Tag: frequent flyer mileage

Clearing the Air on e-Smoking During Flights

smoking-airplane

Last week the Obama administration proposed banning the use of electronic cigarettes on airline flights, saying there is concern the smokeless cigarettes may be harmful.  Puffing on e-cigarettes is already a no-no on flights, but the government wants there to be no doubt.  The proposal would apply to all domestic airline flights, as well as scheduled flights of U.S. and foreign carriers to and from the U.S.  E-cigarettes are powered by small lithium ion-batteries and are designed to deliver nicotine to the smoker in the form of a vapor.  Experts say there is no possible harm to the public from smoking them, so this will likely be passionately debated as part of passenger rights.  (Although, it seems highly unlikely to be adopted.)  And for those of you wondering if the smoke detectors in airplane lavatories will sense e-cigarettes, I’m betting the answer is yes.  After watching this video, it seems they smell pretty bad too.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • If you’re going to be flying during the holidays this year, here’s my advice to you:  book early, then track your price on Yapta.  Delta, American, and United-Continental are all eliminating flights on some routes this fall – and into next year.  With fewer flights in the air, demand for seats will increase – and so will prices.  Airlines say they must be careful not to fly with more seats than they can fill at a time when fuel costs are high and fretful travelers could postpone trips because of a still struggling economy.
  • Airports aren’t just for flying anymore.  Many are re-branding themselves as havens of customer service, picking up the slack from the airlines which pretty much abandoned perks and comforts.  Here’s an article that highlights some of the “best oddball airport surprises and services.”
  • United Airlines is taking another step in combining its frequent flier program with Continental’s – but the changes may get a mixed reception from travelers. United is boosting rewards only for people who buy some of the most expensive tickets, instead of just those who fly the most miles. The airline says it’s trying to make those expensive tickets more attractive. Also, miles in the combined program will expire after a year and a half. That will not be a change for United travelers. Continental had no expiration date, although accounts could go inactive after a year and a half if no new miles were earned.
Airlines are paring flights on some routes this fall as well as into next year in the face of high fuel prices and an uncertain economy.
Among the cuts:
•Delta said last week it would reduce available seats up to 5% from October through December compared with the last three months of 2010, and cut them by 2% to 3% in 2012 compared with this year.
•American made reductions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays by up to 4% starting in August. Last week it said it would cut available seats for the final three months of the year by roughly 0.5%.
•United and Continental, which are merged, say the combined airline continues “to refine its capacity plans,” and reductions likely will be 2% to 3% for domestic flights for the year.
Airlines say they must be careful not to fly with more seats than they can fill at a time when fuel costs are high and fretful travelers could postpone trips because of a still strug

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.

Expedia Hangs Up its Phone Booking Fees

Expedia.com today announced that they’ve eliminated their $20 booking fee for travel reservations made over the phone.  Here’s what the NYTimes reported frexpediaom their In Transit blog:

“It’s the latest move in a fee war that has been playing out over the past several months among online travel agencies. Earlier this year, Expedia eliminated online fees for changing or canceling car rentals, cruises, hotels and most flights. It also did away with online booking fees for flights. Orbitz and Travelocity quickly followed suit, eliminating flight booking fees in June and later scrapping change and cancel penalties on hotel reservations.

Expedia wouldn’t say exactly what percentage of its bookings are made by phone, but Forrester Research estimates about 10 percent. The move gives Expedia a pricing advantage over airlines, which levy surcharges for phone bookings, said Henry H. Harteveldt, principal travel analyst at Forrester. Still, he does not expect that airlines will match Expedia’s decision.

But how about other online travel agencies? No word yet on whether Orbitz or Travelocity will eliminate their $25 charges for booking flights by phone.”

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Amie O’Shaughnessy, editor of family travel site Ciao Bambino! shares her top tips to make family travels smoother, and rounds up some great holiday escapes.  Check them out here.
  • The travel blog Jaunted has compiled five of the best ways to top off your mileage account and gain some extra miles without even leaving the ground.  “Everyone wants to be able to make it rain with excess miles, and with a little work and creativity, you’ll be doing just that.”

  • Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. has won a bidding war to control Cox Communications Inc.’s Travel Channel, the companies announced today.  Scripps has been aggressively pursuing international expansion. It has announced joint ventures to launch the Food Network in other countries. Travel Channel is seen as a network that could sell well internationally, aiding expansion, according to a person familiar with the matter.