Friday, May 29, 2009

inFLIGHTout Travel Tip: Email Important Documents to Yourself

By Mike Grasso

Even what seems the most solid planning and preparation occasionally fails. Take for example a recent trip to Boston: I had booked a car rental with a reputable agency months in advance and armed myself with a copy my itinerary, evidence of such reservation. Well, through a series of unfortunate inflight mishaps, coffee ended up soiling my paper itinerary, causing it to be unreadable. So, when I showed up at the car rental agency, you guessed it, they for whatever reason, had no reservation on file for me, and I no longer had no proof anything existed either. I was ready to fly back home at this point. 

But, the magic of the Internet and an Internet capable mobile device saved the situation. I simply logged into my email account, scrolled to my "active travel" folder and bada-bing, with a sense of pride and accomplishment, I flashed the reservation to the front desk agent who quickly processed my reservation. 

The lesson: A hard copy of all your travel plans are great (airline, car rental, hotel, tours), but also storing an electronic copy, which can be accessed anywhere you have Internet capability, improves on that. With the e-versions of itineraries, I store them in email folders labelled, "active travel" and "past travel" which helps locate files quickly - such as when standing at the car rental counter in Boston.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Win A Trip to Ireland from the National Geographic Society

Enter to win a 6-night vacation to Ireland for two, including roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations and car rental. The sweepstakes is sponsored by the National Geographic Society, in association with Tourism Ireland. Contest ends June 30, 2009. Visit to enter. 
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Plan a vacation to one of the top beaches! Enjoy great rates when you book on! Book by 6/7/09, Travel by 6/30/09

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Earn Bonus Points Through the Summer at Carlson Hotels

Earn 1,000 points at Carlson Hotels worldwide between June 1 and August 31, 2009. starting with your third night. Plus, earn a bonus 5,000 points on your fifth night. No registration is required, but you must be a member of the goldpoints plus program to qualify. 

Carlson Hotel group include familiar properties such as Radisson, Park Plaza, and Country Inn and Suites.

Click here for more information on this promotion. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Palm Springs Airport: An Enjoyable Layover in the Desert

By Mike Grasso

In the hot and dry desert of the Coachella Valley - 100 miles inland from Los Angeles lies the resort town of Palm Springs. Sure almost 
everyone in the Bay Area has heard of Palm Springs, many have even visited, but how many have traveled through their quaint little 1960s-airport? It's quite a treat! 

Although year-round flights are available from the Bay Area direct to Palm Springs (PSP), the aircraft are generally smaller regional jets, only accommodating up to few dozen passengers. With demand high, airfare sales are few at best. Many choose to fly a more economical route offered by Southwest flying into Ontario, about 45 minutes away. But those passengers are missing out on a charm in the desert! 

Using some creative routing, I had the pleasure of using Palm Springs as my layover point while heading East. While there, I was able to roam the two concourses and enjoy the many airport amenities. Tip: Regardless the airline you are flying on, be sure to pay a visit to the newer Bono concourse - post security, where a large selection of fresh foods, smoothies and iced coffee are available for travelers. 

While at the airport, enjoy the desert heat with plentiful open-air sections to relax on the lawn, at one of the benches, or a sun sheltered table. The airport also features live palm trees, a water feature, and proudly displays the work of Dale Chihuly's glass art. And, don't forget your Wi-Fi device, as complimentary Internet is available to all passengers. Best part of all, the airport is small enough that once you pass security, you are never more than a few minutes from your departure gate. 

Sure flying into Ontario or even Los Angeles may be more economical, but the experience and convenience of flying directly into Palm Springs may be a few extra bucks well spent. 

