Now Boarding: Air Travel Updates for Week of June 8

Homeland wants to check your bags away from home; another air traffic controller strike looms; and Delta gives valet service for overhead bags. Here are this week’s air updates.


DHS seeks to expand preclearance to 10 new airports

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced this week that it will enter negotiations to expand air preclearance operations to 10 new foreign airports, including Brussels Airport, Belgium; Punta Cana Airport, Dominican Republic; Narita International Airport, Japan; Amsterdam Airport Schipol, Netherlands; Oslo Airport, Norway; Madrid-Barajas Airport, Spain; Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden; Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Turkey; and London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport, United Kingdom. This would allow travelers to undergo immigration, customs, and agriculture inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before boarding a direct flight to the United States, allowing the CBP to stop potential threats before they reach U.S. soil. According to a statement released by the DHS, nearly 20 million passengers travel from these 10 airports to the U.S. The DHS currently has 15 airports with air preclearance operations.


Cabo Waivers

American Airlines is waiving the one-time ticketing fee for travel changes if clients are traveling on an American Airlines, US Airways, British Airways, or Iberia flight to/through/from Cabo San Lucas Los Cabos, Mexico (SJDO) airports on June 5-9, 2015. The original flight must have been purchased before June 7, 2015, and rebooked travel must be completed June 5-9, 2015. Changes to origin or destination city are not permitted.

Delta Air Lines is allowing travelers to change their ticket without fee if they are scheduled to/through/from Cabo San Lucas June 8. Tickets must be reissued on or before June 11, and rebooked travel must begin no later than June 11.


Spanish Air Traffic Controllers Strike

Spanish Air Traffic Controllers are executing two-hour work stoppages from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. local time on June 8, 10, 12, and 14. The effective airports are as follows: Alicante (ALC), Almeria (LEI), Barcelona (BCN), Bilbao (BIO), Granada (GRX), Ibiza (IBZ), Jerez de la Frontera (XRY), La Coruna (LCG), Logrono-Agoncillo (RJL), Madrid (MAD), Malaga (AGP), Menorca (MAH), Murcia (MJV), Oviedo (OVD), Palma Mallorca (PMI), Pamplona (PNA), San Sebastian (EAS), Santander (SDR), Sevilla (SVQ), Valencia (VLC), and Vigo (VGO).

American Airlines is waiving the one-time ticketing fee for travel changes on American Airlines, US Airways, British Airways, or Iberia flights to/through/from one of the affected airports on June 8 – 14, 2015. The original flight must have been purchased before June 5, 2015, and rebooked travel must be completed June 8-21, 2015. Changes to origin or destination city are not permitted.


This Week’s Air Updates

Delta Air Lines began its daily, nonstop, seasonal service between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) on June 2.

The AP reports that Delta will once more use Early Valet, their service that tags passengers’ carry-on and places them above their seats before boarding, will be utilized in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and Seattle to cut down on boarding times this summer. Delta implemented the service in Atlanta and Los Angeles last year and saw some reduction in boarding time; however, the service will only be used on certain flights with a high number of vacation travelers.

Delta Air Lines announced new nonstop flights between Orlando, Florida (MCO), and Sao Paulo, Brazil (GRU), four-times a week, starting Dec. 19, 2015.

Delta will operate four weekly nonstop flights between Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport (ARN) and New York-JFK Airport through Terminal 4, allowing for smoother connections between Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Orlando.

Also according to AP, Southwest is testing expanding family boarding to include children up to the ages of six, eight, or 11, to help speed up their boarding time. The current priority board allows families with children as old as four to line up in the “A” group.

United Airlines and United Express flights will depart from Terminal 2 West at San Diego International Airport (SAN) as of June 4.

United Airlines announced an expanded code-sharing network with Air China, adding 22 new routes and expanding the codeshare program to more than 110 routes.

Travel Pulse reports that American Express opened its new Centurion Lounge in the North Terminal in Concourse D at Miami International Airport. Access is restricted to card members and is a key complimentary benefit for Platinum card members. Guests will enjoy complimentary world-class food and drinks; spa treatments from exhale spa; workspaces with high-speed WiFi; semi-private nooks; a soundproof kids play area, and of course, numerous power outlets.

JetBlue Airways announced it was the recipient of the 2015 CIO 100 Award for “creating business value through the effective and innovation use of IT.” This includes becoming the first major U.S. carrier to accept Apple Pay; distributing iPad minis to 3,500 inflight crewmembers for better access to tools and information; launching the Apple Watch app for a more streamlined travel experience; instituting automatic check-in; and bringing more on-demand entertainment through the airline’s Fly-Fi.

Travel Pulse also reports that Frontier Airlines order 12 new airplanes, including 10 Airbus A321 plans with 44 more seats the previous model, and two Airbus 320 planes. Frontier promises that passengers will not be losing room in the new airplanes as the seating will still be the widest economy seats of the U.S. domestic airlines. Planes will also have more overhead storage and different lighting options. The new planes will begin rolling out in early 2016, and in total, Frontier will receive 101 Airbus delivers over the next five years.


Last Week’s Highlights

JetBlue Airways launched service to its latest destination, Nevada’s Reno-Tahoe International Airport(RNO) from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Reno-Tahoe is JetBlue’s 89thdestination, and the flight will depart from JetBlue’s Terminal Five in New York City.

The Hill reports that the Department of Transportation will increase the penalties for airlines that mishandle passenger baggage by up to $100. Airlines will be liable for reimbursing passengers for lost luggage it lost up to $3500, an increase from the current limit of $3400. The DOT is also upping the penalties for airlines that overbook flights and deny passengers boading. Passengers who are denied boarding will be eligible for between $675 and $1350 in compensation. The new rules go into effect 90 days (from May 26).

Delta Air Lines will add service at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Boston; Orlando; Pasco, Wash.; and Victoria, British Columbia. Victoria will be a new destination for Delta and is subject to government approval. Delta will also expand service to Bozeman, Mont., from Seattle. The new flights include:

– Daily flights to Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS), starting April 4, 2016.

– Daily flights to Orlando International Airport (MCO), starting Dec. 19, 2015.

– Three daily flights to Tri-Cities Airport (PSC) in Pasco, starting Nov. 1, 2015.

– Three daily flights to Victoria International Airport (YYJ), starting April 4, 2016.

– One daily flight Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN), starting Aug. 1, 2015 (expanded from Saturday-only seasonal service).


Check out this week’s updates!

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