Alaska

You’ve got mail: Alaska Airlines sends first flight carrying nearly 30,000 lbs of cargo on passenger jet

Alaska
© Image Alaska Airlines

Last week, Alaska Airlines operated its first flight with a cabin full of mail instead of passengers. Since reducing our flying due to the coronavirus, we’ve been looking at other ways to utilize passenger aircraft to carry essential goods to people and businesses who need it most.

The first revenue cargo flight, on a classic 737-900, carrying mail and freight was a success. It flew from Seattle to Southeast Alaska.

This mail-illion dollar idea and FAA-approved-design allows cargo to use all available space on the main deck for essential goods like mail, medical equipment, e-commerce packages and other freight.

Each one of these flights can carry close to 30,000 pounds of cargo, including belly capacity where luggage is typically stored.

Trying to pull off a passenger-to-freighter operation is relatively new. No other known carriers in the country are doing anything similar on domestic flights, with cargo on seats. After months of planning, we worked with HAECO, one of the world’s leading independent aircraft engineering and maintenance groups, to be their first launch customer in North America.

“Our teams have been working since the pandemic hit to identify the safest and most effective processes to increase our cargo capacity,” said Torque Zubeck, managing director of cargo. “HAECO’s design will allow us to maximize the available space, increase our cargo capacity and protect the supply chain by connecting critical cargo to the communities we serve during this public health crisis.”

How does it work?

First, the cargo container bags are installed on the passenger rows by the maintenance team, a process that can take six to eight hours.

Each container bag is limited to 110 pounds of mail to meet FAA requirements, and once fitted, the main deck will carry an additional 13,500 pounds of cargo on top of what a passenger-only cargo flight can carry. Our seats did not require any modifications to install the containers, the existing seat belts are used to secure the bag.

Once the containers are installed and safely secured, the cargo flight is equipped for its scheduled route. The crew for these cargo flights will consist of two pilots and cargo load agents. The cargo load agents will be seated in the jumpseat during the flight and provide oversight of loading, ensure proper tagging and cargo integrity. They’ll also provide fire suppression if required and will make sure cargo is safe and secure within the in-seat package stowage system.

Over 100,000 pounds of mail to Alaska are expected daily this winter.

What happens next? Although we have just one cargo aircraft fitted with the in-seat solution, we’re planning to continue flying it in the state of Alaska to help with the holiday rush. The passenger aircraft will operate alongside our 3 freighters to supplement heavy holiday demands, which will help to free up space for cargo that truly needs the freighter.

Depending on its continued success, Alaska hopes to expand the cargo container solution to other 737-900 aircraft throughout the rest of the winter. The extra capacity could allow us to bring 100,000 pounds of additional e-commerce into Southeast Alaska.

© All Images Alaska Airlines

BA Food

Trolleys, plates, crockery, champagne flutes, blankets and hot towels among the unique items available to buy from British Airways

BA Food
© Image British Airways

For the first time in its history, British Airways has decided to unlock the doors to its warehouse this Christmas to give customers and aviation fans the unique opportunity to get their hands on items from British Airways aircraft which have circled the globe hundreds of times.

Although an at-home experience is no match for the real thing, customers and collectors can order bespoke British Airways inflight dining items such as William Edwards plates, soup bowls, cups, saucers and even a butter dish for reasonable prices, allowing them to create an authentic First Class flying experience at home over the festive period.

Those who want to take it a step further can pick up bread baskets, hot towels (which naturally arrive cold), hot towel plates, champagne flutes, coasters and even the Club World casserole dish. After they’ve dined in style, customers can relax in slippers and a day blanket which are also on sale, as they settle down to watch their favourite film or TV show on their at-home inflight entertainment system (their TV).

And for anybody looking for the ultimate Christmas gift, for a limited time there is the opportunity to purchase a piece of history with items such as aircraft trolleys and canisters taken from the Boeing 747, which British Airways has now fully retired.

