Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Frontier Ditches the Middle, Argentina and Brazil Cozy Up

Cranky Weekly Review

Froniter’s European Flair

Industry experts have commonly referred to Frontier as America’s most-European carrier, and the airline is leaning into the reputation after announcing that it will begin European-style “Business Class” with a guaranteed blocked middle seat beginning April 10 in what it’s calling “UpFront Plus.”

UpFront Plus seating will start at $49, and will be located in the very-front of the airplane, in what the carrier has called “Stretch” seating in the past. Frontier is rebranding its options to UpFront Plus, then Premium, Preferred, and Cheapskate Standard.

Premium class is what will remain of Stretch Seating, but without the middle seat blocked, Preferred is your standard airline scam where it charges more for standard seats that happen to be a few rows closer to the front of the plane — a scam that works because people keep buying it…stop that, people — and Standard which is whatever is left over at the back of the plane along with most middle seats.

Brazil and Argentina Open Things Up in the Sky

Despite being neighbors and seeing thousands of passengers fly between their two countries every week, Argentina and Brazil never had an open skies agreement — until now.

The two largest economies in South America signed an MoU to expand service between their two countries on Wednesday, ending the artificial cap that was placed on both commercial service — 170 weekly flights in each direction — while also permitting the beginning of cargo operations. The cargo portion of the agreement also allows for airlines based in both countries to fly international cargo ops which can begin in or end in either country, regardless of which one it’s based in.

With Argentina on-board, Brazil now has open skies agreements with most of the largest economies in Latin America, including Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Meanwhile, Venezuela read the news of the agreement and decided a closed skies policy would be a better plan.

United Asks Boeing to Take it Down a Notch from 10 to 9

United Airlines asked Boeing to take a rest on fixing its MAX 10 production debacle and focus just on its order book of MAX 9s for the time being. United CEO Scott Kirby said the manufacturer agreed and is no longer going to work on producing any MAX 10s for the airline until it’s certified by the federal government or until the turn of the century, whichever comes first.

UA is currently the largest operator in the world of the MAX 9, with 79 in service and another 31 on order — all 110 reportedly have all their plug doors attached at this time. United is also the largest current customer of Boeing’s when it comes to the MAX 10, as it has 277 of the airplanes on tap. The carrier is expected to line the planes up on an active taxiway in Newark upon delivery, since that is where the planes will spend most of their time anyway, queued up for departure during rush hour.

Southwest Cuts MAX 8 Expectations

In a market report filed it filed earlier this week, Southwest reduced the number of MAX deliveries it expects to receive this year down from 79 to 46. The carrier made the common mistake of forgetting to check-in with Boeing 24 hours before the planes were ready to be completed, which placed the airline at the back of the line, leading to the lesser expectation.

Southwest’s current order book has 307 MAX 7, 188 MAX 8, and another 199 options for either of the two. It’s no longer expecting to receive any MAX 7s this year or probably next, but it hopes that someday it will actually get them on property, maybe.

Alaska to End its Kiosk Era

Alaska Airlines is debuting what it calls a “new airport check-in experience” in which its kiosks no longer will print boarding passes. The carrier dipped its toe into this last year at its Portland (OR) hub, and it seemingly went well enough that it’s expanding the concept to its entire operation.

Customers will have the option of obtaining their boarding passes through the Alaska app, from their cell phone, printing them at home, or visiting an Alaska City Ticketing Office in one of 16 cities across the U.S. and asking a 74-year-old woman named Norma to print it on hard ticket stock. Customers who are truly unable to obtain a boarding pass prior to arriving at the airport can see an Alaska agent at check-in to have one printed. Unlike kiosks, presumably the agents computers will still print boarding passes.

The carrier will have bag tag stations — which to us sounds like kiosks with a fancier name — to pay for baggage, print bag tags (so these can still print, apparently), or add a bag to your reservation.

  • Aero K, which apparently is an airline based in Korea, is now beginning service to to both Manila and Ulaanbaatar.
  • Air Arabia will let you check-in long before you arrive at its Dubai hub.
  • Air New Zealand is halting service to Chicago/O’Hare for the summer due to engine problems, citing a need for fully-functioning engines to fly the long distance from Auckland to Chicago.
  • American isn’t just dreaming — it’s opening a B787 operation in New York.
  • Alaska is replacing American as a Bilt transfer partner, sending certain industry bloggers into a tizzy.
  • Afrijet has a new investor, and its the one we’ve all been waiting on — the government of Gabon.
  • BRA completed its latest round of restructuring, leaving the airline with more support than ever.
  • Cargo Air suspended its fleet renewal.
  • Condor selected the vendor that best earned its stripes to install new seats in economy class of its Airbus fleet. Want to know who it is? Click the link.
  • Delta expects MAX 10 deliveries to begin…eventually. In other news, the carrier is preparing itself for a Mexican standoff.
  • Etihad had a good February.
  • Frontier opened its new crew base in Cleveland.
  • IndiGo sold a 5.8% stake for 67.85 billion rupees which isn’t nearly as much as it sounds like.
  • JetBlue‘s Dublin service began.
  • Korean‘s dream of new suites aboard its B787 fleet is closer to becoming a reality.
  • LAM is going to review its lessor agreements, which seems like a good idea generally.
  • LATAM added Disney+ content to its inflight entertainment. That probably came very cheap.
  • Loganair will revisit its current growth plans.
  • Lufthansa Cargo will begin flying between Brussels and Chicago.
  • Nolinor Aviation has its first B737 in its own livery.
  • Porter‘s gamble on making Vegas service work is underway.
  • Qantas is bracing for a pilot strike at its Network Aviation and QantasLink brands.
  • Qatar successfully sought out the luck of the Irish. Meanwhile, it has big plans for the pointy end of the plane.
  • Ryanair canceled all flights to Israel through October.
  • SpiceJet saw thyme run out on two of its most senior leaders.
  • Sun Country is happy with where its fleet is.
  • United has plans for Brussels along with its partner Lufthansa.
  • Vietnam Airlines will operate a daily A350 to Delhi beginning in May. It’s also heading to Munich.
  • Volotea CEO Carlos Munoz thinks an IPO could be on tap for the carrier.

I was fired from my job at the electric factory last month. These have been the darkest times of my life.

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12 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Frontier Ditches the Middle, Argentina and Brazil Cozy Up

  1. Since F9 no longer operates a reservations phone system, I am surprised that there isn’t any negative feedback on it. I am sure that other airlines will take note! What a pain that will be – even if you have to wait an hour or more to reach someone – it’s better than trying to use a website!

    1. It’s interesting how people have such different preferences for their customer service interactions. I would spend an hour on a website before resorting to picking up the phone and actually having to speak to somebody.

  2. Most AS stations seem to already have the new bag tag printer thingies now, and honestly they are pretty slick. Nice upgrade over the old kiosks.

    1. What’s interesting is that common use kiosks like those in San Diego don’t have the option to print a boarding pass for Alaska, even though they still have boarding pass printers to print for other airlines.

      I wonder if they’ll have to reverse course on this if the Hawaiian acquisition goes through, considering Hawaiian’s international network.

  3. I would actually like to try Frontier’s new business class if they were to fly somewhere I would like to go, which is unlikely

  4. I am shocked that Southwest is not using its EarlyBird check-in service with Boeing to secure itself an A15+ position within 24 h of a MAX coming off the assembly line!

  5. Haha on the BRA news.

    Not really the first B737 in Nolinor livery but the first B737 Classic (-400) in the Nolinor livery. They have plenty of -200s in their livery but the -400s were just in the OWG livery until now.

    Aero K is Korea spelled backward for anyone who didn’t know.

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