Travel Notes: Airlines offering deals for extras
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Over the past four years, airlines have been charging for extras that were previously included in the price of a plane ticket, such as checked bags, food, drinks and pillows.
The trend may be reversing, with airlines starting to bundle those extras back together again.
American Airlines has announced that passengers who search for flights at AA.com will get several choices, ranging from a basic fare to a package that includes a ticket plus a free checked bag, early boarding, an onboard drink and the option to change flights without paying a penalty. It's an idea that has been seized by a few other airlines, including Air Canada and Frontier Airlines of Denver.
On Air Canada, the package deals carry names such as Tango, Latitude and Executive Class Flexible.
Frontier calls its deals Economy, "Classic and Classic Plus.
American Airlines says the new bundle deals are in response to requests from passengers for more flexibility and convenience. The Forth Worth carrier's deals also address passenger complaints that they are often caught off guard by the extra charges they face at the airport or on the plane, airline officials said.
"This is the right thing to do," said Rick Elieson, American's managing director of digital marketing.
Still, the reviews on American Airlines' Facebook page were mixed.
Some passengers said the new ticketing system makes it difficult to sort by price, departure time and arrival time.
"The old way was better -- this seems confusing," wrote a Facebook member from Miami.
But others liked the new offerings.
"Love this new website," said a Facebook user from Cambridge. "It's so easy!"
Mr. Elieson said American probably will tweak the Web page in the near future to address passengers' concerns.
Humor and safety videos
The Kiwis aren't the only airline workers with a sense of humor.
In the past few years, Air New Zealand Ltd. has produced several quirky airplane safety videos that feature nude flight attendants, fitness guru Richard Simmons and characters from the "Lord of the Rings" movies.
Delta Air Lines Inc. recently unveiled its own humorous safety videos, apparently the first by a major U.S. airline.
The two Delta videos include a robot passenger that turns itself off before takeoff, a warning sign prohibiting playing squash onboard and a passenger with two left feet, among other gags.
Delta said the videos are designed to get the attention of frequent fliers who have seen dozens of airline safety presentations over the years.
"The purpose of the video is very serious," said Mauricio Parise, Delta's general manager of marketing and communications. "But we want to make sure people are not disconnected with the message."
New lounge at LAX
Los Angeles is home to many stylish, exclusive nightclubs that draw some of the hippest crowds.
But the city's airport does not have such a cool reputation. In fact, a survey of 1,500 fliers last month ranked Los Angeles International Airport as one of the nation's three most stressful airports.
That may be changing.
Virgin America, which is based in San Francisco, last week opened at LAX a new passenger lounge, dubbed the Virgin America Loft. It is bathed in purple and red mood lighting and furnished with upholstered, wheel-shaped seats and flat-screen televisions. In addition to high-end snacks, the lounge offers guests a menu of aviation-themed drinks, including Lofty Lemonade, Jet Stream Spritzer and the Mile-High Margarita.
Meanwhile, Petrossian, the high-end eatery with restaurants in New York and West Hollywood, announced plans to open a caviar and champagne bar at the airport. The new restaurant is part of a $4.1-billion modernization effort at LAX.
Gina Marie Lindsey, the executive director of the agency that runs the airport, said the upgrades are meant to "offer a sense of place, reflecting the culture, cuisine and trends of Los Angeles."
First Published December 23, 2012 12:00 am