Thursday, December 31, 2009

New United Q1 Promo: Fly Often, Earn up to 20,000 Bonus Miles

Check your email for a new United promotion awarding you up to 20,000 Mileage Plus miles when you book and fly roundtrips before March 31, 2010. This is a targeted offer, and registration is required prior to travel. Also, and this is a biggie, it appears only the higher fare buckets "H" and higher qualify. Therefore, inexpensive seats such as K/L/T/S/W booking classes likely won't qualify (check your specific offer to be sure however).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Travel Tool for Star Alliance Members Booking Award Travel

By Mike Grasso
If you accrue miles with a Star Alliance carrier such as United or U.S. Airways, you probably have a goal at some point to cash in those miles. Today I'd like to recommend an amazing resource (hat off to the Flyertalk forums) I've used for quite some time enabling a quick and easy search for award seats.

First, a good reminder that you are not limited to redeeming with the airline you bank your miles with. Generally you can redeem with others within the alliance. For example, you have a mountain of miles with United Airlines which can be used on Singapore, Lufthansa, and Continental, to name a few. But how do you know award availability on these partner airlines? Often, your "sponsoring" carrier may have website limitations showing award availability of Star Alliance partners. So here's the workaround (other than just calling the airline):

-Join ANA's Mileage Club (free).
-Visit the award availability page.
-After logging in, select the "Use Star Alliance Members" button

From here, you can search award availability for most Star Alliance members worldwide. This is particularly useful when trying to build a complicated itinerary, or one in which you desire some creative routing's. This tool is good preparation, homework if you will, before contacting the airline directly to book your award ticket. Too often phone reps don't take the time to search all possible options (ie: something as simple as routing from Oakland, if no seats are available from San Francisco).

A word of caution though: Although results showing availability are generally accurate, there may be a few instances when they are not bookable. For an interesting, long discussion on this problem, read this Flyertalk forum on StarNet blocking. In sum, use the ANA award availability page as a tool in your award search, but realize occasionally availability and bookability may be slightly off from each other.

Full URL for award availability tool linked above:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Security Measures for Some Flights Into the U.S.

In response to the attempted terrorist attack of a U.S. Airliner Friday, word comes of added security measures for certain international flights bound for the United States. This includes prohibiting passengers from getting up out of their seat or carrying any personal items in their lap during the last hour of a flight and tighter restrictions on carry-on bags. Some sources are reporting a complete ban of electronics on flights, including on-board entertainment.
But these new measures are not being applied consistently and some travelers have reported little, if any noticeable changes in security. In a statement, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, "These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same thing everywhere." This story is still developing. Visit Reuters for the latest.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Terrorist Attack Foiled on Detroit-Bound Flight

Breaking News: A Nigerian Man attempted to light a powder aboard a Detroit-bound plane Friday before it made an emergency landing at Detroit International Airport, in what the White House is now calling an attempted terrorist attack. The man had “some kind of incendiary device he tried to ignite” in a bag strapped to his body a U.S. official told NBC news. Two passengers witnesses the attempted attack, and a third jumped and restrained the man. More details from CNN.

Note: The plane includes Delta insignia, but operated by Northwest Airlines.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Orbitz 10% Off Hotel Promotion Code

Orbitz has released a 10% off promo code valid for hotel stays thru February 28, 2010.
Click here and enter promo code: ORBITZHOTEL10 during checkout. Book by December 31st to take advantage of this offer.

Bird Strikes Damage Four Planes at Sac Airport

Sacramento International Airport ranked second in the country for the number of serious bird strikes since 1990.
Four planes were damaged within a 14-hour period last weekend in separate bird strike incidents. The latest occurred with a Southwest Airlines was hit during final approach from Portland. The plane made a normal, on-time landing, but needed repairs before returning to flight.

1,553 bird strikes were reported at Sacramento Airport from 1990-June 2009, most with little or no damage to the plane.

LGA Reading Material

Reading material while at New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

Photo and caption credit:
Joe.My.God (one of my favorite non-travel blogs)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Save on airfare, hotels, car rentals, and more!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

WestJet Adds Additional San Francisco Routes

Canada-based WestJet unveiled its Summer 2010 flight schedule, including new routes from San Francisco to Edmonton and Vancouver. The 3-times weekly Edmonton flights begin May 8, 2010, while once-daily Vancouver flights commence June 28th. Both routes are considered Seasonal additions. Click here for more information.

WestJet currently serves San Francisco airport with flights to its Calgary hub.

Monday, December 21, 2009

TSA's Secure Flight Takes Off

TSA's latest security measure - Secure Flight, began rolling out to the airlines earlier this year. Although most of the legwork in behind the scenes between the airlines and TSA, some work is required by passengers - in advance, to avoid possible inconveniences at the airport.
How it works: Airlines collect additional information for each passenger and pass this information on to the government. Once received, names are reviewed to ensure those on government no fly lists don't make it on board, and to determine which travelers who for enhanced airport screening. This information is then transmitted back to the airlines.

Information you will need to provide the airline: Full name, as it appears on government-issued I.D when traveling; Date of Birth; Gender; Redress number (if applicable).

Secure Flight is currently being phased in with each of the airlines - not all airlines require it yet. But if you have upcoming reservations it's a good idea to check those itineraries and provide any requested information in advance.

Here's a 90 second clip from TSA with more information on the program.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

San Francisco to Lima $332 RT "all in"

American Airlines offering SFO-Lima, Peru for just $332 roundtrip, including all taxes and fees. Valid for travel thru May 2010. Search using travel tools along the left column.

