FEWER FREEBIES AT SKY CLUBS. With little notice, Delta has moved several beverages from the Sky Club complimentary bar menu to the Luxury Bar pay menu. You’ll now be asked to pay for beers like Heineken or local brews, liqueurs such as Bailey’s and other popular pops. We contacted Delta to determine what it still offers at no charge at Sky Clubs and a spokesperson sent over this list of the free stuff: Vodka – Gordon’s; Gin – Gordon’s; Rum – Myers’s Platinum; Scotch – Scoresby; Bourbon – Jack Daniel’s; Sweet & Dry Vermouth – Martini & Rossi; Beer- Budweiser & Miller Lite; Wine- no changes. Delta also sent us the new Luxury Bar Menu, effective May 15. Which of your favorite adult beverages has disappeared from the “complimentary” list and what are the new prices? Please leave your comments below.
DELTA’S JFK EXTENSION. On May 24, Delta took the wraps off its new digs at New York- JFK, which will replace the now shuttered vintage Pan Am Worldport, or Terminal 3. Delta is currently demolishing that leaky old Mad-Men-era terminal to allow easier movement and more parking between terminals 2 and 4. It’s important to note that Terminal 4 is not brand new—it’s been around since 2001– but Delta has completely remodeled and lengthened the B-side space adding nine new gates to the existing seven. The new terminal also features TSA PreCheck, something that many international terminals do not have presently. New dining options include an outpost of Manhattan’s favorite burger joint, Shake Shack. T4′s opening also gives Sky Club members their first look at a new SkyDeck, an open-air, glassed-walled terrace overlooking the tarmac—great for spotting all those exotic tails that float around JFK runways. Outdoor seating and umbrellas are a great way to get some fresh air. A similar SkyDeck will open later this year in Atlanta’s F concourse. The Sky Club at JFK’s T4 is now Delta’s largest. Many domestic flights and nearly all Delta Connection flights will continue to use Terminal 2 (JFK’s oldest), while most Delta transcons and all international flights will now use T4. By 2015, Delta will add an additional 11 gates to T4.
DELTA WAITS IT OUT. Earlier this month CEO Richard Anderson said that Delta is in no hurry to order new aircraft like the Boeing 737 Max or Airbus A320neo. He said Delta would rather have other airlines test them first to work through any kinks such as the recent battery issues exhibited by the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. He said that not only does this allow for a more efficient rollout of aircraft within its fleet, but it also allows for more affordable pricing when it comes time to upgrade a fleet. Delta is, however, taking new Boeing 737-900s in the coming years, but these are already being flown by a number of airlines including United, Delta’s closest domestic rival at the moment.
MORE PRECHECK AT ATL. Atlanta’s north security checkpoint now has a TSA Pre-Check lane for expedited security. The north checkpoint is used primarily by non-Delta flyers, which means Southwest/AirTran travelers will eventually enjoy speedier access once it joins in on the PreCheck fun. Southwest will only say that it is working on getting into PreCheck…nothing certain yet. If it wants to compete with Delta for business travelers in Atlanta, it frankly needs to get on the stick and become part of PreCheck. Agree?
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FLAWS IN RECENT AIRLINE SURVEY. IdeaWorks’ fourth annual survey of airline award seat availability ranked Delta dead last. But to be fair, we must point out that the survey only used airline websites to gauge availability, and we all know that Delta’s is pretty dismal when it comes to redemptions. IdeaWorks searched for two tickets on 280 different dates, at the restricted award levels. Southwest clocked in at first place, and Delta tied with US Airways for the worst among domestic airlines. By picking up the phone (after doing significant research via other websites like AirFrance.us via its Flying Blue program), Delta flyers usually find much more open space. But, the survey does not reveal that. What was accurate and fair about the survey was that it ranks Delta much higher for close-in availability as award seats are often released more freely within two weeks of departure.
ON THE OTHER HAND, KUDOS. On a brighter note, Delta ranked as the top legacy carrier in the recent JD Power survey. It also ranked second best (after Southwest) among majors in a recent Consumer Reports survey. It’s easy to pick on the dominant, hometown carrier…but compared to its peers, Delta’s sitting pretty these days.What do you think? Do Atlantans whine too much about Delta when they might have the best of the bunch in their own backyard? Please leave your comments below.
NEW GOUGE: CHARLOTTE. From TICKET reader JJ: “Has anyone noticed that since Southwest and AirTran left the Atlanta-Charlotte market that Delta fares (a few weeks ago were $200 or a little more) are now over $600 no matter how far out you book? This used to be the case before AirTran went into Charlotte and now that they have left, good old gouge you Delta is at it again. Oh well I guess I’ll have to go back to driving to Charlotte – hate that drive.” (Agreed! That drive up truck infested I-85 is awful!)
THOUGHT DELTA WAS SNEAKY? Delta is not the only airline monetizing its upgrade programs. For example, passengers can bid how many miles or how much money they are willing to spend to upgrade on long flights. Air New Zealand, Austrian, Etihad, and Virgin Atlantic are all offering this type of program. Customers can still use miles for business class seats, but this new auction system allows the demand to ratchet up the price on busy flights putting more money in the airline coffers. It also helps to fill seats that would otherwise go empty making low bidders quite happy (although the cheapest fares are often restricted). Could Delta be next? What do you think about such an idea? Please leave your comments below.
NEW SOUTHWEST FLIGHTS. Atlanta will see additional Southwest flights to New Orleans, New York LaGuardia, St. Louis, West Palm Beach beginning Nov. 3. Also on that date, AirTran’s Atlanta to San Juan flight will switch to Southwest instead of an AirTran plane with business class.
CURTAIN CALL FOR AIRTRAN BUSINESS CLASS. AirTran regulars may have noticed that there are no longer curtains between business and coach class. This removal is part of the alignment with the Southwest model and preparation for operating with a single cabin of service. So its buh-bye business class…but at least it’s a long buh-bye!
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PLUS PORTLAND. MINUS SEATTLE. Delta partner Alaska Airlines will add a new Boeing 737-800 nonstop between ATL and Portland, Oregon on August 26. When the Portland-Atlanta route begins Aug. 26, Alaska Air will reduce its Seattle-Atlanta route to once daily.
FLINT. With AirTran/Southwest out of the picture on the ATL-Flint, Michigan route, Delta is deploying a larger A319 on the route, adding 60 extra seats between the two cities starting in June. Delta is currently using an RJ on the route. With Delta as the only nonstop in the market, you can only guess which direction prices have gone recently….
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