Monday, August 31, 2009

Recommendations for Sleeping in an Airport

By Mike Grasso
For most travelers, the idea of spending any unnecessary time in an airport makes them cringe. So the thought of sleeping in an airport would probably beyond the possibilities of imagination. That's what I said too, until I discovered a website appropriately titled, "The guide to sleeping in airports." and gave it a shot. On this site, travelers passing through a particular airport can read the stories of past travelers - super troopers if you will, who've scouted out the best spots to cuddle up for a few hours nappie.

Reviews often describe the atmosphere of the airport in the overnight hours, when few, if any, flights are operating. Key themes in the reviews often relate to the frequency of announcements in airport P.A system (think- "this is a security advisory, keep luggage with you at all times) as well as comfort and versatility of sleeping areas (i.e., post-security, away from rift raft coming in off the street, whether armrests move up so you can lay down on a set of seats). My personal experience of sleeping in airports has been pleasant, and never have I had airport personnel question me (yes, even post 9-11), or my sleeping arrangement. Of course if someone did come by, I'd kindly ask them for a pillow. =)

The novelty of sleeping in an airport probably isn't sufficient for most people to try this out. So, why do it in the first place you ask? Experienced airport nappers often cite a long connection - such as 4 or 6 hours, as the principal reason. The hassle of locating a nearby hotel, transportation, and the struggle of waking up early then re-clear security seemed a bit much, when one could simply take a nap next to the boarding gate.

Not all airports are created alike, and there are several to avoid at all costs. Few U.S., airports make the top 10 world list, yielding instead to newer, and spacious airports within Asia and Curious where San Francisco fits on the list? How about checking the ratings of your hometown airport? See all the reviews at

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hurricane Jimena Gaining Strength Off Coast of Mexico

Travelers to Baja California/Cabo should monitor the latest Hurricane Center updates.

As of 11:00 PM Eastern:
Hurricane Watch issued for Southern Baja Region

Jimena was located 255 miles SSW of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico, moving NW at 7mph. Maximum sustained winds are 145mph, making it a Category 4 - major hurricane. The likely track of the storm is illustrated to the left, courtesy of Weather Underground.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hoping for the Best, Preparing for the Worst: Smart Packing for Airline Travel

By Mike Grasso

We've all heard the dreaded stories of planes stuck on the runway for hours at a time, passengers suffering in the cabin lacking some of the basic essentials such as food and water and the pilot refusing to allow people to de-plane. Thankfully, these are rare cases. But there are steps you can take in advance should you find yourself in a similar situation. Many of these suggestions are common sense, and put the bulk of health & safety responsibility back onto you - the passenger. If we have learned anything from these extreme situations, it's that nobody can best take care of you better than YOU.

Bottled Water: You can purchase a bottle post-security, or simply bring an empty bottle through security and refill it at a water fountain before boarding your flight.

Snacks: Energy bars, a cup of trail mix or nuts, or even a sandwich are all great munchies to have handy.

Vitamins/Supplements/Meds: Ensure you have taken your proper dosing before catching your flight, and bring extra in your carry-on bag.

Sanitizing wipes: Bring disposable wipes and wipe down the arm rests, head sets, tray tables, and anywhere else your skin makes contact with the plane. Remember, just because it doesn't appear dirty - doesn't mean bacteria aren't present.

Toiletries: Keep a small toiletry bag with your carry on. Anyone who has ever had their luggage lost by the airline has learned to keep essentials such as a toothbrush and deodorant nearby. The TSA 3-1-1 rule currently allows you to carry personal-care products in 3-ounce containers which are to be placed in a 1-quart resalable bag, 1 bag per person.

Seating and Stretching: The middle seat is bad enough, but if you find yourself stuck for hours on a runway, the middle seat will feel like misery. So, get your seat assignment far in advance, to avoid the middle. Regardless where you sit, be sure to stand, stretch and walk around from time to time.

