Delta Partners: Virgin Air France KLM Alitalia

Thanks to recent government approval of Delta's partnership with Virgin Atlantic, travel professionals and their travelers may now benefit from a newly aligned flight schedule between New York-JFK and London-Heathrow.

Delta Airlines

Delta and Virgin Atlantic's Newly Aligned JFK-LHR Schedule Now Available for Sale

The updated schedule which became available on October 5 across all major computer reservations systems, offers business travelers a greater variety of departure times to better suit their needs. 

Starting March 30, 2014
Delta and Virgin Atlantic will offer daily departures from New York-JFK to London-LHR at 7:40 a.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

From London-LHR to New York-JFK, Delta and Virgin Atlantic will offer daily service at 9:05 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 5:35 p.m. and 8:05 p.m. More informatiom

Air France Celebrates 80th Anniversary

In celebration of its 80th Anniversary on October 7, Air France kicked off a year of celebration marked by numerous events to commemorate. A dedicated Air France Anniversary website includes information about Air France's rich history. More information

Air France Wins Business Travel Awards

On September 26, Air France won 2 Business Travel Awards at the IFTM Top Resa, France's largest travel trade show in Paris.

Air France was awarded the 2013 gold prize in the category of the best mobile technology at the service of business travellers, along with a silver prize in the "best airline" category.

KLM Continues to Rollout New World Business Class Cabins

More KLM travelers are enjoying a brand new interior in World Business Class aboard long-haul intercontinental flights.

Dutch top designer Hella Jongerius has worked closely with KLM design teams to fully renovate the airline's World Business Class cabins; successfully combining top Dutch design with more personal space - making customers feel truly at home.

In the new World Business Class cabins, full-flat seats adjust to allow customers to "dream away" from departure to arrival. In total, 22 Boeing 747 aircraft will be converted through April 2014. After that date, the new World Business Class cabins will also be introduced on 15 Boeing 777-200 aircraft. More information

Alitalia & Delta: Fly to Milan with Full Flat-Bed Seats and Unlimited Bonus Miles

Delta and our joint venture partner Alitalia are the only airlines that offer two daily, nonstop flights between New York-JFK and Milan-MXP.

On the route, Delta and Alitalia offer full flat-bed seating with direct-aisle access in BusinessElite and Magnfica Business Class as well as business class amenities including celebrity chef-inspired and award-winning menus, premium bedding and a full array of in-flight entertainment on-demand options to enhance the customer experience.

Delta also offers Economy Comfort premium economy seating and Alitalia offers the Classica Plus premium economy cabin. Economy also features on-demand video entertainment and Italian-inspired cuisine, and Alitalia Classica class offers personal USB ports at each seat. 

While our unparalleled service may make the trip feel short, travelers can enjoy the bonus miles long after their flight lands. Register, book and fly between New York-JFK and Milan-MXP through January 15, 2014, and SkyMiles members can earn unlimited bonus miles on the route. More information

Crossover Rewards: Travelers Earn Rewards Overnight, Over the Clouds or Both

Through the Crossover RewardsT program, Delta SkyMiles Diamond and Platinum Medallion members enjoy Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) benefits including priority check-in, 4 p.m. late checkout and free in-room internet access when staying at Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Similarly, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Platinum elite members enjoy the benefit of Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades on the day of departure for Delta and Delta Connection operated flights within the United States. SPG Platinum elite members who are enrolled in Crossover Rewards can request their complimentary upgrade at time of check-in. SPG Platinum elite members also enjoy several additional benefits, including one free checked bag, Priority Check-In and Priority Boarding when flying on eligible Delta flights. To view a complete list of Crossover Rewards benefits. More information

Travel news Airlines report profits from charging fees like wifi

Delta flatbed in business class.

Major U.S. Airlines Report Second Quarter Profit
The largest U.S. airlines reported a 6% profit margin in the second quarter, according to the latest figures from the Department of Transportation, up from 5.3% a year earlier. These nine airlines carried 80% of U.S. airlines& passengers.

