Sunday, August 15, 2010

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
-Robert Louis Stevenson Ultimate Cruise Getaway Contest

Grand prize (10 winners). 7-night Caribbean cruise for two in an oceanview stateroom, and 50,000 OnePass miles which can be used towards flights for the cruise. Enter to win by October 31, 2010.

Mad TV Flashback: Ka-son at the Airport.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Please 'Prosead' to the Service Center (Pic)

Snapped this one up at the Denver Airport recently.

Really? This is the best United can do?

Let's prosead, errr... proceed with some new signage folks.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Register for a Chance to Win Free Travel on Southwest

Clickety Click here for a chance to win one year of free travel on Southwest Airlines or a full year movies at Cinemark theaters. No purchase necessary, submissions must be received by September 2, 2010.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Virgin America to Launch SFO to Dallas Service

Today Virgin America announced yet another city to their growing list of destinations they fly. Beginning December 6th, the airline will begin twice-daily nonstop flights between San Francisco and Dallas, Texas. Dallas is the 12th confirmed city the airline will operate in. Future plans include expansion into leisure markets within Mexico.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Travel Comfort Pack for 99 Cents

Purchase a luxury travel comfort pack for just 99 cents (free shipping!) at Inside the pack is a pillow, eye shades and ear plugs. Great for those red-eye or overseas trips. The pillow alone can run $10-$15 at the airport, and the quality seems to be decent for the price. Use coupon MLCK401008080963NL1 after searching for the item "luxury travel" and placing the item in your shopping cart.
Hats off to morecowbell @ Fatwallet for this deal. Note - the coupon code works on the first 1,000 orders only.

American Promo: 30% Off Short-Haul Award Redemptions

American Airlines is lowering the cost of award redemptions by 30% - for all short-haul flights within the continental. U.S. and Canada. Routes 700 miles or less are eligible for the promotion. Award travel must be ticketed by August 31, 2010, for travel through December 15, 2010. For example, a one-way award ticket which normally costs 12,500 miles is available for 8,750 miles instead.

Friday, August 6, 2010

inFLIGHTout Travel Tip: Label Your Laptop Computer

By Mike Grasso
The airport is an interesting place where emotions often run high: sadness for departure, joy of arrival and panic for tight connections, to name a few. Something just happens at airports that can sometimes mentally throw us off. And the security checkpoints certainly don't provide any relief. At the intersection of these emotions is the possibility that we forget even the simplest things...such as remember to retrieve all your personal items from the scanning machine! Countless times I've watched passengers, usually in a dazed and confused look (probably having just finished waiting in a long security line) confidently grabbing their shoes and personal belongings then marching off from the checkpoint, but forgetting their laptop computer which was placed in a separate bin. Ouch!

So... here's the tip: Place a temporary label across the top of the computer with your name and phone number. This way if you accidentally leave it behind, those honest folks at TSA can page or call you while you're still at the airport.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Five Destinations Cool With Same-Sex Marriage

Despite the overturn of Prop 8 yesterday, same-sex marriages are still on hold in California for a little while longer. However there are other places around the world where same-sex couples are clearly welcomed. This post on SFGate today talks about five such destinations. Be sure to read the reader comments for other ideas as well.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mexican Airlines Suspends Ticket Sales

Mexicana Airlines, which last week disclosed serious financial problems and this week filed for creditor protection in Mexico has now suspended ticket sales. According to CNN, the company confirmed ticket sales stopped Wednesday afternoon. Although the website was operational Wednesday evening, tickets were not able to be purchased on the Mexicana website. Up to this point, Mexicana Airlines was one of the leading airlines operating flights from the Bay Area to Mexico. Passengers holding confirmed reservations on Mexicana may wish to contact the airline or its partner American Airlines, for possible reaccommodation.

Southwest Picks Up San Jose-Austin Route

In the Nuts about Southwest blog comes word of new service between San Jose and Austin, Texas - often referred to as the "Nerd Bird" route for the number of high-tech companies in each city. The new service begins November 7th with twice-daily flights. Alaska Airlines is the only other airline offering nonstops between the two cities.

A Plan to Relieve Street Congestion In China

From Engadget: "...huge friggin' buses engulfing smaller cars on the road." This is one method China is considering reduce street congestion. The idea is to utilize the space between regular vehicles and bridges, saving construction costs of building lifted monorails. This allows cars to drive underneath these mega buses releasing overall congestion.

The first 186km of track will be built in Beijing's Mentougou district by years-end.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Win a Trip to NYC from AirTran

Tennis fans - this one is for you. Fly to NYC and hang out with tennis pro Melanie Oudin. The trip includes flights to New York for two, 4-night hotel stay, a $100 Adidas gift card, $500 shopping spree and an autographed tennis racquet from Melanie. Good luck.

Photos, Videos and Full Recap of Storm Chasin' from July 17

As promised, here are a few shots (finally uploaded!) from my storm chasing travel adventure west of Minneapolis on July 17, 2010. This first image, one of the last from the trip, was of a rapidly approaching shelf cloud south of Anoka, MN. In one of the videos (link below) you see me drop the camera and hear my car racing away to take cover. Pretty scary stuff for a California native.

Here is a map and summary of the severe weather events of the day, and specific incidents reported to the National Weather Service in Minneapolis.

This blog from the Minneapolis Star Tribune provides outstanding graphical updates throughout the day (latest entry first) as the storms progressed throughout the region.

Video to my YouTube site with a few videos including footage of the shelf cloud approaching and sitting it out (in both fear and excitement) as severe weather passes overhead.

Half-dollar sized hailstones pounding on my windshield will be a sound to never forget. The helpless feeling and thought the windshield might shatter at any moment was enough for me temporarily withdraw from this particular storm chase. On my escape out, I captured these after-the-fact shots of golfball size hail lying around on a baseball field near Rockford, MN. There were reports of baseball, even SOFTBALL size hail in the region earlier in the day. (Yikes!)

Although I fared well, other windshields in the path of these severe storms provided little to no barrier as shown in this image from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Monday, August 2, 2010

American Drops Close-in Processing Fees for Elites

Effectively immediately, American Airlines is dropping close-in processing fees for Gold and Platinum elite AAdvantage members. Previously, award travel ticketed within 21 days of departure involved paying up to $100.00 - known in the industry as a close-in processing fee. Executive members are already exempt from the fee, while non-elite's will still need to pay up.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The (Near) Death Of Standby Seating

In the past, securing a cheap ticket used to be as simple as walking up to the ticket counter and saying that you wanted to put on the standby list. Airlines would happily allow you access to any leftover seats they had available for a greatly reduced cost. Although you weren't guaranteed a seat on any particular flight, the savings were well worth the inconvenience of waiting around the airport.

