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.
Airfares for the holiday season are up about 17 percent from last year, and prices aren’t expected to drop anytime soon.
With Christmas less than 90 days away and Thanksgiving practically right around the corner, holiday fliers should be shopping right now and preparing to buy tickets in the next few weeks. Airlines, including the low-cost ones, have raised their base fares. Even the sales offered this fall for nonholiday travel were not as cheap as last year.
So what are you to do? For one, check out airfares in the next few weeks, then plan on buying tickets for Thanksgiving by mid-October. For Christmas travel, plan on buying no later than early November. And of course, continue to track the price of your flight with Yapta – to ensure you get the lowest price.
Here’s some more news you can use:
- United Airlines and Continental Airlines announced this morning that they have closed on their $3.2 billion merger of equals, creating the world’s largest carrier. The airlines will continue to operate as separate entities for at least a year until granted a single operating certificate by the Federal Aviation Administration.
- If you’re willing to upload an “oops,” “yikes” or non-Kodak-moment family vacation shot or even give your opinion on other goofy families, you can get one-third off airfare to Orlando, Fla. , on Virgin America — and maybe even score some free tickets.
- Hawaii’s hotel occupancy topped 74 percent last week, but room rates remained flat (averaging $167.60 a night) as visitors to Hawaii continue to be driven by bargains and discounts, according to a report compiled by Smith Travel Research and Hospitality Advisors.
With 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.
Starting Monday, foreigners with HIV-AIDS will be able to travel or immigrate to the United States without having to get a waiver from the Department of Homeland Security.
Earlier today President Obama eliminated a travel ban that had been in place since 1993, forbidding people with HIV-AIDS from traveling to the US. “If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it,” Obama said.
The President announced the repeal of the ban in a ceremony marking the fourth re-authorization of the Ryan White CARE Act, legislation that provides treatment for low-income HIV/AIDS victims. The legislation was named after the Indiana teenager who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion in 1984.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Bloomberg reports that Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and other U.S. carriers have raised round-trip domestic fares by as much as $10, the third such increase in three weeks. The increase yesterday included some sales on non-peak travel dates around the U.S. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It’s the sixth boost in fares this year. U.S. carriers have been raising prices to help offset increasing jet-fuel costs and capture more revenue from business travelers, who are starting to return as the recession eases. Yields, or airlines’ average fare per mile, have fallen each month since November 2008.
- For five days only, travelers can get flights between Los Angeles or San Francisco and Auckland starting at $349 each way as part of an “early-bird New Zealand sale” from Qantas Vacations. Jen Leo from the Los Angeles Times’ Daily Travel & Deal Blog gives her assessment of the deal here.
- United Airlines is giving Dave Carroll way more than his allotted 15 minutes of fame. Carroll, a YouTube sensation when he wrote and performed “United Breaks Guitars” after baggage handlers busted his Taylor and United wouldn’t pay for a new one, is in the news again. According to this CBC report, United lost Carroll’s luggage on a Sunday flight from Regina, Saskatchewan, to Denver. The singer-songwriter was traveling to Colorado Springs to deliver a keynote speech on customer service (of all things) – and United was the only airline offering a direct flight. He was eventually reunited with his bag on Wednesday, but he is now planning another song / video:
“I’m pretty sure I’m done the song — I just finished it last week. The lyrics that I used sort of encompass what happened here this week so I might not have to rewrite it after all,” he said.