Friday, December 18, 2009

San Francisco to Madrid $605 Roundtrip w/tax

Fly San Francisco to Madrid, Spain for just $605 roundtrip, including all taxes & fees. Valid for outbound travel through most of March on both Delta and Continental. Click here and search by "flexible dates."

Note - other airlines have lower base fares, but Delta and Continental price out lowest (at time of posting) when adding in taxes & fees.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Boeing 787 'Dreamliner' Takes First Flight

After more than two years of delays, Boeing officially took its 787 'Dreamliner' into the skies today. Today's four hour flight around the Washington state area will allow a two member crew to perform basic tests and system checks of the aircraft. Japan's All Nippon Airlines is expected to take delivery of the first Boeing 787 later next year. Complete coverage from MSNBC.

Monday, December 14, 2009

30,000 Feet: Frequent Flyer - Join the Club

Check out this short PBS documentary on -really- frequent flyers who do it for the love of flying, the love of miles, and occasionally the love of the cities they visit - even if for 30-minutes. Filmmaker Gabriel Leigh (Cal-Grad!)does marvelous work here discussing how to maximize earning potential and the resulting payouts, such as first class seating and lounge access.

Meanwhile, Randy Peterson, founder Flyertalk, a popular online community of frequent flyer enthusiasts, describes how people who take the time can learn the tricks to reap the most benefits, often with minimum ongoing financial investment. Sounds like some of the spam messages I get in my inbox everyday! But - Randy is absolutely right! My own experience as a "mileage runner" and member of Flyertalk have taught me the tricks of the trade, how to cash-in on obvious and not so obvious travel opportunities, and how to help others do the same. OK, OK, - I'll save my story for another day. On with the show!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

BART Board Approves People-Mover to Oakland Airport

BART directors approved a measure today that would provide a driverless train system for passengers traveling between Oakland Airport and BART. Construction on the $440 million contract will begin next Summer, with full operation of the people-mover by 2013. Currently AirBART provides shuttle bus service between Oakland's MacArthur Station and Oakland Airport.

JetBlue Sale

The "Cooling Off" Period When Purchasing Airline Tickets

By Mike Grasso

Sale airfares come and go within a few days, while unadvertised drops in fares usually last just a matter of hours. Take some relatively recent examples such as Los Angeles to Fiji for a few hundred bucks, and San Francisco to upstate New York for $2 bucks. One minute you see them, next minute - poof, fare be gone. You're craving a vacation and the "deal of the century" is right before your eyes, but you're not sure how your significant other & work will feel about you taking more time away. How do you break free of your ambivalence to book?

While I don't have the perfect answer to that question, but perhaps more time to think it over will help! Most airlines offer some form of a "cooling off" period. They don't officially call it that, but essentially it allows you to purchase a ticket on their website and then later decide (usually within 24 hours) to cancel and receive a full refund, giving you plenty of time to chat up the S.O and Boss. This policy can can also be helpful if, for example, after booking you realized you selected the wrong date of departure, giving you an opportunity to make the correction at no charge.

A variation to the refund scenario is a 24-hour hold policy, whereby after you build a reservation on the airline website, you can place it on hold for up to 24-hours. Airlines offer a refund or hold - not both. Below I've outlined and linked the policies of major U.S. carriers. These policies are subject to change, and may not apply to every specific scenario, but do provide a general rule to follow when booking with the different airlines.

Southwest Airlines: (no link) 24 hour cancellation policy. Beyond 24 hours, Southwest does not charge a change fee, allowing you to hold as travel credit up to a year from date of purchase.

Continental Airlines: 24-hour cancellation policy

U.S Airways: 24-hour HOLD & cancellation policy

Virgin America: 24-hour cancellation policy

Delta Airlines: Cancellation until midnight the next day.

United Airlines: 24-hour cancellation policy

American Airlines: 24-hour HOLD policy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Redeem 5,000 Delta Miles for a $50 Gift Card

-See updates below-
The most obvious way of redeeming air miles is to use them for "free" award flights. But, if you can't find award availability, or you just don't have the minimum required for a flight, Delta has a new option: Redeem them for gift cards.

You can select a $50 gift card for every 5,000 miles redeemed. That's a 1:1 ratio, a fairly good value for the consumer. Select from a variety of familiar brands, such as Macy's, Barnes and Noble and Old Navy. Visit for more information and to redeem.

Update- Got a few emails on this; the system was down for "maintenance" Tuesday evening, and it's now back up. Surprise: Seems they also upped the redemption's to 8,000 miles for a $50 gift card. Unsure if the discount was temporary, or if they became overwhelmed with redemption's since the deal was posted on sites such as fatwallet and ebates. This is definitely not as good of an offer as before.

Monday, December 7, 2009

$20 Rooms at Select Howard Johnson Hotels

(Update: Rates gone as of 4:55 PM)

HOT! A price mistake, or just a great deal?

$20 rooms are available at for select properties throughout the U.S. Many cities do not have HoJo hotels, and/or not included in the $20/night results.

Here are a few of the cities we have found @ the $20 rate.
San Francisco Airport, Orange County, Torrance, Washington D.C., Clearwater, Florida, Anchorage, Alaska, and my favorite so far: Howard Johnson Inn Plaza de Armas in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Complimentary WiFi and/or breakfast are available at many hotels.

HoJo properties vary in quality! Some are rather amazing, others...not so much. Check TripAdvisor reviews before making your purchase.

To maximize this deal, link thru click on ebates and earn 1.5% cash back. Hurry, these prices won't last long.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Save 10% on American Airlines Flights

This deal requires about five minutes of work (playing a game) in order to claim the discount coupon. Basically, play an online soccer game for three minutes, then you get sent a 10% systemwide American Airlines discount code, valid for travel through February 28, 2010. There are a few blackout dates around the holidays, otherwise it's a pretty solid coupon that can save you a good amount of money.

