Messier at T1, new flights to Europe, UAL leaves OAK, PreCheck at SFO

(Photo: Rolling Thunder / Flickr)

MESSIER AT SFO T1. The BAT has learned that UAL has quietly expanded the list of cities it serves from Terminal 1 at SFO to at least two more than we reported in early June. This week we’ve heard from surprised readers on flights to or from Denver, Los Angeles LAX and Portland PDX using Terminal 1.  There’s little rhyme or reason…or transparency… about this from United, which makes the situation all the more frustrating. Just remember: If your boarding pass says gate 87 or 92A-F, United will tell you to enter at Terminal 3, go to the gate and take a shuttle bus under the airport to Terminal 1. But BAT readers know that if you have no luggage to check, you can enter directly at Terminal 1. If your plane arrives SFO at Terminal 1 and you have no checked bags, you exit at Terminal 1. If you have checked bags or a connecting flight, United will direct you to the shuttle for a ride back over to Terminal 3. Have you experienced this merry-go-round yet? If so, please leave your comments below.

UAL SEZ BUH-BYE OAKLAND. United took its very last flight out of Oakland on Sunday, June 4 with a flight to Denver. United had served Oakland for more than 75 years, and the airport gave the final flight a ceremonial spray from a fire truck. Over the years, Southwest has made its mark at OAK, and this undoubtedly had an influence on UAL’s declining fortunes there.

(Photo: Virgin America)

PORTLANDIA. Virgin America inaugurated new flights to Portland earlier this month—and celebrated by naming its newest A320 “Mount Hoodie.” Clever!

AIR FRANCE’S LARGEST LOUNGE. Fly to Paris much? Then you should check out this slideshow of Air France’s chic new business class lounge at Paris CDG—it’s the largest lounge in the system and open to business, first and SkyTeam partner passengers.

GIMME FREE WIFI. Seeking free hotel wifi? Silicon Valley based hotel booking site Room77 allows users to filter hotels by availability of free wi-fi. Smart!

STOLEN LAPTOPS. Some airports are worse than others when it comes to laptop theft. A recent study found that Atlanta-ATL is #1 for laptop theft in the US. SFO ranks fifth worst after Miami-MIA, Chicago-ORD, Orlando-MCO. Frankfurt is #1 outside the US.

MORE CLEAR. The CLEAR card, which is back at SFO with its popular expedited security screening service, expanded to Terminal E (serving UAL, Delta, Virgin, etc) at Dallas-Ft Worth airport last week. CLEAR is now available at all terminals at SFO. It’s also in operation at Denver and Orlando airports. If you had a CLEAR card in it’s previous life, whatever time you had left on it when the company shut down is now valid at SFO—so get bring your old card to SFO and give it a try. The service costs $179 per year.

Photo: Olivier Cabaret / Flickr

EURO-AIR. Are you aware of all the new airlines flying to Europe from the Bay Area? To make hay while the summer sun shines, airlines such as XL Airways (SFO-Paris CDG), Arkefly (OAK-Amsterdam AMS), Air Berlin (SFO-Dusseldorf) and Sata (OAK-Azores) now offer nonstops across the pond. All are offering roundtrip fares in the $1500 range—not much different than what you’ll currently find on more mainstream carriers. Note: These carriers do not offer daily service—it’s more like 1-3 times per week. Also, we don’t hear much about these carriers here since they are more focused on European business than US business—which becomes immediately evident when you try to search for fares on their balky websites.

EURO-CHEAPO? If those fares seem high, here’s some good news: The US dollar gaining rapidly on the euro, making trips across the pond a little easier on American wallets. Currently, you can buy a euro for about $1.25, and from the looks of this chart, it could be closed to $1.10 by this fall.

PRECHECK COMING TO SFO. Eventually. United has (finally) joined American and Delta as airline partners with TSA for it’s popular PreCheck expedited security screening program. However, United only has PreCheck at Chicago-ORD for now. The TSA’s western region spokesperson Nico Melendez told The BAT that while the agency expects to have PreCheck at SFO this year, there is still no formal date for introduction.

DELAY AT ANA FOR SJC. ANA has quietly pushed back the introduction of new nonstops between San Jose International and Tokyo using a new B787 Dreamliner into 2013. Last fall ANA said that service would start in 2012. Hmmm.

MORE BIZ CLASS ON UAL. United has revamped the first of 14 Boeing 767-300s with its new lie-flat business class seat—all facing forward, unlike the forward/rear facing seats on its B777s. United spokesperson Charles Hobart told The BAT that the newly configured 767’s won’t be flying internationally out of SFO but will be doing occasional domestic turns.

Bedroom at Las Alcobas, my fave hotel in Mexico City (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

MEXICO CITY. Got business in Mexico City? Check out my latest BBC Business Trip: Mexico City column for my take on latest, greatest and newest business class hotels, restaurants, airport lounges. Surprise: Mexico City has cut its pollution in half, and its downtown is safe, cosmopolitan and a lot of fun. Factoid: The city’s elevation is 7,200 feet—that’s 2,000 or so feet higher than Denver!

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