Other Airlines

WestJet (A Low Cost Carrier) Is Launching A New Ultra Low Cost Carrier

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All airlines have been adjusting their business strategy as they’ve faced increased competition, both in shorthaul and longhaul markets. For example, Air Canada has Rouge, which is a low cost carrier with tighter seats, fewer frills, crews on different (cheaper) contracts, etc. It allows Air Canada to compete more effectively in markets that traditionally have lower yields.

Over the years we’ve seen quite a few airlines start their own low cost carriers, but there’s something especially interesting about an announcement that come out today. WestJet, Canada’s second largest airline, which was founded as a low cost carrier in 1996, announced that they plan on launching an ultra low cost carrier by the end of 2017. The new airline will initially launch with 10 high density 737-800s. Here’s how WestJet describes the new airline:

“We have built WestJet from its low-cost, regional roots into a renowned, international airline with service to 21 countries and today it’s all about disrupting at the price-sensitive end of the market,” said Clive Beddoe, co-founder of WestJet and Chair of the Board of the Directors. “Launching a ULCC will broaden WestJet’s growth opportunities and open new market segments by offering more choice to those Canadians looking for lower fares.”

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Spirit Airlines Is Cutting Flights To Cuba As Of June 1, 2017

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In the second half of last year we saw the major US airlines begin selling tickets for flights to Cuba. It’s no surprise that so many US carriers requested rights to operate routes to Cuba, given that it’s the first time in decades that such flights are possible. I took advantage of that opportunity, and visited Havana in December. I had an… interesting time. I’m happy to have seen Havana, but don’t need to return anytime soon.

We’re going from one extreme to the other in terms of airline capacity. While there’s certainly interest among Americans in visiting Cuba, the actual demand isn’t there, at least not to fill the thousands of seats per day that are now operating between the US and Cuba.

While there was a lot of enthusiasm at first, over the past few months we’ve heard a lot of airline executives say that they’re in Cuba for the long run, and they don’t plan on making money flying there in the foreseeable future.

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Review: Drukair Economy ATR42 Paro To Dhaka

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Our flight from Paro to Dhaka was at 8AM, so our guide suggested that we leave the hotel at 6AM. That’s what we did, and we got to the airport around 10 minutes later.

Paro Airport is quite small, and there’s a security check as you enter the terminal, where all your bags have to be scanned, and you have to go through a metal detector. Given how small the airport is, there are two small check-in areas for the two airlines operating out of Paro.

We got in the Drukair line, where there were maybe a couple of dozen people ahead of us. Fortunately the line moved quickly, and within about 10 minutes we had our boarding passes and headed towards immigration and security.

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It’s Time I Fly Meridiana Business Class

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For a while I’ve been fascinated by Meridiana, which is the second largest airline based in Italy, after Alitalia. Last year, Qatar Airways even announced that they’d buy a 49% stake in the airline.

They have one of the first & business class products that I’d be most interested in reviewing. Meridiana flies seasonally to New York JFK out of both Naples and Palermo, and historically has even offered more routes from Italy to New York.

One of the things that makes them interesting is that they consistently have excellent business class fares. For example, their normal business class fare between New York and Italy seems to be ~$1,550.

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Malindo Air Makes Flight Attendants Strip Down To Bra In Interviews, Thinks Other Airlines Do The Same

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Malaysian low cost carrier Malindo Air is under fire for how they conduct interviews for prospective female cabin crew. During interviews they make females strip down to their bras, to see if they have any visible marks anywhere. This is apparently because their uniform is somewhat see through, and you wouldn’t want someone serving you or looking after your safety if they have any “scars of pimples.” That would just be too much to handle. Per Malay Mail Online:

“It is the right of the employer to request potential flight attendants to expose their chests to interviewers, said Malindo Air public relations and communications director Raja Sa’adi Raja Amrin.

‘It is not an issue. We have the right to conduct such body checks on them. I think most airlines do the same,’ he said.”

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Biman Bangladesh Wants To Add Flights To New York

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It’s always interesting to see what expansion goals airlines have. That’s not to say that they’ll ever come to fruition, but I find it interesting nonetheless. For example, Oman Air and RwandAir have both stated their desire to start flying to New York, though I’d be surprised to see that happen for either airline any time in the next decade.

Well, they’re not the only ones who want to fly to New York. Biman Bangladesh allegedly also wants to fly between Dhaka and New York, via Manchester (Pakistan International also operates their flight to New York via Manchester). This is based on a future destinations Biman routemap that was shared by @airlineroutes. As you can see, they also want to fly from Dhaka to Sydney, utilizing their existing Dhaka to Singapore flight, and then adding a tag flight from Singapore to Sydney.

Biman has a fleet of just 12 planes, and their only longhaul planes are six 777s. They also have four 787s on order, which they’re expected to take delivery of in the next few years.

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Ukraine Airlines Will Upgrade You To Business Class If You Find A Better Fare Elsewhere

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A few months ago I flew Ukraine International Airlines from Baku to Kiev, and then from Kiev to New York. The experience was… interesting. After flying with UIA, I now see why they consistently publish among the lowest transatlantic fares out there, in both economy and business class. 😉

Well, one thing I find pretty cool is that they also have a best price guarantee, which I wasn’t aware of.

