Tuesday, June 30, 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. Great advice!

In addition to a photocopy, 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, appearing a little more legitimate than a photocopy, particularly important when you need to work with government officials in a foreign country to secure your flight out of the country. Provided you have Internet access, a scanned passport is readily available anywhere you find yourself traveling in the world.

Mid-Market Hotels As A Solution for Travelers

Came across this great blog piece at Forbes.com describing how mid-tier hotel chains such as Holiday Inn Expresses, Residence Inns and Hyatt Places are a smarter, more economically-sound choice compared to luxury properties such as the Ritz's and J.W Marriott's. The author, Rich Karlgaard, editor of Forbes magazine, considers the varying amenities and services provided at each class hotel, and concludes mid-range hotels offer a surprisingly good deal for many travelers needs. Take a read: The Holiday Inn Express Solution

Monday, June 29, 2009

Breaking News: Yemeni Airliner Carrying 150 Crashes Into Indian Ocean

A Yemeni airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the Comoros archipelago in the Indian Ocean, a government official said Tuesday. "We don't know if there are any survivors among the 150 people on the plane," the official told Reuters. Read the lastest from Reuters.

Sweepstakes Time: Register for Your Chance at Free Travel

Emirates Airlines The World's Your Reward Sweepstakes. Chance to win two tickets anywhere in the world Emirates flies to. Register by September 30, 2009.

Discover Asia Now Sweepstakes. Chance to win a vacation for two to Tokyo and Seoul. Register by July 31, 2009.

Subway Land of the Lost Contest. Chance to win one of the daily $1,000 prizes, or a Southwest Airlines Vacation package for two. Enter the contest by July 5, 2009.

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind" -Dr. Seuss

Happy San Francisco Pride 2009!

39 Years of Pride in the City
A special welcome to the half a million attendees expected at this years San Francisco LGBT parade this year - many of whom have travelled thousands of miles for the fun and excitement, and to share in pride and celebration. Wishing everyone a safe and happy celebration this weekend.

-SF Pride 2009 official website. Read about the history of the parade, a guide to weekend activities, anticipated road closures, and how you can support equality for LGBT people.

Other Pride events around the world.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Serving Up Frequent Flyer Miles at Restaurants Near You

By Mike Grasso

What's better than a delicious dinner? A delicious dessert. What's even better than a delicious dessert? Knowing you can earn a plateful of frequent flyer miles for eating both dinner and dessert at some of your favorite restaurants. Here's how it works:

First, continue to use any reward-earning credit card (e.g., airline, hotel, cash back) as you normally would. You will still receive your regular incentive for the card usage.

Second, register for your airlines' Dining Rewards Network program; all the major U.S Carriers have one, each with a unique name. United Airlines, for example, is named Mileage Plus Dining, while American Airlines uses, AAdvantage Dining. For others, look at the air carriers website in the "earning miles" section.

During the registration process, you will be asked to enter the numbers of all your credit cards you want included in the program. There is no cost to register these. Then, once you dine at a participating restaurant, you will earn between 3 and 10 miles per dollar spent. A $90 dine, for instance, would earn up to 900 frequent flyer miles, which usually post to your airline account a few weeks later. The earning of miles is automatic, and the restaurant has no idea you are participating in the program. And, as mentioned above, you continue to earn any existing perks your credit card offers.

Food options range from neighborhood Bistro's to upscale dining. Some restaurants you may already dine at, others are treasures waiting to be found. A few, you might consider passing on. Restaurants throughout the United States and Canada participate. In fact, a few times while out of town I realized after-the-fact I was dining at a participating restaurant when the bonus miles appeared on my mileage statement.

So head on over to register for your airline's dining rewards program today and start earning bonus miles the easy way.

Bonus: For United Airlines customers, the link above directs you to earn 750 miles for registering for the Mileage Plus Dining program.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Flight Attendants for your Coffee Table

Flying the friendly skies, Brian Finke began photographing flight attendants as he crisscrossed the country on Delta, JetBlue, Hawaiian, Hooters Air, Southwest, and Song airlines, before going abroad on Air France, Qantas, and British Airways. In London, he visited a flight attendant school, complete with emergency rafts and billowing smoke. Continuing east, Finke traveled Air Asia, Thai, Tiger, ANA, Japan, and Cathay Pacific. For the grand finale of his two-year trip, Finke traveled the illustrious Icelandair.

The result is Flight Attendants, a vibrant document of those adventurous souls who choose to work at 40,000 feet. Shot before, during, and after trips, at school and at home, Finke’s photographs capture the allure of this high-flying profession alongside the more quiet moments of the attendants’ daily lives. As in his previous collection of cheerleaders and football players, 2-4-6-8, Finke is drawn to the distinctive dynamics of team formation, focusing on uniformed individuals executing practiced actions—whether on the playing field or in the air. With an eye for the iconic as well as the absurd, Finke seamlessly blends the glamorous with the casual, offering a memorable look at the men and women of air travel. Available from Amazon

Monday, June 22, 2009

TSA Ends Clear Airport Security Program

On Twitter @ inFLIGHTout: TSA's Clear program for travelers abruptly ends.