Step 1: Visit
Step 2: Register, and play the short game
Step 3: Upon completing the game, click on the promotion code tab
Step 4: A password will be emailed to you, enter the PW at the designated location
Step 5: An American 10% off e-cert will be immediately sent to you.
Step 6: Book & Fly

I went through these steps and the 10% discount code worked just fine. Enjoy!

Snow Likely in on the Valley Floor Monday

The National Weather Service continues to predict snow in parts of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley's, including in Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto. The snow is expected to begin early Monday morning and last through early afternoon, with total accumulations of 1-3 inches possible. Those of you familiar with the area know, snow is a rare in the Sacramento area.

Not all models are in agreement for this snow event, but if it does pan out, could be a record - as the most significant snowstorm hit Sacramento back way back in 1888, where 2.5 inches of snow fell.

Travelers through Sacramento (SMF) should stay tuned for changing weather conditions.
Elsewhere, snow levels around the Bay Area are expected to drop to 1,000 feet Monday, locally lower in any heavy downpours.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Swiss Airlines to Launch Flights Between San Francisco and Zurich

Swiss Airlines confirmed this week they plan to launch flight between San Francisco and Zurich, Switzerland beginning June 2, 2010. The flight will operate 6 days a week on a 3-cabin Airbus 340 aircraft.

The schedule is as follows:
SFO - ZRH Departs 7:25 PM, arrives 3:40 PM the next day.
ZRH -SFO Departs 1:15 PM, arrives 4:30 PM the same day.

Swiss is a member of the Star Alliance network.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Discounted Parking at Bay Area Airports

How about a few bucks savings (per day!) for airport parking this holiday season? lists some of the private parking facilities around Bay Area airports (and beyond) offering discounted parking deals. If you already use any of these facilities, this is a no brainer: clip the coupon and go. If you plan on parking for an extended period of time, consider Park & Fly options at participating airport hotels, where paying for a 1-night hotel stay can net you several days of free parking.
In addition to the offers above, also consider Park SFO, one of my favorites, located just a few minutes from the airport with frequent shuttle runs and friendly staff. Park SFO coupons.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday Airfare Deals Available Today Only

United and JetBlue are both offering some decent "Cyber Monday" airfare deals. Here are some examples:
San Francisco to Los Angeles/San Diego/Orange County/Seattle - $39/each way
San Francisco to New York-JFK/Boston/Washington-Dulles - $99/each way
San Francisco to Fort. Lauderdale - $94/each way
-Purchase by tonight at Midnight, for travel January 5- February 11, 2010.

San Francisco to Austin $69/each way
San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose to Long Beach $39/each way
San Francisco/Oakland to New York-JFK/Boston/Washington-Dulles - $99 each way
-Purchase by tonight at Midnight, for travel December 1-December 16, 2009.

JetBlue Sale

British Airways to Pay Expenses in Fare Foul-Up

The U.S. Department of Transportation said that British Airways has agreed to compensate consumers for cancellation penalties and other expenses incurred due to the carrier's erroneous offer of $40 fare between the United States and India. The carrier realized its error nearly immediately and removed the fare within minutes from its own website, but it remained on the websites of certain on-line travel agents for about two hours. During this time, more than 1,200 bookings were made covering approximately 2,200 passengers.

British Airways cancelled the bookings of all passengers who purchased the fare and, before the Enforcement Office began its review of the matter, offered all affected passengers a travel voucher valued at $300. Now British Airways also has agreed to reimburse passengers resulting from having relied on the erroneous $40 fare. These could include fees for cancelling flights or cancelling hotels, rental cars or other ground arrangements, as well as additional costs incurred in rebooking flights due to fare increases on previously held flights that were cancelled in order to book the $40 fare.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action." - W.J. Cameron

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Purchase a $100 Best Western Gift Card, Get a $10 Gift Card & More

For a limited time, purchase a $100 Best Western gift card and you will receive a $10 gift card bonus from a choice of merchants, including AMC, Starbucks and Macys. Plus, if you purchase the gift card through FatWallet you may earn 3% cash back (I don't see where gift card purchases are excluded in the t&c's-but you should take a peak yourself). And, use a high yielding rewards credit card to make the purchase, and earn between a 1-5% rebate.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Possibly the Best Airline Credit Card Offers Available

By Mike Grasso
It's new, it's hot, and it's all the buzz over in the Flyertalk and FatWallet forums. We're talking about British Airways Visa Signature Card from Chase - where you can earn 50,000 miles for using the card once, 100,000 for spending $2000 within 90 days. But, there are strings attached.

According to the offer, new BA Visa Signature cardholders will earn 50,000 British Airways miles upon first use of the card - enough for a free roundtrip ticket to Europe. Then earn another 50,000 miles when you spend atleast $2000 within 3 months of account opening - which scores you a second roundtrip ticket. Wowie wow!

And now the strings: As with most award ticket redemption's, the customer is responsible for paying all applicable taxes, fees and fuel surcharges. Unfortunately British Airways is notorious for being the "industry leader" in tagging these charges on. So be aware that your award ticket redemption may set you back up to $250 if flying British Airways. Also, British Airways offers limited service to/from the Bay Area, so availability for award seats, which are capacity controlled, may be slim pickins. Finally, keep in mind there is an annual fee on the card of $75.

But here's some good news: You can redeem BA miles on partner airlines, such as Japan, Qantas, and Cathay Pacific, from 50,000 miles. Or choose to use the miles for domestic trips on U.S.-based partners, American and Alaska from 25,000 miles, and the fees would likely be fairly insignificant compared to flying internationally. Something else to be all jazzed about: British Airways has a pretty robust search engine for searching award availability with partner airlines, which helps limit the need to contact the airline directly for bookings.

