Cranky Weekly Review Presented by San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport: Corporate ShAAkeup, Alaska Buddies Up with Contour

Cranky Weekly Review

American Rolls BAAck ChAAnges

American Airlines announced this week that EVP and CCO Vasu Raja would leave the carrier early next month after two years in his current role and 20 years at the airline. Raja has been the driver of a new corporate strategy designed to pull focus away from managed corporate travel and other business-related sales while driving traffic to, and the carrier’s other preferred booking channels.

Raja’s body wasn’t even cold yet in the wake of announcing his departure before AA CEO Robert Isom began walking back many of the changes Raja had already implemented and others he was planning to implement in the future. These include limiting access to AAdvantage miles and loyalty points for bookings made directly from the carrier or its preferred booking channels, limiting many of its lowest fares to its New Distribution Capability (NDC) offerings and away from third party booking services, and beating Basic Economy passengers with a stick upon boarding.

For more on the corporate shakeup at American and where it goes from here, please check out yesterday’s post on

JetBlue to Add San Juan Crew Base

JetBlue will open a new base for both pilots and flight attendants in San Juan by the end of the year as the carrier grows its presence in Puerto Rico.

The new base will open in phases, and will eventually be the home of up to 120 pilots and 325 FAs. The staff additions come as the carrier is growing its presence on the island, adding flights to six new destinations from SJU this fall. It will give JetBlue 18 destinations from the airport, and to its credit, none of those are Newark.

In addition to adding new destinations, the carrier is stepping up its in-flight product as well, as it plans to make San Juan its latest minty-fresh destination, adding its Mint experience on flights to New York/JFK.

Alaska and Contour Team Up

Alaska and Contour have joined forces for the partnership we didn’t know we needed, but now that we have it, we wonder how we survived all these years without it.

Customers flying on Contour who book through Alaska with a ticket issued on Alaska’s stock with its 027 code can now earn both redeemable miles and elite qualifying miles in the carrier’s Mileage Plan program. This includes nonstop flights on Contour booked through AS — actually flying on Alaska or part of a connecting itinerary on Alaska isn’t necessary to earn the miles.

Contour flies mostly EAS routes in the southeast, only making it as far west as Utah and Arizona, so its map doesn’t exactly complement Alaska’s very well, but more mileage-earning opportunities are always better than less.

Outage Slows Southwest

Southwest Airlines stumbled through its operation for a brief period on Wednesday after a power outage at a Dallas-area data center caused issues for the carrier. The outage was caused by a line of severe storms that rolled through Central Texas as punishment for the Mavericks choking away Game 4* of the Western Conference finals against Minnesota.

About a third of Southwest’s flights were delayed Wednesday, or as Newark calls it, “a great day!” The hiccup came about 17 months after Southwest’s Great Holiday Meltdown of 2022, but unlike the days-long mess created then, the carrier recovered relatively quickly this time.

*They redeemed themselves last night in Minnesota.

WestJet Delays Sunwing integration by Six Months

WestJet’s original timeline of shifting all of Sunwing’s fleet to operate under its AOC has been delayed from this October to April 27, 2025.

While WestJet will continue to integrate Sunwing into its brand, the two airlines will operate separately through the IATA winter season of 2024/25, ensuring several more months of wild, non-sensical schedule changes at the sunny subsidiary. The transaction to combine the two companies was completed last year, and WestJet was able to absorb Swoop and end it as a standalone brand also late last year.

When the integration is complete, WestJet says it will be responsibile for selling one in two vacation packages sold to Canadians through its various brands, with the carrier saying the half that book elsewhere can “go to hell.”

  • Air Canada is updating IFE on 80 aircraft.
  • Air France is gearing up for the Olympics.
  • Air Premia is teaming up with Korean to codeshare on flights to the United States.
  • Air Serbia is opening a new lounge in Belgrade.
  • American is adding two new Landline bus routes from PHL.
  • Azul is exploring a merger with GOL.
  • Belavia will remain in the EU’s doghouse.
  • Bonza is still looking for a buyer.
  • British Airways is moving on from its back-end flight management system.
  • Cathay Pacific revealed its new Premium Economy on its B777 and A350 fleets.
  • China Eastern will operate a C919 on a route outside mainland China for the first time tomorrow.
  • El Al is doing well financially.
  • EVA selected Panasonic to install new IFE on 54 aircraft.
  • Frontier‘s newest frontier seems to involve Southwest living rent free in its head.
  • GOL disclosed its 5-year financial plan as it looks to exit Chapter 11.
  • Hawaiian celebrated 20 years of flying to Sydney with a poi vegemite concoction that no one wanted to try.
  • ITA will begin flying between Rome and Dubai on October 27.
  • KLM and Transavia are skeptical of Schiphol’s noise plan.
  • Lufthansa has solved its biggest issue.
  • Malaysia Airlines‘ first A330-900 left Toulouse’s final assembly line this week.
  • PIA was delisted on the Pakistan Stock Exchange.
  • Porter is headed to Phoenix, beginning October 3.
  • Qantas is expanding its operation at Perth to return serving Auckland and Johannesburg sometime next year.
  • Rex is finally starting cross-county flying, serving both Adelaide and Melbourne from Perth.
  • Ryanair zigged where it normally zags, giving a rare compliment to a government agency.
  • Southwest says its new seats are fine.
  • SWISS is going to keep serving Washington/Dulles year-round.
  • Thai is getting a $325 million check from its government.
  • Turkish has new stuff to help you sleep in long-haul business class.
  • United mistakenly served a passenger in the Main Cabin a meal that was earmarked for a Basic Economy customer.
  • Virgin Australia flight 696 to Melbourne returned to Perth because apparently the cabin crew felt the need to enforce a dress code.
  • Wizz Air unveiled a special livery in support of the Hungarian Olympic team.

What sits on the bottom of the ocean and has anxiety? A nervous wreck.

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8 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport: Corporate ShAAkeup, Alaska Buddies Up with Contour

  1. I think you’re missing a piece in your Air Show rant/take about how travel agents need to have a backbone.

    Maybe travel agents did help undermine American’s revenue,* but American proved that an airline can make life really hard for the legions of travel agents who want to keep doing the same-old, relying on GDSs and GDS tech that can’t keep up.

    (To your credit, you’ve talked about the importance of NDC in the past, you’re not in the never-NDC camp.)

    So sure, travel agents, pat yourselves on the back,** but then give some thought to how you’re going to survive the next aggressive airline move, or keep up with airlines who can execute their distribution strategies (like United, like Southwest, or even American when they don’t roll all this back).

    *Although Scott Kirby said at Bernstein an hour after Isom: “the distribution strategy explains less than 10% of their margin gap.”

    **Or don’t, as Kirby points out.

    1. emac – Oh yes, I have a post I’m working on for next week about where AA should take this thing, and it’s not back to where it started.

      1. Will look forward to it. The On the Wing podcast was also excellent, the catfishing by Courtney was hilarious.

  2. Southwest has IT issues? What a surprise.

    I don’t know any competently run data center that doesn’t have battery backups for short term outages and diesel generators for longer term outages.

  3. Surprised no one’s caught on to the very well worded quote from Southwest about those new seats…

    “This is not a slimline seat,” Parker said, noting the company went through exhaustive testing with staff members and customers — who concluded, he said, that the seats were the most comfortable among those the carrier considered.”

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