduced congestion.” Free Wi-Fi, at least for basic Internet service, is also becoming the norm at hotels, particularly at less expensive ones. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, 23 percent of hotels in the United States charge for in-room Internet access. This week, the hospitality site HotelChatter.com released its annual Wi-Fi report, finding that two-thirds of hotels offered free Internet access, at least in the lobby. Luxury hotels are still more likely to charge than midrange or budget hotels. Mark G. Johnson, HotelChatter’s founder, said guests’ top complaints were hotels that charged a separate Internet fee for each device, like a tablet and a laptop, and those that offered inadequate support when the network was having problems. “What I’m hearing more is that people at the front desk almost throw their hands in the air,” Mr. Johnson said. “They may give you back your money, but they can’t help you.” Some travelers bring their own backup Wi-Fi, in case the hotel’s Internet service is spotty. David J. Danto, a consultant with Dimension Data, says he travels with a portable MiFi hot spot from Sprint, which he uses if a hotel’s Wi-Fi service is slow. Although he says he does not mind paying for Wi-Fi if it works well, he has little patience for hotels that blame network outages on high demand. “If everybody flushes the toilet at the same time, you wouldn’t want the building to come down,” Mr. Danto said. “I’m not sure why they wouldn’t design the Internet service the same way.”
  20. DANA POINT, Calif. — A seismic shift in who is buying luxury and what they’re looking for has recently occurred, and marketers of high-end goods and services were recently put on notice that last year’s assumptions are decidedly wrong, and last month’s may be suspect. Speaker after speaker at the American Express Publishing Luxury Summit, held here at the St. Regis Monarch Beach, underscored how an emerging class of relatively youthful, internationally minded, nouveau riche are roaming the world spending money and redefining service expectations. “They look so casual, walking around a hotel in a swimsuit, but when they want service, they want it delivered flawlessly,” said John Vanderslice, global head of luxury and lifestyle brands for Hilton Worldwide. “They don’t want four people standing around them, waiting to pick up their handkerchief should they drop it. They want service on their terms.” Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen said the Ritz-Carlton ethos of “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen may be a credo for the ages, but it’s sure not for today.” Starwood’s St. Regis, W and Luxury Collection brands compete with Ritz-Carlton. Being among the elite “used to mean being in the know,” van Paasschen said. “Today, it’s knowing what to know. Who decides that? I don’t think we’re the arbiters anymore.” For the younger, wealthy consumer, what defines luxury is more diverse and personal, but the emerging luxury consumer exists side by side with more traditionally minded upper-upscale travelers. As a result, hoteliers like Starwood are offering different luxury experiences across several brands. “Other categories have known this for a long time,” van Paasschen said. A “luxury car” may be as different as a Ferrari, Rolls-Royce or BMW. The luxury fashion-beverage house LVMH has 60 brands, from Louis Vuitton to Donna Karan and from Dom Perignon to Hennessy. Hilton’s Vanderslice, who is responsible for the Waldorf-Astoria and Conrad brands, sees technology as the way to both differentiate his brands and ensure that they’re serving a variety of luxury travelers in exactly the way they want to be served. AmExLuxSummit-vanPaasschen “Luxury hotels have known how to deal with VIPs for a long time, and technology can democratize it so that every person in the hotel is a VIP,” he said. After making a reservation at his brands, he said, “you’ll get an email from a concierge who is ready to help, with a cellphone number and an email address.” “But we’ve also launched an app, Conrad Concierge,” he said. “It’s a service delivery system, hooked into our back-end systems. Using it, guests can book a wake-up call five days in advance, as well as let the property know when they want their coffee delivered each morning, or make sure that the valet is ready to pick up their clothes for pressing right after they check in.” The app is available in eight languages, which he said was important because picking up the phone and ordering room service can be daunting for someone who doesn’t know the local language. He also asserted that automated check-in is about to take another leap: “Pretty soon, you’ll be able to check in at the airport when you land and get a keycard from a kiosk at the airport.” When a hotel knows your preferences, technology also enables it to be shared across the world within a hospitality company, van Paasschen said. In a combination of high-tech/high-touch, Starwood identified its 30,000 best customers and assigned each of them an ambassador who will reach out to them after a reservation is made to find out the nature of the trip — board meeting, wedding or perhaps vacation — so the property can be prepared to provide appropriate service. Two years ago, van Paasschen famously moved his executive team to Shanghai for a month, and at the time he spoke here, he had just returned from a similar month with his managers in Dubai. “You remember ‘management by walking around’?” he said. “Now it’s ‘management by flying around.’” Businesses can no longer set five-year plans and view growth as national vs. foreign, he said. AmExLuxSummit-Panel “No matter how smart you are, you can’t predict what’s coming next,” van Paasschen said. “Agility is the new smart. And managing all the complexity is more than a single person can do. As leaders, you have to accept that someone in the room other than you, and probably younger than you, is the expert. “And don’t focus on headlines,” he admonished the audience. “Focus on trendlines.” To give a sense of how quickly the world is changing, van Paasschen predicted that “more highways, airports, office buildings and hotels will be built in the next 12 years” than have been built in all of history until now. He said Dubai currently has the second-most Starwood properties (after New