Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thumbs Up to Super Shuttle for Really Pulling Through

Just a quick thanks to SuperShuttle in the greater Washington D.C. Area. A few weeks ago during the east coast blizzard, transportation came to a halt - in the air and on the ground. When the snow and wind ended, everything was a bit slow to return to normalcy. The subway service to the airport was still suspended, and taxi's were few and far between. So I called SuperShuttle and they came to the rescue - or at least claimed they would. About three hours before the flight, they called and apologized they couldn't come fetch me from the hotel. Really!?

It seemed they over committed once the storm stopped, not realizing many streets still remained unplowed. So they offered to refund my SuperShuttle fare, PLUS all expenses to the airport. I found a nearby hotel shuttle with one seat left - paid the $30 and away I went. Best of all, SuperShuttle cut me an expense check within 10 days - no follow-up necessary. Way to go SuperShuttle for making things right!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Travel Disruptions Following 8.8 Tsunami in Chile

Since coverage was initiated last night on the powerful 8.8 quake in Chile, Tsunami advisories and warnings have spread throughout the Pacific. In addition to travel disruptions in Chile, other areas throughout the Pacific may be impacted. In the state of Hawai'i where tsunami sirens have sounded and officials are preparing for at least some *minor* coastal impact.

Hilo airport has been closed, and many coastal beaches and residences evacuated. The Honolulu Star Bulletin reports evacuations in Waikiki are going smoothly. As a precautionary measure, most airlines have issued travel waiver allowing customers to postpone travel to the islands. According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach, HI, the initial Tsunami impact will occur around 11:00 HST (about 1pm Pacific).

Photo from the Tsunami Warning Center. Click to enlarge

Friday, February 26, 2010

United/SkyWest To Drop San Jose - Santa Barbara Route

KEYT is reporting United Express - SkyWest Airlines has decided to end flights between San Jose and Santa Barbara effective June 8, 2010. The airline operates up to five daily flights between the two cities, using 30-seat EMB-120 aircraft. In the report, the airline said flight loads were too low to continue offering service. Customers can continue fly SkyWest into Santa Barbara via SFO and LAX airports.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

ANA Airlines to Offer Women-Only Lavatories

Beginning March 1st, Japan-Based All Nippon Airlines (ANA) will offer women-only lavatories aboard most of its fleet. ANA says this change stems from numerous requests from passengers for this type of service. However, the airline will permit men to use the women's restroom in certain circumstances, such as an ill-feeling passenger. Read more.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Access 600 airport lounges

Enter to Win a Cruise for 4 to the Galapagos Islands

Enter now for your chance to win a 10-day Celebrity Cruise to the Galapagos Islands. The grand prize winner gets to invite 3 friends along plus receive $2,000 in spending money. Other weekly prizes are offered as well. Contest offered by General Electric (GE) appliances. Here are the details.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Strategies on Finding "Free" Award Travel

By Mike Grasso
You've spent months, perhaps even years flying around the country and throughout the world. In return, you've earned yourself a mountain of airline miles. Now it's time to redeem them for "free" award travel. It sounds simple, but rarely is. Consumers, now more than ever, complain the airline frequent flyer programs are limiting availability of "free" seats, forcing customers instead to purchase tickets or fly at inconvenient times. But for the motivated traveler, willing to dedicate time, "free" tickets can still be found. Here are some recommendations:
  • If your airline has no award availability, ask them if their alliance partners have any. For instance, if your airline is part of the Star Alliance Network and you want to fly from San Francisco to Frankfurt, check availability on United, U.S. Airways, Continental and Lufthansa. You can even mix and match, such as United to New York-JFK, then Lufthansa onward to Frankfurt. A search for this type of routing and mixed carriers is usually not possible online, therefore you must call your airline to help build you an itinerary.
  • Book as far in advance as possible. Many airlines allow award bookings up to 330 days before departure date!
  • If at first you don't find award availability, keep on checking. People change their mind and cancel travel plans, which may open up an award seat when you least expect it.
  • Be realistic. If you are a family of four and want to redeem tickets on the same flight, your chances are pretty slim. Consider booking two family members on one flight, the other two on a different one. Then, call the airline and ask for the last two family members to be waitlisted on the earlier flight; if seats open up, they can be automatically confirmed - and everyone in the family rides together. Oh Joy!
  • Consider First or Business class cabins. People are amazed this is within reach to the masses. The key is to look at your airlines tier system for award travel. For instance, on Delta a "medium" level domestic award ticket in economy costs 40,000 miles, while a "low" level domestic award ticket in First Class can be had for just 5,000 miles more. Although the "low" first class awards are more capacity controlled (harder to find), they are out there, even when coach seats are priced at a premium.
Hopefully these tips are useful and you find a good use for those hard-earned miles.

