Friday, February 27, 2009

State Department Issues Travel Alert for Mexico

Due to recent violence, the U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for American citizens heading to Mexico. Over the past couple months, violent attacks have occurred, particularly around U.S/Mexico border towns such as Tijuana, Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez.

The report states Mexican drug cartels have engaged in increasing violent conflict throughout Northern Mexico, which have included shootouts during daylight hours in shopping centers and other public places. Although tourists are not the intended target for much of the violence, the State Department reports U.S. Citizens traveling in and around border towns have been harassed and the uncertain security situation poses serious risks for U.S. Citizens as well.

Triple American Airlines Miles From Boston and California

Starting March 2, 2009, American Airlines will offer triple miles for flights from Boston to San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego*. According to the terms, after registering (promo code: BOS3X), customers who purchase a new ticket and fly between March 2 and May 31, 2009 are eligible for the bonus miles.
*Nonstop San Diego-Boston flights begin April 7, 2009.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Earn 300 WorldPerks Miles for Obtaining an Insurance Quote

Northwest WorldPerks members can earn 300 bonus miles for requesting a free insurance quote with 21st Century insurance. In addition, earn 1,000 miles for taking out a new policy with 21st Century. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pilots Landing at Sea-Tac Airport Report Laser Incidents

This past weekend several pilots landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reported someone was shining a green laser light into the cockpits of the aircraft. This annoyance and safety issue is an ongoing issue that has plagued pilots throughout the country.

In the Seattle incidents, all the aircraft landed safely. But according to the Federal Aviation Administration, there have been 148 laser-related incidents this year. Last week a laser incident was reported at San Jose airport.

Aviation officials fear that the laser pointers may one day contribute to a plane accident, as the lights are pointed directly into cockpit windows during take-off or landing phases, the most dangerous part of any flight.

inFLIGHTout Travel Tip: That Empty Water Bottle

By Mike Grasso

OK, I admit this travel tip rests somewhere between a wonderfully smart and miserably cheap traveler. You know those bottles of water they sell at the airport for $3 or $4 a piece? What a ripoff! Bring your own water bottle from home (can’t you buy a CASE of water for $4?). Be sure the bottle is empty as you enter the security checkpoint, but fill it up once you are post-security. Where do you fill up the bottle you ask? I use water fountains, but in-airport restaurants and fast food chains are often willing to refill them for the asking.

Armed with a full water bottle, you are now ready to board your plane. Even though beverage service is often limited in coach class, you will at least have a full (and free) bottle of water with you as you breeze through the skies.

Turkish Airliner Crashes in Amsterdam, 9 dead

The Associated Press is reporting a Turkish Airliner with 135 people on board has crashed at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. The crash occurred on Wednesday as the plane was attempting to land. Early reports show nine death and 50 injuries. Officials on the ground say it was a miracle there were not more deaths. Read More from the AP.

Pilots Landing at Sea-Tac Airport Report Laser Incidents

This past weekend several pilots landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reported someone was shining a green laser light into the cockpits of the aircraft. This annoyance and safety issue is an ongoing issue that has plagued pilots throughout the country.

In the Seattle incidents, all the aircraft landed safely. But according to the Federal Aviation Administration, there have been 148 laser-related incidents this year. Last week a laser incident was reported at San Jose airport.

Aviation officials fear that the laser pointers may one day contribute to a plane accident, as the lights are pointed directly into cockpit windows during take-off or landing phases, the most dangerous part of any flight.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Accor Hotels 3-Day Asia Pacific Super Sale

Accor Hotels is launching a 3-day super sale on properties throughout the Asia and the Pacific region. Accor features familiar international brands including the mid-tier Ibis and Mercure up to 4 and 5-star Novotel and Pullman hotels. If you are planning a trip to Asia or the South Pacific between April 1 and July 31, 2009, have a look at some of these great Accor deals.

Details: 1 Million rooms go on sale starting Tuesday February 24, 2009 (local hotel time). Bookings can be made through Thursday February 26th, but for the best selection, book early! Full payment required at time of booking. No refunds or exchanges.

Click here for full details and to take advantage of this sale.

US Air to Resume Free Drinks

After months of negative publicity, US Air has decided to bring back complimentary drinks onboard its flights. This past summer, amid rising fuel and operating costs, the airline began charging up to $2 for soda, coffee and bottled water. No other airline followed suit.

