Tuesday, March 31, 2009

San Francisco to Tokyo/Narita $539 RT "all in"

Hot Fare! United just dropped fares from San Francisco to Toyko down to $539 round-trip, taxes included. Good availability now through August 2009. Books in "K" class, and has a 3-day minimum stay requirement. Click here to check availability using the "flexible dates" function.

Fifth Annual "Day in the Sky" Event Returns to the South Bay

Sounds like a wonderful event!

(Via Press Release)
Shared Adventures of Santa Cruz, CA, and Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 119 of Watsonville, CA are pleased to announce the fifth annual 'Day In The Sky' at the Watsonville Airport, Watsonville, California, Saturday April 18, 2009, 9:00am-4:00pm.

-150 Young People with Disabilities and Special Needs to Receive Free Airplane Rides as part of the Watsonville EAA Chapter 119 Young Eagles program
-1000+ Visitors to Fifth Annual 'Accessibility Expo'

Approximately 35 private pilots will provide free, 30 minute airplane rides for 500 passengers, including 150 young people with a wide variet of disabilities and special needs, plus family and friends. The airplane rides will pass over points of local interest including the spectacular Santa Cruz County coastline, the historic Beach Boardwalk, and the magnificent springtime Watsonville countryside.

Each participant attends a brief E.A.A. pre-flight school session to learn basic aviation principles before flying. During the flight, each special needs child is encouraged to take the aircraft controls for short periods during the flight to experience the sense of empowerment that comes from controlling an aircraft.

Flights depart from the main terminal of the Watsonville Airport at 100 Aviation Way, Watsonville, CA. First flight is scheduled for 9:30am. Last flight is approximately 4:00 pm.

Young people will be pre-registered through several local partner organizations. Registering partner organizations include California Children's Services, Children's Miracle Network, Easter Seals Central California, Jacob's Heart Children's Cancer Association, JW House, Young Artists Studio, KidQuest, Make A Wish, Santa Cruz County Office of Education Special Education Dept., and Special Parents Information Network. Each organization is given a limited number of invitations and assigns them to appropriate participants.  Walk-in flights will be given if space permits, on a first-come, first-served basis.

A concurrent free Fun Fair & Accessibility Expo is scheduled, which will feature many vendors of assistive technologies, information from nonprofit organizations, and fun and educational interactive displays. The festival will also include music provided by a local DJ, clowns and face painters, accessible sports equipment demos, visits with live animals, free food and refreshments, and much more.

All event activities are free to participating children, families, friends, volunteers, and pilots. Day In The Sky is fully funded by corporate and private sponsors, vendor contributions, and merchandise sales. Individual and corporate monetary and in-kind donations and sponsorships are needed and are most welcome.

For information, to register as a volunteer or a pilot, or to make a donation, please see the Shared Adventures web site at www.dayinthesky.org or call 831/459-7210.

Monday, March 30, 2009

7 Tips to Save Money During a Vacation or Staycation

More great travel tips from Lydie over at www.travelismorefunwithkids.com

Tip 1 
Most of the museums have a free monthly entrance day or sponsored entrance days (Target Day for example). By planning and visiting their websites, you can take advantage of these opportunities. Bank of America card holders get free entrance at 70 museums across the nation the first Sunday of the month. Check the list to see if some are nearby.

Tip 2

Parks are wonderful places to discover with children. If you visit them on the week-ends, you will most likely see street performers and will be able to enjoy nice performances for free. (although I would always encourage people to tip). 

Tip 3

Churches (although you have to pay to visit St Paul and Westminster Abbey in London) are full of treasures that one can enjoy for free. 

Tip 4

Pick a destination known for their free museums entrances: Washington DC or London. Most of the London museums are free and what a pleasure to be able to take our children to the Natural History Museum twice in a week without thinking of the price.

