FlyerTalk – The world's most popular frequent flyer community FlyerTalk is a living, growing community where frequent travelers around the world come to exchange knowledge and experiences about everything miles and points related. Fri, 22 May 2020 21:51:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Air India Will Begin Booking Domestic Flights on May 25th Mon, 25 May 2020 22:00:00 +0000 Air India has announced that it will begin booking domestic flights on May 25th. They will operate a total of 8428 flights each week starting from that date, for three months, through June 30.

Air India made the announcement on Twitter. It read:

“Our Domestic Flight Bookings will start from 1230 hrs today. To book login to Air India or contact authorised travel agents or visit our booking offices or call customer care.”

While Air India is resuming domestic flights, it will not be flying to all cities in India. The listed schedule includes a limited number of cities. Curiously, that list includes the city of Chennai even though the government has not yet begun permitting domestic travel.

]]> 0
Southwest Airline’s Will Survive the Coronavirus Fri, 22 May 2020 22:20:41 +0000 Southwest Airlines, currently the most valuable US carrier by market capitalization, has seen its stock hit hard during the coronavirus outbreak.  Executives report a $94 million loss in the quarter that ended on March 31st. This is the company’s biggest first quarterly loss since 2011.

Of course, Southwest isn’t the only airline that’s been hit hard. According to the TSA, air travel demand is down around 92% across the board. However, for Southwest, the coronavirus is a black mark on an otherwise impressive streak of profitability over the past 47 consecutive years.

CEO Gary Kelly has also warned of the possibility that Southwest will be “a dramatically smaller airline” if things do not improve. But, things are looking up. On Tuesday, Southwest’s new bookings began to outpace cancellations, signaling a turning point. And, while recovery will undoubtedly be a bumpy ride, things are looking good for Southwest so far.

]]> 0
PIA Flight Crashes In Heavily Populated Area Of Karachi Fri, 22 May 2020 21:51:37 +0000 A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crashed in a heavily populated residential area of Karachi on Friday, the BBC reports. The service, Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303, was attempting to land at the city’s Jinnah International Airport (KHI) at 2:39 p.m. local time. According to a statement issued by PIA, the plane, an Airbus A320, was carrying seven members of crew and 91 passengers at the time of the incident.

The crash has occurred just before the Muslim festival of Eid and right as Pakistan has relaxed its restrictions on domestic air travel in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Search For Cause Of Crash Over Model Colony

As Reuters reports, the jet crashed in the Model Colony area of the city and was in the process of making its second landing attempt when it came down. According to the news agency, the pilot of the plane reported to local air traffic control that power to both engines had suddenly been lost. A search is currently in progress for the plane’s flight recorders.

The crew then issued a mayday call and all communication with the plane was lost. The official cause of the crash has not been given, but a senior aviation official told Reuters that the jet had been unable to lower its undercarriage during its first attempt to land at KHI.

The number of casualties from the flight itself has not yet been officially confirmed, though two people are known to have survived. Offering an eyewitness account, passenger Muhammad Zubair told the BBC, “No-one was aware that the plane was about to crash; they were flying the plane in a smooth manner.”

Zubair was only lightly injured and lost consciousness when the plane crashed. Describing the scene when he regained consciousness, he said, “I could hear screams from all directions. Kids and adults. All I could see was fire. I couldn’t see any people – just hear their screams.”

“I opened my seatbelt and saw some light – I went towards the light. I had to jump down about 10ft (3m) to get to safety,” he added.

Confusion Over Casualty Figures

There are known to be casualties on the ground, with many houses destroyed in the crash area. Speaking to the BBC, eyewitness Mohammed Uzair Khan, who resides within the Model Colony area of Karachi, said, “Almost four houses were completely collapsed, there was so much fire and smoke. They are almost my neighbors, I can’t tell you what a horrible thing it was.”

