Online bag tracking, new US-Australia service, Hilton lobby revamp, suing Sabre & first quarter losses

Here’s a recap of additional news from this week that caught my attention:

  • Delta Air Lines introduces the ability to track your checked bags online, as well as at self-service kiosks at its largest stations around the U.S. These upgrades also allow you to submit a missing bag report electronically, where in the past you had to work directly with an agent at the airport, or fax the information in from home. Included with the service is a “Delayed Bag Fee Rebate” in the form of travel vouchers for $25/bag up to two bags if they don’t arrive within 12-hours.
  • The battles between Global Distribution Systems (GDSs) and airlines keep making the news, now with US Airways suing Sabre. The carrier claims the GDS refused to allow them to pursue other distribution platforms & threatened to remove their flights from the system if they did. Given that 35% of US Airways revenues flow through Sabre, the carrier had no choice saying, “it would not survive long” without a presence in Sabre. American chimed in, happily pointing out that “American does not stand alone in trying to bring new technologies to the distribution of airline products in the 21st century.”
  • Hilton Hotels officially introduced a new lobby design to eventually be rolled out across the flagship brand. The Hilton McClean Virginia Tysons Corner Hotel has the honor of being the first with the new lobby, featuring community spaces designed to plug in and work on your mobile devices or meet with others in a comfortable lounge-type setting. An 18-hour bar is also prominent, offering time-of-day appropriate food and beverage options.
  • As widely reported at most news outlets, American Airlines and United Airlines posted first quarter 2011 losses of $436 million and $213 million respectively, citing fuel costs and the events in Japan as major contributors. Additional capacity cuts are in the works at both carriers. Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines did manage to eek out a $5 million profit for the quarter ended March 31, 2011.
  • Finally, quite a bit of airline news in Australia has been interesting to monitor this week. There are hints at V Australia entering the San Francisco market after Qantas’ departure, Strategic Airlines is seeking approval to fly to the United States (likely Hawaii), and it’s looking as if the new Virgin Blue will take the name of Virgin Australia, as recent web domain ownership activity suggests.

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