Tip 5

Do a home swap: here is a big saving. And if you are lucky, people may even agree to let you borrow their car too, helping you save on car rentals (www.homeexchange.com or www.1sthomeexchange.com).
Tip 6

Use your credit card rewards points: my husband flew twice to France without spending a dime. And because I pay my credit card balance at the end of every month, that card does not cost me anything. 

Tip 7

My last piece of advice for the travelers would be to register to newsletter or blogs specialized in traveling. For the San Francisco Bay Area, you have my blog www.travelismorefunwithkids.com, www.friscokids.net or www.inflightout.com that track good deals or free opportunities. By doing this, travelers will always know where to go without spending much or anything at all. For example, in December, I wrote about what to do in the Bay Area for free. People could entertain their families for the holidays almost every day without spending a dime. 

Education is the key and registering to newsletters from blogs or websites that do the work for you is the best way to save on your trips or staycations.

Bay Area to Long Beach Just $39 Each Way

$39 each way beteen San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and Long Beach. Valid for travel Tuesday, Wednesday & Saturday April 29-June 17, 2009. Slightly more for peak travel days. Click the banner below for other great deals. 

Jetting Loves A Good Deal

Friday, March 27, 2009

Collection of Southwest Airlines Commercials

Southwest Airlines has put out some witty marketing videos over the years. Here's a grab bag of recent favorites for you to enjoy and have a laugh to.  Good times. TGIF!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

San Francisco to Rome $497 RT "all in" Through May

United just dropped airfare from SFO to Rome to just $497 round-trip, taxes included. This is good deal considering travel is permitted through May 26th - heading right into the busy Summer travel season. A Saturday night stay is required for this fare. Books in United "T" class, and is eligible for the double elite-qualifying miles promotion currently in effect. There is limited availability for this highly discounted price, so click here to check availability using the "flexible dates" option. 

San Francisco to Spain $445 RT "all in"

(Repost - deal is still available)
Now fly SFO to several cities in Spain for just $445 round-trip, including taxes and fees. Valid on Air France and Delta airlines through much of May 2009. 

Bonus: The Air France fare permits a stopover in each direction at no additional charge. Care to spend a few days in Paris perhaps? Visit
Travelocity and search using the "flexible dates" option.

United Requests to Further Postpone San Francisco to Guangzhou

According to the airline route updates blog, United Airlines has again requested to postpone their San Francisco to Guangzhou launch. The route was awarded to United back in 2007, at which time the airline said it would begin flying in the Spring of 2008. It later postponed the launch to 2009 citing a sluggish economy, and since economic conditions have yet to improve, the airline is now requesting another extension to Summer 2010.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

'Learn and Earn' 300 Bonus Miles from Continental Airlines

Here's another something for nothing deal: Visit the Continental Airlines website, click on each of the three icons describing benefits of the Continental Airlines credit and debit cards, and earn 300 bonus OnePass miles (100 for each icon). Offer expires April 30, 2009.

If you are not currently a member of Continental's frequent flyer program, click here to sign up for free.

What Lay On Your Tray Table?

I've written in the past on how nasty those airline tray tables can be and how you should bring your own disinfectant or wipes to clean these before use. To prove my point, I recently snapped this photo of a guy (idiot) on a flight down to Los Angeles with his shoes off and right foot laying atop on the tray table. (Sorry it's a bit blurry - but clearly I was going undercover for this investigative reporting) =) Seriously folks, I've seen far worse than this. For your own health, wipe down your travel table before using it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Allegiant Air Expands Monterey Service

Our friends in the Monterey Bay Area will soon have access to non-stop flights between Monterey and sunny Southern California. Beginning May 3rd, Allegiant Airlines will introduce three weekly flights to both San Diego and Los Angeles International Airports. Flights are available from $59 each way at allegiantair.com.

