Tag: Airfare sale

scanners 2If you’re one of the few people who view the pat-down at airport security checkpoints as a free massage, then you’re going  to be disappointed to hear that the Department of Homeland Security is making plans to “dramatically reduce” the number of pat-down searches performed at the nation’s airports. The DHS has issued a request for technology companies to come up with a hand-held scanning device that can be used instead of pat-down searches on passengers that set off alarms during full body-scanners. As you may have guessed, the free massage thing really hasn’t caught on – so they’re turning to technology to improve the experience.

To date, the TSA already operates about 700 full-body scanners at 180 airports across the country.  When the scanners detect a hidden object, TSA workers perform a pat-down search.

In a government document, the DHS said it seeks a hand-held device weighing less than 5 pounds that can determine whether a hidden object on a passenger is a weapon or explosive. The device should produce a result in less than 15 seconds

Plan approval and testing could take more than a year, but you should be aware that this type of technology is on the horizon.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • I don’t know about you, but sometimes I stress about my travel.  Will I make my connection?  What will the security line look like?  Do I have to switch concourses?  Well, if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate the “tips for avoiding travel stress” recently noted by CNN.  I feel better already having read it.
  • JetBlue today announced a 2-day “The Summer’s-Hoping Sale” that is offering $59 one-way fares on select routes.  (Hope the marketing department didn’t burn the midnight oil when contriving the name of the sale.)  Book by May 30 for travel between June 5 and September 26.
  • For the first time since they began collecting baggage fees in 2008, the nation’s 17 largest airlines made less from the fees than they did the year before, a sign travelers are changing their packing behavior.  But the airlines are countering the consumer chess move.  United, Delta, American, and U.S. Airways are either retrofitting older planes with bigger overhead storage – or purchasing aircraft with bigger bins.  It’s not because the love you.  They just want to start charging you a fee for carry-on luggage as well.

Zagat Rates the Airlines

Zagat Rated Web icon

According to a new travel survey released today by Zagat, Virgin America is the carrier of choice for frequent flyers.  The airline was named the poll’s top overall carrier for it’s coach and premium classes on both domestic and international routes.  More than 8,000 frequent flyers were asked how well airlines delivered on comfort, service and food.

Other winners in the annual poll included:
•Continental Airlines, which ranked first of big U.S. airlines for coach and premium classes on domestic and international flights. Continental is merging with United Airlines.
•Southwest Airlines, which was cited for the best website of all U.S. and foreign airlines. On domestic routes, Southwest also was cited for the best value, the best luggage policy, the best check-in experience and the best on-time flight estimates for consumers.
•Singapore Airlines, which was named No. 1 for coach and premium classes on international flights.
•JetBlue Airways and Virgin Atlantic, which ranked No. 1 for in-flight entertainment for their respective domestic and international flights.

Other winners in the annual poll included:

- Continental Airlines – which ranked first among “big” U.S. airlines for coach and premium classes on domestic and international flights.  Continental is merging with United Airlines.

- Southwest Airlines – which was recognized for the best website of all U.S. and foreign airlines.  On domestic routes, Southwest also was cited for the best value, the best luggage policy, the best check-in experience and the best on-time flight estimates for consumers.

- Singapore Airlines – which was named number one for coach and premium classes on international flights.

- JetBlue & Virgin Atlantic – which ranked number one for in-flight entertainment for their respective domestic and international flights.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Earlier today, JetBlue unveiled its “Top Secret Sale” where you can book up to nine different vacation packages starting at $99 per person, including airfare and a 3-day hotel stay.  Travel between Dec. 5-14, 2010.  You pick the destination and the flight, JetBlue picks the hotel.  Even though you can’t pick your hotel, the airline guarantees it is a three-to-five star hotel.  Taxes and airline fees are extra.
  • Passengers on a Delta flight from Chicago to New York  got an eye-full over the Thanksgiving weekend after an “emotionally disturbed” woman stripped naked and created a ruckus.  As flight attendants tried to calm her down and cover her with blankets, she allegedly shouted, “No! No! No!”  She was eventually taken into custody, but not charged.
  • Airlines are adding seats and flights, cautiously betting that the optimistic travel outlook the industry has had for much of the year will continue.  Most carriers are adding seats by increasing the number of flights, or by moving to bigger planes.  JetBlue has added the most with a 7.6% increase; and Delta has added 5%.  With increased supply, there’s hope that cheaper airfares are on the horizon.  If you’re planning to fly in 2011, this is a good year to track for airfare decreases with Yapta.

