Monday, March 31, 2008

Aloha Airlines Ends Six Decades of Island Spirit

Aloha Airlines halts all passenger service today. Meanwhile, the travel industry rushes to help passengers affected.
Since 2000, Aloha Airlines flew Bay Area travelers to the islands of Hawai'i, and reunited island residents with family and friends here on the mainland. But Aloha Airlines history, mixed with ups and downs, runs much deeper to the people of Hawai'i.

"When its first flight took off from Honolulu in 1946, the interisland carrier that would become Aloha Airlines was an underdog created by minorities determined to succeed in post-war Hawai'i...and being a passenger was like flying with a local-style party. Flight attendants served pineapple juice, sang Hawaiian songs, danced the hula and even played the 'ukulele." -Mike Gordon (Honolulu Advertiser)

"Across the Islands yesterday, Aloha Airlines employees — and their families — reacted to the news that their ailing airline was shutting down passenger service, effective today. After the initial shock, there was a range of emotions — anger, anxiety and sadness." -Mary Vosino (Honolulu Advertiser)

"This is to Hawai'i what Katrina was to Louisiana, we're very much integrated into Hawai'i." -Randall Cummings, pilot for Aloha.

"Aloha is like an 'ohana." -Coreen Dijos, customer service agent for Aloha.

"This is the one job where everybody is like a family." - Shavonn Okamura, Aloha staff

Visit the Honolulu Advertiser for special ongoing coverage including slideshows of the airlines history and video of employee reaction.

The travel industry has been quick to respond. United Airlines, and to a lesser degree Hawaiian Airlines are offering affected Aloha passengers special accommodations and/or discounts. Marriott and Aqua Hotels have invited existing guests unable to leave the island special accommodations.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Aloha Airlines Ceases Operations

Breaking News
Aloha Airlines, which has served the people of Hawai'i and mainland U.S for over 60 years, will end operations Monday. The airline, which filed for bankruptcy March 20th said in a press release that time ran out to find a buyer or secure other financing to keep the airline flying.

Passengers with confirmed flights on Aloha Airlines should contact partner United Airlines to discuss possible re-accommodation or discounted airfares.

This is truly a sad time for the people of Hawai'i, the some 1900 Aloha employees, loyal passengers and airline industry as a whole.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hidden Hotel-Room Dangers

Although this video from ABC News & Good Morning America initially comes on strong, showing just about everything you don't want to see of a hotel room, it concludes with some pretty good tips all of us can employ on our next hotel stay. Enjoy.

Friday, March 28, 2008

New Service: San Francisco to Klamath Falls & North Bend, Oregon

United Express & SkyWest Airlines have announced the introduction of daily flights from San Francisco to both Klamath Falls (LMT) and North Bend (OTH) beginning July 7, 2008. The twice daily flights to each destination will be operated by the 30-passenger Embraer-manufactured EMB 120 Brasilia aircraft.

SkyWest airlines serves 155 cities in 43 states, including a strong presence in smaller regional airports throughout California.

Tickets are currently available at

Thursday, March 27, 2008

American, Delta cancel hundreds of flights

Following yesterday's cancellation of over 200 flights, American canceled another 132 flights today, while Delta airlines expects to cancel 275 flights today and Friday. As mentioned in yesterdays post, the airlines are racing to check wiring bundles on their aircraft. Although no instance of immediate passenger danger was noted, the inspections resulted from audits from the airline and FAA. If you have flights scheduled this week, be sure to check your flight status with the airline regularly.

TVtrip Expands to include (a few) San Francisco hotels

Hotel video guide has expanded to include U.S cities, including San Francisco to its site. The site includes over 4000 videos of hotels located in cities throughout the world. Now you can see video of a hotel your considering staying at, its common areas, and even short clips of the surrounding neighborhood. Use TVtrip videos in conjunction with user reviews websites such as, to ensure the hotel you're checking out on the video is truly the one you want to check into.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

San Francisco to San Juan, PR $275rt tax included

This great fare is back! All the big name carriers are again offering a fare between $270 and $300 for travel now through August. Choose from United, Continental, Northwest, Delta and American.

