Flight News & Airline Gossip

 Updated – 16th October 2019

Flight News & Airline Gossip from around the World, just small bits of information that we feel you might be interested in.

 

Big rise in fraud attacks against airlines

Fraud attack rates against airlines have risen dramatically over the last year while attacks on the hotel sector have fallen.

According to the latest Fraud Attack Index from e-commerce fraud prevention specialists, Forter, attack rates on airlines have jumped 61%.

Forter said the increase can likely be attributed to the rise in loyalty programme issues and some related data breaches.

These include the British Airways breach that impacted customer information from around 380,000 booking transactions made in the summer of 2018.

“With such immense wealths of data available, fraudsters are focusing their attentions on account-based attacks and other forms of abuse in addition to transactional fraud attacks,” said the report.

Meanwhile, there has been a 10% drop in the number of fraud attacks against the hotel sector.

“Hotels have introduced friction-free experiences in order to provide their customers benefits and the best services. However, as a result of these more seamless experiences, there was a rise in fraud in this area, followed by countered efforts to increase friction in order to deter these fraudsters, thus the small decrease in rates,” the report explained.

Fraud attacks against car rental firms, trains and buses have increased by 38%.

“This increase is attributed to the fact that car rentals and ride services apply less friction in their platforms – ease of pick up in parking, no ID required, etc. – in order to remain competitive in the market and’¨for the perceived better customer experience,” said Forter.

“The push for an excellent and friction-free customer experience has created vulnerabilities in these platforms, which fraudsters have been targeting.

Across all industries, there has been a significant rise in loyalty fraud of 89%.

“A clear trend in online fraud is emerging,” said Michael Reitblat, CEO and Co-Founder of Forter.

“The industry as a whole has done a tremendous job detecting and preventing payment fraud at the point of transaction. This eliminates the amateurs. We’re seeing fraudsters now shift their efforts earlier in the customer journey, gaining access to consumers’ accounts.”

 

Jet2 adds more ski flights

Jet2 has added more ski flights to Grenoble from Birmingham, Manchester and Stansted this winter.

It has also launched a limited half-price offer on ski carriage.

In total, it has put more than 9,000 extra return seats on sale between December and April, a 33% increase.

Grenoble is the gateway to several popular French ski resorts, including Chambrousse, Alpe d’Huez and Les Deux Alpes.

The additional flights means that Jet2 will have more than 400,000 return seats for winter 19/20 to eight ski destinations including Innsbruck, Geneva, Salzburg, Turin, Lyon, Verona and Barcelona (Andorra).

Half price ski carrier of £30 return is available on all flights for bookings made by October 23 for travel between November 1 and April 30.

 

Red Sea Holidays announces new flights following Thomas Cook Airlines collapse

Egypt specialist Red Sea Holidays has announced changes to its flight schedule to Hurghada this winter following the grounding of Thomas Cook Airlines, on which it had taken capacity.

From mid-October, a weekly charter will be provided by Fly Egypt from Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester.

From mid-December until the end of April, the service will switch to European airline Enter Air.

“We were aware of the problems Thomas Cook were facing, and plans were already progressing with alternative airlines to secure additional aircraft,” said Red Sea Holidays MD Andrew Grant.

“Fly Egypt has the immediate capacity, operates a modern fleet of aircraft and allows us to quickly supplement the remaining operational flights out of the UK to Hurghada with three of our own.

“Enter Air flights beginning in mid-December will originate in the UK so flight departure times are more in line with the UK time zone.”

Fly Egypt will operate from mid-October on Mondays from Birmingham, Tuesdays from Manchester and from Gatwick on Fridays.

Enter Air will operate on Tuesdays from December 17 ex-Manchester, Thursdays from Birmingham and on Fridays from Gatwick.

 

Ryanair unveils five new routes

Ryanair has announced five new UK routes for summer 2020.

The new routes are Edinburgh to Bydgoszcz, Poland, and Manchester to Pisa, Italy, both twice a week, London Stansted to Cluj, Romania, and Kosice, Slovakia, three times a week and a weekly flight from Stansted to Terceira in Portugal.

