BREAKING FRIDAY JAN 10: Delta significantly increases Sky Club membership fees — $695 for you and guest, $450 for you only. $29 fee for Amex Platinums. More in the next issue of The TICKET. See reactions on our Facebook Page.
DELTA FLEET UPGRADE. This week, Delta announced that it will spend $770 million over the next two years to refresh interiors of some its older workhorse jets, the Boeing 757-200, 737-800, and the Airbus A319 and A320. Best news: those toaster-oven-size overhead bins will be replaced with larger ones (with a 50% bump in capacity), making irritating gate checks and fights for overhead space largely a thing of the past. There will be power plugs at every seat, although, improving battery life on our portable electronics is making that less of an issue. Cabin lighting will switch over to longer lasting and mood altering color LEDs. All but the A320s will get new inflight entertainment screens with live TV on seatbacks. The planes will also get newer (albeit smaller) lavatories. The not-so-good news (if you are over 6 feet tall) is that the planes are slated for the new “slimline” coach seats, which passengers either love or hate. (Regrettably, no images of Delta’s updated slimline seat are available. Here’s the current one.) While the seat and cushion are thinner, the seat width (shoulder space) will be slightly wider: 18” up from 17.2”. A bit more good news: the planes will have more Economy Comfort seats (with 34” pitch compared to the standard 31”), which should be pleasing to your knees. Have you sat in a new slimline seat yet (the are on Delta’s brand new 737-900s)? What did you think? Please leave your questions below.
DELTA MISTAKE FARES…Did you get in on the ultra-bargain deals due to a Delta fare error a couple of days after Christmas? Tickets were priced as low as $1 plus tax for nearly an hour, and many people scored multiple tickets for under $100 (often in first class) to Hawaii, Alaska, the Caribbean, and other cities across the U.S. As Delta struggled to fix the mistake, it shut down the booking engine on Delta.com for a short period, but many of the tickets were still available for sale via third-party sites like Priceline and Orbitz. According to Department of Transportation rules, Delta had to honor the tickets, but it went one step above and beyond honoring many tickets that were still not fully issued with a ticket number (even though they did not have to). Essentially, if the reservation was made, Delta honored it. Kudos to Delta for standing behind their mistake. Did you get in on the crazy good deals? (We were on vacation in the Caribbean and missed out.) Where are you going and for how much?
NEW BOARDING PROCESS…Delta has slightly modified the pre-boarding process for flights. Families with kids will be disappointed to learn that they are no longer permitted to board before everyone else unless traveling with an infant in a car seat (strollers don’t count). Wheelchair/disabled passengers still board first.
HONORING THE TICKET! Check this out: This month, TripIt named The TICKET as one of its “must read” travel blogs for 2014! As a matter of fact, The TICKET came out at the very top of the list! We very pleased and proud of the good old TICKET, which will turn a ripe old 21 years old in March. How many of you have been with us since 1993? Please leave your comments below.
MQM ROLLOVER COMING SOON…If you glanced at your SkyMiles account this month, you may have been alarmed not to see rollover miles left over from 2013. But, don’t worry, they are coming. Once all MQMs have posted from 2013 (many partner airlines take longer), the rollover points will appear…probably in late January. MQM and MQD levels will also be easily visible on the Delta app as well since both will be an important part of qualifying for Medallion status this year.
ALASKA FIGHTS BACK…Alaska and Delta have been trying to one-up each other with different mileage promotions and new routes over the past few months. As Delta strengthens its Seattle gateway, Alaska has decided not to give in without putting up a fight. Before Christmas, Alaska offered free Uber rides up to $50 to Seattle airport, and is launching new flights from Delta’s Salt Lake City hub to Boise, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. Why is Delta doing this to its longtime partner? Some insiders say that Delta’s strategy is to weaken Alaska’s position in its Seattle hub, which will drive down its stock price, making it easier for Delta to swoop in a buy the carrier. A takeover would sure would round out Delta route map out west! What do you think?
DELTA AND VIRGIN ATLANTIC LINK SCHEDULES…As we reported late last year, Delta and Virgin Atlantic have launched a joint venture, which officially started on Jan. 1. It includes all flights between the U.S. and the U.K. including nine daily flights from the New York area to Heathrow. Benefits for travelers include access to Virgin’s impressive lounge network and earning and redeeming mileage on either carrier. Think the Delta flat-bed seats are nice? Wait until you see Virgin’s lounge menu and inflight bar.
DC-9 ERA ENDS…Delta retired the DC-9 (its oldest aircraft, which were inherited from Northwest) on Jan. 6. The last two flights were given flight numbers 1964 (Detroit to Minneapolis/St. Paul) and 2014 (Minneapolis/St.Paul to Atlanta), indicating the years the aircraft began and ended its commercial service with the company. This will be the last commercial flight of the aircraft by a U.S. carrier. Ironically, Delta was the launch customer for the original version of the DC-9 in 1965, using it to replace propeller aircraft. Delta retired its own DC-9 aircraft in 1993, but it came back following the Northwest merger. Delta has removed more than 350 aircraft from its fleet since 2008 including 50-seat CRJ-200s; Saab 340s and DC-9s.
IPAD ORDERING COMES TO ATLANTA…Like what you have seen in Minneapolis, LaGuardia, and JFK? Well, those snazzy iPads located at restaurants and seating areas in the airport terminals are starting to make an appearance in Atlanta. In concourse B, the Sam Adams Atlanta and Dos Equis Explorer Lounge will feature the Apple devices allowing customers to order food and drinks without speaking to a server. Let’s hope the concept spreads to even more restaurants throughout the airport.
SOUTHWEST COMES IN LAST, AGAIN…For the second month in a row, Southwest has come in for last place in the Department of Transportation on-time rankings. Tightly scheduled flights and more aircraft on the ground in congested airports like LaGuardia are partly to blame. Have you noticed more flight delays with Southwest flights lately?
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