At present, there are conflicting reports as to the numbers of casualties involved. As the BBC reports, “Local health officials at two hospitals, the Jinnah and Civic hospitals, gave death tolls to the BBC and Pakistani media, adding up to 76 confirmed deaths. But it was not clear how many of the dead were passengers and how many residents on the ground.”

In its statement, PIA said, “Details are still coming about the unfortunate and sad incident. PIA is doing everything possible to assist authorities at this time. As per international aviation requirement, an Emergency Response Center has been established at PIA Headquarters Karachi from where senior PIA management is monitoring the situation since the incident took place.”

It added, “Rescue efforts are under way and we are also ascertaining the extent of damage to life of those on board the aircraft. PIA is doing everything possible to help the families of passengers and crew members for first hand information regarding the incident and damage.”

]]> 0
Man Charged With Damaging Grass Runway at Roxbury Airport Fri, 22 May 2020 19:10:10 +0000 Earlier this week, 21-year-0ld Parth Patel, 21, was arrested in Waterbury for enjoying a joyride in his 4-wheel-drive vehicle on Sunday.

The alleged trip went through the old airfield on Route 317. State, Woodbury, and Roxbury police all responded to a complaint of trespassing and criminal mischief at the airport. By the time they arrived, Patel had already fled the scene. He was stopped a little while later on the second leg of his joy ride on Interstate 84.

Patel was charged with second-degree criminal mischief, second-degree criminal trespassing, reckless driving and unsafe movement of a stopped vehicle. He was released on $10,000 bond and must appear in court on July 20.

This isn’t the first time that the fields at Roxbury Airport have been used for joyriding off-roaders. Several have targeted the area recently, causing significant damage.

]]> 0
Need to Cancel or Change a Non-Refundable Ticket? This Is Your Best Bet Fri, 22 May 2020 19:00:37 +0000 Budget travelers know the deal: you save a lot — a lot — of money not purchasing a flexible airline ticket, but it’s also like rolling the dice. By all means, you intend to go on your trip. You intend to be there on time, but life doesn’t always go as planned. Maybe you find yourself met with 100 different subway closures and circle around JFK airport for hours before you decide to take an Uber and miss your flight anyway. Maybe your work schedule changes at the last minute. Maybe you get sick or fall and break a bone, or maybe — if we’re talking about this specific moment in history — a global pandemic grounds flights across the globe.

Airlines typically charge between $200 to $500 for change fees, which can amount to more than your low-cost, non-refundable fare was worth in the first place. If you decide not to travel at all, your fate is usually relegated to a small tax refund. At best, you may get a credit for a future flight if you manage to extract some sort of sympathy out of the customer service agent (they’ve heard every excuse in the book, so good luck).

So, are non-refundable flights truly, genuinely not refundable? Yes, but not all the time. There are some strategies that can help you get a refund or at least a free change. Rules are meant to be broken — sometimes.

Book with a flexible airline

This goes without saying, but you’ll have the most luck getting a refund or changing your flight if the airline you choose has a flexible cancellation policy. For example, Frontier and Southwest are known to be a little more lax than, say, Delta or British Airways.

Even though airlines have upped their flexibility because of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s still not a catch all. For example, at the time of this writing, American Airlines is only currently allowing a free, one-time change for flights booked before May 31, 2020 with some fine-print stipulations. You still won’t get a full refund. You’ll only get a credit.

In other words: do your research. The more flexible the policy, the better.

Cancel within the first 24 hours

If you’ve made an impulse purchase you instantly regret, you’re in luck. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires airlines to refund all kinds of tickets — not just flexible or refundable tickets — within 24 hours if the flight is more than a week away. Some airlines have slightly different rules, allowing you to cancel closer to the date if you booked last-minute.

At the time of this writing, you’re going to need to be persistent. Hold times are a lot longer than usual because of the mass disruption COVID-19 has inflicted on the travel industry, so it may take a herculean effort just to get through (ask my German roommate who spent 8 hours on hold trying to change her Lufthansa flight in early March). Be patient.