Although some airlines are offering standby tickets to college students and airline employees, none offer standby tickets to the general public. Even the tickets that are marketed “standby” are often just re-packaged coach seats. The discounts offered aren't nearly as steep as they were in previous years.

So, why are airlines so reluctant to allow standby flyers?

  • Passenger weight/fuel ratios.

Adding another passenger at the last minute changes the passenger weight to fuel ratio. If the plane is already fueled and ready to go, adding another passenger can throw off the appropriate ratio. Further, guidelines require that a plane with more passengers carry a certain amount more fuel. The plane would have to be re-fueled to account for the additional passenger(s).

  • Sneaky strategies.

Some standby passengers began to book tickets on a flight, only to cancel the reservations at the last minute. This ensured that open seats were available, and cost the airlines a significant amount of money.

  • Cost of fuel.

The cost of oil has skyrocketed over the past decade, and will likely continue to rise well into the foreseeable future. Adding more weight to the plane significantly increases the cost of fuel. It simply isn’t profitable for an airline to add another 100-250lbs of passenger weight for pennies of what they would normally charge for the seat.

Deeply discounted airfares are becoming more difficult to find with each passing year. Students and other who want to fly for the least possible expense should consider booking their trips at least six months ahead-of-time. Flying on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays will also lower costs. If possible, applying for a credit card that awards airline miles will also help to offset the cost somewhat.

Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education and performs research surrounding online degree programs. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

SFO-Phoenix $121 "all in"

United just released a Tware SFO-PHX for $100 - roundtrip + tax = $121. Valid for travel through August 26th. Tware's are very limited time offers, usually only lasting a few hours. Click here (until offer expires) for details and to book.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

United Promo: 30% Off Short Haul Award Redemptions

For a limited time, spend 30% less of your United Mileage Plus miles for flights 700 miles or less in distance. For example, a roundtrip flight between San Francisco and Seattle which normally costs 25,000 miles, is now available for 17,500 miles. The 30% discount applies to tickets booked by August 31, 2010, for travel through January 7, 2011. These are pretty good deals particularly into regional airports, which are often costly to purchase. More details here.

156 People Aboard Pakistani Airliner Crash

A Pakistani airliner has reportedly crashed on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan Wednesday. The plane, a commercial Airbus belonging to Airblue, was carrying 156 people en-route from Turkey. Early reports indicate several fatalities, but also some survivors. Bad weather in the area may have been a factor in the crash.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

San Francisco to Cancun $238 RT "all in"

Fares have steadily dropped the past few weeks on the SFO-CUN route - now down to $238 RT, taxes included. Fare is currently offered by Mexicana Airlines, and is valid through end of schedule (EOS) next year, including peak travel days. To book, visit Watch the layovers - some are short, others are quite extensive - and Mexico City airport is not the most exciting place to lounge between flights.

Air Berlin to Join Oneworld Alliance

The Oneworld Alliance announced Monday that Germany's second largest airline - Air Berlin has accepted an invitation to join the global alliance, and will develop codeshare agreements with group members American Airlines and Finnair by November 1, 2010. More details are expected at a press conference later Tuesday.
Air Berlin recently launched twice-weekly non-stop service between San Francisco (SFO) and Dusseldorf.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Some Great Travel Quotations

The web is full of quotations on about every subject possible. Here are a few of my favorites relating to travel. Hats off to lonesome traveller for these.

"Travel teaches how to see" -African Proverb
"No matter where you go, there you are" -Unkown
"They change their climate, not their soul, who rush across the sea" -Horace
"Not all those who wander are lost" -JRR Tolkien
"It is good to have an end to journey inwards, but is the journey that matters in the end." -Ursala La Guin

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Redeeming Miles for Award Travel Can Be Challenging

A piece from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution over the weekend highlights the challenges travelers face attempting to redeem frequent flyer miles for free flights. Specifically mentioned is Delta Airlines, recently rated 2nd to last out of 22 airlines, for award travel redemptions at the 25,000 mile level. Read more.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Airline Talk: Operational Upgrades

By Mike Grasso

In most cases upgrading from one cabin (such as economy) to another (such as business) requires an upgrade instrument. This may be in the form of miles, cash, a combination of both, or automatically as a perk of an airlines' loyalty program. Each of these options are generally cheaper ways that outright purchasing a ticket in the higher class of service. In addition to these, there is another method - called an operational upgrade, which takes place behind the scenes. That is to say, your miles, money, and elite status are less important (at least directly) than the immediate operational needs of the airline.

A typical operational upgrade happens when the flight is oversold in economy. With inventory left in business/first, the airline can "bump" select passengers from economy to the front of the plane - a free upgrade. More often than not, this is handled at the gate just prior to boarding, once agents have a handle on how many ticketed passengers will actually show up for the flight. It is true that customer loyalty goes a long way on these types of upgrades, and therefore holding elite status may put you at the top of that "list." But in other situations, the "op-up" as it is called, happens when its least expected. A friend of mine was trying to negotiate a better economy class seat with the gate agent, when suddenly by surprise the agent presented him with a first class boarding pass. Why? The agent needed his original seat because a family of 3 (including 2 children) were going to be separated on different parts of the plane. Little did he know at the time how much easier he had just made that gate agents job. In another case, a few years ago I misconnected on a Northwest Airlines flight due to a mechanical issue; the gate agent rebooked me into first class because no economy seats were available onto my connecting flight. In each of these examples, the needs of the airline (and the need to quickly board the plane for an on time departure) meant operationally, the complimentary upgrades made good business sense.

In summary, operational upgrades are a necessary part of the airline business. The are however, rare. If you are an elite traveler, and/or find yourself in irregular operations, such as an oversell or a last minute plane change (to a larger plane), an op-up may be in your future.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

American and JetBlue Starting a Relationship

American Airlines and JetBlue Airlines have launched a commercial agreement giving customers the convenience of booking interline service in non-overlapping markets from JFK and Boston airports. This allows customers to book domestic and international tickets on both carriers with a single reservation. The two airlines will also begin a frequent flyer relationship later this year on the cooperative interline routes noted here. This means customers will have the choice to earn either AAdvantage or TrueBlue points when flying select routes.
"The rewards of the journey far outweigh the risk of leaving the harbor" - Proverb

Access 600 airport lounges

Tropical Depression Forms in the Bahamas, Warnings Posted

The National Hurricane Center issued Tropical Storm Warnings for the Florida Keys this morning as a newly formed Tropical Depression was moving toward the south Florida coast from the Bahamas this morning. According to a statement, the depression may form into a storm later today, and begin to impact parts of Florida in the coming days. The longer range outlook takes the storm into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. A good reminder to travelers heading south that Hurricane Season is now upon us.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Virgin America Launches SFO-Orlando October 6th

