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Does Flight-Shaming Over Climate Change Pose An Existential Threat To Airlines?

Jet aircraft have been flying in airline service since the ill-fated DeHavilland Comet in 1952. Flying was so glamorous that the term “jet set” was coined to described the envied international social group of wealthy people who hop-scotched around the world in what were presumed to be luxurious jet airliners.

Jet travel may no longer be as glamourous, but it’s become vastly more popular. Some 4.6 billion passengers are expected to take wing in 2019, supporting a trillion-dollar travel industry. But not if a growing group of European “flight shamers” and climate change protestors have their way.

Concerned about global climate change, a growing group of Northern European activists have begun to just say no to airline travel. Will such protests gain the momentum achieved by the anti-fossil fuel movement, as over one thousand institutional investors representing $6 trillion in funds have pledged fossil fuel divestment?

The Swedish-born “anti-flying” movement has grown, and its arresting if somber slogans like “flygskam” (“flight shame”) and “tågskryt,” (“train brag”) are being translated into many languages. One flight-boycotting British attorney, who formerly loved to travel, told Reuters, “It’s a tough pill to swallow, but when you look at the issues around climate change, then the sacrifice all of a sudden becomes small.”

“We should all fly less, the future of this planet is at stake,” said actress Dame Emma Thompson. But showing just how difficult such change is, her British Airways flight to London to support the Extinction Rebellion climate change protests reportedly generated two tons of carbon dioxide for each First Class passenger, such as Thompson. A British newspaper noted that the Extinction Rebellion group “insisted that the tons of carbon her flight produced for her to be at their protest was an ‘unfortunate cost in our bigger battle to save the planet’.”

Airline travel is now considered responsible for almost 3% of global carbon emissions today. Left unchecked, emissions will grow along with airline passenger traffic, expected to grow at a 3.5% per year clip through 2036, when 8.2 billion passengers will travel by air.

Anti-airline sentiment seems to have crossed the pond from Europe to America as well. A proposed Green New Deal bill called for the United States to “build out highs-peed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.” In an early FAQ, its authors wrote, “We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”

The airline industry mocks such sentiment at its own peril. Although it failed this time around, the Green New Deal proposal was signed by Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and 67 Congressional co-signers, and may well be a significant issue in the 2020 US elections.

The response of the airline industry has so far been uncertain. At the just-concluded International Air Transport Association (IATA) 75th Annual General Meeting, IATA head Alexandre de Juniac said “Come on, stop calling us polluters,” to reporters at a news conference launching IATA’s ‘global imitative’ to reduce emissions.

The airline industry is announcing a Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) agreed through the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization. The goal of CORSA is to cap net CO2 emissions from international aviation at 2020 levels, even as passenger and flight growth continues. This is called carbon-neutral growth, or CNG. “Between 2020 and 2035 (CORSA) will mitigate over 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 and generate at least $40 billion in finance for carbon reduction initiatives,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Global initiatives or not, the airline industry has limited options in terms of how it can continue to grow while cutting emissions, at least in the near future. Having attended the “launches” of three non-flying mockups of eVTOL aircraft (electric vertical take-off and landing) in the last few months, it’s clear that battery-powered, hybrid gas/electric and hydrogen-fueled power plants are a long way from propelling light helicopter-like craft, let alone Airbus A380 replacements.

What could fuel big jets and cut carbon emission are the so-called biofuels. But their availability is strictly limited, forcing the airlines to continue using aviation fuel. Nonetheless, IATA has a 2% target for sustainable fuel by 2025, when additional sources will hopefully come  online.

So what’s left? A number of airlines offer piecework “solutions”, such as the opportunity for passengers to pay more money on their ticket to “offset” the carbon emitted on their behalf. As one would imagine, such initiatives are not very popular. Even at the recent IATA conference only a handful of airline executives said they had purchased off-sets for their ticket to Seoul.

The Scandivanaian airline SAS just announced that it is ending on-board duty-free sales to reduce aircraft weight, save fuel and reduce carbon, as part of its overall strategy to cut emissions by 25% by 2030 (compared with a 2005 baseline.) While the announcement didn’t say how much weight would be saved, it’s hard to imagine it was the equivalent of even one passenger.

And what’s next? Will the airlines begin weighing passengers and charging them a carbon surcharge if they are over the prescribed weight for their height, or offer a “offset-discount” for the svelte?

The airline industry needs to proceed on two tracks if it is to continue to thrive. One, of course, is to explore every technological solution to reduce carbon emissions, from alternative fuels to alternative power plants. The second is to convince an increasingly skeptical public that the airline industry is not only doing everything it can to fight climate change, but that it has made measurable and important progress in doing so.

Otherwise, the multi-billion airline industry will prove a tempting target for ever more vehement climate protest.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelgoldstein/2019/06/04/does-flight-shaming-over-climate-change-pose-an-existential-threat-to-airlines/

Airlines are on pace for their worst year since 2014

New York (CNN Business)High fuel prices, an international trade war, and the 737 Max groundingare adding up to a miserable 2019 for the airline industry. Airlines are bracing for their worst year since 2014.The aviation industry expects to earn $28 billion in profit this year, according to a forecast released Sunday by the International Air Transport Association, a global trade group representing 290 airlines. That income outlook is 21% lower than the association’s previous 2019 forecast, which it issued in December. It would be the lowest profit the industry has recorded in five years. “The business environment for airlines has deteriorated with rising fuel prices and a substantial weakening of world trade,” the group said in a statement.

“Margins are being squeezed by rising costs right across the board.”IATA expects airlines’ costs to grow 7.4% this year, outpacing the 6.5% anticipated growth in sales. That means airlines will make about 11% less on each passenger in 2019 than they made in 2018.Oil prices, which have risen in recent months as tensions escalate between the United States, Iran and Venezuela, are a big factor in airlines’ doom-and-gloom attitude about 2019. Jet fuel accounts to a quarter of airlines’ operating costs, and IATA said jet fuel will cost 27.5% more this year than it did two years ago.Rising trade tensions aren’t helping either. They will most directly hurt the cargo industry, although passenger traffic could fall as people reconsider vacations to some locations and as consumers spend more money on imports.

