Friday, May 30, 2008

Horizon Airlines To Debut San Jose to Sacramento flights

Horizon Airlines, a subsidiary of the Alaska Air Group announced it will launch once daily service between San Jose, CA and Sacramento beginning August 25th. No other airline currently offers this routing. United Airlines/Skywest comes closest, with several daily flights between Sacramento and its San Francisco hub.

The new Horizon flight will be operated by a 76-seater Q-400 turboprop plane. Tickets can be purchased beginning June 15th.

Free Wi-Fi Now Available At San Jose Airport

Travelers flying through Mineta San Jose International Airport will now have access to complimentary WiFi on their next trip. According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the airport officially began offering the service on Thursday, and is available throughout the entire airport facility. In addition to San Jose, Sacramento airport also offers from WiFi for Bay Area flyers.

The complimentary San Jose WiFi service will eventually include ads, but users can opt for ad-free service for an $8 per day charge. About 30,000 passengers fly through San Jose airport each day.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

U.S Airways Eliminates Complimentary Pretzels

Starting on June 1st, US Airways passengers will no longer enjoy free pretzels on domestic flights, due to the carrier’s latest cost-cutting measures. Biscoff cookies, served during early morning departures, will be axed as well. It's unknown how much money the airline will save by eliminating these onboard munchies.
Also: American Airlines to increase the price of liquor and fresh food for sale sandwches starting June 1st.

Advantage Rent A Car To Offer 100% 'Green' Fleet

In a press release Wednesday, Advantage Rent A Car announced they plan on becoming America's first 100% green rental car fleet. "Our single ownership and nimble fleet size provide us the ability to make a commitment to reduce our carbon footprint in the United States," says Denny Hecker, Chairman of Advantage Rent A Car. "Advantage will offer its customers an environmentally friendly rental alternative, while trying to make a difference in the places where our customers live."

Advantage's commitment is to turn 100% of its fleet "green" over the next 24 months subject to manufacturers' assistance and vehicle availability.

Although the company does not currently offer rentals in the San Francisco Bay Area, they do have more than 100 locations throughout the United States.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

American Airlines 10% Off Discount Code

(From FatWallet)
American Airlines has released a promotion code that nets a 10% discount for online purchases.
Valid for tickets purchased at by 6/6/2008 for travel through 6/20/2008 - one way or roundtrip, in the continental U.S only. Enter promo code: AAMOBI10

Successfully tested this promo code for a flight SFO-LAX - works like a charm! Your savings are noted in the green text.

Travelocity Brings Back 'Flexible Dates' Feature For International Travel

Back in July 2006, Travelocity opted to disable the "flexible dates" functionality that allowed customers to search for the best international fares when travel dates were flexible. They did so after failing to reach an agreement with the Department of Transportation on how to show the most accurate fare when factoring in all surcharges, which vary by city and carrier.

Well, that wonderful feature is back! According to our friends at, Travelocity reintroduced this functionality late last week.

How it works: Let's say you want to travel from San Francisco to Paris (CDG). On the Travelocity website (and really most travel booking sites) you simply enter the travel dates you want to fly and the site returns with the best available prices. Easy enough. But using the flexible dates feature, which Travelocity again offers, the site searches 330 days in advance and reports back the least expensive travel dates. Most other travel sites do not have this extensive international search feature - being a notable exception.

I have not seen an official press release from Travelocity as yet regarding the recent changes. But let's hope this move is permanent, thereby enabling travelers with more tools when making travel plans. Two thumbs up for Travelocity.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Passengers Are Not Happy With SFO

According to a recently released J.D Power and Associates airport survey, San Francisco airport was ranked second to worst in terms of customer of service, among the 20 largest airports in the United States. The annual report ranked the airports based on passengers’ online responses to six factors: airport accessibility, baggage claim, check in/baggage check process, terminal facilities, security check and food and retail services.

