Delta launches its “Early Valet” service at its U.S. hubs

Delta Early Valet (DL)(LR)

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) has announced the launch of its new “Early Valet” service at its U.S. hubs. The company issued this statement:

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Delta launched a special service this summer to improve the customer experience when boarding.

Delta’s Early Valet is a surprise-and-delight service in which Airport Customer Service gate agents preload customers’ carry-on luggage into the overhead bins above their assigned seats. The bags are tagged and labeled with the customer’s seat assignment.

The idea came to Alan Janbay, Delta’s Project Leader – Airport Customer Service Field Support, when he watched a mother load her bag in the overhead bin on a flight to Baltimore in 2014.

“She struggled with placing her roller board in the overhead bin for some time before a fellow passenger and I assisted,” he said. “I thought, ‘We should have a service for that.’ I immediately emailed my leadership team with the idea and the rest is history.”

Testing for Early Valet began last summer at Los Angeles International Airport and later in Atlanta. After data revealed faster boarding and an improved customer experience, the program was introduced at all of Delta’s domestic hubs, including Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis/St. Paul and New York-JFK, on June 1.

The program, which is available on Delta’s narrow-body aircraft on select routes, targets families traveling with small children, customers with disabilities, elderly travelers and high value customers. It has proven to shave one-and-a-half minutes from the average boarding time as between six to nine bags are typically retrieved and loaded approximately 45 minutes before departure.

“Our goal is to transform the gate experience from a ‘hold room’ to a friendly and interactive space where Early Valet agents engage with customers, welcoming and assisting them on the spot,” Janbay said.

Customer reaction to Early Valet has been positive as customer satisfaction scores increased up to 8 percent on the targeted flights compared to those that did not receive the service.

Photo: Delta.

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Hainan Airlines is coming to Prague

Hainan Airlines (Haikou and Beijing) will start the Beijing – Prague route three days a week beginning on September 23. The new route will operate with Boeing 767-300 aircraft per Airline Route.

Copyright Photo: Paul Denton/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 767-34P ER B-2490 (msn 33047) arrives in Dubai.

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Air Transat starts seasonal Halifax – London Gatwick flights

Air Transat (Montreal) on June 17 launched its twice-weekly summer seasonal service between Halifax and London (Gatwick) with Boeing 737 aircraft.

The return westbound routing stops at Gander per Airline Route.

Copyright Photo: Gilbert Hechema/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8Q8 C-GTQB (msn 30696) with APB Split Scimitar Winglets completes its approach to the runway at Montreal (Trudeau).

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KLM to pull back on growth, will cut capacity for the winter season

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Amsterdam) has announced a pull back on its planned expansion for this coming winter season. The airline issued this statement:

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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will reduce the number of flights it had planned and, in so doing, curtail the growth it had intended for the 2015/2016 winter season. The adjustments will result in a half-million fewer seats than were previously planned. The winter season will run from October 25, 2015 to March 26, 2016.

KLM will reduce flight frequencies to ten European destinations. Furthermore, frequencies to Africa, Japan, and Brazil will also be curtailed. KLM will do all it can to minimise any inconvenience to passengers.

The adjustments result from the fact that KLM’s revenues are under pressure. The pressure will force Air France-KLM to accelerate its plans to implement its Perform 2020 program. KLM has introduced a broad range of initiatives to improve its competitive position, and speed is of the essence.

KLM has already reached an accord with the cabin crew and ground crew unions concerning a collective labour agreement. Further implementation depends on an accord with the pilots’ union (VNV), which has not yet agreed to much-needed productivity increases.

Copyright Photo: SPA/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-7K2 PH-BGK (msn 38054) departs from London’s Heathrow Airport.

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Air China launches the third daily flight from Los Angeles to Beijing

Air China (Beijing) officials and China-bound passengers at Tom Bradley International Terminal welcomed the arrival of the inaugural flight of the airline’s third daily nonstop service from Beijing (flight CA 887) at 9 a.m. PDT yesterday (July 1). China’s national flag carrier is also celebrated the first day of the relocation of its airport operations from Terminal 2 to the Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) bigger and newly renovated Tom Bradley International Terminal.

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All of Air China’s three Los Angeles (LAX)-Beijing (PEK) daily nonstop services are operated by the  Boeing 777-300 ER. Air China is the only airline with a nonstop service between these two cities.

Air China offers nonstop services to Beijing from its seven gateways in North America: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington Dulles, Houston, Honolulu and Vancouver. In addition to Los Angeles, Air China is also the only airline with nonstop services to Beijing from New York and Houston. If offers double daily services from New York’s JFK International; daily services from Houston, Vancouver and San Francisco; four times weekly service from Washington Dulles and three times weekly from Honolulu to Beijing.

On September 29, 2015, Air China will launch the three times weekly nonstop service between Beijing and Montreal (Trudeau). It will be the first transpacific direct link between these two cities. The new Montreal service will bring Air China’s number of gateways in North America to a total of eight.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 777-39L B-2088 (msn 38668) approaches the runway at Los Angeles International Airport.