York) and, indicating that he was not just looking east, he called Brazil “one of the most under-hoteled countries in the world.” Much of what the two hoteliers focused on defined travelers from outside the U.S. CNBC wealth editor Robert Frank helped define the new American wealthy consumer, saying that “new new money comes from energy: fracking, oil and gas. And it’s coming from the heartland. They’re not buying Ferraris. Their idea of a luxury purchase is a $300,000 John Deere tractor for the men, and for the women, vacations and home improvement.” An audience member asked how to find the frackers. “Go to a conference in Kansas City,” Frank said. “But I’m not sure they’ll spend the same way others spend. They’re farmers, they’re nurses. They were growing wheat last year and now lease their fields for $3 million. These are quiet, Midwestern people.” AmExLuxSummit-BransonAlso fueling American wealth is the stock market, he said, and currently 10% of Americans own 80% of its financial assets, and the top 1% owns more than half of all stock. Of those with household incomes of $250,000 or more, a third plan to spend more this year than last, and 60% will spend about the same. (See also “From the Window Seat.”) Virgin’s Richard Branson was interviewed on stage. Branson, who has taken 500 deposits of $200,000 for a seat on Virgin Galactic, the suborbital spacecraft he’s developing, said the first flight carrying passengers will launch either in Q4 2013 or Q1 2014. “In time, we’ll get the price down as the market expands,” he said. While the first passengers are going simply for the experience, he said that ultimately the ships will be used for “point to point travel. We’d love to get you to Australia from America in a couple of hours. I think we will be that airline.” Follow Arnie Weissmann on Twitter @awtravelweekly.
  21. On a trip as long as Canada to Malaysia it is nice to take a break in the middle.
  22. Do I hear $400? Now $500! Gimme $550. Sold to the traveler trying to get out of a middle seat in coach! Airlines overseas have started auctioning off upgrades, with travelers in economy or premium-economy cabins bidding against each other for seats that offer better space, food, service and sleep. Bids for premium seats that otherwise might fly empty begin online weeks in advance and typically close 48 hours before takeoff. The company behind the auction technology says it may come to the U.S. soon. The company behind the technology says upgrade auctions may soon come to the U.S. . So far, airlines say travelers end up spending more for upgrades in online auctions than they would spend at check-in. Unlike a casual offer at an airport kiosk, the auction system can generate excitement as fliers strategize about how to win. "You can buy the cheapest ticket and still have a chance of sitting in business class," said Danny Saadon, North America vice president for El Al Airlines, where the average winning bid for a business-class upgrade is $800. That's a deal when the airline's business-class tickets cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 more than coach. El Al, of Israel, has also started auctioning off empty middle seats on flights to and from Israel for coach passengers in adjacent seats who want more space and don't want a potentially large neighbor. Reserving an empty middle seat goes for about an extra $150, Mr. Saadon said. "When you have an empty seat next to you, everything is OK," he said. "The food tastes better. You are ready to forgive everything." El Al is one of 10 airlines using the Plusgrade system. Others include Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand, AIR.NZ +5.56%Panama's Copa Airlines, United Arab Emirates' Etihad Airways and TAP Portugal. Austrian Airlines, a unit of Germany's Lufthansa, LHA.XE +0.44%signed on last week. Instead of offering last-minute upgrades at a set price, "we ask the customer, what are you willing to pay?" said Ken Harris, chief executive of Plusgrade, the New York City company that developed the system. "No one ever complained they got an upgrade, especially at a price they set." Mr. Harris says Plusgrade is likely to launch with an airline based in North America this year. "It's in progress," he said, declining to identify the carrier. Midweek flights typically have lower demand for business class, and so more opportunity for auctions. Carriers can select which customers to invite—some open the bidding to all passengers, others limit it to higher-fare levels. They can target passengers according to their profile, such as those who might be candidates to buy business-class seats in the future, or who fly in business class when their company pays. Frequent fliers with top-tier status and easy access to upgrades are already complaining that auctions have eroded their ability to snag cushy seats. Airlines holding the auctions say they take care of elite-level frequent fliers by processing their upgrades before awarding seats to auction bidders. Air New Zealand, which began offering "OneUp" upgrade auctions last July, says it has seen a high level of repeat bidders on subsequent flights. "They like the idea of being able to make an offer at a level they feel they can afford," said Mark Street, the airline's head of customer loyalty. "More customers are enjoying our premium cabins, and we're getting more revenue." Upgrades typically move passengers to the next class of service. On an airline with a "premium economy" cabin, like Air New Zealand, coach customers bid to upgrade to premium economy and premium-economy passengers to business class. Dan Arcari, a software engineer moving back to the U.S. from New Zealand, tried several auctions without success. He has put together a database on FlyerTalk.com of 110 winning bids on Air New Zealand, tracking routes and prices shared by travelers. Still, bidders in the auctions don't get a clear idea of how many travelers they are competing against, or how many seats they're fighting for. Airlines guard that data vigilantly. "It's a giant mystery box," said Mr. Arcari. "You just don't know what's going to happen." Executives from Air New Zealand and other airlines say participation in auctions is growing. Mr. Acari was determined to score an upgrade to a premium-economy seat on an Auckland-to-Los Angeles flight for his wife, who is pregnant, but