Airlines Business Travel for Oct 2008

United, Continental and Frontier Add or Up Baggage Fees
Airlines continue to try to deal with high oil prices by upping or adding baggage fees. United Airlines has doubled the fee for the first checked bag to $50 from $25 one way, unless you’re flying in United First or United Business, have Premier status with United or Star Alliance, or are active duty military personnel traveling on orders.

United estimates that the $50 service fee will apply to one out of seven customers. Customers may pay these service fees at an airport.

Easy Check-In kiosk or with a skycap. Ultimately, United aims to give customers the option of paying these baggage fees online. Continental now charges you $15 for the first checked bag unless you’re traveling First, BusinessFirst or full fare economy. OnePass Elite and SkyTeam Elite First and military personnel are exempt.

Frontier Airlines will begin charging $15 for your first checked bag and $25 for the second, starting Nov. 1. The Department of Transportation estimates that the aviation industry collected $182.6 million in excess baggage fees in the second quarter of 2008, up from $122.3 million in the first quarter and $113.0 million in the second quarter of 2007. (Source: airline, DOT press releases).

Air Canada to Offer Inflight Internet Starting Next Spring
Air Canada will offer inflight internet beginning next spring aboard Airbus A319 aircraft on select flights to the U.S. West Coast and will be accessible by customers with a standard, wi-fi equipped laptop or Personal Electronic Device (PED).

Initially, the Gogo system will be powered by its partner Aircell’s existing network and only available in the U.S. to make Air Canada’s rollout fast, economical and simple. (Source: Air Canada press release).

Delta Introduces Two-Class Shuttle Service
Delta Air Lies will offer two-class Shuttle service with 12 seats in First Class and 128 in Economy, keeping its open-seating policy for each class. Sky Miles Medallion members qualify for upgrades. During November, there may be a mix of one- and two-class Shuttle aircraft as Delta reconfigures its nine MD 88 Shuttle aircraft (Source: Delta news release).

If You Can Afford It,
There’s More Room in the Front of the Plane on International flights. The numbers of international premium class travelers actually dropped in July, according to the International Air Traffic Association.

Some of these travelers have probably moved to the back of the plane, but the sharp decline in premium travel also reflects a fall in business travel due to the increasing weakness of major economies. Most of the drops were in markets connected with Asia, but cross-border European numbers also shrank.

South America and markets connected to the Middle East and Africa did the best. Economy class continued to grow, but even that pace slowed sharply to just 0.9 percent in July, following a 3.4 percent growth in June and 4.6 percent for the first half of the year.

IATA’s August figures shows that international air travel growth overall is continuing to decline. After growing by 5.4 percent in the first half of the year, it slowed to 1.9 percent and July and 1.3 percent in August. (Source: IATA press releases)

Southwest Cabins Go Cashfree
Southwest Airlines has equipped its aircraft with handheld credit card devices and no longer accepts cash. The carrier accepts all major credit and debit cards for payment as well as Southwest Airlines Drink Coupons.

Customers paying with their Rapid Rewards credit card from Chase receive double reward dollars by using their card onboard. (Source: Southwest press release).

Clear FastPass Launches in Atlanta, Boston
Clear, which provides fast access through airport security, has launched at Boston Logan’s Terminal A and at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The Clear card is now accepted at 20 airports and the Clear lanes have been used more than 1.5 million times at participating airports, including San Francisco, Denver, New York’s JFK and LaGuardia, Washington, DC’s Reagan and Dulles, and Orlando International Airport. (Source: Clear press release).