If the airline cancels your flight

This is another situation that’s a veritable get out of jail free card (or at least get out of jail sans change fee). If an airline cancels your flight, they are required to give you a refund. They’ll also typically waive change fees because it was their fault, not yours.

Again, this may require a lengthy call to customer service, but some airlines have begun to temporarily auto-issue refunds or credits on flights affected by the outbreak. Make sure you check the airline’s policy before you book, especially if you’re booking non-essential travel in hopes that the situation will be resolved in time.

If the airline makes a significant schedule change

Many airlines also give refunds or waive change fees if they make a significant change to your flight. Typically this applies to significant changes in departure time, duration of layover, whether or not your flight is nonstop or connecting, and equipment changes.

Remember all those Norweigan flights that were transferred to wet leased jets without in-flight entertainment a couple years ago? Everyone was eligible for a refund, and as I stared at the back of a seat for eight hours, I wish I took them up on their offer. At least my seatmates were nice.

Forget Priceline, Expedia, and other budget booking sites.

Flatly put: booking directly with the airline increases your chances of a refund. It may be extremely tempting to book a discounted fare through a booking site like Priceline or Expedia, but online travel agencies (OTAs) can be a whole new headache that makes getting a refund feel — or actually be — completely impossible.

Under normal circumstances, most of these bookings are firmly non-refundable barring the 24-hour rule or an airline’s own cancellation. Yes, even in extraordinary circumstances. For example, Priceline will not refund any flight purchased through an Express Deal even in a global pandemic. Even if they did, odds are you’d be shuffled from the OTA to the airline and back to the OTA in an endless loop until you gave up.

Like airlines, OTAs have also become slightly more flexible since the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s likely that if you’re eligible for a refund, you’ve already received an email with directions. Unfortunately, most refunds right now are at the mercy of current travel restrictions, which means if you book future travel and the restrictions are lifted, you’re probably out of luck even if you don’t feel safe to fly.

Try for a refund through travel insurance or your credit card

Some airlines are apt to offer vouchers for extreme circumstances like if your military orders change or you have a valid medical reason, but your best bet for a refund is either travel insurance or a credit card with built-in travel protections. The former typically costs just $50 to $100 and will give you a full refund on non-refundable tickets for a variety of circumstances like illness, accidental injury, airline bankruptcy, jury duty, and trip interruption (i.e. when you’re forced to cut your trip short and need to fly home ASAP).

Of course, travel insurance or credit card protections aren’t a catch all. They many of them don’t cover pandemics, so read the fine print.

Try using someone else’s status

Having an elite status with an airline doesn’t hurt. You might get free cancellations, waived change fees, larger baggage allowances, and the occasional free upgrade — but that’s not a reality for most of us. Seriously, if spent enough on my Amex Gold Delta SkyMiles card to qualify for any sort of elite status, I’d be bankrupt, but even without that, it may be possible to piggyback on someone else’s high standing.

If you happen to be flying with someone who does have elite status, try to link your itineraries. You may get the same benefits, even if your reservation numbers aren’t the same.

Try calling a second time

My mother always said ask and you will receive, at least until someone says no. Either way, there are few things you get without asking except for bad luck. Airline representatives are all different — maybe someone is having a great day, maybe someone just spent 40 minutes being screamed at — so it’s a toss up. If someone says no, there’s no harm in asking for a supervisor or hanging up and trying again.

Be genuine and be kind

A little kindness goes a long way. Since some agents are authorized to give refunds or waive fees at will, they may be extra apt to help you out if you’re not berating them. Just be genuine. For example, a kind woman at Delta once refunded my flight because I was dumped out of the blue and my boyfriend of many years had left me to foot the cost of the $689 flight I booked to see him. I told her what happened, and she felt bad enough for me that she threw me a bone.

