Just in time for the recent busy holiday travel season, American and United both launched automated screening lanes in order to help lessen the bottleneck in the TSA checkpoints, a serious problem travelers faced in summer 2016.
The two airlines followed the lead of Delta, which partnered with TSA in May 2016 at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. Delta underwrote $1 million dollars of the total TSA investment to bring the automation to the Atlanta airport.
The automated screening lanes feature the following innovations:
- Stainless steel countertops that enable several passengers to place their items in bins simultaneously;
- Automated conveyor belts that draw bins into the X-ray machines, and return them to the front of the queue;
- Bags identified as a potential threat are automatically pushed to a separate area to allow bins behind it to continue through the screening process uninterrupted;
- Property bins that are 25 percent larger than the bins in standard screening lanes in order to accommodate roller bags; Read more
If you fly American or US Airways, you may just find a good use for that baggage claim ticket you receive when you check your bag at the ticket counter. No longer is it only useful if you actually lose your bag.
Now you can use the information it contains to track your bags in real time.
This new free service is an effort by American to reduce the number of bags it reports as lost to the US Department of Transportation. (You probably didn’t know they had to do that, did you?)
In the July 2015 report (interesting reading for a travel nerd), American ranked 10th out of 13 carriers, with four bags lost for every 1,000 passengers it transported.
That doesn’t sound so bad, but compared to the top three with the least number of bags lost — Virgin America (less than one bag for every 1000 passengers), JetBlue (1.68/1000), and Delta (1.82/1000) — maybe American felt it was time this process issue was addressed.
In order to track your bag, all you have to do is go to AA.com/baggage and click the “track your bags” link. Enter your last name and either your record locator (which is on your boarding pass) OR baggage ID number from your baggage claim ticket, and you can see a record of each of the six times your bag will be scanned from check-in to baggage claim carousel loading.
The tracking feature is currently available on American’s standard and mobile sites, but has not yet been incorporated into its mobile app.
In our next article, we’ll tell you how USDOT actually determines what constitutes a “lost” bag.
Have you ever suffered a lost bag on a recent trip? What happened? How did you manage? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page.
First class is officially getting an upgrade. American Airlines recently released its new transcontinental fleet at JFK airport. Perhaps the most impressive is the new Airbus A321, which will run from JFK to LAX and SFO (Los Angeles and San Francisco). This particular plane is positioned to be American Airlines’ answer to JetBlue’s new premium product, the aptly named ‘Mint’, which will also run from JFK to LAX or SFO. There are many similarities between these new planes, so how do they compare?
To start, American Airlines’ A321 is the first plane to offer a three class cabin featuring first class, business class and coach. JetBlue, however, only offers two levels: coach and Mint. Both airlines will offer fully-lie flat seating. On American’s A321, lie-flat seating will be available in both first and business class. Additionally, AA will offer Main Cabin Extra seating for an additional fee, which offers six inches of additional legroom.
If sleeping on planes isn’t your thing, you’re in luck: both carriers offer extensive entertainment options via personal in-seat entertainment. American will offer a 9-inch HD-capable touchscreen with up to 120 movies, 180 TV shows, 350 audio selections and 30 games in addition to wifi via Gogo. JetBlue’s Mint service will offer 15 inch interactive video screens featuring up to 100 channels from DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio and access to Fly-Fi, which claims to be the industry’s first high-speed satellite-based Internet service.
When it comes to meal options, JetBlue appears to be the winner. While American Airlines will offer the ability to order entrees before your flight, JetBlue is kicking things up a notch: they’ve partnered with renowned New York restaurant Saxon + Parole to create a unique small-plates menu. Additionally, Mint passengers can enjoy full-bottle wine service.
While both flights will also offer complimentary amenity kits, Mint has taken theirs to the next level by partnering with Birchbox. Each kit will be filled with “editor-approved” beauty, grooming and lifestyle products and treats.
With amenities like these, long-haul transcontinental flights are looking more and more appealing. With first class amenities such as these, we wouldn’t mind a few extra hours spent in-flight…
It’s no secret that celebrities tend to get the red carpet treatment wherever they go. You’ve likely heard of many instances where high-powered individuals have been allowed to skirt the law or gotten away with things the average citizen would be chastised or jailed for. However, unfortunately, for one rule-bending celebrity, American Airlines has decided to put their foot down in order to ensure all of their passengers play by the rules.
Several months ago, actor Alec Baldwin was booted from an American Airlines flight leaving from LAX for unruly behavior. According to sources, the actor refused to turn off his cell phone. When asked to power down his device, he reportedly became angry, ignored the seatbelt light, and stormed into the bathroom while calling the flight crew inappropriate names.
After being ejected from the flight, Alec Baldwin promptly took to Twitter to publicly express his frustration over the situation, stating, “Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving. #nowonderamericanisbankrupt.”
Within minutes of posting this tweet, the actor’s tweet received hundreds of retweets and created quite a buzz online. Unfortunately for Mr. Baldwin, American Airlines quick-thinking PR and social media team decided to put their foot down. Within five minutes of the actor’s tweet, American responded with a message of their own.
The next morning, American Airlines posted an official statement to its Facebook page, and reporters and bloggers were directed to the page for further information. The post went on to receive more than 6,000 likes, 27,230 comments, reached roughly 38 million people, and arguably succeeded in making an important point: everyone should comply with FAA rules and not act inappropriately toward the cabin crew, regardless of their name or status.
Unfortunately, Alec Baldwin isn’t the first celebrity to have created an in-flight disturbance. Other unruly celebrity passengers include the likes of Josh Duhamel, Naomi Campbell, Ivana Trump – and famously, French actor Gerard Depardieu, who caused a two hour delay on a flight from Paris to Dublin after urinating in the flight cabin in front of other passengers.