San Francisco airport officials say these findings conflict with other research which gave SFO a 4 out 5 in terms of customer satisfaction . Read more from the S.F examiner.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Jet Airways Launched San Francisco Flights June 14th

After initially signaling a slight delay in its debut, Jet Airways now says it will launch San Francisco flights beginning June 14th. It will be the first India-based carrier to operate service into San Francisco. The daily service departs SFO at 8:45PM, arriving first into Shanghai, then continuing on to its India hub in Mumbai. Fares are running about $880+ into Mumbai, plus $400 in taxes and fuel surcharges. Visit for more information.

Friday, May 23, 2008

JetBlue To Drop San Francisco to Salt Lake City

According to the JetBlue website, flights from San Francisco to Salt Lake City will no longer be offered effective July 8th. The airline only operated one daily flight up to Salt Lake, and in the midst of record oil prices, will probably find a higher yielding route elsewhere in its system.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

American To Begin Charging For Any Checked Bag

By Mike Grasso
After recently announcing a $25 fee for a second piece of checked luggage, American Airlines said today they also will begin assessing a $15 fee for the first piece of checked luggage. The Dallas-based carrier says it will cut domestic capacity by 10-11% the fourth quarter, lay off possibly several thousand jobs, and add additional fees for certain transactions.

American, like other airlines, are facing tough economic times. They are racing to find methods to reduce operating costs and generate additional revenue to offset record high jet fuel prices.
The new $15 fee becomes effective June 15th. American is the only legacy carrier in the United States to charge such a fee.

The parent company of American-AMR, saw its stock plummet over 30% today, now selling just under a mere $7 bucks.

In effect, the airline will push more people to try and carry fuller, heavier bags onto already cramped overhead space.

With recent airline bankruptcies and shutdowns, fuel surcharges, limiting mileage accrual, and charging baggage fees, we are truly living in a new era of air travel. We should expect a turbulent ride in the coming months as more big changes are surely in store for a deeply troubled airline industry.

JetBlue 'Jetting to Green' Sweepstakes

Complete this form to be eligible for one of many eco-friendly prizes in the 'Jetting to Green' Sweeps from JetBlue Airlines. Enter by June 30, 2008.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Unexpected Performance In The Boarding Area

What a great performance for some lucky (or unlucky if you were sleeping) passengers waiting to board the plane. Be sure to turn your volume up. Credit to Tiffany for finding and forwarding this on to me - thanks!

Monday, May 19, 2008

San Francisco to Lima, Peru - $500 round-trip w/taxes

Fly round-trip on Copa & Continental Airlines from San Francisco to Lima for only $500 - tax included. Plus the rules may allow for up to 2 free stopovers enroute.

Fare Basis: QLO3R4M.
Valid for travel through December 2008 - except during most of June and all of July.

Visit to see current availability.

100 Free 'Thank You' Points

(From Flyertalk)
Those who collect 'Thank You' points will appreciate this link. Earn 100 points after you log in and enter promotion code "CITICCI508IN."

Click here for more information about the 'Thank You" program.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bonus United Miles For Safeway Delivery

For a limited time, United Airlines' GroceryMiles program will award up to 1000 miles for having groceries delivered to your home. Now through June 1, 2008 earn 500 mileage plus miles for a single delivery totalling $150 or more, and 1000 miles for spending $200 or more.
Click here for more information.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What is the Essential Air Service Program?

By Mike Grasso
Back in the late 1970's with airline deregulation, air carriers had much freedom to choose which domestic routes they wanted to fly. Favoring larger markets which offered high passenger loads and yielding higher returns often meant bypassing services to smaller communities.

So the government stepped in and introduced the Essential Air Service Program (EAS). Rural cities distanced more than 70 miles from a medium or large commercial airport qualified for a partial federal subsidy. Greater than 210 miles - no cap on the governments subsidy. So while United Airlines/Skywest Airlines may not want to provide air service from San Francisco to Crescent City, on the far north coast, a nice kickback from the government helps them reconsider.

Approximately 140 cities across the United States are part of the EAS program, mostly throughout the Midwest and Alaska. In California, SkyWest Airlines to Crescent City, and Air Midwest, serving Visalia and Merced, receive federal funds of up to $1 Million each year.

