aword from oneworld: September 2008

24 September 2008

LAN is first in South America to offer Premium cabin on shorthaul flights:  LAN has added a new class, called Premium Economy, on its shorthaul flights - while it is also upgrading its longhaul Economy cabins.  Premium Economy, available on its Airbus A320 aircraft family services within South America from this month, offers new cabin and an overall focus on passengers travelling for business on a tight schedule.

On the ground, besides on-line check-in, passengers will have preferential check-in lines, boarding and baggage delivery.  They will also have access to LAN's airport lounges and receive a bonus of 25 per cent of the regular frequent flyer mileage awards for each flight.   In the air, it offers 12 seats, with the middle seat in each row of three left empty, with its back folded down to provide more table space. 

LAN is the first airline in South America to offer this kind of service on flights of less than five hours.  It will be rolled out initially on the airline's services between its Santiago hub and Buenos Aires, Guayaquil, Lima, Montevideo, Quito and Sao Paulo and between Lima and Bogota, Medellin, Quito and Sao Paulo.

Meanwhile, on its longhaul routes, operated by Boeing 767s, LAN is upgrading its in-flight entertainment system for Economy passengers that it says matches the best in the world.  New high resolutions screens have been installed for each individual seat, with more than 85 channels to choose from - 32 new and all-time-favourite movies and 55 channels of TV programmes - and 500 plus CDs, all delivered with full video and audio-on-demand, enabling passengers to start, fast forward, rewind or pause whenever they want.   It also features 14 video games, with an option to play against fellow passengers.

BA moves more services into Terminal 5 and opens sixth lounge there:  British Airways has moved more services into its new London Heathrow Terminal 5 home - and opened a "Galleries" lounge in the facilities Satellite B.

The latest flight switch involved another 30 daily departures and 30 daily arrivals, serving 29 destinations - Abu Dhabi, Accra, Bahrain, Baltimore, Buenos Aires, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dar Es Salaam, Doha, Entebbe, Grand Cayman, Houston, Kuwait, Luanda, Lusaka, Mauritius, Mexico City, Mumbai, Muscat, Nairobi, Nassau, Newark, Philadelphia, Providenciales, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Tel Aviv, Toronto and Washington Dulles.

It doubled the airline's longhaul schedule at Terminal 5.  Already based there are flights serving Abuja, Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK, Phoenix, San Francisco, Tokyo Narita and Vancouver.

All the airline's UK domestic services and most of its European flights also now use Terminal 5.

Completing its move into Terminal 5, the remaining dozen routes moving there from Terminal 4 on 22 October will be: Boston, Calgary, Chennai, Delhi, Denver, Dhaka, Dubai, Islamabad, Kolkata (Calcutta), Montreal, Seattle and Shanghai Pudong.

Its flights serving Australia, Bangkok, Sydney, Helsinki, Madrid and Barcelona will move later to Terminal 3 - with services by Finnair, Iberia and Qantas moving to Terminal 3 at the same time.

British Airways' new Satellite B lounge in Satellite B is its sixth lounge in the terminal.  Like all the others, it will be available to passengers flying on the airline in First Class or Club World or Club Europe (Business Class) and also to Emerald and Sapphire tier members in any oneworld airline frequent flyer programme.

The airline has also opened a new dedicated check-in area for Business Class passengers flying from Terminal 5, located at Zone H at the far south of the departures level.

Operations at Terminal 5 are now performing "very well", the airline says. 

Five more South American destinations to join oneworld network:  Five more destinations in South America are joining the oneworld network, reinforcing the alliance's lead in the continent, where it is the only alliance with any member airlines.

LAN has opened service to two new points, with LAN Argentina bringing Neuquen on-line as its 11th airport in Argentina, served twice daily (once daily at weekends) from its Buenos Aires hub, while LAN Peru now links its Lima hub daily with Cajamarca, its 14th destination in Peru.

American Airlines is to add three cities in Brazil to the oneworld map from 2 November, with services from its Miami hub - Belo Horizonte, Recife and Salvador de Bahia.  Belo Horizonte will be served non-stop three times a week.  Salvador de Bahia and Recife will be served daily, on a Miami-Salvador-Recife-Miami routing. Two-class Boeing 767-300s will fly both routes.

Qantas receives its first A380:  Qantas has become the first oneworld carrier to add the Airbus A380 to its fleet with the first of 20 of the superjumbos it has on ordered handed over to the airline last week. First destination to see the airline's new flagship will be Los Angeles, from next month.

Finnair adds Yekaterinburg to its network with Istanbul to follow:  Finnair has added Yekaterinburg to its network with three non-stop Airbus A319s a week from its Helsinki hub - with flights to Istanbul to follow from 4 March with an initial two A319s a week.   The Russian city - the third destination in the country served by Finnair - was already on the oneworld map through flights by Malév Hungarian Airlines.  Istanbul is already on-line to the alliance through services by British Airways, Iberia, Malév Hungarian Airlines and Royal Jordanian.

Japan Airlines launches new domestic route:  Japan Airlines is opening a new domestic route - between Nagoya Chubu and Ishigaki via Naha with daily flights from 1 February.  All points are already on its network.

LAN opens first Canadian connection:  LAN has opened service to Canada, with an initial five Boeing 767s a week between Toronto and its Santiago hub, via New York JFK.   The airline also has traffic rights between the US and Canadian gateways.  Toronto is already served by oneworld partners American Airlines, British Airways and Cathay Pacific.