MasterCard Airfare Price Assurance logo

This week, in Phoenix, was the annual PhoCusWright Conference where folks from all corners of the travel industry gather to share ideas, forge partnerships, and announce some news.  Well, we had some news of our own to announce.  Here it is, as reported by Tnooz (the travel industry’s top trade news outlet):

Yapta and MasterCard plan to begin a beta in December in which MasterCard consumer and small business cardholders purchasing flights with their cards would be able to receive Yapta’s price monitoring and price assurance services.

Yapta pledges that its services get air travelers refunds on the difference when the airfare drops below the price the flight was booked for.

The beta is a prelude to a full-fledged launch of the service with MasterCard in early 2011, Yapta says.

The MasterCard-Yapta partnership punctuates a shift for Yapta, which has been focusing in recent months on supplementing its consumer offering with business to business services.

“This is a significant partnership that will deliver real savings and value to a broader audience of travelers,” says Yapta co-founder and CEO Tom Romary. “It’s also consistent with our strategy to power travel services for travel management companies, online travel search companies and financial services companies.”

The beta will be available to a subset of MasterCard cardholders in December.

Yapta and MasterCard plan to implement a series of collaborative services early next year.”

Here’s some more news you can use:

  • Airport security body scanners used by the TSA continue to gain negative publicity.  John Tyner, a California software engineer, became an instant web celebrity this week when he declined both a body scan and the alternative – a groin check – and then used his iPhone’s video camera to capture the event.  Tyner told TSA agents: “If you touch my junk, I’m going to have you arrested.”  He evaded the junk-touching, but wasn’t allowed to fly.
  • John Tyner apparently isn’t alone in his detest of airport security body scanners.  Others are organizing a “National Opt-Out Day” slated for November 24th — the day before Thanksgiving and probably busiest day of air travel this year. It’s a protest against the full-body scanners at airports.  For all you planning to participate, you should know your rights.
  • AirTran today launched a “Giving Thanks to Our Customers” airfare sale good for tickets purchased today through Monday.  Fares are priced based on “peak,” “off-peak” and “super off-peak” travel dates. The lowest fares are for travel on Nov. 19, 21, 22, 26 and Nov. 30, with some discounts offered for flights on Thanksgiving Day. Also, there are no advance purchase requirements for this sale.

AirTran Launches 48-Hour Airfare Sale

clock-last-minute

Airtran Airways is offering an airfare sale that starts today and goes for 48 hours. The discounted flight tickets are for travel dates of September 2nd, 2010 through October 13th, 2010. You have to hurry up and make your reservations for this sale by the end of the day on August 27, 2010.

The best flight discounts are on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The still have discounts on Fridays and Sundays but are not as low of a price as the other days. You need to purchase your tickets at least seven days in advance. All prices are advertised as one-way flights and you don’t have to purchase a roundtrip or stay overnight in order to get the advertised flight ticket prices. There are no blackout dates for this sale.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Federal aviation regulators today slapped American Airlines with the largest fine in history, charging that the carrier made thousands of unsafe flights.  The FAA said it has “proposed” a $24.2 million civil penalty for American Airlines’ failure to properly inspect wire bundles in the wheel wells of its MD-80 aircraft.  The airline has 30 days to respond to the proposed fine and plead their case.  (With a fine this big, you can bet they’ll fight it.)
  • According to a recent Travelodge survey, 25 percent of adult men bring stuffed animals with them when they travel for business.  Phew!  All these years and I thought I was the only one.
  • Meanwhile, another survey revealed that “other people’s kids” are the most likely cause of annoyance among airline passengers.  Forget about other people’s kids – my 2 year-old and 5 year-old are way more annoying to travel with!  I’ll listen to other people’s kids and smile at the fact that they’re not mine.

Continental Airlines Testing Self-Boarding

turnstileAccording to the USA Today, Continental Airlines, which was the first to offer passengers paperless boarding in 2008, is now testing “self-boarding” in which travelers use CTA-type turnstiles to check their boarding passes and enter the plane.

Continental is the first U.S. airline to try self-serve boarding, joining 14 international airlines including Lufthansa, Air France, Korean Air, Japan Airlines and Air New Zealand.

Continental says it’s testing self-boarding at one gate in its hub in Houston Intercontinental airport.  The airline’s primary goal is to free agents from the mundane task of scanning boarding passes and allow them to handle other customer issues that require individual attention, such as upgrading seats.