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Houston Airport System plans for spaceport approved by the FAA

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The Houston Airport System (HAS) has issued this statement and conceptual rendering:

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The Houston Airport System (HAS) has been granted a Launch Site License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that enables Ellington Airport (EFD) to establish itself as a launch site for Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV), making it the 10th commercial spaceport in the United States.

Nearly two years after Houston City Council members gave their overwhelming support for the project, the FAA’s formal approval opens the door for plans that could see Ellington Airport become a focal point for aerospace operations, such as the launching of micro satellites, astronaut training, zero gravity experimentation, spacecraft manufacturing and a host of other potential activities.

“Houston will play a lead role in commercial space operations in the 21st century,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “We believe a licensed Spaceport in Houston will not only serve as an economic generator for the city but also enhance Houston’s well-deserved reputation as a leader and key player in the aerospace industry.”

After working closely with the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, HAS now can move forward in establishing the required infrastructure and support facilities needed to accommodate RLVs — which execute horizontal launches, rather than vertical, similar to commercial aircraft.

“Houston has been at the forefront of aviation history and innovation for decades,” Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz said. “Not only does this opportunity reinforce an already long-established connection with the aerospace industry, it offers Houston an opportunity to strengthen its reputation as a forward-looking city and leader in creating high-tech, next-generation type jobs.”

Situated near the Gulf of Mexico, and featuring more than 400 acres of land readily available for development, Ellington Airport is tailor-made for the requirements associated with an operating licensed Spaceport. As a whole, Houston offers a booming economy with a strong aerospace industrial base, a well-educated workforce with experience in the high-tech demands of space exploration and plenty of room for growth at a strategically located airport facility.

“We look forward to completing our vision to create an aerospace industry cluster at the Houston Spaceport,” said Arturo Machuca, the General Manager at Ellington Airport who has led the efforts to bring the spaceport project to EFD. “Now that we are officially the 10th commercial spaceport in the U.S. we are ready to work with our aerospace industry partners to take advantage of the unique location, infrastructure and human resources that the fourth largest city in the U.S. has to offer.”

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JetBlue opens the T5 Rooftop Terrace at New York JFK

JetBlue T5 Rooftop (JetBlue)(LRW)

JetBlue Airways (New York) today (July 1) opened the T5® Rooftop at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport, the only post-security outdoor space accessible to all customers at a New York airport. The T5 Rooftop, which includes a green area and kid-friendly and dog-friendly spaces, is open all summer from 6 am to 10 pm for travelers who clear security at JetBlue’s home terminal — T5. This new outdoor park offers customers views of the Manhattan skyline and the historic Eero Saarinen TWA Terminal from an unexpected vantage point — a rooftop at the airport.

The T5 Rooftop, designed by Gensler, perfectly complements the overall design of T5 which emphasizes light and well-being. In addition to spectacular views, outdoor seating and New York-centric food carts, the T5 Rooftop also includes the first post-security dog walk area at JFK. Much like T5, the T5 Rooftop focuses on sustainability, convenience and humanity with features including:

A wood roof deck, aluminum outdoor furniture and planters

Free Wi-Fi

New York-centric food and beverage carts/kiosks featuring Brooklyn’s Blue Marble ice cream and Hebrew National hot dogs

Native plantings including oak leaved hydrangeas, lilyturf and sweetsphire
Sustainable materials.

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JetBlue celebrated the opening of the T5 Rooftop with a Live From T5™ concert featuring Brooklyn-based indie band Mainland, who performed selections from their debut EP, Shiner. JetBlue will host an ongoing Summer Friday series with DJ sets, acoustic performances, food and beverage samplings and other entertainment offerings for customers visiting the outdoor space and traveling through T5 this summer.

JetBlue’s award-winning Live From T5 concert series has served as a platform for emerging artists and top pop acts. Since 2009, the in-terminal concert series has enhanced the JetBlue experience with live entertainment exclusively for customers traveling through T5. These surprise shows have featured performances by an array of artists across musical genres including Goodie Mob, The Wanted, Taylor Swift, Emeli Sande, Jason Derulo, Sarah McLachlan, Daughtry and more.

The T5 Rooftop is the latest enhancement to JetBlue’s award-winning T5, recognized as one of the world’s ten most beautiful airport terminals by Frommer’s. T5 opened in 2008 and an international arrivals hall, dubbed T5 International, opened in November 2014. The T5 Rooftop includes a 4,046 square foot park with landscaped green spaces, seating for 50 people, a 400 square foot kid friendly space and a dedicated 400 square foot dog walk area.

Several JetBlue business partners and contractors collaborated on this project ensuring that the T5 Rooftop matched and enhanced T5’s existing feel and sustainable elements. Project partners collaborated on all aspects including infrastructure and design to construction. Business partners included Gensler, Arup and Turner Construction Company.

Photo: JetBlue Airways.