]]> 0
Delta CEO Thanks the US Government for Helping Out US Airlines Fri, 22 May 2020 00:39:09 +0000 Last week, Boeing CEO David Calhoun said a major U.S. airline would “most likely” go out of business before the end of the coronavirus crisis. However, Delta CEO Ed Bastian has claimed the opposite, thanking the Trump administration for its support.

Boeing Prediction

Calhoun said in an interview that air travel recovery is going to be so slow that at least one U.S. airline won’t make it through the crisis. He explained, “Something will happen when September comes around. Traffic levels will not be back to 100%, they won’t even be back to 25(%). Maybe by the end of the year we approach 50(%).”

Although Calhoun has doubts about the airlines, there is also concern about Boeing’s position during the crisis. The company has only delivered 56 jets so far in 2020, took zero new orders in both January and April, and had 108 orders for the 737 MAX plane canceled.

Delta Prediction

While Calhoun seems pessimistic about the survivability of U.S. airlines, Delta CEO Ed Bastian shows optimism. In an interview with FOX, Bastian said, “Internationally, we are seeing some airlines going out of business. But in the U.S., I give primary credit to the president, the administration, leaders on the Hill. They were able to pass the CARES Act, and within the airline industry we had the payroll support program, so as an industry we received $25 billion to keep our employees in place. There’s no government in the world that’s been as responsive. I’m proud to say. And it’s kept all the major airlines in business.”

Do you agree with either CEO? Let us know in the comments!

]]> 1
Carriers Accused Of Using Pandemic As Ruse To Shed Staff Thu, 21 May 2020 23:00:28 +0000 A host of labor groups representing employees within Britain’s airline and aviation industry have accused companies within the sector of using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to get rid of staff, explains The Independent.

Taking Advantage Of Pandemic Or Fighting To Survive?

The outlet reports that Diana Holland, the assistant general secretary for transport for Unite, told a committee in the British House of Commons on Wednesday that this was especially the case for more highly-paid and long-serving legacy staff. Unite currently represents thousands of workers at British Airways (BA), which announced plans to cut 12,000 staff late last month.

She added, “This is taking advantage of a very difficult situation to push through something that is totally unacceptable.” Speaking on behalf of crew members represented by Unite, Holland revealed that 93 percent were dealing with anxiety as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic upon their employment.

Offering comment on behalf of the airline, a spokesperson for BA was quoted by the outlet as saying, “We are acting now to protect as many jobs [as] possible. The airline industry is facing the deepest structural change in its history, as well as facing a severely weakened global economy.”

“We are committed to consulting openly with our unions and our people as we prepare for a new future,” they added.

Offering a further insight from within the sector, the outlet reports that Jason Holt, Swissport UK’s chief executive for Western Europe, told the parliamentary committee that the cuts were necessary.

“This is a fight for survival. We are hand to mouth and we are running out of cash…We don’t need bail-outs. We need cash-flow assistance,” he said.

The Call For State Help To Navigate Through Unprecedented Times

Holt added, “If the government remains asleep at the wheel, and our competitors in other parts of Europe – France, Germany and elsewhere – will shoot past us as we head towards a car crash. If we go bust, it will take many, many years for the aviation sector – which is the pride of the European skies – to get back on its feet.”

Brian Strutton, the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), was blunt in his assessment of the situation, telling the committee, “Airlines are exaggerating the problem. We’re in a trough at the moment. We will be coming out of it in the next two-and-a-half years, and airlines are egging the pudding too much to take advantage of the crisis, to make changes and downsize their workforce.”

He added, “This is an opportunistic land-grab by some of these airlines exploiting this situation.”

Speaking on the proceedings, aviation minister Kelly Tolhurst was quoted as saying, “We are in unprecedented times. We are working internationally with our neighbors who are facing some of the same challenges that we are.”

She added, “We haven’t been asleep at the wheel.”

]]> 0
United and JetBlue Amp Up Their Sanitary Precautions Thu, 21 May 2020 21:01:30 +0000 Recently, some airlines have come under fire for packed flights during the pandemic. The backlash has prompted carriers JetBlue and United to amp up their health measures to restore passenger confidence, and Airlines for America (A4A) has released its new “Fly Healthy, Fly Smart” initiative to promote responsible flying etiquette.

