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Charlotte-Douglas Airport (CLT) Expansion


uptownliving

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Regarding BA serving CLT, I actually think this summer/year would’ve been a good time for them to dip their toe in and try it. AA has a widebody shortage because of Boeing’s inability to certify the 787 and Asia is still mostly restricted because of Covid. Surely BA has a 777 they could’ve thrown at CLT so that AA could send one elsewhere. Or maybe AA is really just playing up the 787 shortage to hide how little transatlantic demand there actually is outside of funneling folks to a partner hub.

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12 hours ago, TCLT said:

Regarding BA serving CLT, I actually think this summer/year would’ve been a good time for them to dip their toe in and try it. AA has a widebody shortage because of Boeing’s inability to certify the 787 and Asia is still mostly restricted because of Covid. Surely BA has a 777 they could’ve thrown at CLT so that AA could send one elsewhere. Or maybe AA is really just playing up the 787 shortage to hide how little transatlantic demand there actually is outside of funneling folks to a partner hub.

Airlines are masters at blaming service reductions/route cuts due to things that aren't the actual reason.  

Examples being AA 787 shortage excuse.  If the routes were profitable enough for them to fly.  They would be flying it.  

"Fake" excuses have only been amplified during covid.  The poor excuse for service during covid was more for cost cutting than for the "safety precaution/reducing touch point"  reasons they stated.  

Example being AA cut live tv during covid due to "safety precautions."

United has also eliminated service to some 20 cities in the past 3 months due to "labor shortages".  The point is, if the cities were profitable to fly to, they wouldn't be cut.

A closer to home example is WN cutting DEN from CLT (and several other cities) due to plane shortage, but they are all due to come back once MAX7s start arriving.  

While that has something to do with the cuts, if the routes were actually high performers, they would still be here.  

 

Edit:  I apologize.  My last statement was likely out of place.  I have deleted it.

Edited by CltFlyer
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The Club CLT opens in concourse A today. Pics in the article. Ignore the portion of the article that says AAA members get automatic access... they just get a discount on admission (priority pass plans also vary if you pay a discounted rate or the visit is included).

https://charlotte.axios.com/292975/new-airport-lounge-the-club-clt-opens-today/

Edited by CLT2014
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On the topic of lounges.  Last week waiting to get into the Concourse B Admirals Club like it's a Southend bar on the weekend I asked the guy manning the door about progress on the larger club reopening.  He mentioned they're targeting mid-June and as far as he knew everything was still on track to reopen on time.

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48 minutes ago, LKN704 said:

Looks like a beautiful space and I personally like the green and gold theme. It is a bit small though and once the masses show up with their luggage could easily get a bit crowded feeling. The lower foot traffic on that side of the airport should help though. If you are connecting from E to C and only have a 1.5 hour connection, might not be worth the walk to just sit in the lounge for 20 - 30 minutes. Crunch time should be the morning bank of departures from Delta and United around 6AM and then it should be quieter in the afternoon. 

Edited by CLT2014
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It's a welcome surprise to see this lounge also has a shower room.  This may have been influenced by Lufthansa since they will be using it as their business class lounge.

It does appear to be on the small side, but time will tell if this will be an issue in the future.  I do like the several subtle local touches.  

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13 hours ago, LKN704 said:

British Airways essentially does serve Charlotte, as does Iberia and Finnair. 

With the exception of Air Canada, every foreign flag carrier I've flown (which isn't an extensive list but is a set >5: British, Turkish, EVA, Thai, Lufthansa, SAS) offer a better hard and soft product that AA or United. Delta is close. Given my druthers, I would always choose a foreign carrier over any US carrier. The ambivalence US airlines feel toward their passengers (driven by flyers flying almost solely by price) is reflected in the diminishing level of service or "here to there with no flair" as I prefer to think of it on US flagged carriers.

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LKN704

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British Airways essentially does serve Charlotte, as does Iberia and Finnair. 

The alliance between AA and BA (+Finnair and Iberia) is much more than a standard alliance...it's a joint venture that has been granted anti-trust immunity and all act as one carrier across the Atlantic. All four carriers work together to set pricing, schedules, and other operational behind the scenes details. When you buy a ticket for a flight on any flight covered by the JV, the money essentially goes into the same pot regardless of who is flying the route. 

 

 

That explains why I see Finnair (or another carrier) listed when I search for flights on Kayak or another booking site using CLT as originating location. Sometimes duplicates with AA on the same flight listing. Small print says operated by... to distinguish the two.

Edited by tarhoosier
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On 3/30/2022 at 10:22 AM, davidclt said:

With the exception of Air Canada, every foreign flag carrier I've flown (which isn't an extensive list but is a set >5: British, Turkish, EVA, Thai, Lufthansa, SAS) offer a better hard and soft product that AA or United. Delta is close. Given my druthers, I would always choose a foreign carrier over any US carrier. The ambivalence US airlines feel toward their passengers (driven by flyers flying almost solely by price) is reflected in the diminishing level of service or "here to there with no flair" as I prefer to think of it on US flagged carriers.