In order for self-boarding to proliferate, airlines will first need to adopt boarding passes with  ”two-dimensional” barcodes, which contain more traveler information than magnetic strips or traditional barcodes.  Airlines have agreed to phase out magnetic strips by the end of the year.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Check out these futuristic designs for airplane interiors using a “Step-Seat model” that emphasized cost efficiency and passenger comfort, two seemingly polar opposites.  These designs are technically certifiable by the FAA, and can be implemented in airplanes already in use.
  • Jet Blue is conducting a fall airfare sale through tomorrow, July 30th.  The sale, which allows travel from September 7th to December 15th, applies to cities such as Austin, Chicago, and New York, L.A. and many places in between.  According to The Huffington Post,  you can fly from NYC to Barbados for $99, or from San Francisco to Boston for $149.  Also, if you buy a ticket during the sale your first bag travels for free.
  • Southwest Airlines, the same airline that felt actor Kevin Smith was “too fat” to fly on a SWA flight one year ago, has now reportedly bumped a woman from a flight to make room for a plus-sized teen who required two seats.  According to reports, a woman who was flying standby from Las Vegas to Sacramento, was in her seat ready for take off when a teen passenger arrived late to the gate.  Flight attendants said she would have to deplane to make room for the teen.  The woman expressed irritation about the situation and said that SWA employees began to “berate” her for complaining.

Rare Summer Airfare Sales Announced

sale-tagsIt’s rare to see them, but a couple of summer airfare sales have popped up on the radar:

AirTran Airways today launched a fare sale for travel to all of its destinations between this month and November.  Passengers have to buy a ticket before Thursday to get the sale for travel from July 16 to Nov. 16.  The lowest fares are available for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

Hawaiian Airlines also recently announced a mid-summer airfare sale good for travel through August 22nd.  Rates from the mainland to Hawaii (Honolulu, Hilo, Kona, Kahului and Lihu’e airports) start at $398 round-trip.  Follow @HawaiianFares on Twitter for future airfare sale announcements from Hawaiian Airlines.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • According to the USAToday, less than 10% of passengers who could use Wi-Fi to log on to the web, actually do so.  The biggest issue for travelers: price.  Gogo, the biggest Wi-Fi service provider in the air with 8 big airlines as its partners, charges $4.95 to connect to the Internet on flights of up to 90 minutes. The price goes to $9.95 for flights up to 3 hours and to $12.95 on longer flights.  It now has a monthly rate of $34.95 for use on all carriers it provides service to.
  • Senators from both the Democratic and Republican parties are expressing confidence that they have enough votes to lift the ban on American travel to Cuba, overturning a U.S. policy that has been in effect for nearly half a century.  Previous efforts to have the ban lifted have died in the House or Senate as opponents argued that lifting the ban could prop up Cuba’s communist-run government.
  • The federal government has created an iPhone app called “My TSA,” which provides information on airport delays to travelers and reminds you what items are allowed in your carry-on or checked baggage.  Unfortunately, the app is only for the iPhone.  Consumers using any other devices, including Windows Mobile, BlackBerry or Android devices, will instead be directed to a mobile web site.

AA Flight Attendants & Mechanics May Go on Strike

AA flight attendants strike

Flight attendants for American Airlines have requested federal approval to end contract talks – a step towards the first strike at a major US carrier in five years.  If the National Mediation Board agrees, it would start a 30-day clock ticking.  After that the union might be allowed to strike.  No large US carrier has suffered a strike since 2005, when 4,200 Northwest Airlines mechanics and aircraft cleaners walked off the job.

American’s unions took big pay cuts in 2003 to keep the airline out of bankruptcy.  The flight attendants (and mechanics, who last week also requested to end contract talks) want at least some of that compensation back.  American is offering raises, but the union says the airline wants to keep overall costs flat.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • If you’re flying Southwest Airlines today, you’ve got the luck of the Irish.  Not only is Southwest putting leprechauns on board its flights for St. Patrick’s Day, but it is also serving up complimentary Heineken beers to passengers.
  • JetBlue, through its partnership with Aer Lingus, which serves Ireland’s Dublin and Shannon airports, is offering a sale on summer fares to the Emerald Isle.  The sale ends March 19th, so if you’re feeling the St. Patrick’s Day spirit, you better show JetBlue your green soon.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Summer Airfare Sales Have Arrived

SALE

It may only be March, but the first Summer airfare sales are already here.  AirTran, US Airways, United, Delta and American Airlines are all offering sale prices on flights through November 16th.  That’s right, November 16th!  That’s like 200 days!