Helping them hit those numbers: baggage fees. The nine airlines—Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, US Airways, ExpressJet, JetBlue, Skywest and Alaska Airlines--collected a total of $931 million in baggage fees and another $661 million in change fees. Fees from other services that airlines charge you for—seat assignments, premium seating, entertainment and other services--are not included in these figures. (Source: DOT press release).

Consumers Want to Comparison Shop Airline Fees
Consumers want to be able to comparison shop the fees airlines charge for luggage, seat assignments and other services or amenities, many of which were once included in the price of an airline ticket.

94% of travelers who recently booked travel online said that "all airline fee information should be available to travel agents and online travel websites," according to the market research firm Harris Interactive.

The DOT requires airlines to display those fees on their own website, but the only way to comparison shop is to go from one website to another, although some online travel agencies and airfare comparison sites carry listings of the fees each airline charges for these services.

Harris said that 31% of travelers who booked travel on an online site agreed with the statement that they "paid for fees that were not fully disclosed when I initially purchased my ticket for my flight this summer."

The DOT is looking at a rule making to address this matter. However, three major airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways, are close to making their premium seats available in GDSs, an indicator that comparison-shopping for these fees is on the horizon. (Source: Interactive Travel Services Association, industry interviews).

Airlines Keep Adapting to Changing Environment
Airlines are getting faster at adapting to geo-political and economic trends that continually buffet them—specifically high oil prices and a lingering recession.

A recent DOT Inspector General report said that airlines are adapting by charging fees for services once included in the price of a ticket or designing new products and charging for them.

They&re also cutting back on flights to keep flights fuller. And they&re undergoing rapid consolidation—five airlines now serve the bulk of the U.S. market, down from ten five years ago.

Some of this means good news for consumers, according to the IG report: fewer delays and cancellations. But there&s also bad news: less service at some hub airports and on routes of 500 miles or less. However, the report praised airlines& ability to adapt, since aviation plays an essential role in the economy. (Source: IG report).

31% of Domestic Flights Offer Wifi
31% of domestic flights in the U.S. offer wifi, according to the website Routehappy, a flight search site with a strong focus on the kind of experience airlines offer.

Delta Airlines leads the pack, offering wifi to nearly half of that customer base, or 16% of all domestic flights in the U.S.

The next closest is Southwest, whose wifi equipped flights account for 5% of domestic flights. American Airlines and AirTran Airways& wifi equipped flights account for 3% each and Alaska Airlines& service accounts for 2%.

Virgin America, US Airways, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines& flights with Wifi represent 1% of domestic flights each. AirTran and Virgin America have wifi on 100% of their flights, Delta on 65%, Alaska on 45% and Southwest on 37%. JetBlue Airways will add wifi early next year. (Source: Routehappy)

Airline merger & International air traffic

Airline merger

American Merger Talks Heat Up
US Airways, which has is pursuing a reluctant American Airlines, has signed a nondisclosure agreement with American’s parent company, AMR, according to a memo US Airways’ CEO Doug Parker sent to employees.

The two airlines have agreed to exchange confidential information to work in good faith on evaluating a potential combination. Parker said that the NDA means only that the airlines have agreed to talk about the possibility of merging. AMR’s CEO Tom Horton initially resisted the idea of a merger.

AMR has also signed an NDA with British Airways, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Jet Blue Airways and Virgin America. (Source: press reports).

International Air Traffic Continues to Grow at a Slower Pace
Global air traffic grew 3.4% in July 2012 over a year earlier, down from a growth rate of 6.3% in June and 6.5% for the first half of the year, according to the International Air Traffic Association.

It blamed the slowdown on a recent fall in business confidence in many economies. Airlines are responding to slower growth by holding capacity, which means planes are flying full—and profitably. Traffic is growing, but at a slower pace, said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO. And he said that, combined with rising fuel prices, means a tough second half of the year. (Source: IATA press release).

