United’s new route, SMF courts Virgin, Allegiant to Hawaii, DFW Wi-Fi, Qantas’ A380 and more news

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

  • United Airlines will begin new nonstop service from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to San Francisco on August 15. North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue broke the news on Wednesday. United will operate a 154-seat Boeing 737-800 on the route and the flight will be timed to allow for connections to the popular international bank of departures leaving in the 11 o’clock hour from SFO.
  • Sacramento International Airport is trying to court Virgin America. The airport received approval from the county to offer VX up to $400,000 to begin flights to Los Angeles. Also in the works for the debt-ridden airport are deals for two new airport hotels by 2014.
  • Allegiant Airlines officially announced new service to Hawaii. The airline took delivery of its first Boeing 757s last year that it will use on the route, but they have yet to receive FAA certification. Allegiant plans to operate flights to Honolulu three times weekly from Las Vegas and one flight each week from Fresno. The planned service is scheduled to begin at the end of June.
  • Free Wi-Fi will be coming to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in September this year. DFW reached an agreement with AT&T to offer the service in every terminal and passengers will have to view a 30-second commercial for every 40 minutes of network usage.
  • The Qantas A380 that suffered an uncontained engine failure near Singapore last year will return to service later this month. Final testing is underway and the total cost of repairs came to about $143 million. The airline claims the entire cost is covered by insurance and represents more than a third of the current $389.9 million list price for a new A380.
  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts will be shifting 447 properties up or down a category level on April 30. 330 hotels are going up a level while 117 are being downgraded. The full list of properties affected can be found here.
  • Hong Kong International Airport will be getting the world’s first airport IMAX theatre in June. It will replace the former 4D Extreme Screen in Terminal 2 and is located before security. A mix of Hollywood movies and “edutainment” films will air in the 358-seat cinema at a cost of about $20 per ticket.
  • Finally, my air-traveling idiot of the week goes to a woman who stripped naked at Denver International Airport on Tuesday. She was apparently smoking inside the terminal and decided to take her clothes off after being asked to put her cigarette out. An airport police spokesman said she wasn’t arrested, but instead taken to a hospital for evaluation.

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