Click here for more information about Palm Springs Airport

Monday, May 25, 2009

"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. -Jawaharal Nehru

Earn Bonus Miles With New Netflix Subscription

First time Netflix customers can earn bonus frequent flyer miles when signing up for new service. Netflix offers the convenience of ordering movies online, and having them shipped, usually within 24 hours, directly to your home. Some titles can also be watched online, real-time.
Here are direct links to some of the participating airlines:

American Airlines: 2500 Bonus miles offer
United Airlines: 2000 Bonus miles offer
Delta Airlines: 3000 Bonus miles offer

Tip: Be sure to print out a copy of the offer in the event your miles do not automatically post. This will serve as proof of your registering for the offer.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

inFLIGHTout Travel Tip: Discounted Passport Photos

Save a few bucks on your next Passport and/or Visa photo by visiting your neighborhood Costco store. Costco charges members only $4.99 for a pair of photos. Other companies normally charge upwards of $10-$15 for the same service. Click here to find your local Bay Area Costco store.

Mid-Week Travel: $29 Bucks Each Way to SoCal

United, American, Southwest, Alaska and Virgin America have all lowered airfares to Southern California. Travel for just $29 each way + tax, which comes to $78 roundtrip w/taxes. The fares are good for Tuesday and Wednesday travel through September 8, 2009. Click here and search by "flexible dates" option.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Alaska Airlines Updates Bay Area Service and Offers Double Miles

This week, Alaska Airlines swapped all flights between Portland and the Bay Area to Horizon-operated planes. This includes flights to/from San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento.
Horizon will be operating regional jets on these routes, which offer premium amenities such as complimentary Starbucks coffee, wine and microbrews. And, for a limited time, earn double Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles for all flights between the Bay Area and Portland. Click here for more information and to register for the promo.

Monday, May 18, 2009

FasTrak Users "Good to go" at SFO

San Francisco International Airport says FasTrak is now available in all of the airport garages, enabling people to enter and exit the garage more quickly and efficiently while at the same time reducing emissions caused by engine idling.

Over 1 million existing FasTrak users now have access to this expedited method at SFO. Customers will need to use the FasTrak designated lane upon entering (no ticket will be issued), then exit using the FasTrak lane, whereby a receipt will be provided.

Starwood: Free Nights and Bonus Miles

Starwood Hotels, which back in April launched a free weekend nights promo, is now sweetening the deal by adding yet another incentive for hotel stays. In addition to the 1 free night after 2 stays promo, guests will also earn 1,000 Northwest or Delta miles at participating properties through July 31, 2009. Click here for full details and to register.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

United Airlines Offers Twitter Followers A Gift

(updated links)
According to the United Airlines Twitter page, as soon as they reach 10,000 followers, they will provide folks a small token of their appreciation. A free first class flight anywhere in the world? Lifetime elite status? 100,000 free miles? Probably none of those. But still, something (we don't know what exactly) for nothing. United - It's time to Tweet.

As of 11:00 PM Saturday, they were at 4441 followers.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kimpton Hotels Summer Weekends Sale Underway

Kimpton Hotels is running a property-wide sale with rates as low as $89, including some fabulous hotels in Chicago, New York, Boston and San Francisco. Plus, receive a complimentary bottle of wine for each qualified stay. Book by this Sunday, for stays through September 6, 2009.  Two night minimum and pre-pay required for these rates. Click here for more details. 

(Pictured left: Hotel Triton, San Francisco. A Kimpton property)

San Jose Airport Opens New Ticketing Lobbies

(Press Release)
Spacious new street-level ticketing lobbies opened at Terminal A of Mineta San José International Airport (SJC) Wednesday morning (May 13), expanding the number of ticketing stations by 60 percent.

The new ticketing lobbies are the first newly-constructed customer space to open in the airport's comprehensive $1.3 billion terminal area modernization program, and the first of several major improvements for Terminal A that will come into service over the rest of this year.

Southwest Airlines now occupies the entire South Ticketing Lobby, and the North Lobby is shared by American, Hawaiian, and Mexicana Airlines. Because of SJC's innovative shared-use technology foundation, in the future multiple carriers can easily use the same ticket counters and aircraft gates as new flights are added to serve San José.

Passengers walking across the bridge from the Terminal A garage now will go down the new escalators to check in at the new ticket counters. In addition, Terminal A now has a much longer curb for departing passengers to unload and conveniently check in at street level.