his bid of $390 was rejected. Seats were still available, though, and Mr. Arcari paid about $750 in additional airfare for a premium-economy ticket. Despite the desirability of lie-flat beds, entertainment and fancy-meal service in business class, there are lots of empty seats to auction off. Airlines historically have been loath to deeply discount business class, despite occasional sales during soft travel periods, because many business travelers make plans on short notice. Business travelers are also willing to pay for comfort and space to work so that they reach their destination rested and relaxed. Airlines figure it's better to fly some empty seats than discount the entire premium cabin. Demand for first class and business class typically follows business confidence, according to the International Air Transport Association, which publishes a monthly premium traffic report. The front cabins of airplanes haven't yet seen a strong return in demand since the recession. In February, the most recent month reported, the number of passengers in premium seats on international routes was just 1.2% higher than a year ago, while economy passengers were up 3.7%, the association said. Matt McKevitt, a consultant and frequent traveler, who until recently lived in Napier, New Zealand, successfully bid for upgrades on two vacation trips, one to Tonga and the other to Melbourne, Australia, where he now lives. Each cost less than about $168 on top of the coach ticket price of about $504. Because he is a top-tier frequent flier, Air New Zealand automatically increases his bid by 50% at no charge. With his status he could have paid a fixed price of about $210 for an upgrade, but figured those vacation trips would have light business-class bookings, giving him a good chance of getting the upgrades for less. He was happy with both bids but figures the odds of satisfaction would be much lower on longer flights. "To have a reasonable chance of an upgrade going through I would have to pay a lot more for the bid," he said. El Al began a pilot program of business-class auctions in May 2012 and a few months later launched the program in full, Mr. Saadon said. The empty middle seat auctioning began in September. Once you have booked a ticket on the El Al's website, a pop-up message tells you if an upgrade auction is available. "Many people do it months in advance and forget. Then they get a phone call or email telling them they won," Mr. Saadon said. El Al has seen cases in which friends traveling together bid against each other to see who can win the auction. "It's like gambling," he said. "It adds excitement." A version of this article appeared April 25, 2013, on page D1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Flier Auctions: Better Seats, Going Once, Going Twice ....
  23. Etihad Airways and Air Canada to introduce codeshare services 4/25/2013 5:00:00 PM Etihad Airways and Air Canada have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a commercial cooperation agreement that will enhance travel services between the United Arab Emirates and Canada. While the two carriers currently have interline agreements in place for passenger and cargo services, Etihad Airways and Air Canada intend to offer customers through-checked bags, reciprocal codeshare services and frequent flyer benefits. The MoU provides for reciprocal codeshare services to Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub and select points in North America served by Air Canada via its Toronto hub. The two parties have commenced discussions to finalize details with the objective of introducing codeshare services in the third quarter 2013. The agreement will also allow frequent flyer mileage accrual on codeshare flights by members of Etihad Guest and Aeroplan programs and reciprocal premium lounge access at Toronto and Abu Dhabi airports for eligible passengers of both airlines. This announcement follows the recent decision by the Governments of the UAE and Canada to restore the previous visa regime which means Canadian nationals can once again obtain a free visa on arrival in the UAE. James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “This is without doubt a significant development in the relationship between Etihad Airways and Air Canada and very much supports the aim to simplify travel between the United Arab Emirates and Canada. “The benefits contained within the agreement give Etihad Airways and Air Canada passengers far greater choice, flexibility and convenience and will greatly enhance business and leisure travel between the UAE and Canada and feed passengers onto each other’s flight networks.” The UAE is Canada’s largest merchandise export market in the Middle East region and more than 40,000 Canadians reside in the UAE. Furthermore approximately 150 Canadian companies are based in the UAE. Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are pleased to establish a mutually beneficial commercial cooperation that will provide our customers with more travel options and frequent flyer benefits. We look forward to introducing Air Canada codeshare service on Etihad Airways’ flights to Abu Dhabi, via Toronto and London Heathrow, and welcoming their customers on Air Canada in the near future.” Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad Airways will place its EY code on Air Canada flights between Toronto and select North American points. In return, Air Canada will place its AC code on Etihad Airways’ non-stop services between Toronto and Abu Dhabi, as well as Etihad Airways’ flights between London Heathrow and Abu Dhabi. Etihad Airways and Air Canada will also work together to enhance cargo services into and out of Abu Dhabi and Toronto, and beyond on each other’s networks.
  24. Lev: The current 773's can do the routes now if the extra people are not onboard. The extra Take-off weight makes room for the payload. Parnel: If the new 773's flew the two routes there would be 777-200LR's to fly to South Africa.
  25. One of the reports on the new aircraft financing had this little bit of news: I have not seen anything about a Higher Gross Weight 777-300ER that would give me any idea about how much more Take-off weight they would have, but if this is true then YYZ-HKG or YVR-SYD might be possible for these 773's
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