In a memo to employees Sunday, company chief executive, W. Douglas Parker said, “With US Airways being the only large network carrier to charge for drinks, we are at a disadvantage. This difference in our service has become a focal point that detracts from all of the outstanding improvements.” The airline will resume free drinks March 1st.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Beach Finder (468x60)

Friday, February 20, 2009

American Airlines "Doing What We Do Best" Commercial

Here's another oldie but goodie: An American Airlines commercial (circa 1981) featuring the then-popular, "Doing what we do best" jingle. This, like many other airline commercials from the 80's, really emphasize a sort of pride in the airline, confident of the high service quality offered to each and every passenger.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reclining Your Airline Seat: How Do You Do It?

On occasion I've referenced particular threads of interest over on the Flyertalk forums. The Flyertalk community is full of spirited conversation about the latest trends, deals and gossip in the travel world, with side rants on almost any popular topic known to man. Last week, I found a lively discussion about the etiquette of reclining a seat in-flight. Although there have been other threads on this topic in the past, for now at least, this one has focused on self disclosure of reclination habits and observations of how others do it. If you fly enough, you know what we're talking about here. Here are a few excepts (some of the more comical ones) from the thread:

-From a passenger sitting behind Passenger 1A: "He brought his seat forward. Then whipped into recline mode......then forward to look out the window. Then.....slammed into recline...."

-"They have control of the have control of the air vent for your seat, which oddly enough if placed to its full fwd position and turned to max flow blows right on a fully reclined seat. They turn around and complain tell them if they put their seat up a couple of inches it shouldn't bother them."

-"I always have these nightmares about someone in front of me reclining quickly and snapping my laptop screen off."

-"If they are being aggressive or frequent with their seat reclines, I will ask them to be a little more considerate of my knees. Likewise, I have no problem saying something to the parent of the child behind me who insists on kicking the back of my seat."
Ends Soon: 2 free tickets to Cirque du Soleil with the purchase of a 3-night package at select Las Vegas Resorts - Expires 2/28/09

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see."
-Gilbert K. Chesterton

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

San Francisco to Lima $428 RT "All In"

A great fare down to Peru! Just $428 roundtrip including taxes between San Francisco and Lima, Peru. Fare is available through 2009 on several airlines, including Continental and American. Check availability on Travelocity searching with the "flexible dates" option.

10,000 United Airlines Miles for College Grads

One of those programs that keeps giving and giving is United Airlines College Plus Program. The key benefit for college students is a whopping 10,000 miles gift from United Airlines upon graduating from an accredited college or university. I took advantage of this wonderful program from United a few years ago after graduating from San Francisco State University.

Here's what you need to know to qualify:

1. Register for the United Airlines College Plus Program. You must be a member prior to graduation.

2. Once you've graduated (congrat's in advance!), provide UA an official copy of your final college transcript, mileage plus number and email address. They will credit your account within 4-6 weeks.

And two thumbs up to United Airlines for continuing to offer this benefit for our college grads.

Be sure to forward this post to friends who plan on graduating college soon.

SFO Traffic Up 4.8% in 2008, Decline Inevitable in 2009

Thanks in large part to Virgin America, Southwest and JetBlue launching new domestic routes from SFO in 2008, San Francisco International Airport traffic was up 4.8% for the year. According to the San Francisco Chroncicle, SFO was one of only three major U.S Airports to see an increase in passenger traffic. But, citing the downturn in the economy and demand for travel, airport officials report a 5-7% drop in traffic is inevitable for 2009.

Monday, February 16, 2009

inFLIGHTout Travel Tip: Know Alternative Flight Options

You trot on down to the airport two hours before departure, check-in, dance your way through security, and gracefully arrive at the gate in preparation for boarding. Just then you realize the flight has been cancelled. Gut reaction for you and the gate agent is to rebook everyone on the next available flight. What if it's the last flight out? What if later flights are booked to capacity? What do you do if there are 200 people from your flight already in line waiting to get rebooked on another carrier? Here is a solution that has worked for me quite well in the past:

Know alternative flight options. It's an exercise I perform each time I arrive at the airport. If I'm flying from say Chicago to San Francisco, a quick glance at the Departures board shows my flight is running 30 minutes late. Elsewhere on the board, I see a flight to Oakland on-time, leaving 10 minutes later than mine. This cues me in to a potential alternative should my original flight go severely delayed or cancelled. So if the San Francisco flight gets pulled, most passengers will be scrambling for the next flights to SFO leaving the next day, while a few wiser folks opt for Oakland and likely fly out that same evening. Know your alternatives!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

San Francisco to Honolulu $252 RT "All In"