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, said: “This is an incredible one-off opportunity for people to bring the magic of flying with British Airways in to their own homes. We know that these special items will fly and we are delighted to be able to offer them in time for Christmas to give people the opportunity to make it memorable during a difficult year.”

Items will be available to purchase from whatabuy.co.uk/british-airways from Monday November 23, 2020. British Airways is encouraging customers to share photographs of themselves using the items in their own homes tagging @British_Airways and using the hashtag #BAathome.

BA

American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld launch transatlantic COVID-19 testing trial

BA
© Image British Airways

Tuesday, 17 November2020: American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld® have launched an optional COVID-19 medical-based testing trial on selected flights from the United States (US) to London Heathrow (LHR), in a combined effort to scientifically demonstrate how COVID-19 testing can reopen international travel and remove the need for passengers to quarantine on arrival.

The free tests will initially be offered to eligible customers booked on American Airlines flight AA50 departing Dallas/ Fort Worth (DFW) to LHR; British Airways flight BA114 departing New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) to LHR; and British Airways flight BA268 from Los Angeles (LAX) to LHR, beginning 25 November. The test will be expanded to American Airlines flight AA106 from JFK to LHR, with a launch date to be communicated.

Eligible customers booked on flights that are part of the trial will be contacted by American Airlines and British Airways with instructions on how to volunteer. Each customer participating in the trial will take three tests in conjunction with the journey. If a customer tests positive, they should reschedule or cancel their travel.

The first test, to be taken 72 hours before departure from the US, is a convenient at-home RT-PCR test provided by LetsGetChecked. Customers will self-collect a nasal sample, under the supervision of medical professionals via a virtual visit.

After landing at LHR, participating customers will proceed to their second test at the airport. The LAMP test, provided by Collinson, involves the collection of a nasal sample by a medical professional. After the test is completed, a test kit for the third test will be provided to the customer. The test kit offers an at-home testing option, through the self-collection of a saliva sample which is taken three days after arrival in to the United Kingdom (UK).

The three-test approach aims to validate a customer’s negative status for COVID-19 throughout the travel journey and will provide insight into the most effective and practical testing interval. The third test is intended to further confirm the results of the first two tests, to demonstrate that one or two tests will be sufficient to allow travel to safely restart.

A task force comprising oneworld member airline representatives and independent medical experts are overseeing the implementation of the trial. American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld will closely monitor customer participation. The task force will share aggregated results with the US and UK Governments and other stakeholders to demonstrate the essential role that COVID-19 testing programmes can play in safely restarting travel.

Trade between the UK and US totals more than £200 billion (US$ 262 billion) a year, which airlines are critical to facilitating. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, together American Airlines and British Airways flew to more than 30 destinations in the US from London. Today, the carriers are flying a fraction of that figure. Previously, the carriers operated up to 111 flights a week from London to New York; now they operate 14* flights per week combined, between the two cities.

Based on current UK Government policies, international travellers arriving in the UK from the US are required to self-isolate for 14 days even if they have tested negative for COVID-19. The tests being used as part of the trial will not impact UK National Health Service testing capacity.

British Airways and American Airlines have worked with Heathrow on implementation of the trial in to Terminal 5, and as a result Heathrow is now exploring whether trials can be introduced on more routes between the airport and the US.

Chairman and Chief Executive of American Airlines, Doug Parker, said: “American has already successfully introduced a pre-flight COVID-19 testing programme for customers travelling from the US to international destinations across the Caribbean and Latin America. We have received tremendous feedback from our customers in response to testing, as it provides peace of mind for safe and enjoyable travel.
“The UK is a critically important business and leisure destination that our customers want to visit. We believe the results provided by this trial will be vital for reopening transatlantic travel safely.”

Chief Executive of British Airways, Sean Doyle, said: “We know people want to travel but our skies remain all but closed and the UK is being left behind. Major economies like Germany are adopting testing to replace quarantine.