It’s pretty common for the major hotel chains to have best price guarantees. They offer these because the hotel chains want you to book directly with them (so that they don’t have to pay commissions to online travel agencies), so they want to convince you that you’ll get the best price if booking directly with them. If you do find a lower rate somewhere else, they’ll typically offer you some sort of a refund or bonus.

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Review: Drukair Business Class A319 Kathmandu To Paro

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They were boarding passengers on this flight through two sets of stairs — people seated in the front half of the plane boarded through the forward door, while people seated in the back half of the plane boarded through the rear door.

Drukair’s A319s have a total of 16 business class seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration.

Since I managed to be the first onboard, I took a quick glance into the economy cabin, which looked reasonably comfortable, at least in terms of the headrests.

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Review: Kathmandu Airport Lounge

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Our flight from Kathmandu to Paro was departing at 9:45AM, and we got to the airport at around 7:15AM. That’s obviously way early, though the night before we were told that there would be big protests in the city that could greatly impact traffic, so we didn’t want to miss our flight. As it turns out, those protests were canceled, so we ended up being way early.

To even enter the Kathmandu Airport terminal we first had to go through a passport check. The armed guard just glanced at the cover of our passports and then waved us through.

After that we had to go through a security check, which took a few minutes.

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You Can Now Redeem Delta SkyMiles On WestJet

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For a few years now, Delta and WestJet have had a partnership, allowing you to earn Delta SkyMiles for travel on WestJet.

WestJet is a “Group 4” SkyMiles partner, which means that you can’t earn Medallion Qualifying Miles or Medallion Qualifying Dollars for travel on WestJet, though you can earn redeemable miles, which is better than nothing.

Well, Delta and WestJet have expanded their partnership, as it’s now possible to redeem Delta SkyMiles for travel on WestJet. Per the SkyMiles News & Updates page:

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Spirit Airlines Announces Their “Let Them Wear Leggings” Sale

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I can’t say I’ve ever flown Spirit, though I do love their marketing campaigns. And their latest one is pretty brilliant. Spirit Airlines has just announced their “Let Them Wear Leggings” sale, through which they’re offering 75% off flights (which doesn’t mean a whole lot on Spirit, since they make most of their money through fees). I’m actually not even convinced their fare sales are intended to be fare sales, rather than just opportunities to get free publicity.

Here’s how they describe the sale:

“Because of recent headlines, we thought we’d double-check our etiquette atlas. Turns out wearing leggings are not a big deal. We thought everyone knew that, but guess not. Well at least at Spirit, we’re united (cough) about letting young girls dress how they want. If you want to fly with us, get your leggings on ladies. Or even gentlemen. No judgments here. Unless you’re wearing those new clear-knee mom jeans, then some judgments. But you can still fly with us. Just use this deal so that next time you can buy a complete pair of pants.”

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Introduction: Journey To Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, And Kuwait

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For about a year now, Ford has expressed interest in visiting Bhutan. While I had heard of Bhutan, and could have probably roughly pointed to it on a map, at the time I didn’t know much about it at all. But the more research I did, the more interested I became. It’s supposedly this incredible shangri-la with the happiest people in the world (heck, Drukair’s frequent flyer program is called “My Happiness Rewards”). Is that actually the case, or…?

There are two things to understand about visiting Bhutan:

— It’s the most expensive place in the world to visit in terms of the entry fee (though I don’t think it’s as bad as it sounds) — they do this to preserve their country, to pay for many services for their citizens, etc.
— It’s a pain to get there, as only two airlines fly to Paro Airport, and both have limited destinations and high pricing

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This Must Be The Most Random Transatlantic Route Ever…

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In the past I’ve said that Providence, Rhode Island to Praia, Cape Verde, is one of the most seemingly random airline routes in the world. I know there’s a sizable Cape Verdean population in Providence, which explains the route, but I think a vast majority of people would have never guessed such a route exists.

However, I think I’ve found an even more “random” route. Earlier I wrote about how Alaska and Condor have a new partnership, which seems like a great way to earn Alaska miles for travel to Europe, given how attractive Condor’s fares are.

Condor is a leisure carrier, so they don’t serve the traditional transatlantic markets served by many other airlines. For example, they don’t fly to Boston, Chicago, or New York, but instead fly to Anchorage, Las Vegas, and San Diego.

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Alaska & Condor Announce A New Partnership!

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Ah, well this makes me sort of nostalgic. Growing up I lived in Tampa while all our relatives lived in the Frankfurt area, so every summer we’d fly back to visit. At the time, German low cost carrier Condor flew nonstop from Tampa to Frankfurt, so we’d always fly with them.

This was back in the day when they still had a smoking section on the plane. My mom is a smoker, so she thought she was doing me a favor when we sat in the first row of the smoking section. She’d point to the smoke and say “see Benny, zhe smoke goes backwards.” What she also failed to account for was that just about every other German on the plane — including those in the non-smoking section — smoked, so after takeoff they’d stand in the aisle right at the first row of the smoking section to light up.

But hey, I got to fly, and that made me happy. Though perhaps this was also the motivating factor that got me into miles & points. 😉

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