Do you agree with American Airlines’ response to the situation? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
- American Airlines calmly handles celebrity blow-up (prdaily.com)
If you’ve flown American Airlines out of a larger U.S. city recently, you may noticed that something has changed about the check-in process: passengers are now able to tag their own baggage.
The aptly named “Self-Tag” program (which was initially tested in Austin, Texas late last year) works in conjunction with American Airlines’ current self-check-in kiosks.
Now, in addition to using self-serve kiosks to check into their flight, you can also identify the number of bags you want to check and print baggage tags and claim tickets along with your boarding pass and receipts.
American Airlines hopes that the Self-Tag system will free up more agents to work with travelers, but to also speed up the check-in process. In addition, agents will be available during check-in to lend assistance, and passengers who want to check their baggage the traditional way may still do so.
In a statement, American’s Vice President at Miami International Airport Marilyn DeVoe said, “Self-tagging brings us one step closer to a modernized, efficient new American by offering our customers more choices along their journey and more ways to customize their travel experience.”
American Airlines passengers can test out the new Self-Tag system at the following airports:
- Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
- Orlando International Airport (MCO)
- Reagan National Airport (DCA)
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Denver International Airport (DEN)
- Miami International Airport (MIA)
American Airlines isn’t the only airline to offer this service – in fact the “DIY Baggage” trend has already been adopted by other major airlines, including WestJet and Alaska Airlines. So far, it appears to have worked quite well – American Airlines reports that the new system has been shown to speed up check-in times by roughly 55%.
If the Self-Tag program and other self-serve programs like it continue to be well-received, we anticipate that many other airlines will begin to roll out similar programs. Now that the flight and baggage check-in process has become self-service, we’re curious to see what other self-serve options airlines will introduce in the near future.
- British Airways Announces New Electronic Baggage Tags (tomshardware.com)
- Baggage Fees Turn Five Years Old; Passengers Turn Blase (wnyc.org)
- Self-Service at Airports Tag, You’re It (sealtagscn.wordpress.com)
Have you noticed that at the airport, when a plane is preparing to board passengers, there’s usually a group of people who hover? You know what I mean — the travelers who pace back and forth by the airline desk, ready to jump into line as soon as their section is called for boarding. Maybe these passengers feel as if the act of standing in line is an improvement on sitting in the waiting area. Maybe they just want to get on the plane and get settled. Whatever the reason, there’s something about boarding the plane early that passengers seem to enjoy.
American Airlines has picked up on this early boarding obsession, and here’s the the latest travel-related rumor – American Airlines is testing a new boarding procedure which asks passengers to board the plane depending on whether or not they have carry-on luggage. The test is apparently happening in several airport locations, and on randomly selected flights.In this new beta boarding procedure, the elite travelers and business class passengers are asked to board first as usual. But immediately following these groups, passengers without carry-on luggage are asked to board, regardless of their seating zone on the plane. At least, that’s the way it happened for John DiScala, frequent business traveler and editor of travel website JohnnyJet.com.
This test of shortening boarding time is likely a method American Airlines is using to both save money AND to make money. The idea is, getting the low-maintenance passengers in their seats first can potentially shave a few minutes off boarding time.
And according to DiScala’s story in the LA Times, every minute saved on boarding can save an airline $30. That may not sound like a lot of money, but it can add up fast. Plus, passengers who truly love the early boarding policy might be incentivized by this new boarding procedure to check their bags upon arrival, even if it means paying an extra luggage fee.
Whatever the reasoning behind American Airlines testing this new boarding procedure, it seems like process improvements and efficiency are the primary goals. Only time will tell if a new boarding procedure like this one eventually is rolled out for the rest of us to experience.
- American will favor passengers without roller bags (seattlepi.com)
- No roller bag? Then board first on American Airlines (seattletimes.com)
- Airline’s perk to speed up boarding time (fox13now.com)
The announcement that an airline is introducing a new fare structure is typically met with a resounding groan among consumers. American Airlines recently announced that they are introducing an optional new fare structure which will result in an extra $68 – $88 per trip for economy class tickets, and — believe it or not — travel experts are actually applauding these new fares!
So why is this fare increase getting so much praise.
And why is it optional?
According to an Associated Press story, it’s American Airlines’ way of offering increased pricing transparency to their customers. Airline fees have become a hot topic lately, and like every other major airline, American Airlines has received their fair share of complaints — especially regarding baggage fees and the standard $150 fee they charge for reservation changes.
Rick Elieson, American Airlines’ managing director of digital marketing, said the new fare structure “will eliminate the fear about what-ifs.”
Here’s how each tier of American Airline’s new fare structure is broken down, and what customers can expect to receive at each level.
- Choice Level: This is the normal ticket structure current AA passengers are accustomed to. Fares will remain the same, as will the fees for checked bags and reservation changes.
- Choice Essential: At an extra $68 per round trip, this level includes a complimentary checked bag, the ability for travelers to change their itinerary with no added fees and early boarding.
- Choice Plus: At $88 per trip, this level includes everything that Choice Essential does (complimentary checked bag, free reservation changes and early boarding) in addition to bonus miles for frequent fliers, standby privileges, free in-flight drink, and more.
With checked bags costing customers $50 per round trip for one bag, travelers that opt into one of the upgraded price levels will be paying $18 – $38 more per trip — however, the added cost may be well worth it for those that may need to change their reservation — or simply for those that enjoy a few extra perks.
- US Air/American Airlines merger may result in more travel fees (voicerussia.com)
- US Airways-American Merger: Where Some Safety and Consumer Advocates May Differ (forbes.com)
- American Airlines says it will add nine destinations from LAX in 2013 (aviationblog.dallasnews.com)