It’s not often that travelers have something to look forward to at Newark Liberty International Airport. The new $2.7 billion Terminal A will open in December, the latest in a series of major airport projects opening around the U.S. this year.
The first 21 gates of the 33-gate facility will open on December 8, officials said Tuesday. The remaining gates open in 2023. Air Canada, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and United Airlines will operate from the terminal initially, and Delta Air Lines will join them next year. The old Terminal A, which opened in 1973, will be demolished.
The last new terminal to open at Newark airport was Terminal C in 1988.
United, which has a large hub at Newark, will use up to 15 gates in the new Terminal A. The airline plans to operate flights to around 23 destinations — including to Atlanta, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, San Diego, and Seattle-Tacoma — from the facility, Newark Chief Pilot Captain Fabian Garcia said in September.
The new terminal at Newark is the latest in a series of big airport investments around the U.S. this year. New or expanded facilities at Denver, Los Angeles, New York LaGuardia, Orlando, Phoenix Sky Harbor, Seattle-Tacoma, and Washington Dulles airports have all opened in recent months.
Construction of Terminal A at Newark began in 2018.
United Airlines saw an increase in corporate travel bookings after Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer in the U.S.
“We did see in September another several points tick up in corporate travel buying,” United Vice President of Sales Strategy & Effectiveness Glenn Hollister said at the ATPCO Elevate conference in Arlington, Va., Tuesday. Those “several points” raised corporate bookings to more than 70 percent recovered from the pandemic, he added.
Asked about the outlook for the rest of 2022, Hollister said United sees no change in corporate booking activity, which continues to gradually improve.
Also speaking at the ATPCO event, Global Business Travel Association CEO Suzanne Neufang said the organization forecasts corporate travel buying globally to recover to roughly 65 percent of 2019 levels, or a little less than $1 trillion, by the end of the year. GBTA does not expect a full recovery until 2026.
A big final step in the corporate travel recovery for United, and many other airlines, is the reopening of Asia. United was the largest U.S. airline to the region before the pandemic and, until large markets like China fully reopen, will face challenges fully recovering to 2019 corporate travel revenues.
United will provide an updated outlook when it reports its third quarter results on October 19.
United Airlines is leaving New York’s JFK International Airport again just 20 months after it returned to the New York City gateway.
“Given our current, too-small-to-be-competitive schedule out of JFK — coupled with the start of the winter season where more airlines will operate their slots as they resume JFK flying — United has made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend service at JFK,” the Chicago-based carrier told staff in a memo on Friday viewed by Skift. United will operate its last flights to and from the airport on October 29.
The move comes despite pressure by United on the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to ease capacity constraints at JFK so the airline could operate more flights. The carrier says that its four daily flights — two to Los Angeles and two to San Francisco — are not enough to offer a competitive alternative to the likes of Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and JetBlue Airways that all operate the routes.
United resumed flights to JFK in March 2020 five years after it first suspended flights to the airport. In 2017, the airline’s then-president Scott Kirby (now CEO) called the move the “wrong decision,” even as he took responsibility for it in his prior role at American.
United continues to fly between Newark Liberty airport to the west of Manhattan and both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In the latest hint of a major change to Emirates’ U.S. strategy, the Dubai-based airline is ending its partnership with JetBlue Airways on October 30.
The change, which was first reported by The Points Guy, comes as Emirates prepares to hold a joint “special event” with United Airlines on September 14. The United announcement is expected to include a codeshare partnership that would see both Emirates and United connect their passengers onto the other carriers’ flights.
Emirates and JetBlue have been partners since 2012. The tie up has had commercial ripples through the industry, for example, it forced United to end flights to Dubai in 2016 after the partners won the U.S. government contract for travel to the Gulf city. And Fort Lauderdale — a major base for JetBlue — was Emirates’ sole destination in South Florida from 2016 until 2020; Emirates swapped Fort Lauderdale for Miami in 2021, according to Diio by Cirium schedules.
JetBlue, like Emirates, notified frequent flyers on its website that the partnership with Emirates would end on October 30.
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.
“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.
United Airlines and Emirates appear poised to unveil a wide-ranging new partnership that could see the two global airlines offer travelers significantly more flight options.
The carriers sent invites Tuesday for a joint “special event” in Washington, D.C., on September 14. The invites came hours after The Air Current reported that United and Emirates were near a new codeshare partnership. Such a pact would allow each airline to sell tickets on certain flights operated by the other that would give travelers broad connectivity across the airlines’ respective route networks. United would likely gain new markets in Africa, the Middle East, and India, and Emirates significantly more access to the U.S. market.
A partnership would represent a dramatic warming of relations between United and Emirates. In 2015, United, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines launched an all-out campaign to limit the growth of the Gulf carriers, including Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways, to the U.S. arguing that they were essentially dumping capacity in the market with the financial backing of their respective governments. As The Air Current reported Tuesday, in 2017 United’s then-CEO Oscar Munoz called the Gulf airlines “international branding vehicles” for the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
But tensions have eased in recent years. American and Qatar Airways unveiled a broad partnership in 2020 that saw the former add flights to Doha — its first ever nonstop the Gulf — in June. If the United-Emirates pact comes to pass, only Delta would be left without a partner in the Gulf.
For now, we have to wait until September 14 to find out what United and Emirates are up too.
Book direct with the airline or hotel instead of gong through a middleman like an online travel agency.
Consult JoinSherpa.com to keep abreast of ever-changing Covid lockdown rules and destination entry requirements and use itinerary organizing tools like TripIt. If you are a Gmail user, Google Travel likewise organizes your travel bookings, although it can be glitchy.
