Monthly Archives: January 2019

Contour Airlines selects Santa Barbara as focus city

Contour Airlines announced today that it has selected Santa Barbara, CA as a focus city and will begin new service between Santa Barbara and Sacramento, CA on April 16, 2019.

The carrier will also increase the number of flights from Santa Barbara to Oakland and Las Vegas to two daily round-trips (except Saturdays) beginning May 15, 2019.

Contour Airlines aircraft at Santa Barbara Airport

Flights will be operated by Embraer ERJ 135 regional jets featuring 30 leather seats with 36″ of legroom in every row.

Qatar Airways Converts 10 of its 50 Airbus A321neo on order to the longer range Airbus A321LR

Qatar Airways has announced that it will convert 10 of its 50 Airbus A321neo on order to the Airbus A321LR (long range) variant of the A320 family.

The A321LR is a type of A321neo, which has extra fuel tanks as well as a higher maximum take-off weight to give the aircraft additional range. Qatar Airways will use the A321LR to connect Doha to new growing markets where today demand is not sufficient for wide body aircraft or where current narrow bodies (A320/A321) are unable to reach. Alternatively, the new aircraft will be adopted to provide additional frequencies on existing Qatar Airways routes, giving our loyal passengers more choice and flexibility when they travel.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We have reassessed the requirements of our fleet and determined that the A321LR will bring the additional capability and range to our existing portfolio of aircraft types that we require to successfully support our global route expansion. Based on this analysis we have agreed with Airbus that we will convert 10 of our 50 A321neo on order to the longer range A321LR, the first of which will be delivered in 2020.”

The A321LR, the latest member of the market leading A320neo family, is able to fly longer routes of up to 4,000 nm (7,400 km). The A321LR provides additional operational flexibility as it has the longest range of any single aisle airliner, making it ideally suited to transatlantic routes and enabling airlines to tap into new long-haul markets which were not previously accessible to single aisle aircraft. In general, the A321LR can carry up to 206 passengers in a typical two-class layout, or up to 244 passengers in a single-class configuration on intraregional flights, offering each passenger the possibility to carry up to three bags.

This aircraft is improved with a maximum take-off weight of 97 tons compared to 93.5 tons for a standard A321neo, with structural reinforcements at the wing and centre wing box, and the option of adding a third fuel tank in the cargo compartment, depending on the needs of the operator. This aircraft is also characterised by its passenger comfort, its significant endurance, its cabin layout adaptability, its per-seat operational costs, which are 30 per cent lower than those of the nearest competitor, and all this with excellent environmental performance.

Qatar Airways operates a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft to a network of around 160 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.

Image: Airbus.

Will Air France close out the Hop! brand?

Hop! For Air France Embraer ERJ 170-100STD F-HBXI (msn 17000310) BSL (Paul Bannwarth). Image: 939604.

Air France-KLM’s newly appointed CEO Benjamin Smith has expressed disdain for the Hop! brand, similar to the Joon brand, which is being phased out.

The Hop! subsidary is now likely to be phased out too with a new working name that incorporates the Air France main brand.

Hop! is the brand name of the regional flights operated by subsidiaries of Air France. Its flights are operated by Airlinair, Brit Air and Régional under the Hop! brand.

Smith has stated that the Hop! brand leads to confusion for the passengers who may be connecting to an Air France flight.

Top Copyright Photo: Hop! For Air France Embraer ERJ 170-100STD F-HBXI (msn 17000310) BSL (Paul Bannwarth). Image: 939604.

Hop! aircraft slide show:



United Airlines now offers customers free live TV

"One Hundred"

United Airlines has made this announcement:

Just in time for the Big Game, United Airlines has announced that effective immediately more than 100 channels of live television will now be free on 211 Boeing 737 United aircraft equipped with seat back TV, making viewing easy gate-to-gate. In addition to offering free live DIRECTV at more than 30,000 seats, United customers also have access to hundreds of movies and TV shows available on personal devices through the airline’s collection on the United app – offering customers thousands of hours of programming in total.

“This year, we will be introducing a series of innovations and improvements designed to help build a great experience for all our customers,” said United’s Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist. “Offering free entertainment, whether it’s on seat back TV or on personal devices, is one example of how we are placing our customers at the heart of what we do and helping them to relax and enjoy their flights.”

“We’re pleased that United is offering customers complimentary access to live TV on more than 200 of its aircraft so customers can feel like they’re sitting in their own living rooms enjoying DIRECTV,” said Roman Pacewicz, chief product officer, AT&T Business. “Whether they want to tune into their favorite primetime show or their favorite sports team, United customers won’t miss a moment with free DIRECTV programming.”

Personal Device Entertainment

Over the last year, United has also expanded its personal device entertainment product to aircraft that previously only offered DIRECTV, providing an option for customers to use their phones, tablets or laptops to access a library of more than 280 complimentary movies and TV shows.


Additionally, United has made improvements in its entertainment options for customers with hearing and mobility issues through its Accessible Entertainment menu category available on seat back on-demand systems. Accessible Entertainment offers customers entertainment options by grouping titles that are either audio descriptive or closed captioned under one menu. United currently offers more than 20 audio descriptive movies and TV shows and more than 50 with English closed captioning. Select DIRECTV channels also include closed captioning, subject to programming availability.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by United): United Airlines Boeing 737-924 ER SSWL N69818 (msn 42177) (One Hundred) LAX (Ron Monroe). Image: 945503.

United aircraft slide show (Boeing):


Delta and Virgin Atlantic launch self-service bag drop at London-Heathrow

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic are launching 18 self-service bag-drop units at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3, saving customers valuable time at the airport through the use of intuitive technology.

