Cranky Weekly Review: Southwest Begins to Dig Out, Delta Logs On, and More

Cranky Weekly Review

Southwest Offers 25k Rapid Rewards Points as Customer Service Recovery Begins           

Southwest Airlines offered 25,000 Rapid Rewards points – valued by the carrier at about $300 until the next devaluation – as an apology to customers whose flights were canceled or significantly delayed between December 24 and January 2, or as Southwest executives call it: Hell Week.

The 25,000 points will arrive in customer inboxes far more quickly than reimbursements for other flighs and incidental expenses that Southwest said it would cover. The carrier is having to manually go through receipts sent by customers, plenty of which are likely erroneous or an attempt to score extra money from the beleaguered airline, causing a slow down for those seeking reasonable and actual expenses. Customers awaiting their refund can pay $20 for EarlyRefund to skip to the head of the line and have their receipt looked at more quickly.

Southwest’s Q4 financials are expected to take a significant hit when it’s all said and done, with one Bank of America analyst saying the ordeal could cost the carrier as much as $700 million. Southwest’s Q4 adjusted earnings forecast was adjusted from $0.85 per share down to just $0.37, while the price of EarlyBird access on a flight from Chicago/Midway to Dallas/Love mysteriously jumped from $19 to $5,600.

A Free for All: Delta Wi-Fi to be Free for All

Delta Air Lines announced today it will offer free Wi-Fi on domestic flights that have Viasat installed as the wireless provider, which covers about 80% of its domestic fleet. The carrier will not restrict the number of devices to connect but will require a SkyMiles number – and it plans to require Basic Economy passengers to watch a 45-minute loop on YouTube of nails scratching a chalkboard to access the web.

The free connectivity will not be offered on Delta’s A220 and B717 fleet, plus any widebodies that normally operate international routes. It does expect to expand the free offering to regional aircraft and international widebodies by the end of next year – or when there’s a Speaker of the House – whichever comes first.

This wifi plan enables the creation of Delta Sync which will personalize various parts of the travel experience. That will be rolled out during 2023. The exact date seems to be unclear, but we assume it will be August 29 to commemorate the 26th anniversary of Skynet becoming self-aware.

California Flight Attendants May Not Be in California for Long

Last summer, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Alaska Airlines on a case in which California-based flight attendants for the carrier won a class action suit that the carrier was not in compliance with California labor law. The FAs successfully claimed they were entitled to an uninterrupted 30-minute meal break under the law, but without foreseeing the potential consequences of their victory.

Alaska Airlines argued the law didn’t apply to flight attendants because they were governed by the federal Railroad Act which superseded the California law. Now their chickens have come home to roost, with Alaska and other airlines floating the idea of closing California employee bases to escape the California law. The Association of Flight Attendants admits that their earlier victory could lead to “unintended consequences,” and is seeking a legislative fix that will keep bargaining power in the hand of its members while giving airlines a way out of the regulation. Square peg, meet round hole.

California State Senator Dave Cortese presented SB-41 which would exempt flight attendants from the rest and meal-break rules – provided they are covered by a collective bargaining agreement which does that for them – or you know, back to how it was.  Stay tuned to Cranky Network Weekly to see how this clown show resolves itself.

AA Pilots BAAlk at Cockpit Change

American Airlines implemented new procedures for pilots this week aimed at improving safety including changes to communication in the cockpit during certain events such as a low visibility landing.

The pilots, through their union are taking issue with how AA is implementing the changes, while not necessarily taking issue with the new policy itself. The Allied Pilots Association, which represents the roughly 15,000 pilots of AA says the carrier sent a 35-page bulletin to pilots, expecting that to be sufficient training. APA spokesman Dennis Tajer told Forbes “A reading assignment is not training,” which, well, he’s got a point.

One pilot faced discipline after delaying a flight scheduled to depart Charlotte while “ensuring he and his crew were fully briefed and in compliance with the new requirements,” in an attempt to force management to blink. The pilot was eventually removed from the flight and replaced with someone who supposedly was a faster reader.

United and Mesa Begin to Define Their Relationship

Following Mesa’s ugly — and very public — breAAkup last month, the regional carrier is moving forward with United as the two look at how their new exclusive partnership might look going forward.

In order to comply with United’s collective bargaining agreement with its pilots that limits the number and size of regional aircraft that can fly the United Express banner, Mesa will swap 38 E175s for 38 of their own CRJ900s. The CRJ900s will initially be based at United’s hubs in Denver and Houston/IAH, while Mesa will keep its crew and maintenance bases in Dallas/Fort Worth, El Paso, Louisville and Phoenix.

United and Mesa also recently completed a $41.2 million liquidity facility for the regional carrier, coming after Mesa posted a loss of $183 million for the fiscal year ending September 30. Most of the loss came from long distance phone charges to several DFW area codes and an expensive bill to purchase several URLs including AAsux.com, theydidntfireuswequit.com, and unitedisbetterlookinganyway.com.