British Airways, AirFrance or KLM are NOT better than Delta. Most european flights also don't have a true first class, just the middle seat blocked off. Besides the Heathrow Upper Class experience (which now you can access with Delta One), Virgin is a less comfortable first class than Delta as well.  

Edited by CarolinaDaydreamin
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On 3/29/2022 at 8:25 PM, LKN704 said:

British Airways essentially does serve Charlotte, as does Iberia and Finnair. 

The alliance between AA and BA (+Finnair and Iberia) is much more than a standard alliance...it's a joint venture that has been granted anti-trust immunity and all act as one carrier across the Atlantic. All four carriers work together to set pricing, schedules, and other operational behind the scenes details. When you buy a ticket for a flight on any flight covered by the JV, the money essentially goes into the same pot regardless of who is flying the route. 

For example, when BA announced Portland-Heathrow service in 2019, AA put out its own press release for the flight, and the title of the article left it unclear as to whom was actually operating the flight...it wasn't until you opened the article that you would find that it was BA who was in fact operating the flight: https://news.aa.com/news/news-details/2019/Bigger-Better-and-More-Connected-American-Atlantic-Joint-Business-Partners-Announce-New-LondonPortland-Route-NET-ALP/default.aspx

With the above in mind, there is little need for BA to start CLT service, just for the sake of serving Charlotte. Someone in the UK (or US for that matter) who is unfamiliar with the JV can purchase a ticket on BA.com (or Iberia, or Finnair) as they normally would, with the same price on all websites. 

Of course, the supposed "benefit" to the consumer (and Charlotte in this example) is that if AA wanted to add a 3rd daily London flight but lacked the Heathrow slots or lacked slack in the fleet, they could have BA pick up the tab and operate the flight. 

BA serves every other AA hub because all other AA hubs are in much larger metropolitan areas that have long had British Airways service since the 1990s/80/70s/60s/50s etc that all predate the AA alliance. 

Recall that BA really only served Charlotte due to their alliance with US at the time. Once the alliance ended in 1998, they attempted the route on their own but 9/11 effectively sealed the flight's fate (especially because they downgraded the route from nonstop to include a stopover in Baltimore). 

It was fun to see their aircraft at that time, as seen below in one of the only images I can find of them serving Charlotte.

Their ill-fated, doomed, heavily ridiculed "Project Utopia" livery/branding/customer-service/business outlook at the time was truly a sight to see and was full of new-millennium kumbaya goodness. 

image.png.d24663ec279edacecf3f1c88424faba6.png

 

I don’t want to take the thread off topic, but is there a reason they had those crazy designs on their planes back then?

My first long haul flight ever was on British Airways from SFO in 1999 and the plane I took to London had this Totem Pole design on its tail, and my flight home had fish on the tail. 

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5 minutes ago, SF2CLT said:

I don’t want to take the thread off topic, but is there a reason they had those crazy designs on their planes back then?

My first long haul flight ever was on British Airways from SFO in 1999 and the plane I took to London had this Totem Pole design on its tail, and my flight home had fish on the tail. 

It was essentially a branding scheme from BA to try and change their perception from being a snotty, high strung airline, to a global carrier. However many people derided it, either for being seen as celebrating colonialism (as much of the art came from former colonial possessions), cheapening the art of ethnic cultures by using them for commercial gain, or for being inaccurate depictions of international art and design to begin with. On the flip side, many nationalist and conservative brits saw it as being too globalist, and that the British national carrier should not fly anything other than her national colors. Some airline employees even began referring to BA as "Air Zulu" and Margaret Thatcher covered a model of a 747 with a "Birds and Trees" livery, saying "We fly the British Flag, not these awful things!" 

In short, it was a design scheme that pissed off both racists and activists at the same time. 

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2 hours ago, LKN704 said:

Extremely off topic, but an interesting story nonetheless so everyone please bear with me. When I worked as a Graduate Assistant back in grad school I actually incorporated their branding strategy at the time into the curriculum...it's a textbook case of how to alienate and tick off your target market. There are multiple case studies on BA's branding strategy at the time.

Recall that in the late 1990s, there was this sweep of "globalism" and "humanism" that was sweeping the corporate world with the approach of the new millennium. The wonders of the internet and ICT were taking form, more people were traveling than ever before, and for the most part there was relative peace in the world.

Companies capitalized on all of that and injected it into their marketing schemes...some may recall that Disney ran the 2000 Super Bowl Halftime show where Christina Aguilera, Phil Collins, and Enrique Iglesias essentially danced around singing about world peace (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eknld50Bbkg).

