App Store Names Updated Fly Delta App among Best New Apps

The Apple iTunes App Store has featured the updated Fly Delta App among its “Best New Apps”. Updates to the app include automatic bag tracking and a redeem miles option in book a trip, making it easier for users to book award tickets. Additionally, the popular Fly Delta app has received more than 11 million downloads, including all versions of the app which are available on iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone devices, to date. Delta’s app has consistently been among the most popular and functional apps available for travelers.

New Jersey Transit on May 1 will shut down rail service to Newark Airport

New Jersey Transit on May 1 will shut down rail service to Newark Liberty International Airport through mid-July in order to repair the AirTrain that connects the station and airport terminals. In the interim, New Jersey Transit will provide shuttle service between Newark Penn Station and the airport, which requires as fare either a ticket to the airport station or an access fee ticket purchased at the shuttle pickup area. Travelers should expect more travel time and delays during this period and should consider alternate means of getting to the airport during the repairs, according to New Jersey Transit.

Lufthansa to Charge for Advance Seat Selection in Certian Coach Classes

Lufthansa from April 28 will charge €25 for advance seat selection for long-haul passengers ticketed in certain economy classes. The charge will apply to those opting to select their seats who have booked in W, S, T, L and K classes. The airline in November began levying a €10 fee for advance seat selection on short-haul flights. Lufthansa does not charge for seat selection within 23 hours of departure and waives the fee for elite-level members of its loyalty program.

Runway overhaul to divert some Dubai flights this summer

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Officials say Dubai airport, the Mideast’s busiest, will undergo a major runway overhaul starting next month that will see more than a dozen airlines shift flights to another airport in the city.

Dubai Airports said Sunday that two runways at Dubai International Airport will be closed at alternate times during the project, which includes resurfacing one of the runways, lighting upgrades and construction of extra taxiways. The work begins May 1 and runs through July 20.

Fourteen airlines that currently fly out of the airport, including budget carrier FlyDubai, will temporarily move at least some flights to the just-opened alternate Dubai World Central airport during the project. Dubai’s main carrier Emirates will not move any flights.

Dubai International ranks behind only London’s Heathrow in terms of international passenger traffic handled.

Phoenix Airport’s First Independent Lounge Opens

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has welcomed The Club at PHX, the airport’s first shared-use lounge. This marks sixth club for Airport Lounge Development, which specializes in the design, construction, operation, management and marketing of independent shared-use airport lounges.

The Club at PHX is located past security near the high B gates in Terminal 4 and is available to all passengers traveling out of that terminal. Amenities include free snacks and beverages, including beer, wine and spirits, complimentary high speed Wi-Fi and work stations with PC’s and printers. Lounge access is available for $35. The club also welcomes members of Priority Pass, Priority Pass Select and Lounge Club.

“The concept of ‘independent shared-use’ airport lounges is still relatively new in the US, but very popular in Europe and Asia,” said Nancy Knipp, senior vice president at ALD. “ALD is taking the successful business model used in Europe and Asia, and tailoring it to the US market, designing and operating spaces that allow travelers to relax or work in comfort while waiting for their flight.”

Italian court bars Emirates’ Milan-New York service

An administrative court in Italy has ordered Emirates to scrap the Milan Malpensa-New York Kennedy service that it launched in October 2013.

The TAR Lazio court last Thursday ruled on a suit from Italian airline trade association Assaereo, backed by Delta Air Lines, brought against the Italian Civil Aviation Authority for permitting the service.

The court ruled that fifth-freedom flights (service between two countries by a carrier that is not based in either the origin or destination country) from Italy are not permissible.

Emirates said it is considering whether to appeal, but Delta, which also flies Milan-JFK (as do Alitalia and American Airlines) welcomed the decision.

“The TAR Lazio decision makes it clear that UAE-based Emirates is not authorized to operate this nonstop service,” according to a Delta statement.

“The Emirates route provides no additional benefit for travelers who are already well-served by U.S. and Italian carriers between Milan and New York and could significantly harm U.S. and Italian airline employees by adding unnecessary capacity to an already competitive market.”

Average fares on the route have halved since Emirates launched its service, and the Dubai-based carrier has already gained the largest market share on the route, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

Based on the success of the service, Emirates has said it is considering launching more fifth-freedom flights across the Atlantic.

The court’s decision comes as Emirates’ local rival Etihad is engaged in advanced negotiations to buy a 49% stake in Alitalia.

American, US Airways latest to revamp mileage awards

American Airlines and US Airways have become the latest U.S. carriers to make a dramatic shake-up to their frequent-flier programs, instituting new award levels for frequent-flier awards.

As with other changes made recently by Delta and United – the country’s other two big “legacy carriers” – the changes made by merger partners American and US Airways increase the number of miles needed for certain award tickets.

And, mirroring Delta’s changes, the new award charts at American and US Airways will add new redemption levels – adding complexity for fliers figuring out how many miles they’ll need to use for an award ticket.

American and US Airways also changed their bag fee policies, moving to reduce the number of free bags for most customers outside those flying to South America.

As for the frequent-flier changes, they take effect immediately and apply to all award tickets used for itineraries beginning June 1 and after. New award itineraries prior to June 1 will be subject to the previous award-ticket thresholds.

The changes at American appear to be the most complicated. The carrier is keeping its “SAAaver” and AAnytime” award categories, but it’s tweaking the tiers.

There will now be two redemption levels for SAAver tickets – Level 1 and Level 2 – on most routes. Domestic routes, however, will continue to have a single level. On AAnytime routes, American is going to three levels – Level 1, Level 2 and an unusual Level 3. The third level is unusual in that American is not listing what the threshold is, saying only that those awards will be “offered on a few select dates and will require higher number of miles to redeem.”

In a release detailing a broad set of changes, American says those Level 3 awards “will fall on the busiest travel days of the year. On those days, American will offer a higher award redemption option, which will be available starting at 50,000 miles one way.”

US Airways also is adjusting its thresholds, going to four redemption categories – Low, Medium, High Level 1 and High Level 2 – on domestic routes. On international routes, US Airways will now have five redemption levels: Off-peak, Low, Medium, High Level 1 and High Level 2.

Reaction on frequent-flier blogs has been mixed, though most echoed concern about the changes.

“The good news is that the MileSAAver level of awards is not affected from what I’m seeing,” Seth Miller writes on his Wandering Aramean blog. “For those with flexibility and who can search for the cheap award seats that should be comforting. For those who use the AAnytime awards on occasion, however, the news is mixed. AAnytime awards are now split into three tiers and only two of the tiers are published. The third tier is represented on the chart simply as a star with the fine print…”

Informative | Relevant