MORE $$ FOR MORE SPACE. United says that it will raise the price for annual membership to its Economy Plus Annual Option from $349 to $425 starting Jan 10. This promo is a good idea for someone who does not fly UAL enough to get elite status (and therefore automatic upgrades to more spacious economy plus seating) but would like to have access to roomier seats onboard. Note: While you get the ability to reserve Economy Plus seats with this plan (for you and a companion), you are not always guaranteed one.
FARES A TWITTER. The new flight search engine Fly.com is now tweeting last minute flight deals from Bay Area airports…as we go to press, some deals: SFO-Cabo for $294 round trip. Vegas for $99 round trip. Twitterati should follow at: #SFfares
RED CARPET CLOSED AT FRANKFURT. United has closed its Red Carpet Club in Frankfurt and encourages members to use partner Lufthansa’s (distant, but much nicer) clubs instead. (Notefrom BAT reader Mark: “The Lufthansa clubs in Frankfurt aren’t always farther away. A good number of United’s daily departures leave from the A gates and the new Tower Lounge @ FRA’s A concourse is in the right spot to make relaxing before the flight a breeze.”)
KOREAN AIR TO BRING ON 747. Korean Air will switch out its current 777 flying between SFO to Seoul with a 747 starting next summer.
MILWAUKEE BOUND? Midwest Airlines, which abandoned SFO a while back, will return with new nonstops to Milwaukee, WI using an Airbus A319 starting in April.
UNITED COPAYS. After going back and forth on the issue, United will begin charging copays for upgrades in January. This pay-to-play move is both good and bad: Good in that you can now score a confirmed upgrade off of any discounted fare, which was prohibited in the past. Bad in that you actually have to shell out some coin to get out of coach. So, BAT readers, what do you think….is this a positive or a negative? Would you rather UAL stick to the old plan, or is this new one a good thing?
SO LONG 737. In case you missed the celebration, United has officially grounded its last Boeing 737. (We’re glad. They were getting a little tatty and worn out.)
MORE FLIGHTS FROM BAY TO HAWAII. Fresh off its inauguration of new flights between Oakland and Hawaii, Alaska Air has announced that it will add new nonstops between San Jose, Sacramento and Hawaii (Kona and Maui) starting on March 11. It will use a two class 737 on the route. Current lowest fares for travel next spring are running at about $350 roundtrip.
SFO TERMINAL 2 TOPS OUT. Workers welded the final steel beam into place on the renovation at Terminal 2 at SFO, which will be the new home of Virgin America flights in about another 18 months. (Scuttlebutt: American Airlines is a possible Terminal 2 tenant as well. This would make sense if United’s new partner, Continental, moves into AA’s space in Terminal 3.) The state-of-the-art, LEEDS certified terminal will have 14 gates, a “slow food” marketplace (more wholesome, locally produced selections), a spa, and two 500-sq foot kiddie play areas. Bring it on! (The terminal is paid in part with stimulus funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Thank you President Obama.)
DOWN HOME WITH SOUTHWEST IN MANHATTAN. BAT editor Chris McGinnis checked out Southwest Airlines “porch” in New York’s Bryant Park. Southwest is using the porch to woo Big Apple business travelers to its new flights to New York’s nearby La Guardia Airport. Would you fly SW to New York? To do so, you’ll have to make a quick stop at Chicago Midway, and sale fares are currently running at about $300 roundtrip.
TRAIN TO/FROM THE PLANE IN SEATTLE. Starting on December 19, the long awaited light rail link between SEA-TAC and downtown Seattle will open! The station will be connected to the airport via walkways through the parking garage. Stops along the 35-minute trip to downtown Seattle Link include: SODO, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley neighborhoods and Tukwila.
NO UAL PREMIER OR 1K FOR YOU NEXT YEAR? If, like a lot of folks faced less frequent travel due to the recession, you’ve lost your elite status on United, you can buy your way into the perks you’ve grown accustomed to. Depending on flight length, you can pay a premium of anywhere from about $50 to $175 each way for “United’s Premier Travel Package.” With it, you’ll get access to the elite security lines, priority boarding, upgrades to Economy Plus, two-free checked bags and a Mileage Plus bonus. Pay twice that much, and you’ll also get a pass to the Red Carpet Club. (Purchase online or soon at United check in kiosks)
MORE ON TIME. With airlines parking more planes in the desert, airport congestion has become less of a problem at most airports (But not NYC!). In September, airlines had their best on-time performance since 2003, with 86% of flights arriving on time. That’s an improvement over August when just 80% arrived on time. It’s also slightly better than last September when 85% arrived on-time. Alaska Air and Southwest topped the list for best on time performance at about 90% on time.
AA TRANSCONS GET CREAMED. Starting Dec 1, business class passengers of American’s transcon flights out of SFO will get Ben & Jerry’s sundaes.