What a week, huh?  No, it really never crossed my mind that Southwest might throw it’s hat in the ring for Frontier.  It just seemed a little too far-fetched, but less so with each passing day as I think about it.  Southwest has been growing in Denver, and from some indications, doing so successfully though profits apparently remain elusive.  Frontier appears to be making some headway in getting itself out of Chapter 11.  And Denver’s number one airline, United, does anyone really think that they will still be in business as currently constituted one or two years from now?  I don’t.  Does that mean the United brand goes the way of Eastern, NO!  But the vultures are starting to circle, and I think they are fish food for either US Airways or Continental by this time next year, whether the United name lives on or not, though I expect it will.  Frontier has a relatively decent reputation for service, and a young workforce that will have the opportunity to join a much more stable and secure employer with an almost legendary reputation for looking after its people.

The only wrinkle is the fleet of “Airbii” that Frontier brings to the table.  Southwest plans to eventually dispose of those as they absorb Frontier.  I’m not certain how labor will integrate either.  As I understand it, when Southwest purchased Morris Air, the Morris folks basically re-interviewed for their jobs and started over at the bottom.  I wonder if the plan is to do this again?  That worked out OK for everyone when Southwest was growing by leaps and bounds.  But opportunities to move up the ladder come slowly in the current environment.  This could be an important watch item for the integration.  However, I’ve never bet against Southwest successfully accomplishing anything its set out to do, and I surely will not start now.

Delta Medallion Changes

Earlier this week, Delta announced changes to the Medallion elite program for 2010.  Judging by the number of searches that landed on the blog, there’s a high degree of interest in what Delta is up to.  You can check out my post from earlier this week here.  The most beneficial changes include making Systemwide Upgrades usable on the day of departure and rollover Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs).  In other words, Silver Medallion requires 25,000 MQMs.  If you end the year at 40,000 MQMs, you have a 15,000 MQM headstart on Medallion status for the following year.  However, in order to be fully competitive with American and United, Delta needs to make its Systemwide Upgrades usable on any fare, and not just YBM fares which can be higher than other airlines discounted Business Class fares.  The changes are not awe-inspiring, but I think they represent a net positive for Delta Medallions.  And in a side note, I’m on target for reattaining Medallion status with Delta this year, which makes me happy!

United Drops Close-in Award Fees

In a true positive for Mileage Plus members, United has dropped fees for booking award travel less than 21 days prior to departure.  I’ve posted before that this particular fee is one that I have never cared for.  It costs no more to issue a ticket on day 2 before departure than day 202, which makes these “late booking” fees nothing more than an egregious money grab.  Kudos to United for doing this.

The Week Ahead

I’ll be traveling to Philadelphia this week.  No flying though.  Amtrak’s Acela will be my chariot of choice.  I’ll be sure to post a trip report on the Acela experience.