Nine other services have also been added: Exeter to Alicante, Edinburgh to Bucharest, London Stansted to Dresden and Essaouira, London Luton to Krakow and Seville, Manchester to Katowice, Milan Malpensa and Prague.

Ryanair has launched a seat sale with fares on its UK routes available from £14.99, for travel until the end of November 2019, which must be booked by midnight Thursday (3 October), on its website.

 

Japan Airlines seat map shows where there might be a screaming child

Japan Airlines has released a new online seat booking feature which warns passengers where young toddlers will be sat on a flight.

Although a youngster under two won’t be allocated a seat, a ‘child’ icon appears on the seating plan when a passenger is travelling with children aged under two years.

JAL says it ‘lets other passengers know a child may be sitting there,’ although it says it will only show up for bookings made through direct channels.

Also it will not show if there is a last minute change of aircraft type.

The new feature has divided the opinion of air travellers.

Rahat Ahmed tweeted his praise of the new function.

“I had three screaming babies next to me on my [New York to Doha] flight two weeks ago.”

“This really ought to be mandatory across the board.”

Twitter user G Sundar was on the other side of the argument, saying it was unnecessary, while other advised to simply get noise cancelling headphones.

“They are babies, as we all once were. We need to learn tolerance or will soon start needing a map of seat locations for mouth breathers, droolers, farters, drunks, and perhaps a lot more things in life,” Sunder wrote.

 

Union says BA pilots are calling for more strikes

British Airways has upset pilots and unions by blaming pilots’ strikes for its profit warning yesterday.

BALPA said BA was being ‘disingenuous’ by blaming the industrial action on a £120 million hit to its business.

The union argued the strikes could have been avoided for £5 million, not counting the ‘huge cost of disruption’ to passengers and freight users.

BALPA said BA was wrong to lay all the blame on the strikes and should have also mentioned its recent IT issues and its GDPR fine.

Pilots had called off a strike planned for today to allow for a ‘period of reflection’, but say they have had no response from the airline.

BALPA said BA pilots believe their management is treating them with contempt and are now asking union bosses to consider more strike dates.

“This is proof that BA’s intransigence towards its pilots is economic madness,” said BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton.

“Their total disengagement is evidence of a senior management team that has lost the plot and doesn’t know how to resolve their dispute with their pilots.”

 

BA sets up additional accessibility support team

British Airways has set up a dedicated customer care team for travellers who require additional assistance.

The team of customer service professionals have received specialist training to enable them to answer questions customers have when they get in touch via phone or email and will help them understand what to expect during their journey.

The team will assist over half a million customers with disabilities who fly with BA each year. These enquiries were previously handled by the airline’s general customer service team.

They can help with making bookings, arranging bespoke assistance, pre-booking seats, informing airport staff and cabin crew about specific requirements and providing information and support to help more customers to have the confidence to fly

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience said 50,000 customers requiring additional assistance travel with BA every month.

In April, BA became the first and only airline to be awarded the Autism Friendly Award by the National Autistic Society and has now become the first airline to produce a Visual Guide to Flying to help customers prepare for their flight.

The guide, which can be found on the airline’s website ba.com, is endorsed by the National Autistic Society and explains the sights, sounds, smells and experiences customers may encounter during their journey.

 

Loganair adds six routes

Loganair has added six routes to its 2020 schedule.

New services to Norway: from Aberdeen to Haugesund in February and Newcastle to Bergen, from April, will serve the energy, oil and gas and maritime sectors, as well as Norway’s growing leisure market.

A new Aberdeen to East Midlands service, launching in February, will provide a link from the central region, while a new Aberdeen to Brussels service, commencing on October 28, will operate via Newcastle.

A Glasgow to Cardiff route, starting in February, will satisfy business and leisure customers, while a Newcastle to Guernsey service will begin in May for the summer season.