Opponents of the program say having service to rural communities promotes business opportunities, and better connects people to the rest of the country.
Critics say the essential air program is actually unessential, citing many flights actually depart with only a couple passengers, an unnecessary government expenditure. They also argue that since the program was developed nearly 30 years ago, regional airports have absorbed much of the demand coming from rural areas, making this program unnecessary.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Alaska Airlines Double Miles Promo: Bay Area to/from Seattle

Alaska is offering double Mileage Plan miles for flights between San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose to Seattle between June 1st and August 31st. You must register for the promotion prior to your first qualifying flight.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

United Drops 'Minimum 500 Mile' Accrual Policy

In an email to customers today, United Airlines announced they are doing away with awarding a minimum of 500 miles on short flights. The policy to date awarded 500 miles even for flights that were shorter - such as down to Los Angeles or Las Vegas. With the changes, mileage plus members will receive credit only for actual miles flown.

In effect in makes sense. You earn miles for what you fly. But particularly for business travelers who travel short distances, the rounding up of mileage accrual to 500 miles was icing on the cake. Effective July 1st, the icing goes away. All travel from July 1st on is subject to the reducing earning standard.

This change aligns with a similar policy change U.S air implemented earlier this year.

SFO's Old International Terminal To Fly Again

As we reported back in December, the old International terminal at SFO, known now as terminal 2 will be remodeled and put back into use in order to meet the demand for future travel.

This week the Chronicle reported that Virgin America is a confirmed tenant for the terminal which is expected to re-open in 2010. With the remodel, 14 gates will be available, which may prompt other carriers to switch to terminal 2 as well.
Read more plans about the remodel from sfgate.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Avis Rental Cars: 50% off Weekend Internet Rates

I'm usually quite skeptical on "half off" promotions; usually they amount to half off the highest published prices (who pays that?) and result in a discount nothing better than using other discount codes readily available on websites such as fatwallet. But, then I tested this Avis promotion in a couple different markets with much success. Steep discounts resulted, when compared to regular Internet rates and other corporate and group discounts.

The promotion is valid for rentals checked-out no later than June 30th, for weekend rentals of at least 2 days, and at select airport locations only. Click here to check rates.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Virgin America Plans Chicago Flights

Virgin America announced Monday their intention to add Chicago O'Hare to their growing list of cities served. The San Francisco-based airline currently flies to seven U.S destinations, and hopes to add Chicago by November. Subject to approval from the FAA, the airline plans to fly non-stop from San Francisco and Los Angeles into Chicago.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Southwest Passenger Cited for Cell Phone Chatter

(Associated Press Story)
A Southwest Airlines passenger who refused to get off his cell phone during a flight found Dallas police waiting for him Monday. Read More.

United Increases Fees for Award Travel

According to an update on the United website, higher fees will be incurred when making or changing award travel reservations with United Airlines.

  • Change fee of $150 applies for changing the routing or destination of an existing ticket. (Originally $100 fee)

  • $150 fee if you decide to cancel your ticket and redeposit miles. (Originally $100)

  • $25 fee for booking award travel with United Reservations phone reps, such as when booking with United partners. (Originally $15)

Additionally, the "last minute travel" processing fees policy has changed. You will now pay a fee of $75 for booking within 3 weeks, or $100 for booking within 1 week of your requested departure date. Previously the airline did not penalize you for booking travel 2 weeks or more in advance.

These new changes go into effect on May 15th, 2008. Tickets booked prior to this retain the original rules and fee structure. Click here for more information.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Southwest Adds Non-stop Sacramento to Denver Flights

Southwest Airlines announced the addition of a Sacramento to Denver route. Effective August 4th, the airline will add two daily non-stop flights. At present, travelers between these two cities have to connect in San Diego, Vegas or Phoenix. Introductory fares of $69 each way are currently available for purchase.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Free Rand McNally Road Atlas For Completing a Short Survey

(From FatWallet)
Fill out a short survey (1 minute) from DHL regarding your shipping needs and preferences and score yourself a free 80 page Rand McNally road atlas. Click here to sign up.