IATA expects that growth in cargo demand will slow substantially. Growth in passenger demand for air travel will slow a bit too, although far less dramatically than cargo. “There is no easy money to be made,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s CEO, in a statement.

Source:https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/02/business/airline-profit/index.html

5 things you need to know about booking a budget airline ticket, according to experts

With summer just around the corner, many people are looking to make their vacation budget stretch further. And for those looking to fly international, one option may be to use a low-cost airline.

But the budget airline industry has had a rocky 2019 so far, withIceland’s Wow Air ceasing operations in March and Russian airline Aeroflot experiencing a crash landing on May 5.

Yet travel and safety experts say that the vast majority of budget airlines are a safe bet for travelers looking to save a buck. But while you may not encounter any major issues, you are probably going to give up some amenities and comforts in order to save that money.

“Budget airlines have built their entire business model around charging cheaper fares across the board ultimately giving travelers the option to choose what they pay for,” Steve Sintra, Kayak’s regional director of North America, tells CNBC Make It.

Here’s a look at what you need to know before you purchase a ticket on an international budget airline.

1. Know what’s included in the ticket cost

It used to be that your airfare included not only a seat on the plane, but luggage storage, a meal or two and even a drink. But when you’re flying budget, those amenities are extra.

“Make sure when you’re booking your ticket, you know what is or isn’t included so there are no surprises when you get to the airport,” Sintra says.Y

With most international low-cost airlines like AirAsia, Norwegian Air, EasyJet and Ryanair, the base fare includes a seat on that flight and a personal item that you can put under the seat in front of you. Checked luggage stored in the hold is almost always extra, but for some flights, even larger rolling carry-ons that you need to put in the overhead bins may be an additional fee.

“Their carry-on rules are much different,” says Charles Leocha, head of the consumer group Travelers United, tells CNBC Make It. Often the accepted sizes on international airlines are smaller than the traditional U.S. rolling carry-ons. For example, Ryanair only allows a personal item that fits under the seat in front of you with dimensions under 40cm x 20cm x 25cm (roughly 16 inches x 8 inches x 10 inches). Basically this is a purse, a laptop bag or a small backpack.

Plus, many of the budget airlines also have weight restrictions for all luggage, even carry-on bags. If you check-in with a carry-on that weighs more than 10 kilograms, about 22 pounds, you will typically have to pay a fee or check the bag. For example, Mexican-based Interjet allows you to bring a personal item like a purse and a carry-on,but both items have to be under 10 kilograms.

Even U.S. carriers have put major restrictions on carry-on bags these days, especially on U.S. budget airlines. Frontier, for example, charges a$35 fee for a carry-on bag (free for those with Elite status) if you purchase while booking online. It jumps to $50 if you wait to pay until you get to the airport and check-in.

Kayak has a Baggage Fee Assistant tool which lets you easily see whether your bags are included in the overall flight price when you’re searching for ticket options.

A Ryanair luggage stand is seen at Krakow international airport.

In many cases, an international budget carrier will charge you extra for options like picking your seat, getting a meal and seatback entertainment. For example easyJet charges roughly $3 to $14 to pick your seat in the general cabin without extra legroom. You may even find that the actual seat is smaller than on a traditional carrier.

“Weigh the pros and cons before you book,” Sintra says. It may be that you’ll end up paying more in extras than you would buying a ticket on a traditional airline. If you’re traveling with family members, for example, you’ll likely want to sit near them, but that generally costs extra for each person. Norwegian Air charges €35 ($39) for seat selection per leg. For a family of four, that could add up to roughly $300 in extra flight costs.

“If you prefer the extra amenities you may want to consider an airline that you know has them,” Sintra says. That said, if you’re simply looking to get to your destination for the cheapest price, then it might be worth sitting next to a stranger in the middle seat or limiting your packing to a small carry-on.

This 29-year-old turned an obsession with cheap flights into a million-dollar business

2. Know where you’re flying to and from

One of the biggest surprises for those who don’t fly budget airlines is the airports. Many low-cost carriers use alternate hubs.

“You should look at this very carefully” when booking, Leocha says. If you’re flying to Venice, Italy, for example, EasyJet flies into the city’s main airport, Marco Polo. But Ryanair flies into Treviso Airport, which is about 25 miles outside of the city.

These alternate airports may also be smaller and have fewer personnel and amenities. Norwegian recently launched flights out of New York’s Stewart International Airport, for instance, which is in New Windsor, New York — over 60 miles north of Manhattan. The airport only has two restaurants: a Quiznos sandwich shop before security and a cafe after security.

Perhaps even more frustrating, there are only limited check-in, security and customs systems in place, which means it may take travelers longer to get through the airport at Stewart.

3. Know about the airline

When you’re searching for your flight, there are typically a dizzying number of options. You likely don’t have to do in-depth research on all of them, but it can be helpful to look up some information in advance to avoid headaches. “If it’s an airline I’ve never heard of before, I’ll check it out,” Leocha says.

First, you should check out their safety record and performance. The site Airline Ratings can be an excellent source to get a quick view of an airline’s safety rating, which they base on seven factors, including the International Air Transport Association’s Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification audit and the European Union’s Blacklist, which bans carriers it feels are too risky.

Cancellations and on-time performance are also major factors, especially if you have a connecting flight. FlightStats has an excellent database of airline performance, including low-cost carriers. Last month, easyJet flights operated on-time arrivals 80% of the time, while Ryanair had 88% of its flights arrive on schedule.

Yet travelers generally shouldn’t worry too much about an airline going under, despite the recent shut-down of Iceland’s Wow Air.

“It is very unlikely that a budget airline would go under without an earlier warning or indication,” Henrik Zillmer, CEO of AirHelp, tells CNBC Make It. Experts were speculating about Wow Air for months before it officially went under and ceased operation.