For the best options, choose or
For more information on Puerto Rico - click here

American cancels about 200 flights today

American Airlines cancelled about 200 flights Wednesday so its crews can inspect wiring aboard its MD-80 aircraft. According to the airline, the inspections resulted from an audit conducted jointly by the FAA and AA. The list of cancellations, approximately 10% of the airlines scheduled departures, includes flights to and from the Bay Area.

These cancellations follow the temporary removal of several Southwest flights amid FAA allegations the airline failed to complete necessary inspections of its aircraft.

For flight status information visit

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

San Francisco to Las Vegas $97 RT/ taxes included

Virgin America is currently offering a $96.50 roundtrip - taxes included fare from S.F to Vegas. Travel is valid 7 days a week, through June 11th. visit

Jet Airways to begin San Francisco - Shanghai - Mumbai Service

Jet Airways will begin daily service from San Francisco to Shanghai and Mumbai starting May 5th. The hiring process has been going on for months at SFO, and the company recently loaded the schedule, but so far is not selling seats.

The Indian carrier previously announced they would operate a new Boeing 777-300ER's on this route, which feature individual suites in first class, including a 23-inch flat screen TV, eight-point massage system, and Internet & email on demand. According to airline officials, the entire plane will feature an enhanced mood lighting system that changes depending on the time of day and the time zone through which the aircraft is moving. At night, cabin ceilings will feature a starry effect, while at dawn and dusk the lighting will be gentle.

Visit for the latest updates, information or to book tickets.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Delta Airlines to charge $25 for 2nd checked bag

Following quickly behind the lead of United & U.S Airways, Delta Airlines announced today they too will begin charging $25 for most passengers checking in a second bag. The fee will start in May, and will not apply to Delta's most frequent travelers or those flying in first class.

Last month United and U.S Airways announced similar moves in an effort to grapple with rising fuel costs affecting the airlines.

What is the 'Clear' Registered Traveler Program?

(Thanks for the question Kathy)
For about $100 a year, you can "fly through airport security" as the Clear company tagline asserts, once you've signed up in the Clear Registered Traveler program.

The application process includes providing biographic information, fingerprints, a current photograph and images of your irises to the federal government. There is a $100 annual fee for the membership if approved, and a $28 TSA background check fee.

Once approved in the program, the "Clear" card (pictured to the left) allows you to get through security faster, often in just a few minutes, using dedicated "Clear" lanes. A thumbprint or retina scan are performed, and matched to the data you provided during the application process.

Once you receive the 'Clear' you then proceed to a metal detector and x-ray machine. The program is currently available at 13 airports throughout the United States, including San Francisco, San Jose and coming soon to Oakland.

Reviews have been mixed. Some travelers claim the Clear program and expedited line saved them from missing flights. Imagine bypassing lengthy lines, particularly during peak travel periods! Others claim $100 isn't worth the fee since the same security checkpoint procedures are in place, namely the x-ray and metal detector screening. Further, as more airports adopt the Clear program, it may become too popular, thereby diluting the original intended benefit of short lines.

For more information on the Clear program, click here
Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond and Platinum members may be entitled to one-year of free membership. For details, click here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

$91 Airfare Sale: Bay Area to Southern California

United Airlines is offering some pretty decent airfares from the SF Bay Area to Los Angeles and San Diego. Travel is valid now through May and available most days of the week.
Examples of the sale:
San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland/Sacramento to Los Angeles $91.20, roundtrip, tax included.
San Francisco to San Diego $91.20, roundtrip, tax included.
Memorial Day Weekend to L.A prices out slightly higher - just $99 bucks "all in"

