Hawaiian Airlines is adding more flights as the holiday season ramps up.
In this week’s developments, the White House has issued specifics of new international entry requirements that take effect Nov. 8, including some that affect returning Americans. Hawaiian Airlines is scheduling extra flights from the West Coast for the holidays, United and Southwest add California routes, and Alaska expands its Seattle-Ohio schedules. In the east, United unveiled a big expansion of service between Washington, D.C., and the New York area. United will also add flights from the U.S. (including SFO) to London, and a Canadian carrier plans to begin flying to SFO in the spring. Southwest rolls out a corporate version of its Rapid Rewards program, and American changes the rules for how AAdvantage members can achieve elite status next year. Despite the risk of unruly passengers, United plans to resume main cabin sales of hard liquor in November. In airport news, Mineta San Jose opens a kids play space, LAX and United are testing timed reservations for TSA screenings, and Delta creates express PreCheck bag check-in and facial recognition procedures at Atlanta.
The Biden Administration has issued detailed guidelines for international travelers entering the U.S. when its new vaccine-based system begins on Nov. 8, ending the monthslong entry ban on most foreign arrivals. Some of the new rules affect U.S. citizens as well as noncitizens. All foreign inbound travelers (except children under 18) will be required to show proof of a complete COVID-19 vaccination before boarding the aircraft. Returning U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are fully vaccinated will also have to show proof to the airline; citizens who aren’t vaccinated can still enter, but they’ll have to provide evidence of a negative result on a COVID test taken within one day of departure. All vaccinated travelers, both foreign and U.S. citizens, will still have to get a negative test result within three days of departure to the U.S., as they do now. The U.S. will also require airlines to keep inbound passengers’ contact tracing information and provide it to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if needed. Airlines and U.S. gateway airports are bracing for a crush of international traffic starting Nov. 8 after the ban is lifted.
Hawaiian Airlines is adding more West Coast flights for the year-end holidays. The airline said its daily San Francisco-Honolulu flight will add extra Friday, Saturday and Sunday departures from Dec. 19 through Jan. 10. Los Angeles-Maui and Seattle-Honolulu service will each increase from one to two daily departures Nov. 19 through 21 and Nov. 27 through 29, and Dec. 21 through Jan. 5.
United Airlines Boeing jet airplane.
In other domestic route news, United plans to resume operations on Nov. 1 between San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles International, flying the route twice a day with 50-seat regional jets. The route had been suspended during the pandemic. United also flies from SLO to Denver and San Francisco. Southwest Airlines plans to introduce daily service March 10 of next year from Ontario International Airport to Austin Bergstrom Airport in Texas. And Alaska Airlines announced it will add Cleveland to its route map next year, with daily flights from Seattle beginning June 16. On the same date, Alaska plans to add second daily flights from Seattle to both Columbus and Cincinnati.
Last week, Delta announced plans to boost its total capacity out of New York City airports by 25% next month, and now United is taking similar steps by adding more flights to its Northeast Corridor schedules between the New York and Washington areas. Effective Oct. 31, the company said, “United will operate about 32 flights each day between the NYC and D.C. areas, a 78% increase and the most flights of any other airline.” The increase includes a shuttle-type schedule of 18 flights a day, seven days a week, between United’s big hub at Newark Liberty International and Washington Reagan National; five daily flights between Newark and Washington Dulles; and nine daily round trips between New York LaGuardia and Washington Dulles. Twenty-two of the daily United flights between the New York area and Washington will use 737 MAX 8s with 16 first class and 54 extra-legroom Economy Plus seats. The others will use United’s spacious CRJ-550s, with 50 seats in first and economy class in an aircraft designed for 70 passengers. Why all the big northeast schedule increases from United and Delta? The ViewfromtheWing.com blog suggests that their real purpose is to protect their valuable takeoff and landing slots at slot-controlled LGA and DCA, where the federal government is due to end the suspension of its “use it or lose it” rules for domestic flights Nov. 1.
United this week announced plans to increase capacity to London Heathrow in March 2022, adding five new LHR flights to its schedule. For California, that means the addition of a third daily departure from SFO to London and the resumption of daily Los Angeles International to LHR service. Elsewhere, United expects to resume Denver-London service and add a second daily flight; begin a new Boston-London route with daily service; and boost its Newark-LHR schedule from five flights a day to seven, including hourly departures in the evening hours. Meanwhile, United plans to add seasonal service to Dublin from Washington Dulles Feb. 12 and from Chicago March 27.
Air Transat, a Canadian carrier that focuses on leisure travel, plans to add two California airports to its route map next spring. The carrier plans to launch Montreal-Los Angeles service three days a week on May 16, and Montreal-San Francisco service twice a week on May 19. Both routes are already served by Air Canada. Next fall, Air Transat plans to boost LAX frequencies to daily and SFO flights to five a week.
A Southwest Airlines jet taxis to the gate after landing at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, on April 6, 2021.
To incentivize more companies to increase their volume of business travel, Southwest Airlines has introduced a corporate version of its Rapid Rewards loyalty program. The new plan allows participating companies to earn Rapid Rewards points in their own accounts, while still protecting the points earned by individual employees on business trips. The company can apply its points to future business travel on Southwest. Employees must link their individual accounts to their employer’s Rapid Rewards Business account. When they do, the company account will earn three program points per dollar spent on Business Select fares, two points per dollar for Anytime fares, and one point per dollar spent on Wanna Get Away fares. “Travel must be booked through a corporate travel booking tool such as SWABIZ, Southwest Partner Services (API/Direct Connect), or a Global Distribution System (GDS),” Southwest said, “and the traveler’s Rapid Rewards account must be linked to their company’s corporate identification number (CID).” To kick off the new program, the airline will offer 25,000 Rapid Rewards Business points to companies that apply before Dec. 31 and have a traveler book and fly two round trips within 90 days of enrollment. For details, go to Southwest.com/RapidRewardsBusiness.