In a press release Tuesday Virgin America announced new service between San Francisco and Orlando, Florida. The launch, previously slated for August 19th, was postponed to October 6 due to a delay in its leased aircraft deliveries. The airline will initially offer one daily flight between the two cities. Tickets can now be purchased at

Play United's Optathlon Games and Win Big (or Small)

Check out the United Airlines Optathlon games where you could win a million Mileage Plus miles, or some of the smaller instant prizes, such as Red Carpet Club passes and discount travel vouchers. I just played and scored a 10% off e-voucher for domestic travel. Good luck!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Now Hear This: Free Sample of Hearos Ear Plugs

Grab yourself a free pair of Hearos ear plugs - the perfect companions for an overnight or long distance flight where you need some sleep. The promotion says there is a daily limit of 1,000 samples, so if you don't scoop one up today, try again tomorrow. By the way, although this is a pretty legit company, and their products are readily available at retail stores, it's probably wise to use a spam email address rather than your primary account for freebie offers like this.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Register Now for Double HHonors Points/Miles

Hilton says... Double your HHonors. Earn double points or double miles for every stay between now and September 30, 2010. Pre-registration is required. The bonus can be earned at over 3,600 properties around the world participating in the HHonors program.

United Plane on Approach to SFO Reports Laser Beam, Injury

Around 10:30 tonight while on UA155 listening to Channel 9 (Live ATC communications), someone from the flight deck reported to San Francisco Approach they were hit by a green laser beam aimed from the ground south of the airport. Upon touching down, medical assistance was requested. Medics and police were at the gate to meet the plane. An alert was issued for other inbound traffic of this hazard. I was on the opposite side of the plane and didn't see the actual incident. No official announcement was made of the incident or injury by the flight crew.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Double Southwest Credits Flying into Philadelphia or DC Airports

Now for a limited time, earn double Southwest RapidRewards credits when you fly to/from Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington-Dulles airports. That means two credits for each one-way flight, instead of the usual one credit. You must register for the promotion, then book travel by August 11, 2010, and complete all travel by September 30th.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday afternoon storm chasing update

Hello inFLIGHTout readers... here is my storm chasing Saturday adventure:

10:50 PM CDT - The day's recap: WOW! Today was an excellent day of chasing - one of my best ever. Although pretty scary! The storm prediction center did an amazing job in their initial severe weather prediction (see storm reports graphic below compared with their initial prediction for areas with moderate risk for severe weather). In the end, it was the hail that was the big story - with several reports of golfball and baseball sized hail dropping from the sky. This was a bit of unexpected danger as my rental car kept taking hits around 4-5pm this afternoon. I felt at any moment the windshield was going to break - as it had on other cars in the area. I quickly pulled off to the side of the road, where some tall trees and shrubs provided partial protection for me and the car. Afterward, I met up with another amateur storm chaser, to compare war stories and share ideas about what the afternoon has in store for us.

The real treat waited until about a half hour before dark. Rule #1 of storm chasing, do not chase at night! I'm sitting near Maple Grove, MN enjoying an approaching cluster of cells from the west, when suddenly a (very) nearby tornado siren began to scream. But where was the tornado? No tornado warning had been issued. But then, after chasing 6 hours, your eyes begin to play games and certain clouds begin to look "suspicious." It wasn't until a second tornado siren (now 2) starting going off, and lightning strikes were dancing around my car did I begin to wonder the escape route. But no time, a minute later, the weather radio is alarm rings with the announcement of a confirmed tornado on the ground, in a town 3 miles to the north of me!

Considering it was getting dark, I didn't have an immediate plan to withdraw, if necessary, and the confirmed tornado on the ground (moving at 40 MPH by the way!), I felt the best decision was to take myself off the course for the tornado and pull into a suburban neighborhood. Before doing so, I snapped up some great video of the approaching dark and lower wall cloud which is rapidly approaching my location. As the storm increased in intensity, straight-line winds of 40-60MPH were slamming my car in torrential rain. Fearing uncertainly whether baseball size hail might start falling, or the tornado moves into my direction, I gracefully pull into someones driveway, and partially into their open garage to take cover. Glad they left the garage door open. Thank you unknown friend. =) After 20 minutes the storms moved east.

Hail was the primary cause of damage during today's storms, but wind contributed to some downed trees. Six unconfirmed tornado's were also reported. Although I did not observe any of the tornado's (soooo close), I saw mother nature at her finest today, which made it all worth it. Will have pics of this travel adventure posted later in the week. Hope you enjoyed!

11:50 AM CDT - Currently west of Minneapolis, MN. The entire area continues to be under a moderate risk of severe weather. The primary threat will be large hail, and a few tornado's this afternoon, turning to a large wind events overnight. The first severe thunderstorm warning just got posted well Northwest of here... with quarter size hail being reported.

Friday, July 16, 2010

2:38 PM CDT Friday


12:45 PM

Afternoon update from the SPC looks promising for severe weather episode Saturday afternoon across Central and Southern Minnesota.

Off.... Storm Chasing in Minnesota

Even the first time chaser knows Minnesota is not in the heart of tornado alley. But they do receive their fair share of severe weather each season. The Storm Prediction Center has hatched a 30% probability of an organized severe weather event across the southern part of the state for Saturday. Severe weather is defined as hail 1" or larger, winds greater than 58 m.p.h, or a tornado.

As I do each season, I plan on flying out for a weekend of enjoying nature at its finest. The strong and severe storms rarely seen or heard on the west coast, are a welcome treat for me. Supercell storms, wall cloud (pictured below), funnel clouds or even tornado's are simply icing on the cake. =)

Current plan is to depart on a red-eye tonight. Stay tuned for updates.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Travel Tip: Daily Deals for Cities You Travel To

Group buying sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial are sweeping through the web offering steep discounts to consumers, while driving in heavy traffic to local businesses. These sites work by offering 1-day only deals - such as 50% off a rafting trip in the Sierra, or highly discounted restaurant and entertainment deals. The high response to these discounts allows businesses to offer such deals. In addition to activity deals, recent hotel and airline deals have been offered. For example, on the Atlanta Groupon page, Delta Airlines was offering a One-Visit Pass to Delta SkyClub Lounge (a $50 value) for just $22. On the Las Vegas Groupon page, the Clarion was selling for just $21 a night for a King-bed Junior Suite - valid any day of the week.

So, if you are planning a trip outside the Bay Area, it's probably worth signing up (free) for the daily emails offered by these sites, which can be customized to the cities you are traveling to.