Fares are available for a limited time and at a limited quantity. Visit

Saturday, March 22, 2008

inFLIGHTout Travel Tip
When you travel outside the U.S, some people recommend you keep a copy of your passport in a separate location, such as your luggage or wallet. This way, if your passport is ever lost or stolen, you have a copy to provide officials. Instead, or in addition to, consider scanning a copy of your passport and saving into your email box or other online file server. A scanned copy is crisp, clean and colorful, and looks pretty legitimate (although it is still just a copy). Plus, you have a copy of your passport anywhere in the world you may be, provided there is Internet access to retrieve it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

San Francisco to Hong Kong $605 RT/taxes included

Fare is available for April on both Northwest and United Airlines. United requires a 6 night minimum stay, Northwest does not. Those interested in visiting other destinations in Asia could consider low-cost-carriers that fly in/out of Hong Kong Airport.

Visit:,, or and select "flexible dates" option

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Delta Airlines 'Triple Your Miles' Bonus

Earn bonus Delta miles for flights into or out of Phoenix, Charlotte or Philadelphia. Double miles for paid economy tickets, triple for first class. You must register for the promotion here first.
Valid for travel now through April 17th.

Online booking bonus goes into the history books

By Mike Grasso

American Airlines announced it will discontinue a promotion in which passengers earned up to 500 miles for booking flights directly from the American Airlines website. According to the AA website, the final day to earn the bonus is March 31st.

But we shall not point thumbs down to our fine feathered friends at American. A time, not so long ago, most of the big carriers offered online booking bonuses. American, United, Delta, US Air, Continental and Northwest all offered up to 1000 miles per reservation just for booking tickets on their website. That bonus lessened over the years, and eventually most carriers phased it out all together. American is simply the last of the big carriers offering the bonus.

Because most airlines charge fees for booking on the phone with a representative, and some booking sites charge a service fee for airline tickets, the airlines figure you will book directly on their website anyway- why bother enticing folks with a few hundred miles.

So, write it into the books - it was good while in lasted.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

'Gone storm-chasing! Be back soon

As some of you know, another deeper passion of mine is Storm Chasing. Taking a red-eye flight out tonight and heading to Southeast Texas to intercept a possible severe weather event on Tuesday. Click here for the latest convective outlook. Be back real soon!

Airlines blast plan to fingerprint foreign travelers

(USA Today) WASHINGTON — Airlines are protesting a government plan that would require them to take fingerprints of foreign travelers as they fly out of the USA, saying it could create massive lines at airport check-in counters.

Congress has required that the 33 million foreigners a year coming into U.S. airports be fingerprinted when they arrive and leave the country but did not specify who should take the prints.

The Homeland Security Department, which currently fingerprints foreigners coming into U.S. airports, wants airlines to be responsible for taking fingerprints as these travelers leave.
More here

Monday, March 17, 2008

Destination Idea: Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe in Southern Africa
From Wikipedia: "Although Victoria Falls constitute neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, the claim it is the largest is based on a width of 1.7 kilometers (1 mi) and height of 108 meters (360 ft), forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world. The falls' maximum flow rate compares well with that of other major waterfalls."

"The unusual form of Victoria Falls enables virtually the whole width of the falls to be viewed face-on, at the same level as the top, from as close as 60 meters (200 ft), because the whole Zambezi river drops into a deep, narrow slotlike chasm, connected to a long series of gorges. Few other waterfalls allow such a close approach on foot. Many of Africa's animals and birds can be seen in the immediate vicinity of Victoria Falls, and the continent's range of river fish is also well represented in the Zambezi, enabling wildlife viewing and sport fishing to be combined with sightseeing."b

Check out Fogonazos blog for more great pictures and videos of Victoria Falls.

