New legislation following the death of a puppy onboard a United Airlines flight and a number of new flights lead this week’s air travel news agents should keep on their radar.
This week United Airlines was subject to controversy again when a puppy died after a flight attendant reportedly directed it be placed in an overhead bin. As reported by the Associated Press, two Senators have now introduced legislation that would bar animals from being stored in overhead compartments, and issue civil fines for violations. The U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating the animal’s death, and United has said that, by April, it will have issued brightly colored tags to passengers traveling with in-cabin animals to help flight attendants easily identify them.
In product news this week, Hawaiian Airlines launched a new Elite Status Extension program, which will allow Pualani Platinum and Pualani Gold members to extend their benefits after experiencing a prolonged medical leave. Such members who have gone through a maternal, paternal, or significant medical absence (lasting more than 12 weeks) and were prohibited from flying during that time can extend their current elite status for one additional year following a medical event without further travel activity. To qualify for Elite Status Extension, a HawaiianMiles member must be a Pualani Platinum or Pualani Gold member at the time that the medical event commences.
In flight news this week, Air France - KLM released its summer 2018 schedule, which represents a 4.1 percent increase in capacity for the airline group. Summer 2018 will see the launch of nine new long-haul services, including six from Paris - Charles de Gaulle. Air France will launch Nairobi (Kenya) and Seattle starting March 25; Taipei (Taiwan) starting April 16; and San Jose (Costa Rica) in continuation of the 2017 - 2018 winter season, while Joon will launch Fortaleza (Brazil) starting May 3 and Mahe (Seychelles) starting May 5. Air France will also add Atlanta to its departures from Pointe-a-Pitre (Guadeloupe), while KLM will add two departures from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport: Fortaleza (Brazil) and Mumbai (India), in continuation of the 2017-2018 winter season.
Also this week a pair of new routes were announced for London. Cobalt Air, the largest airline in Cyprus, announced plans for a new twice-weekly service from Gatwick to Athens on Tuesdays and Saturdays, starting March 31. The new route will have Cobalt’s newly developed business class product. At Heathrow, meanwhile, Hainan Airlines is launching nonstop service to Changsha Huanghua International Airport, starting March 23, on a Boeing 787. Following the roll-out of the Manchester-Beijing service, this will be Hainan Airlines' second direct flight between the United Kingdom and China.
Finally, this week Air Astana, the flag carrier of Kazakhstan, announced the launch of a new direct flight between Atyrau and Frankfurt, starting March 26. The new service will be operated twice a week on Mondays and Fridays using Airbus A321 aircraft in a two-class layout with 28 Business Class and 151 Economy Class seats.