Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: American to Appeal, Frontier Eyes NYC, More

Cranky Weekly Review

AAmericAAn PrepAAres AAppeal on AAlliAAnce Decision

American CEO Robert Isom announced the carrier would move forward with an appeal on its loss in court on its Northeast Alliance with JetBlue Airways.

JetBlue has yet to comment on whether or not it will officially join the appeal, after being seen leaving Spirit headquarters wearing shirts that said “AA who?” JetBlue released a statement after the ruling that said “We made it clear at trial that the Northeast Alliance has been a huge win for customers,” but the carrier has been quiet since then on its future plans. 

Sources inside JetBlue tell us that the carrier has been researching what the hell the Sherman Act is and how the NEA violated Section 1 of it — while also trying to figure out if Section 2 or 3 might be more favorable to the alliance.

AA and its lawyers will move forward with the appeal — if no other reason than to give it more than the 30 days it was given to untangle the tie-up. While the carrier remains hopeful it can salvage some of the agreement, Isom said this week that flights out of NYC account for less than 5% of its schedule, and the adverse ruling shouldn’t have an impact on Q2 earnings.

JetBlue, Frontier Agree to NYC Divesture

JetBlue and Frontier came to terms on JetBlue divesting itself of slots at New York/LGA as part of its proposed purchase of Spirit, giving Frontier greater access to more frontiers out of NYC.

The transaction is conditional on the JetBlue/Spirit merger closing, which means Frontier execs shouldn’t get too comfortable playing with their new toys, as they’ll remain behind glass for the time being. The deal consists of JetBlue sending all 22 of Spirit’s takeoff and landing slots, all six of Spirit’s gates and its giant fee deposit box to Frontier.

As part of the closing of the deal, JetBlue officials “accidentally” cc’d the DOJ on the signed contract, hoping the government would come across the fact it was lessening its presence in New York.  Government officials had no comment.

With JetBlue’s pie in the sky expectation that its merger with Spirit will close within the first half of next year, Frontier will have to wait at least a year to get its hands on the slots, gates, and fee box, with mid-2024 the earliest current projection — and that’s without taking into account JetBlue’s record in front of the DOJ.

What’s In a Name?  Delta FAs Say a Lot

Delta Air Lines is putting a temporary halt to its plan to provide passengers the first names of its FAs ahead of flights in what it believed would increase customer service and familiarity with crew and passengers.

The names would be sent via e-mail the day before the flight, and would include chosen first names only — no last names, nor legal first names if someone has a silly first name they want kept private.  Passengers would then be encouraged to write in comments about service received in flight, with positive feedback shared with the FAs in question. Negative feedback would be re-routed to United and disguised as about UA FAs.

Delta flight attendants and The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) — of which Delta’s cabin crew are not a member — immediately objected to Delta’s plan calling it outrageous, a violation of privacy, and that it increased risk to crews. 

Before backtracking, Delta said potential danger to the crews was roughly the same as working a Miami to New York flight and that it wasn’t stopping those flights, so this was no difference. It eventually back tracked after enough bad publicity made the concept no longer worth it — kinda like that one time it added service to Newark.

BA Fined by U.S. Government

The DOT fined British Airways $1.1 million for what it said was a failure to provide timely refunds in the wake of pandemic-era canceled flights.

The government said it received more than 1,200 complaints about BA not providing refunds in a reasonable amount of time, and that the fine is designed to be a deterrent to BA and other airlines for future misdeeds.

BA responded that it would pay the fine, but disagreed with it, stating that the service provided on U.S.-based refunds was in line with its normal policy of providing mediocre customer service with surly agents who want to get customers off the phone as soon as possible.  The airline also said that there was a language issue that could have led to some of the issues as “those damn Yankees” are just so hard to understand.

The airline won’t even have to pay the entire fine, as it’s being credited with half the fine — $550,000 — for paying out more than $40 million in refunds to customers with non-refundable tickets in 2020 and 2021, and it reportedly will not be on the hook for the remaining 50% if it agrees to stop spelling the words “color” or “harbor” without the extraneous “u” for a period of two years.

