Southwest’s bag fees, US Airways’ Wi-Fi, Lufthansa’s 747-8s, JAL’s 787s, O’Hare’s new runway and other news

In other airline, hotel and travel industry news last week…

  • Southwest Airlines acquired AirTran in May last year and received a single operating certificate from the FAA last month, but each carrier remains an independent operation for the time being meaning AirTran’s baggage and other fees will remain intact. Unlike the relatively faster integration between Delta & Northwest and United & Continental, Southwest says it will take, “several years to fully transition AirTran into Southwest Airlines to become one airline.” The fees will continue through at least the end of 2013 and possibly into 2014.
  • US Airways is expanding its Gogo Wi-Fi service across their entire Airbus fleet and Embraer 190 aircraft, eventually bringing onboard internet capabilities to 90 percent of its domestic mainline fleet. Regional carrier Republic Airlines will also add the service to its Express Embrarer 170 and 175 aircraft. Gogo Vision will be included where passengers have the option to download movies, TV shows and other content directly to their Wi-Fi enabled devices.
  • Lufthansa announced their new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft will be deployed on the Frankfurt to Washington Dulles route shortly after deliveries begin April 23. It will replace the existing 747-400 flights, LH 418 and LH 419. All of Lufthansa’s 747-8 aircraft will feature the new business and first class product, as well as 787-style overhead bins and LED lighting. I look forward to burning some miles to fly this bird in a premium cabin later this year.
  • Japan Airlines took delivery of its first two Boeing 787-8s this past week making it the second airline to receive the long-delayed Dreamliner. The airline is expected to begin 787 flights to Boston this month and to San Diego later this year. I may have to start building up my American AAdvantage miles for a future redemption.
  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel predicts Chicago O’Hare’s newest runway will be built and in use by 2015. The city will rely on financial help from both American and United to get it built and predicts once in use, it will reduce delays by 80 percent and allow for 300,000 more passengers annually.
  • My “air traveling idiot of the week” award goes to a woman onboard US Airways flight 1697 from Charlotte to Fort Myers who, in an allegedly intoxicated state, kicked, scratched and spit on flight attendants, even knocking one to the ground. Unlike other recent incidents, the flight didn’t divert and continued to Fort Myers after she was restrained with the help of an off-duty sheriff’s deputy.

Finally, here are some other noteworthy items deserving of a click-through:

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