With weather disruptions and constant delays upending the conversation about air travel this summer, it’s actually not all bad news. Many carriers are working to improve what they offer as they invest in new aircraft, lounges and amenities, a welcome change following the pandemic years.
Whether you are traveling as the result of winning a free vacation (are you entering these free travel sweepstakes?) or to visit a new hotel or resort in a destination you’ve never visited, these airline products are worth exploring. Thankfully, air carriers are introducing new products and perks that can make the travel experience better.
United adds wireless charging in first class on new planes
On United’s newest first class iteration, a wireless charging feature is now available. Eventually planned for more than 200 Boeing 737 NG and 737 MAX planes as well as Airbus A321neos, this will make powering up mobile devices easier than ever. These United First seats are covered in vegan leather and have three charging options: a wireless charger in the armrest, a standard AC household-style outlet and USB-C port. These seats will also have larger tray tables plus 13-inch, high-definition screens with Bluetooth capability, which adds to the importance of having so many power outlets so all devices can stay charged.
ANA adds Michelin-starred vegan curry to inflight menu
In a partnership with two Michelin-starred restaurant Daigo in Tokyo, All Nippon Airways (ANA) will offer a plant-based vegan curry on its light meal menu for business and first class passengers starting in September. It has no animal ingredients or flour, instead using only vegetables and fruits, and will begin appearing on select long-haul flights. All U.S. flights will offer it in first class while business class passengers on flights from New York, Chicago, Houston, Washington D.C., Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur to Japan.
SAS updates business class amenity kit with new DUX products
Business class passengers in SAS business class have new comfort kits to look forward to this fall. In a partnership with DUX, the entire kit focuses on sustainable design and contents. Frequent flyers will appreciate that there are three versions of the kit (a shoe bag, travel pouch, shoe bag and laundry bag) allowing them the opportunity to collect them all. Among the contents are a toothbrush with cornstarch handle, Swedish-made socks using recycled materials, ear plugs and lip balm made with as few ingredients as possible to reduce environmental impact.
Delta opens newest Sky Club at JFK
Its second JFK Sky Club in terminal four could not have come at a better time as the airline flies its busiest transatlantic schedule this summer from the airport. The new lounge, which opened in July, is in Concourse A with space for 250 travelers. This 14,000-square-foot facility is its largest Sky Club at JFK and has a year-round Sky Deck giving people the chance to sit outdoors and watch planes as they enjoy the fresh air. Other entertaining features include a fireplace, a menu based on the handicraft of local chefs serving Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine among other dishes and a premium bar.
Air France updates SFO lounge with French experience
Another new lounge for travelers this summer is the new Air France premium lounge in San Francisco. A thorough renovation of the space it previously occupied has enlarged it to seat 117 people and refreshed the design, which faces the apron. It is decked out in wood and leather with French color hues of blue, white and red with furnishings designed by French purveyors. On the menu are choices modeled after a typical French brasserie. A separate area offers a private space for customers in the airline’s first class cabin.
Qantas creates “find my credit” tool
Unlike other airlines, which to some customers feel like they want you to forget about credits, Qantas is adding a tool allowing you to search for any attributed to you. Many travelers accumulated a lot of credits from canceled flights due to the pandemic. The “find my credit” tool allows flyers to see if there is any unused cash connected to their frequent flyer account, even those that are as old as three years or were reissued multiple times due to constantly changing restrictions. These will expire by the end of the year, but are valid to use on flights throughout 2024 as long as the reservations are made before the end of 2023. There is also the option to request a refund instead of using the credit. This summer, Qantas also returned to New York JFK, this time offering flights routed through Auckland instead of Los Angeles.