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Airline-Airport Update

Great shot of Virgin Atlantic’s swanky new Clubhouse lounge at New York-JFK (Photo: Virgin Atlantic)

WHAT WILL DELTA+VIRGIN BRING? With the deal so new, it’s tough to say much at this point, but let’s speculate: First, the Delta-Virgin tie-up is likely to have much more impact on New York than Atlanta. It would be nice, but unlikely, if Virgin would compete nonstop with Delta between ATL and London-Heathrow, but a man can dream, no? Like before, those who would like a taste of Virgin Atlantic using their SkyMiles will likely fly Delta from ATL to Washington, New York, Newark, Chicago or Boston, and then change to Virgin for the over water leg to London. From there, the Virgin partnership offers some interesting new options for flying to Africa, India, and Asia. Interesting aircraft, too—it has six Airbus A380s and 15 B787 Dreamliners coming online in 2014-15. Once Delta and Virgin are housed in the same terminal at Heathrow, we’ll all have access to Virgin’s swish Clubhouse there. The big IF in all this is Delta’s much-anticipated switch to a revenue-based frequent flyer program—many expect this new program to be announced in 2013, and then put into effect in 2014. If you are wondering what a revenue-based program looks like, just take a look at Virgin America’s Elevate plan…which of course opens up a whole new can of worms with everyone wondering if Delta’s going to enter into some sort of arrangement with the mod, very popular, but money-losing SF-based carrier. Would YOU like to speculate? Please leave your comments below…

DELTA.COM FRUSTRATION. Our post last month about Delta’s switch to a new website elicited a slew of angry, confused comments from readers expressing their dismay at a redesign that makes the site clunkier to load and harder to get around. Even purchasing a ticket seems difficult. The display sorting method is partially to blame since certain options are often left out and more desirable flights are often four pages deep.  In addition, Delta has switched to a password-based login adding one more step to an already frustrating process. We’ve been unable to get Delta to tell us WHY it felt the need to change the website in the first place…but have received no reply. WHY do YOU think Delta has burdened us with this clunky new site? In the spirit of focusing on the positive… can you name a thing or two about the new site that is an improvement? Please leave your comments below!

DELTA FIRST CLASS FARE SALE. Delta’s offering a great deal on upgrades to first class on US and Canada flightsduring the busy holiday season– Dec 15 – Jan 5. Upgrades on the cheap! Details here. Not a bad idea to pony up a little extra cash as a gift to yourself (or others) for the Holidays!

>>>Have you signed up to get The TICKET via e-mail yet? If not, do it right now! Email in the box to the right, please!>>>

Buh-bye to Delta’s cramped CRJ200′s show here (Photo: Redlegs / Flickr)

BUH-BYE CRJ-200s. Delta is (thankfully) accelerating its removal of the cramped, 50-seat, one-class CRJ-200 aircraft and has placed an order for 40 more CRJ-900 aircraft that will be fitted with first class, Economy Comfort, and wi-fi. These 72-seaters are more efficient to operate allowing Delta to deploy them on routes that are too big for a CRJ-200, but too small for a mainline aircraft.

SOUTHWEST OVER WATER.  Starting in April, Southwest will fly nonstop from Orlando and Tampa to San Juan, its first over-water flights. For the time being, AirTran will continue to fly nonstop to San Juan from Atlanta, but the new SW flights offer a new one-stop choice for the Caribbean-bound.

ROLLOVER CONFUSION. TICKET reader B.R. reached out to us with an interesting issue that sheds light on confusion regarding rollover miles for those who have earned their status for life through the Million Miler program. It seems that customers who achieve Silver or Gold Medallion by earning Million Miler status instead of earning it by flying, do not carry over the extra MQMs into the New Year the way other travelers would. Let’s say you flew 35,000 MQMs in 2012 and are a two Million Miler (giving you lifetime Gold Status). Now it seems that the 10,000 extra MQMs over the 25,000 Silver Medallion threshold do not roll over since you technically did not fly up to the Gold Medallion level you have achieved to begin carrying over. You still maintain Gold status for life, but rollover seems to begin only above and beyond your current status level for the year. Delta helped The TICKET out with an answer to this, pulling this little nugget from its Terms & ConditionsMembers who receive complimentary or gifted Medallion status [ie, Million Milers] are ineligible for Rollover MQMs unless they earn more MQMs than the gifted status requirement. For example, if a member is gifted Silver Medallion status in 2012 and also earns 30,000 MQMs in 2012, s/he will be able to roll over 5,000 MQMs since the Silver Medallion requirement is 25,000 MQMs.