The Emergency Chute is an Expensive Toy

American Airlines passenger Cynthia McKnight reached a plea agreement in which she would pay $42,000 to American in restitution for opening an emergency exit while her plane was taxiing and then sliding down the emergency chute.

We at Cranky love a slide as much as anyone, and actually have two at Cranky HQ, including one that is modeled after an aircraft’s emergency chute — but would never use it for fun while onboard an aircraft.  McKnight felt differently when her flight to Chicago/ORD from Buffalo was taxiing for takeoff and flight attendants asked her to get off her phone in preparation for takeoff.

The phone call apparently was so important that she got out of her seat and went to the front of the plane to argue with other passengers — because that makes sense — and spit on someone before opening the exit door, shoving a FA who tried to stop her and sliding down the chute.  She then took off across the taxiway — as one does — shutting down all operations at the airport until order could be restored.  McKnight’s sentence for pleading guilty to simple assault included time served, three year’s probation, the $42k back to AA, and a requirement that she fly nothing but Basic Economy on all flights during her probation.

  • Air Algérie ordered seven new aircraft from Airbus – five A330-900neos and two A350-1000s.
  • Air Canada has a new PAL. Air Canada and its pilots are not pals right now.
  • Air New Zealand is going to make the boarding process very awkward for some.
  • American‘s pilots’ union rejected a merger with the larger Air Line Pilots Association.
  • Canadian North is starting a new route – the Arctic Capital Express – connecting Ottawa, Iqaluit, Nunavut and Yellowknife, the Northwest Territories. The service comes with a parka and hot cocoa for all passengers.
  • China Southern plans to raise nearly $3 billion to purchase some fancy new airplanes.
  • Czech will check out four new A220s on lease next year.
  • Delta is testing the use of reusable plastic cups onboard and some people don’t love it.
  • Endeavor Air‘s endeavor to end its CRJ200 operations was successful.
  • Envoy‘s endeavor to end its E145 operations was successful.
  • Garuda Indonesia announced it will begin a JV with Singapore.
  • GoFirst is being given 30 days to go first and announce a restart plan.
  • Jet Airways scored a win in court.
  • Mexicana needs to get moving with its sale, with a deadline set for next month.
  • Norwegian is being sued in a Norwegian court by a Norwegian bank, Bank Norwegian over whether Bank Norwegian has the rights to the name Norwegian of if Norwegian the air carrier has the rights to call itself Norwegian.
  • Pakistan International Airlines had a B777 impounded in Malaysia. The most surprising thing is that it took this long.
  • Qantas is setting up an A$400 million climate fund with the goal of letting everyone know it set up an A$400 million climate fund.
  • Qatar resumed daily service to Tokyo/Haneda on Thursday.
  • Royal Air Maroc has plans to double its fleet.
  • Singapore joined the free on-board wifi club this week.
  • Virgin Atlantic will begin 3x weekly summer service between Manchester and Las Vegas next summer.

My uncle retired this week after being a lumberjack for 40 years. At his retirement party he said he knew that in his career, he cut down exactly 27,419 trees. I asked him how he knew, and he said “Every time I cut down a tree, I keep a log.”

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4 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: American to Appeal, Frontier Eyes NYC, More

  1. I think Czech Airlines are leasing four A220s not A320. Separately, Virgin Atlantic is resuming London Heathrow – Dubai in addition to Manchester – Las Vegas. Finally, do you have a link about Royal Air Maroc which is not behind a paywall ?

  2. From the article on reusable plastic cups in Delta: “I’m pretty sketched out by the thought of using a reusable plastic cup. Glassware doesn’t bother me, but this doesn’t sit right. I’d be thinking about this plastic cup being in someone else’s mouth and might skip the beverage service altogether.”

    Has this person ever been to a restaurant? Sure lots of them have glass drinking cups, but some have plastic drinking cups.

    This feels like a really knee jerk reaction. I’m sure that the FA’s only hand that glass to one person on the flight, then they take it back to be washed on the ground.

    Honestly, since it’s gotta stand up to more, I’m curious if it’s a thicker plastic than the single use cup, which would probably make it a more enjoyable experience to drink out of..

  3. Did the passengers affected by Cynthia McKnight‘s stunt on the AA flight receive any compensation for delays or cancellation of their trips?

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