Have you ever wondered why fire trucks are standing by a specific gate or lining the taxiway, their nozzles drawn in anticipation? It’s not meant to respond to an emergency, but instead to celebrate a big event. The water cannon salute is a long-standing tradition in aviation to welcome a new flight or airline to a destination or to pay tribute to a retiring crew member or aircraft. It is a symbol of honor that  captures the attention of all around.

This season is no different with numerous airlines launching new routes or taking delivery of new aircraft to fly to far-flung corners of the globe. There will be plenty of water cannon salutes to honor these additions to airport departure boards. What does that mean? Your chances of snagging decent introductory fares or a free seat using frequent flier miles are better than ever.

Connecting the global dots

Singapore Airlines has brought back nonstop flights between the island nation and the United States. Clocking in at a whopping 16 hours, this ultra-long-haul flight is made more comfortable thanks to the airline’s newly delivered Airbus A350-900 aircraft plying the route and offering lower cabin humidity, larger windows, and a more spacious interior cabin.

Singapore Airlines also launched new service from Houston Bush Intercontinental to Manchester, England, with continuing service to Singapore. Air Canada, a Star Alliance member like Singapore, began nonstop flights between Vancouver and Delhi, while alliance partner Air China is now connecting San Jose with Shanghai.

Another Star Alliance member, EVA Air, recently launched new service between Taipei and Chicago O’Hare and added second daily frequencies from Taipei to New York JFK and Los Angeles that depart midday (versus the traditional nighttime departure).

Other new transpacific flights include SkyTeam member and Delta partner Xiamen Air connecting Seattle/Tacoma with Shenzhen, China, on a nonstop basis. Delta also began new flights from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Tokyo Haneda, which land much closer to town than the former Tokyo Narita flight.

Sichuan Airlines, not affiliated with any airline alliance, began new service between Los Angeles and Hangzhou, China, with some pretty low fares.

Across the Atlantic, Aer Lingus is now flying new nonstops from Hartford, Connecticut, and Newark, New Jersey, to Dublin, Ireland. Emirates announced a stunner with new nonstop service between Dubai and Fort Lauderdale beginning in December. Fort Lauderdale is a major JetBlue base, and the two airlines codeshare on each other’s flights to allow passengers to connect to a large combination of cities.

KLM returns flying to Miami from its Amsterdam base with its recently launched transatlantic route. Low-fare airline Eurowings (a subsidiary of Lufthansa) began flights between Cologne/Bonn, Germany, and Miami. Further to the south, Oneworld member LATAM is now flying between Los Angeles and Santiago, making it the only carrier to operate that route nonstop.

Start planning for next year’s travel

A slew of new routes will launch in the spring and summer 2017, but now is the time to take a closer look if you want to score a free or discounted ticket.

In May, American will add service from Dallas/Fort Worth to Amsterdam and Rome and also launch new flights between Chicago O’Hare and Barcelona. American partner and Oneworld member Finnair will begin flying between its base in Helsinki and San Francisco by next June. Fellow alliance partner British Airways is adding plenty of new service from London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale and Oakland, California in 2017. Nonstop service from Heathrow to New Orleans is another of British Airways’ new route plans.

Star Alliance member and United partner LOT Polish will fly from Los Angeles and Newark to Warsaw starting in April, and Austrian will begin Los Angeles to Vienna in June.

Delta will connect New York JFK with Lisbon and bring back nonstop service to Berlin at the end of May. Delta will also compete with Aer Lingus with a new flight launching in May between Boston and Dublin.

Rapidly growing Norwegian is revolutionizing transatlantic fares with low prices between the United States and Europe while spurring fare wars with other airlines. The latest round of route additions includes flights between London Gatwick and Las Vegas and between Barcelona and Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Newark, and Oakland. There’s also a new flight between Copenhagen and Oakland giving plenty of new service to the Bay Area.

Discount airline WOW Air will fly between Pittsburgh and Reykjavik, Iceland, starting next summer with connecting service to Europe. Icelandair, a strong partner of Alaska Airlines, is not resting on its laurels either, announcing new service from Philadelphia and Tampa/St. Petersburg to Reykjavik in the middle of 2017 with its own network of ongoing connections and the option of a free stopover in Iceland.

New domestic options

JetBlue is now flying from Boston to New York LaGuardia, completing its trifecta of New York airports served from Boston. The airline is also launching new service from Fort Lauderdale to Long Beach in May 2017 and adding Mint service (the carrier’s flatbed premium seating) from New York JFK to San Diego in August of next year.

American began new flights between New York JFK and Tucson, Arizona, in October. Delta has already begun flying between Boston and Nashville. In February, Delta starts flights between Orlando and St. Louis; in March, it will launch flights between Milwaukee and Seattle; and in June, it will begin flying between Boston and San Francisco.

If you can plan ahead, these new route additions can represent excellent value whether using miles or searching for low fares.

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