Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Limitless Frontiers on Frontier, JetBlue Says Oui, More

Cranky Weekly Review

Frontier’s (Mostly) Unlimited Frontier

Frontier Airlines revealed the details of its Frontier GoWild! all-you-can-fly-pass, and the program will be beneficial for a very limited group of travelers.

The basics are that for an introductory price of $599, customers can book any Frontier flight for just $0.01 in fare plus applicable taxes, fees, and charges. Those signing up will be able to access an unlimited number of flights to all domestic Frontier destinations, and the pass is valid for 12 months of travel. So what’s the catch? This is a ULCC, of course there are several….

Travel can only be booked and confirmed one day before travel – so if you’re planning to fly to your cruise next June, or your cousin’s wedding in August, this isn’t the way to go. But if you can be somewhat spontaneous and plan trips at the (almost) last minute, it can still be a good value. Flights are available for roughly 300 days a year – there are about 60 days of blackouts – and those are the days you’d expect would be off limits. So don’t plan to travel around Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, and Spring Break.

Also, remember that Frontier’s regular fees still apply – so carry-ons, checked bags, seat assignments, and the like still come with a charge. Oh – and after the first year, the price jumps to $1999. You’ll be auto-renewed so you better not forget to cancel. But for the first year at least, it’s a reasonable deal for someone who has always wanted to spend a lot of time in Trenton and wants to win at Frontier tail animal Bingo.

JetBlue Announces Paris as Next European Destination

JetBlue Airways announced this week that Paris will be its second transatlantic market, with service launching to the home of baguettes and brie next summer. The airline will fly to Paris via the severely underserved New York/JFK gateway with service from Boston to follow later.

JetBlue’s service to Paris will be operated by its minty-fresh A321LR aircraft. These planes come with 24 flatbeds up front in Mint and 114 seats for the hoi polloi in the back. JetBlue’s flight between JFK and CDG will be one of ten daily nonstops on the route, with AA operating one, and Delta and Air France combining for the remaining eight. When including Newark and Paris/Orly, the New York – Paris market will peak with 15 daily frequencies from six carriers. When it launches from Boston, JetBlue will face challenges only from Delta/Air France… and in convincing Bostonians that the French are worth visiting.

The carrier’s transatlantic product features complimentary Wi-Fi to allow passengers to see just how long they’ll be waiting at the immigration checkpoint upon landing, personal televisions to distract customers from the fact they speak no French and can expect to be berated by Parisians on a regular basis, and mood lighting to give the impression that you might actually fall asleep in economy. JetBlue plans on putting seats for its Paris flights on sale in the coming months after it figures out the USD to EUR conversion and how to say “I’m sorry for the delay” in French.

Delta, Pilots Inch Closer to Agreement

After last month’s rhetoric over a potential work stoppage, the Delta chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association told its rank and file that the union is moving closer to a labor agreement with the Atlanta-based carrier which would avoid a strike.

Pilots at all of the big-four airlines – along with FedEx – are currently negotiating a new labor deal amidst a strange economic environment in the post-pandemic world. Airlines are profitable, and demand is back, but carriers and their pilots have found it difficult to find an acceptable middle ground. Delta’s pilots voted to authorize a strike action late last month, a move potentially designed to jumpstart talks between the two sides.

In a memo to its members, the union said it is possible a full agreement in principle could be reached at an upcoming session – provided management continues to show the motivation that led to this week’s progress. A source close to the negotiations who was not authorized to speak on the record said a key change in the negotiations was Delta’s willingness to provide unlimited Biscoffs in the negotiation room, and to move the negotiations out of an JFK Airport SkyClub where union reps were forced to wait in a 45-minute line to enter due to overcrowding.

Six Airlines Ordered to Pay More than $600 Million

The Department of Transportation directed six carriers to pay in excess of $622 million in customer refunds for transgressions and refund shenanigans dating back to the first days of the pandemic, plus another combined $7.25 million in fines.