Overall, this offer impresses me, and may very well be one of the best deals out there. I just received my approval this week and will report back any difficulties. If you are interested in applying, do it soon as word has it the offer may be pulled by months-end.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

U.S. Senator Calls for Probe of Frequent Flier Programs

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is calling for a federal review of complaints by consumers that they are losing millions of frequent flier miles without notice in confusing agreements.
Schumer wants to establish industry rules for frequent flier programs that are billed as a free benefit to help attract and retail customers. There are few restrictions now on how airlines can manage and redeem the miles. Read more.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

SFO/OAK-Boston or New York-JFK $79/each way on JetBlue

Catch a flight on JetBlue from San Francisco or Oakland nonstop to Boston or JFK for just $79/each way + tax. Comes to $179 roundtrip w/taxes and fees. Valid for travel December 2-December 16th and January 6-January 28th. United is matching the fare from Oakland, but a mandatory connection in Denver causes the fees to increase $20, for an "all in" price of $200.
Click here and search by the "flex dates" function.

Also visit: JetBlue Sample Sale (Today only)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

United, Continental Offer Free Upgrades to Most Loyal Customers

In a relationship that seems to be getting rather close, Continental and United Airlines jointly announced a wonderful reciprocal benefit for elite-level flyers: Complimentary Domestic upgrades. This means United Mileage Plus elite members can enjoy free rides up front on Continental (and United), and Continental One Pass elite members can taste United's first and business class product as well. The complimentary upgrade policy goes into effect next Summer.
Clearing order for complimentary upgrades (as space is available):
Traveling on United: United Global Service, 1K, and Premier Exec clear first, followed by Continental Platinum and Gold Elite.

Traveling on Continental: Continental Platinum Elite, followed by United Global Service and 1K, then Continental Gold and Silver members.

Continental just joined the Star Alliance program a few weeks ago but their relationship with United dates back to June 2008. Recently, for example, United announced Red Carpet Club members can now access the network of Continental President's Club lounges worldwide.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Listening in on United's Channel 9

By Mike Grasso

Among the variety of audio selections available on United Airlines’ aircraft is Channel 9, which is dedicated to air traffic control communications. This programming, unique to United, allows passengers to monitor the airwaves and listen in on discussions ranging from upcoming weather and pilot reports of turbulence. Although most of the communication between air traffic control and pilots is fairly routine such as orders to adjust altitude, occasionally some rather exciting conversations take place.

In one instance, I listened in on a JetBlue flight requesting a reroute due to a depleting fuel supply from unanticipated inclement weather. Conditions continued to deteriorate until the pilot demanded to immediately land the aircraft in a nearby city. In another example, our pilot was within 50 feet of landing on the runway at SFO when he decided to immediately abort landing and quickly ascend back up. The reason as heard on Channel 9: Onboard computer was warning of a spacing issue as another plane was landing on a parallel runway. Definitely some exciting activity and exchanges of words on Channel 9, although most of the time it is pretty tame.

Channel 9 is available on most mainline United Airlines (not United Express) aircraft, and is subject to pilot discretion whether to substitute alternate programming.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Air Berlin to Launch Seasonal Service to San Francisco

Beginning next May, Air Berlin plans to operate flights between Dusseldorf and San Francisco. The twice-weekly seasonal service begins May 12 and runs through September 29, 2010, and will utilize a long-range Airbus 330 aircraft.
"When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money." - Susan Heller

Thursday, November 12, 2009

SFO-Fort Lauderdale $99 Each Way

Virgin America begins service to sunny Fort Lauderdale is just a few days. To celebrate, they are offering $99 introductory one-way fares ($198 round-trip) from the West Coast. Purchase by November 30th, for travel November 18 to December 16, and January 6 to February 10, 2010. 3-day advance purchase required.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Free Airport and Airplane WiFi for the Holidays

Just in time for the busy travel season, Google is offering complimentary WiFi at 47 participating airports and on all Virgin America flights. Simply bring along a WiFi enabled device and stay connected to friends and family - for free, through January 15, 2010.

Local airports participating: San Jose, Monterey, Sacramento.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Earn 1,000 AsiaMiles for Booking Online With Cathay Pacific

Now for a limited time, earn 1,000 AsiaMiles for booking a one-way or round-trip ticket between San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto or Vancouver and Hong Kong and beyond - or between Vancouver and New York. You must register for this promotion, purchase qualifying tickets at, and travel by December 20th to qualify for the bonus miles.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Two Amtrak Bonus Point Offers Now Active

In addition to the double points promotion (registration required) running through December 19th, Amtrak riders can also earn a bonus 250 points for the first Acela trip, or 100 points for the first trip on all other Amtrak trains. The new offer applies to travel between November 4 and December 19, 2009.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Free Personalized Luggage Tags from KLM Airlines

For a limited time, Amsterdam-based KLM Airlines is offering U.S residents a pair of free luggage tags. Choose one of the free designs, or upload your own. Plus enter for a chance to win a pair of roundtrip airline tickets. This promo may end at any time, so order yours today.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Las Vegas Sale!

Roundup of Travel Contests and Sweeps

Got 10 minutes to spare for a free vacation? Though so! Here are five hand-selected travel contests/sweepstakes currently open for submissions. All are sponsored by reputable, or at least well-known companies. Be sure to check out the terms and conditions with each before entering. GOOD LUCK!

Win a vacation to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, including air, hotel and a Sundance film ticket.

Enjoy a Taste of the World, including a grand prize trip to India, from Conde Nast Travel.

Enter the Chelsea Down Under Sweepstakes for a chance to win a 6-Day Vacation to Australia, including roundtrip air on V Australia and attend a special taping of the hit E! show.