British Airways at the time carried more international passengers than any airline in the world. They had an extensive route network (significantly larger than they have today) that touched most of their former colonial possessions, and were making plans for both Heathrow Terminal 5 and the EU Open Skies agreement taking form. They had just recently privatized, and were looking to reflect on their "heritage" of international travel. They were a very good and well respected airline at the time...well up their with the five-star East Asian carrier of today. Their existing livery was seen as arrogant and stuffy, and were looking to modernize it...make it more caring, empathetic, and global.

They unveiled a plan called "Project Utopia" to outfit the tail fins of their aircraft with a variety of "World Images" representing the "communities, not countries" where they flew. Frontline staff received enhanced cultural awareness training, and were taught to basically treat everyone the same, regardless of where they were from or how much they paid for their ticket. The original plan was for the "World Images" to be everywhere the British Airways logo was...ticket counters, ticket jackets, crew uniforms, aircraft seat fabric, safety cards, menus, ground service equipment, luggage tags, business cards, etc. Internal review groups made up of BA staff thought the whole idea was crazy and the livery was atrocious, but management pushed the rebrand anyway, insisting that it would be popular with international travelers. They planed for 50 or so images, but only 15ish were public released IIRC.

Here's the video of BA announcing the project: 

Even if you aren't even remotely interested in aviation or the topic, it's a fascinating watch and a throwback to the naive 1990s...even the background music in the video somehow takes me back to the 90s.

As nakers2 said, the project was a massive flop. Executives who chaired the project were fired. Domestically, there was massive uproar and Brits felt alienated. Maggie famously threw a piece of tissue paper on a model plane with the livery (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78CqcbwFeBA).  Internationally, the project wasn't popular either. While surveys done before the project show that the images were popular among international travelers, what they failed to show is that many international travelers were actually attracted to BA for their old-fashioned British values, which the images ultimately diluted.

The current livery is actually an original World Image, representing the British Flag in flight of the Chatham Dockyards.  

Somewhat Charlotte related...a friend of mine actually has a world image from their ticket counter in Charlotte hung up in his home...the "Waves of the City" piece. I'm not sure how he got it (he did work at the airport in the late 90s/early 2000s, maybe it was being thrown away) but I know one thing for sure: it's ugly.

 

Many thanks for the extremely well written and insightful post. 

The brand launch video was interesting. In a way, I guess I understand what they were trying to accomplish. I see what you mean about the 1990s naïveté. 

I couldn’t  imagine having to work and walk around in those huge hats they made the female staff members wear in the video. 

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On 3/30/2022 at 10:22 AM, davidclt said:

With the exception of Air Canada, every foreign flag carrier I've flown (which isn't an extensive list but is a set >5: British, Turkish, EVA, Thai, Lufthansa, SAS) offer a better hard and soft product that AA or United. Delta is close. Given my druthers, I would always choose a foreign carrier over any US carrier. The ambivalence US airlines feel toward their passengers (driven by flyers flying almost solely by price) is reflected in the diminishing level of service or "here to there with no flair" as I prefer to think of it on US flagged carriers.

Hmmmm. I beg to differ. While I've always had decent service on foreign carriers, my Air France premium economy seat (A380) was a torture device and my intra-Europe coach seat had 29" pitch with no recline (A320), my BA biz class seat didn't lie flat (B777) and my BA intra-Europe flight (B737) featured no amenities that were free (had to buy a Diet Coke), my Lufthansa biz class seat was so hot I couldn't sleep and the airplane had no air vents (not to mention that the monitor was stationary and the only way to watch a film was to be in the upright position (A340). I'll take jetBlue any day of the week over any of them.

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As a person who has flown all four foreign carriers, I have to say Virgin Atlantic and KLM are better than Air France or British Airways at least from my personal experience and the aircraft I flew on. The Airbus A350-1000 on Virgin is my favorite. :wub: Amazing how quiet and smooth the plane ride is on it. I mainly only fly Delta domestically so I can’t really compare American to foreign carriers. 

Edited by gman430
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21 minutes ago, Miesian Corners said:

Hmmmm. I beg to differ. While I've always had decent service on foreign carriers, my Air France premium economy seat (A380) was a torture device and my intra-Europe coach seat had 29" pitch with no recline (A320), my BA biz class seat didn't lie flat (B777) and my BA intra-Europe flight (B737) featured no amenities that were free (had to buy a Diet Coke), my Lufthansa biz class seat was so hot I couldn't sleep and the airplane had no air vents (not to mention that the monitor was stationary and the only way to watch a film was to be in the upright position (A340). I'll take jetBlue any day of the week over any of them.

My BA business class seat in the hump of a 747-400 was lie flat. My cattle class seat aboard Lufthansa A330 was comfortable enough to sleep soundly (plus schnapps after dinner). Cattle class on Turkish A330 some of the best sleep I've ever had on an airplane (lots of ayran I guess). Step up cattle+ on EVA Air (747-400 Combi), good pitch, wide seat and enough recline. Food on all in step-up and cattle class put the rest to shame. The first-class inter-Europe isn't amazing though, you're right. Bangkok Air and Thai though both have very good product too.

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