LivingSocial sign-up (earn $5 toward first purchase)

Save on all the things you love to do!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Earn American Airlines Miles Completing Online Surveys

Opinion Place is an online site where you can share your opinions on a variety of products or services while earning bonus frequent flyer miles (or other rewards). I've used the site for many years, with no problems. Usually 75-150 AAdvantage miles are offered per survey, with an average time commitment of 10-15 minutes on each. Miles are usually credited within a week. This Click here to sign up.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Flashback to Airline - the TV Show (2004-2005)

Who remembers Airline - the TV show from 2004-2005? The programming is based on a UK show, with the U.S. version focusing on Southwest Airlines and their customers. Tempers are flying in this episode due to massive overbooking, ticketing problems, and a potentially drunk passenger attempting to fly. Here is part 1 of 3, with remaining episodes available on YouTube.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Register Now for the Best of All Worlds Sweepstakes

Register now for your chance to win roundtrip air and 3 nights accommodations at a participating Hyatt Resort in North America or the Caribbean. Plus receive a $500 Hyatt gift card to use at the resort. ARV of the prize is $3,500.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

HOT! Virgin America $33 Fare Sale (7 hours only!)

12:45 PM update:
$33 fare valid between SFO and Vegas/Los Angeles/Seattle/San Diego
Travel August 25-October 3, 2010, valid any day of the week (subject to availability)
$113 fare SFO to Washington-Dulles/New York-JFK/Boston/Fort Lauderdale

From the Virgin America Facebook page:
"To celebrate our Three-Peat Win of #1 Best Domestic Airline by Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards, we’d like to thank you with a 7-Hour “Three-Peat” Fare Sale with fares as low as $33 (see fare rules). Book your ticket before 4:59pm PT to take advantage of these sweet deals."

The website is getting hammered with requests. Consider booking through Orbitz as some of the fares are showing up there. Unsure of which dates qualify for the discount, but one date - August 29-31 from SFO to Vegas was just found for $66 roundtrip (Thanks Binh).

Strategies On Getting "Bumped" From A Flight

By Mike Grasso

In the industry it is called an oversell and to flexible consumers, it can result in free travel.

Denied boarding, known as getting "bumped" from a flight, often occurs when an airline made more reservations than seats available - a sometimes controversial business practice that predicts some passengers will not show up for their originally scheduled flight. But when predictions are wrong and everyone does show up for the flight, the airline must bump some passengers holding confirmed reservations; voluntarily (probably going to make people happy), or involuntarily (probably going to upset people).

Here's how it works: Take for example a United flight between San Francisco and Denver on an Airbus 320. The flight has a capacity of 138 passengers, but based on several factors, the airline decides to oversell by 6% - allowing the airline to sell up to 146 seats. The airline is predicting that those 6% of customers will for whatever reason (missed connections, delays through airport security, etc) will not make their flight. When it comes departure time, any number greater than 138 (total seats) results in an oversell, and the "bumping" process begins.

Airlines will first ask for volunteers (this is you!) to give up their seats. In return, airlines will generally offer a free round-trip ticket within the continental U.S, or a voucher between $200-$400 valid for future travel, in addition to putting you on the next available flight. Situationally, amenities such as higher compensation, food vouchers, hotel stays, and first class upgrades can be negotiated. Sounds great, doesn't it? But, absent willing volunteers (where are you?) the airline will begin to involuntarily deny boarding to some unlucky passengers. It is for this reason, the practice of overselling flights is frowned on by some.

Let's stick with you graciously volunteering to give up your seat. Here are some tips:

1. Overselling the flight does not mean the airline will need volunteers. And just because they ask for volunteers doesn't mean they will end up needing them. Most of the time, the determination of whether volunteers will be needed and/or utilized is decided at the gate.

2. Assume you are not the lone volunteer. If the gate agent announces they are looking for volunteers, walk (run) yourself to the podium to ensure your volunteer status is noted.

3. If you have information that your flight might be oversold (methods on how to do this previously discussed on inFLIGHTout) you can be proactive and inform the gate agent you are available, if needed.

4. Don't be "gate lice." Oversold flights are extra work for already fatigued gate agents. They don't need passengers constantly nagging them about their volunteer status. Once you've identified yourself as a volunteer, remain in the gate area for updates.

5. Know your tolerance for "pain". Are you OK being separated from your checked luggage? If you do accept a bump, it's likely your bag(s) will stay on the original flight. Are you OK if the next available flight out is several hours later? What if only a middle seat is available on the next flight out? If you volunteer, and after everyone else boards the plane the airline determines they don't need to bump you, how would you feel about not having overhead bin space? These situations should be carefully evaluated before you commit yourself as a volunteer.

6. Be flexible and be smart. Gate agents will want to route you to your final destination as quickly as possible. But sometimes they need to be reminded of easy alternatives. If you are trying to fly back to San Francisco, ask if a later flight is available into Oakland or San Jose. If there are no good flight options, ask if they can accommodate you on a partner airline (ie: United/U.S Air). If you are in a particularly nice destination such as Hawai'i and you are flexible with travel dates, ask to fly out the next day.

So how can you predict which flights are more likely to need volunteers? You really can't. Friday, Sunday and Holidays are busy travel dates and thus would, at least theoretically, result in more bumps. To narrow it down further to particular flights or routes would seem pointless since the airlines would quickly identify these by all the previous bumps, and adjust future overselling downward.

Finally, besides oversells, there are other instances when volunteers might be needed. Weight restrictions hugely impact smaller aircraft, such as those that seat less than 50 passengers. Too many checked bags and/or other cargo could limit the number of passengers allowed on. Also the occasional last minute plane swaps, a larger plane for a smaller one, often mean dozens of people will need to give up their seat.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Delta Airlines Adds Min Stay Requirement on Some Award Travel

In yet another disappointment to the Delta Skymiles "useless miles" program comes a minimum stay requirement for certain award travel resumptions. Effective August 2010, customers who redeem award travel within 21 days of departure will now have a Friday or Saturday night minimum stay requirement. According to the Delta website certain elite members, Delta-branded credit card holders, and those willing to dish up extra miles for mid or high tier award travel are exempt from the fee.
A growing number of travel experts believe the Delta Airlines SkyMiles program has fast become the worst frequent flyer program in the U.S. due to mounting fees, strict policies, and lack of low-tier award travel availability.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Register for Southwest's Vac8ion Destin8ion Giveaway

Click here to register for Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Vac8ion Destin8ion Giveaway. You could win up to 8 free roundtrip flights with elite (A-list) status for a year, or one of several other prizes. You must be a Rapid Rewards member to register for the giveaway. If you are not a RR member, click here to sign up and earn up to 4 credits just for doing so.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

RyanAir to Begin Testing Standing Room Only Tickets

Never lacking creativity, Low-cost-carrier RyanAir said it has plans to sell standing room tickets on some of its short-haul routes. The European-based airline says it hopes to remove the last 10 rows of seats aboard flight less than 1-hour in length, and replace them with 15 rows of vertical seating. But current European Aviation rules prohibit such a "seating" arrangement, and Boeing - who supplies RyanAir with 737-300 aircraft said they are not considering standing-only accommodations.

