787 delivered, A380 ordered, pilots suing & losing, hotel fees & promos, premium cabin rebound and DOT fines Virgin

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

  • All Nippon Airways (ANA) took delivery of its first Boeing 787 this week and it flew to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Wednesday. Regularly scheduled service doesn’t begin until November 1st, but the carrier plans to fly a charter flight from Narita to Hong Kong on October 26th. The Dreamliner will be seen initially flying regionally with long-haul service from Tokyo to Frankfurt beginning in January 2012.
  • Lufthansa has ordered two additional Airbus A380s and 10 other aircraft in a deal that carries a list price of about $1.3 billion. The carrier says the increased capacity is necessary for “short-term requirements.” The other additions are one A330-300, four A320s for regional intra-Europe flying and five Embraer 195 regional jets. Once delivered, Lufty will have a fleet of 17 A380s.
  • The Air Line Pilots Association at United Airlines sued the carrier claiming pilots weren’t given enough time to learn, train and implement a new procedure when a jet is caught in a strong wind gust. The procedure in question is currently used at Continental Airlines and requires pilots to let the autopilot make the necessary adjustments vs. pilots taking control in those instances. Courts ruled with the airline allowing the changes to go ahead. Something tells me, though, that pilots against the change might disobey procedure and take over control of the airplane. Just a hunch as it’s something I might do.
  • Courts also sided with US Airways this week forcing pilots to quit engaging in work slowdowns that have caused delays and cancellations impacting the carrier’s ability to handle reaccommodation of passengers. When the suit was filed, the US Airline Pilots Association claimed the carrier’s allegations were “categorically false” and instead said they were performing a “safety campaign.” The judge disagreed after reviewing the evidence and issued an injunction against the union.
  • Many hotels require you to cancel a reservation by 6pm the day of arrival, or some even 24- to 48-hours out. It’s nothing new, but one hotel in Packwood, WA has a vague policy stating, “If Manager is able to re-sell Guest’s dates at net rates of at least equal to those charged to Guest, Manager will refund Guest’s Use Fee less a Re-Booking fee as specified by Manager.” Chris Elliott thinks hotels might adopt airline-like rebooking fees on some rates in addition to the already existing non-refundable ones. It’s an interesting concept where hotels could create a new revenue stream, but I don’t think it will catch on.
  • Hilton HHonors revealed its fourth quarter promotion offering either double points or a free night certificate after four qualifying stays or 10 nights. Registration is required for stays between October 1st and December 31st this year. The list of non-qualifying properties is lengthy and includes two I have bookings at in October. As such, I signed up for the double miles since it wouldn’t pay off to do a couple of mattress runs just to get a free night.
  • Even with the current economic downturn, it’s being reported business travelers are returning to booking premium cabins on airlines. Corporate travel managers saw a five percent increase this year in North American companies that allow premium-class travel. 56% of companies here have such a policy, with 46% of European firms, up from 34% last year. I always feel fortunate to get a complimentary upgrade on United’s A319 fleet with only 8 seats in First Class, but my luck might change should these figures continue to rise.
  • Finally, Virgin Atlantic was fined $25,000 by the U.S. Department of Transportation for violating the rules for advertising taxes and fees clearly. They found the carrier, “displayed internet ads that did not provide direct access to information on taxes and fees that were in addition to the base fare.” If you clicked on the ad, the fees were there, but fairly well hidden in the fine print. This will all change come January next year, though, as all advertised prices will be required to include the fees.

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