Fee-Free Weekends at U.S. National Parks

Summer fee-free weekends are upon us at National Parks throughout the United States. Now you and the family can spend a fun and affordable weekend at one of the many dozens of parks, including several here in the Golden State. The U.S Park Service is waiving entrance fees, which include commercial tour and transportation entrance fees as well. Remaining fee-free weekends are: July 18-19th, and August 15-16th.

Register for Free Samples of Emergen-C

The good folks over at Emergen-C continue to offer free samples of their Vitamin B&C-rich energy supplement. This offer has been around for several months, during which time I was able to score several packets of the good-for-your-health doses. Click here to receive your free samples too. Hint: These make for a good health supplement during travel.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Boeing Readies Dreamliner for First Flight

From the Agence France-Presse comes word Boeing is readying its 787 Dreamliner aircraft for its first-ever test flight in the coming days. The current schedule calls for the maiden flight on June 30th, and delivery of the first plane to All Nippon Airlines (ANA) by the first quarter of 2010.

Double Southwest & United Credit for Flights to/from Colorado

Southwest and United Airlines are both offering frequent flyer promotions for travelers flying to and from the state of Colorado. In both promos, registration is required prior to travel.

Southwest Airlines: Register by July 31, ticket and travel by September 30, 2009; earn double credits for each flight to/from Denver.

United Airlines: Register and ticket by June 30, travel by September 30, 2009;
earn double miles for flights to/from Denver, Aspen, Colorado Springs, Durango or Grand Junction.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Access Over 600 Airport Lounges With Priority Pass

I must admit, when I first heard of this lounge access program, I was a bit skeptical. The idea of a company selling day-use access to airport lounges at a discounted price brings unwelcoming visions: families with kids running around as if the lounge was some sort of playground; a single tray of refreshments only to be swooped up by the vultures; herds of people jockeying their way through the masses for access to the bar. In fact, Priority Pass isn’t that – at least usually.

This past year I had the pleasure of trying out a standard membership to the Priority Pass network. The plan normally costs $99 a year plus a pay-per-visit fee of $27, which enables access to over 600 airport lounges throughout the world, including select airline-branded ones such as United's Red Carpet Club, Singapore's Kris Flyer and Delta's Sky Club Lounge – to name a few.

The amenities vary at each lounge. Soft drinks, light refreshments, Internet, and a wide variety of magazines are pretty standard. Some lounges even provide hot food, cocktails, resting rooms, and shower facilities. Best of all, lounges are often a quiet (though not always) break away from the hustle and bustle of the main thoroughfare and boarding area of airport terminals. And with Priority Pass, you need not fly that particular airline to access their lounge – often a restriction with airline-branded memberships. For example, if you are flying United Airlines through Tampa, Florida, you have access to the Delta Sky Club Lounge with your Priority Pass membership.

Families who travel infrequently may find the $99 annual fee plus day use fees a bit to steep to justify the purchase. This probably goes a long way in preventing the lounges from overflowing with guests, allowing for a more relaxing visit.

If you travel frequently, consider a membership with Priority Pass. Different levels of membership are available depending on the frequency of your travels and how often you wish to have guests accompany you (for a fee) into the lounges. Click here for more information on the Priority Pass Airport VIP lounge access

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Video: Complete Remodel of a United Airlines Boeing 747

(Thanks Andy)
Fantastic video here showing how United Airlines remodels their first and business class cabins on its Boeing 747 fleet, including lie-flat beds, and 15-inch personal TV screens. This massive overhaul is sped up and shrunk into a video less than two minutes long. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SFO Riders Hardest Hit By BART Fare Increase

The recently approved BART rate hike takes effect July 1, and that means huge increases for BART riders to SFO. Systemwide, fares will spike 6.1%, an average of .30 cents per ride. But passengers using BART to SFO will be hardest hit. The one-way SFO premium charge currently set at $2.50 will jump to $4.00, that's in addition to the base fare. So come July 1, BART riders can expect to pay about $8.10 from downtown San Francisco to the airport.