This begs the question: A prank from Ryan Air - or something that might just fly in the years to come?

New Passport Fees Begin Later This Month

If you are in need of passport-related services, now may be the time to start the process. That's because the U.S. State Department is upping several fees beginning July 13th. For example, the total cost to apply for an adult passport will increase from $100 to $135. Been doing some extensive travel and need new pages? Before that was free of charge, but come July 13th, an $82 fee will be assessed. Here is a listing of all current fees, and new fees effective July 13.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

San Francisco to Cancun $218 RT "all in"

Spotty availability on this deal...but it's definitely there. Mexicana Airlines is offering a $121 + tax fare SFO-Cancun; comes to $218 RT with taxes. Travel is valid now (w/14-day advance purchase) through May 2011. Visit to check availability, including the flexible dates calender. Note: I found fairly good availability for February (example: February 7-12, 2011).

Doubletree Serving Up Cookies on July 4th

Doubletree Hotels which has a tradition of serving up guests their famous warm chocolate chip cookies at check-in will be offering them to anyone and everyone on July 4th - Independence Day. In a press release, the company announced that anyone walking into a Doubletree location in the U.S. on July 4th (or Canadian location on July 1st for Canada Day), will receive a cookie to commemorate each country's beloved holiday.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oakland to Albuquerque $44 Each Way

HOT! United Airlines has tickets from Oakland to Albuquerque, NM for just $44 each way + tax. Comes to $129 roundtrip - "all in." Travel is valid any day of the week through May 2011, with the best availability October onward. Typical holiday blackout dates apply. Books into "K" class. Click here to check availability using the "my dates are flexible" button.

American Airlines to Drop San Francisco - Boston Route

In a bit of a shocker, American Airlines will reportedly drop daily nonstops between San Francisco and Boston. According to the AA timetable, the effective date for this change is November 17, 2010. Currently American operates twice-daily flights, a daytime and a red-eye, between the two cities. No immediate word on why the airline is dropping the route, but certainly Virgin America entering this market early last year may have played a role in the decision.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Joie de Vivre Hotels Celebrates Pride in California

In celebration of LGBT pride month, California's largest boutique hotel collection is offering a 20% discount of best available rates at properties throughout the golden state. The discount is valid year round by entering "PRIDE" when booking your next stay at Or, if you need a meeting room or space for a group, they will contribute 10% back to the California LGBT organization of your choice.
If you haven't tried out a JDV hotel yet, definitely give them a shot. Properties are located in exciting spots throughout the state including throughout the Bay, Wine Country, and SoCal. Each hotel is a one-of-a-kind, with the California lifestyle experience - fresh, inventive, and casual, all built within.

Photo: Hotel Vitale, San Francisco.

1,000 United Miles for Each Night At Hyatt Hotels

Earn up to 1,000 United miles for each night (not stay) you spend at a Hyatt property now through September 30th. This is in addition to the 500 base miles earned per stay. Maximum 30,000 miles can be earned with this offer. Click here for details.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Win 200,000 Asia Miles from Cathay Pacific

In celebrating 20 years of non-stop service between the U.S. and Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific is offering 200,000 Asia Miles to one lucky person. To be eligible, submit a photo of your most memorable Cathay Pacific moment, such as a snapshot of your first Cathay Pacific flight, or something you saw while traveling within Asia. Click here for details and to enter.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

San Francisco to Sydney $660 RT - Tax Included

San Francisco to Sydney is down to $660 roundtrip, including all taxes and fees. Travel is on United Airlines from end of July through end of September. Click here to book.

25% Bonus on Amtrak When Paying with Mastercard

Now through July 31st, use a Mastercard for your next Amtrak purchase and earn a 25% bonus Amtrak Guest Rewards points. Plus, the bonus is on top of all other promotions currently active. Click here to log in and register.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Spirit Airlines Tasteless Oil Spill Humor?

Appearing on the website this morning are a series of ads inviting customers to visit select cities the airline serves - including Ft. Lauderdale.

Pretty tasteless considering oil has already made landfall in other parts of Florida.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Big Southwest Airlines Sale - Fares from $39

Every few months Southwest slashes prices to all the destinations they serve (and often other airlines will match these discounted fares). Today, Southwest announced such a sale - this time in celebration of their 39th Birthday. Prices have been reduced to 3-pricing tiers: $39/$79/$119 each way; The specific pricing depends on the flight distance; up to 450 miles/up to 1000 miles/and over 1000 miles respectively. According to the terms of the offer, travel is valid September 8 through November 17, excluding Fridays and Sundays. Book by June 24th.

Spirit Airlines Apologizes, Offers 5,000 Free Miles

As a result of last weeks strike and associated flight cancellations, Spirit Airlines is giving thanks to its customers by giving away 5,000 Free Spirit miles to all members. Simply fill out this form by midnight on June 30th to earn the bonus miles. Note: You must be an existing member of the frequent flyer program to qualify.

Monday, June 21, 2010

HOT! San Francisco to Honolulu $261 "all in"

American Airlines just dropped fares to a new season low - just $261 roundtrip, taxes included. Valid for travel through July. This fare is for nonstop flights, $10 bucks more for a 1-stop option. Hurry, these rock bottom fares won't last! Click here and search "my dates are flexible."

The Safety and Cleanliness of Your Hotel Room

By Mike Grasso

In the past, I have reported on bed bugs and other critters sometimes found in hotel rooms. I also re-posted a video piece where undercover video captured some of the unsanitary practices hotel maids engage in. Luckily, these unfortunate situations are more often the exception than the rule. But even at mid and high-end hotels with a good housekeeping and maintenance staff on hand, there remain a few potential safety and cleanliness issues that you the guest should be aware of. I've posted six pictures below, can you find at least one potential "hazard" in each? My responses are outlined below.

1. Sofa: The visible stains on couches are usually spot treated by hotels; deep cleaning of sofa's is infrequent. Therefore, invisible stains such as blood, urine, saliva and semen would not be seen without a black light. Try to keep a barrier (i.e. clothing) between you and the sofa.

