In other airline, hotel and travel industry news last week…
- Delta Air Lines introduced new ancillary options available at booking called Trip Extras. The initial offerings are priority boarding starting at $9 per segment, a mileage booster starting at $29 for 1,000 miles (terrible value!) and a 24-hour Wi-Fi pass for $12. Since Delta’s own blog mentions them as being the “first offerings” to be available at booking, Trip Extras will certainly be expanded further growing the ever popular unbundling and ancillary product trend.
- Virgin America announced it will begin service to Portland, Oregon on June 5, 2012 – its 18th destination. The airline will fly two daily roundtrip flights PDX-LAX and one PDX-SFO. CEO David Cush is hoping their entry will bring fares down noting, “Although there are strong business and leisure travel ties between California and Portland, the West Coast-to-PDX market generally has higher fares than similar flights to Seattle and the reason is competition.”
- I posted some of the insights I gleaned from United Airlines’ presentation at the J.P. Morgan investors’ conference last week and Southwest Airlines also participated revealing they expect to realize a first quarter 2012 loss. Citing an average fuel cost of $3.50 per gallon, Senior VP-Finance and CFO Laura Wright said, “Based on the current revenue and fuel estimates, we currently do not anticipate a profit in the first quarter.” The first and fourth quarters are typically the most challenging for airlines and given Southwest has earned a full-year net profit for 39 consecutive years, I wouldn’t be too worried as an investor.
- Besides the already reported new flights by American and United out of Washington’s Reagan National Airport, Air Canada, Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Sun Country and Virgin America have applied for a piece of the remaining four slots open to “beyond perimeter” flying out of DCA. Both JetBlue and Southwest are hoping to begin service to Austin, each claiming United has a high-priced monopoly on their existing service from nearby Dulles International Airport.
- Google’s Flight Search expanded its legs last week and now offers U.S.-based users the ability to search international fares and flights. I honestly haven’t been back to it since my initial underwhelming review of the ITA Software-powered search tool, and probably won’t return until I start hearing rave reviews. It might be a good tool for the general traveler with simple flight search needs, so perhaps my more advanced knowledge and ITA Matrix experience is jading my opinion.
- Hyatt Hotels plans to install new TV technology allowing guests in North American properties to stream movies from their own Netflix or HBO accounts, as well as connect their laptops to use other services. Guests will have to pay the $9.95 daily internet charge to use the service, which will include the ability to request items from housekeeping, order room service and get information on local restaurants and city tours.