The developments are the latest phase of the Scottish airline’s ‘Where next?’ programme, expanding its route map both within the UK and across northern and mainland Europe – introducing 19 routes since the beginning of 2019 – now ranking as the UK’s fifth largest airline by number of flights operated.

Loganair now operates to a total of 36 destinations in seven countries, which includes more domestic options than any other carrier.

 

Norwegian offers up slots in cash crisis

 

Concern over the future of Norwegian Air was growing at the weekend after the airline in face of an imminent meeting with creditors said it was trying to extend the dates on which it is supposed to pay back US$380m (about £310m) in loans.

The Times reported last week that Norwegian was offering to sell its valuable take-off and landing slots at Gatwick as collateral “in a further attempt to shore up its finances”. The US news organisation CNN called it “a fight for survival”.One loan is due to mature in December and the other next August. The airline, which is the third largest at Gatwick after British Airways and easyJet, has asked for the deadlines to be extended to November 2021 and February 2022.

Norwegian has a week to make its case, with a bondholders’ meeting due next Monday, 16 September. Interim chief executive Geir Karlsen said: “What we are doing now is to make sure we have sufficient liquidity for the next 12 months.”

The airline last week said it had been affected by several problems including the forced grounding of its fleet of Boeing B737 MAX aircraft resulting in it having to axe its transatlantic

 

Crystal Ski adds Austrian resort this winter

Crystal Ski Holidays has added the Austrian resort of Hopfgarten to its programme for winter 2019/20.

It will feature two hotels – The Sporthotel Hohe Salve, which focuses on wellbeing, with a large outdoor pool, sun terrace, sauna, spa and gym, and the family-friendly half board Familotel, where children are upgraded to all-inclusive with all bookings.

The resort has direct links to Soll and the SkiWelt area and also offers horse drawn carriage rides, cross country skiing, snow tubing, torch lit descent, winter walking and tobogganing.

It is just over an hour’s transfer from Innsbruck and an hour and a half from Salzburg.

Earlier this year, Crystal also confirmed Drei Zinnen in Italy as a new resort for this winter season.

 

Wizz Air to launch flights from Southend

Wizz Air is to launch flights from Southend and two new routes from its established Luton base.

From November, it will offer flights to Bucharest in Romania and Vilnius in Lithuania from Southend.

It will also launch flights from Luton to Castellon in Spain and to Vienna. These will be the budget airline’s first flights from the UK to popular holiday and city break destinations in Spain and Austria.

Wizz Air, which is the largest airline to operate from London Luton with over 40% market share, also operates from Gatwick.

The Southend to Bucharest service will operate five days a week, while flights to Vilnius from Southend will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

The airline will offer a daily service from Luton to Vienna and flights on Monday and Friday from Luton to Castellon.

BA unveils new Club Suite

British Airways has unveiled its latest business class suite, Club Suite, on board its first Airbus 350 as part of its £6.5 billion investment programme

The aircraft landed at London Heathrow this weekend and is the first of 18 A350s due to be delivered. Four of the new aircraft are scheduled to join the fleet before the end of the year.

The newly-branded ‘Club Suite’ offers direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy and ‘luxurious’ flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.

BA said the suites give passengers 40% more storage, including a vanity unit and mirror, WiFi, 18.5-inch inflight entertainment screens, and PC/USB power.

The A350 aircraft have higher levels of humidity and refreshed air as cabin pressure equivalent to an altitude of just 6,000 feet.

They also have 25% lower fuel burn to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

The three-cabin A350 features 56 seats in World Traveller Plus with a new pillow and warm quilt, new amenity kits, an enhanced service and improved dining experience.

The World Traveller (economy) cabin has 219 seats with high-speed WiFi.

In phase two, which starts in September, the aircraft will begin long-haul flying to Dubai, followed by services to Toronto, Tel Aviv and Bangalore this year.

During this time another three A350 aircraft will join the fleet and two Boeing 777 aircraft will also be retrofitted with the new cabin.

At the start of 2020 BA will roll out its Club Suite on further long-haul aircraft across the network.