2. Phone and clock: Does the phone work? Important to check in the event an emergency were to strike. Be sure the time is correct, particularly if you are relying on this as an alarm clock.

3. Coffee maker and cups: Ceramic coffee mugs are a nice touch at hotels, but have been identified as items insufficiently or improperly cleaned by cleaning staff. The video that previously aired caught maids simply rinsing out cups (not washing), while other maids were observed them spraying them out with glass cleaner! Lesson here: Be sure you personally wash your coffee mug.

4. Bed: One of the first activities I do once checking into my room is to pull the comforter off completely. Never (not even once) have I observed comforters being removed from rooms for cleaning. Yet these can be the primary source of undesirable filth, stains and bacteria from countless previous guests.

5. Carpet: While hotels do deep clean their carpets periodically, they tend to accumulate mold, bacteria and fungus in between cleans as a result of dirt and spills. Vacuuming alone won't do the trick. So again, best to add a barrier (socks or slippers) between the carpet and your skin.

6. Window: Some things I consider are whether it will properly open in an emergency. Does it lock properly? (Note in the picture this is a room at ground level). If I open with window, is there a screen to protect from mosquito's or other insects entering?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Free Wi-Fi Coming to San Francisco International

Joining Mineta San Jose and Oakland Airports, SFO will soon launch complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the airport. The switch from paid service, currently offered by T-Mobile, to free service, is expected September 1, 2010.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Horizon Air to Drop Sacramento to Santa Barbara Route

Horizon Airlines reservation system indicates the twice-daily service currently offered between Sacramento and Santa Barbara will terminate on August 22, 2010. Although it shows in the current schedule, tickets are no longer bookable beyond this date. This change is part of a larger package of Horizon cuts impacting other regional airports throughout the west.

United Site Now Allows Star Alliance Award Bookings

OK, at least partially. United frequent flyers will appreciate the latest Mileage Plus site update. When searching for award travel, other Star Alliance (domestic) carriers will appear in the search results. For instance, if you are trying to book an award seat from San Jose to New York, availability for United, Continental and U.S. Airways may be displayed in the results. Previously customers had to call United directly to book seats on other airlines - which is still the case for international flights.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Near Live Flight Tracking in the San Francisco Bay Area

For hours of nonstop entertainment, check out SFO's Near Live Flight Track Show where you can watch Bay Area flight traffic on a radar-like program. Originally designed as part of the noise abatement program @SFO, viewers are able to track the airline, altitude, speed, flight path, origination and destination of planes flying around the Bay. The kids will love it! Even the adults will enjoy it! Keep it mind there is a slight lag time in displaying results, so a plane you see or hear over downtown SF would be shown on the radar about ten minutes later.
Click here for more information on the Live Flight Track show. Hints: If the green airplane icon does not immediately show, refresh your page. Also, after clicking the icon and Bay Area map opens, it may take up to a minute for the planes to begin loading. So be patient. The fun is just moments away. Additional instructions can be found here.

Thumbs up to SFO for this wonderful program and resource available to the general public.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bay Area to Hawai'i for $360 RT "all in"

United, American and Delta continue to offer a $330 fare from San Francisco to Honolulu. Valid for travel August through the first week in December. For my mileage run friends, United has routings Oakland-Denver-Honolulu for just a few dollars more.

If you want something a little more relaxing than Honolulu, flights to Maui are running about the same price from Oakland - for August and September travel on United, Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines. To purchase, click here and search using the "flexible dates" button.
Summer Sale 40% off - Exp 6-20-10 (468x60)

Blog Update: "Construction in progress"
Some site updates will be happening over the next few weeks. During this time, some features may be temporarily suspended, while new ones are brought on line. Thanks for your patience. Good things to come...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spirit Airlines Strike Is On: Flights Cancelled, Travelers Stranded

On Saturday, Florida-based Spirit Airlines cancelled flights systemwide, leaving thousands of travelers stranded. The reason: A strike called by the airlines' pilots who have long argued their pay lags their competitors, such as JetBlue and Air Tran. On the company website, the airline announced they would offer refunds to all customers who had flights cancelled Saturday, and provide an additional $100 voucher valid for future travel. But this has been little help to some as the cost to repurchase a last minute ticket on a different airline is as much as 2 to 3 times more than the Spirit ticket - leaving some stranded.
No word yet whether flights will operate Sunday.

Spirit normally flies about 150 daily flights throughout the United States - mostly east coast, and throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. The airline briefly operated flights to/from San Francisco in 2006.

Enter the Taste of Fame Sweeps from the Food Network

Register now for your chance to win a VIP trip to New York City, including roundtrip air on Southwest, 3 nights at The Alex, tours of the Food Network studios, $500 bucks cash and... a brand new Buick LaCrosse CXS. Approximate value of this package is nearly $40,000! Entries must be received by June 27, 2010.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

NASA Offering to Bring Your Face Into Space

NASA will bring your face into space during one of the next two space shuttle missions. All you have to do is upload your picture and/or name and select which of the two upcoming missions you want to be on, and...away you will go. Click here for all the details.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

San Jose Airport Community Open House

The public is invited to tour the brand new Terminal B and concourse, and the completely renovated Terminal A at Mineta San Jose Airport. Once inside, guests will be given "open house boarding passes" entitling them to learn more about the $1.3 billion dollar project, as well as the airlines and vendors serving the airport. The red-ribbon cutting takes place at 8:30 AM Saturday, June 26th, with hourly tours scheduled throughout the day Saturday and Sunday. The tours are free of charge, but you must pre-register and provide initial screening information for TSA security clearance.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Swiss Airbus 340: The Making of the San Francisco Livery

A video showing the making of the A-340 with "flower power" livery. Swiss Airlines used this plane to inaugurate the San Francisco to Zurich route June 2, 2010.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Car 'Flies' Out of Dallas Airport

As seen on CNN:
(The driver was not seriously hurt)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

San Francisco to Honolulu $351 "all in"

San Francisco to Honolulu is available for $351 roundtrip, including all taxes and fees. Valid for travel between August and November on United, Delta and Hawaiian Airlines. Click here, and search using the flexible dates function.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Free WiFi on Select U.S. Airways Flights

In announcing their roll out of WiFi across their Airbus 321 fleet, U.S. Airways is offering the service free of charge on Airbus 321 aircraft now through June 8th. Simply bring your wireless-ready device (i.e. laptop, i-phone), and connect to to Gogo Internet during your next flight. Click here for more information, and to see routes operating A321 planes.