The space vacated by the old upstairs ticket counters now will be cleared out to make way for an expanded and efficient new security checkpoint that will help reduce passenger wait times and improve their travel experience at SJC when it is completed this fall.

"It was quite a challenge to orchestrate the complex series of steps with contractors, airlines, and the airport so that we could make the entire switch overnight," said Steve Pagan, SJC project manager for the Terminal A improvements.

"We've been planning the details for months so that we could complete construction, move equipment and technology systems from upstairs to downstairs in one night, and be ready for our customers first thing in the morning without missing a beat."

Phase 1 of SJC's $1.3 billion terminal area improvement program involves the modernization and replacement of the airport's terminal facilities. The overall project includes the construction of a new Terminal B and Concourse that will take the place of Terminal C, originally built in 1965, along with upgrades and expansion at Terminal A to provide more spacious and comfortable waiting areas and faster security check-in systems.

Over the next year, SJC will be completing major elements of the program. Interim activation of the Terminal B Concourse will take place this summer when several gates will be used by Southwest until the rest of the terminal is completed next summer.

The program also includes a new 3350-space rental car and public parking garage directly in front of Terminal B; expanded space for more options for quality food, beverage, and retail services; and improved roadways serving the airport for more convenient access.

The modernization program is scheduled for completion by the end of 2010.  Plans for future airport expansion in Phase 2, which would extend Terminal B and add new gates, will be contingent on reaching growth triggers for the number of flights or passengers pre-established in collaboration with the airlines serving San José.

Mineta San José International Airport, a self-supporting enterprise, is owned and operated by the City of San José.  SJC served 9.7 million passengers and handled approximately 162 million pounds of air cargo in 2008.  SJC has approximately 150 flights a day on 13 domestic and international carriers to 27 nonstop destinations.

Mineta San José International Airport is located in San José, California's third largest city and the nation's tenth largest city (population 1,007,000).

For more Airport information, visit, or call Airport Customer Service at (408) 501-0979.  Motorists can also tune their radios to 530 AM within two miles of SJC for current information on airport traffic, parking and security.

San Francisco to Tokyo/Narita $454 "All In"

HOT! Late Tuesday Air Canada released a great fare between San Francisco and Toyko (NRT) airports; just $454 roundtrip, taxes included!  We haven't seen many great fares to Asia lately, but this is definitely an exception. Books as an Air Canada Tango Plus fare, so members earn 100% Status miles. All flights connect in Vancouver. Valid for travel through June, three night minimum stay, and outbound travel Monday-Thursday only. Visit Orbitz to check availability. 

Example dates: 6/18-6/21 and 6/17-6/24

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

JetBlue Promo: Book A Trip Now, Get $50 Off Later

JetBlue released another promotion whereby if you fly now, you can fly again in the future at a discounted price. Here's how it works: Register for the promotion first. Then, purchase a ticket between now and May 27, for travel dates May 19-June 23, 2009. You will then receive an electronic $50 off voucher good for a future airline ticket for travel between September 9 and November 15, 2009. 

What is Back-to-Back Ticketing? (Hint: It’s a No-No)

Did you know there are literally dozens of pages of rules and regulations that apply to your airline ticket? It’s true. For example, check out United Airlines contract of carriage, which contains 47 pages worth! Now that looks like some fun reading. On the plus side, most of us will never need to know about most of those rules. But recently a reader wrote in asking about one such rule termed, “back-to-back” ticketing. Specifically, she wanted to know what happens if she is caught making this creative type of airline ticketing.

