Cranky Weekly Review Presented by San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport: Delta Upgrades Economy, Lufthansa + ITA Deal Looks Like a Winner

Cranky Weekly Review

Delta Selects Economy Upgrade Between NYC and LA

Delta Air Lines is bringing Premium Select to the domestic market, planning to debut the premium product on select daily flights between New York/JFK and Los Angeles beginning this fall.

The new offering will begin in September on its Boeing 767 fleet on the JFK-LAX route, with pricing expected to be totally reasonable and award redemptions available for a low price that doesn’t make anyone shake their head. Delta has offered Premium Select internationally since 2017, but this will be its first foray into the domestic market.

The carrier has operated domestic flights on aircraft with the Premium Select cabin, but it did not offer any of the soft product that comes with the higher cabin. The nicer seats were available to customers similar to Comfort+, with roughly the same offering as Main Cabin, with the exception of the nicer seat and more legroom. When it introduces the full offerings on the JFK-LAX flights, the fancier seats will come with better food (note we didn’t say good — we said better), amenity kits, noise-canceling headphones, and a stick to poke at Basic Economy passengers during the boarding process.

Lufthansa Better Be Careful, Because It’s Gonna Get What it Wished For

Lufthansa’s purchase of ITA Airways is expected to be approved by the EU when it announces its decision in the coming weeks. The European Commission, which functions as the EU competition watchdog, is expected to allow the deal to go through after Lufthansa offered up more concessions to the government to gain its approval.

LH is attempting to purchase 41% of Alitalia ITA, the Italian national airline that can change its name and change its livery but it can’t change the fact it’s a multiple time winner of Cranky’s Worst Airline Ever. As part of its give back to the Commission, Lufthansa agreed to keep ITA out of its transatlantic JV with Air Canada and United for at least two years, offer 40 of its slots at Milan/Linate to LCC competitors, continue to operate and compete with ITA on several routes from Italy to Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland, and install Illy espresso machines in breakrooms at all Lufthansa Group airlines.

The EC has placed a deadline of July 4 to make its final decision, with that date selected because it wants to finish this piece of business up before its members head out for BBQ cookouts, fireworks, and the long holiday weekend throughout Europe.

Frontier Adds Frontiers But Not All the Frontiers It Said It Was Adding

Frontier Airlines announced the addition of seven new routes this week, taking aim at JetBlue and other carriers, although the announcement is curiously missing one briefly announced route.

The nine additions include two from Atlanta: Boston and Los Angeles, two from Boston: Charlotte and Dallas/Fort Worth, New York/JFK to Las Vegas, and Sacramento to both Los Angeles and San Diego. Six of the seven will begin on August 13 and operate daily, while the BOS-DFW route begins the next day and will fly just 4x weekly, going head-to-head with AA’s seven daily frequencies on the route….

No longer a part of the announcement from Frontier is a flight between New York/JFK and Los Angeles — despite Frontier including it previously. Whether someone jumped the gun on a future announcement, or something became amiss is unclear, but the airline corrected its stance saying it does not plan to launch the route “at this time.” The customer is the real loser here, because without Frontier adding 1x daily on the route, there are only 29 daily flights between American (9), Delta (10), and JetBlue (10).

JetBlue Goes Long

JetBlue is returning to its Long Island roots as the carrier begins service later this year from New York’s MacArthur Airport located on Long Island. From ISP, JetBlue will serve three destinations, and shockingly, all three are in Florida.

Daily service to Orlando begins October 24, 4x weekly flights to West Palm Beach begin the same day, with Fort Lauderdale beginning the next day, October 25, and also operating at 4x weekly. The carrier will join Breeze, Frontier, and Southwest operarting at the airport, and it will be JetBlue’s 4th airport in New York area.

All three routes will be operated by A320s.

Alaska’s $160 Million Virgin Mistake

Alaska Airlines lost an appeal in a UK court this week which ruled it was still responsbile for $160 million worth of licensing payments to Virgin Group for the Virgin name from its former merger partner Virgin America, despite no longer using the brand.

A 2014 licensing agreement signed by Virgin America to use the Virgin name and brand required payments made through 2039, and the British courts ruled that Alaska inherited that contract when it took over Virgin America in 2016 and can’t get out of it despite asking very nicely. The agreement calls for Alaska to pay about $8 million a year through 2039.

Alaska had stopped paying the fee in 2019 when it retired the Virgin brand, prompting the lawsuit.