San Francisco to Dublin for $660 "all in"

$660 roundtrip including all taxes and fees from SFO to Dublin, Ireland: Not the best fares we've seen on this route, but certainly not bad considering airfares across the board are up compared to last year at this time. Fare is available for Fall (late October) to Winter (through March) travel on U.S. Airways. Click here, and search using the flexible dates option.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Season Invites New Bay Area Flights

Just in time for the busy travel season, several new routes are set for take-off at Bay Area airports.
From San Francisco, flights into Bozeman and Missoula, Montana will begin June 9th on United Express, as will flights to Anchorage on United Airlines. Delta will be the latest carrier adding new service between SFO and LAX beginning June 10th, while Hawaiian Airlines adds nonstop service between Oakland and Kahului June 5th.

Also noteworthy is Swiss Air adding service SFO to Zurich this month, Westjet to Vancouver, and Virgin America adds their first international destination to their playbook - Toronto, later in the month.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Stay Twice at Choice Hotels, Earn $50 Gift Card

Now through August 5th, log two stays at any Choice hotels and earn 8,000 Choice Privileges points - enough for a $50 Chili's gift card. Choice family of hotels include Comfort Inn, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn, and Sleep Inn. Click here for details.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Earn 500 AAdvantage Miles for Downloading eShopping Toolbar

Receive 500 bonus American AAdvantage miles when you download their eShopping toolbar on your computer and perform at least one toolbar search or purchase. Using the tool helps you identify sites where you can earn bonus American Airlines miles for browsing or shopping for merchandise. Or, you can simply download the tool - earn the bonus miles, then uninstall the program.
My initial thoughts testing out the toolbar: It's slow. Seems to eat up a lot of computer memory with delayed search returns.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness" - Ray Bradbury

Monday, May 24, 2010

Trip Report: Asiana Airlines First Class - Los Angeles to Seoul

Summary: As part of a larger Star Alliance itinerary, the Asiana Airlines segment from LAX-ICN was one of the most memorable air travel experiences I've ever had. The highest of standards in customer service began at the airport and continued throughout the flight. Cabin Crew were dedicated to ensuring every aspect of comfort was made available to guests during the journey over the waters to Asia. It's no wonder Asiana Airlines has been voted the best airline in the world for 2010 - even ahead of Singapore and Qatar Airlines.

San Francisco Airport Asiana First Class Lounge
A selection of fresh food, snacks, drinks, newspapers and entertainment

Asiana Airlines First Class: Los Angeles - Seoul - Boeing 747-400. March 20, 2010.
Aircraft configuration: First Class (10 flat bed seats) 83" pitch 20.5" Width
Business Class (45 angled lie-flat seats), Economy Class (304 Seats)

Bubbles: 1999 Taittinger Comtes
Canape: Grilled Scallop with Cheese Sauce
Appetizer: Beef Tenderloin Slice, Grilled Tuna and Mozzarella Cheese
Soup: Carrot Soup
Mixed Greens: With Cesar Dressing
Main Course: 'Mixing and Harmonizing' - Korean Bibimbab
Cheese and Fruit: A variety of choices
Desert: Cheese Cake
Coffee & Tea
Petits Fours

Mid-Flight Snacks
Assorted Fruits

Pre-Landing "Snack"
Appetizer: Marinated Shrimp, Roast Beef and Vegetables
Main Course: Grilled Seabass
Desert: Fruit Tart
Coffee and Tea

Complimentary first class toiletries, travel bag, pajamas and gift.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No-Show Car Rental Fee Being Tested

You book a hotel room then for whatever reason don't show up: Hotel charges you a penalty. You book an airline ticket and don't catch your flight: You still get charged for the flight. But book a car rental and don't pick up your wheels: No big deal; reservation is cancelled with usually no penalty to you. That may be about to change.
According to BTNonline, Avis Budget group is testing, in a few small markets, what they call non-cancellation fees, for customers who book a car rental and never pick it up or call to cancel. It works in the airline and hotel industry - why not car rentals? Certainly other car rental agencies will be closely monitoring how much revenue might be generated and/or pushback from customers by imposing such a fee.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

500 Continental OnePass Miles for Each Flight Booked

Earn 500 bonus Continental OnePass miles for each ticket purchased with a Mastercard credit or debit card at This promotion is ongoing through December 31, 2010. Bonus miles show up about six weeks after the purchase date.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How to Add Pages to Your Passport

By Mike Grasso
Frequent international traveler? Running out of room in your passport for all those Visa's? Easy fix. Simply mail your passport to the U.S. State Department and request extra pages be added. How much might you expect to pay for such as service? $20? $40?'s a FREE service from our federal government. Even the postage to ship it back to you is FREE. It gets better: The turnaround time to process extra pages may take several weeks according to the application, but my recent experience had the passport back in my hands in under 2 weeks. Now that is our government in action!

So if you are running out of space in your passport, now may be the time to send it in for some extra pages. Click here for more information.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Free Sample of Breathe Right Nasal Strips

Whether for you or the guy snoring next to you on the plane, here's a free sample of Breathe Right nasal strips. Breathe Right nasal strips help reduce snoring by opening up nasal passages ensuring a good nights rest. Here ya go.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

HOT! San Francisco to New Zealand for $484 RT "all in"

HOT FARE! Last minute flights between San Francisco (and LAX) and Auckland on Air New Zealand for $399 roundtrip + tax; comes to about $484 with taxes and fees. This is a limited time offer, must purchase by 11:59 PM May 14th. Leave SFO between May 21-30, return May 28-June 10th. You do not earn FF miles with partner airlines, but you do with Air New Zealand's Airpoints program. Click here to book.
Current weather in Auckland here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flash Mobbers Use Lady Gaga to Demand Workers Rights in SF

San Francisco: If you've been around select Union Square hotels as of late, you can't help but see and hear the loud protests of people as they swarm the sidewalks and entrances to hotels demanding a fair contract and affordable health care for employees. One group of people recently stepped up their visibility by infiltrating the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco and performing an adaptation to Lady Gaga's song, "Bad Romance." Great stuff! The Westin St. Francis is among a short list of other hotels the website Hotel Workers Rising recommends a boycott of.

Libyan Plane Crash Kills 103, Dutch Boy Survives

One Dutch child reportedly survived a fiery plane crash at Tripoli airport in Libya early Wednesday morning. Initial reports put the death toll at 103 people, while one lone survivor, a 10-year old boy walking away with only fractures. The Libyan Afriqiyah Airways Airbus 330-200 enroute from Johannesburg, was full of Dutch tourists before crashing near the airport on final approach.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to Avoid the Middle Seat

By Mike Grasso

Assuming you would prefer not to sit between two strangers on a flight, there are several steps you can take to prevent getting stuck in a middle seat:
  • Immediately choose seats when booking your flight. If tickets are booked through a travel agency or group tour, you may need to call the airline directly to confirm seats.
  • If only middle seats are left on a flight, check back with the airline (online or on the phone) frequently to see if other seats open up.
  • Monitor your flight for possible schedule or aircraft downgrades, either of which could result in your seat assignment being changed by the airline.
  • Inform the airline of your seating preferences in advance. Frequent fliers may be able to update their profile to indicate window or isle seats. Others may need to call the airline directly.
  • Use Online check-in for your flight. This provides you one last look of the seating arrangement, and an opportunity to switch to a better seat.

