SINGAPORE AIRLINES PREMIUM ECONOMY
WHEN? Mid 2015
BACKGROUND For years many major airlines snubbed the idea of premium economy, including Cathay Pacific, which launched the class in 2011 (see here). SIA did once have something called “Executive Economy”, which was offered on its A340-500 aircraft serving Los Angeles and Newark (see here). It featured a 37 inches seat pitch.
INFO SIA will launch premium economy on its Boeing 777-300ERs, followed soon after by the Airbus A380S and then the forthcoming Airbus A350s. While little information about the new seat has been revealed, a spokeswoman for the airline has confirmed that “the new cabin will be different from [Executive Economy] in that it will offer more legroom”.
BACKGROUND Qatar Airways celebrated the delivery of the world’s first Airbus A350 XWB aircraft last December (see here). The fuel-efficient aircraft will begin active service in January 2015, when Qatar Airways deploys it on the Doha–Frankfurt route. It will feature a two-class configuration with 36 in business (1-2-1 layout), and 247 in economy (3-3-3 layout). For a first look at the new aircraft, see here.
INFO The Gulf carrier may have the largest number of A350s on order with 80, but it is not the only airline that will take delivery of the aircraft. As reported by Business Traveller Asia-Pacific (see here), Vietnam Airlines has opened reservations for the A350, which the airline will deploy on its Hanoi to Paris’ Charles-de-Gaulle route from September 30, 2015.
SOEKARNO-HATTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT EXPANSION
BACKGROUND Having an annual capacity of just 22 million passengers, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport has become crowded and congested in recent years, with some 60 million passengers passing through the facility in 2013 – almost three times over its maximum capacity.
INFO In 2012, plans were drawn up to expand all three existing terminals and increase capacity to 62 million passengers annually. This is expected to be completed this year. At the same time, there are also projects in the pipeline for a third runway and fourth terminal.
FFP CHANGES FOR UNITED AND DELTA
BACKGROUND Both US carriers announced last year that they would be introducing changes to their respective frequent flyer programmes (see here). Most significantly, the two airlines will adopt a revenue-based accrual system that sees customers that spend more for their fares also earn more miles.
INFO Award miles will be based on the ticket price rather than the distance flown, with higher tier members benefitting from a better “miles per dollar” ratio. For example, top tier Premier 1K cardholders of United’s Mileage Plus programme will earn 11 award miles for every dollar spent. The same holds true for Diamond Medallion members of Delta’s own Sky Miles programme.
The new system, which is also adopted by newly launched Vistara (see here), seems to point to a trend where airlines are closing the door on the mileage game played by many frequent travellers.
HYATT INTRODUCES COMPLIMENTARY WIFI GLOBALLY
BACKGROUND The concept of free wifi across an entire hotel group’s portfolio is not a new one, with Marriott due to introduce the service to all of its Marriott Rewards members across more than 3,800 hotels.
INFO Hyatt Hotels Corporation is taking this further by announcing that it will offer free wifi to all of its properties worldwide from February 2015 onwards (see here), providing connectivity to every guest regardless of booking method or loyalty programme participation. There will also be no restrictions on the number of devices that can access the free wifi at any given time.
Hyatt’s move to follow suit signifies another major step towards the right direction, that wifi in hotel should be free for paying guests in this day of age. Already, major groups like IHG and Starwood are offering complimentary wifi for free to members of their rewards programme, regardless of tier (see here and here). Hilton meanwhile restricts this benefit to gold and diamond members of its HHonors programme.