“We need the UK Government to introduce a system that allows travellers to take reliable, affordable tests before departure, so they are confident that fellow passengers are COVID-free. For people arriving from countries with high infection rates, a further test on arrival should then release them from quarantine.

“We are confident this approach would open routes, stimulate economies and get people travelling with confidence. The UK’s economic recovery depends on the swift reopening of its skies.”

Chief Executive of oneworld Rob Gurney said: “We believe that COVID-19 testing will play an important role in safely restarting international travel. A comprehensive testing programme will provide governments the confidence to reduce or waive quarantine requirements and safely reopen their economies to international visitors, while further assuring customers that their health and well-being are protected.”

 

The trial for each individual passenger will comprise:

• An initial at-home test to be taken 72 hours before departure from the US
• A second test will take place upon arrival at LHR
• A third test to be taken three days after arrival in the UK

The joint trial will offer free tests to passengers who choose to participate in the programme.

The ultimate objective of this and other trials is to validate that a pre-departure test provides a high level of certainty of a passenger being COVID-19 negative, which are hoped to result in policies that further relax US and UK border restrictions, including the 14-day quarantine and entry into the US.

Independent research into COVID-19 and travel

Data from industry body IATA suggests the risk of contracting COVID-19 on aircraft is extremely low, with just 44 cases of COVID-19 recorded as linked to flights, since the start of 2020. Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled.

A study issued on 27 October by Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that a robust, multi-layered strategy can effectively reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during air travel. The study also found that the universal use of face coverings is the most essential part of a comprehensive set of measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission while traveling by air. The study also noted that to-date, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not confirmed a single case of viral transmission on a US plane.

Schedule
* American Airlines and British Airways flight schedules are subject to variation

About the participating organisations

American Airlines

American’s purpose is to care for people on life’s journey. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL and the company’s stock is included in the S&P 500. Learn more about what’s happening at American by visiting news.aa.com and connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines

British Airways

British Airways is a founding member of the airline alliance oneworld.

It is the UK’s largest international airline. Its principal place of business is London, with a significant presence at Heathrow Terminal 5, which is regularly voted the world’s best airport terminal in international passenger surveys.

British Airways normally operates one of the most extensive international route networks. Over the last few years, the airline has been investing in new aircraft, new cabins, new lounges, new food and new technology – including industry-leading WiFi.

oneworld oneworld brings together 13 world-class airlines – American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines, and more than 20 of their affiliates. Fiji Airways is a oneworld connect partner. Alaska Airlines is a oneworld member-elect.

oneworld member airlines work together to deliver consistently a superior, seamless travel experience, with special privileges and rewards for frequent flyers, including earning and redeeming miles and points across the entire alliance network. Top tier cardholders (Emerald and Sapphire) enjoy access to airport lounges across the globe and are offered extra baggage allowances. The most regular travelers (Emerald) can also use fast track security lanes at select airports.

oneworld holds three times as many “best airline alliance” awards as its competitors combined

Virgin

Ready for take-off: Jayne Hrdlicka has become Virgin Australia’s new CEO, as the airline finally emerges from administration under new owner Bain Capital.

Virgin
© Image Virgin Atlantic

• New Virgin Australia Group CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka, announces future direction
• Targets mid-market
• Lounges to re-open from today
• Only Australian airline to retain three domestic seating options
• Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA) retained and restructured following business review
• Significant technology investment planned to upgrade customer experience
• No change to Velocity Frequent Flyer with substantial airline and non-airline earn and redemption opportunities for its 10 million members

Wednesday 18 November 2020: Virgin Australia has today become the first major Australian airline in history to exit voluntary administration and has unveiled its future direction under the leadership of new CEO and Managing Director Jayne Hrdlicka.

On her official first day, Ms Hrdlicka unveiled a plan resulting from collaboration with the airline’s people combined with detailed customer research. It includes retaining core lounges and reimagining the lounge experience, retaining three choices of seating from Business, Economy X and Economy, leveraging new technology for a simplified check-in and airport experience, and cheaper airfares.