Valid for travel through April 7, 2009 - Hawaiian Airlines will get you to Honolulu for just $252 roundtrip, taxes included. United Airlines also dropped fares today to just $261 roundtrip, taxes included - all the way to the islands. Blackout dates apply. Visit and search utilizing the "flexible dates" option. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

British Airways Plane Crashes At London Airport, Two Injuries

A British Airways regional jet enroute from Amsterdam crash-landed late Friday night at London's city airport. According to officials, the front landing gear on the aircraft failed. 67 Passengers and five crew escaped through the plane's emergency slides. Two injuries were reported.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Multiple Fatalities As Commuter Jet Crashes Near Buffalo

Breaking News: 10:00PM
Initial reports indicate there are no survivors.

A Continental Airlines commuter plane crashed and burst into flames late Thursday in Clarence Center, New York, just outside of Buffalo. Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air was enroute from Newark, when it went down about five minutes prior to landing in Buffalo. The FAA reports the plane was carrying 44 passengers, and 4 crewmembers. Live updates from MSNBC.

How to Bid Better With Priceline

Mike Grasso

If we think back just 10 years ago, our options for finding the best travel deals were fairly limited to travel agents and other good folks "in the know." Fortunately now we have a potpourri of resources, particularly online, that enable us to find a customized travel deals that meets our needs in term of value and taste. One website, a particular favorite of mine, called takes finding great values to the next level. 

As their website states, their primary goal is to promote informed bidding when using Priceline travel products. Many of us are familiar with the popular "name your own price" line pioneered by Priceline many years ago.  Under this method, you can bid for travel (cars, airline tickets, hotels) at a price you feel is reasonable without, at least initially, knowing who the supplier of the travel is. If your bid is accepted, then Priceline congratulates you and confirms the details of your itenerary, including which airline, car rental, or hotel accepted your offer. But how do you know if you over bid? What if that good deal could have been a great deal? This is where comes in. 

Based primarily on user successes with Priceline's bidding system, organizes their site by travel product and region, allowing you to scan recent Priceline bids in order to put in an offer that is likely to get accepted and ensures you don't overbid. So while a rate of $200US for the 5-star Intercontinental De La Ville in Rome would be a bargain (rack rates are over $250), a rate of $154 was accepted by Priceline - as reported on

Of course if you underbid, Priceline requires you to become more flexible (i.e: larger car, expand hotel search to a different region, etc.) then rebid. If you just want to increase you bid amount, you must wait 24 hours. So a review of the biddingfortravel site before you place a bid helps ensure your offer amount is within reasonable levels. 

Price Assurance Math (468x60)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

American Airlines Switching to Cashless Cabins

On Tuesday American Airlines announced that beginning this summer it will begin to transition to cashless cabins onboard flights within the United States and to and from Canada. On those flights, American will only accept major credit cards or debit cards for onboard purchases such as headsets, meals, snacks and alcoholic beverages.

In a press statement, the airline said the change will allow it to streamline the in-flight sales process. Flight attendants will use hand-held electronic devices that will scan credit cards.

(Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

Enter the JetBlue 9th Anniversary Sweepstakes

Enter the JetBlue 9th anniversary sweepstakes for your chance to win one of several prizes, including the grand prize, an Atlantis vacation package for nine people. The sweepstakes runs through this week only. Click here for more information and to enter.

Southwest Begins Testing Onboard Wi-Fi

Oakland flight to feature the new service
Southwest Airlines says it is going ahead with plans to install internet on its planes. The carrier says up to four aircraft will be configured for wireless internet by March 2009, including one plane already testing the Wi-Fi technology. That plane, according to Today in the Sky, will be operating to and from the Oakland airport on Wednesday, giving passengers an opportunity to try out the service at no cost. According to Southwest, the service is being offered on a trial basis for now, as they have yet to receive final FCC approval.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

3-Star Hotels in Vegas for $20/night + Bonus

Likely a sign of the troubling Vegas economy, 3-star hotel rooms are available throughout the strip from just $20 a night. Last night, we found Hooters on the South strip for $20, The Sahara and Stratosphere on the North strip for $22, and if you really feel like "splurging," throw down $25 a night for the kid-friendly for Circus Circus. Plenty of great deals are available at the higher end properties as well. Rates above are based on mid-week availability between late February and March 2009.