FAA to Study Use of Handhelds on Planes
The Federal Aviation Administration FAA has created a committee to study the use of portable electronic devices on planes. Right now, the FAA leaves the decision of how passengers can use handhelds in flight up to airlines.

The FAA committee will be made up of representatives of aircraft manufacturers, mobile technology providers, airlines, including flight attendants and pilots, as well as airline passenger organizations. Passengers are increasingly interested in staying connected while in flight. This is an effort to learn if there are ways for more electronic devices to be used without interfering with the radio frequencies pilots use.

The group will look at a variety of issues, including how to test for safety. The group is not looking at whether or not to allow cell phone use while in flight. (Source: FAA press release).

Delta to Reduce Mileage Rewards for Some Unpublished Fares
Delta Air Lines is reducing mileage passengers can earn when they buy certain unpublished fares. These include group fares, consolidator fares, tour or group package fares and student fares.

Travelers flying using negotiated corporate, governments and sports fares will continue to get full mileage credit. Other airlines also limit or provide no mileage awards for some unpublished fares. (Source: news reports).

TSA Expands Pre Program to Phoenix Sky Harbor
The Transportation Security Administration has introduced its Pre program at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, with US Airways as its partner.

Participants who are from certain airline frequent flyer programs or who participate in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler program provide biometric information about themselves and qualify for expedited screening.

The Pre is now available in 22 airports with partner carriers US Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. (Source: TSA press release).

Travel News: Seats and Airline Phone service

airline phone service

Passenger Numbers Up Internationally
Despite the gloomy financial outlook, more people are flying, according to the International Air Transport Association’s latest figures. Passenger demand rose globally 6.1% in April over April 2011, which is higher than the 20 year average.

Load factors are up, too, since airlines especially U.S. carriers are managing capacity so well. International travel was up the most 7.4 percent. North American carriers saw only a slight increase 1.6 percent, down from a 5.3% increase in March. European air carriers saw a 5.9% growth in passenger demand, which was down from 8.7% in March. The Asia-Pacific region and Middle East Also saw strong growth. (Source: IATA.)

Airline Profits Tighten

Airlines are getting better at managing capacity and demand, but it’s still tight financially for them. The nation’s ten biggest airlines reported a 1.5% profit margin for the fourth quarter, down 3.2% from a year earlier, according to the Department of Transportation.

Large airlines as a group have reported an operating profit margin in each in the last three quarters. American Airlines, which is the last airline to restructure under bankruptcy, reported a loss, as did United Airlines, which is in the process of merging with Continental Airlines. (Source: DOT)

Paying More for Seats
It could get tougher to avoid getting stuck in that middle seat without paying an extra fee. Some airlines charge you for the ability to pick your own seat. But some of the larger carriers are increasing the number of seats that they’re holding for premium fliers.

This means that on some airlines, you can pay for a seat for more legroom, but you can also pay to get a window or aisle seat or a seat closer to the front of the plane. Airlines are also introducing a new economy class, one that is a little cheaper but gives you even less flexibility when it comes to changing our flight or choosing seats.

Delta Air Lines is doing this on some routes where it competes with the ultra low-cost carrier Spirit Air. (Source: News reports).

Mixed Response to Airline Phone Service
A survey by flight comparison site Skyscanner finds that most passengers oppose airline phone calls, with 86 percent saying it would be annoying.

The survey results followed reports that Virgin Atlantic will offer inflight phone service on A330s flying between New York and London. The service is pricey--$1.60 per minute—and it will only work with certain types of phones. No talking on take off, landing or within 250 miles of the U.S. So much for one of the last sanctuaries from being forced to listen to others’ cell phone conversations. (Source: Skyscanner)

More Long-Haul Service Offered From Washington Reagan
You’ll soon be able to fly transcontinental flights from Washington Reagan International Airport thanks to legislation that authorized new beyond-perimeter slot exemptions allowing some carriers to fly beyond what had been a 1,250-mile route limit out of Washington Reagan.