Entertainment: OK so you've packed everything to ensure "survival", now pack a couple items to ensure you actually have a bit of enjoyment, in an otherwise unbearable situation. Magazines, books, portable gaming devices (think, for the kids), or a deck of cards (nearby passengers would probably love to join in too!) are all fine choices. Ensure portable electronic devices, such as mini DVD players and laptops, are charged-up in advance, to allow for maximum enjoyment.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Collection of United Airlines Aircraft Images

Here are a few of my favorite United Airlines/United Express aircraft images I've taken over the years. Although far from an exhaustive gallery of favorites, these six proudly represent the diversity of the United fleet and relatively recent changes to aircraft livery. Enjoy. =)

Monday, August 24, 2009

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be"
- Douglas Adams

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How to Pick a Great Airline Seat (Video)

How To Pick a Great Airline Seat @ Yahoo! Video
Creative little video here on picking the perfect airline seat. Their tid-bits of general recommendations should then be compared with websites such as to determine specific aircraft seating arrangements.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

$10/Day Car Rentals From Enterprise

Similar to the Alamo deal currently going on, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is dropping its weekend rental rate to just $9.99/day. Offer for economy-sized vehicles through September 21st. Maximum 100 miles allowed per day on the car. Click here to book.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

5 Strangely Colored Beaches

From Premier Holidays comes a post describing some uniquely colored beaches around the world, including Red Sand beach in Hawai'i. Enjoy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

United Offers 500-Mile Booking Bonus to Infrequent Travelers

In an effort to bring in new business and increase bookings on their website, United Airlines is awarding 500 bonus miles to customers who have not purchased tickets from within the past 12 months. According to the terms, the bonus is available for one-way or round-trip tickets purchased at between August 14 and October 31, 2009.

Double Miles With SuperShuttle And Friends Ride For Five

SuperShuttle, the blue van service that takes you to/from the airport is running a couple promotions for the next few weeks. First, earn triple United airline miles (150 total) for each one-way drive through August. Second, bring friends along and they pay just $5 bucks each. That deal runs through September 15, 2009. Click here for more information on both promos.

More posts on SuperShuttle
"Live the life you love, and love the life you live"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

KGO: BART Strike Averted

6:50 PM: KGO news is reporting the BART strike planned for Monday has been averted. Trains will operate as normal.

Several Tropical Disturbances Being Monitored

We are in the heart of Hurricane Season in the U.S., and several tropical disturbances have recently formed over the Atlantic and Pacific. Here are the latest Sunday afternoon advisories and forecast tracks. Stay tuned for updates, and possible impacts travel in the week to come.

Data supplied by the National Hurricane Center


  • Tropical Storm Claudette located is just off the Florida Panhandle is expected to move inland over the next 24-hours. Maximum sustained winds are currently at 50 mph.
  • Tropical Depression Ana is located near the Leeward islands, moving WNW at 23 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 35 mph. Long-range models bring Ana into the Gulf of Mexico late in the week.
  • Tropical Storm Bill, located far out into the Atlantic, has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. Bill is showing significant signs of strengthening, and some models bring the storm to a Category 4 hurricane within a few days. Long-range forecasts indicate Bill will be located over the Atlantic, South of Bermuda, by the end of the week.


  • Hurricane Guillermo is currently 1000 miles East of Hilo, Hawaii. Maximum sustained winds of 85mph. The storm is expected to gradually weaken and push to the Northwest, and not directly impact the Hawai'ian islands.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tip Regarding "Wear and Tear" on Car Rentals

It's common for car rentals to have minor scratches on the bumper, and perhaps a tiny ding or two on the sides. While many car rental agencies forgive this normal "wear and tear" on a vehicle, do not drive off the rental car lot without the damage documented on your paperwork. Don't let them brush it off as "minor" or "insignificant," and therefore need not be documented. When you return your car, the returning rental car agent may consider the "wear and tear" as something a little more significant, and bill you for damages.

BART Strike Expected Monday

BART service to SFO, and AirBART bus service to Oakland Airport among many disruptions expected next week
Late Thursday, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 155, which represents BART train operators and station agents, announced a BART strike will go forward at the close of the business Sunday night. The decision comes after several weeks of failed negotiations on a new contract.

Bay Area residents who rely on BART should start making alternate travel plans for next week.

BART Strike Transit Alternatives (From KGO 7 news) Trip Planner
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

inFLIGHTout Updates On Twitter This Week

  • Alamo Car Rental $10/day Promotion is baaaack! Valid for weekend rentals (return the car by Monday) from 8/20 to 9/21/2009.
  • Unlimited travel for 30 days on JetBlue for $599 round-trip. Travel 9/8 to 10/8/09.
  • Virgin America announces new non-stop service San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale beginning November 18th.
  • @TravelSocial: Travel survey finds American's suffering from 'Vacation Deficit'
  • @SPGInsider: Earn up to 1,000 bonus points at select Starwood properties through November 30th.
  • @HotelClub: 10 of the most expensive Hotel Rooms in the world.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Virgin America to Launch Fort Lauderdale Flights

In a press release today, San Francisco-based Virgin America accounced plans to begin nonstop flights between the West Coast and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Interantional Airport. The airline says it will offer two daily flights each from San Francisco and Los Angeles beginning November 18, 2009. Fort Lauderdale marks the 10th destination in Virgin America's growing network.