Friday, March 14, 2008

$50 Bucks Back from Northwest Airlines

Similar to a promotion that ran before, receive $50 cash back from Northwest Airlines when you purchase an airline ticket of $250 or more at and utilize Paypal as your method of payment.
Purchase by March 27, 2008
Travel between April 1 and June 14, 2008
You must have both a Northwest Worldperks & Paypal account
Click here for more information on this great promotion.
Reference Code: GNWP PAYPALCASH08

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Holiday Inn 'One Stay Two Ticket' Giveaway

Receive two free movie tickets from Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express with the One Stay Admits Two Movie Ticket Giveaway. Simply stay at a participating U.S. hotel between February 1 and April 30, 2008. Book the Double Feature Rate when making reservation. After your visit, you will receive an e-mail with everything needed to redeem free tickets to be used at virtually any movie theatre in the United States.
Click here to receive 2 free movie tickets from Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express with the One Stay Admits Two Movie Ticket Giveaway!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Southwest Grounds 38 Boeing 737's for Review

The Airline is reporting irregular operations and grounded aircraft after a review of maintenance records led it to question whether required testing had been done on some of the Boeing 737 aircraft. As of Wednesday afternoon, Southwest reported 4% of scheduled flights had been cancelled Nationwide, including from Oakland Airport.
More from the NY Times

San Francisco to Hong Kong $598 RT/taxes included

Hot Deal from one of the top airlines in the world - Singapore Airlines
San Francisco to Hong Kong (non-stop) $398+$200 taxes=$598
Purchase tickets by March 19th, and fly between March 24th and April 30th.
Departure travel is permitted Monday-Thursday only.
"V" class fare; typically does not earn frequent flier miles.

Boutique and Style Coming to Motel 6

By Mike Grasso
The budget, no-frills, side-of-the-road motel chain prominent on the West coast since the 1960's - Motel 6, may soon be carrying a new look and style. French-based Accor Hotels, the parent company of Motel 6, announced a 'Phoenix' prototype, which would "set a new standard for economy hotels," Olivier Poirot, chief executive for Motel 6 said in a press release.

The rooms (pictured below) would be arranged in a modern, European boutique-style design, with brightly painted guestrooms, flat-screen TV's and and hardwood floors.

Meanwhile the new, modern bathroom will feature double doors and a black granite counter top with a vessel/raised sink. The bathroom features a large vanity area with a bright decorative towel cubby on the wall that adds extra accent lighting.

“This design embodies the heart of Motel 6 – it’s no-frills, uncomplicated and efficient with a new modern edge,” said Jim Amorosia, president and COO of Motel 6 and Studio 6. “The Phoenix prototype offers the best of both worlds - an upscale feel at the lowest price of any national chain.”

The new prototype will be available to franchisees by summer 2009.

Orbitz 7 Day Sale: $50 bucks off a Hotel or Vacation Package

Here are the details: * Save $50 on 2+ nights on qualifying hotel or flight + hotel vacation packages * Book between: 3/10/08 and 3-16/08 * Travel by: 6/15/08 * Promo Code: SEVENDAY

7-day Sale - Expires 3/16/08 (300x250)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Attitude Hotels: A Collection of Gay Friendly Stays

The official launch of Attitude Hotels took place last week in Berlin during the ITB International Tourism Fair. Attitude represents unique hotels, Inn's and B&B's from around the world that identify as friendly and accommodating to gays and lesbians.

The founder of Attitude, Pedro Castro, says the Attitude brand will guarantee service and quality standards that make for a "gay natural" experience. Castro asserts a need for higher standards than simply a"gay friendly" approach used by larger hotel chains.

Attitude Hotels has 3-defined categories of hotels:
-Attitude Premium : luxurious accommodation; exceptional ambiance and unparalleled service. e.g. Royal Palms, Berns Hotel, Masia Casanova
-Attitude Comfort : superior accommodation; sophisticated ambiance and gracious service. e.g. Legends Hotel, Haus Romeo, Hotel Königshof
-Attitude Value : attractively priced; casual ambiance and practical service. e.g. Stars Guesthouse, Liberty Hotel, Connection Guesthouse

Currently 25 properties throughout Europe and one property in the United States are available. Castro has aspirations to expand to over 100 hotels worldwide by next year.