  • Advanced Air is stepping in and adding service on the wildly underserved market between Albuquerque and Las Cruces, NM. The 1x daily service, beginning January 16, will make the first commercial service into Las Cruces in almost 20 years.
  • Aeroflot purchased ten B777 aircraft which were stranded in Russia.
  • Aerolíneas Argentinas confirmed via fax that it is adding B737-800 freighters early this year.
  • Air Belgium scooped up €10 million in loans.
  • Air China will resume Beijing – Los Angeles this Sunday, with it becoming daily on January 18. JFK service resumes on January 18, San Francisco on March 1, and Washington/Dulles on March 2.
  • ANA and JAL are both offering greener flight options which will excite some people.
  • Bamboo will status match from basically any airlines if you’re looking to boost your chance of an upgrade flying domestically within Vietnam.
  • Etihad will operate twice-weekly flights to Shanghai beginning next month. It also completed the slot swap heard ’round the world with JetBlue. To see what JetBlue is doing with the slot, keep reading.
  • Garuda Indonesia saw its share trading ban lifted by the Indonesia stock exchange.
  • GetJet Airlines got an opportunity to return to Canada, as it swooped in to offer a wet-lease aircraft operated on behalf of Swoop.
  • Hawaiian said aloha to two new B787 Dreamliners, bringing its firm order of the Dreamliner to 12.
  • ITA plans to begin putting its A320neo fleet into service later this month provided the carrier doesn’t lose the keys to start the airplanes.
  • JetBlue is putting an extra flight on its NYC-London service, adding a daytime flight that departs New York/JFK at 8:30 a.m. and arrive at London/Heathrow at 8:45 p.m. The service, which is coupled with a daytime return flight leaving LHR at 8:25am and arriving JFK at 11:40am (the two planes will pass somewhere in the Atlantic where the two captains will reach out and high five each other per company protocol) will begin on March 26. JetBlue is definitely adding the extra daily flight because American told it to it thinks it’s a good idea.
  • Lion Air Group looks to roar into the new year with 80 new aircraft. Also it might not.
  • PIA‘s ban to operate in the EU could be lifted — provided the carrier can prove it has actual pilots operating its airplanes.
  • PLAY will be goofing around in Denmark this summer, adding three new destinations in the country in addition to new service to Düsseldorf .
  • Ryanair boosted its expected fiscal outlook for the year ending March 31 after a profitable holiday season in which the carrier found no coal in its stocking.
  • TUI is wet-leasing a B787-9 Dreamliner this summer from TUI fly nordic, which seems like some sort of tax scam.
  • Uganda Airlines is considering a tech stop for its flights to London due to shaky security protocols at its Entebbe (EBB) base.

What’s the current leading cause of dry skin?

Towels

15 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review: Southwest Begins to Dig Out, Delta Logs On, and More

  1. I feel bad for those customers that see an E175 subbed out for a Mesa Cr9. Ouch. I’m actually not sure which is worse: Air Wisconsin Cr2s or Mesa Cr9s. Those mesa birds are just gross.

    1. BRMM – I say I’m not surprised! It hasn’t done well in ages, and with Southwest flying it at the same frequency with lower fares, it took some wind out of the sails of the local market. It’s kind of a bummer, but I can’t blame the airline.

  2. The article about service to Las Cruces mentioned how it’s NM’s second largest city with over 250k people, that they haven’t had scheduled service in many years and that the drive to ABQ is over 3 hours.

    However it neglected to mention that Las Cruces is less than an hour away from ELP!

    1. Expansion of New Mexico’s Rail Runner Express seems like an obvious alternative to flying between Las Cruces and ABQ. It was proposed but didn’t make it out of the state legislature in 2009. I suppose it depends on how much travel between Las Cruces and Albuquerque there is; with ELP less than an hour away it doesn’t make a lot of sense to fly up to ABQ which likely has similar levels of service (hub connections and assorted Southwest flights) to ELP. Going to ABQ only makes sense for the O&D market which could be handled by the train or connecting to other small New Mexico markets like Gallup.

      1. There’s no nearly enough demand to support Road Runner service between ABQ and Las Cruces. And the point about ELP is a good one; Las Cruces is only about an hour from that airport – which is actually on the far side of El Paso for people from Las Cruces. Las Cruces is also in the El Paso media market, so there’s a lot of interaction there.

        If Las Cruces is NM’s second largest city (and it could be, by city population), this is somewhat misleading as the Santa Fe metro area is easily the second biggest metro area in NM after Albuquerque.

  3. CF, I’m curious if you could get an answer from DL or T-Mobile what exactly T-Mobile’s involvement in free WiFi is? Is it essentially a marketing expense where TMo is paying DL to put their brand onboard? Or are they providing some other actual service?

      1. Yeah, but in those cases its put your T-Mobile number in and get free Wifi internet.

        In this case its put your DL Skymiles number in and get free Wifi internet..

    1. Nick – It has to be a marketing expense. I don’t know how it could be anything beyond that. It’s interesting, but I’m definitely not sure how the benefit works very well when it’s for everyone and not just TMo customers.

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