News and notes from around the interweb:
- This Sunday’s New York Times travel section has a piece on “Facing Elite Bloat, Airlines Move the Goal Posts” which makes points similar to mine in Make Your Own Airline Elite Status.
“Benefits that used to be available to members with the first tier of elite status now are held back for folks with mid-tier,” said Gary Leff, who writes the View from the Wing blog on frequent-flier programs. Or as they say, 50,000 miles is the new 25,000.
…At the same time that lower-tier elites have lost benefits, those at the top have received sweeter deals. (Sound like any other part of the economy?) Mr. Leff notes that Delta has recently started offering coveted international upgrades to its highest-level elites (traditionally, these are much harder to get than domestic upgrades). American has started letting its top elites do same-day flight changes free.
- A teenager will wait in the interminable lines for you at Franklin Barbecue
- Hyatt offers the easiest confirmed upgrades to suites via points and certificates. But when you confirm a suite, what suite will you get? Here’s a list of suite upgrade categories for many of the better Hyatts.
- American is introducing a new first class cookie this month and just when I was finally happy with the one they were using. I’m not sure “organic, gluten-free, non-GMO and kosher” is the same thing as ‘delicious’ but if ‘ginnybakes’ aren’t on my flights next week I may have to stop by Whole Foods to try them.
- Providence, Rhode Island gets non-stpo service to Africa. No, really. TACV Airlines is operating 2 to 3 flights weekly to Cape Verde. Condor will be starting summer service to Frankfurt as well. (HT: David T.)
- Airport Policy and Security News (yes, that’s a thing) offers an explanation for TSA screening failures and a diagnosis. Though GAO noted that there was no plans in place to test or calibrate screening devices back in 2006, in the 9 years since TSA apparently hasn’t acted on the GAO report. Meanwhile, screening is a really tedious function. And TSA incentives are backward when it acts as “both the aviation security regulator and the provider of a large portion of airport security services.” It also reports that a bipartisan House bill seeks to ban the TSA’s PreCheck ‘managed inclusion’ program where they stick more or less random passengers into the PreCheck lanes.
- Etihad upgraded to an A by Fitch ratings agency.
- United acknowledges having had discussions about acquiring Airbus A380s but suggests “flying a route multiple times on smaller aircraft [e.g. Boeing 787] rather than once on a large plane pleases business passengers by giving them more choice.
United confirmed that its chief financial officer, John Rainey, told aviation news outlet Flightglobal: “We’ve looked at that and we are looking at it right now it just doesn’t really work for us.”
- Thailand plans to develop the U-Tapao military airport for commerical use