Royal Jordanian links Kiev to its network:  Royal Jordanian has added Kiev to its network with two Embraer 195s non-stops a week to and from its Amman hub.  The Ukrainian capital was already on the oneworld network through services by British Airways, Finnair and Malév Hungarian Airlines.

American Eagle to open second route to Illinois' Bloomington:  Affiliate member American Eagle is to open a second route to Bloomington, serving the Illinois airport from its Dallas/Fort Worth hub from 2 November with daily Embraer ERJ145 non-stop in addition to its existing three round trips a day to and from its Chicago O'Hare hub.

Dragonair to add Hanoi to its network:  Affiliate member Dragonair is to launch flights to Hanoi from 26 October with daily Airbus A320s non-stop to and from its Hong Kong hub.  The Vietnamese city is already on the oneworld network through services by Japan Airlines.

RJ opens new Crown Class lounge and up-graded check-in area at Amman:  Royal Jordanian has opened a new Crown Class lounge at its Amman hub, offering a radically improved environment for its business class and top tier oneworld Emerald and Sapphire cardholders flying from the airport.  Its Crown Class check-in area has also been up-graded. 

Replacing the two previous separate but identical Jerash and Petra lounges, the new 1 800 m2 facility can comfortably accommodate 340 passengers and offers panoramic views across the runways and ramp.  It includes a meeting room, a business centre equipped with the computers, a library, bedrooms, showers, play and entertainment areas for children and adults and a separate smoking area.

The up-graded check-in area now has its own entrance direct from the road.  Passengers using it can deposit hold baggage and undergo their passport and security checks in the same area.

American to offer wider range of food at domestic Admirals Club lounges:  American Airlines is enhancing the range of food and beverages available at its Admirals Club lounges with the introduction of a range it is branding Amora.  They will include seasonal salads, hot and savory soups, fresh sandwiches and wraps, snacks and dessert items, available for purchase in its US domestic facilities progressively in the coming months.  Complimentary light snacks, coffee, tea and soft drinks will continue to be offered throughout the day.

Finnair expands and redesigns Silver Wings Lounge at its Helsinki hub:  Finnair's Silver Wings Lounge, in the Schengen area of its Helsinki hub, has been re-opened after being upgraded during the summer.  It is now more spacious than before and been given a new look.  It is available to all the airline's Platinum, Gold and Silver customers as well as oneworld's Emerald and Sapphire cardholders.

oneworld members and hubs win more top awards:  oneworld airlines are celebrating more awards.

In the 2008 World Airline Awards, presented by the SkyTrax airline quality organisation, Cathay Pacific received top honours for Best First Class, and also Best First Class Onboard Catering, with its Dragonair sister named Best Regional Airline South East Asia.  Cathay Pacific was runner-up for the overall Airline of the Year award, behind Star's Singapore Airlines.

Qantas was placed third in that overall award category - the sixth year running it has been listed in the top five, a record matched by only one other airline.   oneworld's Australian partner also this year took four other prizes - Best First Class Lounge, Best Airline Australasia, Best Economy Class On Board Catering and Best Regional Airline Australasia.

LAN took three awards - Best Airline South America, Best Cabin Staff South America and Best Regional Airline South America.  British Airways was named Best Airline Transatlantic and Malév Hungarian Airlines took the award for Best Cabin Staff Eastern Europe.

Meanwhile, American Airlines was named North America's Leading Airline in the 2008 World Travel Awards.

Also, Iberia has won a "Wines on the Wing" award from Global Traveler magazine for the best wines served in Business Class, in competition with 27 other airlines. 

In SkyTrax latest honours for airports, oneworld's South East Asian hub Hong Kong was named the world's best airport for the seventh time in ten years.  Finnair's Helsinki home came ninth in the worldwide survey and JAL hub Osaka Kansai was sixth.

American first in USA to offer in-flight wi-fi internet:  American Airlines has become the first airline in the USA to enable customers to surf the internet in-flight using their own laptops, smartphones or PDAs, with the launch of its new in-flight mobile broadband service, Gogo.  The wi-fi service is available now on its Boeing 767-200s flying between New York and Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco.  Offered in conjunction with supplier Aircell, its costs US$12.95 on flights of more than three hours.  While it offers full internet access, it does not support cell phone voice or voice over internet protocol services.

oneworld in brief:  oneworld brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business - American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malév Hungarian Airlines, Qantas and Royal Jordanian, plus some 20 affiliates, including American Eagle, South Africa's Comair, Dragonair, LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador and LAN Peru.  Mexicana will join in 2009, with its subsidiary Click Mexicana as an affiliate.

Its airlines serve some 700 destinations in 150 countries and offer almost 550 airport lounges worldwide.   They carried around 320 million passengers last year.  It is the only alliance with any member airlines based in South America, Asia's Middle East or Australia.

The alliance enables its members to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own.  These include a broader route network, opportunities to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles and points across the combined oneworld network and more airport lounges.  oneworld is the only alliance to enable passengers to fly throughout its network, on any combination of carriers, using just electronic tickets. 

oneworld was voted the World's Leading Airline Alliance for the fifth year running in the 2007 World Travel Awards, based on votes cast by some 170 000 travel professionals, including more than 110 000 travel agents in 200 countries.