(Have you scored your 500 Delta SkyMiles bonus for using TICKET sponsor Peachy Airport Parking yet?)

ATL’S DATA-DRIVEN SCULPTURE. Here’s another reason to go check out ATL’s new International Terminal F: The new AirFIELD liquid crystal sculpture hanging from the ceiling that is synched to real-time flight data. Each flight that lands or takes off at ATL activates small ripples in the sculpture for small plane and big ripples for jumbos.  Go check it out! Or just get hypnotized by the video above.

FULLY FLAT DETROIT-SAO PAULO. Delta now offers its new flat bed seat in all Business Elite markets to Brazil. Until now, the Detroit flight was a notable exception.Speaking of South America, Delta’s celeb-chef Michelle Bernstein has overhauled menus on overnight flights to South America with more regional dishes. Have you noticed?

BAD BAG POLICY CHANGE. Starting January 15, Delta will no longer through-check baggage to its final destination if you are traveling two separate tickets… and the second ticket is not a Delta ticket. Delta will only check the bag through to your first stop, requiring you to exit the airport secure zone, fetch your bag at baggage claim, re-check it at the non-Delta carrier counter, and then re-enter the terminal via airport security. What a pain in the butt! How often do you buy two separate tickets for a single trip?

NEWEST AIRPORTS W PRECHECK: Atlanta was one of the first four airports in the country to get PreCheck back in Oct 2011, and TSA has been busy rolling out the program at the nations busiest airports ever since then, now totaling 35 airports. Some of the latest additions are: Anchorage, Nashville, Santa Ana (Orange County), Ft Lauderdale, and San Francisco. Note: Airports with multiple entry points may not support Pre-Check at all of them. For example, there are only two PreCheck lanes at SFO—one for United flyers at Terminal 3, the other for American flyers at Terminal 2. However, there is no PreCheck line at SFO’s Terminal 1 used by Delta, Alaska and USAirways, all of which participate in PreCheck. The following are airports where DELTA operates with PreCheck: Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall, Charlotte Douglas International, Chicago O’Hare International, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, Dallas/Fort Worth International, Denver International, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Honolulu International, Indianapolis International, John Wayne, LaGuardia Airport, Las Vegas’ McCarran, Logan International, Los Angeles International, Luis Muñoz Marin International, Minneapolis-St. Paul International, Orlando International, Pittsburgh International, Portland International, Ronald Reagan Washington National, Salt Lake City International, Seattle-Tacoma International, Tampa International, Ted Stevens Anchorage International and Washington Dulles International airports.


SHAPING UP AT ATL. Next time you are out at ATL’s Terminal E and feeling a little pudgy or bloated from too much travel, pick up a pack of Spanx to help keep your girly or manly figure. Spanx was invented by an Atlanta fax salesperson who started the company out of a rental house in Virginia Highland. Spanx at ATL opened this month. See the video for the interesting story!

>Are you signed up for our Facebook page yet? We frequently break news on our Facebook page that eventually makes it into our monthly roundups. So if you want news when it happens, come on and get on our Facebook page.

GOING GREEN. Delta has achieved status in The Climate Registry for its greenhouse gas emission inventory. As the first US carrier to do so, the award recognizes the numerous procedures Delta has put into place to save fuel including taxing on one engine (something that is unique to Delta). Over the past six years, Delta has lowered its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent.

Check out that super shiny floor at Peachy’s climate controlled indoor lot on Sylvan Road.

Please say THANK YOU to our sponsor, PEACHY AIRPORT PARKING for helping keep The TICKET free for readers this year! If you have not done so already, give ‘em a try, get your SkyMiles, and let us know what you think! 