If you’re worried, Zillmer recommends doing a quick Google search to look at airlines’ previous performance and news before booking a flight.

Here’s what it’s actually like to be a flight attendant

4. Know how to buy

When you go to book your ticket, it’s best to book with a credit card over a debit card. If there are any issues, the money is not coming from your checking account and you have the right to dispute the transaction.

Plus, there are several credit cards on the market, including Citi Prestige and both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve, that offer travel protections. These kick in if your luggage is lost or delayed, or you’re stranded because of a cancelled or delayed flight, or even if you have a medical emergency.

Booking through a well-known travel operator like Expedia or Priceline may also offer more protections, Zillmer says. For example, he says if an airline does go under before your trip, you may be able to claim a refund if you booked through a site like this.Travelers should always be aware of their rights in case something goes wrong when booking their flightsHenrik ZillmerCEO OF AIRHELP

It’s also worth noting that travel agents or partner airlines may also step up to refund or rebook you, depending on whether flights are covered by travel insurance. If a trip was booked as a package, coverage should be guaranteed, Zillmer says.

If you are booking directly with the budget carrier, be aware that its website may be difficult to navigate, so check everything carefully and be careful with translations.

“The websites can get a little funky,” Leocha says. If you do have issues, Leocha says he’s found that low-cost carriers are fairly responsive on social media. He’s cleared up several issues by shooting the airline a note on Facebook.5. Know your rights

“Travelers should always be aware of their rights in case something goes wrong when booking their flights,” Zillmer says. And while the specific rights can vary by flight route or departure and arrival destinations, they can be a big help regardless of whether someone has travel insurance.

Unfortunately, travelers in the U.S. have the fewest protections, Zillmer days. Essentially you can seek compensation of up to $1,350 from an airline if you are denied boarding due to overbooking and you ultimately suffered a delay in arriving at to your final destination.

If you’re flying back from a European country to the U.S, flying on a European airline or flying within Europe, you have more protections. You can get up to $700 per person if your flight is cancelled or delayed more than three hours unless it’s deemed an “extraordinary circumstance,” such as a storm, medical emergency or political unrest. Under these conditions, airlines do not owe you anything.

In addition to financial compensation, if your flight is delayed more than two hours, you’re entitled to food and refreshments, as well as a hotel room and transport if the trip interruption requires an overnight stay.

“When you’re stuck waiting for the airline to get you back on track, you’re entitled to necessary assistance from the airline, depending on your situation,” Zillmer says.

Source:

5 WAYS AIRLINES CAN IMPROVE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: THE POINTS GUY

A new report from J.D. Power claims customer satisfaction with America’s airlines is at an all-time high. You wouldn’t know it by looking at a typical airline passenger’s Twitter account, though: Social media constantly seems to be flooded with complaints about massive delays, skimpy in-flight amenities and poor treatment by flight crew members. (Get ready for more: Some airlines are cutting down on how much their seats recline.) 

So how can airlines improve their act?

If you’re Singapore Air, you launch a farm-to-plane program providing organic greens for passengers’ meals. But for struggling U.S. carriers, staying ahead of low-cost competitors has meant slashing prices—and amenities. (American and United Airlines have chosen not to include seatback entertainment devices on new planes designed for shorter trips.)

But there are several things airlines can do to improve customer relations that don’t cost a dime. We spoke with Brian Kelly, found and CEO of The Points Guy, who shared his simple recommendations for America’s airline industry. 
 

1. Keep passengers informed

“Travelers can deal with flight delays but their patience and understanding dwindles when neither the pilot, flight attendants nor gate agents provide updates,” says Kelly. “Even if there’s no available information to share, show sympathy and take ownership of the situation.”

2. Help families with children

Wrangling the kids onto a plane is a hassle—for parents and other passengers alike.  Families with small children should always be preboarded, says Kelly, to expedite the boarding process and provide them with enough time to get settled. At the same time, they shouldn’t have to play musical chairs to sit together.

“Try to solve seating requests for families ahead of time,” Kelly advises, “to avoid flight delays due to last minute seat changes.”

3. Ensure better communication

“Overall communication between airlines and passengers could be improved. During delays, it would be beneficial to receive email, text and push notifications from the airline app as soon as possible.”

And, Kelly suggests, airlines should be better about empowering travelers to automate simple requests through their app or website, whether that’s rebooking on a later flight or filing a compensation claim. The traveler will feel less stress and customer service departments will save time and resources.

4. Organize meal service

Kelly doesn’t have any suggestions for making the food taste better, but he does think information about meal options can be disseminated better.

“Announce meal options in economy before meal service begins,” advises Kelly. “This might alleviate the irritation felt from flight attendants after they’ve had to repeat themselves at every row.”

5. Above all, show compassion 

Source:
https://www.newsweek.com/points-guy-airlines-1438353

Want to book holiday flights? Southwest to start selling Thanksgiving, Christmas tickets this week

Travelers have been asking Southwest Airlines for weeks when it plans to open its schedule for bookings through the busy holiday travel season.

The answer has changed a couple times, and at one point was as late as June 20, almost a month later than normal — freaking out plan-ahead travelers trying to finalize their year-end trips.

The airline now has a firm date, and it’s almost here: Thursday, May 30.

That’s the day Southwest, which opens its schedule in increments rather than nearly a year in advance like most major airlines, will extend the booking window through Jan. 5. Southwest’s schedule is currently only open through Nov. 2.

Southwest did not reveal what time the schedule will open on Thursday. The airline only sells its tickets on its website and over the phone.

Most of Southwest’s competitors, including American, Delta and United, have been selling holiday tickets for months.

More: Southwest, JetBlue top J.D. Power airline rankings

But Southwest is the nation’s largest domestic carrier and has legions of loyal fans who turn to the airline first when booking flights. It’s also a price leader on many routes, so fares usually get a shake-up the day its schedule opens.