HOT Bonus: Members of Citibank's ThankYou Network can earn 5000 ThankYou points (equal to about $50 in free travel) for booking a 2-night hotel stay on Click here, and enter coupon code: TY5K09 on the booking page when it asks for a promotional code. The coupon is valid for stays through May 1, 2009.
Hotel: 4-star hotels, 2-star prices (468x60 v2)

Double Rewards and Sweepstakes Entry From Best Western

Register now to earn double rewards and a chance to win 1 million points from Best Western. Once you have registered, simply log two qualifying nights at participating Best Western Hotels between February 15 and April 5, 2009 to earn the bonus rewards.

Also, book your stay at and earn 250 bonus points. And, if that wasn't enough, registering for the promotion will score you a sweepstakes entry toward 1 million Best Western Rewards points. Register now.

Monday, February 9, 2009

United to Launch Bay Area Flights to Spokane and Minneapolis

Beginning June 4, 2009, United Airlines will fly nonstop between San Francisco and Minneapolis/St.Paul Airports. According to the UA timetable, The once-daily flight will utilize an Airbus 319 aircraft.

SFO-MSP Departs 12:50 PM Arriving 6:33PM.

Also on June 4th, United Airlines/SkyWest will fly twice daily between SFO and Spokane, Washington, utilizing a Canadair regional jet.

SFO-GEG Departs 12:54 PM Arriving 2:50PM.
SFO-GEG Departs 10:00 PM Arriving 11:57 PM.

inFLIGHTout Tip - Your Printed Itinerary

Before you set sail for your next flight be sure you have a copy of your flight itinerary with you. This valuable document often contains your confirmation and ticket numbers, and most importantly your return trip details. Often the excitement of voyage ends up blocking any thoughts of the return flight. So when it comes time to fly back home, recalling the exact time of departure isn't so clear without a printed itinerary. 

Also, a complete itinerary in-hand is also helpful during tight connections. If your initial flight arrives late at your connection city, show the flight attendant your document so they can make arrangements for you to deplane first. 

Finally, a copy of the itinerary is great because they remind you what time you will be landing. Most boarding passes do not provide this detail. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

End of the Week Laughs. TGIF

Here are a couple travel related videos we came across that bring out the funnier side in travel.
The first, and one we've shown before, is of commuters in Asia "gracefully" packing into overflowing trains. The other, part of a video series on travel etiquette, offers humorous solutions to common annoyances in air travel. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Double Elite-Qualifying Miles On U.S Air Flights

Register now for double elite-qualifying miles on all U.S Airways flights through March 31, 2009. To qualify, you must first register, purchase a ticket, then complete travel by March 31. These promotions typically do not work for previously ticketed but not flown bookings.

Win a Vacation for 2 to Munich from Lufthansa Airlines

Scroll on over to Lufthansa Airlines to play the Munich Airport Scavenger Hunt Game. Find all the goodies before departure time, and you'll earn an entry for a vacation to Munich. Vacation package includes a pair of round-trip economy class tickets to Munich, Germany and 5-night accommodations. Click here to play. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Glam of the Pink Flight Returns

Air New Zealand is again featuring the Pink Flight to Sydney Mardi Gras. Unlike last year when the flight operated direct from San Francisco, this year the plane will dart over from Air New Zealand's Auckland hub, allowing party-goers from all around the world to connect to the pink plane to Sydney.

Flights are currently available from $978+ per person from San Francisco, including an optional stopover in Auckland at no additional charge. The Pink Flight itself departs Auckland on March 6th and is a 3.5 hour journey over to Sydney. Click here for more information on the Pink Flight.

Click here to register for your chance to win (2) tickets from SF/LAX to Sydney - including seats on the Pink Plane, and a three night stay at the Travelodge Sydney.

JetBlue: Jet Now, Jet Later Promo

Book a flight now and receive a $50 voucher toward future travel in the Jet Now, Jet Later promotion from JetBlue.

Here come the terms: Register on then book a roundtrip flight on between January 29, 2009 and February 8, 2009 for travel between February 24, 2009 and March 31, 2009 and you will receive a $50 voucher good for travel on JetBlue between May 4 and June 17, 2009 (Black out dates of May 21 to May 25 apply). Offer expires 11:59 p.m. MDT February 8, 2009.

If you can comply with the tight range of dates above, you will be rewarded with a $50 voucher by email on or after April 15, 2009.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why Chesley Sullenberger III May be the Last of His Kind

Guest Contribution
New York Magazine

By landing his Airbus A-320 in the Hudson River without a single loss of life, Captain Chesley Sullenberger might have officially brought the golden age of the heroic pilot to a close, as automation takes much of the actual flying out of the job and the piloting ranks are filled with fewer Air Force veterans. As one longtime pilot says, “Twenty-five years ago, we were a step below astronauts. Now we’re a step above bus drivers. And the bus drivers have a better pension.”