EASY 500+ SKYMILES BONUS. The holidays are the BEST time of year to avoid oversold on-airport parking lots…. so why not help out The TICKET, and our newest sponsor, Peachy Airport Parking, on your next trip? You’ll help yourself, too, since Peachy is offering TICKET readers 500 SkyMiles plus three SkyMiles per dollar spent. If you are tired of worrying about on-airport lot sellouts, long, dark walks to your car or the congested mess that is Camp Creek Parkway, just exit I-85 south at Sylvan Road, one mile north of the airport, and follow the signs to Peachy. Once there, you’ll find extra wide spaces in a secure, climate controlled indoor lot, a free car wash and a short two-minute shuttle ride to the airport. Daily rates are just $6.99 outdoor or$8.99 indoor. COME ON! Help keep The TICKET free by clicking on this link or on the ad to the right to learn more about ATL’s newest parking option. Note: You have to click on the link and print the page to get the SkyMiles! 

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  • Jeff Taratoot

    HI Chris, You’ve done great work this year, per usual. Thanks for all the updates.

    2 questions: 1. If DLA changes to fee based Medallion program, how will that affect those of us who get 10,000 MQM when we spend $25,000 on our DLA Amex cards? (Cant imagine keeping that card if they scrap that program PLUS I would not think Amex would want to loose the fee revenue.?

    2. How can it be the 21st of December and Delta has not announced a new program if it takes affect 1/1/13?

    3. And finally, as a Silver (lost Gold this year), not sure the benefits are really there. I think the boarding is the same as those with the Delta Amex card (same card as mentioned in #1 above).

    thanks!

  • David Seidel

    I’m finishing out 2012 with 24,986 MQM, just 14 miles shy of renewing Silver Medallion status. I’ve reached out to Delta Skymiles team and corporate (twice) per the Skymiles rep I spoke with about the possibility of being “gifted” the measly 14 MQM needed, but have not heard back. Do you know of Delta ever helping a loyal customer in the past with something like this? Thanks.

  • Chris

    Jeff: We’ll just have to wait and see how the new Delta revenue based SkyMiles program shakes out. According to insiders, it’s been in the works for over a year internally and with partners. The new program could be announced as early as January, but it will not go into effect until 2014. Should be an interesting year to follow The TICKET!

  • Chris

    In the past, Delta has always said it would take up situations like yours on “a case by case basis.” So keep trying.

  • Pat

    Did anyone even beta test Delta’s website? What a mess. I’m finding more and more websites that are not well constructed. Waste of money.

  • http://Delta Dan F

    The new wb site (page) is terrible. I have no idea why they always think they have to fix something that’s not broke. “New and Improved” is rarely improved. Where is the qualitry control? Does ANYBODY do a sanity check on these unwelcome changes?

  • Evan Torch

    My wife needed 36 miles for Gold,which might have gotten her upgraded LAX–ATL.

    Good news: they did talk about it David
    Bad news: they said, he’ll no, nada, go away.

    Now that Southwest checked in with a weak, ineffectual campaign, Delta’s true nature comes roaring back from the LEO era. They can make money selling sandwiches, rescheduling fees, rebooking fees, bag fees, no bag penalties, asking the gate agents to look up and stop typing fees to care what we think.
    As I’ve said before and the website proves, They own the sky, and it shows!

  • Joe

    Landed in E from Cancun and had to walk the mile to F to get bags. Whoever designed this new process was an idiot. One moving side walk – didn’t work – carpeted flooring so dragging your wheeled bag is more difficult. How do folks that have a hard time walking handle that walk? Why open a billion dollar international terminal and fly domestic flights there? Oh but I am sure it continues ATL’s jobs program with at least 5 people standing around directing you on the forced march to F.

    Don’t know about you but I think the whole design is a major cluster.

    Joe

  • Rhonda

    Had a similar experience upon recent return from Nassau. Cleared customs in Nassau, arrived B – logical thinking, bags would arrive domestic side but nope, bags went to F which we didn’t know til we got to domestic baggage claim. Maybe they could have let us know that?…Our car was in Park n Ride lot so we had to bus to F then bus back to the main terminal to get back to our car. SO, in Jamaica now, departed E, parked in international lot this time assuming we will return to E and bags will go to F, we’ll see…

  • Bob S

    Didn’t I see TSA Pre Check in Logan at the Delta terminal? It was then and there that I decided to sign up.