Escape to Myrtle Beach, SC for a five-night stay in a luxurious oceanfront home. Includes RT air.

Take a trip to San Diego for Comic-Con 2010. Includes Air, Hotel, $2000 cash and more.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Historic Cathedral Hill Hotel Says Farewell

The 44-year old, 400-room, 12-story tall Cathedral Hill Hotel at the corner of Geary and Van Ness served its last guest Friday. The building will be demolished and rebuilt for California Pacific Medical Center, with a move in date of 2015. Read more from SF Gate.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Double Points for Amtrak Travel Thru December 19

Amtrak, included the Capitol Corridor between the Bay Area and Sacramento, continues to offer double points for all travel thru December 19, 2009. Click here to register.
A reminder to set clocks back 1 Hour before bed Saturday Night--daylight savings time ends November 1 at 2 A.M.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Southwest Airlines $25/$50/$75/$100 4th Quarter Sale

Similar to a sale they offered earlier this year, Southwest has again discounted airfares to as low as $25 each way, depending on the total distance of the flight. Here's what you pay:

-Flights under 375 miles cost $25
-375-549 miles cost $50
-550-999 miles cost $75
-1000 miles+ cost $100

Travel permitted December 2-December 16, 2009 and January 5-February 10, 2010.
Purchase tickets by Midnight October 29, 2009 to take advantage of this sale.

Also - later this morning, other airlines may start matching the Southwest fare, click here to search other airlines.

Accor Hotels' 3-Day Super Sale Begins Today

Starting today and lasting just 72 hours, Accor Hotels is discounting hotel rates throughout Asia/Pacific region. Rates start at just $51/night, and valid for bookings between December 1, 2009 and February 28, 2010. Accor properties include Mercure, Novotel, and Pullman Hotels.

Monday, October 26, 2009

United Discounts Award Travel to Europe and Middle East

United Mileage Plus members can now save 20% off award travel redemptions for flights between the United States and Canada to Europe and the Middle East. The discount applies to economy class tickets on United Airlines flights booked by October 31st, for travel between January 10 and March 15, 2010. For example: A roundtrip flight between San Francisco and Rome which normally requires 55,000 miles, can be had for just 44,000 miles.

Friday, October 23, 2009

United Picks Up San Francisco - St.Louis Route

United Airlines announced Thursday it will pick up operations between San Francisco and St. Louis (STL). The new once-daily flight begins February 11, 2010, operated by an Airbus 319 aircraft.

Last month, American announced huge forthcoming cuts at STL to destinations across the country, including to SFO. The AA timetable no longer shows nonstop service between SFO and STL beyond April 5, 2010.

Expedia Holiday Kickback

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Air Force One Under the Sun

"The press pool gathers under the wing of Air Force One, prior to President Barack Obama's departure from George Bush Intercontinental Airport, in Houston, Texas, Oct. 16, 2009."

Official White House photo by Pete Souza, accessed from the White House Flickr photo stream

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ideas on Redeeming Low Balance Frequent Flyer Accounts

By Mike Grasso

I'm often asked what to do with a few thousand miles stored in a frequent flier account. Since most airlines require 25,000 miles for a free domestic award redemption, it may take quite some time to bump that mileage balance high enough for a free flight. One idea is to redeem miles for a magazine or newspaper subscription, which require as little as 400 miles.

Here are some examples:

Magazine subscriptions
-12 issues of Conde Nast Traveler for 600 miles AAdvantage miles
-12 issues of Wired for 400 SkyMiles
-50 issues of Business Week for 1600 AAdvantage miles

Newspaper subscriptions (mileage may vary by market)
-8 weeks of the San Francisco Chronicle (7X weekly) for 1534 SkyMiles, 1840 AAdvantage miles or 2300 MileagePlus miles.
-39 weeks of the Wall Street Journal (6X weekly) for 2626 AAdvantage miles or 3282 MileagePlus miles.

Many airlines also allow you to redeem miles for dining certificates and airport lounge access. You can even donate small sums of miles to charity. To take advantage of these and other offers visit your airline's frequent flyer page to view all redemption opportunities.

Access 600 airport lounges

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

JetBlue No-Trick All-Treat $31 Sale for Halloween

Today only, make a reservation to fly on October 31, 2009 and your ticket costs just $31 each way. Just checked a flight from SFO to Boston... Yupp, just $31. This is the JetBlue No-Trick All-Treat Halloween promotion. Of course, if you arn't traveling on on October 31st, such as your return trip, you pay standard pricing - which on the Boston route meant a mere $99. Not bad! $31 seats are limited and valid on nonstop flights only, so book today by 11:59 PM mountain time.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Remote-Controlled Airbus 330 Evening Exhibition Show

Now this truly looks like hours...err, days of nonstop fun. In this video a remote-controlled Airbus 330 performing a touch-and-go, then later in the movie performs another landing and slowly proceeds back to the crowds for a photo shoot. The careful attention to detail, such as the lighting and engine sounds are incredible and bring life to the plane. Other videos around YouTube include RC Airbus 380, A340 and other popular "birds." Enjoy - and thanks Jason for forwarding this.

Free Wi-Fi on Virgin America Flights for a Limited Time

Google and Virgin America have partnered up to offer a holiday treat to upcoming flyers. Between November 10 and January 15, 2010, enjoy complimentary web surfing on all Virgin America flights throughout the country. Details here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Save 20% on United Frequent Flyer Award Redemptions

Monday is the final day to redeem miles at a 20% discount.