For more information on picking the best airline seats, consider a visit to SeatGuru.

Monday, May 10, 2010

JetBlue $10 Sale on All Remaining Seats May 11-12

Valid for bookings today only

JetBlue has launched a sale today sure to fill up those birds with passengers. Just $10 gets you a one-way, nonstop flight anywhere (including international destinations) in the JetBlue network. Valid for travel May 11-12th only. You can combine two one-ways for a $20 roundtrip flight + taxes and fees. I also noticed some 1-stop flights, such as Sacramento-Long-Beach-Las Vegas for $20+ each way.

Don't forget JetBlue is one of the few remaining airlines that also lets you check one piece of luggage for free, and does not overbook their flights. Plus they have comfy leather seats, Direct-TV and tasty munchies on board.

10% Off Code for American Airlines Flights

Get 10% off American Airlines domestic flights by clicking here and voting for your favorite college sports moment. Provide your email address, and they will send you a unique discount code to be used at in the promo code box. Valid for up to (4) passengers on an itinerary, and for ticketing and travel through July 19, 2010.
Pretty simple and legit offer here. Hats off to for this deal.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Win a Trip for Two in the Frommer's Roman Holiday Sweeps

Enter to win a trip for two to Italy, in the Frommer's Roman Holiday Sweepstakes. One lucky winner and their guest will receive a roundtrip flight to Rome, and four nights accommodations. ARV of the prize is $3,800. Daily entries permitted now through July 31st.
The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.
-Agnes Repplier

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Earn 25,000 Continental OnePass Miles from Chase Bank

Pretty...pretty...pretty good offer here. Get 10,000 OnePass miles for opening a Chase checking account (minimum $100 opening balance), and either set up direct deposit or make (5) debit card purchases. Earn another 15,000 miles after your first qualified purchase on a Chase Continental Airlines Preferred Debit card ($25 or $65 annual fee applies - depending on dollar-to-point conversion you choose).
What I like about this offer: No long-term commitment: Give Chase a try, and if you are not satisfied, close your accounts and walk away with 25,000 extra miles in your account. Plus, baggage fee-waivers apply to debit card holders flying Continental Airlines. One more plus: 25,000 miles might just convert over to United Airlines miles next year as the merger process continues.

What I don't like: Very little: The annual fee, but it is fairly insignificant considering it is in exchange for 25,000 miles (a free domestic ticket in coach). The bank will probably need to run a credit report (read: inquiry) on you as well. And, must walk into a brick-and-mortar to open the account; no can do online.

Overall, seems like a pretty good deal! One I will be taking advantage of this week.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Summary of Current Airline and Hotel Bonus Promotions

Here's a roundup of some current hotel and airline bonus mile/point promotions currently available. Be sure to read the t&c of each offer, as each have a separate cutoff date to earn the bonus.
  • Hilton HHonors Fast Ways to Free Stays: one free night after four stays, or double points on each stays
  • Hyatt Gold Passport: Earn 3,000 American Airlines miles per stay; complete five stays get a 10,000 mile bonus - for a total of 25,000 AAdvantage miles.

Monday, May 3, 2010

San Francisco to Honolulu $351 RT "all in" Through EOM May

Most of the major airlines continue to offer a pretty decent price SFO to Honolulu; just $351 roundtrip, including all taxes and fees. These are 1-day advance purchase fares! Meaning... you can hop on a plane first thing tomorrow, be on Waikiki or Queens Surf beach by afternoon. Travel must be completed by May 27th. Click here to book - using the "my dates are flexible" option.

United and Continental Airlines Agree to Merge

United and Continental Airlines made it official today, announcing the two companies will merge and become the largest airline in the world based on total volume. In a statement to customers, United said the companies are expected to combine later this year, pending governmental approval. Until then, the companies remain independent and will continue to compete with each other. The airlines have set up a new website which discusses the combined airlines and shows off its livery; note the Continental globe with the United brand name is proposed in this illustration.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

San Francisco to Washington D.C - $199 RT "all in"

Fly SFO to Washington, D.C for just $199 roundtrip, including all taxes and fees. Valid for flights through through Spring 2011. Outbound flights: Must depart Friday or Saturday after 7pm. Return flights: Must return on Monday or Tuesday. 4-day maximum stay. Click here and search using the "my dates are flexible" option.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Japan Airlines to Drop SFO-Narita Flights, Add Haneda

As part of a larger reorganization of the company, Japan Airlines announced today the reduction or elimination of several routes around the world. The airline's international passenger operations will shrink by 40% compared to just two years ago. One route being trimmed is San Francisco to Tokyo - Narita airport. However, the airline plans to replace the route with flights directly into Haneda, which is actually much closer to metropolitan Toyko. The swap of routes is expected around October 31, 2010.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

(Even More) Important Items for Your Carry-On

By Mike Grasso
What's inside your carry on bag? You've got light scooby snacks and water (post-security purchase or refilled water bottle) packed - just in case you get stuck on the plane longer than expected. You remembered to pack toiletries - to freshen up during long layovers. And surely you packed a change of clothes - in the event you arrive in a city but your checked bags don't. What else needs to go in the checked back? More essentials! House keys; mobile phone, and important documents such as hotel/car rental information.

Common sense? Yes. But, sometimes travel plays tricks with common sense. For instance, I just returned from a flight where a woman was rerouted to Dallas, instead of Los Angeles, due to a missed connection. She will make it home tonight, but her house keys - which she later realized were stored inside her luggage, will not. Lesson learned: Think through all the important items you might need in your carry-on luggage, both during regular and irregular flight operations, and pack accordingly.

Monday, April 26, 2010

More Consolidation as Hertz To Buy Dollar Thrifty

The consolidation of the car rental industry continues as Hertz is reportedly planning to buy Dollar Thrifty for nearly $1.2 Billion. The combined company (count'em, 3 rental car agencies) offers a more global presence, with Dollar and Thrifty focusing on U.S. markets, while Hertz operates rental offices throughout the world. What's left among the big agencies? Avis, who just happens to own Budget. With less competition, this may mean car rental fees will start hiking up.