"The South Florida market has always been at the top of our list. It is a world-class destination and an important tourism and business travel market that, until today, was served by little or no nonstop competition from the West Coast," said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush.

Tickets are now available for purchase at Introductory fares begin at just $99 each way in the Main Cabin.

Monday, August 10, 2009

American Dropping Bay Area Flights Into Orange County

The latest American Airlines scheduler shows all flights from San Jose and San Francisco to Santa Ana/Orange County will be discontinued effective November 18, 2009. Currently six daily departures are offered between these cities, operated by affiliate American Eagle.
American has been trimming away departures from the Bay Area the past several months, and over the summer announced plans to cut the San Jose - Austin "nerd bird" route at the end of this month.

Friday, August 7, 2009

How to Request Flight Mileage Credit On Old Itineraries

By Mike Grasso
Even the most seasoned travelers forget to include their frequent flyer number to their flight reservation on occasion (or can place blame on the forgetful corporate travel agent). Or perhaps you included your frequent flyer number but the airline failed to credit your hard earn miles. Either way, fear nothing as you can request mileage credit for previously flown flights up to 24 months in the past, as long as you were a member of the respective airlines frequent flyer program at the time of the flight. The best documentation to have on hand would be your boarding pass or other documentation showing the airline's ticket and flight number.

Here are direct links to major U.S carriers, and information on how to submit your mileage credit request:
United (last 12 months of travel)
American (last 12 months)
Delta (last 6 months)
Northwest (last 9 months)
Continental (last 6 months)
Southwest (last 24 months!)
Virgin America (last 12 months)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Starwood Promo: Earn Up To 1,000 Points Per Stay

Earn up to 1,000 bonus points now through November 30th in Starwood Hotels' Get Closer to Paradise promotion. Simply stay at a participating hotel and earn either 500 or 1000 Starpoints per stay. Click here to register.
“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” - Alan Keightley

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Earn 100 Bonus Miles With Continental Airlines

Here's a quick and easy way to earn 100 bonus miles with Continental Airlines: Simply opt-in to receive Continental news and offers by email, and the miles are yours. Offer for new subscribers only. Click here and use promo code 57064.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

San Francisco to Pittsburgh Route Switching to United

As we reported this past Summer, U.S. Airways is discontinuing nonstop service SFO to Pittsburgh, PA effective August 18th. The red-eye flight currently offered once a day by U.S. Air will instead be replaced by an afternoon departure on United Airlines.

Schedule effective August 18, 2009:
UA368* DP 1:00PM AR 8:49PM, Airbus 319.

UA433* DP 8:42AM AR 11:10AM, Airbus 319.

*Flight numbers to change effective 9/1/09

Airlines Seek to Unload Frequent-Flier Miles

From the Washington Times Monday comes a story discussing why airlines, United Airlines in particular, are suddenly choosing to unloading miles from their "books" at an accelerated rate. For example, United recently offered discount award redemption's, and effective August 1, 2009 eliminated all "close-in" processing fees. Are United Airlines and other carriers putting customer service back into focus, or is there something more at play here? Read the full story here.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why One-Way Tickets Cost More Than a Round-Trip

By Mike Grasso

Last week a reader forwarded me an itinerary in which the round-trip ticket price cost less than two separate one-way tickets on identical flights. It was an American Airlines flight between San Jose and Dallas/Ft Worth. The ticket prices out to $349 round-trip, but the exact same days and flights booked as two separate one-ways comes to $454 ($227 each way). "What gives?" the reader asked.

At play here is supply and demand. When most people fly somewhere, they usually need to come back, causing a demand for round-trip tickets. In response, you find many airlines fiercely competing in this market. One-way flights are less popular, and most mainline carriers don't compete, resulting in an upward spike in those fares. Although the supply of seats remains constant - regardless if sold as one-way or round-trip, the demand and competition exists for round-trips.

But there are exceptions. Southwest Airlines, for example, sells all their flights as one-ways. In response to this, you will find mainline carriers such as American and United offering equivalent one-way fares in markets they compete with Southwest in. Take San Francisco to Los Angeles, for instance. Southwest frequently sells this route for $49 each way. Other carriers flying between these cities match Southwest pricing, choosing not to bump up the cost of the one-way flight, as they would otherwise do on non-competitive routes.