That doesn’t mean that Southwest’s fares are the cheapest — they often aren’t any more — or that travelers with flexible schedules should book holiday tickets this far in advance. Fares might go down — or up — in the next several months. Most people don’t buy their holiday flights this early. Last year, nearly 40% of travelers waited until November to search for Thanksgiving and Christmas flights, according to Hopper, a mobile travel app.

One plus on Southwest: if you book a nonrefundable flight now and the fare goes down on that flight or another flight, you can cancel and rebook without paying an onerous ticket change fee. The airline issues a Southwest credit for any difference. The credit can only be used by the named passenger.

Southwest isn’t the only airline yet to begin holiday travel bookings.

Frontier Airlines is currently accepting reservations through Nov. 13. The airline expects to begin holiday bookings at the end of June, spokesman Zach Kramer said.

Spirit Airlines is only accepting reservations through Dec. 18. The airline plans to extend the booking window “relatively soon,” spokesman Derek Dombrowski said.

Source: https://eu.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/2019/05/29/southwest-airlines-selling-tickets-thanksgiving-christmas-new-year-holiday-flights/1219774001/

Plastics in Airline Catering Raise Questions About Carbon Emissions

Plastics play a huge role on airplanes, especially in catering, but it wasn’t always this way. Going back to the so-called golden age of air travel in the 1950s and 60s, the experience of flying was very different: fine china, cocktail glasses, and real cutlery.

Naturally, those flights were expensive for the time, and few people could afford to fly. Today, democratization has arrived and anyone with even 60 dollars can fly somewhere on a low-cost carrier. With exceptions for first and business class, we’ve swapped the porcelain plates for plastic cups, plastic straws, plastic coffee stirrers, and plastic-wrapped cookies.

These items are awfully convenient. Plastic is lightweight, so it’s quick and easy for cabin crew to dispose. There’s also no concern about sanitation in this tight-knit space — everything is single-use or individually wrapped. Plus, the lightweight factor means an increase in fuel efficiency, which helps lower carbon emissions and keep fares down.

However, much like other sectors of travel, airlines are increasingly aware that their use of plastics is damaging the environment as bottles, straws, and wrappers pile up in oceans and on beaches.

Airline catering is rife with plastics and is a sensible place to start cutting back. But is replacing plastic with another material, or eliminating it, such an easy win? Will flyers really embrace these changes if it costs them money or convenience?

FOOD’S PLASTIC PROBLEM COMES WITH AN EMISSIONS PROBLEM

Airlines are increasingly concerned about plastic waste from their catering operations, but plastic has a key benefit: It’s lightweight and thereby helps minimize the plane’s emission of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and poses a major environmental threat.

CO2 emissions vary from aircraft to aircraft, but on average, a plane produces 53.3 pounds per mile, according to Blue Sky Model. By comparison, driving one mile in an average passenger vehicle emits about 404 grams per mile, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The heavier the plane and its contents, the more CO2 it burns, and with an airplane, that burning happens at a very high altitude, which is arguably more damaging than emissions at sea level.

Airlines are naturally hesitant to replace lightweight plastic with something heavier like glass or china that will require the plane to use more fuel, which comes at both a financial and environmental cost. Every ounce of weight can theoretically make a difference, and with items like glassware, they also need to be cleaned and sterilized.

One way to address the weight problem is to reduce the amount of food and drink all around. On Scandinavian Airlines, all fresh food as well as breakfast on short-haul flights is available by preorder only, making the amount of food — and associated plastic packaging — lower and more precise.

Delta Air Lines cited preordered meals as one of its more successful initiatives that reduce waste, although it started as more of a customer benefit than a focus on plastics, according to Tim Mapes, chief marketing officer.

Delta doesn’t have an exact figure for how much plastic it uses in its catering, but said its long-term goal is to eliminate single-use plastics, including items like coffee stirrers, and further promote a circular plastic economy, in which more plastics get successfully recycled. Mapes cited edible seaweed pouches that replaced plastic bottles in the London marathon as “the imagination and creativity that’s got to be brought to these issues.” Outside food and beverage, Mapes also said that as of July 1, Delta will eliminate all plastic surrounding its amenity kits, as well as the plastic wrapping for its blankets and linens.

“What can we take away that’s not being used?” asked Max Knagge, general manager Americas for Scandinavian Airlines, about catering materials. “Do we need salt and pepper on breakfast trays? Maybe not, so we’re taking that away,” he said. The carrier is also in the process of changing straws and stirrers from plastic to compostable materials, and reducing the size of its water bottles to reduce waste and better reflect how much water passengers are actually drinking.

These food-related measures help reduce carbon emissions, but there are other ways to address that problem.

Much like preordering food, flyers have some limited control over their carbon footprint. Passengers can opt to offset their CO2: 40 percent of Scandinavian’s 30 million passengers are CO2 offsets, the cost of which the airline picks up for loyalty members. Delta passengers can similarly pay to offset their impact.

Scandinavian said it’s phasing in new aircraft with 18–20 percent lower emissions: Airbus 320neos and Airbus 350s. Electronic aircraft is the endgame, the most sustainable option, according to Knagge, but it’s a long road to get there. Biofuel is a good interim step, but there’s a limited supply, so Scandinavian is partnering with energy company Preem to produce its own — a new plant will open in 2023.

Mapes similarly stressed that the modernization of Delta’s fleet makes a major difference in reducing fuel consumption and reducing carbon footprint. “It’s all about net,” said Mapes of replacing plastic with something heavier that only appears to be more sustainable — if it reduces plastic waste but worsens carbon emissions, it’s not a good move.

“I would rather increase carbon emissions [than increase plastic waste] because we can do things to offset that,” said Jason DiVenere. The 35-year-old spent much of his career as an aerospace engineer at Boeing and SpaceShipTwo from Virgin Galactic. In 2018 he flew 487,000 PQM (premier qualifying miles) on United and he’s been a by-invitation-only Global Services member with United for four years.

