Lonely Planet Writer

This week's top airline stories from around the world featuring layover buddies and economy minus

This week’s top airline stories from around the world feature bio-fuel flights, layover buddies in Amsterdam, the ‘economy minus’ class, charter flights from a budget airline and the rise of high speed Wi-Fi.

Air New Zealand.
Air New Zealand. Image by Andy Mitchell / CC BY-SA 2.0

United Airlines has become the first US airline to use aviation bio-fuel for regularly scheduled flights. The airline has begun to use biofuel in its daily operations at Los Angeles International airport and will “operate flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco with the dedicated use of AltAir Paramount renewable fuel for two weeks, while also integrating this fuel into its regular operations at the airport”. The move toward bio-fuel is gaining momentum as air travel continues to be one of the top pollutants contributing to clime change. Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia are also investigating ways to reduce their carbon footprint through locally-produced aviation biofuel.

Read more here.

The economy minus passengers is happy to eschew perks once the price of a ticket costs less than other classes of travel
The economy minus passengers is happy to eschew perks once the price of a ticket costs less than other classes of travel Image by Simon_sees / CC BY 2.0

US airlines are looking to please thrifty travellers with a new class on planes. ‘Economy minus’ will be a class below economy and will mean smaller seats and very few perks. Some airlines, like Delta, are already running an extra cheap class and the airline says it is meeting a consumer demand for a low-cost and no-frills service.

Read more here.

Air Passengers on a layover of six hours or more are given return rail tickets to Amsterdam by KLM where they will be meet locals with similar interests
Air Passengers on a layover of six hours or more are given return rail tickets to Amsterdam by KLM where they will be meet locals with similar interests Image by Andrés Nieto Porras / CC BY-SA 2.0

Worried about being alone on a layover in Amsterdam? Dutch airline KLM has created an app called Layover with a Local, which will allow passengers with a six-hour or more layover to meet up with a local, while KLM buys the first round of drinks. Travellers using the service will answer a few questions and then be paired up with an Amsterdam resident who has similar interests. The traveller will get a free express train ticket from the airport to the city centre and back.

Read more here.

Ryanair launches new private jet for charter
Ryanair launches new private jet for charter. Image by Ryanair/Twitter

Ryanair – known best for being an unabashed budget airline – has launched a new private charter jet service for hire for group and corporate events. The plane will have 60 business class reclining leather-seats and well as fine dining. And if you’re looking around for a destination to fly to, the jet will be available for journeys or up to six hours.

Read more here.

Airplane in flight
Airplane in flight. Image by Bernal Saborio / CC BY 2.0

Airlines in the US, Europe and Middle East are set to roll out high speed Wi-Fi – up to 200 Mbps and fast enough to stream live TV or music – over the next year. On-board Wi-Fi is more and more common, particularly in the US where some kind of internet is available on 70% of flights – however only 6% is currently considered high bandwidth.

Read more here.