Monarch brings in non-reclining seats

Monarch Airlines is introducing non-reclining seating across its fleet.

The new ergonomic seats feature a thinner design, resulting in more legroom for passengers.

The airline, which unveiled its new-look cabin yesterday, claims its move away from reclining seats is based on customer feedback.

Monarch new seating

Monarch new seating

And, in an industry first, Monarch has installed mobile/tablet holders in the space where IFE screens normally sit (see above image), enabling passengers to comfortably watch their own devices.

Tim Williamson, Monarch’s director of customer experience and marketing, said: “Our new ergonomic seats have been designed with our customers’ needs in the forefront of our minds.

“The new non-reclining design gives our customers far more ‘living space’ than traditional seats, without the fear of the person in front impinging on their personal space.

“We noted from customer feedback that seat storage is particularly important. The new seats offer more flexibility than traditional ‘pockets’, using the concept of the bungee cord the storage area can now comfortably fit water bottles, jackets and even kids’ toys.

“The innovative tablet holder also enables our customers to create their own personal in-flight entertainment system.”

monarch.co.uk

Graham Smith

Iberia increases flights to Chicago and Panama City

Iberia is upping its services to Chicago and Panama City from June 1.

The Oneworld airline will from Sunday offer ten weekly services on its Madrid to Chicago route, an increase of three.

Its Madrid to Panama City route will run six times weekly, as opposed to the current schedule of five times per week.

Iberia is in the process of gradually introducing its new brand image and cabins in its long-haul fleet (see news, November 2013).

The new classes are already available on 17 of its 25 wide-bodied aircraft.

Last month, Iberia and BA’s joint venture with American Airlines was extended to include AA’s merger partner US Airways (see news, April 3).

iberia.com

Graham Smith

Strike forces BA to cancel flights to Italy

British Airways has today cancelled some of its services to Italy due to a 24-hour strike by ground handling staff.

The national carrier has axed a “small number of flights” to and from Milan Linate, Venice and Bologna.

The industrial action in Italy is over pay and working conditions.

BA said in a statement: “We are doing all we can to minimise the effects of the industrial action. We have retimed a number of flights and are also using larger aircraft where possible.”

Easyjet and Ryanair have also cancelled some flights to Italy.

Ryanair has cancelled more than 25 flights to Italian airports, while Easyjet said it is informing its customers via text message and email about disrupted flights.

All airlines advise passengers to regularly check their websites for further updates.

ba.com, easyjet.com, ryanair.com

Graham Smith

Cathay Pacific eyes seat upgrade auctions

Cathay Pacific passengers could soon bid for seat upgrades online if the airline approves a pilot programme under consideration.

The online auction, which will work in a similar way to Ebay, is designed for Cathay Pacific to improve its passenger load factors.

Should it be implemented, passengers will be able to bid for a single-sector, one-cabin upgrade to either premium economy or business class.

The airline will then inform the successful bidder four days prior to departure, when payment is to be made.

The initiative is unlikely to be welcomed by high-tier members of CX’s Marco Polo Club, who typically enjoy free upgrade privileges.

A Cathay Pacific spokesperson told our sister magazine Business Traveller Asia-Pacific that the project is still in the study phase and a final decision has yet to be made.

In a statement, the spokesperson said: “At the moment we are examining new initiatives that will allow us to offer passengers, including our Marco Polo Club members, different ways to get an upgrade.”

Earlier this month, Cathay Pacific announced it will launch a direct daily service from Hong Kong to Zurich in 2015 (see news, May 19).

cathaypacific.com

Clement Huang

Cathay Pacific considering seat upgrade auction

It has been reported in the South China Morning Post today that Cathay Pacific (CX) is considering launching an online auction for passengers to bid for seat upgrades.

The pilot programme, which will work similarly to eBay, is designed as a way for the carrier to improve its passenger load factors. Should it be implemented, customers will be able to bid for a single-sector, one-cabin upgrade to either premium economy or business class. The airline will then inform the successful bidder four days prior to departure, when payment is to be made.