Members of American Airlines’ AAdvantage loyalty program will have more ways to earn elite status in 2022. The airline said it is overhauling the program by “eliminating complicated elite qualifying metrics” and replacing them with a new system based on Loyalty Points. Members will get one Loyalty Point per AAdvantage mile earned, and they don’t have to come from flying. While Loyalty Points can still be earned by traveling on American or a partner carrier, they can also be accumulated by using an AAdvantage credit card to buy things, by shopping at any of 950 stores in the airline’s online retail program, and/or by patronizing restaurants in the AAdvantage dining program.
For 2022, amassing 30,000 Loyalty Points will win AAdvantage Gold status. Quotas for higher tiers are 75,000 for Platinum, 125,000 for Platinum Pro and 200,000 for Executive Platinum. American said it is extending the current status of all AAdvantage members through March 31 of next year as it shifts the AAdvantage elite status year to account activity from March through February, with the earned status valid through March 31 of the following year. The airline has a new web page at aa.com/newaadvantage with details of the changes. Those specifics might be worth exploring for AAdvantage loyalists. For example, in an analysis of the changes, ThePointsGuy.com notes that in addition to the points required for Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum, members must also fly at least 30 segments on American or its partners to gain access to the special perks that come with those levels, including bonus miles, upgrades and Admirals Club passes.
Southwest and American Airlines aren’t selling any alcoholic beverages to domestic main cabin fliers until mid-January, when the FAA’s face mask mandate is tentatively slated to expire, and other carriers have limited their offerings to lower-proof beverages like beer and wine. But now United is expected to become the first major airline to resume the sale of hard liquor to coach passengers starting Nov. 15. ThePointsGuy.com said it confirmed the news with United after seeing an internal memo to flight attendants. The policy will apply on domestic and transborder flights of 301 miles or more, and prices will be $9-$10 per little bottle. Flight attendants were reportedly told only to sell the hard stuff one drink at a time to passengers, and to keep an eye on anyone who seems to be under the influence. United told ThePointsGuy.com that it isn’t too concerned about the recent wave of in-flight misbehavior often resulting from excessive drinking because the airline’s “incidence of unruly passengers is very low compared to our number of customers overall and is also low in comparison to what other U.S. carriers are seeing.”
Alaska Airlines announced it will add Cleveland to its route map next year.
Family travelers who fly out of Mineta San Jose have a new way to keep the kids amused while they wait for their departure. SJC’s Terminal B has cut the ribbon on an educational play space called Zoom Zone, created in a partnership with the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. The 600-square-foot facility, between gates 24 and 25, “will engage youngsters by encouraging them to think about the creatures and objects that fly,” the airport said. Features include the Pin Screen, where kids can create works of art pushing on plastic pins; Alphabet Airplane, a wall graphic shaped like an airplane where kids can lift the lettered window shades to discover a destination that starts with that letter; Kinetic Butterfly, which teaches users how a butterfly’s wings work; Bird Climber, a bird that kids can climb up and slide down its tail feathers; and Zoom Plane, a biplane with a cockpit that kids can climb into.
Los Angeles International is the latest airport to start testing timed reservations for travelers to proceed through Transportation Security Administration screenings. The test is being conducted with United Airlines for departures from Terminals 7 and 8 and is scheduled to continue through Jan. 18. Passengers who participate will be given a 15-minute window to go through the Terminal 7 security checkpoint; reservations are available at www.flylax.com/fastlane. “Once a customer has selected their time window, they will receive a QR code that they will show upon arrival at the security checkpoint. They will then be allowed to enter a reserved TSA screening lane. United is reaching out to customers who are traveling from LAX to notify them of this option,” the airport said.
(FILES): This March 28, 2007 file photo shows a Delta Airlines aircraft at Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia.
Delta is introducing facial recognition technology at its Atlanta hub to speed up passenger processing, especially for members of the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program. In November, the airline plans to open a dedicated self-service bag drop space for PreCheck members on the lower level of ATL’s Domestic South Terminal. Passengers who have checked in for their flight on the Fly Delta app can perform a hands-free facial scan at one of the kiosks in the new area, print and attach a luggage tag from the kiosk and put the bag on the belt. They can then pass through the security checkpoint and board the aircraft “using only their digital identity (made up of a customer’s SkyMiles Member number, passport number and Known Traveler number),” Delta said, eliminating the need to show an ID and boarding pass. Delta said the new procedure lets travelers shave two minutes off their check-in time vs. the usual procedure. The airline said it will open a similar express bag drop facility at its Detroit hub later this fall.
— A mesmerizing horde descends on Bay Area park
— ‘Cabin in the clouds,’ an overnight in one of Mendocino’s mysterious water tower hotels
— Inside Death Valley Junction, the forgotten California town with two residents and an opera house
— Charles Schulz was a jock and a feminist and his Northern California museum is worth a day trip
— On the California-Oregon border, Lakeview is a high desert town built on hot springs dreams
Hawaiian Airlines is adding more flights as the holiday season ramps up.