Tag: AirTran Airways

And The Top Performing Travel Websites Are…

Speedy Gonzales

Knowing most Yapta users prefer to book their flights direct from an airline website, we thought you’d appreciate knowing which airline sites perform best.  Compuware Gomez, which monitors website performance, conducted an exclusive 15-month study (at the request of USA TODAY) and ultimately determined that  AirTran was the best-performing (or fastest) home page, while Delta, Hawaiian and Frontier were tied for second. Delta’s website was No. 1 for performing transactions, and AirTran’s site, No. 2.

As for hotel sites, Gomez named Marriott the  the top-performing hotel booking site.

Also worth noting, among the 46 online travel agents included in the study, the fastest average home-page load of any travel website (1.231 seconds) went to…(insert drum-roll here)… Kayak.  It’s nice to know that the engine that’s powering Yapta’s flight search is the fastest on the track.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Airfares from American Airlines are now allowed back on Orbitz as an Illinois court granted Orbitz “injunctive relief” from the airline in their ongoing disagreement over distribution costs.  And if you’re tired of following this on-again, off-again relationship – just use Yapta to search (and track) American flights and forgettaboutit.
  • Close to 35 million Americans traveled over the Memorial Day weekend according to AAA.  That’s about 100,000 travelers more than last year, which suggests a fairly busy summer season ahead.  The Air Transport Association (ATA) predicts that U.S. airlines will carry a total of 206.2 million passengers from June through August – about 3 million more passengers than during the same period last year, an increase of 1.5 percent.  Yep, we’re really feeling the bite of higher fuel and airfare prices, aren’t we?
  • Since Delta began charging fees for checked bags — $25 for the initial piece on domestic flights; $35 for a second — the airline has been offering $2-3 discounts to travelers who prepaid those fees online instead of at the airport.  Not anymore.  Starting yesterday, passengers will now pay the full price regardless of when or where they pay the fee.

American Airlines Ripe for a Merger with JetBlue?

Merge Ahead

With the recent flurry of airline mergers between Delta & Northwest, AirTran & Southwest, and United & Continental, airline industry analysts are now speculating that American Airlines may be the next to merge in order to compete with these mega-carriers.  But with who?

According to a Forbes blog post, analysts from Morningstar believe that American Airlines “needs to make a big splash” to remain a player in an increasingly competitive market.

“Once the industry’s largest carrier, [American Airlines] is now the third-largest…and any scale advantage it may have garnered is gone,” the Morningstar analysts write. “Ironically, AMR is at a substantial disadvantage, given that it steered clear of bankruptcy during the recession,” [Basili] Alukos and [Adam] Fleck say, pointing out that American’s labor rate is the industry’s highest on an equivalent basis.”

Given that it lags behind United-Continental and Delta, Morningstar figures American is ripe for consolidation and would make a solid fit for partner JetBlue.  The two cooperate on domestic and international flights at JFK and Boston’s Logan Airport, and JetBlue’s lighter cost structure would help American be more competitive while beefing up the combined company’s international business.

Late last month JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said his airline does not need to find a merger partner to remain competitive with rival Southwest.  Time will ultimately tell as Southwest’s pending merger with AirTran will certainly enable them to apply some competitive pressure in JetBlue’s key expansion markets like Boston and the Caribbean.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • The tarmac rule imposed earlier this year seems to have had the desired affect — with only one delay exceeding 3 hours in the entire month of August, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Last year, 66 flights sat on runways for at least 3 hours in the month of August, according to the DOT.  The department added that the new rule has had no impact on cancellation rates in August, with the rate of 1% unchanged compared to the prior year.  The tarmac rule has been broken eight times since it was imposed earlier this year on April 29 through the end of August, according to the DOT. That’s compared to 529 runway delays exceeding three hours, during the same time period in 2009.
  • Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic on Sunday completed its first manned free flight of a spaceship intended to eventually take customers on commercial space flights.  A seat on Branson’s spaceship will cost $200,000 per person, with refundable deposits starting at $20,000.  Thus far, Virgin Galactic has managed to sell 700 seats.  While you can’t yet track the price of these flights on Yapta, we don’t expect prices to drop anytime soon.
  • Budget Travel published a list of the “Weirdest Travel Gear” that included products like GasBGone, a flatulence filter that comes in a pillow or an undergarment form.

AirTran Raises 1st Checked-Bag Fee by $5

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A number of media outlets are reporting that AirTran has raised its fee for a first checked-bag to $20.  The new fee will take effect on Sept. 1 and will apply only to coach-class reservations made on or after Aug. 17th.

AirTran will continue to charge $25 for a second bag, and those in business class and elite frequent fliers can continue to check two bags at no charge.

The popular frequent-flier website WebFlyer.com notes that among low-cost carriers, AirTran’s fee will now match Frontier Airlines’ $20 charge for first-checked-bags.