The initiative is unlikely to be welcomed by high-tier members of the CX’s Marco Polo Club, who typically enjoy free upgrade privileges. Indeed, Business Traveller Asia-Pacific has received a letter from one of its readers, calling the move “another devaluation of frequent flyer benefits.”

A CX spokesperson has confirmed the news with Business Traveller Asia-Pacific but stressed that the project is still in the study phase and no decisions have been made on it. In a statement to the magazine, the spokesperson wrote: “At the moment we are examining new initiatives that will allow us to offer passengers, including our Marco Polo Club members, different ways to get an upgrade.”

Subscribers to Business Traveller’s UK edition can read Jenny Southan’s article – Going Going Gone on whether bidding on premium seats means the death of the free upgrade.

www.cathaypacific.com

Clement Huang

Air France flies A380 to Hong Kong in summer

Air France has started flying the A380 to Hong Kong, making the city the airline’s second superjumbo destination in China after Shanghai.

The carrier operates a daily flight from Paris to the Chinese Special Administrative Region, but from now until October 25 the route will be serviced by the A380, except from May 27 to June 8 and from June 16 to 22, when the superjumbo will only operate on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and the other three rotations will be flown by the usual B777-300.

The airline’s A380 features a four-class configuration with nine seats in first (La Première), 80 in business, 38 in premium economy and 389 in economy.

Flight AF188 departs Paris Charles de Gaulle at 2325 and arrives in Hong Kong at 1720 the following day. The return flight leaves Hong Kong at 0050, and touches down in the French capital at 0800 the same day.

For more information, visit www.airfrance.com

Clement Huang

Changi trials self service programme

Changi Airport Group (CAG) has commenced a phased implementation of self-service initiatives at its departure halls, with low-cost carrier Jetstar Asia being the first to join a trial. This is part of the “Fast and Seamless Travel at Changi” (FAST@Changi) programme which CAG intends to roll out progressively at Changi Airport, including the upcoming Terminal 4. 

The ongoing trial will run for about three months until August, and consist of a number of self-service options including check-in, bag tagging and bag drop. The machines will record the speed passengers take to finish the procedure, allowing CAG to analyse the effectiveness of the system and make needed adjustments.

Currently, two self bag-drop units and four self check-in kiosks have been installed at Jetstar Asia’s check-in area at Terminal 1. Passengers flying on selected Jetstar flights are eligible to use these facilities and print their boarding passes and luggage tags. Customers can then tag their own bags, tear off the receipts for keeping and drop off the checked luggage at the self-service counter.

Passengers travelling on all Jetstar flights, except to Manila and Australia (Perth and Darwin) are eligible to use the service.

These services are only for passengers who have paid for fares that include checked-in baggage. Jetstar Asia’s starter fare and plus bundle are not eligible, although these options can be purchased separately (15kg of checked baggage will cost SGD24/US$19).

The FAST@Changi programme is expected to be made available to more airlines over the next few months, as more kiosks become available.

For more information, visit www.changiairport.com

Clement Huang

Icelandair to fly to Birmingham

Icelandair will begin a twice-weekly service to Birmingham next year.

The airline will fly a B757, seating 183 in a three-cabin configuration, between Reykjavik and Birmingham on Mondays and Thursdays from February 5.

The new service will provide an alternative option for those living in the Midlands who want to fly to North America, via Iceland, while bypassing London Heathrow.

Icelandair B757

Outbound flight FI494 will depart Reykjavik at 0750 and arrive in Birmingham at 1025, while return service FI495 will leave Birmingham at 1225 and land in Reykjavik at 1510.

Andres Jonsson, general manager of Icelandair UK, said: “We are delighted to announce Birmingham as our newest gateway in the UK. Our first route from the Midlands will not only open up opportunities of travelling to and from Iceland but also a refreshing and convenient way to North America.”

Icelandair currently operates year-round UK services to/from Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow. It launched its London Gatwick route in 2012 (see news, March 2012).

icelandair.co.uk

Graham Smith