Sully has been in the business long enough to witness firsthand the domestication of the airline pilot. In the early days, pilots were largely uneducated farm boys or blue-collar kids who left home to become barnstormers. Some might never have spent a minute in flight school or read a flying manual. But as commercial air travel began rapidly expanding, the airlines embraced the image of the heroic captain, the distinguished man in uniform you can trust with your life. The industry paid top dollar for a new generation of service-academy-educated aviators, many of whom had been through Vietnam. This was Sully’s generation. By the seventies, as many as 80 percent of commercial-airline pilots had served in the military. “When Sully first got hired,” says Keith Hagy, the director of engineering and air safety for the Air Line Pilots Association, the pilots’ union, “he probably made a pile of money.”

The airlines liked military pilots, in part, because “the government had done all that work for them,” says Don Skiados, who has worked closely with pilots for 40 years as a past chairman of the Aviation Accreditation Board International. The military had already tested the pilots’ psychological abilities, emotional traits, knowledge base, reaction time, and ability to make judgments. The only downside of the military background was that the pilots were, by necessity, trained to be risk-takers. “The approach to the mission is that this is war,” says Bob Ober, who worked as a pilot for Pan Am for 25 years and Delta for 10. “We gotta go. It doesn’t matter if certain things are inoperative, we’re gonna take some risks.”

Since that time, pilot culture has done almost a 180. The maverick pilot has given way to the professional—the captain who knows how to put aside his ego and not take unnecessary risks. The change began when the military started downsizing after Vietnam and its talent pool dried up. The pilots of the military made room for a generation of pilots largely educated in flight schools offering four-year degree programs. Candidates racked up flight hours on small commuter planes over Albuquerque and Toledo, not in fighter jets.

The planes also began to change. Where a Vietnam-era pilot could fly more or less by stick and rudder, today’s pilots fly primarily by computer. Sully, for instance, was flying the Airbus 320. On older aircraft, a pilot pulls back on a wheel attached to cables that literally pull the plane up. On an Airbus 320, he pulls back a joystick that sends a signal to the computer’s auto-throttle. If he’s doing it wrong, the computer often corrects him, thrusting if he doesn’t do it soon enough, never stalling if he pulls back too hard. Takeoff has preprogrammed speeds; the pilot just moves a lever into a notch. Practically everything about the Airbus assumes the human factor to be the most dangerous thing about the flight. Incredibly, you can go on autopilot from as low as 100 feet in the air. Although some pilots worry about overreliance on technology and the distractions it can cause, most like a tricked-out plane. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that automation has taken control away from pilots. It’s the same with regard to air-traffic controllers and airline operations. Pilots used to have to navigate themselves; now it’s all done with GPS systems. Pilots used to have more discretion over takeoff times and maintenance decisions; now they’re frequently overruled.

Read on at

"Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it."

-Eudora Welty

Monday, February 2, 2009

Air France $75 Off Coupon - Fly to Paris for $573 "All In"

Low Fares to France and Europe

HOT! Air France has issued a $75 coupon code valid for flights departing in March. Apply the discount code to any tempo (economy class) fare to save. For example, fly San Francisco to Paris (CDG) for $573 round-trip - taxes included.

Hint: The rules state you must depart in March. If you are concerned about the cool Spring weather in Paris, considering departing at the end of March, and returning in early April.

Air France offers non-stop flights between San Francisco and Paris on an Airbus-340. To receive the discount, apply coupon code MARCH442 on the passenger details page.

Earn 1,000 Miles For Enrolling in U.S Airways FF Program

For a limited time, earn 1000 bonus miles for enrolling in U.S Airways Dividend Miles program. If you already have a U.S Airways frequent flyer account this does not apply to you. But if you don't, why not enroll? It's free!

Earn Bonus Miles Linking Your Delta and Northwest Accounts

Here is one result from the merger of Delta and Northwest Airlines announced earlier in 2008.: For a limited time, Delta SkyMiles and Northwest Worldperks members may transfer miles between their own accounts fee free - and earn a bonus 500 SkyMiles for doing so.

For instance, let's say your Delta frequent flyer account has 2,000 miles and your Northwest 23,000. Simply transfer the 2,000 Delta miles over to Northwest (or vice versa).

Click here for more information.
American Express