Tag: American Airlines

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.

airline fare saleThere are a few airfare sales that are piquing a lot of interest:

JetBlue is celebrating its 10th anniversary by offering one-way fares starting at $29 – or for 5,000 TrueBlue points.  In order to take advantage of this sale, you need to book by April 18th for travel between April 22 – June 16, 2010.

American Airlines is conducting a sale on flights to the Caribbean and Latin America.  Flights start at $78 one-way for travel through early June.  The sale ends April 14th, so act now if you want to get these sale prices.

AirTran’s latest fare sale encourages travelers to “book a sweet deal from Point A to Point B.” You can find airfare deals to/from a variety of U.S. cities, as well as specials to international destinations including Aruba, Montego Bay, and Cancun.  Purchase your airline ticket by 11:59 pm ET on April 20 for travel through November 10, 2010.  The lowest sale airfares are good for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.  A 10-day advance purchase is required, and there are blackout dates.

And finally, Southwest Airlines has launched a 72-hour sale.  Flights start at $39 one-way or $78 round-trip, and destinations include Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Orlando, among many others. More than 1,000 routes are on sale, but if you don’t book by Thurs., April 15th, you’ll miss out.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Republic Airways officials announced this morning that Frontier will be the operating brand name for Republic’s Frontier and Midwest carriers. The announcement followed months of speculation about the future of the Frontier and Midwest brands after Indianapolis-based Republic Airways bought the airlines last year. As a concession to Midwest, Republic officials said chocolate chip cookies will be served on all flights, a trademark amenity of Midwest.
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Continental Airlines is expected to bid to acquire United Airlines, after reports that United and US Airways were in merger talks.  Continental and United discussed merging in 2008, until Continental walked away.  A combined United-Continental would create the world’s largest airline, ahead of Delta Air Lines, now the largest after acquiring Northwest Airlines in 2008. A combined US Airways-United would be the second-biggest U.S. carrier. Delta and Air France-KLM are larger worldwide.  A United-Continental merger would also face less regulatory scrutiny because the carriers have fewer overlapping city pairs – 9, whereas United and US Airways have 14.

3 Horses

According to recently released data from the U.S. DOT,  Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines carried the most passengers in 2009.  Southwest carried 101 million passengers, followed by American with 85 million and Delta with 67 million.

According to the 2009 year-end data, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport held onto its coveted title of world’s busiest airport.  Chicago’s O’Hare came in second and Los Angeles ranked third in the list of top 10 largest airports.

Also worth noting is the fact that U.S. airlines carried 5.2 percent fewer domestic passengers (618.1 million) in 2009 and 6.3 percent fewer international passengers (85.8 million) than in 2008.

If you’re a travel geek and want to see the complete air travel statistics for 2009, click here.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • US Airways passengers who check in online will now find more than a seat assignment and group number on their boarding passes.  Just in time for the spring-break travel rush, the airline has started including advertisements, weather and other tourist information on the boarding documents.  This leaves United as the last major carrier to hold out from printing the adds on customers’ boarding passes.  Anyone want to fathom a guess as to when United will fall in line?  The person closest to the actual date will get a $10 Starbucks gift card, courtesy of Yapta.
  • If you live in Seattle, this news if for you:  Alaska Airlines announced that it will allow passengers to earn and use its Mileage Plan miles on Seattle’s Kenmore Air and book Kenmore tickets through Alaska.  Mileage Plan members will earn 250 miles for each Kenmore Air flight starting April 15, with Double Miles for Kenmore flights between April 15 and May 31. Members can redeem miles for award travel starting in June, with one roundtrip award ticket on Kenmore Air between Seattle and any Washington destination or Victoria, B.C., for 10,000 miles, or between Seattle and any other Kenmore destination in British Columbia for 15,000 miles.
  • According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the airline industry globally is expected to bounce back to its pre-recession traffic levels in two or three months.   I’m hoping this news means that airlines will pull some planes out of the desert and increase capacity.

Has Tipping Reached its Tipping Point?

Tip Jar 2

One travel expense that can empty your pockets quickly is tipping.  $5 at the valet.  $5 for room service.  $5 for bags brought to your room.  Well, the age-old gesture may become a thing of the past at many hotels.  For example, the USA Today reports that The Elysian hotel  in Chicago has recently adopted a no-tipping-necessary policy.  Customers can tip if they want to but are told when they book the room and check in that tipping is not necessary.

Instead of hiring staffers who’ve worked in other hotels, the Elysian sought out people with retail or other non-hotel experience because they know customer service but aren’t used to being tipped.

The Elysian isn’t the first hotel to have this policy.  Other city hotels like the Seaport Hotel in Boston have also done away with tipping.  Could this become a broader trend?  Has tipping reached its tipping point?  We shall see.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Low-cost carrier Virgin America announced today that it will introduce daily non-stop flights to Orlando from Los Angeles and San Francisco beginning in August.  One-way fares will start at $149 and $199 respectively.  The airline has also requested permission from the DOT to start flying north of the border to Toronto.
  • Federal regulators are looking to hit American Airlines with $300,000 in fines over maintenance issues.  The FAA said today that American’s mechanics put off maintenance on aircraft instruments that measure air speed and heaters that prevent instruments from freezing up during flight.  The airline has 30 days to appeal.

Continental Says: “No Food For You!”

The Soup Nazi

Continental Airlines, the last carrier to provide free meals for economy class fliers, announced that they will finally start charging for in-flight meal service beginning this fall.  No more free breakfasts and sandwiches, hot meals and desserts in coach.  Passengers will continue to get a free (small) snack and beverage on even the shortest flights, but all other food will now cost you.

Continental will still have free food in coach on international flights, as well as domestic flights longer than six hours.  Currently, Continental flights lasting less than two hours have free pop or juice and a bag of pretzels or biscuit cookies.  Flights of two to 3 1/2 hours have a small sandwich roll or a muffin in the morning. Flights over 3 1/2 hours have a free hot sandwich or other hot meal, or breakfast in the morning.

The airline also announced that it will debut new lunch sandwiches for first-class passengers (such as a chicken parmesan Tuscan sandwich) and updated first-class dinner pasta dishes (such as spinach & cheese cannelloni with pomodoro sauce) on April 1st.  No foolin’!

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • British Airways is preparing for a major strike by flight attendants, and many critical flights between the U.S. and the U.K. could be canceled.  6,000 flight attendants are expected to walk off the job in protest over pay and staffing levels.  The first three-day phase of the strike is planned to start this Saturday.  As a result, half of all flights to JFK are likely to be scrapped.
  • American Airlines has filed for a temporary exemption from the DOT’s new rule that limits the time passengers can be held on the tarmac, saying delays caused by the closure of the main runway at New York’s JFK airport could cost them millions in fines.  JetBlue and Delta asked for exemptions last week.  Those three airlines are the largest operators at JFK.

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.)

Coming to America? Better Have ESTA Approval

ESTA logoAn American ESTA is now mandatory for all US-bound air passengers, with travelers now required to complete the online form before departure.  All travellers to the US now must have an American ESTA.

The American ESTA, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization, gives travelers prior approval for entry to the US and replaces the green I-94 card that passengers previously filled in on the flight.

It applies to all 35 countries with the US “visa waiver” status including: the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and Ireland.

The ESTA was first introduced a year ago, but as of today it is mandatory for all travellers visiting for 90 days or less and should be applied for at least 72 hours in advance. The ESTA is necessary whether you plan to travel to America for business or personal reasons.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • American Airlines has raised it’s baggage fee to $25 for the first bag and $35 for a second bag – following similar moves by Delta, United, Continental, and US Airways in recent days.  Exempted from the charge are first-class and frequent flyers and military personnel.
  • Looking for cheap Spring Break airfare?  Well, AirTran has launched a 3-day airfare sale for travel to destinations such as Florida, Aruba, Cancun, Montego Bay, Nassau and San Juan through March 10, 2010.  Fares are being advertised as low as $39 each way from select cities.  Also, check out a similar sale from Southwest Airlines that ends Thursday.
  • A blog called TheSpiritedWoman.com recently published an interesting list of the best travel websites that “keep us informed and enable us to be as prepared for our trips as possible.”  We’re thrilled to see Yapta make the short list – but you may also be interested in some of the others, like Trifter.com

Expect to Pay More for Airport Parking

airport-parking-signThe USA Today reports that airport parking rates are rising across the US:

“Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports and San Diego’s Lindbergh Field announced parking price increases earlier this month, following other large airports that raised rates in the past year.

They include:  Minneapolis-St. Paul; Los Angeles; Honolulu; Little Rock National; St. Louis; Dallas/Fort Worth; Detroit; Boston; Pittsburgh; Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers; Indianapolis; and Portland, Ore.

At O’Hare, rates for most long-term parking (5 hours or more) will rise by $1, and the 24-hour maximum will increase by $1, to $31, at the daily lot.

At Midway, a $1 increase will apply for long-term parking (7 hours or more) at the hourly and daily garages, and the 24-hour maximum will increase by $1, to $29. Rates for short-term parking will remain the same at both airports.

Starting July 1, San Diego airport will change its rate structure, which will result in higher prices. Parking for an hour will rise by $1, to $4. The daily maximum for the first day will remain at $21, but each additional 24 hours will cost $26.”

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • The New York Times reports that “nearly 100 hotels are scheduled to open in major American cities this year” – despite the fact that many hotels are having trouble filling rooms.  New York will have the most new hotels, 46, followed by Houston, with 30.  New hotels are opening as well in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington.  I feel a buyers market coming on.
  • American Airlines will expand its “cashless cabin” to all flights effective Feb. 1.   The carrier previously required passengers to use only credit or debit cards for on-board purchases in the continental U.S. and on flights to and from Hawaii, Alaska and Canada.  American Eagle and AmericanConnection flights will continue to accept only cash for on-board purchases.  The list of airlines accepting only plastic in the air are:  Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, United and Continental Airlines.
  • Air New Zealand – which was recently named “Airline of the Year” by Air Transport World magazine – is taking some heat for degrading women in an advertisement which portrays middle-aged women as “cougars” on the hunt for young men.  Women’s right’s groups and rape prevention organizations have branded the onine promotion appalling, disgusting and degrading to women.
  • The Department of Transportation recently unveiled a website (airconsumer.dot.gov) that makes it easier for passengers to file complaints about airline service and keep track of the rates for on-time arrivals and lost baggage.

Airlines Raise Fuel Surcharges on Flights to Europe

airplane fuelDelta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Continental Airlines have all raised fuel surcharges on travel to Europe by $20 per round-trip – and have added conditions that could cause travelers to pay higher fares.  ABC News reports that, “surcharges to Paris, Frankfurt and most cities on the Continent were raised to $280 per round-trip and to $242 for London.”

And what about the “added conditions”?  Well, some airlines that previously required only a seven-day advance purchase for the lowest coach fares are now requiring a 14-day advance purchase.

With heightened security, steeper fuel surcharges, and tighter booking windows, international travel just keeps gets better and better every day.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Yesterday we noted that Delta had hiked its baggage fees.  What we failed to mention was that Continental Airlines had also hiked their baggage fees – matching Delta.  And as if the parade wasn’t long enough, today we learned that United Airlines has also raised its baggage fee – matching Delta & Continental.  United boosted the charge for the first piece of checked luggage 53 percent to $23.  A second bag will cost $32, up from $25.  The prices apply to online check-ins only, with airport transactions $2 more for the first bag and $3 more for the second.
  • According to the annual Travel Trends survey conducted by the Travel Leaders Franchise Group, Orlando, Fla. is now the top tourist destination in the United States.  Vegas had been the country’s No. 1 tourist destination for the past seven years, but the report released this week found that tourists who were surveyed late last year preferred the family-oriented attractions in Orlando.  After Orlando and Las Vegas, an Alaskan cruise; New York City; Maui and Honolulu, Hawaii; Chicago; Phoenix; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles rounded out the top 10.

Delta Increases Baggage Fees

baggageToday Delta Air Lines boosted its baggage fees for domestic travel to $23 for the first checked bag and $32 for the second one, up from $15 and $25, respectively.  Of course, that’s if you pay in advance online.  If you check your bags at the airport (which I’m assuming most people do), Delta is going to sting you for $25 on the first bag and $35 for the second one.

This fee hike shouldn’t come as any surprise for frequent Delta customers as it’s clearly the most aggressive carrier in it’s fee-collection activities.   A recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reveals that Delta’s ancillary revenue efforts – which brought in $447.5 million in Q3 2009 – has no rival.  American Airlines was a distant second with $261.2 million for the quarter.  Plus, when you take into account that Delta and its subsidiary, Northwest Airlines report their numbers separately, then the combined ancillary revenue is a whopping $670.8 million.

So, how can you avoid these fees?  Well, here’s some tips:

1. Pack light so that everything fits in a single carry-on suitcase.  Check out websites like OneBag.com for suggested packing lists that can help you cut down on your luggage.

2. Ship excess clothes ahead of time.  A large priority mail flat-rate package will hold two-thirds of what a carry-on does for about $14.50.

3. Fly JetBlue or Southwest – which don’t charge for the first checked bag.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • USAToday business travel columnist, David Grossman has noted that, “2010 may prove to be a less turbulent and more benign year for air travelers.”  Wondering why?  Well, to find out, read the eight factors that are likely to affect air travel this year for business travelers.
  • Late last week, a three-year-old boy took a frightening and unusual journey at Copenhagen Airport, travelling through the entire baggage belt system before being rescued.  The boy and his mother were checking in for a flight when the boy hopped onto an unattended baggage belt at the check-in area.  His mother was distracted while looking for her travel documents, and neither she nor airline staff noticed the boy’s departure down the baggage belt.  The boy travelled right through the system, including the baggage x-ray machine, which directed him to an area for bags to be handled manually because he had no baggage identification tag.  At this point, an airport worker heard his cries and rescued him from the machinery.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board said today it is investigating Sunday’s emergency landing of a United Airlines flight at Newark Liberty International Airport after a landing gear malfunction.  One early discovery thus far: The radio system used by the gound rescue team crashed just when it was needed most.  But by the time rescue teams were in place, their radios went dead, apparently because of utility work nearby.