UK Royals Lend Name To Airport, Cruise Ship, Again

London’s Heathrow airport continues to expand and remodel to meet current demand and prepare for the future. Heathrow’s Terminal 2 (T2) will be home to the Star Alliance airlines and has United making the inaugural flights in June 2014. But rather than leave the new terminal named simply T2, airport developers took a look at the history of the facility and came up with something better.

Re-naming the facility Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal, will honor Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her long relationship with the airport. The Queen formally inaugurated the airport’s first passenger terminal in 1955. Originally named the Europa Building, it was later named Terminal 2.

Opening in 1946 with just 62,000 passengers passing through, Heathrow was originally known as London Airport and the terminal was a temporary village of tents. Those tents gave way to prefabricated concrete villages prior to the opening of the old Terminal 2 that saw more than 70 million passengers in 2012.At a cost of over $17 billion over the last decade, Heathrow has been transformed to a facility that consistently ranks at the top of passenger satisfaction surveys. When the work is done, Terminal 2 will boast the latest check-in and bag-drop technology to make using the airport a smooth, enjoyable and efficient journey. Similar to the already completed Terminal 5, T2 has been designed with shops and restaurants that will offer air travelers the very best of Britain.

In a similar effort to embrace and honor the past while looking ahead, The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton recently performed the duties of Godmother to Princess Cruises‘ new Royal Princess at a dockside naming ceremony.

The third cruise ship is to be named Royal Princess; the last one was named by the late Diana, Princess of Wales in 1984.

Looking for more of what the new Heathrow Terminal 2 will offer? Check out this video:

How Frequent Fliers Might Be Affected By Airline Merger

Speculation seems to be running rampant about potential losses to frequent flier accounts via the merger of American Airlines with US Airways. A new study recently analyzed American Airlines AAdvantage program and US Airways Dividend Miles program and found several pros and cons, many depending on which airline’s existing program is adopted for both.

Comparing programs, TravelNerd looked at some possible scenarios and came up with some interesting “what if?” results. Not all are bad either. US Airways members would come out ahead, for example, if the combined airline sticks with American’s meal program, enjoying meals on three-hour flights.

That’s good news. Not-so-good news: increased baggage fees could be a result as well. If the American Airlines program is adopted for both airlines, US Airways passengers will have to pay $25 more for three or more bags, and $10-$25 more for overweight bags

Thinking the new alliance means less countries, TravelNerd says US Airways will say goodbye to Star Alliance and join Oneworld, so Dividend Miles members will lose access to 44 countries.On the other hand, I am a member of both loyalty programs and received emails from each saying not to worry and that everything will stay the same. TravelNerd cries foul.

“Airlines are aware that mergers make consumers nervous and will send newsletters to members to ensure that their miles and status are safe,” Amy Lee TraveNerd Senior analyst told me via email. “This is true there are usually no changes in the short term.”

But Lee believes that change is coming and once the merger is complete and has passed government regulations, the streamlining will begin.

“One way they plan to do this is to bring Dividend Miles members into their AAdvantage program,” notes Lee. “In the American Airlines Merger Investor Presentation, they wrote, “US Airways members join AAdvantage, the first and best developed loyalty program in the world.” This implies that they plan to maintain one loyalty program – presumably AAdvantage since American Airlines brand will be taking the helm of this merger.”

Travelnerd points to the United-Continental merger as an example, noting that merger was announced in May 2010 but frequent flier accounts were not linked until March 2012.

More bad news from the study is the notion that more members equals less upgrades. TravelNerd predicts that with a combined total of over 101 million members, frequent fliers will have a tough time upgrading their seats.

Our first thought: Why? Are they going to sell off a bunch of planes? We’ve heard nothing of decreased capacity.

“Regarding upgraded seats, you’re right there are going to be the same number of seats available,” replies Lee. “However, Dividend Miles members currently enjoy many upgrades due to their smaller frequent flier program (30 million members). Once the merger finalizes, the AAdvantage members (71 million members) will make it harder for the Dividend Miles members to enjoy as many upgrades as they currently do because of the increased number of frequent fliers.”

Admittedly, much of what we have here is speculation. But if Merger History 101 tells us anything it’s that change is inevitable. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

For a closer look at the merger from an unbiased source, we turn to public broadcasting and their sobering view on the topic:

[Photo Credit- Flickr user the queen of subtle]

Continental Airlines to join Star Alliance

Continental just issued a press release saying that they’re entering a cooperative agreement with United Airlines, saying the two airlines will “cooperate extensively, linking their networks and services worldwide to the benefit of customers, and creating revenue opportunities and cost savings and other efficiencies.” This means that Continental will also join United in the Star Alliance.

For those of you who follow airline alliances, this means that CO will be dropping Skyteam, whose partners include Delta, KLM and Northwest, and picking up partners such as Lufthansa and US Airways.

Basically, Continental Onepass members won’t be able to accrue or spend miles on Skyteam anymore (similarly, partner airlines can’t spend miles on CO), but they can on Star.

It does not, however, mean that the airlines are merging — only that they’ll be collaborating on many routes, codeshares and other logistics.

In the current airline industry, this change was almost inevitable. Carriers are looking at ways to collaborate on operations and cut costs, just like Northwest and Delta announced earlier this year. With the two airlines’ combined routes and networks, a stronger entity will now exist that can better compete with the soon to be uber Delta Airlines.

No word yet on when exactly the alliance changes will take place and a schedule for the official divorce from Skyteam airlines. But if you were thinking about booking a ticket with your Skyteam miles on CO, now might be a good time to do it.

Around the world with miles – Cheaper than you think

If you’ve been hanging on to a cache of frequent flyer miles or are trying to burn them (due to an impending merger, for example), I’ve found a great way to use them up:

Around the world tickets for 140,000 miles.

Using a special fare created by airline alliances, you can take advantage of an entire network of carriers to work your way across the globe. So you can use a combination of services to bounce from one city to another to another around the world.

Market prices of these tickets could easily reach into multiple thousands of dollars.

The requirements, at least, per Skyteam’s rules, state that you can stop a maximum of six times, three times max. per continent, for a minimum of 10 days and maximum of 1 year. That’s a lot of combinations though.

I’ve been thinking about the ideal itinerary for myself bearing the requirements in mind and have tentatively decided on the following routing:

Detroit – Paris – Johannesburg – Dubai – Mumbai – Beijing – Sydney – Detroit

I’m starting to save miles now.