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Catching up on this week’s travel news 1-27

Southwest's special Super Bowl nonstops from SFO to New Orleans have sold out. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Southwest’s special Super Bowl nonstops from SFO to New Orleans have sold out. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

For those who might have been out and about and too busy to keep up with travel news, here’s what’s important to BATs this week:

>First off, let’s take a look at our poll from last week: If BAT readers had anything to do with it, the name of San Francisco International Airport would remain just that. At last count, 82% of BAT readers said that airport name should remain the same. Just 18% think we should insert Harvey Milk’s name into it. Might be good for city leaders to consider the opinions of those who use the airport most- BATs! Don’tcha think?

>San Jose’s much ballyhooed new flights to Tokyo have gotten off to a very rocky start. I’m sure glad I was one of the last people to ride on this fine bird… at least for a while. The latest news about the 787 is that no one really knows yet what is going on with the batteries. This week, overcharging was ruled out as a root cause...and until a root cause is determined, and a remedy made to fix that root cause, the plane is not going to fly. As of Friday, all ANA 787 flights, including those on the San Jose-Tokyo run, have been canceled through at least Feb 18. And ANA tells The BAT that it does not have necessary permissions to substitute another aircraft (like a 777) of the route. So San Jose waits…and as before, if you wanna go to Tokyo, the only choice is SFO.

>As expected, all the seats on Southwest’s extra flights between SFO and New Orleans for the Super Bowl sold out like hotcakes at $1,270 each. Go Niners!

>A BIG THANKS to the CLEAR CARD which has just signed on as a BAT sponsor for a whole year! Woo-hoo! Support the BAT by clicking on the CLEAR ad to the right and learning about its free offer for BAT readers! Are you interested in reaching the Bay Area’s most frequent and affluent travelers? Contact us about being a BAT sponsor!

>United is adding a larger aircraft on its SFO>Austin,TX nerd bird flights, adding a full-size A319, A320 or B737 to its current line up of Canadair RJs on the route.

>United is canceling nonstops to Toronto on April 6, leaving the route as a monopoly for Air Canada. Virgin America tried, and failed, to make the route work- canceling its Toronto flights on (coincidentally?) April 6, 2011.

>United has confirmed to The BAT that its new SFO-Paris CDG nonstop flights on April 11 will use a B767 (we thought that with the recent announcement about SFO being a new base for Boeing 747s, it might be switching aircraft.

>United has still not started the deployment of new-configuration B757 PS flights between SFO and JFK. United had said that the newly outfitted PS flights would begin flying last October… but we have not seen or heard much about them… and cannot get a straight answer from United as to whether there are any on the route. United has only told The BAT that the new PS flights “will begin in the first part of 2013.” Vague!

>This week, United posted a fourth quarter loss ($190 million) that was less than analysts expected. Executives now claim that its operational issues (such as the reservations system meltdown last summer) and the integration of Continental operations are now behind it. It’s begging business travelers (and their corporate handlers) to come back. Will you?

>Did you know that BATs will soon be able to fly Hawaiian Airlines between the Bay Area and Auckland, New Zealand (via a stopover on Honolulu)? The BAT received an invite to participate in the inaugural A330 flight in March so stay tuned for a fun post about that! It is interesting to watch Hawaiian turn into a true transpac carrier, with new flights to many points beyond Hawaii, such as Sydney, Taipei, Brisbane, Sapporo, Manila and Seoul. Would you consider flying Hawaiian and making a stop in HNL on your next transpac trip?

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  • http://www.photojimsf.com photojimsf

    I’d love to see Harvey Milk’s name added, but if Willie Brown couldn’t get his name on SFO, I guess I won’t be too too miffed.

  • samuel

    I’m really bummed to hear about United’s decision to cancel the non-stop Toronto service. I could understand if they wanted to maybe reduce it to maybe three times a week, but to eliminate it completely puts a major dent in my travel plans. Now with Air Canada as the sole non-stop provider, I fear that prices will increase even more than what they currently are. At least when Virgin ran the route, prices were kept in check. Being a UAL Mileage Plus member, I’ve found that AC flights are difficult to book, but I could always count on getting that UAL direct flight. What is it about Toronto that makes these routes so difficult? After all, this is the financial hub of Canada and its largest city. First Virgin, now United. Grrrrr…..

  • C

    I am on a r/t PS flight in mid-February and the seating configuration on United’s website has changed three times since I booked in early January. First old, then new, and now back to the old configuration. Frustrating as seats are just randomly (it feels like) reassigned. Additionally, I just booked another r/t PS flight and United’s website is still showing the old configuration. I don’t really think lie-flat seats are needed on a 5 or six hour flight (especially with the loss of premium seats) but certainly an entertainment console will be better than the hand-held systems that often are tempermental that are currently distributed to F and B fliers.

  • Jim H

    Although I have a deep amount of respect for Harvey Milk, events that have happened in his life and what he represents for the most amazing city on earth. I just don’t think naming an airport in his name does the justice that he deserves.

    Many of us Californians and West Coasters know who he is. But I expect that many people from other parts of the US and world do. If they were told by flight crew that they just arrived at Harvey Milk International Airport, they might not know where they are and end up being confused. Quick analogy.. Although I am not an avid sports kind of person, when they started renaming college bowl games after corporations, I was no longer able to figure out where that bowl game was located. It might has well been on Mars. Little did I know it was Boise.

    I think it would be better to retain SFO as San Francisco International Airport and place a tastefully created statue of Harvey Milk with a well written and descriptive interpretation on how he has helped make the community of San Francisco such as special place for residents and visitors alike.

  • Vinnie F

    Have flown Hawaiian RT from SFO to Manila via HNL. While the flights were very comfortable, Hawaiian’s gates are way too far from immigration (though they do have a shuttle). Once I left immigration, I found the signage back to security (to connect back to SFO) non-existent.

    I would do it again now that I know, but that first time back Stateside was disorienting.

  • PETER VERES

    You will start seeing the new United PS service between SFO-JFK reconfiguration to a 2 class service around mid February. 28 business class seats some economy plus seats and the balance, regular economy. The current service in coach is all 78 seats as economy plus, so that is a change in the wrong direction for United.

  • chris

    Hey Jason: Here’s what United told us last fall: http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/inflight/aircraft/767/300ER/v2.aspx It’s business and coach only.
    - chris

  • thinker

    Finally some mainline on SFO-AUS. 3 hours in a CR7 is brutal, no matter what cabin you’re in.

  • http://www.twitter.com/rand Jason Rand

    Does anyone know which 767 type will be on United’s SFO>CDG route? Ex-Continental?

    I would definitely fly through Honolulu to go onward to Asia / Pacific. A stop-over in Hawaii would be welcome, and it’s a nice way to break up what are otherwise really long non-stop flights to Asia / Pacific. I’d also think that spending a few days in Hawaii going to/from can also help minimize jetlag, depending on flight depature/arrival times?

    I flew SIN to SFO via NRT with no layover, and had jetlag for a week. I think a 1-day stop in Hawaii would’ve helped.