For an airline-by-airline list of baggage fees, check out this chart from airfarewatchdog.com.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • According to a new study from the University of Madrid, the optimum time to purchase airfares is eight weeks before departure.  (This also gives you ample time to have Yapta track your purchased flights for a refund.)  The research also suggests that cheaper airfares are likely to be purchased in the afternoon rather than in the morning.
  • Earlier today, Evan Konwiser, co-founder of FlightCaster.com, blogged about the three flight search sites and features that he finds most useful – so we figured we’d pass along his recommendations.  (Thanks for making Yapta part of your repertoire, Evan.)
  • A recent FOXNews.com report shined a spotlight on “where the fall travel deals are”.  If you like to vacation in Mexico, The Caribbean, or Hawaii, you’ll want to give this article a read.

AA Flight Attendants Vote to Strike

AA Strike

American Airlines flight attendants authorized their union leaders today to call a strike against the second-largest U.S. carrier if they are freed from further negotiations.  According to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, about 97 percent of those voting cast ballots to support a walkout.

The vote is a signal to American’s management that the attendants will push toward a strike unless contract issues including compensation and retiree benefits are resolved.  A walkout can’t occur until the union and American complete several additional steps required under a federal law governing airline labor talks.

Contract discussions resumed yesterday, about a month after the National Mediation Board ordered the two sides back to the bargaining table.  Flight attendants had asked the board to find talks at an impasse and trigger a 30-day cooling off period that must come before a strike.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Alaska Airlines is offering passengers free wireless Internet through July 31 as the airline launches Wi-Fi service today on six Boeing 737-800s.  Through an airline agreement with Visa, passengers can sign up to use the service free by entering the promotional code ALASKAVISA on the login screen. See www.alaskaair.comfor details.  After July 31, cost on flights within the continental United States will be $4.95 per flight for flights up to 1.5 hours; $9.95 for laptops and $7.95 for mobile devices for flights of 1.5-3 hours; and $12.95 for laptops and $7.95 for mobile access for flights longer than three hours.
  • Spirit Airlines is warning employees that the airline might have to “shut down operations permanently” if its pilots union goes on strike, as it is threatening to do as early as June 12, adding more tension to what could become a high-stakes showdown.  Spirit considers ultra-low fares to be its brand, using ancillary revenue and industry-leading low unit costs to help fuel its profits.  But the leader of the Spirit union says pilots want a new contract that brings them closer to parity with pay at carriers such as JetBlue and AirTran, which is 20% to 30% higher.
  • Frontier Airlines said it is ending its frequent-flyer partnership with AirTran Airways as of July 16.  The partnership, launched in November 2006, allowed passengers on one of the two airlines to use their miles to fly on the other.  No specific reason for ending the partnership was given.  However, Denver-hubbed Frontier is in the process of merging with Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines, which has a history of fierce competition with Orlando, Fla.-based AirTran.

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.

Snowed In? Shuffle Your Flight Plans for Free

Frosty planeThousands of airline passengers in the United States and overseas are still stranded after this weekend’s snowstorm on the East Coast, and more storms are heading for the Midwest in the coming weekend.  Several airlines are offering travelers heading to or from parts of the country affected by winter storms the ability to change their flight plans without being charged a fee.  Here’s a snapshot of what each of the major carriers are doing to help you:

American Airlines says they are following their storm policy. People flying in and out of Wisconsin today through December 24th, are able to change their flights without a fee or penalty.  The best way to do so, is to call American’s Reservation Services at 1-800-433-7300.  That line is open 24/7.

Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines are allowing passengers with tickets from Dec. 22 to 27 to make free changes.

United Airlines is encouraging customers who are flying to, from or through the Midwest between Dec. 22 and 27 to change their flight itineraries and travel early.

Midwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines are allowing any passengers with tickets through Milwaukee for Dec. 22 to 25 to rebook for free.

AirTran Airways is allowing passengers traveling to or from Mitchell, Chicago Midway Airport and a few other Midwest cities who have Dec. 24 or 25 tickets to change their booking for free.

The New York Times addresses some of the questions travelers may have about their flights.  If you’re reading this post from an airport gate somewhere, you’ll appreciate this article.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • An American Airlines flight carrying 154 people skidded across a Jamaican runway in “heavy rain”, bouncing across the tarmac and injuring more than 40 people before it stopped just short of the Caribbean Sea, officials and witnesses said.  The impact cracked open the fuselage, crushed the left landing gear and separated both engines from the Boeing 737-800.  Approximately 44 people were taken to hospitals with broken bones and back pains and four were seriously hurt, airport and Jamaican government officials said.  (American Airlines said two people were admitted to the hospital and nobody suffered life-threatening injuries.)  I live in Seattle and know “heavy rain” – but authorities said that the rain in Jamaica has been so heavy that it washed away a 7-year old girl on Tuesday, leading to bus crash in which two people died.  How can anyone be expected to land a passenger plane in those types of conditions?
  • ABC News has spotlighted another potential security gaff by the TSA.  With the approval of the TSA the Sig Sauer gun company has released specific information about the model of pistol that Federal Air Marshals will soon be carrying – data that both current and former Air Marshals say puts the Marshals and air passengers at risk.  The disclosure comes on the heels of a massive security breach in which the TSA published online an improperly redacted manual that revealed sensitive information about air passenger screening.
  • There was a surprise wedding at Corpus Christi International Airport earlier this week.  Robyn Moore said she greeted her boyfriend, William Acosta, Monday at the airport with a camera and a wedding party ready to make good on the marriage license they filled out last week.  Oh the irony.  All those airplanes around and still no place to escape to, eh Will?

