Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: WestJet Fights off Strike, Breeze Gets Even Nicer, and More…

Cranky Weekly Review

WestJet Averts Strike at Last Minute

WestJet and its pilots came to an agreement early Friday morning, averting a strike that was planned to begin at 5 a.m.

The carrier had reduced its operation leading into Friday morning to avoid having aircraft, crew, and customers stranded in outstations across Canada and the world.  WestJet’s union leadership gathered at a Calgary-area Tim Hortons on Monday and issued a 72-hour strike notice to the airline, the latest drama in a nine-month negotiation that had previously gotten nowhere.

Captain Bernard Lewell, chair of the executive council of the union said between bites of a maple syrup-flavored cruller that the pilots were prepared to walk barring an eleventh-hour shocker — which is actually what happened with the union agreeing to a deal in principal which it will send to the membership for a vote in the coming days.

WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech, meeting with WestJet’s top executives at a different Calgary-area Tim Hortons, warned the airline would not back down to the strike threat which was true… until right before the stoppage was to begin.

Breeze Ascends to be Even Nicer

Some of us are old enough to remember the simple days of yore when Breeze had three classes of service: Nice, Nicer, and Nicest.  But those bygone days of yesteryear are no more as the carrier announced its new first class product name, replacing Nicest with the very over-marketed title of Breeze Ascent.

Breeze Ascent will be almost identical to Nicest, featuring the carrier’s 20.5-inch-wide seats in a 2-2 configuration at the front of the plane, along with 39 inches of pitch, complimentary snacks and drinks, cool breeze during boarding, and the superiority one feels when scoffing at other passengers slinking further back in the aircraft during boarding. As part of the announcement, Breeze wants you to know its logo features a checkmark (it does, we checked), that it says is known as the “ascent” so this new name is an exercise in corporate #synergy.

Not to be missed in the announcement, the carrier also declared itself the world’s first NLCC — Nice Low Cost Carrier — which isn’t a thing, and someone should really tell the team that before the embarrassing themselves futher.

The booze in Breeze Ascent will include two options of pre-mixed cocktails including an old-fashioned and a margarita, both of which are being promoted with boozy buzzwords like the old-fashioned with “an oaky Oregon Old Fashioned with notes of orange and a dry finish,” and a margarita with a ”twist on the classic Margarita, bright and complex with a hint of heat.” With these additions, customers interested in sipping a pre-mixed cocktail which tastes like oak trees from Oregon while flying between two random mid-sized airports are finally in luck.

Air Canada, flydubai Join at the Hip

Air Canada announced an interline and codeshare agreement with LCC flydubai (LCC…not NLCC) on Wednesday, a deal that will see the pair codeshare on nine flights between them and interline to more than 60 destinations.

The partnership hasn’t yet been approved by regulators but is expected to breeze through the scrutiny, giving both carriers the opportunity to ascend higher by offering greater flexibility to their customers. The nine flydubai flights Air Canada puts its AC code on will be from Dubai to:

  • Bahrain
  • Colombo
  • Dammam
  • Jeddah
  • Karachi
  • Medina
  • Muscat

The other two destinations are yet to be announced as Air Canada officials had to call an end to the meeting early due to needing a poutine-induced nap. The last two will be finalized when they wake up.

The carriers say they’re planning on improving the connection experience in Dubai, which we take to mean putting a Tim Hortons location in the airport, while also planning to eventually announce expanded benefits for elite fliers and other mileage earn and burn opportunities.

Not Just the Pilots: AA Flight AAtendants BrAAce for Possible Strike

It’s the pilots who have gotten all the attention across the industry for labor negotiations heading into summer, but AA’s FA’s are not far behind, as its union is warning membership that a strike vote could be on the horizon if morale does not improve. (Spoiler alert: it won’t.)

The union and airline will have a federal mediator join negotiations at the end of next month, the next step on the pathway to a potential strike. If the negotiations with the mediator fail, and the FAs want to strike, they’d have to wait out a 30-day cooling off period after the breakdown of negotiations and hope that the President of the United States wouldn’t intervene to stop it. So no labor action is imminent, with nothing legally possible until August at the earliest. That means this “will they, won’t they” cliffhanger will drag on through the summer. We’ll have to wait until the fall season premiere to see how it resolves.

European Commission Skeptical of Korean Merger

The drawn-out merger of Korean and Asiana continues to draw itself out two years after it was first proposed as the European Commission weighed in on its concerns that the combined carrier would restrict competition for both passenger travel and cargo services between Europe and South Korea. That’s generally what happens when you merge the two largest airlines in a country, so… good job, EC.

Specifically, the EC is worried the merger might:

  • Reduce competition in the provision of passenger transport services on four routes between South Korea and France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
  • Reduce competition in the provision of cargo transport services between all of Europe and South Korea.

The ball is now in Korean’s court as the carrier will need to address the concerns of the EC and how it plans to divest itself of certain routes to alleviate the antitrust issues. The government and the two airlines currently are targeting August 3 as a deadline to resolve their differences and allow the merger to move forward.

