Noteworthy items from the airline & travel industry this week

Here’s a summary of some hot news items from this week covering airlines, airfares, airplanes and hotels.

  • Delta Air Lines: Delta announced that retroactive to January 1, 2011, there is no longer an expiration policy to frequent flyer miles earned in the SkyMiles program. This makes Delta the first major carrier to offer such an olive branch to the infrequent traveler whose miles may sit inactive for extended periods of time. Continental’s OnePass program states that “miles currently have no expiry date,” but your account would be subject to cancellation if no activity occurred in 18 months (same thing in my book). Also announced at Delta is their Gold Medallion level (those who fly 50,000 miles and/or 60 segments annually) will receive SkyTeam Elite Plus status. This brings them in line with other carriers’ mid-level programs, and when flying internationally, provides lounge access, priority baggage handling and oversell protection options.
  • Airfares: Ack! I’ve had a busy week and missed a pretty incredible airfare mistake on Delta. Several East Coast to Europe fares were available for between $150 to $250 roundtrip all-in! Insanely cheap pricing and even though I’m not a Delta flyer, how could you not book a trip that cheap? It was quickly discovered and within hours shut down, but many Flyertalkers cashed in. On the domestic side, though, I’ve seen some “decent” deals expanded through May now, and while not in the 3 cpm mileage running range, they’re pretty good deals to most major markets. Think Tuesday & Wednesday travel, though!
  • Image courtesy The Boeing Company

    Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental: Now the longest jetliner in the world, the newest generation of Boeing’s flagship was officially unveiled this week in Everett, Washington. Stretched an additional 18.3 feet from previous 747 models, it features an expanded upper-deck, redesigned wings, larger windows, reconfigured overhead bins, and many more enhancements. Sadly, orders for the passenger version are small, and currently Lufthansa has 20 on order, and Korean Air 5. She’s a sexy bird, in my opinion, and I’ll definitely be booking a ride when Lufthansa has them in service.

  • Club Carlson: The Carlson group of hotels (Radisson, Country Inn & Suites, Park Inn, and Park Plaza) is getting a loyalty program overhaul. GoldPoints Plus is changing to Club Carlson beginning March 31, 2011. While the exact program hasn’t been announced publicly, Ric Garrido over at Loyalty Traveler provides a few headlines, namely a new top-tier Concierge level and some earning & redemption point-level changes. I’ve been planning on switching my loyalty to Hilton, and once the full program is announced, will likely make a unique posting and make my final decision then.

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