March 28-April 3: Delta Expands Award Tickets, $99 O/W Fares To Europe, Pilotless Planes, Planes In Desert & more

This week’s round-up brings the latest airline travel news — from Delta’s expanded award tickets, $99 one-way fares to Europe, and pilot sues over meltdown, to pilotless planes, Delta covers LGBT employees, man jumps out of emergency exit, and Boeing parks planes in desert. Enjoy!

Delta Expands Award Tickets to Partner Airlines

Back in February, Delta Air Lines removed its published award pricing from their Website, effectively preventing travelers from knowing exactly how much they’ll need for an award ticket, and allowing Delta to charge whatever they feel like. In what can be seen as a tiny olive branch, Delta now allows SkyMiles members to book an award ticket with their partner airlines, including Air France/KLM, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, and others. Additionally, SkyMiles members can now also earn Mileage Qualifying Dollars from their partners, a helpful improvement for those trying to reach elite status but find themselves flying on other airlines more often than Delta itself.

Low Cost Airline offers $99 One-Way Flights to Europe

If you’re in the market for cheap tickets to Europe, you may have one other option, depending on where you live. Iceland-based airline, WOW air started its first transatlantic flight from Boston to Reykjavik on March 27. Like all promotions, the $99 one-way fares are subject to availability, and the current lowest fare between Boston and Reykjavik $161 one-way for travel in September. Not as appealing as $99, but a great fare nonetheless. Nonstop flights from Baltimore will begin on May 8

JetBlue Pilot Sues Airline Over Meltdown

Three years ago, JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon suffered a mental breakdown during a flight from New York to Las Vegas, and scared passengers by running through the plane and yelling about Jesus and al-Qaida. Osborn had to be restrained and the flight made an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas. Osborn was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and since then has lived in obscurity until this week, when he filed a $16 million lawsuit against JetBlue for allowing him to fly even though he was suffering from seizures caused by a childhood head injury.

Pilotless Planes the Way of the Future

As more information started coming to light regarding the recent Germanwings tragedy, alternatives to removing the human factor in flights has moved to the forefront. One alternative is having pilotless planes. While some flights currently can be controlled from the ground, the plane still needs a pilot on board. One of the companies, BAE, a British aerospace company is working on developing planes that can be flown from a remote location. The question now remains: will travelers get to a point where they’ll be comfortable not having an actual person at the cockpit?

Delta to Covers Tax for LGBT Employees

Delta recently became the first U.S. airline to cover the additional taxes their employees in same-sex marriages have to pay to healthcare plans in states that don’t allow or recognize gay marriages. This move effectively lets Delta’s LGBT employees pay the same amount for healthcare as employees in traditional marriages. The change went into effect immediately and will cover taxes retroactive to January 1.

Man Jumps Out of Emergency Exit

Another day, another passenger doing things they shouldn’t be doing. Police has arrested Akash Jain, who was on a Jet Airways flight headed to Mumbai for opening the over wing emergency exit door, jumped out of the plane, and made his way out of the airport. The incident occurred after the flight landed in Mumbai. Police are currently investing the incident, and Jain’s uncle said the family has filed a missing persons report after he went missing.

Random Story of the Week: Boeing Parks Two 787s in Desert Over Delayed Seats

So what happens to planes that are mostly ready for delivery, but are missing seats? If you’re Boeing, you park it in the desert, at Victorville, Calif., more specifically. Because of the dry desert weather, it’s an ideal location for aircraft storage. Two American Airlines 787s will be parked there until the seats from French seat maker Zodiac Aerospace, who is having production delays of their own.



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