  • Alaska Airlines will fly to Portland, Ore.
  • JetBlue Airways to San Juan, P.R.
  • Southwest Airlines to Austin, Texas,
  • Virgin America to San Francisco.

(Source: DOT)

Airlines Industry News & Updates

Delta Airlines

U.S. Carriers Report Double-Digit Increases in March Passenger Revenues
Airlines, struggling with another crisis, the cloud of ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which shut down European skies, did have some good news.

The Air Transport Association reported passenger revenues, based on data from nine major U.S. carriers, were up 15 percent in March, the third consecutive month of revenue growth.

International markets: passenger revenues were up 19.6 percent. The number of passengers was up slightly, 1.4 percent. Separately, the International Air Transport Association showed that international air traffic demand was up in March by 10.9 percent. (Source: ATA, IATA press releases).

Premium Travel Up Again in February
The front of the plane is filling up again, according to the International Air Transport Association's latest figures.

February saw a 5.9 percent increase in premium travel and a 6.9 percent increase in economy travel, IATA said.

The level of economy travel is close to recovering to early 2008 levels, but premium travel is still 16 percent down on previous highs. Still, as world trade increases, so does premium travel. The Far East, South American and Middle East did the best; Europe, the North Atlantic, the Pacific and Africa were weakest.

Europe Institutes Post-Volcano Relief Plan for Airlines
The volcanic ash that shut down the skies over Europe cost airlines, which already expected to lose $2.8 billion this year, another $1.7 billion, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The five-day shutdown, canceled 100,000 flights and left 10 million passengers stranded. However, the European Commission was asking member nations to provide airlines immediate relief with measures such as making market-rate loans and deferring payments for air traffic control services.

Under normal circumstances, that would be considered illegal aid under EU rules. The crisis also appeared to give impetus to move to create a single European Sky. (Source: IATA, news reports).

Gogo Inflight WiFi Introduces Monthly Subscription Good on Multiple Airlines
Aircell, a major provider of inflight WiFi, has introduced the Gogo Monthly Subscription, which you can use on any airline whose fleet uses Gogo's inflight WiFi service.

Previously such monthly subscriptions had only been good on one carrier-fine for a frequently flyer who always flies the same carrier, but not for those who fly different airlines in a single month.

It can be redeemed on any carrier using Gogo, but initially will be available for purchase only on AirTran Airways, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Virgin America; all airlines that have equipped a high percentage of their fleet with Gogo. (Source: Gogo press release).

Germany, Netherlands Integrate Trusted Traveler Programs With U.S.
The United States is integrating its biometric-based trusted traveler programs with those of the Netherlands and German.

These programs expedite pre-approved, low-risk travelers members' trips through Customs upon arriving in the country. Under these partnerships, travelers can apply for both the U.S. Global Entry and the German Automated and Biometric Border Control or the Netherlands Privium programs simultaneously. (Source: Department of Homeland Security).

Airline updates: fees increase

Delta Airlines

International Premium Travel Sees First Uptick in Nearly Two Years
The International Air Transport Association reported that international premium travel was up 1.7 percent in December 2009 over a year earlier. That’s the first increase since May 2008. Economy travel was up five percent over a year earlier.

The recession hit airlines hard throughout the first half of 2009, but a post-recession upturn began in the second half. May marked the low point for premium travel while February marked the low point for economy travel. (Source: IATA press release).

Global Air Capacity Grows for the Sixth Month in a Row More good news came from OAG, the aviation data tracking company.

It reported that in February, global airline capacity was up five percent, the sixth month in a row that it has increased. The single exception: North America, which reported a one percent decline in February in both flight frequency and capacity.

However, North America saw positive growth of three percent and two percent for frequency and capacity in flights to and from the region. Decreases continue on service between North America and Western Europe, where routes have five percent fewer seats and five percent fewer flights for the month.

Still, the OAG said airlines are adding routes in North America—108, with most being domestic flights. (Source: OAG press release).

