This week in air travel the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) granted tentative approval for new service to Tokyo’s Haneda airport on the “big three” U.S. carriers: United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta.
For United, the decision granted four daily nonstop flights to the airport, which will run from the airline’s hubs at Newark Liberty International Airport, Chicago O’Hare, Washington Dulles and Los Angeles International Airport.
American was tentatively granted approval for a new daily flight from Dallas – Fort Worth and a second daily flight from Los Angeles. Delta, meanwhile, was granted permission for flights from Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Portland and Honolulu.
The new flights can begin pending completion of an aviation agreement between the governments of the United States and Japan later this year. United and Delta say they could begin service by summer 2020, while American says it could begin sometime next year.
In other air travel news from Japan, this week ANA and Panasonic partnered to test self-driving electric wheelchairs at Tokyo’s Narita airport. Part of a larger project to improve accessibility at Narita, the wheelchairs will be able to safely navigate through the airport independently, allowing them to help customers catch connecting flights – particularly helpful when connections involve walking long distances through the airport. The wheelchair is capable of independently detecting and avoiding people and obstacles, following a predetermined leader to its destination.
Elsewhere in the world, this week Alaska Airlines and El Al Israel Airlines expanded their commercial relationship to include a reciprocal frequent flyer agreement. The new deal is in addition to the codeshare that recently came into effect between the two airlines, and it will allow members to earn miles while flying with the partner airline. Base miles flown on EL AL will also count toward elite status in Alaska's Mileage Plan program. Additionally, EL AL travelers will be able to redeem their EL AL Matmid miles to book on Alaska flights in the future.
Finally, in other airport news, this week American opened its newest Flagship Lounge at Dallas – Fort Worth. Located in Terminal D, the new lounge will be open to customers traveling in Flagship First and Flagship Business class, offering space to work and unwind with lounge-style seating, showers and wireless chargers. Food will include a variety of hot and cold entrees, such as Texas brisket in adobo sauce, Korean-style chicken wings and sushi, as well as a rotating check action station with made-to-order omelets and Asian-style pancakes. Wine, champagne and local craft beer will also be available.