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US airfares soaring high

There are still ten more months for the Bermuda II treaty that constricts flights from Heathrow to US airports to run before the Open Skies agreement comes into effect. Only two UK and US airlines (American, United, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic) may fly between Europe’s busiest airport and the US. There is a strong competition between the airlines which due to which there is an increase in airfares this summer. The fares for the benchmark Heathrow-New York JFK route are reaching £700 return on these four carriers, and rising at weekends in July and August. The very cheapest London-New York fares traveling out on peak dates such as 21 July, back on 4 August, are for connecting flights via Montreal or Toronto on Air Canada, typically £475 through www.expedia.co.uk. Air India serves JFK daily, with peak fares at £577 return through www.travelocity.co.uk for departures on 21 July, returning 4 August. There are thrice-weekly flights to Chicago which Air India has. The Indian carrier charges £1,247 return to Chicago when booked through www.airindia.com. Air New Zealand has daily non-stop flights from Heathrow to Los Angeles. On peak weekend dates in summer for under £800 through www.opodo.co.uk, an economy ticket is available. There are some bargain fares provided by BA for Club World tickets to North America. You can reach California for £1,598 return through www.ba.com. Image Credit Source: The Independent

Business-class cabins to get more comfortable

Several airlines are planning to make their business class cabins more comfortable with new cushier seats, more lie-flat beds, gourmet food and high-tech entertainment. Among those major airlines that have announced the upgradation of their international cabins are American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. Some major carriers in Europe and Asia are already investing for the upgradation of their business-class cabins and few others will announce their plans at the National Business Travel Association convention scheduled to take place next week in Boston. British Airways plans to change the seats of the business class cabins of its planes. There will be lie-flat seats and an individual entertainment system. Also, there will be a self-serve kitchen stocked with sandwiches, fruits, snacks and drinks. The seats of American Airline planes will also be outfitted by the year-end. By the end of this year United plans to retrofit its international business-class cabin at the NBTA. All-business-class flights between Newark and Frankfurt will start in October with 44 lie-flat seats per jet. Soon, you will get premium comforts in several airlines but you’ll have to shell out more to get it. Source: USA Today

Several airlines offer spacious seats in bid to attract travelers

No doubt, several airlines have been offering comfortable in-flight sleeping options for many years. But these days, several airlines are taking steps to provide more comfort to the travelers, one such step is business-class service on the carriers. In fact, the competition for business-class service is heating up. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Swiss Airways and Cathay Pacific are such airlines that have introduced business-class lie-flat and flat-bed seats long back. The airlines are providing facilities a private suite, in-flight manicures, complimentary ground transportation to and from airports. United Airlines has recently announced that it’ll make changes in its international business-class airline seats. The revamped seats will recline to a 180-degree, 6-foot, and 4-inch bed. These seats will be available in planes this fall. Qantas recently joined the race and unveiled plans to provide suite-like seating aboard planes in 2008. Delta also plans to lie-flat seats in its BusinessElite cabin. Business-class seats on the United carriers offer video on-demand on a 15.4-inch television, iPod-playing capability through an in-flight entertainment system, a USB port and power outlet, and noise-canceling headphones. So, if you wish to travel in great comfort, make sure to book the right flight. Source: MSNBC

Paper airline tickets to be abandoned by 2008

Three years ago International Air Transport Association (IATA) launched its drive for Internet booking and electronic ticketing (e-ticketing). There are so many airlines such as British Airways, Ryanair and Easyjet that are already paper-free. Now IATA plans to expand the electronic ticketing facility and abandon paper tickets totally by next June. It is said that the changeover will not only help cut airlines’ costs by $9 for every traveler but would also help the industry save 50,000 mature trees a year. China is one of the fastest-growing markets for air travel and is heading to be the first country in the world to operate an entirely paper-free ticketing system by the end of this year. Source: Reuters

British Airways to introduce biometric security checks at Heathrow

To heighten the security, British Airways plans to introduce a new biometric security system at Heathrow Terminal 5 when it opens in March next year. Terminal 5 is the biggest aviation project in Europe that will host British Airway’s entire Heathrow operation and extra checks on passengers have been introduced following the recent security threats. The passengers will have their fingerprints checked and faces scanned when they pass through the regular security check, and they’ll have to undergo a security check again before they board the plane. Domestic passengers departing through Terminal 5 will have to undergo the biometric security check but International passengers will be subject to the normal checks and controls and will not undergo these biometric checks. British Airways spokesman said: The biometric system basically adds another level of security and ensures that people can’t swap tickets or go on flights they weren’t supposed to go on or whatever else they may be up to. The biometric security check has been introduced after a successful trial of the biometric technology at Heathrow Terminal 3. Source: Telegraph

British Airways stops Zimbabwe flights

In a big blow to Zimbabwe, the British Airways (BA) has decided to stop its flights from UK to the southern African nation next month due to increasing losses on the route in the wake of Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis under the leadership of current president Robert Mugabe. In a statement, the British Airways has confirmed that its flights between Harare and London would stop on October 28. This has further deepened Zimbabwe’s international isolation. Steve Harrison, British Airways commercial manager for southern Africa expressed, The economic situation in Zimbabwe has contributed to a decline in market demand. The withdrawal of Harare flights is for commercial reasons as it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify our operation. With this assertion, British Airways has joined with other leading airlines such as Qantas, Air France/KLM and TAP Portugal to pullout its flights from the troubled southern African country. Zimbabwe is facing acute shortage of fuel which has led foreign airlines to bring in fuel by road and refuel its planes in neighboring countries. Under Robert Mugabe’s leadership, the economy of Zimbabwe declined from one of the strongest in Africa to one of the weakest. Inflation has increased by 7,000 percent with industrial sector is in a precarious state and agricultural output is steadily falling. Image: