Tag: American Airlines

What Bin Laden’s Death Means for Travelers

The U.S. State Department issued a worldwide travel warning after President Obama announced Sunday night that American forces killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. It says there is an increased risk for anti-American violence and is encouraging anyone who is traveling abroad to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program .
The free program provides travelers with current information about the country they’re visiting, including warnings about long-term conditions that make a country dangerous and alerts about short-term conditions that pose risks to Americans traveling overseas. The information you provide about your trip when you enroll also will allow the State Department to better assist you in case of an emergency. To learn more about the type of assistance you can receive, see What the State Department Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis
Travel Alerts

The U.S. State Department issued a worldwide travel warning after President Obama announced Sunday night that American forces killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.  It says there is an increased risk for anti-American violence and is encouraging anyone who is traveling abroad to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

The free program provides travelers with current information about the country they’re visiting, including warnings about long-term conditions that make a country dangerous and alerts about short-term conditions that pose risks to Americans traveling overseas.  The information you provide about your trip when you enroll also will allow the State Department to better assist you in case of an emergency.  To learn more about the type of assistance you can receive, see What the State Department Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis.

While the U.S. State Department warn travelers of the “enhanced potential for anti-American violence”, this doesn’t mean you’ll see stricter security at the airport.  The Department of Homeland Security remains at a heightened state of vigilance, but does not intend to issue an alert at this time.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • American Airlines is readying pay-per view video rentals that, rather than being shown on an in-seat monitor, will be streamed over WiFi to your iPad, iPhone or other gadget during the flight. The new system – which will be managed by Aircell, which already operates in-flight WiFi on select AA aircraft – will allow the airline to offer significantly more content than is currently available for in-flight entertainment, including movies and TV shows.  Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but AA says such a service could cost $3 to $5 for a movie and $1 to $3 to view a TV episode.
  • The Fareologists at Bing Travel today issued their forecast for the 2011 summer travel season, predicting airfare and hotel costs will continue to swell. Compared with last year, airfare is expected to be up 15 percent, with tickets averaging $561, up from $485 last summer. Summer hotel costs will rise by more than 7 percent, with average costs at $242, versus $227 last year.
  • If you’re traveling this summer, don’t expect to have better luck finding discounted hotel rooms.  Demand for hotel rooms has been growing over the last year and will be 2.5% higher this summer than last summer, according to Smith Travel Research, a hospitality consulting firm in Tennessee.  The growing demand will push room rates to an average of $103 per night this summer, up 4.1% from last summer, according to Smith Travel’s latest forecast.  This is just another reason why you should be subscribed to our deals newsletter.  It’s usually stacked with hotel deals.

American Airlines Serving Up In-Flight Happy Hour

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In celebration of Cinco De Mayo, American Airlines announced this week that it will offer happy hour drink specials on American or American Eagle domestic flights departing between 5:00 p.m. and 5:59 p.m.  The “‘5@5″ happy hour promo starts May 1 and will feature $5 alcoholic drinks (a saving of $1 on beer and $2 on liquor and wine) on flights in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.  The airline also noted that it will be featuring a special “Margaritaville margarita” for those folks that really want to get into the spirit of the holiday.

Note that I refrained from referring to American Airlines as “AA” in this post.  That would just be a contradiction of terms.

Here’s some travel news you can use:

  • It’s been reported that more than 600,000 tourists are planning to visit London this weekend for the “wedding of the century”.  British Airways, alone, will be carrying more than 250,000 people – but seats aren’t coming cheap.  The total cost for an economy seat will run you approximately $1,400 per person.  And if you fancy a first class seat, prices start at $18,204 from New York and $22,512 from Los Angeles, not including the fees. Total cost: About $19,000-$23,000.  Yes, the crown jewels.
  • This type of story is starting to occur all too often:  This week, it’s a former Miss USA from 2003, Susie Castillo, that’s blasting airport screeners for groping her after she refused to go through a full body scanner.   She claims she was “violated” by a female TSA agent at a security checkpoint at DFW international airport in Texas.  She said she wanted to avoid going through the full body scanner because she had heard the radiation could pose a health risk.  A video of her testimonial is currently lighting up the web.
  • On Wednesday, Holland America kicked-off a last-minute sale on summer cruises in Europe, with some voyages marked down to as little as $599 per person.  In some cases, Holland America is also throwing in reduced airfare for passengers flying to their ships from the U.S.  The offer expires soon… of course.

fight-club

With four major airlines looking to grab market share at three airports, New York will be one of the most competitively priced destinations in the country this year.  And of course, where there’s intense airline competition, there are sure to be happy travelers that like to fly frugal.

Southwest Airlines will begin flying out of Newark on March 27th, and the discount carrier will officially join the fray for air supremacy over the Big Apple.  Southwest and competitors Delta, Continental, American and JetBlue will be vying to steal customers from each other at New York and New Jersey airports.  They will be in a dogfight at all three international airports — Newark Liberty, La Guardia and John F. Kennedy — the nation’s most hotly contested airspace.

Passengers can expect fare wars on flights to Chicago, Phoenix, Denver and Houston – all routes that Southwest will also have out of Newark.  Southwest could become the pricing leader in New York and New Jersey because the discount carrier will now compete at two major airports in the region, Newark and La Guardia.

Southwest expects to offer 18 daily flights out of Newark by June.  Meanwhile, the airline is already offering Newark-to-Chicago fares of $88 one way this spring.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • For the third time in four years, U.S. commercial airlines have gone 12 months without a single death. For all of 2010, a year that saw more than 10 million flights and 700 million passengers, the National Transportation Safety Board recorded no major airline accidents. Yep, they’re gettin’ ya there in one piece.
  • Open Allies for AirFare Transparency – a coalition of 117 founding members & corporations, including online travel agencies Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity - launched late last week with a mission to force airlines to make fare and ancillary fees available on every distribution channel in which they operate.  Good luck with that.
  • Delta is not picking sides in the Super Bowl.  The airline has added non-stop flights from both Pittsburgh and Green Bay (and Milwaukee) to Dallas / Fort Worth.  The airline will fly three nonstop flights between Pittsburgh and Dallas around the first weekend of February.  It  will also operate special nonstop flights from Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay and General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee on Feb. 3, 4 and 7.  Get there if you can.  It should be a good game.

Smaller Airports Earning Bigger Smiles from Travelers

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The USA TODAY recently asked its panel of frequent-flying “Road Warriors,” who log millions of miles each year, mostly for business, about their favorite regional airports.  These airports may not offer as many flights or destinations as their big counterparts, but for many frequent fliers, the nation’s smaller regional airports provide a more pleasant travel experience.  Parking is typically close, the lines for check-in and security are often shorter – and they provide a higher level of customer service.  Here’s some of the regional airports that made the grade:

Appleton, Wis. (ATW)

Erie, Pa. (ERI)

Richmond, Va. (RIC)

Green Bay, Wis. (GRB)

Chattanooga, Tenn. (CHA)

Santa Barbara, Calif. (SBA)

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Southwest Airlines has imposed its third airfare hike in a month, leading the way in airfare increases amongst many airlines, including American, Delta, United, Continental, US Airways , and Frontier.  Southwest raised prices $2 each way on trips up to 500 miles, $3 for 501 to 1,000 miles, and $5 each way on longer flights.  The reason for these price increases is simple.  Travel is so cold during January and February that the airlines must warm their hands in your pockets.
  • American Airlines recently told Dow Jones Newswires that, “Customers looking to compare flights or fares online should visit travel sites such as Kayak.com or Priceline.com for the most accurate and up-to-date information.”  That’s because Expedia is no longer showing AA flights as part of their search results.  It’s a big pissing match, but the Cliff’s Notes says that AA is looking to cut out the middle man (Expedia) to save on distribution costs.  That’s why they recently broke it off with Orbitz too.  The important thing to know is that Yapta’s airfare search is powered by Kayak – so you’ll always find AA flights among our search results.
  • Would you believe that Arianna Huffington, the 60-year-old founder of the Huffington Post, had to be escorted from an airplane by security after she mixed it up with a fellow passenger?  Apparently it all started when Huffington refused to turn off her Crackberry before take-off.  She continued to use the phone during and after take-off which greatly antagonized nearby fellow passenger, Ellis Bellodof, 53, to the point where he wanted to put the smack down.  Eventually, the two “caused a disturbance” so loud that security was called immediately after the plane landed at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, and both were escorted off the plane for a private AARP cage fight – er, questioning.

Holiday Flights: Pull the Trigger & Bite the Bullet

book now

Our holiday travel advice to you:  Book Now.

Flights for the 2010 holiday travel season are already expensive – and it’s only going to get worse.  In a statement released by the Air Transport Association yesterday, it’s estimated that 24 million travelers will fly during the 12-day period surrounding Thanksgiving, with daily passenger volume up 3.5 percent over last year.  The surging demand – coupled with the fact that there’s simply fewer seats available – is making fares more expensive, and more quickly than normal.  Prices are already trending 18% higher this year compared to last year at this time.

Those who wait around until the last minute to pull the trigger on their flight arrangements, will be the ones biting a serious financial bullet.    You’ll save a lot of money simply by booking as early as possible – and then tracking your price with Yapta.  In the event that the price does drop, Yapta will let you know when you can re-book your ticket at the lower available rate and get credited for the difference.

Dispair not tracker-slackers (def. those that track pricing on multiple flights, but for whatever reason can never bring themselves to actually book a flight), there’s still hope for you:

You may still find reasonably priced flights for the Thanksgiving holiday on November 22, 23, 25 (Thanksgiving Day) and 30.  The best days to fly over the Christmas holiday are December 20, 21, 24 (Christmas Eve), 28, 29, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.   (Sunday Nov. 28th will be the busiest day during the Thanksgiving period, defined as Friday, Nov. 19th through Tuesday, Nov. 30th.  Second-busiest is expected to be Monday, Nov. 29th followed by Friday, Nov. 19th, and Wednesday, Nov. 24th.  Avoid these dates wherever possible.)

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • If the New York Jets win this year’s Super Bowl, customers of JetBlue and MasterCard will refund select one-way and roundtrip flights.  Flights must be booked Nov. 1 or 2 and must originate from LaGuardia, Newark or John F. Kennedy (JFK) airports and travel must be completed Dec. 1-31.  Considering that some online betting sites (that will remain unnamed) recently laid 7 to 1 odds that the New York Jets would win the Super Bowl, it’s a interesting gamble. (JetBlue also recently painted an Airbus A320 green in honor of the New York Jets.)
  • According to the website for U.S. News & World Report, Delta Air Lines is the worst of the major airlines based on factors like on-time arrivals, mishandled baggage, passenger bumping, and overall customer satisfaction.  Delta scored the lowest with the most delays and passenger complaints, followed by United, Alaska, and American.  Hawaiian ranked as the best, followed by AirTran.
  • The blue skies are getting greener thanks to a new inflight beverage option from American Airlines.  As of November 1, the airline will be serving Java City coffee, which is 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified.  In order to achieve Rainforest Alliance Certification, companies must ensure that their farming practices protect the environment, including native wildlife, while keeping local communities and workers best interests in mind.

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.

Southwest Gay TravelThe DC Gay Travel Examiner, Troy Petenbrink, reports that the pending merger of AirTran and Southwest airlines (announced this week)  appears to be a big win for gay travelers.

While AirTran has generally remained at the terminal when it comes to marketing to gay travelers and supporting the gay community, Southwest has been flying sky high. Southwest is a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association and has been a supporter of many gay events, including Washington, DC’s Capital Pride.

In addition, Southwest operates a corporate-wide gay-specific micro-site: www.southwest.com/gaytravel.  On the site the company states, “Southwest Airlines is a Company that works hard every day to provide Positively Outrageous Customer Service, regardless of race, religion, and sexuality.  It’s in our DNA and goes to the heart of our Culture of Freedom, inclusiveness, and living and practicing the Golden Rule.”

Assuming that Southwest retains AirTran’s current gates, the merger will result in Southwest serving some new popular gay-friendly destinations and expanding its presence in others.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Starting on October 10th, Continental Airlines will no longer provide complimentary meals and snacks to economy class passengers on domestic flights shorter than 6.5 hours and some international flights.  Instead, Continental will start charging for food, ending its holdout as one of the last major carriers to serve free meals in economy class.  The airline’s new menu will include an Asian-style noodle salad, gourmet fruit plates and other a la carte items.  Prices will range from $1.50 for Pringles potato chips to $8.25 for grilled chicken spinach salad.
  • If you’ve flown JetBlue you know they offer satellite television from DirecTV in every seat free-of-charge. Now you might want to take a few more flights asDirecTV announced they will add NFL Sunday Ticket to JetBlue’s channel lineup. Up to 14 live games will be available every Sunday starting Oct. 3 through Jan. 2, 2011.  (Sweeeeeet!)
  • American Airlines announced that beginning Friday, it will offer free wine, beer and spirits to visitors at its domestic Admirals Clubs.  American also announced that it was equipping its Admirals Club locations with new Hewlett-Packard computers for visitors, and it now offers free Wi-Fi in the airport lounges.

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.

Frugal Travelers are Now Booking Holiday Flights

santa-tanning-300x225With summer officially starting next Monday and the mercury rising,  what better time to start thinking about your travel plans for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s?  Airlines have already released flight schedules far beyond New Year’s and frugal travelers know that this an excellent time to get airfare deals for the fall and winter holidays.

For example, Southwest Airlines released schedules from November through Jan. 7 on Tuesday.  Within 3 hours, five of 12 direct and change-of-plane schedules from Chicago to Tampa International Airport on the Sunday after Thanksgiving were sold out.  By Wednesday afternoon, only one flight from Fort Lauderdale to New York’s LaGuardia for the day before Thanksgiving was available at its lowest one-way fare of $221.

While holiday flights are being scooped up quickly, there may be a fare sale or two between now and the holiday season, so keep an eye peeled.  The Miami Herald recently reported that, “airlines typically file their airfare sales on Monday evening, and during the morning hours Tuesday other airlines scramble to match, so at about 3 p.m. ET is when there are the maximum number of cheap domestic flights.”

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • American Airlines recently announced it will offer “Your Choice” services to its customers.  As part of the initial Your Choice offering, American is introducing a “Boarding and Flexibility Package.”  Customers that purchase the Boarding and Flexibility Package get: (1) Group 1 general boarding, (2) a $75 flight change discount, (3) the ability to standby for an earlier flight at no charge,  and (4) special airfare offers.  The “introductory price” for the package ranges from $9 to $19 one way and varies based on the market and routing.
  • A study published in May by IdeaWorks, a consulting firm, showed that, for travel dates from June through October 2010, award seats aboard Continental were available 71.4% of the time, followed by United (68.6%), American (57.9%) and Delta (12.9%).  TIME.com noted that, “Unless you book months, or even a year, in advance, (award) seats on the most traveled routes and times are almost never available.”
  • A Southwest Airlines employee discovered between 40 and 60 human heads during a routine security check.  The worker made the gruesome discovery when he realized the container, bound for a medical research company in Ft. Worth, TX, had not been properly labeled.  Authorities are now investigating the situation.

It’s a Summer of Airfare Surcharges

airfare surchargeNearly every major airline – with the exception of JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines – is treating each day this summer as a peak travel day, which means additional fees on the price of every ticket.  According to a report, the airlines will charge $10 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, $20 on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays and $30 on Sundays.  And these charges apply only to one-way tickets, so if you’re flying round trip, the surcharge is double.

Unlike baggage fees, which are charged separately, peak travel surcharges are added to the base airfare price and a 7.5% sales tax is applied.  It’s very similar to how fuel surcharges are added to the price of your ticket.  Essentially, they are a hidden cost.

The peak travel surcharges will drop off in the last week of August as the busy summer travel season winds down.  So, if you’re looking to take a trip but don’t want to pay top dollar, perhaps it’s better to travel late, than never.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • According to a recent report, in the not-too-distant future, travelers will have “digital personalities” that will identify them before an air fare search begins.  Carriers will be able to “see” shoppers and deliver their search results, intelligently and in real time.  For instance, let’s say you are executive platinum on American Airlines and you’re looking to book a flight at AA.com.  American’s site would know to waive your baggage fees.  Or maybe you’re not executive platinum, but the carrier has lost your bag twice in the last few months, so it would know to waive the bag fee for your next flight.
  • Although the threat of a potential flight attendant strike is still months away, American Airlines is actively making its contingency plan for staffing flights.  The airline has sent letters to area managers asking for volunteers to complete flight attendant training, in case a resolution with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants is not finalized in time to prevent a strike.
  • According to the USA Today, airline passengers who get frustrated and kick a wall, throw a suitcase or make a pithy comment to a screener could find themselves in a little-known Homeland Security database.  The TSA says it is keeping records of people who make its screeners feel threatened as part of an effort to prevent workplace violence.