Air travel saw quite the rebound this summer, and many passengers paid the price while waiting in long lines and managing countless delays and cancellations. It’s not all bad news though. Looking ahead, the airline industry has some good things in store to improve the travel experience and hopefully get passengers to their destinations with less frustration. Fire up those airline credit cards and refresh those loyalty miles and points accounts because this fall promises a busy travel season ahead. Here are some of the latest airline and airport updates to expect for the rest the year and beyond.
American drops Flagship First, redesigns business class
American is the latest airline to add doors to its business class cabin. In the next few years, its existing (and new) Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and Airbus A321XLR aircraft will be retrofitted with the upgraded business class seat, dubbed Flagship Suite, with a sliding door to add privacy. The change means that the oneworld member will retire its Flagship First cabin; it is the last North American airline to offer a proper first class.
A new premium economy seat will also replace the existing model on these planes. The airline’s logo will feature prominently in the newly designed cabin on bulkhead and accent walls as well as in the seat trims and passenger amenities like duvets. By 2026, American says it will grow its premium cabin seats by more than 45%. The existing fleet of Airbus A321T transcontinental planes will lose first class in favor of an all Flagship Suite-premium cabin so that the planes in the coming years.
American Airlines intros new design for Admirals Club
On the heels of its impending opening of the Washington, D.C. Reagan National Airport (DCA) opening, American Airlines is debuting a new design for all of its Admirals Club lounges network-wide. An outside architectural partnership led to the new look, which features a residential style with modern fireplaces, natural wood and a more sustainable design. It will take awhile to see the full rollout, but the first few lounges to showcase the new design besides DCA will be Austin, Denver and Newark.
Delta updates premium economy class amenities
Passengers flying in Delta’s Premium Select cabin have more to look forward to with an upgraded inflight food and beverage experience plus several new onboard amenities. After takeoff, passengers will be treated to a “bubbles and bites” experience with sparkling wine and a small snack. Once the meal service begins, Premium Select passengers will have more options to choose from (like braised beef short rib with fingerling potatoes and dijon green peppercorn jus or Impossible Meatballs with polenta, pomodorini sauce and broccolini and stewed greens).
Meals will come on more sustainable service ware. The new bagasse plates are made from sugarcane plant fiber, and they will be served on elegant linen-lined trays with silver utensils and glassware. Also new are updated amenity kits, memory-foam pillows and Grown Alchemist toiletries in lavatories for this in-between”
Emirates boosts inflight service with $2 billion upgrade
Already favored among many travelers for its high service standards, Emirates is investing another $2 billion into the onboard product with a particular focus on premium cabins. More than 120 planes will receive new interiors in all cabins including new or reupholstered seats and paneling. The first class cabin will see some impressive changes including the option for unlimited Persian caviar paired with Dom Perignon vintage Champagne. New menu choices will include pan-fried salmon trout with moqueca sauce and creole rice and roasted duck breast with orange thyme jus.
There will also be a menu of cinema snacks including lobster rolls, sliders, edamame and popcorn. A new vegan menu is on the way as well as updated meal choices for business and economy class. Many flights from Dubai will feature salads using greens harvested from the world’s largest vertical farm, Bustanica.
Turkish Airlines uses lanyards for hidden disabilities
The Sunflower Lanyard Project, which was started in 2016 in the United Kingdom, helps travelers with hidden disabilities and mobility issues to navigate the airport at their own pace while managing their anxiety. Turkish Airlines added the program across its network, which features more destinations than any other airline in the world, to make traveling less stressful. Sunflower lanyards are a symbol of invisible disabilities around the world. Passengers can request one at check-in to use during their journey.
Delta adds Premium Select cabin to Hawaii flights
The airline’s premium economy cabin, Premium Select, will soon be available on its long-haul flights to Hawaii this winter. It will be available on flights between Atlanta and Maui, Salt Lake City and Maui, and New York JFK and Honolulu. This is the first time that the full premium economy experience is available on a Delta domestic flight. Premium Select features a wider seat with greater recline and a foot rest. It is in a separate cabin where passengers are treated to an amenity kit, noise-canceling headset, upgraded meals and beverages, blanket and memory-foam pillow.
Delta expands international flight and lounge network
Delta Air Lines is making big moves internationally as well with new flights launching from several of its gateways. The airline is adding nonstop service from its Atlanta hub to both Cape Town and Tel Aviv as well as nonstop service between Los Angeles and Papeete in Tahiti. Service to Cape Town and Papeete start in December with the Tel Aviv flight starting next May. At Tokyo Haneda airport in Japan, Delta also opened the first and only U.S.-based airline lounge with a new Sky Club. The facility offers five shower rooms, a noodle bar, private phone booths, and a menu of both international and Japanese food and drinks.
JetBlue adds new onboard snacks
Already known for its wide selection of free (and plentiful) onboard snacks for all passengers, JetBlue is adding more munchies to its lineup. Chifles Plantain Chips and Simply Stellar Vegan Butter Pretzel Braids are coming soon to a flight near you. The new snacks have a feel-good background, too. The plantain chips (made by a Cuban immigrant who used to sell plaintain chips on the street) are low-sodium and gluten-free. The pretzel braids are produced by a mother-daughter team in Nevada, said to be the only female-owned pretzel manufacturer in the country.
Priority Pass adds 5 British Airways lounges to network
Priority Pass members flying from or through the United States have five new lounges to enjoy. British Airways put five of its lounges into the program for members to visit during the slower operational hours of the day before the carrier’s own passengers arrive. The participating lounges are in Baltimore, Newark, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma and Washington Dulles airports. Priority Pass is a global lounge membership program with more than 1,300 lounges. Many credit cards offer membership as one of their many perks including the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card from American Express, The Platinum Card from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred among others.
New app Flighty pre-empts airline delay notifications
With a record number of flight delays and cancellations this summer, many travelers are especially frustrated. A new app called Flighty can help ease some of the pain. It is able to track flights and travel data to alert flyers about delays and cancellations often before an airline does. It also logs all of your upcoming and historical flights into a visual graphic. The free app has been installed on every iPad in the Apple Store across the U.S. and is also available for download.
Singapore Airlines cabin crew celebrate national day
Singapore Airlines created a video to celebrate the country’s 57th birthday and show unity following the border closure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Members of Singapore Airlines Cabin Crew Music Society and Performing Arts Circle sang “We Will Get There,” and posted the video on YouTube for others to enjoy from home or abroad.