Flying Foul; Passengers Behaving Badly

(Thanks David)
Dropping nail clippings and melted chocolate in the seat back pocket; resting bare feet on the bulkhead and blowing noses into blankets other passengers will later use. All these are examples of inappropriate behavior some passengers partake in when flying.

In this article from the Wall Street Journal, author Scott McCartney shows us the less than glamorous side of airline travel - the flying foul.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

$25 Off Coupon for AirTran Airways

Sign up for AirTran's Net Escapes emails and receive a coupon got $25 off a future online purchase. Once you sign up, the discount code is immediately emailed to you.
You must sign up for this deal by May 11th. The discount is valid for travel until January 15, 2009.

Alaska Airlines Expands Its 'West Most' Schedule, Competition Underway

Fierce competition is underway between Virgin America and Alaska Airlines. Alaska Air, based in Seattle, is well established with routes throughout the West Coast. Meanwhile, San Francisco based Virgin America recently launched flights to and from Seattle with introductory prices as low as $73 each way. Alaska has responded with a huge "West Most" marketing campaign, designed to remind travelers of the extensive network and frequency of flights offered. 

Between San Francisco and Seattle for example, Alaska offers 10 daily flights, including a recent announcement of adding 2 new departures in July. If you add in Oakland and San Jose airports, Alaska has 24 daily flights up to Seattle. Virgin pales in comparison, operating only 3 daily flights. In fact, Alaska Airlines and sister-airline Horizon offer flights to 16 airports in California alone, whereas Virgin America flies to only 3 airports in the Golden State.

Despite lacking daily flights, Virgin America is more about a wonderful onboard experience. Probably no other domestic airline offers such good onboard amenities and features as Virgin.   But they are the new guy in town competing against Alaska, a familiar face to the Bay Area market. In time, we will see if both can survive in the same market.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Additional Non-Stop flights from The Bay Area to Austin

Southwest begins the first ever nonstop Oakland - Austin, Texas Service on Saturday. The early morning daily departure has a scheduled 3 hour 15 minute fly time.

Earlier this month, JetBlue launched new service from San Francisco to Austin.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

United Airlines 'Farewell to Spring' Airfare Sale

United just launched the "Farewell to Spring" airfare sale, offering discounted fares to select destinations. For example, San Francisco to Las Vegas is available for $94.50 round-trip with taxes, San Diego for $121, and New York City for $334.
Book tickets by Friday for travel through June 18th. Click here for more information.

"Last Minute" Baja California Cruises from $229 per person

Travelocity is currently advertising some "last minute" 3 and 4 night cruises from $229 per person. You can choose from Carnival or Royal Caribbean, departing Los Angeles or Long Beach, and travel down the Baja Coast on selected departure dates in May and June. Other great deals available in the Caribbean and Europe as well. Visit Travelocity for more trip ideas:

As with other cruises, taxes, fees and surcharges are additional. For Baja trips that adds about $90 per person/trip.

Monday, May 5, 2008

American to eliminate Oakland flights

According to a spokesman from Oakland International Airport, American Airlines will be cancelling all flights from the airport beginning September 3rd. According to the spokesperson, eliminating Oakland flights is part of a larger plan to reduce the airlines domestic flying by 5 percent.

American Airlines represented only 1 percent of Oakland International's total aviation revenue. But, American's move to withdraw from Oakland follows on the heels of ATA, Aloha and Skybus Airlines who abruptly ended operations last month, affecting thousands of Oakland flyers.

American says it will accommodate affected passengers by using flights currently operated through San Francisco or San Jose Airports, where a broader network of American flights is available.

Some content obtained from the San Jose Mercury News

Enter to win a trip to New York City, Miami or San Francisco with the Pick a Trip Sweepstakes.

Contest ends May 16th.

Click here to read terms and conditions & to register

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Why it's unwise to stash away frequent flier miles

By Mike Grasso
(reposted from March)

If you think the interest rate on your savings account is bad, take a look at the rate of interest you earn on frequent flier miles; none. Mastering the art of miles accumulation through travel or everyday chores such as shopping, eating out and drying cleaning is great, but if you simply let your miles build en masse without redeeming them, you're loosing value day after day.