Most of the losers were foreign carriers – TAP Air Portugal was hit with $126.5 million in refunds and a $1.1 million fine, Air India $121.5 million in refunds and a $1.4 million penalty, El Al $61.9 million and $900,000, Avianca $76.8 million and $750,000 respectively, and Aeromexico, which was hit with $13.6 million in refunds and another $900,000 in fines. Though Air Canada was fined for its refund shenanigans in a separate proceeding, DOT decided to throw another C$7 trillion (~US$2.50) at the airline for “just being a real dick during the pandemic.”

The lone American carrier named by the DOT was also the biggest offender – Frontier was ordered to pay more than $222 million in refunds and another $2.2 million in fines. The DOT’s investigation found Frontier retroactively changed its definition of a “significant schedule change” at the onset of the pandemic, leaving thousands upon thousands of passengers SOL. Frontier claims its move wasn’t unfair or deceptive and that it received “very few” complaints about the change in policy. It also claims its customers love its fees and actually ask to pay more in seat assignment and baggage fees because “it’s so fun.”

Delta Launches Free Wi-Fi (Sorta…)

Delta Air Lines will become the first of the big three carriers in the United States to offer free Wi-Fi on-board its aircraft – if you’re a SkyMiles member and if you’re on a flight that is taking part in the free trial.

Delta first began a trial of offering free Wi-Fi to Medallions earlier this year, and this expanded roll out is the next step in its quest to offer complimentary internet access for all customers on all flights. The free trial is expected to be available on most planes which feature Delta’s Viasat Wi-Fi, with non-SkyMiles members able to still purchase access for $5, or 150,000 SkyMiles, the two of which have a roughly equal value.

Assuming this phase of the trial goes well, Delta plans to offer free connectivity on all domestic flights “soon,” whatever that means. The service will remain on just mainline aircraft, so those relegated to praying their pilots show up on Republic or SkyWest will also be forced to pony up cash to surf the web in flight. Delta then hopes to roll out complimentary Wi-Fi on international flights by the end of 2024 – or when a reasonably priced Delta One seat on a flight to Europe comes available – whichever comes first.

  • Air France flight attendants are threatening to strike between December 22 and January 2. Luckily for Air France, that’s not a time a lot of people are flying on airplanes, especially to Paris.
  • Air Serbia is finally connecting Belgrade and Chicago, beginning May 17.
  • Air Tanzania is suspending A220-300 service due to engine issues.
  • Asiana reported a loss of $130 million during Q3.
  • Breeze is blowing into Orange County.
  • British Airways CEO Sean Doyle had a hankering for a vat of Skyline Chili.
  • Cathay Pacific is closing all non-Hong Kong pilot bases. To be clear, these are just the non-HK bases of pilots who work for Cathay Pacific. Pilot bases for other carriers will remain open.
  • Connect Airlines hopes to connect all the dots to begin service as soon as January.
  • Delta thinks carbon emissions could peak by 2025. It also thinks they might not.
  • Finnair is potentially going to outsource 450 more flight attendants from outside Finland.
  • ITA plans to add 39 new Airbus to its fleet next year, so it will have more assets to auction off when it goes bankrupt.
  • Korean is introducing new inflight wine. Finally.
  • LATAM appears to have avoided a pilot strike.
  • Mokulele is the newest partner of Alaska’s Mileage Plan program, expected to launch early next year.
  • Royal Jordanian might expand its Dreamliner fleet from seven aircraft to 11. Also it might not.
  • Ryanair is concerned about potential delivery delays on its order of B737 MAX aircraft.
  • Sun Country is flying to a bunch of new places.
  • TUS Airways received last-minute permission on Friday to operate non-stop flights between Qatar and Israel during the World Cup, which begins Sunday. The Cyprus-based carrier will operate six total flights between Tel Aviv and Doha, representing the first non-stop flights between the two countries.
  • United is committing a $37.5 million investment in the development of a clean fuel production facility. It plans to use the fuel by spraying it in the face of basic economy passengers.
  • Virgin Atlantic is going on vacation.
  • WestJet secured slots to begin operating between Calgary and Dubai in March.

My ex-wife called and said she wants to get back together.

I really am on a good luck streak this week. First I win the lottery, and now THIS!

3 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Limitless Frontiers on Frontier, JetBlue Says Oui, More

    1. Jeff – But then it would be a “first four days of the week in review.” We like to wait so we can catch anything on Friday.

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