 

Airport hotel installs flight simulator

AvGeeks with a layover at Tokyo Haneda airport have a unique new way to pass the time.

A hotel close to the airport has installed a fully-featured flight simulator in one of its guestrooms.

The Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu is offering guests the opportunity to virtually take flight for a 90-minute simulator session with a qualified flight instructor.

A session costs 30,000 yen (about $277) or guests can book the room for an overnight stay for an additional $234.

Bookings for the ‘superior cockpit room’ go live on July 18.

Hotel PR manager Aki Hagawara says the hotel has received a lot of interest for sessions which simulates a flight from Haneda Airport to Osaka on a Boeing 737-800 jet.

It cost about $93,000 to install the simulator, Hagawara says, and the idea came from the hotel general manager.

Hagawara said it is a way for the hotel to stand out from the competition. It is targeting transit passengers as well as local aviation buffs, she added.

 

Boy evades Heathrow security to board US-bound BA flight

Police are investigating how a 12-year-old boy slipped through security and boarded a British Airways flight to Los Angeles without a ticket or boarding pass on Sunday evening.

The unaccompanied child was rumbled when cabin crew asked to see his boarding pass in order to direct him to his seat.

The boy, who is believed to be Dutch, was travelling on his own and refused to leave the aircraft when he was challenged, according to the Daily Telegraph. He was eventually removed by police.

The aircraft then had to be cleared and all passengers were security checked, delaying the flight by more than four hours.

It’s thought the boy was a transit passenger who had a ticket to an onward destination, but had then attempted to see if he how far he could get.

Passenger Rachel Richardson, who was heading to Los Angeles on a business trip, told the Telegraph: “The boy would not speak to the cabin crew and they were asking if anybody spoke Dutch. He would not help them understand where his bags were so the whole aircraft had to be cleared which meant we were almost more than four hours delayed taking off. It was very frustrating.”

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: “A 12-year-old boy boarded a BA flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles at around 17:15hrs on 14 July.

“He was identified by cabin crew during pre-flight check. He did not have a ticket or any travel documents.

“The boy was an unaccompanied minor. He is not a UK national. As a security precaution, passenger de-planed following a discussion between police and the captain.

 

 

France to introduce new air tax

France has announced it will introduce an ‘eco-tax’ for all flights departing from French airports from next year.

The amount will depend on the type of ticket, but will start at €1.50 for economy tickets within France or the EU and will rise to a maximum of €18 for long-haul business-class flights.

No tax will be imposed on flights into France.

The levy is expected to raise about £162 million from 2020, according to transport minister Elisabeth Borne. She said this would be invested in cleaner transport, such as rail.

The French government has tried to tighten environmental regulation, but last year president Emmanuel Macron was forced to abandoned plans for fuel tax rises after widespread protests.

 

Norwegian to drop London to Las Vegas flights

Norwegian is to drop its seasonal flights between Gatwick and Las Vegas this winter.

The route was launched in 2016 and was originally intended to be year round, but the airline suspended the service during the summer months.

At the time, it was alleged that the heat in Las Vegas was causing problems for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner operating the route.

The airline has now confirmed that it will not resume flights to Vegas this winter.

In a statement provided to Business Traveller a spokesperson said: “As Norwegian moves from growth to profitability, we have decided to discontinue our seasonal London-Las Vegas service following a comprehensive review of the route.”

Virgin Atlantic recently moved its Las Vegas service from Gatwick to Heathrow. British Airways operates flights to the city from both Gatwick and Heathrow.

 

 

Air Canada investigates how woman was abandoned on parked plane

Air Canada has launched an investigation into a woman’s claims that she was abandoned on a plane after she fell asleep during the flight.

Tiffani Adams claims she woke up several hours after the 90-minute flight from Quebec had landed in Toronto.

She claims she was still strapped in her seat, but the aircraft was dark and she was freezing cold.

Adams called a friend to tell her where she was, but then her phone died less than a minute into the call.