U.S. Airline Revenue Up for First Time in More Than a Year
Other positive airline news: The Air Transport Association reported that passenger revenue rose 1.4 percent in January, reversing 14 consecutive months of declines.

Traffic was down very slightly--.4 percent—and the average price to fly one mile was up very slightly--.6 percent. James C. May, president and CEO of the ATA, said that the small revenue increase, coupled with a 17 percent increase in cargo traffic, could be the sign of a recovery. (Source: ATA press release).

Business Travel Continues Slow Recovery
Business travel continues its slow recovery with more than one in seven (15 percent) adults planning at least one business trip during the next six months, up from 13 percent recorded one year earlier.

According to the travel horizons survey co-authored by Ypartnership and the U.S. Travel Association.The U.S. Travel Association projects a slight increase in both business and leisure travel for 2010 over 2009. The "perceived safety of travel," declined from 93.8 in October 2009 to 84.8 in February 2010, presumably due to lingering concerns about the "Christmas Bomber" incident that occurred in Detroit over the recent holidays. (Source: Ypartnership and U.S. Travel Association press release).

Virgin America Ups Baggage Fees, American Charges for Blankets
Airlines continue to add on fees. American Airlines, following the lead of other airlines, will charge $8 for blankets and pillows in coach starting May 1.

Virgin America upped its baggage fee for all checked bags to $25 from $20. First Class passengers continue to check two bags for free; Main Cabin select and Main Cabin passengers with refundable fares can check their first bag for free. (Source: Virgin America press release, American statement).

Road Warriors Biggest Worry is Those at Home
Nearly 74 percent of business travelers say their stay-behind spouse has expressed concern about being left home alone, according to a survey commissioned by Logitech, a Swiss technology company.

Even more, 79 percent frequently worry about their significant other when traveling for business. Fifty-nine percent said they would look for a job with less business travel when the economy improves. And 54 percent would take a $5,000 paycut if it meant never having to travel for work again. (Source: Logitech press release)

Airlines News Updates Feb 2009

Airfares Show Some Decreases
Domestic airfares are starting to dip. The average domestic fare fell to $428.29 in December from $525.63 in November according to airfare tracking company Topaz International’s national database. And the average fare for the fourth quarter was $497.69, down from 526.18 for the third quarter.

Airfares have been climbing steadily throughout the year, hitting a high of $633.44 in June and trending downward subsequently.(Source: Topaz International Monthly Airfare Index).

IATA Figures Show Air Travel Continues Decline The International Air Transport

Association (IATA) reported that international traffic dropped 4.6 percent in December from December 2007, but that the 4.6 percent decline was far less dramatic than cargo’s 22.6 drop from the previous December.

Year-end leisure travel booked in advance kept passenger numbers from falling as dramatically as cargo. Still, a 1.5 percent cutback in supply could not keep pace with falling demand. That meant planes weren’t quite as full. “Airlines are struggling to match capacity with fast-falling demand.

Until this comes into balance, even the sharp fall in fuel prices cannot save the industry from drowning in red ink,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s general director. He pointed out that premium travel—the profitable front of the plane–declined 11.5 percent in November. (Source: IATA press release).

Air France-KLM Invest in Alitalia
Air France-KLM is taking a 25 percent minority stake in Alitalia. The partnership will be based on a multi-hub strategy, adding Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa to Paris Charles-de-Gaulle and Amsterdam Schiphol.

The airline said Alitalia’s acquisition for Air One has strengthened its position in the domestic market; the carriers say they will plan to create synergies using network optimization and revenue management. (Source: Air France-KLM press
release).

United, British Airways Keep Passengers Connected in the Air
Both United Airlines and British Airways are keeping their passengers connected in-flight on certain routes. United Airlines will begin offering in-flight internet service to customers on board its p.s. transcontinental service between New York and California starting in the second half of this year.

The service will be available in all classes for a flat $12.95 fee on all 13 of the Boeing 757s United flies between JFK and Los Angeles and San Francisco.

