Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

U.S. Unveils New Airline Customer Service Portal

1 month ago

Air travelers in the U.S. now have a one-stop shop when it comes to knowing what airlines will provide them with in the event of a lengthy flight delay or cancellation.

The new Airline Customer Service Dashboard by the Department of Transportation is designed to “ensure the traveling public has easy access” to airline commitments in the event of a disrupted trip, the regulator said Thursday. The commitments, which are largely a list of existing airline policies compiled together in one place, only apply to “controllable” events, or one where the airline is at fault, for example staff shortages.

(DOT)

“Passengers deserve transparency and clarity on what to expect from an airline when there is a cancelation or disruption,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “This dashboard collects that information in one place so travelers can easily understand their rights, compare airline practices, and make informed decisions.”

For example, if a travelers flight is delayed more than three hours due to a mechanical problem with the aircraft, the dashboard shows that they are guaranteed a meal voucher on almost all major airlines except Allegiant Air. However, if their flight is cancelled, only American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and United Airlines will rebook them on another carrier.

“Carriers welcome opportunities to simplify travel policies, clarify existing practices and increase transparency for travelers,” a spokesperson for trade group Airlines for America said.

The new dashboard follows a spike in flight delays and cancellations earlier this year that resulted in a blame game between airlines and authorities. While acknowledging their own staffing issues, airlines have claimed that air traffic control staffing has exacerbated the situation while the DOT has argued that the situation is primarily the fault airlines and weather. Whatever the reason, the regulator has moved to improve airline passenger protections, including a new rule that would guarantee cash refunds.

View the Airline Customer Service Dashboard

Airlines

American Airlines Plans to Buy Boom Supersonic Aircraft

2 months ago

American Airlines flyers could travel faster than the speed of sound by the end of a decade aboard Boom’s planned supersonic aircraft.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier has ordered up to 60 of Boom’s Overture aircraft, including a deposit on the first 20, American said Tuesday. As proposed, the Overture seats 65-80 passengers and travel at Mach 1.7, or faster than the speed of sound. Boom plans to roll out the first test aircraft in 2025 and begin delivering it to airlines in 2029.

“Looking to the future, supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers,” American Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr said. “We are excited about how Boom will shape the future of travel.”

American is the third carrier, after United Airlines and Japan Airlines, to commit to the Overture.

(Boom Supersonic)

The Overture remains very much a work in progress. Boom does not have an engine for the aircraft, a critical component that without which the plane is dead-on-arrival. Speaking at the Farnborough Air Show in July, Boom CEO Blake Scholl deflected questions on an engine saying the planemaker would discuss the matter further in the “near future.” He cited progress under a 2020 partnership with Rolls-Royce.

But in a recent interview with The Air Current, when asked about the Boom partnership Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said: “We’re not making anything speculative for anybody … We’re not spending our dollars on new engine development. Our new engine developments are around our business jet engines and our UltraFan. That’s it.”

There is no available or in-development supersonic engine for commercial aircraft. The only supersonic engines in production are for military aircraft, and the multi-year timeframe needed to develop and certify a new engine makes the target of an Overture first flight in 2026 highly speculative.

Airlines

American Airlines Computer Glitch Temporarily Threatens 12,000 Flights

3 months ago

An American Airlines computer glitch threatened to cause more disruption for U.S. airports during the July 4 weekend.

A problem in the carrier’s system that enables pilots to add, drop, or trade routes briefly wiped out 12,000 flights scheduled to depart in July. American said in a statement on Saturday it was reinstating most of those flights, adding it didn’t expect the issue to impact its operations.

However, the Allied Pilots Association, the labor union that represents American’s pilots, said on Sunday that it’s discussing extra pay for pilots whose flights were mistakenly cancelled because of the glitch. The union also told pilots that adding those flights back to the pilots’ schedules violated its contract, but it would work with American to tackle the issue and find solutions to what it describes as an overwhelming scheduling system.

American and the APA are in process of negotiating a new contract, and the carrier offered its pilots a roughly 17 percent pay raise on July 30.

Courtesy: Aero Pixels, Wikimedia Commons

Airlines

American Airlines Pitches up to $64,000 Pay Raise to Pilots

3 months ago

American Airlines proposed a 16.9 percent pay raise to pilots in a contract offer to the Allied Pilots Association (APA) union, CEO Robert Isom said Thursday.

The raise would bring pay for pilots at American in line with rates for their counterparts at United Airlines, Isom said in a video message that was first reported by CNBC and independently confirmed by Skift. The two-year contract proposal, which would replace an agreement that became amendable in January 2020, also includes increases in per diem and training pay.

(Brandon Wade/American Airlines)

Based on American’s math, a captain flying narrow-body jets, like the Airbus A321 or Boeing 737-8, would earn up to $340,000 a year and one flying wide-body aircraft, like the Boeing 777 and 787, up to $425,000 a year, Isom said. That represents annual increases of up to $45,000 and $64,000, respectively.

The offer comes days after pilots at United began voting on a tentative accord that would give them a headline 14.5 percent raise over two years. However, the net increase would only be 9.5 percent after 5 percent that was previously promised. Skift understands that some pilots oppose the deal over what they view as a “substandard” raise, and concerns over quality of life issues.