See also: SFO officials trying to find ways around BART surcharge (SF Gate)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bonus Hyatt Points for Stays Through September 15

Registered Hyatt Gold Passport members can earn 2,500 bonus points for each qualified stay between June 15 and September 15, 2009, when paying with MasterCard. According to the terms of the offer, there is no limit to the number of bonus points you can earn. Click here for more details and to register.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

American Airlines To Ground San Jose-Austin Nerd Bird Route

The Austin American-Statesman reports American Airlines will cease flights between San Jose and Austin effective August 25, 2009. Flights between these cities, often dubbed the "nerd bird" route because of the large number of high-tech workers, have been part of the Silicon Valley for over 15 years. American cites the cancellation on the overall recession and a weakening demand on business travel, including on the Nerd Bird. Read the full story here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

24% Off Deal at Red Lion Hotels all Summer Long

Straight from the email comes the 24/Summer promotion from Red Lion Hotels. Under the promo, hotel guests can save 24% off their hotel rate, 24% off the restaurant tab, and 24% off a future Red Lion stay. To be eligible, you must book and complete a 2-night minimum hotel stay anytime this Summer - through September 15th. Use promo code: 24COUP when booking.

Red Lion has an extensive collection of properties throughout the Western United States, including here in California.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How to Overcome Your Child's Fear of Flying

By Lydie Thomas
from: travel is more fun with kids

Taking the airplane is safe but as we saw this week on the news, with the Air France plane crashing at sea, accidents happen and when they do, they are unlikely to end up with a happy ending.

Children fear of flying can be triggered by watching the news or a movie, reading a book, or people talking about then. I carefully never exposed my daughters to airplanes crashing news. The oldest got confronted to it one September 11th when her elementary school made an announcement for a minute of silence for the people who died in the airplanes that crashed in the twin towers that day. She came home, crying and telling me that she never wanted to go to France again because she did not want to die crashing in towers. I calmed her down and by the next June, she was flying back to France without worries. Still, I would have preferred to talk about this awful event using my own words and not having her hear about it over a speakerphone.

The accident of the Air France plane brought back all these insecurities for all of us and since families will be flying this summer (our family is flying on June 12th), I believe it is the right time to educate ourselves as parents on how to handle our children fear of flying if they experience any.

Tamar Chansky is a child psychologist, parent expert and is the author of the book: Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcoming Your Child's Fears, Worries and Phobias. She shares with us some solutions on children’s fear of flying.

Her solutions:
Start with empathy: if parents just try to talk their kids out of their fears, kids will still be afraid but may also be frustrated because parents aren't listening. Tell your child that it is Ok to be a little afraid, but you want to help him feel better.

Next: the facts: Ask your child what he is afraid of about flying and what he thinks/knows about plane crashes. Make it clear that plane crashes are rare. Recent statistics state that one in every eleven million planes crash. Help make it concrete-- for kids. Eleven million-- imagine how many pennies that would be? That is the population of Ohio!

Sometimes children have been on a flight with a lot of turbulence or get afraid by the normal sounds of the plane-- help them get familiar by "simulating" a flight in your living room. Have the child make the sounds of the wings, the wheels, etc. Car washes are great approximaters of some of the sounds and sensations of a flight.

Next: Coping: ask your child what his worry is telling him about flying, then ask him to "take out his imaginary red pen" and mark the statements as right or wrong. Have the child fill in the "right" answers, e.g., Plane crashes are rare, millions of flights happen every year perfectly. Worrying about this doesn't help, so I'm not going to.

Finally: Ask your child to focus on positive aspects of the trip-- where they are going, what they want to do, etc Gather together activities for the plane to help the time pass faster.

Patricia Vaccarino from Seattle had to deal with her daughter anxiety the hard way when classmates of her then 6 year old daughter died when the Alaska Airlines airplane they were one crashed on its way to Seattle. She shared with me how she dealt with it. Here is her testimony:

‘My intent was to get Sarah on to a plane ASAP to show her that not all planes crash. So the month after the crash, I took Sarah to Disney land. I let Alaska airlines know in advance that Sarah had been in the class that lost four children.

When we arrived at the airport, Sarah was called to board the plane before anyone else. Once she was on the plane, the captain greeted her. He brought her into the cockpit and explained how the plane worked and described safety protocol in a way that she could understand. Then later, mid-flight, the captain sent a note to Sarah that was delivered by a flight attendant to let her know that she was safe. When the flight landed, the captain personally escorted Sarah from the plane.

I think this response by Alaska Airlines made a real difference in Sarah's perceptions about flying and safety. Sarah is now 15 and has no qualms about flying.

A simple call to the air carrier in advance can potentially make all the difference in the world.’

Still feeling anxious?
Carole Lieberman is Beverly Hills psychiatrist for children and adults and she has created the first in-flight entertainment programs used on airlines to help people with fear of flying Shrink on Board. You can order her CDs and DVDs online and have your family experience a very calming and relaxing flight. Click here to watch the trailer.