Amped Up Sanitary Precautions

JetBlue and United have both implemented additional sanitary precautions to reassure passengers they are safe to fly during the pandemic. On Wednesday, JetBlue announced they will be blocking off the middle seat on all their Airbus aircraft, and the aisle seats on their smaller planes. Face masks will also be required when flying.

United has released its new CleanPlus initiative to put the “health and safety at the forefront of the entire customer experience.” The company has partnered with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic to enhance social distancing and cleanliness thorough touchless kiosks, sneeze guards, and mandatory face masks. Furthermore, United will also be providing Clorox products at its U.S. airports, beginning with Denver and Chicago.

In a video message, CEO Scott Kirby said, “Safety has always been our top priority, and right now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, it’s our singular customer focus. We recognize that COVID-19 has brought cleanliness and hygiene standards to the front of customers’ minds when making travel decisions, and we’re not leaving a single stone unturned in our pursuit to better protect our customers and employees.”

Fly Healthy, Fly Safe

As states and countries begin lifting lockdown restrictions, travel demand is expected to increase. To prepare, Airlines for America (A4A) has created a guide to help passengers stay healthy when flying. A4A outlines what airlines are doing for passengers to “fly healthy,” such as requiring face masks, using HEPA filtration systems, disinfecting surfaces on aircraft and at the airport, sterilizing with electrostatic foggers, and limiting contact between cabin crew and passengers. It also outlines what passengers can do to “fly smart,” such as wearing a face mask, frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, using your smartphone for check-in, covering your face when you cough, and encouraging you to stay home if you are sick.

]]> 4
Unnamed Ex NFL Player Sues United Airlines for Failing to Report Sexual Harassment Thu, 21 May 2020 20:44:44 +0000 An unnamed NFL player has filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging that United Airlines Failed to Properly respond to his complaints of sexual harassment.

The lawsuit alleges that the player was harassed and assaulted by a female passenger on a February United Airlines flight from Los Angeles, California to Newark, New Jersey. The woman, who was seated in the same row as the NFL player, reportedly engaged in escalating forms of harassment before she was moved to a different seat following complaints by the players and other passengers.

The lawsuit accuses United Airlines of failing to handle the situation promptly. The airline is being sued for unspecified statutory and punitive damages.


]]> 2
Some Airlines Report an Uptick in Summer Travel Demand Wed, 20 May 2020 20:50:27 +0000 For months, the coronavirus has rocked the airline industry. Empty planes and canceled reservations have led to billions in lost revenue; however, some airlines are reporting an uptick in travel demand as summer approaches.

Bookings Outpace Cancelations

On Tuesday, Southwest said customers are making more bookings than cancelations for June, describing it as a “modest improvement.” The company plans to operate 55% of the flights it did in June 2019, with each expected to be at 35% to 45% capacity. However, the company remains cautiously optimistic, stating, “The revenue environment remains uncertain and may require additional capacity reductions depending on passenger demand.”

United has also seen “a moderate improvement in demand” for domestic travel and some international destinations. The carrier plans to reduce its July operations by 75% as compared to 2019, but will “continue to proactively evaluate and cancel flights on a rolling 60-day basis until it sees signs of a recovery in demand.”

Delta CFO Paul Jacobson has revealed the airline is also experiencing an increase in domestic travel demand, explaining new bookings are up “modestly versus our conservative forecast.” Meanwhile, American is seeing a higher load factor this month, with planes flying at 35% capacity, up from 15% in April.

Airport Foot Traffic

Although passenger traffic is down more than 90% compared to this time last year, the increased travel demand is showing at airports. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as of May 18, nearly 3.5 million passengers passed through security at U.S. airports. This is down 92% from 2019, but up 3% from the first 18 days of April.

]]> 3