The plan will see the airline compete in its mid-market heartland for guests who want a more premium experience at an affordable and competitive price. While Virgin Australia will serve all segments of the market, it will build its proposition around its long-standing and most loyal guests, which include price conscious corporate travellers, small to medium businesses, premium leisure travellers and holidaymakers.

The plan’s major elements include:

• A commitment to retain a domestic market share of roughly one third (as was pre-COVID);
• A network of lounges to open as travel demand resumes, with the Brisbane Lounge re-opening today;
• A new-look Virgin Australia Lounge of the future will open in Adelaide in early 2021, which will roll out across the lounge network over time;
• Creating a more accessible Business Class offering to better align to the expectations of the cabin’s core customers;
• New self-service and assisted check-in and baggage drop facilities will open at mainline airports;
• The launch of an updated and more integrated Virgin Australia app providing an enhanced guest experience for Velocity Frequent Flyer members;
• A comprehensive network of domestic and regional destinations; and
• A commitment to regional Australia including the restructuring of Virgin Australia Regional Airlines to become a more sustainable and profitable business following a comprehensive business review.

CEO COMMENTARY

Speaking at Brisbane Airport where she spent her first official day as CEO, Ms Hrdlicka said Virgin Australia will continue to be Australia’s most loved airline for customers who want the most important premium touches without the full premium price.

“Virgin Australia is an airline built on a 20-year history of exceptional customer service and delivering a great experience for millions of Australians. Today, we exit voluntary administration with a renewed sense of who we are and who we are here to serve,” said Ms Hrdlicka.

“It’s a privilege to join Virgin Australia as CEO at such an important moment, and I’ve spent the past few weeks meeting and listening to our team and hearing their ideas. I’m impressed with their understanding of and passion for our guests and look forward to their continued input as we work to refine our plans and define our future together.

“The travel environment is changing and so are our customers’ preferences. We know that leisure travellers, small and medium businesses, and many corporates are now emerging from COVID-19 wanting better value. They are hungry for flexibility and choice, a trusted brand that resonates with their values, and great prices, along with the premium features they value most.

“Today, we’ve announced a plan that will ultimately give our customers what they value without the big price tag: premium lounges, a new and fresh retail offering onboard, a choice of cabins, better digital technology and a more streamlined check-in experience. We will also continue to deliver our award-winning service, strong network of destinations, an award-winning frequent flyer program and a safe and reliable operation.

“Australia already has a low-cost-carrier and a traditional full-service airline, and we won’t be either. Virgin Australia will be a mid-market carrier appealing to customers who are after a great value airfare and better service. We will continue to evolve our offering for our customers based on data and feedback, but the Virgin Australia experience millions of travellers know and love is here to stay.

“We emerge today stronger, more competitive, and ready to face the challenges ahead. We removed an enormous amount of complexity from our business, greatly improved our cost base, and have an extraordinary team on the ground and in the air to deliver our new plan. We are more resilient than ever and have the backing of Bain Capital who are deeply invested in seeing us succeed over the long term.

“As we have seen with the recent issues with South Australia, the travel market remains uncertain. We are however seeing some positive signs of recovery. Borders are beginning to open and a potential vaccine is on the way. We expect continued volatility, but as demand recovers, we’ll achieve a market share consistent with our pre-COVID position and continue to invest in, and grow, the fleet in line with increases in demand.

“Shaping our future will be a collaborative effort across the Virgin Australia Group and I’m thrilled to see the genuine excitement from our people about the future of their airline.”

IN-FLIGHT EXPERIENCE

Business Class
Virgin Australia will retain its much-loved Business Class seats and exceptional service provided by its cabin crew, but will complete an end-to-end review of the Business Class offering before relaunching it in 2021. The review, done in collaboration with the airline’s crew, will ensure better alignment to guests’ needs, while maintaining the elements they love.

More detail will be revealed next year.