British Airways will launch text and mobile services on its all-business class service between London City Airport and JFK later this year.

Customers will be able to access the internet and send emails from laptops with GSM data cards as well as their mobile phones and PDAs. Voice service may be offered in the future, depending on customer demand and feedback. (Source: BA, United press releases).

California Fare Wares Mean Cheaper Flights
Southwest is expanding its California service, adding five new nonstops between San Francisco International Airport and John Wayne International Airport starting May 1 and kicking off the service with a $69 fare.

That followed Virgin America’s announcement that it was starting service between San Francisco and John Wayne International April 30 with a $59 introductory fare.

The airfare monitoring website FareCompare.com reported that American Airlines and United Airlines responded with $59 fares April 30 through June 10 and said that a year ago, the two were charging $125 for one-way fights. (Source: Southwest and Virgin America press releases, FareCompare.com blog).

JetBlue to Start Service Out of LAX to New York and Boston
JetBlue Airways will begin service out of Los Angeles International June 18. It is JetBlue’s third Los Angeles airport. It will offer two daily nonstops to New York’s JFK and two daily flights to Boston’s Logan International. (Source: Jet Blue press release).

June Footnotes for Airlines

Airlines Up Fares Again for 16th Time This Year
Airlines continued to increase fares and search for new revenue streams to help them cope with soaring fuel prices.

United Airlines initiated what was the 16th fare hike to stick since the beginning of the year, with fare increases that ranged from $10 to $60, depending on the route. Other legacy carriers—Continental Airlines, US Airways and Northwest matched.

American Airlines upped some fares and other carriers tacked on increases as well.

Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com, an airline comparison website, said that airlines have no choice but to pass on the cost of fuel to consumers and when passengers do begin to push back in significant numbers the airlines have no choice but slash capacity by that same amount. (Source: FareCompare.com.)

American Cuts Flights, Staff, Charges for First Checked Bag, Ups Other
Fees

American Airlines said it would charge its passengers $15 for their first checked bag as well as cut domestic flights by 11 to 12 percent as part of its efforts to cope with fuel costs.

At press time, no other carrier had followed American’s lead in charging for the first checked bag; Southwest Airlines, in fact, pointedly stated that it continues to let its customers check two bags—for free.

American, meanwhile, upped other fees, including those for oversized bags (from $100 to $15); ticket change fees from $100 to $150 for domestic tickets and from $100 to $200 to $150 to $250 for international tickets. It also upped its reservation service fee and AAdvantage Award ticket fees up by $5 each to $20. US Airways took another tactic—it said it would eliminate free snacks, although it will continue to serve free soft drinks.

And Midwest Airlines said it would begin charging $20 to check a second bag.
(Source: American, Southwest, Midwest Airlines press releases).

Major Carriers Continue to Experiment With All-Business Class Flights
The number of air travelers flying first or business class is dropping at increasingly faster rates, according to the International Air Transport Association, an industry group.
And three transatlantic carriers that offered premium seating—MAXJet, Eos and Silverjet—have ceased flying. But major carriers continue to experiment with the oncept. Singapore Airlines has introduced all-business class flights between New York and Singapore.

In October, Lufthansa will introduce all-business class service between Boston and Munich. That’s in addition to the all-business class service it operates between Chicago and Düsseldorf, Newark and Düsseldorf and Frankfurt and Düsseldorf.

Meanwhile, on June 19, OpenSkies, a British Airways-backed carrier that has three classes of service but has allocated nearly two-thirds of the plane to premium seats, will begin to fly between New York and Paris. And L’Avion, the all-business class French carrier, is now code sharing with OpenSkies to offer three flights daily between Paris and JFK (Sources: IATA, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, OpenSkies and L’Avion press releases.)

Network Carriers Add International Flights, Low Cost Carriers Add
Domestic

Some U.S. carriers are adding flights, many focusing on international routes. Northwest Airlines has begun flying between Memphis and Columbia, Mo., and began serving Taipei via Tokyo. Delta Air Lines began flying from New York to Georgetown, Guyana and will start flight from Atlanta to Kuwait in November.