Back-to-Back ticketing occurs when two or more tickets are purchased for the purpose of circumventing rules of a particular ticket, such as advance ticketing or Saturday night stay requirements. Here is an example of two tickets purchased for flights between San Francisco and Chicago:

--Ticket 1: San Francisco to Chicago July 7 (Tuesday) (A)
Chicago to San Francisco July 12 (Sunday) (B)
Total cost: $170

--Ticket 2: Chicago to San Francisco July 9 (Thursday) (C)
San Francisco to Chicago July 13 (Monday) (D)
Total cost: $170

Notice a Saturday night stay requirement is met in each of the tickets, thereby ensuring the low airfare. But, if you intention is to actually fly July 7 (Tuesday) and return on July 9 (Thursday), you would not meet the Saturday night stay requirement, and be subject to a much higher airfare – perhaps up to $800.

One workaround is to purchase two tickets, as shown above. Then utilize the July 7th outbound ticket (A) and July 9th return ticket (C), and throwing away (B) and (D). This would meet the Saturday night requirement. Therefore, in this example, purchasing two round-trip tickets is far cheaper than a single round-trip.

Sound easy enough yes? Well bad news – it’s “illegal.” Most airlines spell out in their contract of carriage that this type of ticketing is not allowed. Perpetrators are subject to having their mileage account closed, pay a penalty, or perhaps even get billed for the actual cost of the ticket (the $800 ticket). How will the airline know if you did this? Using your name and mileage account number on the two tickets is a good hint! One workaround is to purchase ticket 1 with one airline, ticket 2 with another. But again, you heard it here, this type of ticketing is not generally allowed. So, proceed at your own risk.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Current Card by Discover

Virgin America Flights to San Diego $29 Each Way

Whoa nelly! Virgin America just dropped last minute fares to/from San Francisco and San Diego to just $29 each way for travel through May 20th. Wanna leave tomorrow? No problem! There are also $29 seats to/from LAX, but availability seems to be a bit more scarce. Hurry, these fares won't last. Visit  and search availability with their handy weekly fare calendar.

Monday, May 11, 2009

American Airlines Now Offering One-Way Award Redemptions

Beginning today, American Airlines customers will be able to redeem one-way award travel for half the miles of a round-trip. Currently, all other major U.S carriers permit one-way award travel, either by booking a one-way trip or simply not utilizing the return segment, but the airlines still charged customers as if it were a round-trip. Now, for example, a one-way flight from San Francisco to Boston is available for as little as 12,500 miles. 

Here are some benefits: 
-It's great for people who don't have a mountain of miles in their AAdvantage account, but have enough to cover mileage for one direction.
-You can opt to use miles for the direction in which airfare is high, then purchase a separate one-way ticket for the less expensive direction. 
-You can redeem miles to fly into one city, and redeem miles to return from a different city. 
(Example: San Jose-Dallas and Austin-San Jose). 
-You can mix and match classes of service and book multi-segments on a particular trip. 

Here is one drawback:
-There are fees associated with some award travel, which essentially could double if you book two separate one-way tickets. Those fees include close-in processing fees (booking award travel within 21 days of departure), and re-deposit fees should you decide to cancel your trip. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Flight Control Game for iPhone and iTouch - $1

Flight Control, a popular game which allows you to navigate aircraft to safely land at the airport is now on sale for .99 cents. The game is very simple to learn, but is quite challenging and addicting. No mention as to how long the .99 cent sale will last. Click here to learn more, including reviews and screenshots of the game. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

17 Bay Area Museums Free This Sunday

Thanks to Lydie from travel is more fun with kids for letting us know about Koret Museum Day coming up this Sunday - Mother's Day. On Koret Museum Day, you have the opportunity to visit 17 Bay Area museums fee-free. So grab mom, grandma and the whole family and head on out to a museum, or two, or three this Sunday. 

Participating museums:
"If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home." - James Michener

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Alaska Airlines To Launch Oakland to Hawaii Flights

Alaska Airlines has announced they intend to start flights between Oakland and Kahului (OGG) and Kona (KOA) beginning this November. The Hawaii flight additions are part of a larger list of new routes being rolled out by the airline over the next several months. 

New Routes/Effective dates/frequencies
  • Oakland - Kahului  11/09/09  1X Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat
  • Oakland - Kona      11/10/09  1X Tue/Thu/Sun

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

inFLIGHTout Tip: Dealing With Flight Delays and Cancellations

By Mike Grasso
Although there is no scientific methodology to predict if any specific flight in the future will be delayed or cancelled, there are some steps you can take to minimize the impact any such delay or cancellation might have on your travels. 

