Tag: JetBlue

Flying Coach Is About To Get a Little More Cramped

small airplane seats

If you think flying coach sucks is a cramped and claustrophobic experience, then you’re going to hate what’s coming in the months ahead.  An increasing number of airlines are starting to install more paid-legroom seats on their planes (because people buy them), eating into the legroom of the standard coach seat – which we all know is already limited.

Airlines such as JetBlue, American, United, Frontier, and Spirit are introducing a new class of roomier seats with names such as Economy Plus (United) and Classic Plus (Frontier) that offer passengers more space to spread out but at a higher price tag.  To make room on the plane for these pricier seats, the standard coach experience gets a little more cramped.

In the past, the economy section on an average long-haul plane represented about 90% of the seats, with first-class seats making up the balance.  Today, 10% to 30% of the spots on a major airline are extra-roomy economy seats. To make room for the new seats, airlines have eliminated 10 to 40 standard economy seats per plane.  On some airlines, many of the remaining economy seats got pushed closer together.

Get ready to love thy neighbor.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • There could be changes on the horizon for how you buy an airplane ticket online. Starting next year, a group of airline carriers agreed to start using a new system that could lead to personalized pricing for flyers.  Airlines will begin asking customers for more personal information, travel history, frequent flyer membership and credit card use.  Using this detailed information, they will then produce a customized ticket price.
  • The Chicago Tribune warns, “Procrastinators beware: Don’t put off booking holiday airline travel this year, unless you want to pay more and get stuck in a middle seat in coach.  Holiday ticket prices will generally rise from here. Count on paying $3 more per seat for every day you put off booking.”
  • ABC News revealed that many of the country’s busiest airports also rank at the top for TSA employees fired for theft.  Sixteen of the top 20 airports for theft firings are also in the top 20 airports in terms of passengers passing through.

IRS Says Airlines Can Refund Passengers

tax-refund-350

Travelers who paid all federal airline taxes when they bought tickets on or before July 22, 2011, for travel beginning on or after July 23, 2011, now might get a refund since the taxes have expired.  The refunds are due after Congress failed to pass legislation funding the Federal Aviation Administration and stopped collecting taxes that expired at midnight Friday. Until things are resolved, airlines can’t collect the taxes on tickets sold after July 23, and the government isn’t authorized to collect the taxes on tickets sold before that time if people who bought those tickets travel during the shutdown period.

The IRS is asking airlines to handle the refund process, but they aren’t required to, and most are directing customers directly to the IRS, which says it is still working on a procedure for handling refunds.  Jetblue is the only major airline accepting requests for ticket tax refunds.

In the meantime, CBS News reported that instead of passing the tax savings (on new ticket purchases) onto the consumer in the form of lower ticket prices, most airlines have raised their fees to make up the difference.  Only Alaska, Hawaiian, and Spirit Airlines seem to be sticking to their normal pricing.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • JetBlue is selling a three-month pass for unlimited flights to help win business passengers after the peak season ends for U.S. vacation travel.  The so-called BluePass covers trips from Boston or Long Beach, CA to certain markets from Aug. 22 through Nov. 22 with no blackout dates.  Prices range from $1,299 to $1,999 for three service options based on origination and destination airports.
  • If you’ve ever been interested in traveling to destinations outside of the U.S., now may be your opportunity to do it without breaking the bank. Air New Zealand is currently offering incredible rates on round-trip flights originating from Los Angeles and San Francisco. There’s also stellar deals on round-trip flights to destinations across Europe that will be expiring very soon. Or if you’re interested in Hong Kong or Beijing, there’s discounts available if you book by August 1st.

Memorial Day traditionally marks the start of the busy Summer travel season.  So with Memorial Day just around the corner, TheStreet.com did some summer vacation scrounging and came up with 10 destinations that won’t break budget-conscious travelers.  Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:

Summer Vacation 2011

1.) Costa Rica
2.) Aruba
3.) Bonaire
4.) Curacao
5.) Aspen, CO
6.) A cruise
7.) Orlando, FL
8.) Las Vegas, NV
9.) Dominican Republic
10.) Victoria, B.C.