Available on all Delta- and Virgin Atlantic-operated flights to the United States, the new self-service units have been rolled out following successful testing at London Heathrow. Through intuitive, easy-to-use technology, customers can drop their bags in under two minutes, giving them more time to enjoy Terminal 3’s lounges or many retail and restaurant outlets.

To take advantage of the new machines, customers need to check-in via one of Delta’s self-service channels and follow these simple steps:

  • Scan their mobile or printed boarding pass
  • Place their bag on the bag belt
  • Print their bag tag and attach it to the bag
  • Send the bag for loading

Bags are then accepted into the system and screened as they would be during the traditional bag drop process at the counter.

“The new machines are another way that Delta and Virgin Atlantic are working together to ease the journey through our London hub,” said Corneel Koster, Delta’s S.V.P. of Europe, Middle East, Africa and India. “With a quick and easy bag-drop experience, customers can choose how they enjoy that extra time before they fly.”

For further peace of mind, the self-service units support Delta’s pioneering RFID bag tracking technology by issuing RFID chipped bag tags. These synch to the Fly Delta app so customers can track their checked bags in real time.

Hayley Parker, Vice President of Airports at Virgin Atlantic, said: “We’re always looking at ways to improve the customer journey, and self-service bag drop is another example of how we’re making things easier for our customers. This new technology enables customers to breeze through the airport, while ensuring our team are still on hand to deliver personalised service and answer queries at all times.”

Alaska CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

From the Alaska Airlines blog. Written by Brad Tilden, CEO.

This trip was the first of many for our leaders at Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air for the coming year. Called “Leader Immersion,” our managing directors and up will spend a week in the operation. It’s kind of an “Undercover Boss,” without the disguise, as one of our employees said.

The Great Land is beautiful, even in January. The low temperatures create a beautiful frost on the trees and there is something really wonderful and peaceful about the mornings here, (where it is currently staying dark until around 10 a.m.). I was in Anchorage, Alaska for a week in early January on the suggestion of one of our employees, who challenged me to job shadow – walking in our frontline employees’ shoes. It sounded like a good idea to me.


My week started with my flight from Seattle to Anchorage. The Seattle-based flight crew – Shannon Novito, Angela Bolton, Kris McCloskey and Kimberly Sagmoen (pictured above) – were awesome. I had a great time visiting with them, interacting with our guests onboard, and serving a beverage or two. I sat on the flight deck for the last 40 minutes of the flight and was impressed with the expert airmanship of Captain John Lien and First Officer Levi Breidenbach who navigated us into Anchorage amidst a low blanket of fog.

brad anchorage CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

I spent the next several hours in the Anchorage airport learning from Kiana Baluyut, a designated trainer customer service agent. Kiana was extremely patient with me, even when she had to explain the same entries and transactions many times. She taught me how to check-in, scan and tag bags, and deal with special service requests. It was wonderful getting to meet so many of our guests while at the ticket counter.

Dutch Harbor

The next day, I was off to Dutch Harbor on PenAir, one of our commuter partners. Alaska Airlines provides scheduled service to 20 cities in the state of Alaska, the majority of which have populations of under 10,000 people. And we provide jet service in many cases, several times a day! This is something that truly makes us unique as an airline.

Ramp & cargo operations

file1 20 r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

When I got back to Anchorage, I headed over to the ramp operations center. This important team schedules airport operations, such as baggage and cargo connections and manages the departure coordination process. Niki McDade is a fantastic departure coordinator. Here, she helped me work Flight 155 from Anchorage to Nome and Kotzebue.

brad cargo 1 r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

I spent the bulk of Wednesday in our Anchorage cargo operation, an experience I can only describe as humbling. There was an amazing sense of teamwork among our folks there, and a clear focus on our customers who live in small villages in the state of Alaska. Here I am with my coach for the day: Jacob Scanlan.

Maintenance & Engineering

attach r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

Later that night, I began the night shift with our Maintenance & Engineering team, and with our Stores team (who provide all the aircraft parts). It is amazing to see maintenance technicians start their shift. There isn’t a lot of talking, but hangar doors start opening, bells are going off, tugs are getting hooked up to airplanes. It’s great teamwork and a finely tuned operation. I was able to observe Sig Sigurdson, Tom Genziano and Marc Sheldon conducting a borescope inspection on one of our aircraft engines.

brad ramp r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

Thursday, I joined our ramp team. In the photo above, I am sending Flight 80 off with Jose Inga, Bill Trivett, Mike Freeman, Josephine Calderra, Eric Henry and Todd Seitz. Below, Josephine and I loading bags in the aircraft belly. I want to thank Eric, my ramp coach for the day, the entire Anchorage ramp service agent team who were very kind and welcoming and who tolerated all of my questions and mistakes.

brad ramp 2 r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

Red Dog Mine

img 0589 r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

I then flew out to Red Dog Mine to see our operation in the Arctic. It was a clear day and Alaska’s natural beauty really came through. The photo above is of Runway 3 at Red Dog, on our approach.

Terminal & baggage services

My last day was working in the terminal and in baggage services. In the photo below, I am working with Mary Graham as control agent on flight 96. And then I had a great flight home with an awesome crew.

brad csa 1 r CEO Brad Tilden: My week in Alaska job shadowing frontline employees

I find myself smiling from ear to ear as I recount my visit.  I have a deep sense of gratitude. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have the best employees in the industry, and it was uplifting to spend more time with them. Like many of our employees, I came into the airline business because I love aviation, I love Alaska Airlines, I love being around our people and our guests. This was the perfect way to start a new year.