There is a solution for every fear and the right words and methods will help your children overcome their anxiety about flying.
Lydie's original article can be found here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Enter to Win a Bali Vacation from Cathay Pacific

Register for the Discover Bali Sweepstakes for your chance to win a trip to Bali for you and a friend. The grand prize package winner will receive roundtrip economy airfare from the U.S to Bali, 2-nights stay at the Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay, a 1-night stay at the Four Seasons Bali Sayan, and a 90-minute Balinese massage for two. Click here to enter the sweepstakes.

Follow United Airlines on Twitter to Receive 15% off Cert

Be one of the first 50,000 followers of United Airlines on Twitter, and you'll receive a discount certificate for up to 15% off future travel. According to the terms of the offer, the amount of the discount will depend on how quickly the airline reaches the 50,000 goal. The e-cert is valid on most published United airfares between August 15 and November 17, 2009. Click here to sign up.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

San Francisco to Madrid $294 RT Including Tax!!

Unbelievably low fare! Today Delta Airlines is selling flights from San Francisco to Madrid, Spain, for just $294.50 roundtrip, including all taxes and fees. Valid for outbound travel August 17-October 24, 2009, with a Saturday Night stay requirement. Best of all, there is plenty of availability at this low fare. Click here and search using the "flexible dates" option. Book soon - this price will not last.

Delta has slashed prices to several other European cities, including Barcelona, Athens, Paris and Barcelona - all currently priced between $400-$500 roundtrip from SFO for the same travel period.

Monday, June 8, 2009

“The journey not the arrival matters.- T. S. Eliot

Friday, June 5, 2009

San Francisco to Sydney $601 "All In" on United

HOT FARE: $601 roundtrip, including all taxes and fees - will get you from SFO (or LAX) to Sydney or Melbourne, Australia on United Airlines.  Now that is a heck of a sale. 

Details: Overall, there are few restrictions. Your outbound flight can be any day of the week between July 1 and November 30, 2009*. No advance ticketing requirements apply to economy class tickets. $250 fee + applicable fare difference if you make changes to the reservation before departure. Books into "K" class. 

Have friends in the Big Apple? They can fly down under for just $60 bucks more! Visit the United Airlines website for more details on this sale. 

*Sale t&c states outbound travel by December 16th, but the lowest fare class we found permits outbound travel no later than November 30.

Flying the Friendly Skies Commercial - Circa 1982

Another United Airlines classic from the early 80's. Can't help but smile and say, "ahh...the good ol' days of flying."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Emirates One Day World Sale - Thursday Only

We don't see huge discounts from Emirates too often, so this is definitely a deal worth looking into: For one day only - Thursday June 4, 2009, receive $100 off any destination Emirates Airlines flies from the United States, including flights from San Francisco. Best of all, there is no time restriction as to when you must fly by! Discount will automatically apply to all fares purchased at emirates.com/usa

Win a Trip to Vegas from U.S Airways Vacations

Enter now for your chance to win a three-night stay at Encore @ Wynn Las Vegas, courtesy of U.S Airways vacation. The winner also receives roundtrip airfare and a $1000 shopping gift certificates to the Forum Shops at Caesar's palace. According to the rules, you can enter the contest daily through August 3, 2009. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

United Set To Launch New Routes from SFO This Week

After making announcements earlier this year, United Airlines says it is ready to launch several new nonstop routes from San Francisco International Airport later this week. Here is a listing of those routes:
  • SFO to Spokane, Washington (GEG) 2 flights per day - Regional jet service
  • SFO to Pasco, Washington (PSC)   2 flights per day - Regional jet service
  • SFO to Minneapolis, Minnesota (MSP) 1 flight per day - Airbus 319/320 service
  • SFO to Toronto, Canada (YYZ) 1 flight per day - Airbus 319/320 service. 
United also plans to add nonstop service between San Francisco and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in early September. 

Visit United Airlines for more information and to check availability. 

New Border Crossing Rules Now in Effect

New security rules for land and sea border crossings went into effect on Monday. The rules, part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) were originally intended to start in 2008 but were delayed due to concerns on how they might impact commerce. The initiative states all U.S. citizens must present a passport, passport card or enhanced drivers license when entering the country. Some citizens may also use a trusted traveler document, which require background checks and often used by people crossing the border regularly for business. A similar requirement for entering the country by air went into effect in 2007. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hopes Fade for 228 Aboard Missing French Jet

All 228 people onboard an Air France plane are feared dead after encountering stormy weather late Sunday night over the Atlantic Ocean. AF Flight 447 was enroute to Paris from Rio de Janeiro when it encountered severe turbulence four hours into the flight. Shortly thereafter, a series of automatic messages were sent from the plane reporting electrical faults in the aircraft. No mayday or official communication came from the pilot, but a crew member from a nearby flight reported "bright spots" in the ocean approximately 800 miles from Fernando de Noronha archipelago, in South America.  Authorities are currently scouring the sea looking for the possible wreckage site.