Tag: United Airlines

Snowed In? Shuffle Your Flight Plans for Free

Frosty planeThousands of airline passengers in the United States and overseas are still stranded after this weekend’s snowstorm on the East Coast, and more storms are heading for the Midwest in the coming weekend.  Several airlines are offering travelers heading to or from parts of the country affected by winter storms the ability to change their flight plans without being charged a fee.  Here’s a snapshot of what each of the major carriers are doing to help you:

American Airlines says they are following their storm policy. People flying in and out of Wisconsin today through December 24th, are able to change their flights without a fee or penalty.  The best way to do so, is to call American’s Reservation Services at 1-800-433-7300.  That line is open 24/7.

Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines are allowing passengers with tickets from Dec. 22 to 27 to make free changes.

United Airlines is encouraging customers who are flying to, from or through the Midwest between Dec. 22 and 27 to change their flight itineraries and travel early.

Midwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines are allowing any passengers with tickets through Milwaukee for Dec. 22 to 25 to rebook for free.

AirTran Airways is allowing passengers traveling to or from Mitchell, Chicago Midway Airport and a few other Midwest cities who have Dec. 24 or 25 tickets to change their booking for free.

The New York Times addresses some of the questions travelers may have about their flights.  If you’re reading this post from an airport gate somewhere, you’ll appreciate this article.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • An American Airlines flight carrying 154 people skidded across a Jamaican runway in “heavy rain”, bouncing across the tarmac and injuring more than 40 people before it stopped just short of the Caribbean Sea, officials and witnesses said.  The impact cracked open the fuselage, crushed the left landing gear and separated both engines from the Boeing 737-800.  Approximately 44 people were taken to hospitals with broken bones and back pains and four were seriously hurt, airport and Jamaican government officials said.  (American Airlines said two people were admitted to the hospital and nobody suffered life-threatening injuries.)  I live in Seattle and know “heavy rain” – but authorities said that the rain in Jamaica has been so heavy that it washed away a 7-year old girl on Tuesday, leading to bus crash in which two people died.  How can anyone be expected to land a passenger plane in those types of conditions?
  • ABC News has spotlighted another potential security gaff by the TSA.  With the approval of the TSA the Sig Sauer gun company has released specific information about the model of pistol that Federal Air Marshals will soon be carrying – data that both current and former Air Marshals say puts the Marshals and air passengers at risk.  The disclosure comes on the heels of a massive security breach in which the TSA published online an improperly redacted manual that revealed sensitive information about air passenger screening.
  • There was a surprise wedding at Corpus Christi International Airport earlier this week.  Robyn Moore said she greeted her boyfriend, William Acosta, Monday at the airport with a camera and a wedding party ready to make good on the marriage license they filled out last week.  Oh the irony.  All those airplanes around and still no place to escape to, eh Will?

airline-carbon-footprintThree U.S. airlines and the Air Transport Association sued the U.K. government to challenge the first stage of the country’s implementation of European Union emission-trading regulations.  American Airlines, Continental Airlines and United Airlines joined the ATA in the complaint, saying the rules “violated the U.S.-EU bilateral Air Transport Agreement of April 2007 and the Kyoto Protocol.”

The EU is adding airlines to the European emissions-trading system, the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas market, in 2012 to fight climate change. The system imposes a cap on industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for rising temperatures. United Nations scientists say reductions in emissions are needed to keep the planet from overheating.

By 2020, developed nations must cut emissions 25 percent to 40 percent from 1990 to “stand a chance” of keeping the global temperature within 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit of pre-industrial times, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said.  According to experts, Jet planes, which account for 5 percent of U.K. emissions, could contribute 40 percent by 2050, depending on how fast the industry grows.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Today the ATA released data indicating that average airline ticket price fell in November compared to a year ago.  Domestic passengers payed nearly 5% less than a year ago to fly a mile.  October saw a 12.5% decline.  Year to date, domestic customers paid 12.6% less to fly a mile versus the year-ago period.  Before the smile on your face gets much wider, remember that you’re getting your ass kicked on ancillary fees.
  • The USA Today listed top 10 deals where travel providers have slashed prices, offered value-added extras, and thrown in lots of freebies for those able to take a vacation in 2010.
  • Airport security expert, Bruce Schneier, sat down for an interesting Q&A with the Wall Street Journal that addresses how travelers can “get through the (security) line quickly and fairly painlessly.”   He also explains how you could skip to the front of the line if you’re in a real hurry.   Frankly, I’m not Utopian-minded enough to believe it’s “perfectly reasonable” to ask everyone in line if you can “jump ahead.”  Ever been to Newark, Mr. Schneier?

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.

