Tag: British Airways

American Airlines Serving Up In-Flight Happy Hour

raspberry-margarita

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.

Today’s Special: Fee Soup

fly soup

The USA Today reports that Southwest Airlines (the airline famous for it’s “bags fly free” campaign) plans to launch an ad campaign attacking the “change fees” charged by its rivals.  Change fees are, of course, the fee for changing an existing reservation.  Nearly every U.S. airline other than Southwest charges customers a penalty for making a change to most non-refundable tickets.  Change fees on domestic flights can range from $75 to $150 at a number of airlines, including American, Continental, Delta, United and US Airways.

Here at Yapta, we pay close attention to change fees.  You see, most airlines will charge a change fee before crediting you the difference on a booked flight that suddenly becomes available for less.  (Yeah, you can actually get an airline credit when that flight you booked drops in price.  It’s called the “Guaranteed Airfare” rule.  Nearly every major U.S. carrier has it as part of its Contract of Carriage.)  Yapta’s airfare refund alerts take these change fees into account so that we’re only alerting our early-booking travelers to net savings.

But here’s where it get’s confusing:  Some airlines make a distinction between change fees and “re-booking fees” – adding yet another noodle to the bowl of fee-soup.  Take for example, JetBlue, a key rival of Southwest Airlines.  They charge you nothing ($0, zilch, nada) to “re-book” your flight at a lower available price – and they’re very good about issuing a credit for the difference.  However, they will charge you $100 to “change” or “cancel” your itinerary.  (Change meaning a new flight time or destination.)  Alaska Airlines will also charge you $100 to “change” a ticket by phone, but nothing to “re-book” the same flight at a lower price.   Southwest doesn’t charge a “re-booking fee” either – but their not likely to call out this out for you in their ads.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • British Airways has announced a Fall Travel Sale that offers terrific fares on flights from 19 U.S. cities direct to London.  Not only are the airfares almost too good to be true – British Airways is also throwing in 2 free nights at a hotel in London.  The offer expires Oct. 26th – so if you’ve ever wanted to tour London, now may be your chance.
  • Getting a cheap flight out of Boston’s Logan International Airport is pretty common these days.  While airfares nationally have risen 19 percent year-over-year, airfares out of Boston have only risen about 5 percent.  And get this:  Thanksgiving week fares out of Logan are down 11 percent from 2009; nationwide, prices are up 9 percent.  So what gives?  Low-cost carriers like JetBlue, Southwest, AirTran and Virgin are all competing heavily for this market – and it’s even forcing the legacy carriers (like U.S. Airways) to drop their prices.
  • Last Friday (10/15), a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines, was not permitted to pass security at Memphis International Airport because he refused to allow TSA agents to use Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) to scan his body.  He had been crossing this particular security point each week for the past four and a half years without incident – and until now, TSA never required to have a scanned image of what was under his clothes.   Anyway, the TSA contacted his employer and now his job is at risk.

More Flight Attendant Flare-ups on the Horizon?

flight attendant

The stress on airline employees got a lot of attention this week after JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater “lost it” by cursing at a (jerk) passenger over a plane’s loudspeaker and then jumping down the emergency slide with a beer from the galley.  However, this may be just the beginning of flight attendant flare ups.  According to reports, U.S. airlines have cut jobs for two straight years and airline employment in the U.S. is now at its second lowest point in 20 years.  Meanwhile, annual passenger traffic has jumped about 65 percent during that same period.

Diminishing staff and fuller flights are adding to the stress among flight attendants, pilots and other workers – and experts think that U.S. airlines will continue to show overall declines in staffing despite some sporadic hiring.

The bottom line:  Flight attendants are over-worked, under-paid and often treated poorly by passengers.  Give em a break and be kind.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • British Airways recently announced a “London for Free“  promotion where you can book a round-trip fall airfare from the U.S. to U.K., and get up to two complimentary hotel nights at select 3-star and 4-star properties.  The airline also reduced fares from its 19 U.S. gateways. Round-trip fares are from $498 from New York (JFK or Newark), from $654 from Chicago, and from $576 from San Francisco. For the free hotel deal you need to book by midnight August 19, for travel October 21 to December 19.
  • From now until September 6, 2010, the New York Marriott East Side hotel offers a special sightseeing package. This last minute deal is perfect for guests who want to explore the best of New York City with less strain on their wallets. With the Summer in the City deal, guests receive two NYC Explorer passes and guidebooks in addition to breakfast for two. This special Midtown Manhattan hotel offer is available to guests staying at least two nights and can be reserved online at http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/nycea-new-york-marriott-east-side/.
  • Delta Air Lines has received approval to begin a $1.2bn terminal renovation project at JFK Airport in New York.  The airline will dismantle Terminal 3 to accommodate parking spaces and will operate its international traffic from Terminal 4, which will also be upgraded with nine additional gates and baggage claim space and will be linked to Terminal 2.  The project will begin in September and is expected to be complete by mid 2013.  The fund will include $900m in special-project bonds, $215m in passenger facility charges (there’s the rub) and $75m in equity from Delta.  Delta said the renovation is aimed to attract corporate passengers as it builds a major air hub in New York.

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.

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.

New Jersey Senator, Robert Menendez (D) stood in Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport yesterday to announce that he would be re-introducing legislation that would ensure travelers get a clear breakdown of holiday surcharges and all add-on fees, including baggage, meals and pets.

The legislation, which Menendez termed “The Clear Airfares Act”, calls for fees, charges or surcharges to be disclosed in a straightforward transaction before customers have to input their name and credit card information.  Menendez said travelers have to click through peripheral web pages and wade through often confusing text to understand whether or not their airfare includes surcharges or added fees.Menendez

“Trying to navigate through the different components in your airfare is like an airline pilot trying to land a plane in a thunderstorm without electronic instruments or a map,” he said. “It’s technically possible, but it sure isn’t easy.”

Menendez’s bill — which he will introduce this week and hopes to pass next year — would require the transaction to be “straightforward, simple and transparent.”  Under Menendez’s bill, as each passenger selects from a list of options while booking online, a cost will appear for each item — the basic airfare, security tax, a holiday surcharge (if applicable), baggage, meals, pets and so on.

The principle is simple: Passengers should know what they’re paying for when they buy a ticket.  It’s basic consumer protection.  And, like many arriving flights at Newark Airport, it’s long overdue.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Allegiant Air announced today it will move its low-cost service to Orlando International Airport beginning February 8, 2010.  Allegiant Air had provided service from GSP to Orlando via the Orlando-Sanford International Airport.  The low-fare carrier says it will offer the new service with introductory fares at $59.99 each way.
  • British Airways has agreed to pay cancellation penalties and other expenses for about 2,200 consumers who responded to an erroneous offer of $40 fares between the U.S. and India.  The fare, which didn’t include taxes and fees, was posted on British Airways’ Web site at about 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 2 and was removed within minutes.  However, the ad remained on other online travel sites for about two hours.
  • Planes belonging to Southwest Airlines and FedEx  suffered minor damage when they bumped wings while on the ground in Salt Lake City.  A Southwest spokesman said the airline’s jet was beginning to pull back from the gate when it was clipped by a FedEx cargo plane Sunday morning.  No passengers were hurt, and they were put on another plane for the trip to Albuquerque.  The plane was fixed and put back in duty.

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