Carbon emissions can indeed be offset as DiVenere noted, though so can a switch away from unsustainable materials. Likewise, it’s arguably just as daunting an idea to remove microplastics from the ocean as to repair the ozone layer, and the real solution lies in preventing the pollution at its source.

DiVenere is also a private pilot and said that small amounts of increased weight from heavier, non-plastic catering materials will not pose a significant problem, especially because airlines already can’t precisely account for contingencies like heavier luggage.

HOW MUCH MONEY AND CONVENIENCE WILL FLYERS SACRIFICE?

Replacing plastic with a heavier material often comes at a financial cost, which may get passed on to the consumer. Whether flyers will pay more to reduce plastic waste depends greatly on the demographic, and societal pressure, according to Knagge.

“In Scandinavia and especially Sweden, it’s in such transition. It’s really changing the demand on travel, and everything from grocery shopping to the car industry,” said Knagge. “If you offer something that is better for the environment, and it has a negative impact on your personal convenience, you don’t complain about it. It’s politically incorrect and that pressure from society is so huge.”

In Scandinavia especially there’s an incipient anti-flying movement among those who are vocal about climate change. The community is fairly small at this point, but shows real signs of growing as people stop bragging about airline status and start bragging about taking the train instead. Tour operator Thomas Cook even cited that the anti-flying movement is negatively impacting its Northern European business.

And yet, consumers have their limits when it comes to shunning aviation. “Looking at a more global picture, we’ve seen quite a low tolerance for paying extra for a more sustainable option,” he said. Scandinavian does encourage flyers to pack light to reduce weight on board, save fuel, and reduce costs — but packing habits die hard.

“There’s no doubt there’s a line that, when crossed, it might become problematic,” said Mapes of travelers’ ability to withstand changes. “When you have food, you want to know that there’s hygiene, that there are proper controls,” he said, specifying that taking care with food crossing international borders is even more crucial.

The idea is to lead by example and not be judgmental when introducing sustainable changes to flyers, according to Mapes. “More people embrace it than don’t,” he said.

While testing bamboo and wooden cutlery options, Etihad Airways found that “they didn’t deliver a pleasant dining experience,” said Linda Celestino, vice president of guest experience and delivery, by email. “This resulted in us selecting disposable stainless steel to ensure we uphold our service standards. Of course, we have considered that metal adds extra weight, which in turn leads to extra fuel burn.” Celestino added that the carrier leaned toward a lightweight stainless steel option and that carbon emissions comprised a “bigger issue” than plastic waste.

“Flyers are not always aware of the complexity of airline catering,” said Anne De Hauw, founder of Monaco-based design firm In Air Travel Experience. On the other hand, flyers are increasingly aware of sustainability issues, even though things like on-time performance and cabin comfort still top their priority lists. “Changes have to be genuine, authentic, and true, because flyers will not accept greenwashing anymore,” she said.

And now, with increasing government legislation regulating single-use plastics, like that in the European Union, the pressure is on. “With the new EU policy, there is a more urgent need for airlines to look into it. It’s no longer a plus — it’s a must.”

But who should bear the cost of switching from cheap plastic to something that might be more expensive? “We as an industry have a huge responsibility to find a way to offer solutions that actually are more sustainable without necessarily requiring customers to pay for it,” said Knagge.

Then again, there is a subset of flyers who are willing to assume the burden. “Someone has to pay the cost to do the right thing for the environment, and I don’t mind being that person as long as it’s reasonable and thought out,” said DiVenere.

An avid flyer like DiVenere may be more aware of plastic waste, and more motivated to address it, than your average traveler. He takes the initiative to ask attendants to refill his cup instead of bringing him a new one each time, and he created a video encouraging flyers to recycle the plastic wrapping that accompanies amenities like blankets.

“A flight to Australia is 15 hours — how many cups do you think an economy passenger goes through?” asked DiVenere.

CONTROL THE SUPPLY CHAIN

If the plastic used to transport food is an issue, one comprehensive solution is to become your own food supplier and thereby control more of the process yourself.

Singapore Airlines launched a farm-to-plane partnership with AeroFarms, resulting in an indoor, vertical garden that will produce salad greens for in-flight meals starting in September. The main purpose of this garden is to supply passengers with the freshest possible food, according to a representative, but there are potential waste-reduction benefits down the line associated with sourcing food close by, instead of flying it in from another continent.

The carrier is also replacing plastic stirrers with bamboo, and plastic straws with paper, starting in September, as well as making sure items like menu cards are made with certified sustainable paper.

Reducing plastics behind the catering scenes, where flyers can’t see, may not be the type of endeavor that goes viral like Skip the Straw, but is an important part of the plastic-reduction process. Ryanair, for example, is trying to source alternative packaging through its suppliers, to be rolled out in-flight and in the company’s offices by 2023, according to an emailed statement.

Ryanair wants to eliminate nonrecyclable plastics across its operations by that date as well, but declined to specify what falls into this nonrecyclable category. It’s worth noting that what constitutes “recyclable” varies greatly by location and available facilities — an estimated 91 percent of plastic is not recycled at all.

Etihad similarly has major room for error in its plastic-reduction efforts. The carrier has pledged to reduce its single-use plastic usage companywide by 80 percent by the end of 2022, including through its supply chain, but declined to say whether they’ve been able to measure their plastic usage in the first place, from which that 80 percent would be calculated.

Aviation suppliers are often motivated by their own sales at a cost to environmental sustainability, according to De Hauw. Using cheap, light, disposable packaging is a financial win for suppliers, but airlines need to explore their options, which vary from carrier to carrier. For example, there’s little reason to introduce a compostable material if local regulations require the airline to incinerate waste upon arrival.

“A circular [plastics] economy requires a collaboration and an open ecosystem of airports, caterers, and airlines to really truly make it work, and I think we’re far away from that right now,” she said.