For the second time this year, United Airlines is offering customers a 20% discount off award certain award redemptions. This time around, United flights wholly within the continental U.S and between the U.S and Canada are eligible for the discount. For example, a flight between San Francisco and Boston which normally runs 25,000 miles, is available for 20,000 miles during this offer.

Ticketing period runs through October 19th for travel between January 10 and April 30, 2010.

Hurricane Rick - 2pm Advisory

From the National Hurricane Center
2pm PDT Sunday, October 18, 2009

--Position: 450 miles South of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
--Movement: WNW 14 MPH
--Maximum sustained winds: 160 MPH (Category 5 Hurricane)

A general decrease in intensity is forecast over the next 48 hours, however Rick expected to make landfall as a dangerous Hurricane later this week.

United Airlines and American Airlines travel waiver for customers flying through Los Cabos

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Second Strongest Hurricane On Record In Eastern Pacific Aims for Cabo

Officials at the National Hurricane Center are now calling Hurricane Rick the second strongest hurricane on record in the Eastern Pacific. As of 8pm Pacific time, Rick was located 295 miles South-Southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, moving West-Northwest near 14 mph. The storm is expected to make a turn to the North by Monday. Maximum sustained winds are now up to 180 mph, with stronger gusts -making Rick an extremely dangerous Category Five Hurricane. Additional strengthening is possible overnight, before a slow gradual weakening commences.
Most forecast models show a weakened version of Hurricane Rick hitting southern tip of Baja by the middle part of next week. Anyone planning travel to this region should keep turned to changing weather conditions, and possible air travel disruptions.

Pictured above: Infrared image of Hurricane Rick with a most impressive stadium-like eye wall surrounding a beautiful 10-nautical mile wide eye.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

HOT!! JetBlue 1-Day Sale, Fares From $24 Each Way

Book TODAY, for travel October 22-December 16, 2009. Best fares valid on non-peak travel days (ie: mid-week).

BAY AREA- New York/Boston/Washington $79 each way
BAY AREA- Long Beach $24-$29 each way

JetBlue Sale

Friday, October 9, 2009

Virgin America Introduces Additional Fare Options

San Francisco based Virgin America announced announced Wednesday additional fare options to provide flexibility to its passengers. In addition to Main Cabin and First Class fares, customers can now purchase fully refundable fares in the Main Cabin and Main Cabin Select. The fares allow one to make changes to flights and check a bag in at no additional charge. For those who desire to ride up in the front, the airline also offers Instant Upgrades to to Main Cabin Select; a premium seat at discounted rates. Visit

Continental and Mexicana Join New Alliances Soon

Continental Airlines joins Star Alliance (United, U.S Air,et al. ) effective October 27, 2009.
Mexicana Airlines joins OneWorld (American Airlines, et al.) eff November 10, 2009.

If you have flights planned with either of these carriers, be sure you are receiving proper mileage credit in the corresponding airline/alliance program.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why I Hate Airplane Bathrooms :-)

Frequent those dreaded airplane lavatories will enjoy this witty reflection piece written by Amanda McKinley which I originally ran in March. Inside she gives a play-by-play account of the forces driving her to use those repulsive airplane restrooms in the first place, then humorously describes what it's like "doing time" in those port-a-potties of the sky.

As many of you know, I’m no stranger to the plane. However, despite my affinity for travel and the number of hours I’ve logged standing in security lines, I almost never use the restrooms on planes. Why is this even notable, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

The art of “holding it” is rarely seen as just that—an art—and my husband’s pea-sized bladder and sweet heart can’t stand for me to stave off peeing any longer than necessary. “I know I’ve had a coffee, two waters, and an orange juice—but I think I can make it to Newark! Really!” This was my defense during our last flight. Then, citing my potential, and surely inevitable, kidney problems ruining his trip, I am successfully guilted into shifting my iPod, water bottle, granola bar, and pile-o-travel-junk onto his tray and beginning the walk of shame back to the lavatory.

You know, I’m not jealous of the first class passengers for their headrest T.V.’s or complimentary mimosas, but rather the Private Restroom that’s only a jaunt away from their large, cushy seats. As I step into the aisle, only a few feet away from the mesh curtain separating me from the people who have paid extra to excrete in peace, I am overwhelmed by a sense of self awareness. The aisle on a plane is like a cat-walk lined with groggy children and grumpy old men, whose sole form of entertainment for the next three hours is to watch passengers stammer stupidly down the aisle grabbing at seat backs and trying to keep their rumps out of people’s noses as the drink cart wheels past… I can feel their searing eyes judging me: “Do you think that girl really has to pee, or is she just showing off? Do you think she’s having stomach troubles? What IS she wearing?! I wanted to go to the bathroom next… The nerve of this girl—she probably really doesn’t have to pee anyway!” I can practically hear the annoyed murmurs fill the cabin as I waddle past, shoving my derriere extraordinaire in some kid’s face as he reaches to pick up the game he’s dropped in the aisle.

This is only part of the reason why I allow my bladder to fill to the point of combustion before I give in—the other is the restroom itself. “Restroom” is such an ill-devised term, because as anyone who has ever used the BR on a plane has learned, you will find absolutely no rest here, whatsoever. The small, closet-like space could make even the calmest individual claustrophobic, and sanitation seems to have been sucked out into the pale, chilly atmosphere with the last “whoosh” of the toilet’s blue water.

Inevitably, as it were on this particular trip, I manage to make it to the lavatory door just in time to intermingle with the creme de la creme of my flight’s crop—the individual wearing the theoretical “scarlet badge” of gastrointestinal issues. “Oh my! I guess that coffee really did a number on my tummy!” The white-haired woman airily states as she flips the lock to read “VACANT”. “Oh, yes?” I want to say to her. “Your rancid stench seems to have accompanied you out the door, but since you smiled and said ‘tummy’ it’s perfectly OK!” Instead I return her smile with a nod of faux understanding, lower my head and enter the freshly christened poo-pantry.