For more information visit

Monday, March 10, 2008

San Francisco to Guangzhou Service Begins June 18

United Airlines will inaugurate San Francisco to Guangzhou (CAN) service beginning June 18th. Operated by a Boeing 777 aircraft, the daily service departs at 12:35PM From San Francisco, with a journey just short of 15 hours.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

ATA Airlines Shrinks Airline, Drops Oakland - Chicago

Citing high fuel costs, discount-carrier ATA says it will slash flights out of Chicago Midway (MDW) Airport over the next couple months, including dropping Oakland - Chicago service effective April 14th. ATA once dominated Midway Airport, but since emerging from Bankruptcy a couple years back, cutting routes and expanding code share service with Southwest Airlines, less ATA can be found at MDW.
ATA says its scheduled service to Hawai'i and other Charter flights are not affected by the announcement.Passengers who have purchased tickets on the Oakland-Midway route for travel after April 14th will receive a full refund.

Friday, March 7, 2008

State of the Skies: Has flying become more dangerous?

In an ABC News closeup report dated January 10th (above), we learned that significant staff shortages are effecting key Air Traffic Control Centers in the United States. Some experts claim that under staffing, as well as fatigue and large numbers of ATC personnel recently retiring may be to blame for close calls by aircraft. The FAA asserts new personnel are quickly being hired to replace outgoing staff, and says regardless, the skies are safe.

Related Link: Fox News report describing close calls on the runway.
Save $50 when you stay 3 nights and you use your MasterCard - PROMO CODE: SAVE50

The Caribbean Cure! Book a Flight to Jamaica + 6 Nights From Only $712! PROMO CODE: AIR JAMAICA

Thursday, March 6, 2008

San Francisco to Honolulu $315 RT w/taxes

From BILLRNNP at Flyertalk
SFO-HNL for about $315 "all in" on United "T" fare, American "Q" fare and Northwest "K" fare.
Reportedly good availability, no blackout dates, good for travel through early June. "flexibile dates" option

San Francisco to Copenhagen Begins This Fall

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) announced plans to begin non-stop operations from San Francisco to Copenhagen later this Fall. The 3X weekly departures will be operated by Airbus-340 aircraft, featuring 3-classes of service: Business Class (with chairs that recline into a bed), Economy Extra (extra legroom and inflight service) and Economy Class.

In November 2001, SAS withdrew San Francisco plans because of a downward trend in air travel.

At present, SAS only flies to four other U.S destinations: Seattle, New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C. The added San Francisco service is expected to begin this November, although presently tickets are not available on their website.
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is made up of four airlines, SAS International, SAS Denmark, SAS Norway and SAS Sweden.

Purchasing Miles From the Airline - The Pros & Cons

By Mike Grasso

Purchasing airline miles directly from the airline is often a terrible method of accruing miles, both economically and practically. Some exceptions are noted later. First, the airlines usually price these miles at a premium, valued far higher than earning miles by most other means (flying, car rentals, credit cards, etc.)
For example, United Airlines will sell you 10,000 miles for $303 dollars. That $300 bucks could easily fly you to New York City for the weekend, and you'd earn 10,000 miles in the process. Therefore, there is no direct value added when buying miles from the airline.

Second, redeeming miles into a capacity controlled frequent flier program means the airline will limit your redemption opportunities on days, flights or routes it chooses. If it's a popular route, high-season, or holiday, you will have a tough time finding availability. They would rather sell expensive tickets than fill the plane up with people redeeming miles. And guess what? You are not the only person trying to redeem miles on a flight. Many people are competing for what is often limited overall availability. Thus, buying premium-priced miles for use on low-value flights with the added uncertainly seats will even be offered by the airline, isn't very practical.

But, buying airline miles can be situationally helpful. If you are 1000 miles short of 50,000 - enough for a free economy ticket to Europe, you may want to fork up the $50-$60 cost. In this case, call the airline first - check for award redemption availability before buying miles.

Another example is maybe you are 5,000 miles short of 90,000 - enough to fly Business Class on Singapore Airlines to Asia. The true value of that business class ticket is probably $6,000 or more. Paying $150 to cover your miles shortfall does seem tempting. Again, check for availability of award seats.