By the way, the "free" in quotations is intentional. We have long done away with a truly free award ticket. At the very least, most airlines pass on a $10 government fee to customers. Some airlines pass all the taxes, fees and fuel surcharges, which can amount to hundreds of dollars. Nonetheless, it is at least a highly discounted way to travel.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Stay Twice at Westin Hotels, Earn $100 Amazon Gift Card

From the *wood blog comes word of a great new Westin Hotels promotion. Simply register two separate stays between February 22 and May 13th and earn a $100 Amazon gift card. Planning on several visits? You can earn up to 3 gift cards with this offer! You must register for the promo, and only arrivals between Sunday and Thursday count. Click here for more details.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

United Introduces Seasonal Flights From SFO to Montana and Alaska

United Airlines will begin seasonal service between several city pairs, including San Francisco (SFO) to Bozeman, Montana and to Anchorage Alaska. Both flights begin June 9th, and operate until August 23rd to Anchorage, November 3rd to Bozeman. Click here for the press release.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

HOT! San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas $175 RT, Incl Tax

Mexicana Airlines is offering a $68+ tax roundtrip fare from SFO to Cabo. Total comes to $175 "all in". Valid on most days through May 2010, including several dates throughout April. Visit to book.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

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Monday, February 15, 2010

WestJet Adds Seasonal Flights from SFO to Canada

Canada-based WestJet Airlines resumes seasonal service between San Francisco and Calgary and Edmonton beginning May 2nd. Calgary service operates daily, Edmonton three days a week. WestJet will also operate flights between SFO and Vancouver between May 2nd and October 31st.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Free 1,000 Priority Club Points for Hilton HHonors Members

Priority Club, the frequent traveler program for the InterContinental Hotel Group, has taken a jab at the Hilton HHonors program for its recent devaluation of points. Recently, Hilton HHonors increased the number of points required to stay at many of its hotels by about 20%. In response, Priority Club, which includes the InterContinental, Crown Plaza, Holiday Inn and Candlewood brands, is giving away 1,000 points to their program in hopes of luring guests away from Hilton. All you have to do is register here before February 28th, and the 1,000 points will post immediately.

Friday, February 12, 2010

SFO to Barcelona in the Spring from $560 "all in"

Last call for inexpensive springtime fares to Spain. U.S. Airways and American/Iberia still have fares from San Francisco to Barcelona for around $560 roundtrip, tax included. Outbound travel as late as mid-March, with return dates into April. Example dates: SFO-BCN (via JFK) March 9-15th. Click here to check availability, using the "flexible dates" option.

American Airlines to Charge $50 for Standby

American Airlines will begin charging $50 to standby for flights at the airport. That means if you show up at the airport and want or need to take a flight other than your originally ticketed one, you now must fork up $50 for that convenience. The fee applies to tickets purchased starting February 22, 2010, but is waived for American elite members, those flying in premium class, fully-refundable and military fares. American is calling the fee is necessary to improve flight operations.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Southwest Airlines $39 Short Haul Sale - Book Soon

Southwest Airlines has launched a $39/one way "short haul" sale good for travel thru May 25, 2010. From the Bay Area, short haul flights include all Southwest-served cities in Southern California and Nevada. For example, a flight between Oakland and Las Vegas is just $99/roundtrip, after all taxes and fees. Among the rules: Fare not available on Fridays or Sundays; tickets must be purchased by February 11th for these reduced prices. Click here for more information.
Other airlines may match these discounted rates in certain markets. So shop around!

Monday, February 8, 2010

United Airlines Ends Partnership with Safeway

United Airlines will end the GroceryMiles program with Safeway come March 1st. The program which awards 125 United miles after every $250 in groceries purchased has been around for several years and was often considered a small extra perk (beyond to miles you might earn on your credit card) for shopping at Safeway. In an email last week Safeway said they plan to refocus the value they offered in the airline partnership into lower grocery prices. The GroceryMiles program includes other Safeway-affiliated stores such as Vons and Dominick's. Read more here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

San Francisco to Pittsburgh $150 RT Incl. Taxes

Delta Airlines continues to offer roundtrip airfare from SFO to Pittsburgh, PA for just $150, including all taxes and fees. Fare is available now through the end of 2010. Click here and search by "flexible dates."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pictures of the snowstorm here in Washington D.C.

5:00 PM East Coast time: The snow has come to an end. About 18 inches of snow since yesterday afternoon! Here are some pics from earlier today. Check out the second picture of the guy digging his car out.

Hotel has comped guests with in-room TV entertainment (on-demand movies, television shows, games), because of lost Direct-TV signal. Thumbs up to the Marriott Wardman Park!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

America's Biggest Rip-Offs

Did you catch this article on CNN Money yesterday? It exposes nine of America's biggest rip-offs, including a couple a hotels, where, for example, upwards of a 1300% markup is slapped onto in-room mini-bars. Ouch! Scroll through each of the rip-offs here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

United Announces New Award Travel Options

United Airlines has announced two new award travel options for members of its Mileage Plus program. Effectively immediately, you can now book a one-way flight for half the miles of the roundtrip award. This is great for people who don't quite have the 25,000 miles needed for a standard roundtrip. Click here for the official United announcement.
Miles & Money is another award travel option just introduced by United. If you find yourself a bit short of mileage, United will allow you to combine your miles with cash in order to secure the flights you want. Here's the announcement.