Inside it never gets any better! The juicy ghosts of asses past rear their ugly heads from the toilet seat, and my attempt at hovering is nearly thwarted as the plane lurches through what the pilot calls “a little turbulence” and my nose lands squarely on the back of the door. If there was room for me to whip around a vomit, I probably would, but as things stand with my pants around my ankles and my butt in the air, I decide to hold myself together and just go. Honestly, can anyone hold their balance well enough to make it entirely into le toilette? I’m doubting it, but whether or not I dribbled on the floor is completely irrelevant, because the necessity to flush is still looming ahead, and that’s all I can focus on. Oh, Lord, the flushing… the loud rush of my Business being swept into the atmosphere scares me every time! And what is that swift blast of cold air that fills the lavatory mid-flush? Absolutely, heart-stoppingly gross, that’s what it is! So, using the only ballet technique I ever mastered, I delicately tap my perfectly pointed foot onto the Flush button—bracing myself for the blast-o-nasty I’m about to endure. Afterwards, when I feel it’s safe to catch my breath, I try to calm my thumping heart and turn two degrees to the left to wash my hands.

Well, hand-washing is a losing battle, too, and I nearly laugh out loud when I see the sign above the sink that suggests, “you may want to use your towel to dry off the sink after washing.” OR, I may not, as the last train wreck who visited this particular sink had either showered or washed a small, hyper dog—it would take a minimum of 20 hand-washing and counter wiping sessions to clean up the pool of hair and water flooding the basin. In all honesty, washing your hands in an airplane bathroom has to be the most unsanitary oxymoron ever devised in the history of mankind. Paper towels? Out. Mini trash can? Full (and overflowing). Soap dispenser? Covered in slime, which I’m assuming is from the people who can’t get the suds washed off because you have to hold down those stubborn little hot/cold buttons to make any water flow. Sink? So small that if you lather, your hands just rub the sides of the sink and splash around in the water leftover from Grandma Stinky Pants. Then, to finish off the charade, you have to hold down the drain button to send your water whooshing off to the same place as your pee-pee. No one (NO ONE ) ever does that last step, hence the standing water sloshing around the basin. Can I blame them? No, it’s disgusting. And after having to dry off using facial tissues, the thought of spreading the white, leprous flakes caked to your hands all over the fixtures seems less than appealing.

At this point I’m so irked that my brain is barely functioning, so I try to pry open those weird doors and escape… Are you supposed to push? Pull? I always get it wrong and end up shaking and jerking them in a state of panic—I’m certain the commotion has people thinking a giant hamster has crawled out of the loo and is morphing into a people-eating monster of the skies. Alas, it’s just little ol’ me, and I don’t want to eat anyone, I just want out of the airplane bathroom—Forever!

Finally, as I push (or pull?) my way into freedom I see the long line that has accumulated down the aisle. Passengers act perturbed as they make a theatrical production out of letting me pass. They grunt, they squirm, they bend… they give me the same smiles of faux understanding I gave to Grandma Stinky Pants, but this time, I don’t care. I just slide back into my seat, and begin digging fervently for hand sanitizer. I shoot a bitter glance towards the first class curtain that barred me from peeing in peace, and turned to Andy with rage in my eyes as he said, “Now, don’t you feel better?”

Amanda McKinley's Weblog here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. -Cesare Pavese

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Win 2 Tickets to See Pam Ann Live in San Francisco

World famous comedian Pam Ann launches her 2009 USA tour in October, including two performances right here in San Francisco. Nothing is off limits in her flamboyant performances known for poking fun at the many quirks in the airline industry. If you work in the airline industry or are a frequent traveler, this glamorous and fun show is just for you! Click here for ticket information.

San Francisco shows: October 17 & 18th

Win tickets to see her live. I have a pair of tickets up for grabs for one lucky reader. Ticket giveaway will happen later this week, so keep checking back for more details on how to win. And for real time updates visit

Inside Secret for SFO Travelers Flying United Airlines

If you travel domestic routes on United Airlines (Terminal 3) through San Francisco Airport, did you know you can access International security lines (G gates), instead of the long and congested ones in the domestic terminal? It's true! This is particularly beneficial for those riding BART to SFO or getting dropped off - without bags to check, because it means you can immediately clear security upon arriving at the airport. Plus, the international terminal is just an enjoyable, peaceful place to relax, with improved dining options, compared to terminal 3. If you have bags to check you still need to complete that at the domestic terminal, and therefore using international security checkpoint will probably not be beneficial.

A new walkway opened at SFO last December allows passengers to freely walk between International Terminal G to Domestic Terminal 3 - post security.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Classic Southwest Airlines Commercial From the 70's

Here's another oldie-but-goodie airline commercial from decades past. This one from Southwest Airlines dating back in the early 70's, when the airline was still in its infancy years.