1. Book flights earlier in the day. Should there be difficulties with your original flight, there will often be other same-day flights to be accommodated on. In contrast, booking on the last flight of the day means any delay or cancellation could mean spending the night at the airport or nearby hotel.

2. Pick nonstop flights. Each added segment or connection increases your odds of encountering a delay, misconnect, or cancellation. 

3. Check the on-time performance of a flight you are considering a purchase on. For example, between San Francisco and Dallas/Ft. Worth, American Airlines offers several daily flights. Flight #566 departing at 2:55 PM has a 55% on-time record, versus Flight #1306 at 7:30 AM has nearly a 100% on-time record. If you are flying on American, connecting in Dallas, which flight would you want to be on? Websites such as can provide on-time performance data.

4. If you are using a connection city, be sure to allow yourself sufficient "padding" time to exit the aircraft and catch your connecting flight. Padding time should include a few extra minutes in the event you arrive late, the time it takes to deplane, walk through the airport and/or different terminal, and arrive at your next flight. 

5. Check the status of the inbound flight. This is a bit more advanced and requires some detective work, but is my all-time favorite. Here's how it works: Determine the gate you are flying out of, then look at the arrivals board at the airport to find out if the inbound/arriving aircraft coming to your gate is scheduled to be late. If the plane coming to pick you is late, there's a good chance your departure will be delayed as well (this is not certain however since occasionally airlines, particularly at hub airports, can swap planes out for severely delayed aircraft). If the information you gathered points to a delayed flight, consider asking the gate agent or customer service rep to rebook or protect you on an alternate flight. 

6. Check the weather of cities you plan on connecting in. Weather in San Francisco bay be Sunny and warm, but in Chicago they could have an impending storm. Ask a gate agent if they can proactively reroute you through a different connecting city. It saves both you and the airline from a potentially messy situation later on. 

San Francisco to Sao Paulo $589 RT w/Taxes

Great deals down to Brazil are back!  Fly between San Francisco and Sao Paulo (GRU) for just $589 roundtrip, including taxes and fees. Fare is available through November on United, American, Delta and Continental Airlines. Or choose a flight to Rio de Janeiro (RIO) for just a few dollars more. Click here to check availability. 

Keep in mind Brazil imposes a $130 processing fee for U.S Citizens requesting a Visa into the country. This fee matches one the U.S imposes on Brazilian citizens coming to the U.S.A. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Enter the Joie de Vivre Explore California Passport Sweepstakes

Time to visit San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre Hotels' website for some amazing Summer deals, including a $25 credit back for each stay. While you are roaming the site, be to to register for the Explore California Passport sweepstakes where 25 lucky winners will each win over $17,000 worth of Joie de Vivre hotel stays throughout California. Visit JDV hotels today

United Elite Flyers: Earn 2000 Miles for Each Hertz Rental

Here's an offer that's been around for a while, but worth a repost. United Mileage Plus Elite members who rent from Hertz through February 28, 2010 will earn 2,000 bonus miles for full size or larger vehicles rented 1-4 days in length, and 4,000 miles for each rental 5 days or longer. The bonus is in addition to the 50 or so miles Hertz awards for a standard rental. Click here for full details.

Continental Offers 500 Miles for Online Reservations

Following the lead of Delta and Northwest Airlines last week, Continental Airlines announced they to will award 500 bonus miles for round-trip flights booked through it's website, 
Registration is not required; simply book and purchase your tickets by May 31, 2009 to qualify. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Flashback: Carol Burnett Show "No Frills Airline"

I've had tons of hits from this old Carol Burnett clip titled, "No Frills Airline," first posted last Summer. So, for some good ol' Friday funnies and flashbacks, thought I'd bring it back for ya.
Enjoy, and welcome aboard the No Frills Airline.