By: Sarah Enelow-Snyder – Source:
https://skift.com/2019/05/29/plastics-in-airline-catering-raise-questions-about-carbon-emissions/

The Most Over-the-Top First-Class Airline Suites

If the 1960s were the Golden Age of travel, the twenty-teens are the diamond age. Gone are the cigarettes, La-Z-Boy-style seats, and pungent smells of jet fuel; in their place are massive suites, showers in the clouds, and caviar collections fit for a Russian czar. Don’t forget the bespoke bedding and bone china collaborations for in-flight afternoon tea, either.

While many airlines have folded their first class into business in the midst of strict corporate travel policies, a few have pushed their suites to soaring new heights. If you’re looking for the best in the sky, these first-class cabins are everything—and more.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites

Readers’ Choice Award-winning Singapore Airlines has doubled down in recent years to create what’s widely regarded as the single finest commercial flying experience. That’s not just hyperbole—at 50 square feet, it wins by measurement as well.

The fact that it starts with a trip to a lounge formally known as “The Private Room” never hurts, either. Here, Dom Perignon flows like water and the lounge feels downright serene. If anyone has ever levied a complaint against the lounge, it’s based on the fact that it’s too quiet, too polished, and too nice.

On board, you’re in a true suite, with a reclining swivel chair capable of facing out toward the windows for reflection or in toward the cabin for dining, a desktop for work, and separate bed. A tablet controls everything for you, from dimming lights to changing the lights’ colors. You can carry it with you throughout the suite, too, and use it whether you’re in your chair or lounging on the bed. And then there’s the 32″ television, which wouldn’t look out of place in most living rooms. Singapore also went one step further for traveling duos: certain suites can be combined to form a 100-square-foot palace in the sky.

Cathay Pacific Suites

Cathay Pacific’s first-class suite lacks many of the bolted-down features you’d expect on a list of the world’s top cabins. No, it doesn’t have a door, nor does it have a separate seat and bed. But if you ever wished a lie-flat seat could be your actual bed, it would be this one.

Booking into Cathay Pacific first class means you’re never let down at any point in your journey. Cathay’s lounge outposts in Hong Kong rival many of the finest five-star hotels in decor—and arguably in spa amenities, too. On board, it’s impossible not to revel in the handwritten welcome notes given to each guest, before the question of “Would you like a glass of Krug Grand Cuvee 2004?” is proposed. Cathay’s first-class beds are wide enough to comfortably sleep two, which makes them more than suitable for one. And when it comes time to hit the hay, the crew arranges each pillow, duvet, and mattress topper like a concerto from a grand master.

Air France La Premiere Class

There are first-class cabins with larger footprints and plenty more bling, but Air France’s first class is the epitome of sophistication. There’s high thread count bedding, crew who could pass most sommelier exams, and teams on the ground tasked with ensuring that every step of the journey is flawless. One example? Each passenger enjoys a private sedan from the lounge directly to their plane, bypassing the woes of the terminal entirely.

For those who’ve experienced the other end of the plane, the first thing to marvel at on board is the fact that you’ve got four windows all to yourself. Your seat, if you insist on degrading it by calling it as such, is the ultimate relaxation chamber. Because doors are boring, Air France introduced floor-to-ceiling curtains, which only intensify the feeling that you’re in a chic Parisienne bedroom, rather than a plane. This is an experience where 24-hour fasting beforehand should almost be mandatory, too, as the exquisite on-board tasting menu was designed by a rotating group of the world’s finest chefs.

Etihad A380 First Class

Located in the first rows of the Etihad Airbus A380 Upper Deck, the First-Class Apartments give “leg room” a new definition. The suite is more than just a seat that turns into a bed: it’s a seat and a separate bed, with enough room to do push-ups and work off all the fine dining you’re consuming. If you’re traveling with a companion, there are even suites where the privacy wall can be taken down to create a spacious cabin for two.

But why stop there? Etihad turned its airline menus into ingredient lists where guests can create bespoke dishes directly with on-board chefs. When you need a change of pace, there’s an on-board bar to mingle with other guests. Want a shower to wake you up before landing? Etihad’s first class has shower suites. Don’t ever underestimate the glory of a private shower after 10 hours in the sky at 39,000 feet.

Emirates 777 First Class

With virtual reality, zero gravity seats, and fabrics inspired by Mercedes-Benz interiors, Emirates’ new first-class suites are completely over-the-top. Perhaps what makes this experience so unique is the sheer notion that the middle seat is actually the best seat. For the new Boeing 777, Emirates offers two rows with three suites across, rather than the traditional four. To make sure that the middle seat passengers weren’t missing out, Emirates created virtual reality “windows,” which show the scenes going on outside in HD clarity. After a few glasses from the airline’s $500-million wine cellar, including favorites like Mouton Rothschild, no one would hold it against you for believing you’re in an actual window seat.

Emirates also commissioned top space engineers to create a zero gravity position in the first class seat, so you can feel as if you’re floating through the skies. And with a seat that comfortable, who wants to get up to flag down a top-up? Emirates created a FaceTime-style setup, where you can video chat with the crew to make any requests. They’ve also upgraded the TVs in these suites to 32″ HD monitors, while also introducing the only floor-,to-ceiling privacy doors found in the sky.

Source:

Airlines are canceling mistake fares faster but some errors still get through

Travelers love those insanely cheap fares that airlines sometimes post by mistake, such as when Cathay Pacific Airways in January sold $16,000 business-class tickets from Da Nang in Vietnam to New York for as little as $675 round trip.

But carriers have found a way to more quickly cancel those cheap mistake fares.

The Airline Tariff Publishing Co., an airline-owned clearinghouse that feeds fare information to more than 400 airlines, has upgraded its software to replace erroneous domestic fares within 15 minutes after they are distributed to online travel agencies, with international fares replaced within an hour.

Before the upgrade, the Virginia-based company, known as ATPCO, took an hour or longer to replace mistaken domestic fares and as long as a day to replace erroneous international fares.