Allegiant also operates non-stop service between Monterey and Las Vegas, and offers a network of other destinations throughout the United States.
More Allegiant Airlines news from inFLIGHTout

Register Now for Bonus Elite Qualifying Miles

As of Monday, all the major U.S-based airlines began offering some sort of fast track toward elite status promotion. American and United launched their promotions first, followed by the other three carriers. Here's how it works: Sign up first! I've provided links to the sign up pages below. Read the terms and conditions of the promotion carefully. In general, you are required to purchase and fly between now and June 15, 2009, and you will earn elite-qualifying miles at an accelerated rate. Elite-qualifying miles are used to calculate various elite levels within each airlines' frequent flyer program. For example, if you flew 12,500 qualifying air miles during this promotion, those would convert to 25,000 elite miles, earning you the first-tier of elite status valid through 2010. 

United: Earn double miles, all paid, published United fares.
American: Earn double miles, all paid, published American fares.
Continental: Earn double bonus miles, all paid, published Continental fares. 
Delta: Earn up to triple bonus miles, select paid, published Delta and Northwest Airlines flights.
No bonus for deeply discounted fares.
Northwest: Earn up to triple bonus miles on select paid, published Northwest, Delta and KLM flights.  No bonus for deeply discounted fares.

Monday, March 23, 2009

United Drops Complimentary Refares

A long-standing benefit for frequent United Airlines travelers was the ability to, at no cost, refare ticket prices in the event the airfare drops after the initial purchase. With no notice to customers, United ended this benefit on March 20, 2009. The policy previous allowed customers to monitor their existing reservations, and if they find the fare dropped at any point prior to travel, they could call United and ask for a travel credit for the difference in price. There was no charge for this benefit. Now, United slaps on a $150 "administrative fee" for this service. The policy is effective for tickets purchased from March 20th onward; if you have tickets purchased before this date, and not yet flown, you may continue to refare these at no charge.

As a frequent beneficiary of this service, I have mixed feelings of the recent change. From a business perspective, few companies let you purchase a product then return it at any point up to a year later should the price go down, which is effectively what United was allowing customers to do. It was a generous benefit indeed! But I question how many people even knew about this policy - it was certainly never anything United marketed itself on. From a travelers perspective, Southwest Airlines again stands apart from United and many other airlines which charge for refaring, in that they do not charge to reprice an airline ticket if the fare drops. So if you were going to purchase a ticket between San Francisco and Orlando, for example, and the cheapest tickets were $300 on Southwest and $275 on United, you could have confidence in your Southwest ticket purchase that if the airline decided to have a sale, you could reap the benefits of the lower price. On United, you are stuck with that higher fare (unless you pay the new $150 fee), even if they drop their prices at a lower date.

Don't get me wrong, there are many great reasons to fly United Airlines. But based on this recent policy change, there is now one less reason to consider them a preferred carrier.

Friday, March 20, 2009

inFLIGHTout Travel Tip - Scan Your Passport

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

Virgin America Follows Trend to Charge for Checked Baggage

Virgin America finally joined with most of the other carriers in charging a fee for a single piece of checked luggage. According to their website, passengers who book travel commencing after May 4, 2009 will be subject to a first bag fee of $15. Previously there was no charge to check one bag.  

The first bag fee does not apply to passengers flying first class or main cabin select, or those who purchased a fully refundable economy class ticket. 

When oil prices surged last year, many of the mainline carriers began instituting fees for all checked bags. Oil prices dropped, but the fees never went away. The move by Virgin America reflects the current norm for airlines to charge fees for checked bags.
Starwood Limited Time Offer! 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Earn Double Elite-Qualifying Miles on United Airlines

United Airlines has matched American's double elite-qualifying miles promotion earlier this week. Under the terms of the promotion, United Mileage Plus members can earn double EQM for United and United Express flights purchased and traveled now through June 15, 2009.

Registration is required prior to travel.

Enter to Win a Hawai'i Vacation from Outside Magazine

Register here for a chance to win a five-night vacation in Hawai'i, including round-trip airfare for two to Honolulu, five-night accommodations at the Moana Surfrider (fantastic property!) and surfing lessons from Aloha Beach Services. Entries must be received by April 13, 2009. 