On the domestic front, JetBlue has begun daily service from Boston’s Logan International Airport to Chicago O’Hare and New Orleans. Southwest Airlines is adding flights from Denver to San Francisco and from Denver to Omaha in September.
(Source: Northwest, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest press releases).

New Virgin Atlantic Boston Clubhouse
At last, it’s here – the new Boston Clubhouse has opened its doors and is now accepting Upper Class flyers and Flying Club Gold members for some preflight rest, relaxation and pampering. Boston Clubhouse features a deli counter and bar, dedicated business area with PCs, free WiFi connection, charging facility for mobiles and blackberries, dining, lounge seating, free newspapers and magazines.

Airlines Information, May 2008

Airlines Up Change Fees, Institute Minimum Stay Requirement

In airlines ongoing quest for additional revenues in the face of $120-a-barrel oil, several network carriers have upped their change fees and re-instituted Saturday night stay and/or minimum stay requirements.

Airlines

United Airlines increased its change fees by 50 percent to $150 and added a Saturday night stay requirement on routes in about 65 percent of its markets.

Continental upped its change fee to $150 for domestic and $250 for international flights. US Airways upped the cost of its change fees by $50, to $150 for domestic and $250 for international flights.In some instances, top customers, such as elite members of airline loyalty programs, are exempt from these fees.

In addition, United, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Northwest Airlines and Continental have instituted minimum stay requirements on all or many of their routes.

Meanwhile, most network carriers and some low cost carriers, including JetBlue and AirTran have added fees for checking a second bag; fees range from$10 to $25. (Source: airline press releases).

Compensation Doubles for Involuntary Bumping
If you’re involuntarily bumped from your flight, you’ll get twice as much as you used to get. Effective this month, if you’re bumped you can receive up to $400 if you’re rescheduled to arrive within two hours of your original arrival time on domestic flights, four hours on international flights, and up to $800 if you’re not rerouted within that time frame.

The rule now covers aircraft seating 30 people or more; it previously covered flights with 60 seats and up. Reimbursement is determined by the price of the ticket, its refundability and the length of the delay. (Source: DOT press release).

DOT, FAA Announce Plans Designed to Ease Congestion
Even though airlines are reducing their domestic capacity, many by as much as five percent, aviation congestion remains a problem.

The Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration have announced a new routing alternative that will provide an “escape route” into Canadian airspace so that aircraft can fly around summer thunderstorms and high winds. And, the FAA is opening a second westbound route for aircraft, which will provide a parallel route along a heavily traveled corridor, which should cut westbound delays out of New York.

The DOT has also proposed auctioning off a limited amount of slots-the number of flights airlines can operate in a single day-at LaGuardia. The Air Transport Association, an airline trade group, is opposing such market-based solutions, saying that the DOT doesn’t have the authority to institute auctions and congestion pricing and that they are inconsistent with international practices. (Source: DOT, ATA press releases.)

Fare Expert Finds Majority of Airline Attempts to Hike Fares Are ticking
When Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines announced their proposed merger, they said that stratospheric oil prices have fundamentally changed the economics of aviation.

Oil prices are fueling mergers and other alliance, bankruptcies (more than a half dozen this spring, with the latest being the premium transatlantic carrier Eos), capacity reductions and ongoing fare hikes.

Rick Seaney, CEO of the airfare monitoring site FareCompare.com, has been tracking airline fare increases and reports that the airlines have attempted 14 price hikes so far this year; nine have been successful.

Summer demand and soaring fuel prices are making airlines comfortable with these increases, meaning travelers need to lock in summer travel now. (Source: FareCompare.com)

Virgin Atlantic Adds Second Dulles-London Flight for Summer
Virgin Atlantic has begun a second daily flight between Washington Dulles International and London Heathrow. The flight will operate until October 26. (Source: Virgin Atlantic press release).