1.) Costa Rica

2.) Aruba

3.) Bonaire

4.) Curacao

5.) Aspen, CO

6.) A cruise

7.) Orlando, FL

8.) Las Vegas, NV

9.) Dominican Republic

10.) Victoria, B.C.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • A JetBlue flight was zapped by lightning this morning just before it landed at JFK Airport.  The flight was packed with 151 passengers and five crew members, but landed without any problems during the morning downpour and taxied to a normal unloading gate.  The electrifying episode caused passengers and crew to smell smoke on board, leading the pilot to ask that emergency vehicles meet the plane upon landing.
  • The world’s largest model airport/railway, the Knuffingen Airport, has gone on display in Germany. The incredible model is based on Hamburg Airport and features 40 planes and 90 vehicles that autonomously move around the airport. It took seven years to build and cost a staggering $4.8 million.
  • According to a new survey published in the June issue of Consumer Reports, Southwest Airlines is the best airline and U.S. Airways is worst in terms of comfort and the experience of flying. The publication surveyed 15,000 of its readers — who it says are more educated and affluent than the general population — and found that in terms of overall experience, travelers preferred Southwest, Jet Blue, Alaska and Frontier airlines, giving them high marks for check-in ease, cabin crew service and baggage handling. They disliked American, Delta, United and U.S. Airways, giving them low grades, especially for seating comfort and in-flight entertainment.

Airfare Flash Sales From Low-Cost Carriers

welcomeToFlashSales

When low cost carriers compete, that’s your chance to snare a really cheap airfare.  That time is now – but you’ve got to be quick as many are expiring soon.

To launch its new service from Newark Liberty International Airport, Southwest is offering one-way fares as low as $69 to and from Baltimore, $119 to and from Denver, and $139 to and from Houston and Phoenix.

Meanwhile, JetBlue Airways launched The-Deals-Are-In-The-Air Sale, valid on routes throughout the country for those who book by today. One-way fares are as low as $39 one-way to and from Las Vegas and Long Beach, Calif. and Burbank, Calif.

Lastly, AirTran Airways is conducting the “Take Yourself To A Ballgame” sale where it’s offering travel to all of the airline’s destinations with special low fares available through April 14th.  The lowest price sale fares are valid for travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with other sale fares available for travel on all other days of the week.

Here’s some more news you can use:

  • American Airlines late Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Orbitz Worldwide and its prime stakeholder Travelport Ltd, claiming the travel agents have established a costly stranglehold over the way the airline’s airfares are distributed and seeking damages related to their “monopoly.” Travelport controls three out of the five companies that distribute tickets globally, but American says their distribution channel is costly and the airline has developed AA Direct Connect as an alternative.
  • And as if Orbitz didn’t have enough airline tussles, today they informed partners that, “at the direction of US Airways, effective April 14, 2011, Orbitz Worldwide will no longer be able to provide US Airways fares, schedules, or seat availability.”  This goes for all Orbitz subsidiaries as well, including Cheaptickets.com.  Similar to American Airlines, this is over distribution costs.
  • This video of a TSA agent giving a 6-year old girl a serious pat-down is causing quite a stir – and rightfully so.  Not only did the girl get super-frisked, but she was then lead to another area of the security checkpoint to have a drug test perform.  You can’t help but shake your head.

Zagat Rates the Airlines

Zagat Rated Web icon

According to a new travel survey released today by Zagat, Virgin America is the carrier of choice for frequent flyers.  The airline was named the poll’s top overall carrier for it’s coach and premium classes on both domestic and international routes.  More than 8,000 frequent flyers were asked how well airlines delivered on comfort, service and food.