Midwest Airlines Offers Bonus for Flights to/from Milwaukee

Midwest Miles members planning travel to/from Milwaukee and San Francisco and other select cities should take note of a new promotion: Earn 1,000 bonus miles and double segments toward Executive status for flights you take between April 1 and August 31, 2009. Click here to register and read the t&c of this promotion. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Voluntourism 101

Came across a great read from Matador Change on "voluntourism," which, just as it sounds, combines volunteering with tourism. As we advance more into a single global society and the world continues to open up, some travelers appreciate the opportunity to give ones' time, energy, and skills to the communities which they travel to, rather than just take from them. Some call voluntourism a vacation with a purpose. Read the full article from Matador Change here.
Head to the Land Down Under for Less: Fly Round-Trip from $608 on Qantas!
Expires 3/20/09

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Earn Double Elite-Qualifying Miles on American Airlines

Link now active
American Airlines is offering a double elite-qualifying miles promotion for travel between March 18 and June 15, 2009. Simply register* your American AAdvantage account for this promotion, then fly any American Airlines, American Eagle or American Connect flight during the promo period to earn your bonus.

Elite-qualifying miles are used to calculate various elite levels within the AAdvantage program.
For example, if you flew 12,500 qualifying air miles during this promotion, those would convert to 25,000 elite miles, earning you a Gold-level status with the airline.

*Note, as of 11:30 PM Monday evening, the promotion was not yet open for registration. You may need to wait until the start of the promo period to register.

San Francisco to Sydney $713 "All In"

United Airlines just matched the $713 Qantas airfare for San Francisco to Sydney flights. The price covers round trip travel, including tax and fees, now through June 15th, and costs only $70 more for travel through the end of October 2009. Check availability here using the "flexible dates" option. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reader Question: Should I Be Concerned About My Flight Being Oversold?

Q: I booked a trip to the East Coast for Spring Break and the phone agent said it was a really fully flight with only middle seats open. Should I be concerned about the flight becoming oversold? –Sarah in Los Gatos

Overbooking flights is a business practice in which a company sells more of a product than what is on hand. In the airline industry, that means selling more seats on a flight than physically available. There are many reasons why airlines do this, but the bottom line is not everyone is able to keep their original reservation thereby freeing up seats. Using historical records of past flights, the airline forecasts roughly how many people they can oversell a flight, knowing that an equivalent number will not show up. In a perfect world, the two balance each other out and flights leave 100% of capacity. Often this doesn't happen and the plane either leaves less than full, or the gate agent asks for volunteers to surrender their seat in exchange for compensation.

If you don’t like the concept of overbooking, try JetBlue or Virgin America, two airlines who reportedly do not oversell their flights. But even the airlines that do oversell, rarely does it involuntarily disrupt regular travelers who are intent on arriving at their destination – without delay. In the rare instance an airline is unable to find volunteers for a flight, only then does the airline involuntarily deny boarding to one or more unlucky folks. This latter scenario automatically gets reported to the federal government, who tracks the frequency airlines involuntarily disrupt travelers confirmed itineraries, to ensure they remain a relatively rare event.
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Friday, March 13, 2009

Traveling internationally this summer? 9 things to do now!

From Lydie over at the wonderful travel is more fun with kids blog comes some useful tips for those planning a summer vacation. Lydie has crafted 9 points to start considering now, in preparation for this summer's big voyage.

It is always exciting to book tickets to visit another country. My family is always looking forward to discovering new monuments, new food, new parks, new people, etc. But there are some not-so-much fun paperwork that has sometimes to be taken care of. So if you have booked your tickets, here are 9 things that you need to do right now.

Tip 1

Check the expiration date of all your passports. Some countries, like Thailand and Singapore, ask that you not only have a passport that is valid during your trip, but that you have at least 3-6 months of validity after you leave their country. If you need to renew your passport, pay extra for the expedited shipping: you do not want to be left behind!