Lastly, as if they airline doesn't already have a strong-hold on these frequent flier programs already; buying miles is not a real-time exchange. United Airlines says it can take up to 48 hours to post to your account, American Airlines up to 72 hours. So while you are waiting for those purchased miles to post to your account, award availability may vanish from under your eyes. If you are in a situation like this, call the airline first, explain your scenario. They may do a courtesy hold if you provide them with your confirmation number of your miles purchase.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

SFO Airline Collectible Show Returns Saturday

Described as one of the longest running airline collectible shows in the country, the SFO collectible returns this Saturday, March 8th. For a $5 admission (and free parking), fans and collectors of airline memorabilia can purchase, sell or exchange airline goodies such as model airplanes, classic photos, books, rare china/glassware and more.

When: Saturday March 8th 2008 9am-3pm

Where: Best Western Grosvenor Airport Inn, South San Francisco

For more information visit:

Daylight Savings Time Begins Sunday

A reminder that Daylight Saving Time adjusts 1 hour forward for most people in the USA this upcoming weekend. "Spring forward, Fall back"
Interesting information about Daylight Saving can be found here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Southwest begins San Francisco to Phoenix operations this week

Bay Area travelers now have another option when flying to Phoenix, Arizona. Southwest Airlines begins flying non-stop SFO-Phoenix March 8th. This marks the fifth destination Southwest flies, non-stop from SFO airport. The airline will be joining United (TED) and U.S Airways who have previously dominated this market.

Video of Lufthansa Plane Narrowly Avoids Disaster

Kudos to the cockpit crew for working against strong head winds, and landing everyone safely.Video is of an Airbus-320 trying to land in Hamburg Germany last Saturday. The actual touchdown shows one of the winds nearly making contact with the runway.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sacramento - Philadelphia $190 RT/tax included

Sacramento (SMF) to Philadelphia (PHL) $190, round-trip, taxes included. (thanks FT)
Fare offered by Northwest (K-Class), United (L-Class), Frontier (Z-Class). For $10 more you can fly Delta (T-Class) or American (O-Class).
Travel permitted through August 22nd on most of these fares. View "flexible dates" calender at

Grand Opening - The InterContinental San Francisco

The largest hotel built in San Francisco since 1987 opened its doors last week. The InterContinental San Francisco, located near Howard & Fifth in the vibrant SOMA district, features 32 stories of floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the amazing views of the city. Amenities include an indoor lap pool, fitness center, and an 11,000-square foot spa and wellness center.

Just saw some pretty good rates from $152+ during the last weekend in March. Also, Intercontinental Hotels has a Visa promotion going on through March: Stay at an Intercontinental hotel in the U.S or Canada and Pay with your Visa card, you earn a $50 Visa Gift Card. Register here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Looking Back: "Best of" February Posts

Thanks for the suggestion Ryan!
With new readers coming on board each week, thought it might be fun to summarize the "best of" posts during the month of February. Enjoy!

-3-night Baja California Cruise from $199 per person
-The best traveler credit cards
-U.S Airways and United to begin charging for second check-in bag
-Fly to Istanbul round-trip for $533, taxes included
-Hotels charging $250 for smoking
-Virgin flies first bio-fuel plane
-Plus several new routes & destinations announced from Horizon, JetBlue, Southwest, US Air, United and more.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

San Francisco to New York (Newark) $209 Roundtrip w/taxes

Scoop up a ticket quickly...these will not last. "Fair" availability (as of 10:30am) and limited day/season restrictions make this deal HOT. No season restrictions, meaning the fare is valid through the end of the year, no blackout dates and no day limitations on this - yes, you can travel on weekends at this price (April particularly).

Visit: - search SFO-EWR (not NYC) using the flexible dates option. Fares are sold out on some days. Fare Basis: K14RV3N 14-day minimum advance purchase.