We’re going to spend the next few days getting caught up on the Bay Area Travel News you need to know! Let’s go:
NICE SHOES. Here we go again. Get ready for increased scrutiny of your footwear at the airport. Today the feds warned airlines to pay particular attention to the possibility of terrorists attempting to hide explosives in shoes– on feet or in hand luggage. As usual, officials did not cite a specific incident, threat or plot that lead to the warning. Here’s another warning for you: Keep your seatbelt fastened! Did you hear about the Cathay Pacific flight from SFO cruising across the Pacific and hitting a patch of rough air over Japan last night? See the scary scene as reported by CNN here. Winter is the peak time of year for flight turbulence, so always keep that seatbelt fastened!
FREE ICE CREAM. Now that I have your attention… Today Virgin America announced that it has teamed up with popular San Francisco ice cream purveyor Humphry Slocombe to provide dessert for its first class passengers on transcontinental flights starting March 4. But don’t fret if you can’t afford one of Virgin’s creamy white first class seats…. anyone with a Virgin America boarding pass can get a free scoop between March 4 and June 30 at either Humphry Slocombe store in SF (in the Mission and at the Ferry Building). To help determine flyer favorites, Virgin is giving away free scoops at the airport today. The flavors are specially concocted for the carrier, and include “Coconut Blond Ambition (lemon, coconut & marshmallow cream),” “Red Hot Banana (with smashed Red Hot candies),” and “Butter by Moodlight (brown butter & berries).”
SFO-ST LOUIS. Frontier Airlines announced today that it would offer nonstop from SFO to St Louis starting June 13. Flights will operated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only using an Airbus A320. Introductory fares are as low as $218 round trip. By June, Frontier will have turned St Louis, long ago abandoned by American Airlines, into a mini-hub with nonstops to 10 destinations.
AMERICAN’S NEW BIRDS. American Airlines will begin flying its new Airbus A321T on the lucrative SFO-JFK route on March 6 with two flights per day. By June 11, American will use the A321T exclusively on the route, completely replacing its old-but-comfy wide-body B767s. The “T” in the name stands for “transcontinental” since the plane will be used exclusively on flights from JFK to SFO and LAX. The new 102-passenger aircraft that sports lie flat seats in first (10) and business class (20). There are 72 seats in economy class. JetBlue’s new A321s that include the cool “Mint” class seats arrive on the scene on October 26—and can be booked starting March 30.
WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET? With all the changes (and devaluations) coming to our cherished frequent flyer programs, it’s a good idea to starting focusing on other ways to earn free trips—such as credit card programs. Over the last year, the new Barclaycard World Arrivals card has shot to the top of a lot of comparison charts when it comes to rewards cards. That’s because it offers a a nice 40,000 point sign-up bonus (that’s one free $400 ticket with no blackout dates), a value of $2 for every $100 spent, special bonuses for travel-related points redemptions, no irritating foreign transaction fee. Plus, the $89 annual fee is waived for the first year. When you get a Barclaycard World Arrivals card via links in The BAT, we earn a small commission… so come on and help us out if you are in the market for a new card– or just want a $400 discount on your next trip! Thanks. More info here.
LITTLE LUV FOR BAY AREA. Southwest Airlines made a lot of noise last week about its new flight schedule from its hub at close-in and convenient Dallas Love Field due to the lifting of the Wright Amendment this fall. But there was one big problem with the announcement: The route map shows that Southwest has no immediate plans to offer nonstop from the Bay Area to Dallas Love. An opportunity for Virgin America? Maybe. A spokesperson told The BAT: “We’d be very interested in expanding our low-fare, upscale service into Love Field should the opportunity arise.”
WHICH FLIGHTS AT NEW T3E? The BAT snagged a few more interesting morsels about usage of T3E from United: Initially, United plans to have about 50 departures and arrivals at the new terminal. A spokesperson said that it is, “targeting primarily long-haul, narrow-body routes from Boarding Area E—for example flights to Newark, JFK, Dulles and Chicago.” United said it’s also using Boarding Area E for flights to Seattle and Los Angeles, markets where it’s facing tough competition from Delta.
AIR CHINA TO BEIJING. Following in the footsteps of many other carriers, Air China has switched out its daily (and elderly) Boeing 747-400 for a shiny new B777-300ER on its daily SFO-Beijing service. Air China’s B777 has eight first class suites, 42 lie flat business class seats and 263 economy class seats (with 32 inches of pitch).
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