Pilots at American’s regional affiliates Envoy, Piedmont Airlines, and PSA Airlines all received significant pay increases earlier in June that brought starting rates to the same level, $90 an hour, as their counterparts at American.

American is offering the APA and pilots “incentives” to ratify a new agreement by September 30. The union has yet to agree to the proposal.

Airlines

Hopper Forecasts 12.9 Million U.S. Flyers Over July Fourth Holiday

3 months ago

The July Fourth holiday in the U.S. kicks off with this week with vacationers expected to begin hitting the road en mass on Thursday. That’s when an estimated up to 2.7 million daily travelers are expected to take to the sky with a robust 12.9 million flyers over the entire long weekend, according to a new forecast from Hopper.

To put the numbers in perspective, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) busiest day to date since the beginning of the pandemic was June 26 when agent’s screened 2.46 million people. Hopper’s estimate sees almost another 300,000 flyers traveling through airports across the country on Thursday and Friday, and an average of 2.6 million daily over the long weekend — or the five days from June 30 to July 4 — even as airlines and airports are already struggling with the surge of summer travelers.

(Hopper)

“With flight delay and cancelation rates well above 2019 averages, travelers should prepare for potential disruptions traveling over the long weekend,” Hopper said. However, with many airlines proactively cancelling flights ahead of time, the number of delays has decreased in recent days.

The busiest airports are of no surprise: Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Denver — mega-hubs for Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines, respectively — top Hopper’s list. Los Angeles is also forecast among the busiest.

Airlines

Toledo Largest U.S. City to Lose Air Service Due to Pilot Shortage

4 months ago

Toledo, Ohio, has the unfortunate distinction of being the largest U.S. city, and one of the first, to entirely lose air service on a network carrier due to the pilot shortage.

American Airlines will end flights to Toledo from Chicago O’Hare on September 7 citing the “regional pilot staffing shortage,” a spokesperson confirmed Thursday. With American’s departure, Toledo will lose its sole connection to the global airline network — in other words, there are no longer one-stop flight connections to Los Angeles, New York, or Tokyo. Allegiant Air will continue to serve Toledo but the discounter serves a leisure traveler niche of people that only want to go to Orlando or Phoenix, and not further afield.

(MrJacon000/Wikimedia)

Other airports have lost air service since U.S. airlines began reporting a shortage of pilots last year. For example, American dropped Williamsport, Pa. — a city of less than 28,000 people in 2021, according to the U.S. Census — from its map in September 2021, Cirium schedules show. But most have either lost a network carrier, primarily United Airlines, or nonstop flights but retained other air service. In addition, the 29 airports that SkyWest Airlines is exiting are all part of the U.S. government’s essential air service program that mandates a replacement — like Southern Airways Express — be found before SkyWest ends flights.

Toledo is a unique case. Long the headquarters for Jeep and a decent size metropolis of more than 260,000 people, it is sandwiched between two much larger airports: Detroit at just over an 1 hour distant and Cleveland two hours away, according to Google Maps. So the loss of American is not a huge blow in the scheme of things but, with regional pilot costs rapidly rising, it hints at things to come.

Online Travel

T-Mobile Launches Travel Portal in Partnership With Priceline

4 months ago

T-Mobile is getting heavier into travel with the debut of a discount travel website in partnership with Priceline.

The U.S.-based telecom services provider also announced Thursday it is offering free Wi-Fi on certain Delta, American and Alaska airlines flights for T-Mobile customers, and will be expanding its free Wi-Fi services to 210 countries and destinations to customers signed up for certain plans.

In the background, a woman uses Wi-Fi on a Delta aircraft. Photo source: Delta.

T-Mobile Travel is powered by Booking Holdings’ Rocket Travel, and potentially also leverages Booking’s $1.2 billion acquisition of hotel wholesaler Getaroom.

“To meet T-Mobile’s needs, Priceline curated a totally custom and unique combination of travel technology, sales and support services and product, most notably leveraging the technology capabilities of Rocket Miles and Priceline inventory,” a Priceline spokesperson said.

T-Mobile Travel claims to offer exclusive hotel discounts of up to 40 percent, as well as flights and car rentals. Skift didn’t see any short-term rentals in the mix.

Regarding the discounts, Skift found a listing for a queen-bed room at the Shoreham Hotel in New York City in early July for three nights for $730 that was 34 percent lower than on Expedia.com. T-Mobile claimed it was a 37 percent discount.

In addition to the new travel website, Delta, American and Alaska Airlines starting June 21 will begin offering free Wi-Fi for T-Mobile customers on select flights, T-Mobile said. “United Airlines will follow,” T-Mobile stated in its announcement. “And T-Mobile will continue to work hard to keep customers covered on even more airlines over time.”

T-Mobile will also will add certain streaming services on some of these flights for free or at a discount, the company said.

T-Mobile customers who have selected its Magenta Max or Business Unlimited Ultimate Plan will get 5GB of high-speed Wi-Fi, where available, for no extra charge in more than 210 countries and destinations, the company said.

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