Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: MileagePlus Changes, Breeze Blows Into 7 New Cities

Cranky Weekly Review

United MileagePlus Takes First Step Towards Revenue-Only Model

United isn’t ready to go full-SkyMiles yet but is moving in that direction as the carrier announced tweaks to its 2024 Mileage Plus program this week.

The levels to qualify for United’s four published loyalty tiers are not changing for 2024, and the airline is giving a head start to anyone who earned status this year. MileagePlus member who earn status this year will start 2024 with between 250 PQPs for Premier Silver and 1,250 PQPs for Premier 1K.

Most notably (and unsurprisingly), it’s making it easier to earn status via its co-branded Chase credit card as it likely shifts to a revenue-based program at some point in the future.  Cardholders will now earn 25 PQPs for every $500 spent, which is 20% better than the current earning rate of 500 PQPs for every $12,000 spent.  Points earned via credit card are now valid for all published levels, including Premier 1K, and there will not be a cap on how many PQPs one can earn, an improvement from the current cap of 15,000 PQPs all-in per year.

While these slight changes are improvements for UA frequent fliers, they should probably still brace for what’s to come in 2025.  Regardless of when the changes come, UA fliers still have to connect in Newark, so we should all remember to keep MileagePlus elites in our thoughts and prayers this holiday season.

Breeze Breezes Into Seven New Airports

Breeze Airways’s route map is adding seven dots as the carrier announced new service to:

  • Burlington, VT (BTV) – Orlando (2x weekly beginning Feb 14), Tampa (seasonal 2x weekly beginning Jan 31)
  • Evansville, IN (EVV) – Orlando (2x weekly beginning February 23)
  • Grand Junction, CO (GJT) – Orange County (3x weekly beginning Feb. 6), San Francisco (seasonal 2x weekly beginning May 22)
  • Madison, WI (MSN) – Orlando (seasonal 2x weekly beginning Feb 14), Tampa (2x weekly beginning Feb 7)
  • Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR) – Charleston (WV) (seasonal 2x weekly beginning May 10), Providence (2x weekly beginning Feb 15), Tampa (2x weekly beginning May 10)
  • New York/Stewart, NY (SWF) – Charleston (SC) (seasonal 2x weekly beginning May 10), Orlando (2x weekly begins Feb. 15)
  • Wilkes-Barre Scranton, PA (AVP) – Orlando (2x weekly begins Jan 30)

Most of these additions are trying to tap into the formerly-bottomless pit of demand that is Florida, though as Spirit and Frontier have learned, that isn’t as bottomless as they thought. Myrtle Beach enters the picture as an alternate summer destination while Grand Junction is… well, we don’t know what the idea is behind Grand Junction.

Included in this round of changes is one route removal.  Breeze will no longer fly between Tampa and Charleston, WV, but it will offer one-stop service on that highly-traveled corridor via Myrtle Beach.

Southwest Pilots Continue Slow March Towards Strike

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (also known by the far snappier SWAPA) are opening a strike headquarters in Dallas as the union continues its crawl towards a potentially debilitating Christmas strike.

The airline and its pilots’ union have been in talks for several years – seemingly going back to when Southwest required plastic boarding cards to board one of its airplanes. Federal mediation has not been able to break the stalemate on major issues including salary, benefits, and a ban on Southwest’s salty death mix from being served in the cockpit.  Pilots have also made little progress on its demand that the carrier allow them to board the plane to begin their duties upon arrival at the gate, and to no longer be required to check-in at 24 hours and hope for a high boarding position lest someone else board first and claim the seats in the cockpit.

SWAPA must get the federal government’s permission to begin a 30-day cooling off period before initiating a strike. Assuming that clearance is given in the next two weeks — which is unlikely — the 30-day cooling off period would end just as Christmas approaches. If President Biden opted not to block the strike, this would set Southwest up for potentially its second operational disaster in a row over the holiday season. (But probably not.)

American Plans 2024 International AAdditions

American Airlines AAnounced new international routes it plans to fly next year, including its application to fly from New York/JFK to Tokyo/Haneda, which if awarded would make it the only U.S. carrier to operate JFK and HND. It would also make it the only U.S. carrier to lose a ton of money flying the route.

AA also plans to follow Delta and Spirit into Tulum’s new airport, with service beginning March 28 from Charlotte and Miami (both 1x daily), and Dallas/Fort Worth (2x daily).