Walt Disney World Resort Sale!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Earn 150 American Airlines Miles Watching a Short Bose Demo

Watch a two-minute video on the new Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones and earn a quick and easy 150 AAdvantage miles. See the in-store demonstration of the slick headphones by October 14th and earn 350 miles. Purchase them by November 14th and earn 1,500 miles. Full details.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Preview: Sheraton Check-In On Us Giveaway

In celebration of their 86 newly renovated properties throughout North America, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts is giving away single night stays at each property. According to their website, the contest begins October 6th. Click here for a preview and more details of the giveaway.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Real Talk on Buying and Selling Airline Vouchers Online

By Mike Grasso

These days finding a great bargain often means a simple visit to Ebay or Craiglist. On these sites a potpourri of goods are available, often for a fraction of their retail price. Included in these listings are airline travel vouchers and free tickets. But most airlines restrict the sale or barter of travel credits, and word of harsh punishments, such as voiding the credit, and/or closing members' frequent flyer account, have been reported in a few cases. So what do you do if you are in the market to unload your travel credits or find heavily discounted certificates? Here are some suggestions:

Selling your credits? This often happens for people receiving electronic discount codes or paper certificates which reduce the airfare price and/or offer a free ticket. The rules of use are usually spelled out on the certificate, so read them carefully. Usually a "transfer" to another person can be done, provided no money or goods are exchanged. If you do opt to sell it (I did tell you selling is probably not allowed, right?), then consider selling to a trusted buyer, or a friend. Another suggestion: Free travel credits make great stocking stuffers for the holidays, and without the worry about getting caught selling them.

Buying travel credits? Really think this through folks. There are plenty of scammers out there as well as many honest folks trying to sell (albeit "illegally") legitimate goods. If it sounds to good to be true...ya, it probably is. If the person selling the travel credit on Ebay has few or no previous ratings, would you trust them? Similarly, if buying from Craigslist, how will you ensure an electronic credit, for example, hasn't already been redeemed, or the seller won't redeem it shortly after you buy it? Although sellers often list the terms & conditions of transferability in their posting, how will you know they have listed ALL of them? These are many of the questions you should be asking yourself before considering a purchase. And the obvious - do the benefits outweigh the potential risks?

Having said all that, I personally know people who've bought and sold airline credits over the years with few difficulties. But, as mentioned earlier, the airlines have reportedly penalized some unlucky folks for doing the same. So before you decide to put yourself in the market for travel vouchers, weigh the pros and cons, and if you decide to buy or sell, do so with plenty of caution.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saturday Sept 26: Free Entrance at Participating U.S. Museums

Thanks to Lydie over at Travel is more fun with kids for this tip on several free museums nationwide this Saturday.
On September 26th, enjoy free general admission for one person and a guest at a hundred museums all over the U.S. You NEED to print the Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day admission card to receive the two free entrances. Click here to downtown the admission card.

Here is a list of participating Bay Area museums:

Blackhawk Museum Danville

California Automobile Museum (formerly the Towe Auto Museum) Sacramento
California State Military Museum and Resource Center Sacramento
California State Railroad Museum Sacramento
Cartoon Art Museum of California San Francisco
Chabot Space & Science Center Oakland
Contemporary Jewish Museum San Francisco
Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education San Mateo
Crocker Art Museum Sacramento
Exploratorium San Francisco
Explorit Science Center Davis
Lindsay Wildlife Museum Walnut Creek
Monterey Museum of Art Monterey
Museum of Craft and Folk Art San Francisco
Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) San Francisco
Sacramento Zoo Sacramento
San Mateo County History Museum Redwood City
SF Camerawork San Francisco
Sonoma County Museum Santa Rosa
Sonoma League for Historic Preservation Sonoma
Sun Gallery, Hayward Area Forum of the Arts Hayward
The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts Sacramento
Zeum: San Francisco's Children's Museum San Francisco
Also consider reading Lydie's tips for a drama-free visit to any museum with your children.

Enjoy your Saturday!

Monday, September 21, 2009

$29 West Coast and $89 East Coast Fares from Virgin America

Virgin America launched a pretty incredible deal this morning for those of you thinking of traveling later this month. Fares of $29 each way are available to cities throughout the west coast, including Seattle, and $89 each way to cities along the east coast, including New York and Boston. Some great first class airfares are available as well! Book by 7am Tuesday morning for travel September 22-September 30, 2009.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Southwest Fliers: Register for Double Rapid Rewards Credit

Southwest Rapid Rewards members can now earn double credit for all flights between now and October 31, 2009. That means you earn 2 credits for each one way flight (4 if it's a roundtrip) to any city Southwest serves. Similar to other double credit offers offered by other airlines the past couple weeks, the promo is for new business/tickets - not for reservations made prior to the promotion start date. Click here to sign up.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

San Francisco to Seattle or Vegas for $99 RT "All In"

Virgin America just dropped fares from San Francisco to Seattle and Las Vegas to $78 roundtrip + taxes, which comes to $99 "all in." Valid for purchase now, travel between September 16 (today!) and November 18, 2009. Peak travel days (Friday and Sunday) seem to be about $10 more each way. These are some great fares for these markets. Click here to book travel.

Monday, September 14, 2009

inFLIGHTout Updates @ Twitter

follow me on twitter:

In an effort to provide expanded content and deliver the latest travel talks in a timely manner, I recently incorporated a Twitter "tweet" box located along the left column of the blog. Tweets, if you're not familiar with them, are short bits of information often with accompanying click-thru links to get the complete story - when applicable. In addition to full-length posts appearing on inFLIGHTout, the tweets sent throughout the day can easily be seen both on this website and at, where you can get real-time updates to your Twitter-supported mobile device.

Recent Tweets:

  • Aer Lingus ending SFO-Dublin, Ireland flights effective October 25, 2009.
  • SFO-Tampa, Florida $193RT, including all taxes. Valid thru Summer 2010
  • Register to earn double elite-qualifying miles on Continental Airlines
  • United 1K Members: Earn 5,000 Mileage Plus miles for each Hyatt stay worldwide through October 31st.
  • Starwood Elite members: 2 just released promos help you retain your status.
  • Frontier Airlines lowers ticket change fee from $150 to $100.
  • Hijacked AeroMexico plane lands safely in Mexico City
  • @TSABlogTeam. New TSA Procedures for Traveling with Powders -->
  • 15% off JetBlue flights thru December 19th when using AMEX card