  • Aeroflot is going with the wise “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” plan with airplane maintenance.
  • Air Algeria and Mauritania Airlines signed the partnership that we never knew we needed.
  • Air Canada plans to ascend capacity by 23% this year.
  • Air Serbia finally debuted its new Belgrade – Chicago/O’Hare route after flight 506 landed at ORD on Wednesday. It was the first nonstop commercial flight between the two cities since everyone’s favorite carrier JAT Yugoslav Airlines last operated the route in May 1992.
  • Alaska will now offer more mediocre dining options to pick at while killing time until reaching your destination.
  • American and DFW Airport will remain tied at the hip for at least ten more years.
  • American also appears to have come to terms on a new deal with its pilots on a new 10-year labor agreement. We would have made it its own story, but not enough details are known yet.
  • Delta might be about to order a bunch of airplanes from an unnamed European manufacturer. As always, it also might not.
  • EasyJet made the easy decision to open at base in Birmingham.
  • Finnair is going to make it much more difficult to bring carry-on luggage on-board going forward.
  • Frontier is saying goodbye to one of its frontiers.
  • GoFirst could be resuming a limited domestic operation by the end of this month. Or maybe it won’t.
  • Hawaiian unveiled its fancy new Dreamliners.
  • JetBlue is going to sell non-alcoholic beer on-board for those who are into that sort of thing.
  • Qantas is offering economy passengers the option to pay between A$30-A$65 on top of their fare to have an empty seat next to them on 12 domestic routes within Australia. There’s no confirmation that the carrier plans to expand the program to apartment building, condo buildings, and other housing developments any time soon.
  • Nexus Airlines is apparently a new airline that will begin service in Western Australia in a couple months. Good luck.
  • Norwegian is considering moving some operations away from Copenhagen because staff shortages at the airport continue to cause operational delays.
  • Royal Jordanian is acquiring eight new E2 jets.
  • Ryanair is now the largest non-U.S. airline in the world.
  • Singapore canceled eight B737 MAX aircraft it had on order.
  • Skymark made its financial mark earning a profit for its fiscal year ending March 31 for $25.4 million.
  • Southwest announced daily, summer-only seasonal service from Washington/National to both Albany and Memphis.
  • Spirit denied a family boarding on a flight from Los Angeles to Puerto Rico because they did not have a passport with them and because they failed to pay Spirit’s domestic passport opt-out fee.
  • TAAG announced an $800,000 profit for FY2022.
  • TAP lost €57.4 million in Q1, a smashing success compared to the €121.6 million it lost in Q1 a year ago.
  • Thai is finally going to smile.
  • United is making it harder to redeem MileagePlus points for an award, and travel bloggers are losing their mind despite the fact every airline does this every few years.

On my way home last week, I saw my neighbor walking up the hill to our street with a wheelbarrow filled with horseshoes, four-leaf clovers, and rabbits’ feet.

I thought to myself, “Boy, he’s really pushing his luck.”

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8 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: WestJet Fights off Strike, Breeze Gets Even Nicer, and More…

  1. Having retired to Malta four years from the States, we often fly to Helsinki and stay in our flat there. We take two flights on LH in biz to get there. As Star Alliance Gold, we each can check 3 bags, each 30 kilos. And we can carry on two bags each, plus laptop.

    Rarely have I ever encountered an LH flight that didn’t push back early. I think Finnair flunked the first rule in problem solving. When in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.

    The only equally stupid thing I ever encountered in the States was when Eastern decided to stop hemorrhaging money was by eliminating food service and give out peanuts instead. We know how that worked out.

    As my wife is card carrying, she is not impressed her fellow Finns. She said Finnair was planning on flying non-stop to Malta. And she said, no way, no how, even if they served herring flavored peanuts.

  2. That Breeze Ascent webpage is one festering load of rubbish. Seriously, even on a quick reading I’m only one short of Buzzword Bingo:

    “booking journey”

    The worst of all, though, is the combination “astonishing curated canned cocktails”. So much wrongness in only four words. I strongly doubt a canned drink can be “astonishing”, although they can be quite good. As for “curated”…no. Just no. Most overused “hype” word of the last decade. Unless you’re talking about some a collection at a museum, gallery, or something similar you do not “curate” it.

    And while the seats look comfy, when you put that legrest up and the person in front of you reclines, that actually looks cramped.

    And yet another airline gives up on Stewart. I’d love to know how Play is doing on that route. And I’ll predict Atlantic Airways doesn’t last long there, although I’d love to be wrong.

    1. Breeze forgot to include “transformative experience” in their marketing mumbo jumbo.

      Their tag line should also be: “the affordable elevated onboard experience you deserve”. Can’t let all those entitled jet setters feel that they’re not getting the absolute best out of their “booking journey”.

  3. How did Southwest get extra slots to add destinations out of DCA while the feds are begging airlines to cut their flying there this summer?

    1. Jacob – Well, funny story there. The feds didn’t care about reducing DCA.
      They just knew that to get NYC reduced, they’d need to let airlines cut back at DCA since there was such high frequency between the markets. So, while DCA is pulled down, other airlines are allowed to temporarily use those slots to go elsewhere.

  4. I’d say that Air Canada (not Breeze) should be the airline with “Nice”, “Nicer”, and “Nicest” (er. “Ascent”) service classes, but AC has demonstrated that (Canadian stereotypes to the contrary) it doesn’t treat its customers all that nicely.

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