Download the hotel’s app to access functions such as earlier check-in as soon as your room is ready.
Additional Tech Hacks
We’ll add a few favorite tech hacks of our own.
Use FlightAware to see the location of the plane that’s hopefully en route for your departure. Some airline apps have this feature. A couple of weeks ago FlightAware informed me that the plane that was scheduled to take me from Puerto Rico to New Jersey would be arriving in New Jersey around 5:20 a.m. while United Airlines misinformed me that flight would be taking off more than an hour earlier. The flight actually took off around 15 hours later.
Speaking of United, you can now pre-order beverages and food on some U.S. domestic flights, although it too can be clunky.
Sign up for a virtual private network such as Surfshark so that once you arrive at your foreign destination you’ll still able to view apps such as Sling.tv, which wouldn’t otherwise be unavailable.
When shopping for deals, make sure to consult mobile apps for companies such as Tripadvisor, Expedia, or Booking.com because sometimes mobile deals will be lower than desktop prices.
Download lots of movies to your phone before your flight in case there are slim pickings on board.
Contact your cellphone company to see if it will give you a discounted rate for mobile calls in a foreign destination. T-Mobile has such a program, for example.
There are tons of other travel hacks available. Send us your favorites.
United, and a lot of other U.S.-based airlines didn’t permit onboard booze purchases during most of the pandemic, but that’s changed and the airline is now even enabling passengers on certain U.S. domestic flights to order snacks and drinks up to five days before their trips.
United sent me an email five days before a flight from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico to Newark, New Jersey, with the offer to choose snacks and drinks from five days to 24 hours before the flight. If your flight plans change, United said it will cancel the order, and send another email regarding snack and drink choices for the new flight, when relevant.
“Make your food and beverage choice now and don’t worry about pulling out your wallet as we move toward contactless payment,” the United email said. “You can change your mind about your choice and won’t be charged until you receive your refreshments on board.”
Simpleflying reported that United’s preorder service for snacks and beverages is only available on certain U.S. domestic flights, but the airline plans to expand this to additional routes.
The snack choices include items such as Pringles ($4), tapas ($10), and Lesser Evil Himalayan Gold popcorn ($8), for example.
As a United frequent flyer, the airline had my payment information saved so the purchase was easy to make, and I immediately received an email confirmation of my order.
The menu listed all of the drinks choices, ranging from sparkling wine to Bailey’s Irish Cream and Wheatley Vodka, as being out of stock, adding they may still be available on the flight.
I couldn’t order any snacks or drinks for my return flight because it was too many days away.
United’s new preordering of snacks and drinks is a good way for airlines to increase their ancillary services revenue. If the choices were personalized to the flyer then that might be an added attraction, but it would probably be impractical at this juncture.
United Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella said July 21 that the airline’s ancillary revenue per onboard passenger in the second quarter was 30 percent higher than during the same period in 2019.
The airline is making up lost revenue from change fees, dropped during the pandemic, with increased ancillary revenue — or non-flight services — from bag fees and premium seats.
More U.S. airlines are placing blame on the Federal Aviation Administration for the flight disruptions that are plaguing the industry this summer. On Tuesday, United Airlines Chief Operating Officer Jon Roitman called out the regulator, saying: “There are just more flights scheduled industrywide than the ATC staffing system can handle (particularly in [New York] and [Florida]).”
“Until that is resolved, we expect the U.S. aviation system will remain challenged this summer and beyond,” Roitman continued. “We’re eager to do our part and will continue to stay in touch with the federal government on possible solutions that will positively impact customers.”
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, in an employee town hall on June 29, made similar comments about air traffic control staffing, calling the organization the “most stressed” among aviation industry stakeholders. Those stakeholders also include airlines themselves, airports, and the Transportation Security Administration.
Roitman’s comments are the latest in a war of words between the Department of Transportation, which includes the FAA, and airlines over flight disruptions this summer. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has denied that air traffic control staffing is an issue and pointed the finger at airlines, while the industry has said that their issues are compounded by the air traffic control issues.
Either way, travelers can likely expect further travel delays and disruptions when they fly this summer.
Spirit Airlines’ two-and-a-half year saga to expand at Newark Liberty International Airport has a happy ending. Late on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the discounter 16 peak “runway timings” — in short, rights to takeoff and land at an airport during a given hour — that Spirit sued for in December 2019.
The DOT said the award of the timings, which were only available to budget airlines, would boost “low-cost service options” and improve competition at the New York City-area airport. Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways also sought the takeoff and landing rights, according to the regulator.
Newark is a major hub for United Airlines, which operates more than 70 percent of all flights at the airport. The timings were previously used by Southwest Airlines until the carrier ended flights to Newark in 2019. And Southwest acquired them in 2010 as a condition of United’s merger with Continental Airlines.
The award comes amid a three-way war of words between JetBlue, Spirit, and United over congestion at Newark. JetBlue and Spirit blame United, and the Federal Aviation Administration, for over scheduling the already congested airport, whereas United has repeatedly made the argument that its much smaller competitors were the problem. In June, United cut its schedule at Newark by roughly 50 daily flights from July 1 through the end of the summer to combat delays.
In an interesting twist, the DOT may need to re-award the timings if JetBlue wins its hostile bid for Spirit. The former carrier has pledged to divest all of Spirit’s assets in Boston and New York — including Newark — if shareholders approve its plan over a competing proposal from Frontier Airlines. Spirit shareholders vote on the Frontier proposal Friday.