Tip 2

Make a copy of your passports and give a copy to a family member who won’t be on the road with you. If your passports get stolen or lost, it will be easier to have them replaced if you have a copy of your information. You can also email yourself the passport numbers and date of issuance so you can easily retrieve the information, just in case.

Tip 3

Inquire for visas. Do not assume you do not need a visa even if you are visiting for a day. Check that information with the appropriate consulate. If you booked your travel through a travel agent, he or she should take care of the paperwork for you.

Tip 4

Check the immunization records of the whole family and make sure that no specific immunizations are needed. The CDC www.cdc.gov/travel has an extensive list of recommended vaccinations and shots on a country by country basis. Be sure to consult your doctor as well.

Tip 5

Call your medical insurance company to understand how you are covered abroad. Check if your credit card provides any travel health insurance. If not, you might consider buying travel medical insurance.

Tip 6

If you are planning on driving, make sure you do not need an international driving license and if you need one, apply for one. If you are renting a car abroad, be aware that you will most likely get a stick shift car, so be prepared!

Tip 7

Be aware of the difference in electrical plugs and voltage in some countries like England and Australia. You can buy plug adapters at your local hardware store or online, click here.

Tip 8

Ideally, have some cash from the country you are visiting with you in case you need to take the taxi when you arrive or buy something right away. It will make your life simpler instead of looking for an ATM or currency exchange kiosks just after landing with tired and jet-lagged kids in tow.

Tip 9

Call your credit card company to let them know that you will be traveling abroad. If they see activities on your bank account abroad, they may deny the charges and cancel your credit card if they can not confirm the purchases with you. Always bring several cards with you when traveling in case one does not work. Be aware, that if you are using your ATM card, certain countries like France only have a 4-digit PIN number system. If you are trying to withdraw some cash and you have a 5-digit PIN number, you will not be able to withdraw money. Visit your local branch to inquire about this.

Bon Voyage!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Alaska Airlines Bay Area Sale to Portland

Starting March 13th, Alaska Airlines is launching a Bay Area fare sale, with fares starting at $49 each way for travel between Portland, OR and Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento and Santa Rosa/Sonoma County, CA. Hurry, this offer is only available until March 20th! Visit Alaskaair.com (visit on or after March 13th)

Earn Bonus Points with Amtrak's New Spring Promo

Register today for Amtrak's "Crazy for Trains, Loco for Points" promo where you can earn double points on each of your first four Amtrak® train trips and triple points for your fifth trip and beyond, March 16 through May 8, 2009. Plus, earn quadruple points for any trip taken on National Train Day, Saturday, May 9, 2009. That's on all trains and every route.

Registration is required online or by calling 1-800-307-5000 (option 2), using registration code 31609.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hilton To Roll Out New Lifestyle Hotel Brand in 2012

From *wood comes news that Hilton plans to launch a new brand of hotels aimed at "globally conscious and modern traveler". Denizen hotels will target both business and leisure travelers with each property featuring a spa, a lounge and individual work stations in the lobby.

This development comes after Hilton successfully recruited two former Starwood Execs who help build the companies boutique brand - W Hotels.

Although Hilton did not give specifics on where the first Denizen's will debut, negotiations are going on worldwide including Abu Dhabi, Austin, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Buenos Aires, Cancun, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Las Vegas, London, Los Cabos, Miami, Montreal, Mumbai, New York City, Panama City and Washington D.C.

Win a Vacation for 8 to Disneyworld in TWC Sweepstakes

The Weather Channel is giving away a vacation for eight people to Disneyworld. The winners of the sweepstakes receive a 5-day trip, including round-trip airfare and hotel, airport transfers and five-day Magic Your Way tickets to Disneyworld parks. ARC $10,888. Click here to register by March 13, 2009.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

United’s Cashless-Cabins Begin Later This Month

After a successful trial, and following a general trend in the industry, United Airlines says it will go cashless on all domestic flights starting March 23. According to the airline, passengers who wish to purchase on board food and beverages can do so with a credit or debit card – only. The policy applies to all domestic flights, and flights to/from Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. On international flights the airline will accept either cash or credit/debit for payment.
SAVE up to 30% + Free Upgrades on Carnival Cruises at Orbitz!