Economy
Virgin Australia will continue to offer Australia’s only Economy-X seating. Introduced in 2017, the extra leg room seating, complete with its own dedicated overhead luggage compartment, continues to be a popular upgrade purchase for Economy customers.

An exciting and fresh buy onboard menu will replace the existing snack early next year, and customers will continue to be offered complimentary tea, coffee and water.

In-flight WiFi and Inflight Entertainment remains under review and more details will be announced in 2021.

LOUNGE EXPERIENCE

Domestic Lounge network
Virgin Australia’s lounges will continue to be an important part of the airline’s offering for frequent flyers.

As government-imposed travel restrictions ease and travel demand resumes, Virgin Australia will re-open a network of domestic lounges, at airports where high volumes of frequent flyers travel. Virgin Australia’s first-to-market Premium Entry feature will remain. Lounge memberships that expired during the COVID-19 period will be extended for 12 months from the original expiry date.

The domestic Lounge network will include:

• Melbourne
• Sydney
• Brisbane
• Adelaide
• Perth
• Gold Coast

Initially, lounges will offer guests an interim food and beverage menu, which will be reviewed as the lounge network gradually re-opens and passenger volumes return.

The offering will adhere to COVID-safe protocols and will include fresh and pre-made food, including sweet and savoury snacks, sandwiches and fruit, along with barista-made coffee, juices and premium sparkling, wine and beer.

Due to low visitation, the Darwin, Cairns and Mackay lounges will close. The Canberra lounge remains under review.

Reimagined lounge to open next year
The recently built Adelaide Lounge will open in the first quarter of 2021. The Lounge is a prototype of the Virgin Australia Lounge of the future and will provide customers with an experience and aesthetic more aligned to the Virgin brand they know and love. The new design will roll out to the lounge network over time.

AIRPORT EXPERIENCE

State-of-the-art new check-in facilities
New state-of-the-art self-service and assisted check-in facilities will open across major airports by December 2021, simplifying the airport experience and leveraging new technology.

The hybrid check-in facilities, which currently feature in Melbourne and Perth, will allow Virgin Australia to streamline customer flow through the airports, substantially reducing queue wait times, and making travel easy and seamless for passengers.

The facilities, a mix of kiosks and assisted check-in counters, mean Guest Services agents can come out from behind a desk and provide a more concierge-style service for passengers.

TECHNOLOGY

Mobile App
Technology will play a key role in the airline’s evolution and the Virgin Australia mobile app will be enhanced through 2021, creating a more integrated experience for travellers and Velocity Frequent Flyer members. There is a significant pipeline of technology projects which will combine to create significant enhancement to our guest’s experience.

The app will enable a much more personalised travel experience and one single gateway to engage with the airline and Velocity.

COMMITMENT TO REGIONAL AND CHARTER FLYING
Virgin Australia Group has confirmed plans to retain Virgin Australia Regional Airlines following a strategic review of its operating model and reaffirmed its commitment to charter and regional flying from its base in Western Australia.

COMMITMENT TO CUSTOMERS
In a commitment to customers, Virgin Australia is waiving applicable change fees and providing travellers with unlimited booking changes for reservations with travel between now and 31 January 2021. More information on the airline’s Passenger Promise can be found here.

VELOCITY FREQUENT FLYER
With no material changes to the program, Velocity Frequent Flyer’s 10 million members will continue to earn and redeem Velocity points through a host of airline and non-airline partners.

In a commitment to members, Velocity granted a 12-month status extension earlier this year, and there has been no change to the number of points needed to redeem rewards.

The multi-award-winning frequent flyer program will announce a number of significant new partnerships in 2021, giving members more opportunity to earn points on every day spend.

Delta

Delta the only U.S. airline to block middle seats, limit onboard capacity through March 30, 2021

Delta
© Image Delta

Delta will continue delivering on its industry-leading commitment to provide more space for customers as the only U.S. airline blocking middle seats for flights departing now through March 30, 2021

As more medical experts agree on the safety of air travel thanks to the multiple layers of protection provided under the Delta CareStandard, blocking seats into spring 2021 provides added confidence and reassurance for customers booking future travel plans.