Lastly, the carrier is increasing its service to multiple destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latin America including:

From Charlotte:

  •             Bridgetown (increase to 1x daily)
  •             Liberia (increase to 1x daily)
  •             St. Thomas (increase to 2x daily)

From Dallas/Fort Worth:

  •             Guatemala City (increase to 2x daily)
  •             San Jose (CR) (increase to 2x daily)

From Miami:

  •             Antigua (increase to 2x daily)
  •             Anguilla (increase to 2x daily)
  •             Georgetown (increase to 2x daily)
  •             Port of Spain (increase to 2x daily)
  •             Providenciales (increase to 3x daily)
  •             Puerto Plata (increase to 2x daily)

WestJet Adds Transborder Capacity

WestJet announced new service to four American cities, including two of Delta’s largest hubs as it grows its transborder operation and expands options for its customers to travel with its on-again, off-again partner Delta.

The carrier is adding three destinations from Edmonton, proving that it has just remembered it got a ton of money from Alberta and not just Calgary. The new service includes daily flights to Atlanta, 5x weekly flights to San Francisco, and 2x weekly service to Nashville.  Atlanta flights begin April 29, Nashville on May 2, and San Francisco on June 20. 

The flights to BNA and SFO leave Edmonton in the morning, arriving in the early afternoon, with the plane scheduled to return to Edmonton about 50 minutes after landing.  The Atlanta flight will operate as a redeye, connecting to Delta’s first morning bank of flights and returning to YEG two hours after arrival.

WestJet is also adding a daily flight from Vancouver to Delta’s Detroit hub, beginning April 28.  YVR-DTW will operate a similar schedule as the new YEG-ATL flight with a redeye arriving around 7 a.m. and leaving back for Canada about two hours later. The flights to Detroit, Nashville, and San Francisco will operate on a seasonal schedule, while Edmonton-Atlanta will stick around year-round.

  • Air Busan might be put up for sale. Stay tuned.
  • AirAsia is ending flights between Auckland and Sydney, while resuming service between Auckland and Gold Coast.
  • Alaska is expanding its codeshare agreement with Condor. In unrelated news, it’s adding flights between Nashville and Portland.
  • American expects a lot of people to fly on it airplanes the week after next. Some of them will even get where they’re going somewhat on-time.
  • Cargojet profited nearly $40 million during Q3.
  • El Al and its fellow Israeli carriers Israir and Arkia are looking for state aid.
  • Emirates is getting rid of the middle seat in biz on its B777 fleet.
  • EVA will be growing its A350-1000 fleet with an order 18 aircraft, plus another 15 A321neos.
  • Finnair will resume flying to Nagoya with 2x weekly flights beginning May 30.
  • Frontier is adding a crew base in Cleveland.
  • Garuda Indonesia posted a loss.
  • Iberia plans to add larger overhead bins on its aircraft to expand its Basic Economy seating options.
  • ITA is considering leaving Milan/Malpensa. It’s also considering staying there. The airline also took delivery of its first A321neo. It promptly lost the plane. If you’ve seen it, please let someone from ITA know.
  • JAL is getting back into the B767 freighter game.
  • JetBlue considered purchasing Alaska at one point, it was revealed in court this week.
  • Lufthansa is adding free inflight messaging and lowering the costs if inflight WiFi, but in exchange, all passengers must be able to pass a test on all of its subsidiaries, brands, and regional carriers.
  • Norse Atlantic added $55 million in funding.
  • Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary is all of us.
  • SAS secured $1.2 billion from its new overlord.
  • Thai expects to be smiling no later than early next year.
  • United formally applied with the DOT to claim one of the Tokyo/Haneda slots to operate to the airport from its Houston/IAH hub.
  • Volaris laid off 200 employees.
  • Wamos Air has a suitor.
  • WestJet enhanced its baggage and seat selection fees.
  • Zipair will zip between Vancouver and Tokyo/Narita 3x weekly beginning in March.

If an ice sculpture of a lion shatters, would that be considered a water mane break?

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5 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: MileagePlus Changes, Breeze Blows Into 7 New Cities

  1. GJT isn’t too far from Arches or Canyonlands National Parks. I flew into GJT in 2019. The western slope of Colorado and eastern Utah is a place worth visiting in my opinion.

  2. I know JFK-TYO has a checkered past regarding the ability of US airlines to make profits on the route. I accept that it’s true since no route has stuck around, but I still can’t figure out why a route between two of the biggest cities in the world would be so tough to make work.

    Also, how is UA different on their EWR-TYO, especially since they serve both NRT and HND from the hub? Is UA willing to lose money as a way to commit to the hub or is the EWR hub really that much stronger than the AA/DL one at JFK? I know UA has connections but those connections could also route via several other hubs.

    1. Mark – I think the difference with American is they have a weak local presence in New York and limited connectivity there. Plus, their joint venture partner JAL has 2x daily to Haneda already. In the past, American failed because it was those awful night-slot times that made no commercial sense. I bet American wins this slot pair but I also bet it does not do well.

      I’m surprised Delta doesn’t try for it. It would have a much better chance of success.

    2. The route is already well-served with one-stop service. Flying it nonstop would be more expensive, and the fare premium will probably not be enough to cover the cost.

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