ATPCO began installing the software upgrades to fix erroneous domestic fares last year and started addressing international fares in March.

The ultra-low fares are usually the result of human error when the prices are punched into the system by hand or when they are converted into foreign currency prices, experts say.

Airfare mistakes are rare — occurring only a few times each month among the hundreds of millions of fares posted daily by all the world’s airlines. But when mistakes happen, sharp-eyed travelers are quick to book the deals before the error gets fixed.

“The problem is less about how often it happens and more about the magnitude of the error,” said David Mark Smith, head of standards and industry relations for ATPCO, noting that word about a fare error can be spread across social media as fast as it takes to tap a keyboard button.

In fact, several websites now specialize in identifying mistakes and notifying travelers about the deals. The founders of such sites say the number of mistake fares hasn’t declined dramatically in the past year or so but they do disappear more quickly.

“The new ATPCO technology is an interesting step forward but not entirely foolproof, still allowing for the occasional error to slip through,” said Shahab Siddiqui, who founded Cheapflightsfinder.com.

Scott Keyes, the founder of Scottscheapflights.com, said he has identified 31 mistake fares in 2019 alone, including a $396 round-trip fare from Los Angeles to Fiji on Fiji Airways and a $377 round-trip fare from New York to Kenya on Kenya Airways.

To take advantage of erroneous fares, Keyes said, travelers have to be quick to buy the tickets and flexible about when they can take the flight.

“The more flexibility, the greater your ability to book a mistake fare,” he said.

Airlines in the U.S. are forbidden from raising the price of a ticket after it has been booked but federal law does not require airlines to honor fares that are published by mistake.

In the past few years, airlines haven’t been consistent about responding to mistaken fares, by honoring the erroneous fares on some occasions and other times canceling reservations on them.

Even with ATPCO’s new software fix, Smith said, airlines can lose tens of millions of dollars in the 15 minutes that erroneous fares are published.

“It’s constantly being evaluated for how big an issue it is in the market,” he said of mistake fares.

Among the biggest fare errors was the round-trip tickets that Hong Kong Airlines offered last year for a business-class seat from Los Angeles or San Francisco to several Asian cities for $561 — a fraction of the usual price.

Delta Air Lines mistakenly published one-way tickets in 2013 from Minneapolis to Baton Rouge, La., for $51, and tickets from Raleigh, N.C., to Philadelphia for $35, about one-tenth the normal price. Delta honored only those tickets that were paid for before the error was discovered.

In 2012, United Airlines published fares from the U.S. to Hong Kong for about $35. The carrier canceled all the reservations made for the mistake fare.

Keyes got the idea to launch his travel website in 2013 when he stumbled upon a nonstop, round-trip fare from New York to Milan, Italy, for only $130 — clearly a mistake.

Once his friends heard about the deal, they asked to be notified about the next ultra-cheap fare he found. Eventually, he launched a website that employs 40 people and searches for mistake fares and unadvertised, bargain tickets.

“They are still popping up quite a bit,” he said. “It’s really exciting. It’s the holy grail for travelers.”

Source:https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-airline-error-fares-20190522-story.html

Summer 2019 will break airline travel records, experts predict

The airline industry’s U.S. trade group is predicting another record for summer travel.

Airlines for America forecast Tuesday that 257.4 million people will fly on U.S. carriers between June 1 and Aug. 31.

That’s a 3.4 percent increase over last summer, and it works out to about 2.8 million travelers a day.

The trade group says airlines are adding 111,000 seats per day, more than the predicted 93,000 increase in daily passengers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average inflation-adjusted price for a domestic ticket has dropped for four straight years to the lowest level since the agency began tracking the fare prices in 1995. But those numbers don’t include all the extra fees that airlines now charge.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/travel/summer-2019-airline-travel-records-predict

5 things you need to know about booking a budget airline ticket, according to experts

With summer just around the corner, many people are looking to make their vacation budget stretch further. And for those looking to fly international, one option may be to use a low-cost airline.

But the budget airline industry has had a rocky 2019 so far, withIceland’s Wow Air ceasing operations in March and Russian airline Aeroflot experiencing a crash landing on May 5.

Yet travel and safety experts say that the vast majority of budget airlines are a safe bet for travelers looking to save a buck. But while you may not encounter any major issues, you are probably going to give up some amenities and comforts in order to save that money.

“Budget airlines have built their entire business model around charging cheaper fares across the board ultimately giving travelers the option to choose what they pay for,” Steve Sintra, Kayak’s regional director of North America, tells CNBC Make It.

Here’s a look at what you need to know before you purchase a ticket on an international budget airline.

1. Know what’s included in the ticket cost

It used to be that your airfare included not only a seat on the plane, but luggage storage, a meal or two and even a drink. But when you’re flying budget, those amenities are extra.

“Make sure when you’re booking your ticket, you know what is or isn’t included so there are no surprises when you get to the airport,” Sintra says.

  • Your bags

With most international low-cost airlines like AirAsia, Norwegian Air, EasyJet and Ryanair, the base fare includes a seat on that flight and a personal item that you can put under the seat in front of you. Checked luggage stored in the hold is almost always extra, but for some flights, even larger rolling carry-ons that you need to put in the overhead bins may be an additional fee.

“Their carry-on rules are much different,” says Charles Leocha, head of the consumer group Travelers United, tells CNBC Make It. Often the accepted sizes on international airlines are smaller than the traditional U.S. rolling carry-ons. For example, Ryanair only allows a personal item that fits under the seat in front of you with dimensions under 40cm x 20cm x 25cm (roughly 16 inches x 8 inches x 10 inches). Basically this is a purse, a laptop bag or a small backpack.

Plus, many of the budget airlines also have weight restrictions for all luggage, even carry-on bags. If you check-in with a carry-on that weighs more than 10 kilograms, about 22 pounds, you will typically have to pay a fee or check the bag. For example, Mexican-based Interjet allows you to bring a personal item like a purse and a carry-on,but both items have to be under 10 kilograms.