“Several independent studies have validated the effectiveness of the Delta CareStandard’s multi-layered protection, like advanced ventilation and an extensive cleaning regimen, which together significantly reduce the risk of flight-related transmission,” said Bill Lentsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer. “However, we recognize some customers are still learning to live with this virus and desire extra space for their peace of mind. We are listening and will always take the appropriate steps to ensure our customers have complete confidence in their travel with us.”

The health and safety of our customers and employees remains our top priority. The Delta CareStandard encompasses more than 100 protective measures, such as sanitizing every flight, a comprehensive employee COVID testing program, and the use of industrial-grade HEPA filters that extract more than 99.99% of particles, including viruses. Read more about the Delta CareStandard.

Taking the Stress Out of Flying

Delta is making it easier to plan and book your next trip.

Delta launched a new interactive map on delta.com that gives customers the power to search, view and click-to-book their desired destination all in one place, giving full control and a better understanding of current travel restrictions and what to expect upon arrival.

The data is curated from government agencies and the International Air Transport Association to provide detailed insight into quarantine and testing requirements, travel forms and paperwork, local health information, local COVID-19 guidelines, and links to necessary forms and applications needed prior to travel.

In addition to a new trip planning tool, we’re offering greater flexibility if you ever need to change your plans, including:

  1. No change fees for a U.S. domestic ticket or domestic award ticket, excluding Basic Economy fares.
  2. No change fees for all domestic and international tickets purchased through Dec. 31, 2020, even if scheduled to travel next year.
  3. Extending the use of travel credits through December 2022 for travel originally scheduled to depart before March 31, 2021 (if the ticket was purchased before April 17, 2020).

For a comprehensive overview of how we’re delivering on flexibility, superior cleanliness, more space and safer service, visit delta.com

Alaska

Alaska prepares for the Boeing 737 MAX to safely join our fleet with first passenger flights expected in March

Alaska
© Image Alaska Airlines

This March, Alaska Airlines is scheduled to start welcoming guests on our first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. We currently don’t have a MAX in our fleet. We expect delivery of the first plane in January, followed by several more throughout 2021.

On Nov. 18, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified the MAX, giving the approval to all airlines to begin the process of bringing the aircraft back into service. Our guests will only fly on a MAX aircraft after we’ve tested and verified all required and necessary processes to prepare the aircraft for passenger service.

We have high expectations and confidence that Boeing has made the required changes and necessary improvements to the MAX. With these enhancements and the FAA’s thorough inspection processes, this aircraft will meet the high safety standards we expect.

For us, safety is always priority number one. If an aircraft is not safe, we won’t fly it.

“As a safety professional with decades of experience, including many years with the FAA, I’ve had the opportunity to stay very close to the FAA and Boeing through the grounding and recertification of the 737 MAX,” said Max Tidwell, Alaska’s vice president of safety and security. “I’m very confident with all the steps the FAA and Boeing have taken and the steps we’re taking at Alaska to prepare us to safely bring this aircraft into our fleet.”

© Image Alaska Airlines

One of Alaska’s 737-9 MAX at Boeing Field in Seattle

Once our first MAX is delivered, we’ll begin two months of testing and verifying all the necessary processes to prepare the aircraft for passenger service, which is scheduled to begin in March. Our teams will put the plane through its paces, which includes flying it more than 19,000 miles and over 50 flight hours all over the country, including Alaska and Hawaii.

In the coming weeks, our pilots will also begin the required eight hours of flight simulator and computer-based training that focuses on the operation of the MAX. Our pilot training program for the MAX is more extensive than what’s required by the FAA. All of our maintenance technicians undergo a minimum 40 hours of training on the variations between the MAX and our existing 737 NG fleet, with certain technicians receiving additional specialized training.

Learn more about our dedication to safety and our training programs for the MAX at alaskaair.com/737MAX.