Other winners in the annual poll included:
•Continental Airlines, which ranked first of big U.S. airlines for coach and premium classes on domestic and international flights. Continental is merging with United Airlines.
•Southwest Airlines, which was cited for the best website of all U.S. and foreign airlines. On domestic routes, Southwest also was cited for the best value, the best luggage policy, the best check-in experience and the best on-time flight estimates for consumers.
•Singapore Airlines, which was named No. 1 for coach and premium classes on international flights.
•JetBlue Airways and Virgin Atlantic, which ranked No. 1 for in-flight entertainment for their respective domestic and international flights.

Other winners in the annual poll included:

- Continental Airlines – which ranked first among “big” U.S. airlines for coach and premium classes on domestic and international flights.  Continental is merging with United Airlines.

- Southwest Airlines – which was recognized for the best website of all U.S. and foreign airlines.  On domestic routes, Southwest also was cited for the best value, the best luggage policy, the best check-in experience and the best on-time flight estimates for consumers.

- Singapore Airlines – which was named number one for coach and premium classes on international flights.

- JetBlue & Virgin Atlantic – which ranked number one for in-flight entertainment for their respective domestic and international flights.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Earlier today, JetBlue unveiled its “Top Secret Sale” where you can book up to nine different vacation packages starting at $99 per person, including airfare and a 3-day hotel stay.  Travel between Dec. 5-14, 2010.  You pick the destination and the flight, JetBlue picks the hotel.  Even though you can’t pick your hotel, the airline guarantees it is a three-to-five star hotel.  Taxes and airline fees are extra.
  • Passengers on a Delta flight from Chicago to New York  got an eye-full over the Thanksgiving weekend after an “emotionally disturbed” woman stripped naked and created a ruckus.  As flight attendants tried to calm her down and cover her with blankets, she allegedly shouted, “No! No! No!”  She was eventually taken into custody, but not charged.
  • Airlines are adding seats and flights, cautiously betting that the optimistic travel outlook the industry has had for much of the year will continue.  Most carriers are adding seats by increasing the number of flights, or by moving to bigger planes.  JetBlue has added the most with a 7.6% increase; and Delta has added 5%.  With increased supply, there’s hope that cheaper airfares are on the horizon.  If you’re planning to fly in 2011, this is a good year to track for airfare decreases with Yapta.

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.

JetBlue Brings Back “All You Can Jet” Offer

JetBlue

JetBlue announced that it’s again offering an “All You Can Jet” Pass that provides travelers unlimited flights to more than 60 cities in a one month period.  Jet Blue offered this type of pass last year at the same time (post-Labor Day) – and it was wildly successful, so why not bring it back?

The ticket purchase price for the all you can jet offer is a flat $699 and will be valid seven days a week for flights between September 7th and October 6th. Customers can also select a less expensive pass that costs $499 – but blacks out Friday and Sunday flights.

You must join JetBlue’s frequent-flier program, TrueBlue, to buy the pass.  (Membership is free.) Those who buy a pass can start booking flights (online only) on August 23rd.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • According to Travelocity’s Labor Day data report, there’s good news for travelers looking for cheap flights over the upcoming holiday weekend.  The average domestic airfare is at its lowest point of the summer, and Labor Day weekend is the least expensive of the three summer holiday weekends to fly.  Additionally, the average year-over-year fare increase is lowest for Labor Day weekend travel.
  • Reuters reports that hotels on the Las Vegas Strip may be forced to lower their rates with the December opening of  the $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas which will introduce 2,000 more hotel rooms to market.  The two 50-story Cosmopolitan towers are wedged between two MGM-run resorts — the multi-tower CityCenter and the Bellagio — on the west side of the Strip.
  • The blog0sphere is reporting that US Airways is expanding service to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport in retaliation for Delta’s expansion at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport.  At the end of the day, this competitive air tussle is good for you, the traveler, as it increases capacity and drives prices down in these markets.

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.