Monday, March 9, 2009

HOT! San Francisco to Austin $96 RT "All In"

United Airlines and JetBlue are competing on the San Francisco to Austin, Texas route today. As of 10:15 AM, fares are coming in at $96 round-trip, including taxes. Valid for travel between May 24 and May 18, 2009. Click here and search using the "flexible dates" option.

Oakland Ranked Best Airport in Nation for On-Time Arrivals

For the second month in a row, Oakland International Airport was ranked the top airport in the nation for on-time arrivals. According to the website flightstats.com, 88.3% of all flights into Oakland arrived on time in February, 88.7% in January. The top spot ranking for Oakland airport was made after Flightstats examined data for 40 major airports throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

LiveATC.net Allows Aviation Fans to Monitor Airport Communications

Anyone who has ever owned (or still owns) a police/fire scanner and enjoys aviation can appreciate this: LiveATC.net allows listeners to monitor aircraft and airport transmissions throughout the world right from the comfort your own home.

San Francisco Tower and NorCal approach are two local channels available. During inclement weather, i've heard some interesting conversations between pilots and air traffic control. Beyond the Bay Area, you can monitor airport frequencies throughout the United States and world. Looks like Botswana was recently added. Visit
LiveATC.net and their Top 30 list.

Rough Landings at Seattle Airport

Here's a video from couple years ago out of Seattle, where two separate Northwest Airlines planes were encountered some particularly nasty winds during landing. What a ride!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Free Samples of Emergen-C

Click here to receive free samples of the fizzy Emergen-C Vitamin supplement. Although the product can be taken (and marketed) in response to ills, ensuring proper vitamin and mineral intake before traveling is sound advise as well.

Rent a Hybrid at SFO and Save $15

San Francisco International has launched the nation's first Green Rental Car program that rewards customers for renting "green" alternative-fueled vehicles. Customers who rent a hybrid at SFO from a participating rental car agency will receive a $15 discount at the counter. According to the flysfo website, it is estimated that more than 4,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year will be eliminated through the implementation of this program.

Participating car rental companies are: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National and Thrify.
Click here for more information.

Win a 3 Night New York Getaway from Travelocity

Follow in the Roaming Gnome's footsteps and enter for a chance to win your very own road trip in New York State. You and a friend could embark on your own getaway and enjoy the free round-trip airfare to New York, 3 nights hotel accommodations, and a $200 rental car gift certificate. Entries must be received by March 31, 2009. Click here to register.
“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.” -Louis L'Amour

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pictures of the Ultra Chic Le Meridien Bangkok

Had the pleasure of visiting the Le Meridien Bangkok just months after it's Fall 2008 grand opening. Situated in in the Silom district, not far from Patpong, lies 282 wonderfully planned out rooms offering floor to ceiling windows overlooking the bustling streets of Bangkok.
Of all the Starwood properties I've visited throughout the world, service at the Le Meridien Bangkok was friendly and impeccable. Staff went out of their way to accommodate us, chat with us, and genuinely showed their appreciation for our visit. After staying five nights at this wonderful hotel, it felt like we were leaving a bunch of friends behind. I highly recommend you consider the Le Meridien Bangkok during your next visit to the land of smiles.
Earn 17,500 bonus miles with the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. Apply now.

Trip cancellation, emergency medical, and flight!

Monday, March 2, 2009

WestJet Resumes San Francisco to Calgary Flights in June

Canada-based WestJet Airlines will resume seasonal service between SFO and it's Calgary hub. According to the airline, flights will operate between June 2nd and October 29th, 2009. In addition to San Francisco, the airline operates seasonal service from Palm Springs, San Diego, and Phoenix, and year-round flights from Las Vegas and Florida. Visit WestJet for more information.