Xmas sale 3In an unexpected move, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, US Airways, Frontier Airlines, AirTran Airways and Midwest Airlines are waiving their holiday advance-purchase requirements – dropping some ticket prices by as much as 79%

Take for example an American flight between Dallas and New York: On Wednesday, it sold for $1,858 roundtrip. A day later, the price had been slashed 79% to $388 roundtrip.  Delta’s Atlanta to Seattle no-advance purchase airfares were priced at $1,198 before diving some 78% to as low as $258 roundtrip.

Still, there are requirements around the no-advance-purchase requirements.  The sales are date-specific for the lowest fares and tiered on peak travel dates.  Here’s a breakdown:

Tier 1 is the cheapest and available on Dec. 16, 17 and 25, and Jan. 1 and 4.

Tier 2 fares are about 30% higher than the lowest and available only on Dec. 18, 20, 21, 24, 30 and 31. That Dallas to New York flight, for instance, is $478 those days.

Tier 3 tacks on another 25% to the price with travel dates restricted to Dec. 19, 22, 23, 26, 28 and 29. For the Dallas to New York travel, the ticket price is $100 higher than tier 2.

Tier 4 fares have not been included in the holiday airfare sale and are more expensive.  These fares – as expected – cover Dec. 27 and Jan. 2 and 3.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Britain’s High Court delivered an early Christmas present to 1 million travelers today by granting British Airways an emergency injunction to stop a 12-day strike by its cabin crews.  The strike, which had been due to begin on Tuesday, would likely have canceled 7,000 flights during the peak holiday travel season.  So, if you were worried that your flight would be canceled – you can breath a sigh of relief.
  • Today, AirTran kicked off a daily, non-stop flight to Nassau, Bahamas from Atlanta, the airline’s biggest hub.  The Bahamas flight is the newest expansion to AirTran’s Caribbean route map.  Flights to Cancun and San Juan launched earlier this year.  Introductory fares are $79 each way from Atlanta, $99 from Baltimore and $44 from Orlando.

Free WiFi From Google on Virgin America Flights

Google announced on their blog today that they’re partnering with Virgin America to provide free WiFi on every Virgin America flight between November 10, 2009 and January 15, 2010.

“Whether it’s using Gmail to confirm an airport pick up time with your brother, doing some last minute gift shopping for your niece on Google Product Search or searching Google.com for a good sweet potato pie recipe before touchdown — we hope this makes it a bit easier to stay connected with family and friends while you’re up in the air.

You can find out more about our partnership, where Virgin America flies and how the in-flight WiFi service works at www.freeholidaywifi.com.”

Virgin America currently serves 10 major markets, including San Francisco (SFO), Boston (BOS), Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), Orange County (SNA), San Diego (SAN), Seattle (SEA), Washington-Dulles (IAD).

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • The Detroit Free Press reports that Northwest Airlines is changing nearly all of its current flight numbers this week – so be sure to confirm your Northwest Airlines flight number before heading to the airport.  The changes are due to the takeover by Delta Air Lines and go into effect Saturday (10/26) for international flights and Sunday, Nov. 1st for domestic flights.
  • AirTran Airways is expanding its mobile device options for customers to help manage their air travel. The expanded mobile Web services will allow flyers to book flights and change or cancel travel plans using their mobile devices, according to an AirTran release. The new services complement existing ones offered by AirTran, including being able to view flight status and check in for flights.
  • JetBlue said today that its expanding its service at Boston’s Logan International Airport.  The New York-based carrier said that five daily nonstop flights from Boston to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport will begin on March 1, 2010.
  • There was an interesting debate carried out in a recent edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in which Kate Hanni, the Executive Director of FlyersRights.org, and James May, President and CEO of the ATA, offered their perpsective on the proposed legislation for a  “Passenger Bill of Rights”.   Give it a read and comment here to let us know which side of the debate you fall on.
  • If you’re interested in capturing information on hotels in nearly any city or town in the United States , visit Yapta’s new hotel browse pages.  You’ll find background on hotels from Abbeville, AL to Worland, WY.