April 1, 2021

No April Fools jokes here, but if you need your annual fix, head on over to crankyflier.com.

Frontier Goes Public

It’s been a long time coming, but Frontier finally got its wish for a successful initial public offering (IPO) today as it floated 30 million shares under the ULCC ticker on NASDAQ.

Frontier had been targeting a price range of $19 to $21 per share, and it came in at the low end of that with a $19 share price. In its first day of trading, investors weren’t impressed as the stock dipped 0.79% to $18.85 a share.

The day did not start off well when Frontier sent several animals representing its tails to ring the opening bell. Grizwald the grizzly bear broke loose and wreaked havoc on everyone in his path. There were no serious injuries, but trading was suspended until he could be tranquilized.

United Stops Requiring Customers to Forfeit Credit

United has reversed course and will now allow travelers to use their residual credit when they change their ticket to a new one with a lower fare. This finally brings the airline in line with its competitors.

When United first eliminated change fees, it added one controversial caveat. If a traveler changed a ticket to a lower fare option, any remaining value would have to be forfeited. Both American and Delta continued to allow customers to retain that remaining value for future use.

United made the first move, likely hoping American and Delta would follow, but they did not. United has now begrudgingly decided to let passengers keep the credit that was rightfully theirs in the first place.

Airlines Split on Extending Change Fee Waivers

Though many airlines have eliminated change fees on most tickets, they appear to be split on extending their blanket change fee waiver that covers even highly-restricted tickets like those booked in Basic Economy.

Alaska, Delta, and United have extended their waivers by one extra month. Now any tickets bought through April 30 will be changeable without penalty. American, Hawaiian, and JetBlue, however, let their waivers expire on March 31. That means basic economy fares on those airlines as well as some travel purchased in international locations will now have change fees apply.

Just to make things more confusing, United will be ending its change waivers for people booked on a 737 MAX as of April 7, presumably because absolutely nobody cared.

The two sides met in a dark parking lot to try and fight this out to pick a winner, but in the end, after circling each other threateningly, they agreed to disagree. Southwest showed up to watch, but with no change fees on any fare, it could only laugh.

FAA Certifies the 737 MAX 8200

The latest variant of the 737 MAX — the MAX 8200 — has been approved for entry into service by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Travelers recoiled in horror upon learning that this version will pack nearly 200 people into an airplane originally meant for far fewer.

Ryanair is the launch customer for the MAX 8200, a 737 MAX 8 that will hold 197 passengers. The large increase in capacity was only permitted after Boeing added an additional pair of exit doors in the aft of the aircraft. The airline is planning on putting the airplane into commercial service this summer, assuming the European safety agency follows the FAA’s lead and offers its approval.

American could only look on with envy. It has increased its capacity on its 737-800s from 150 to 172, matching the seating it put on its MAX. It is now looking at refitting its fleet with extra doors to see if it can add seating in the overhead bins.

Willie Walsh Takes Over as IATA Director General

Former British Airways and IAG CEO Willie Walsh has officially taken over as the Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) today. He takes over from Alexandre de Juniac, former CEO of Air France-KLM, who served in the role for nearly five years.

Walsh is known for being outspoken and blunt, something that the quasi-governmental lobbying and regulatory organization desperately needs. His top priority appears to be focused on “restoring freedom of movement.” He’s starting this campaign by making sure that everyone in an airport will get a ride on one of those electric carts, restoring their freedom to rapidly zip around the terminal even if they can’t cross borders.

Walsh summed up his charge with, “My goal is to ensure that IATA is a forceful voice supporting the success of global air transport. We will work with supporters and critics alike to deliver on our commitments to an environmentally sustainable airline industry.”

Airline Potpourri

  • Air Canada will extend Aeroplan elite status for travelers through 2022, signalling they’ve already given up on 2021.
  • American has introduced a quarantine-free option for travelers who are able to fly to Italy… which is not a lot of people.
  • Austrian will fly to Zaprizhzhia, Ukraine 3x-weekly beginning May 17. Rumors are that Austrian will give free flights to any Austrian resident that can pronounce the city’s name properly.
  • Cebu Pacific is looking to add another $6.6m through a convertible preferred share offering on top of the $256m it already raised.
  • EGO Airways in Italy is now officially flying, with its first flight from Catania to Parma.
  • Emirates will restart its New York/JFK- Milan flight on June 1, one of its two pre-pandemic flights between the US and Europe. The other, Newark to Athens, has already been announced to start the same day.
  • Fiji Airways has received regulatory approval to bring the 737 MAX back into service.
  • IranAir won’t be privatized any time soon as the government has faced reality and given up.
  • TAP Air Portugal flew an A321LR for over 10 hours from Maputo, Mozambique to Cape Verde, setting a new record. It’s unclear how many people were onboard.
  • Ukraine International refunded $6,711,576 in the first quarter of this year after receiving 30,000 requests. That just seemed like a fun fact worth sharing.

Brett’s Moment of Levity

What do you call 40 millionaires sitting around watching the World Series?

The New York Yankees

(Happy opening day everyone!)