Even U.S. carriers have put major restrictions on carry-on bags these days, especially on U.S. budget airlines. Frontier, for example, charges a$35 fee for a carry-on bag (free for those with Elite status) if you purchase while booking online. It jumps to $50 if you wait to pay until you get to the airport and check-in.

Kayak has a Baggage Fee Assistant tool which lets you easily see whether your bags are included in the overall flight price when you’re searching for ticket options.

  • Your seat

In many cases, an international budget carrier will charge you extra for options like picking your seat, getting a meal and seatback entertainment. For example easyJet charges roughly $3 to $14 to pick your seat in the general cabin without extra legroom. You may even find that the actual seat is smaller than on a traditional carrier.

“Weigh the pros and cons before you book,” Sintra says. It may be that you’ll end up paying more in extras than you would buying a ticket on a traditional airline. If you’re traveling with family members, for example, you’ll likely want to sit near them, but that generally costs extra for each person. Norwegian Air charges €35 ($39) for seat selection per leg. For a family of four, that could add up to roughly $300 in extra flight costs.

“If you prefer the extra amenities you may want to consider an airline that you know has them,” Sintra says. That said, if you’re simply looking to get to your destination for the cheapest price, then it might be worth sitting next to a stranger in the middle seat or limiting your packing to a small carry-on.

1:02 This 29-year-old turned an obsession with cheap flights into a million-dollar business

2. Know where you’re flying to and from

One of the biggest surprises for those who don’t fly budget airlines is the airports. Many low-cost carriers use alternate hubs.

“You should look at this very carefully” when booking, Leocha says. If you’re flying to Venice, Italy, for example, EasyJet flies into the city’s main airport, Marco Polo. But Ryanair flies into Treviso Airport, which is about 25 miles outside of the city.

These alternate airports may also be smaller and have fewer personnel and amenities. Norwegian recently launched flights out of New York’s Stewart International Airport, for instance, which is in New Windsor, New York — over 60 miles north of Manhattan. The airport only has two restaurants: a Quiznos sandwich shop before security and a cafe after security.

Perhaps even more frustrating, there are only limited check-in, security and customs systems in place, which means it may take travelers longer to get through the airport at Stewart.

3. Know about the airline

When you’re searching for your flight, there are typically a dizzying number of options. You likely don’t have to do in-depth research on all of them, but it can be helpful to look up some information in advance to avoid headaches. “If it’s an airline I’ve never heard of before, I’ll check it out,” Leocha says.

First, you should check out their safety record and performance. The site Airline Ratings can be an excellent source to get a quick view of an airline’s safety rating, which they base on seven factors, including the International Air Transport Association’s Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification audit and the European Union’s Blacklist, which bans carriers it feels are too risky.

Cancellations and on-time performance are also major factors, especially if you have a connecting flight. FlightStats has an excellent database of airline performance, including low-cost carriers. Last month, easyJet flights operated on-time arrivals 80% of the time, while Ryanair had 88% of its flights arrive on schedule.

Yet travelers generally shouldn’t worry too much about an airline going under, despite the recent shut-down of Iceland’s Wow Air.

“It is very unlikely that a budget airline would go under without an earlier warning or indication,” Henrik Zillmer, CEO of AirHelp, tells CNBC Make It. Experts were speculating about Wow Air for months before it officially went under and ceased operation.

If you’re worried, Zillmer recommends doing a quick Google search to look at airlines’ previous performance and news before booking a flight.

3:50Here’s what it’s actually like to be a flight attendant

4. Know how to buy

When you go to book your ticket, it’s best to book with a credit card over a debit card. If there are any issues, the money is not coming from your checking account and you have the right to dispute the transaction.

Plus, there are several credit cards on the market, including Citi Prestige and both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve, that offer travel protections. These kick in if your luggage is lost or delayed, or you’re stranded because of a cancelled or delayed flight, or even if you have a medical emergency.

Booking through a well-known travel operator like Expedia or Priceline may also offer more protections, Zillmer says. For example, he says if an airline does go under before your trip, you may be able to claim a refund if you booked through a site like this.Travelers should always be aware of their rights in case something goes wrong when booking their flightsHenrik ZillmerCEO OF AIRHELP

It’s also worth noting that travel agents or partner airlines may also step up to refund or rebook you, depending on whether flights are covered by travel insurance. If a trip was booked as a package, coverage should be guaranteed, Zillmer says.

If you are booking directly with the budget carrier, be aware that its website may be difficult to navigate, so check everything carefully and be careful with translations.

“The websites can get a little funky,” Leocha says. If you do have issues, Leocha says he’s found that low-cost carriers are fairly responsive on social media. He’s cleared up several issues by shooting the airline a note on Facebook.

5. Know your rights

“Travelers should always be aware of their rights in case something goes wrong when booking their flights,” Zillmer says. And while the specific rights can vary by flight route or departure and arrival destinations, they can be a big help regardless of whether someone has travel insurance.

Unfortunately, travelers in the U.S. have the fewest protections, Zillmer days. Essentially you can seek compensation of up to $1,350 from an airline if you are denied boarding due to overbooking and you ultimately suffered a delay in arriving at to your final destination.

If you’re flying back from a European country to the U.S, flying on a European airline or flying within Europe, you have more protections. You can get up to $700 per person if your flight is cancelled or delayed more than three hours unless it’s deemed an “extraordinary circumstance,” such as a storm, medical emergency or political unrest. Under these conditions, airlines do not owe you anything.

In addition to financial compensation, if your flight is delayed more than two hours, you’re entitled to food and refreshments, as well as a hotel room and transport if the trip interruption requires an overnight stay.

“When you’re stuck waiting for the airline to get you back on track, you’re entitled to necessary assistance from the airline, depending on your situation,” Zillmer says.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/17/budget-airlines-what-you-need-to-know-before-booking-your-ticket.html