Singapore Airlines “mySQupgrade”, American Airlines Installing New Security Technology & More

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A few news stories doing the rounds right now including Singapore Airlines introducing a new system to allow its passengers to bid on upgrades, American Airlines working with the TSA to improve the wait-times at airport security and Norwegian being optimistic and publishing a tentative Cork to Boston schedule despite recent issues with the DOT.

Norwegian Publishes Preliminary Cork – Boston Schedule

Norwegian announced back in September 2015 that it plans to launch routes out of Ireland’s Cork airport to Boston, New York and Barcelona but things haven’t been altogether smooth sailing so far.

The Boston route was supposed to be operating by May 2016 but the airline has hit a few speed bumps along the way. The biggest hurdle the airline is facing is the fact that US DOT has said that it needs more time to review Norwegian’s application to fly routes from the UK and Ireland to the US using its Norwegian UK subsidiary.

Despite this setback Norwegian is still confident that the DOT will eventually provide the necessary permissions and, to that effect, the airline has now published a preliminary schedule for its proposed Cork to Boston route:

D85598 ORK 16:50 – 19:05 BOS (Daily)
D85599 BOS 09:00 – 16:20 ORK (Daily)

norwegian-737Image: Norwegian 737-800 courtesy of Norwegian

Norwegian plans to serve its proposed Boston route with Boeing 737-800 aircraft and, when they’re delivered, the new-generation Boeing 737MAX aircraft that the airline has on order.

With discussions with the US DOT still on going and with the US airlines demanding protectionist policies from their government (is there a more hypocritical set of corporations in the US?) Norwegian hasn’t published a planned start date for the Cork – Boston route….but Summer 2016 is still the aim.

American Airlines & TSA Link Up

American Airlines has announced that it will be teaming up with the TSA to begin installing new screening technology at a number of US airports this fall.

The new technology will include automated security screening lanes and CT scanners which should decrease the waiting times that travelers are currently experiencing at US airports – American Airlines is hoping wait times will decrease by up to 30% but I’ll believe that when I see it.

Per American Airlines:

The advanced equipment in the automated lanes offers a number of unique features designed to improve the screening of travelers by automating many of the functions currently conducted manually, allowing passengers to move more swiftly through the checkpoint. These innovations include:

  • Automated belts that draw bags into the X-ray machines, returning the bins back to queue after completion of the screening.
  • Bags with a potential threat can be directed to a separate area to allow bins behind it to continue through the system uninterrupted.
  • Property bins that are 25 percent larger than the bins in regular screening lanes.
  • Unique Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that are attached to each bin to allow for additional accountability of items as they transit throughout the system.
  • Cameras that capture photos of the outside of the bag, which is linked to the X-ray image of the bag’s contents.

The new automated screening technology will initially be deployed at Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles & Miami (American Airlines’ primary hubs) white the CT scanners will be deployed to the airline’s Phoenix hub by the end of 2016.

I’ve got to be honest and say that I’m slightly underwhelmed by the “automated security screening” part announcement – I was expecting more based on the name given to the technology.

Heathrow airport security already has a lot of the features that this new program is set to introduce and its security can still be a complete nightmare – this sounds like an expensive equipment upgrade that won’t, in itself, provide much of an improvement to the passenger experience.

heathrow-securityAirport security at Heathrow T5 already has a lot of the technology being proposed for US airports

On a more positive note, the CT technology may be a good idea and may actually save travelers some time.

Per American Airlines:

CT technology, currently only used at U.S. airports to screen checked bags, is expected to significantly improve the throughput when added to the screening process in Phoenix. 3D CT technology could make it possible to allow passengers to leave liquids, gels and aerosols, as well as laptops, in their carry-on bags at all times. This results in a quicker throughput and less bin use. If the pilot testing is successful, TSA may deploy CT technology to other checkpoints nationwide.

Anything that means that passengers don’t have to remove items from their hand baggage before the bags can be screened is a big positive move – let’s hope the trial goes well so we can have more CT scanners rolled out across the network.

Singapore Airlines Introduces “MySQUpgrade” – Bid For Upgrades

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Hawaiian Airlines is introducing a program whereby passengers can bid to upgrade their seats on Hawaii – Mainland routes and now Singapore Airlines is set to introduce an “invitation only” service that will allow passengers booked into Economy Class to bid to upgrade to the Premium Economy cabin.


How does mySQupgrade work?

Singapore airlines has come up with a useful diagram to show how the new system will function:


Per Singapore Airlines:

Invitations are made at Singapore Airlines’ sole discretion based on certain criteria and combination of factors, which are dynamic. To stand a chance of being invited, please ensure that your email address is correctly indicated when making a booking, so that we are able to contact you if you are deemed eligible.

I absolutely hate it when airlines use phrases like “based on certain criteria” and “combination of factors”…just tell us already! What’s the big secret?

Presumably the airline wants to limit the availability of upgrades to the higher economy class fares – and that’s fine – but why not just tell their passengers that? Why shroud the whole process with an unnecessary veil of mysticism?

For the Full FAQs on how mySQupgrade will work you can take a look at this Singapore Airlines webpage.


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