Her friend called Toronto Pearson Airport, but Adams claims she was only found when she used a torch she discovered in the cockpit to open the aircraft door.

She hung out of the door to signal to a baggage trolley operator, who managed to rescue her.

Air Canada has confirmed that the incident took place, which came to light via Ms Adams’ friends’ Facebook post. The airline said it is investigating but it has declined to comment further.

 

IAG orders Airbus extra long-range narrowbody aircraft

International Airlines Group has placed orders for eight Airbus A321XLR aircraft for Iberia and six for Aer Lingus, plus 14 options.

The extra long-range narrowbody aircraft will be used to expand both airlines’ existing longhaul fleets with first deliveries scheduled for 2023.

IAG said Aer Lingus will be able to launch new routes beyond the US East Coast and Canada. It is already taking eight A321neo LR on lease with the first delivery scheduled for this summer.

For Iberia, this is a new aircraft type that means it can operate new transatlantic destinations and increase frequencies in key markets.

Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “The A321XLR has the same unit cost as a widebody longhaul aircraft which will enable profitable network expansion. This will strengthen both Dublin and Madrid hubs providing new transatlantic routes and additional flexibility for connecting passengers. These aircraft will also bring further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits.”

 

High-tech escalators could transform airport experience

A glimpse of what airports could look like in the future has been unveiled on a design website, promising to cut check-in, security and immigration checks to less than a minute per passenger.

Called Aerochk, the concept would see travellers arrive at an airport and step straight on to a high-tech escalator.

According to the description on design inspiration website Imaginactive, passengers would place their passport on the left side of the machine and their luggage on the right.

A robotic passport conveyor would check if the passport is valid and if the individual is registered for a flight.

It would then check them in and perform all other necessary background checks, using facial recognition technology.

Their height and weight would be recorded to optimise the ‘weight and balance’ of the aircraft and other equipment would be used to identify passengers and determine if they pose a security threat.

The Aerochk could even ask questions and record vocal answers, and could be adapted for children or disabled travelers.

Meanwhile, a luggage conveyor would use various types of scanners to check if bags contain dangerous or prohibited items.

Each suitcase would be photographed, weighed, and automatically associated with its owner.

Larger bags would be diverted into the cargo hold while hand luggage would be picked up by passengers upon leaving the Aerochk.

“If a problem was detected on a suitcase or if more information is required, then it would be routed to a different exit and inspected by an airport agent,” say designers Charles Bombardier and Ashish Thulkar.

The concept is based on technologies that already exist, they add.

“The Aerochk also reduces the likelihood of human error which is prevalent in areas where large volumes of people are passing through.

“It is very easy for workers in airport security to miss contraband in luggage simply due to the excessive volumes that they have to process every hour.”

 

BA A350 unveils Club Suite

In a bid to outmaneuver Virgin Atlantic, whose new Upper Class will be revealed shortly, British Airways has launched what it calls its ‘Club Suite’ for both the A350 and Boeing 777. Delivery of the first A350 is expected in July.

It follows news of BA’s new look for its First Class cabins being introduced from 31 March, also as part of the £6.5bn revamp of customer service under way by the airline.

The newly-branded Club Suite (below) will have direct-aisle access, a door for greater privacy and flat-bed seats in a 1x2x1 configuration. Other features include 40% more storage, PC/USB power points, wi-fi and 18.5in inflight entertainment screens.

BA says its A350s will also promote “a feeling of well-being, space and calm” thanks to reduced noise levels, high ceilings and time-sensitive lighting plus higher levels of humidity and refreshed air with cabin pressure equivalent to an altitude of 6,000ft.

Along with the new 56-seat Club World cabin, the A350 will also feature the latest World Traveller Plus cabin, also with 56 seats, with new furnishings, enhanced service and improved dining.

The A350 will begin long-haul operations from 1 October as another three A350s join the fleet and two Boeing B777 aircraft are retrofitted with the new cabin.

The Club Suite: Direct-aisle access, a door for greater privacy and flat-bed seats.


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