inFLIGHTout (the daily blog) served the needs of Bay Area travelers from 2006-2010. The site remains up to provide a comprehensive listing of travel tools and resources. Please continue to follow me on Twitter. Happy and safe travels. -Mike
It's 8:30 in the morning at the Vegas airport and this guy is passed out stone cold in the gate area for our San Francisco-bound flight. His i-phone was laying nearby and continuously ringing (alarm clock). He slept right through it. Finally a brave woman approached, took the phone and placed the alarm into "snooze" mode. Minutes later, the rings began again.
Despite what appears like an awkward sleeping position, there were no signs he was prepared to awaken for his early morning flight.
Enjoy the humor in this, but also imagine the possibilities of what happened in your hotel room before you arrived. =) Something I learned a long time ago: Always remove the comforter from the bed as those are not usually washed after each guest checks out. This is a good first step toward limiting exposure to germs - or something worse.
An Ethiopian airliner carrying 83 passengers and 7 crew members crashed early Monday morning while enroute to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Abada. The plane disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff from Beirut around 2:30 a.m. local time Monday. Stormy weather was reported at time of takeoff. Officials are searching an area off the Lebanese coast where the plane was thought to have gone down.
Standard policy at most hotel states checkout time is usually no later than 12:00 - noon. But, if you find you need an extra hour or two, give a ring to the front desk and ask for a late checkout. Provided the hotel isn't sold out, they may allow a later checkout, upon request - with priority given to guests holding elite status. Also, if at first you are denied a late checkout, stop in at the front desk later and see if they can accommodate your request. Often customers cancel reservations at the last minute and rooms may quickly open up, thereby improving your chances to keep your room for just a bit longer.
Enter the Italian Getaway Sweepstakes from Lonely Planet for a chance to win an Italian vacation for two, including roundtrip business class tickets on Alitalia and three nights hotel accommodations. Register by January 31, 2010 for your chance to win.
I'm officially an advocate for using Priceline's, "name your own price" bidding program for hotels and car rentals. This past year I've saved literally hundreds of dollars on hotel rooms by using the bidding method compared to booking directly with the hotel. For example, in Boston, I stayed at a Four Points by Sheraton property for $60/night, even though the hotel site was selling the same rooms for $129! In Washington D.C., I picked up a Marriott room for $58 bucks a night which was otherwise selling for $139 on the hotel site.
But using the "name your own price" function on Priceline isn't for everyone as it has a few risks. First, it's an Opaque site meaning that although you can select the neighborhood and star-rating of the hotel, you do not know the exact hotel name you are bidding for until after your bid is accepted. Some people don't like this uncertainty. Websites such as betterbidding.com offer forums where people can post winning Priceline bid information, which can assist you in knowing which hotels might be included in your bid request. Second, generally speaking you do not earn hotel stay credit or frequent flyer points when staying at these extremely discounted rates. Finally, you are fully pre-paying for your reservation which means no changes or refunds allowed.
Overall, if you are looking for a great deal on a hotel or car rental (they offer this for airline tickets too), and you feel adventurous, consider Priceline's, "name your own price."
Monday, January 18, 2010
“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” - Seneca
Check out this "Just Plane Fun" video from the 1980's, starring former CEO Herb Kelleher and various ground and air staff, as they sing (rap) and dance (strut) about their roles with this company. Just gotta love the laid back culture that still exists today over at Southwest.
United Airlines resumes seasonal service between San Francisco (SFO) and Anchorage (ANC) airport this summer. The once-daily flight departs SFO at 3:50PM, arriving ANC at 7:32PM. The return flight departs ANC at 2:15PM, arriving back in the city at 8:01PM. Flights will operate between June 9 and August 30, 2010, utilizing a Boeing 757 aircraft.
"Should I purchase an airline ticket or redeem frequent flyer miles?" How many times I hear this question asked. Unfortunately, there is no single right answer. But let me offer some thoughts:
-If you are booking the trip "last minute" such as within a few weeks of travel: Some airlines may charge up to $100 for redeeming miles last minute.
-If your travel plans might change: Often you are allowed free date/time changes on award travel tickets (but not city or routing changes). Few purchased tickets allow fee-free changes.
-If you are flying to/from smaller regional airports: These fares often, though not always, cost more than through larger cities with more competition. It might make more sense to redeem miles if there is availability.
-If you want to earn banked and/or elite qualifying miles for your flight: Then you should buy your ticket. Typically you don't earn miles on award travel flights.
Then there is the cost factor. This will vary by person. Some people think 25,000 miles (the amount required for a free roundtrip domestic flight) is worth around $300, and will therefore use miles if the cost of a ticket is ~$300 or more. On the other hand, if the family budget is running a little tight this month, maybe redeeming miles makes good sense, regardless the price of the ticket. Again, this is more an individual/situational decision.
Because Southwest Airlines reached 1 million followers on Twitter, they are giving out $10 off coupons to all. Save $10 ($5 each way) on your next Southwest flight. Book by tonight, for travel January 21-March 1, 2010. Use this link, then apply promo code: TWITTERLUV during checkout.
Effective today, United rolls out its co-pay system for upgrade requests. Basically, buy a ticket it coach class, then use miles and cash to upgrade to the next level of service. The amount of miles and cash requires depends on the booking class (price) of your original coach ticket and where you are flying to.
One benefit to this change: Previously, if you bought a cheap United ticket you were unable to upgrade international flights. Now you can - for the right amount of money and miles. One drawback to this change: Many higher priced economy tickets which previously could be upgraded with miles alone now require a cash co-pay as well. Here are the specifics.
Enjoy free admission to several Sacramento-area museums and attractions on Saturday, February 6th in celebration of the 12th annual Sacramento Museum Day. Over 25 organizations are participating, including the California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town, and Explorit Science Center. Sounds like a great day trip with friends or the family to Sac-Town. Click here for more information and to see a list of participating museums.
Image: A restored Concord Stagecoach from the Wells Fargo History Museum in Old Sacramento.
Here's a local promotion for Amtrak & Capitol Corridor riders will appreciate. Spend $50 in travel between January 7 and March 13, 2010 on the Pacific Surfliner, Capitol Corridor or San Joaquin lines, and earn 1,000 points - enough for a free one-way trip on qualifying routes Click here for more information and to register.
Alaska Airlines officially ends SFO-LAX flights today. The airline had been down to just a single flight daily. Codeshare partner American will continue to operate several daily flights between the city pairs.
Cash-strapped Japan Airlines announced today they will join in partnership with Delta Airlines and integrate into the SkyTeam alliance. The airline had been negotiating with both American (OneWorld) and Delta (SkyTeam) for a capital partner.
Similar to a promotion offered in 2009, Alamo is again renting cars out for just $10/day at participating airport locations in the U.S. and Canada between January 7 and February 8, 2010. Weekend rates begin Thursday's at 9am and end on Monday. There is a requirement to keep the car through at least Saturday night for the discount. Click here for more details & to book.
Oakland to Eugene, Oregon - nonstop, is now just $29 each way on Allegiant Airlines. Discounted airfare is valid for outbound travel through March 5th. Allegiant operates flights between the two cities twice a week, Monday and Friday only. During the booking process, there are two items preselected for you - seat selection and priority boarding, which you must deselect in order to maximize savings. Click here to book.