Air Travel: AA Updates Support Animal Policy, New Hawaii Flights

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Another update to American Airlines’ policy on emotional support animals and Southwest’s new flights to Hawaii lead this week’s air travel news. 

American’s latest updates to its policies regarding emotional support animals follows a series of changes the airline made in May 2018 that included placing restrictions on animal types and adding pre-clearance notifications; those changes were part of a series of policy updates from major U.S. carriers after a number of high-profile incidents involving animals onboard aircraft. 

As part of the latest changes, which are effective for travel on or after April 1, 2019, a traditional service animal may be a dog, a cat, or, in some limited circumstances, a miniature horse. Emotional support animals will be limited to either a dog or a cat only, and a customer may only bring one. The airline will also require a Veterinary Health Form, along with immunization details, for emotional support animals, and animals under four months of age will no longer be permitted to travel as service or support animals, because they usually have not received necessary vaccinations. 

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In another policy update from American Airlines, this week the airline announced a relationship with Hyatt Hotels on a new loyalty program collaboration. The agreement will allow elite members of both the American Airlines AAdvantage and World of Hyatt loyalty programs more access to earning both points and miles on qualifying American flights and Hyatt hotel stays. In addition to World of Hyatt points earned through Hyatt hotel stays, AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey members will be able to earn one AAdvantage bonus mile for every eligible pound spent at qualifying Hyatt properties. On top of earning more miles, American’s invitation-only ConciergeKey members will receive World of Hyatt Globalist status. In addition to AAdvantage miles earned by flying on American, World of Hyatt Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist members will be able to earn one World of Hyatt bonus point for every eligible pound spent on qualifying American flights.

Additionally, AAdvantage Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members, and Explorist and Globalist World of Hyatt members, will have the opportunity to participate in limited time status challenges. Upon registering, these members will be able to immediately enjoy their new loyalty benefits in the reciprocal program tier as they work to maintain that elite tier status. AAdvantage elite members will have access to World of Hyatt elite status benefits, including a dedicated check-in area, late check-out upon request, room upgrades and free premium internet. World of Hyatt elite members will have access to AAdvantage elite status benefits such as priority boarding, free checked bags, free preferred seats and more.

In flight news, this week saw Southwest Airlines open bookings for its first Hawaii routes. The first flights, which will run between In its latest update, the carrier reports that its inaugural flight to the state will take place March 17 between Oakland and Honolulu, followed by the airline’s first flight between Oakland and Kahului on April 7. After that, the airline will begin two routes from San Jose: to Honolulu starting May 5 and to Kahului starting May 26. 

Southwest will also begin operating its first inter-island service within Hawaii, between Honolulu and Kahului. The service will operate four times daily in each direction, starting April 28. The carrier will also begin flying four times daily in each direction between Honolulu and Hawaii Island starting May 12. Southwest says that the additional inter-island service will enable connecting service between Kona and both Oakland and San Jose. 

Additional service details, including plans for previously announced gateways of San Diego and Sacramento, and for Lihue on Kauai, will be announced in the coming weeks, Southwest said. 

In Europe, this week saw the launch of a new codeshare partnership between Virgin Atlantic, Air France and KLM. The partnership offers Virgin Atlantic customers up to 58 new routes from 18 UK airports across the Atlantic via Paris and Amsterdam, while Air France and KLM customers will have access to 24 new North America routes operated by Virgin Atlantic/Delta departing the UK, including connections via London Heathrow or Manchester.

Finally, in airport lounge news, this week saw the opening of a new Star Alliance lounge at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. The lounge, which will be available to First and Business Class passengers and Star Alliance Gold Card holders, as well as eligible paid lounge members of the Air Canada Maple Leaf Worldwide Club and United Club programs, is located airside in the Departures 2, Schengen Area on the Panorama terrace level. The lounge offers guests free Wi-Fi, standard and USB power outlets, a luggage storage area, individual work booths, communal work table, dining area, bar area, relaxation area and a wine bar. Amenities feature a serviced bar during afternoon hours, beer on tap, a complimentary buffet with hot and cold meal options, flight information, business services such as printing and scanning, complimentary reading material and personal care amenities upon request.

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