Airline Buzz: Top News for January

We're not even fully out of the first month of the year yet, but there's already been a lot of buzz from the airlines for 2014. 

First off, there's a new plane for getting across the U.S. in style. American Airlines is adding new fuel-efficient planes to its fleet with the introduction of the new Airbus A321 Transcontinental aircraft. Best of all: The A321T will have fully lie-flat First and Business Class seats, as well as in-seat entertainment and inflight air-to-ground Wi-Fi from GoGo throughout the aircraft. The First Class cabin will have 10 lie-flat seats with a 43-inch pitch in the upright position. A 1-1 seating configuration will give every First Class passenger aisle access, and each seat comes equipped with one universal AC power outlet and a USB jack. Dining options will include a morning brunch service, evening dinner entrees, an espresso and capuccino machine and appetizers, salads and desserts. Customers flying on overnight flights will be offered a light dinner and a wake-up breakfast featuring fruit smoothies and warmed breakfast breads.

And then there are the airports: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that the state is taking control of a $3.6 billion construction project to create an entirely new central terminal at the much-maligned LaGuardia Airport. Cuomo envisions a new terminal that could handle as many as 17.5 million passengers by 2030. The plan calls for open spaces, restaurants, shopping plazas, new parking garages, free Wi-Fi and other amenities now common in other airports. 

London's Heathrow Airport is also getting a swank new terminal, and we're eager to see what T2 looks like when it opens later this year. Spanish architect Luis Vidal used plenty of glass in the walls and roof to let in lots of light and minimize the claustrophobic feeling one can regularly get in airports. Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal will have a restaurant in the terminal--reportedly the first airport restaurant in the world to have a wood-fired pizza oven.

Private jet tour operator Intrav announced its $4 million plane upgrade commitment as the company moves into final production with its custom-designed, 180-degree flat-bed seats. The company also extended its charter agreement with Icelandair, who provides the Boeing 757-200ER aircraft to Intrav, from three to five years. 

And finally, in one of the more surprising partnerships, one of the more low-fare airlines has teamed up with one famous for its luxe touches: JetBlue Airways Corp. and the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways, have formed a partnership to allow passengers to fly on routes operated by both carriers on a single ticket. Initially, Etihad will codeshare on 40 JetBlue routes within the United States. The airliners say more codeshare services are planned on JetBlue flights once Etihad commences daily flights to Los Angeles this June. (No word, of course, on what perks JetBlue will offer Etihad's Diamond Class passengers.)