Allow me to illustrate: Visualize your mass of miles as a lake, with a constant flow of fresh water (miles) pouring in. The lake is enormous, with plenty of room to waterski, fish and swim. You have bragging rights to this heap of water. It's all yours! Your earned it. But then suddenly, the dam that has kept all the water (your miles) in place, begins to let the water drain out. Sometimes the release is a few drops, other times it seems the water is pouring over the dam. In this analogy, the dam is the frequent flier program, or more specifically, the airline running the program.

You see, for every opportunity the airline offers you to accumulate miles (inflow into the lake), the airline equally controls the value and redemption opportunities of miles (outflow from the lake.)

How it works: Airlines are slimming down. They are thinning domestic flight schedules, forcing more passengers on fewer flights. The end result is fewer seats available to use your hard earned frequent flier miles on.

How it works: Each year airlines review their program and adjust the miles requirement for certain trips. With few exceptions, 25,000 miles is the standard in earning a free trip within the domestic U.S. But, the airlines have hiked up mile requirements for flying first class, or flying to some international destinations. When was the last time you heard of an airline lowering the miles required to earn a free flight? So as your mountain of miles grows, the airline simply changes its policy on how many miles are needed for redemption.

How it works: Many airlines such as United and American now charge a fee for redeeming your miles "last minute." So if you're having difficulty finding a seat in advance (for the reasons stated above), you might find a seat open up a week or two before the departure date. It's yours - but that free trip will actually set you back $50-$75 for booking "last minute."

Be Smart:

  • Don't spread your miles across many different airlines. Find a favorite airline or alliance and stick to it the best you can.

  • Don't let your miles sit stagnant, use them before they become devalued.

  • If you can't find seats available to use your miles on, keep trying. Seats sometimes open up in the overnight hours when temporarily held tickets never get purchased.

  • Monitor inFLIGHTout, flyertalk or other travel blogs to keep aware of pending changes in frequent flier programs

  • Maximize your mile redemption's; on International flights, some airlines allow a free stop-over or open-jaw routing.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Allegiant Air To Offer Monterey - Las Vegas Flights

Beginning May 30th, Allegiant Airlines will introduce non-stop flights from Monterey to Las Vegas. The flights will be operated by a 150-seater MD-80 aircraft, and depart Monterey at 3 p.m. on Wednesday's, Friday's and Sunday's.

Visit for more information.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Westin Hotels Pilots Wii Gaming System

Westin Hotels and Nintendo announced they would launch a pilot program to install the popular Wii game system to some of its hotel fitness centers. The specially designed for hotels game console will be pre-loaded with several games, including Wii Sports and Wii Fit, and work as part of Westin's existing WestinWORKOUT program.

On Thursday the systems were installed at Westin hotels in Bellevue, Washington and in New York City's Time Square. The system will be added to select Westin properties during May in Houston-Galleria, Kansas City, Mo., Hilton Head Island, S.C., St. Louis, San Francisco, Toronto, Hollywood, Calif. and Savannah, Ga.

Delta: Get $50 back when you fly West Coast to New York

Delta just announced a promotion whereby you will earn a $50 AMEX Gift Card for flying valid coast-to-coast flights booked at The offer applies to flights to/from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland to New York's JFK between May 1st and June 30th. Click here for more information and to register.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

InFLIGHTout Travel Tip - Wet Naps & Flying

Always carry wet naps or baby wipes when travelling.

Exactly who was sitting in the airplane seat before you? When was the last time the airline wiped down the tray tables on the aircraft? Why are the interior windows soiled? Rather than imagine what the answers to these questions might be, simply wipe down your seat area once you board the aircraft. A brief 30-second wipe down will rid the area of germs and make your flying experience a bit more pleasant, and healthier.

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JetBlue Launches San Francisco to Austin Nonstop Starting Today

JetBlue launches new non-stop service between San Francisco and Austin, Texas today. The single daily flight will be operated by a 100-Seat E190 Jet (shown on the left). The flight departs SFO at 8:30AM and arrives in AUS at 2:00PM local time.