So what’s the catch?  Well, the airfare sale period only lasts for 2-days.  In general, tickets have to be purchased by midnight Thursday.  There are also blackout dates around Memorial Day and other holidays.   Also, you may need to make a connection or travel to a smaller, alternative airport to get the lowest fares.

We made note of AirTran’s sale yesterday.  However, if you want dig around for the other sale prices (and you will have to dig a bit), you can find them here:

U.S. Airways

United Airlines

Delta Air Lines

American Airlines

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • If you’re a fan of “The Bachelor” on ABC and are wondering where Jason and Molly are heading for their honeymoon -  our friends at Down Under Answers are booking their trip and are telling all.  Check out their new Web page that has all the honeymoon details.
  • Have you’ve ever been curious about the U.S. govenment’s mysterious “no-fly” list – including how people get on or off the list?  Well, the Associated Press has revealed some of the Voodoo behind it all.  You might say that some people are dying to be de-listed, but never will be.  (Envision wringing hands and maniacal laughter.)

WestJet

WestJet Airlines, Canada’s second-largest airline, has finally launched its long-awaited loyalty program.  Passengers can now earn WestJet “dollars” if they sign up for its credit card program with Royal Bank of Canada and MasterCard, or through the airline’s Frequent Guest program.

According to WestJet, the dollars can be used as cash to pay for a flight on any date to any destination.  There are no points, redemption grids, advance bookings, blackouts or seat restrictions.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • U.S. air passenger travel will increase by 0.5 percent this year and then at an average of 2.5 percent per year through 2030, the Federal Aviation Administration predicted in a forecast released today.  The FAA also predicts that total airport operations would decrease 2.7 percent, to 51.5 million, this year and then grow at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent, reaching 69.6 million in 2030.  It said the number of passengers on U.S. airlines domestically and internationally would rise from 704 million in 2009 to 1.21 billion by 2030.
  • AirTran Airways announced a sale today with fares as low as $44 one way, plus taxes and fees, for travel from March 19th through Nov. 16th.  The sale doesn’t include travel on Fridays and Sundays, and there are 28 blackout dates.
  • Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air today announced the launch of three mobile applications designed for iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile users. The free applications are available for download at http://www.alaskaair.com/mobile.  The applications provide customers flight status information, flight schedules, flight alerts and a link to Web check-in. Customers can also log in to “My Trips” to view their itineraries, change seats, check their upgrade status, and add an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan number to a reservation. The applications also give customers access to download electronic boarding passes.

Is 5-Star Hotel Service in Jeopardy?

hotel service

The USA Today reports that if the luxury hotel industry doesn’t see a rebound soon, “some five-star hotels won’t be able to maintain five-star service and frills in the future.”  The current travel environment is forcing luxury hotels to cut staff and services, which may ultimately result in some five-star hotels become four-star hotels.

This could actually be very good news for budget-conscious travelers with an affinity for luxury offerings.   As more four-star hotels shift into the marketplace, they’ll become more and more competitive for your travel dollar – putting you in a position to get a great deal.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • This morning Priceline.com announced a major change to their vaunted “Name Your Own Price” model that has been the basis of their opaque hotel product since inception. Billed as a “limited time offer” until the end of March, Priceline is actually showing winning bids and allowing consumers to simply tag-along and buy the same thing, assuming availability still exists. No bidding, no guessing – just a posted price.  While it’s not perfect because Priceline may not have availability for the dates that travelers are checking (vs. what the last consumer bought), it’s still a big step towards full travel booking transparency – which we all can appreciate.
  • JetBlue is celebrating its 10th birthday by conducting a 1-day only sale where they’re offering $10 one-way fares on flights departing from New York’s JFK Airport on Tuesday-Wednesday, March 9-10, 2010.  The sale lasts until 11:59 p.m. MT today.
  • The U.S. DOT said today that it has fined US Airways $40,000 for not disclosing full ticket prices on its Web site.  The airline did not provide additional taxes and fees on initial searches for one-way flights, nor any notice that the additional costs would be added later in the transaction.  The DOT requires Internet advertising to display the full fare after taxes and fees on the first screen, along with a hyperlink that takes consumers to a page that describes the additional charges, according to the agency.