  • Air New Zealand did not want it to strike twice.
  • Alaska‘s FAs are moving closer to a potential strike, unmoved by the carrier launching its ANC-JFK flight.
  • ANA expects to add several B777Xs to its fleet by next year.
  • Avatar Airlines is looking for a CEO and the cost is only $250k.
  • Bonza doesn’t fly anyone anywhere anymore so it fired everyone.
  • British Airways codeshare with JetBlue was approved by the DOT.
  • Cathay Pacific welcomed its final airplane back from long-term storage.
  • China Southern and Qatar signed a document confirming they understand each other.
  • Congo Airlines would like to know if you have any A320s you’re trying to move.
  • Delta will go to court to protect its JV with Aeromexico, if needed.
  • easyJet is not taking it easy this winter.
  • El Al is adding 30 B737s.
  • Emirates wants to fly vast distances to far away lands.
  • Etihad is growing its cargo operation.
  • Flair completed most of its flights in May. Congrats, fellas.
  • Gulf Air is thinking about purchasing new airplanes.
  • IAG is taking another shot at Air Europa.
  • Iberia announced Boston will be the first destination for its A321XLR.
  • Icelandair is joining forces with Emirates to tell a story of fire and ice.
  • Kenya Airways is repaying some of its debt.
  • KLM employees are being told not to light their customers on fire in-flight anymore.
  • LATAM, and its JV partner Delta, were named the official airlines of the upcoming Copa América.
  • Mexicana is looking for some apple pie, baseball, and Chevrolet.
  • Ryanair‘s winning streak in court is over. But you can order overpriced snacks directly to your seat, so there’s that.
  • Tunisair is in the market for an A330.
  • Turkish plans to add service to Charlotte, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Orlando, and Philadelphia.
  • United finally has it all figured out.
  • Virgin Atlantic is going to be reacquainted with Tim Horton’s.

Me: “Why aren’t you at work, it’s the middle of the day.”

My niece: “I can’t work for that man anymore, not after what he said to me yesterday.”

Me, horrified: “What did he say to you?”

My niece: “You’re fired.”

This week, we wrap up IATA coverage by talking to Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith. I also ask Jon and Brian to talk about what it’s like being at an IATA AGM. Learn about Enrique Iglesias, Sam Chui, and the CEO who completely ignored Brian and Jon in the elevator.

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17 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport: Delta Upgrades Economy, Lufthansa + ITA Deal Looks Like a Winner

  1. 29 flights from JFK to Los Angeles.

    Only difference is JetBlue is charging $143 one way, plus $40 if you add a carry on bag and seat assignment.

    Frontier would have charged $69 one way, plus $39 for a carry on and seat assignment.

    Save $75, but you won’t be able to walk after the Frontier flight. Some people are OK with that.

  2. How enforceable is the decision that Virgin has against Alaska Airlines? It’s not like Alaska wants the Virgin name and they don’t do business in the UK. Couldn’t Alaska tell Virgin that we paid a ton of money a poorly run airline that bared your name and go pound sand?

    1. southbay – Can’t say I know for sure, but Alaska probably wants to stay on the good side of the Brits. Might have to point a 787 over there one of these days.

      1. I’d rather they point those at Paris or Amsterdam. They are much better to visit than London IMO.

        1. Not sure that is the best idea with only a hub on one end against a carrier with a hub or JV hub on both ends

    2. There are ways to enforce foreign judgements.

      Also, AS is doing business in the UK – just this week they started selling revenue tickets on BA flights. And they are in the process of acquiring wide bodies via the Hawaiian acquisition. Would be a shame if those were impounded somewhere outside the US.

      My guess is they will pay. If they intended to just ignore the judgement, they could have chosen to not even defend the lawsuit. And frankly, they *should* pay. They lost fair and square.

  3. I think we should all submit our resumes for Avatar’s new CEO position, they are never going to get in the air, so we can just attach an IOU for the $250,000. I look at their list of management names on their website, and wonder if anyone is getting paid yet.

    1. $250,000 Zimbabwean currency isn’t all that much. And probably roughly what the assets of Avatar “Airlines” is worth.

      On the other hand, this is a greeeeaaaat opportunity for all those armchair airline CEOs on FT or to put their money where their mouth is.

  4. For the potpourri section why make all the summaries completely illegible such that you have to click on each article to know what the point of it is? I’m not anti-humor but you’re intentionally shipping useless product (and I assume paying someone to write it)

    1. That might be a you thing. The Potpourri section looks just like the rest of the post to me and always has.

  5. > “As part of its give back to the Commission, Lufthansa agreed to keep ITA out of its transatlantic JV with Air Canada and United”

    Oh come on boooo-

    > “for at least two years,”

    Oh okay then nevermind. Hopefully it’s just the two years and not much longer

  6. I’m convinced Avatar Airlines is a money laundering scheme, a giant troll, or some combination of the two…

    1. I’m voting troll. Money laundering would require them to have some actual money in the first place.

  7. I don’t understand the appeal of providing noise-cancelling headphones in Delta Premium Select. I would assume almost anyone flying Premium Select already owns noise-cancelling headphones, and wearing headphones that have been worn by so many other people seems kinda gross to me. Seat looks nice for red eye flights, though.

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