Airlines Launch “Cyber Monday” Fare Sales

Cyber MondayA handful of the major airlines are using “Cyber Monday” to offer deeply discounted airfare prices to travelers.  United Airlines, JetBlue, and Virgin America have all just announced special one-day prices, with all of them practically giving flights away to select destinations starting at $39 each way.

JetBlue has limited its discount travel window to Dec. 1-17 in an effort to fill all the empty seats that fly between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Daily Travel & Deal blog from the LA Times provides a more detailed analysis of this particular offer.

United’s sale is for travel in the contiguous U.S. and Canada from Jan. 5-Feb. 11.  Travel to and from Hawaii is Jan. 11-Feb. 11.   A 3-night, Friday night or Saturday night minimum stay is required for travel within the contiguous 48 United States and to Hawaii.   No minimum night stay is required for travel to Canada.

Virgin America’s sale is the broadest, with the promotion lasting until Dec. 8 and travel permitted Dec. 3- May 23.  However, certain peak travel days around the winter holidays are blacked out.

Hopefully we’ll see competing airlines match prices on overlapping routes.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Continental Airlines said today that credit and debit cards will be accepted for purchases onboard most its aircraft starting Tuesday. Flight attendants will use hand-held devices to process the card payments for purchases of alcoholic beverages and headsets.  The airline said that the new cashless system will be available on all Continental mainline flights, except for service to and from China.
  • Yapta’s hotel booking partner Orbitz.com, recently announced it has enhanced its Low Price Guarantee, giving customers ironclad confidence they’re getting the lowest possible hotel prices. Under the new program, customers who find their prepaid hotel room available for a lower price on any site, including Orbitz, can receive a refund for the difference and a $50 discount on a future hotel or vacation package booking. Plus, Orbitz now allows customers to submit a claim right up to the time of the property’s cancellation deadline.
  • In celebration of its new blog, CheapOair is launching a “@CheapOair 12 Days of Travel” contest where travel-minded Tweeps can win daily holiday gifts including travel and retail gift certificates, and a grand prize on day 12 for free round trip airline tickets within the domestic U.S.  The 12 day contest starts today and ends on Fri., Dec. 11th.  For this contest, followers of the CheapOair Twitter account will be asked to “re-tweet” that day’s message or go to the CheapOair travel blog to find that day’s message to “re-tweet”.  For more information, visit http://contests.cheapoair.com/.

Google Offers Free Holiday WiFi in 47 airports

Google is planning to foot the bill for WiFi at 47 of the nation’s airports for the rest of the year, beginning TueGoogle wifisday.

With some travelers spending more time on the ground in airports than on planes during the busy flying season, now seemed an especially fitting time to offer up the perk, Google said.

The list includes the international airports in Miami and Orlando, which are among the world’s 30 busiest airports, as well as five others in Florida. Travelers through smaller airports, such as Montana’s Billings and Bozeman, will also benefit.

Upon signing in, users will be asked if they want to set Google as their homepage or try the Google Chrome browser.

The company is also running a charity campaign to raise money for three nonprofit groups: Engineers without Borders, One Economy Corporation and Climate Savers Computing Initiative. When Google WiFi users first log on, the landing page will offer them the option of donating to the organizations. Google will match donations of up to $250,000 per airport.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • British police have charged a United Airlines pilot with being over the alcohol limit while on the job at London’s Heathrow Airport.  Scotland Yard say they have charged 51-year-old Erwin Vermont Washington with having too much alcohol in his system while working as a member of aviation staff.  Police and airline officials say that Washington was pulled from United Airlines Flight 949, due to fly from London’s Heathrow Airport to Chicago around noon on Monday, after a co-worker suspected him of being drunk.  The flight was canceled and the plane’s 124 passengers were put on other flights.
  • The Air Transport Association said Monday it expects a 4% decline in the number of people traveling over the Thanksgiving Day holiday, reflecting the erosion in demand with the smaller economy. But with seat-capacity cuts and steep airfare discounting across the industry, planes are likely to remain full, the trade group said.  The busiest travel days are expected to be Nov. 20, 25, 29 and 30.
  • Continental Airlines has started offering wider, lie-flat sleeper seats on long-haul international routes to catch up with some of its top rivals. British Airways and Delta Air Lines, competitors in the New York market, already offer business class lie-flat seats on many routes.  The maiden voyage of Continental’s new seats, on a Boeing 777, flew a week ago to Newark Liberty International Airport from Tokyo.
  • Air Canada announced it will now automatically notify travelers about canceled trips through e-mail and text messaging, aiming to ease airport lineups and waits for the call center.  Canada’s largest carrier will also provide details directly to consumers about rebooked flights.  During last winter’s Christmas holidays, Air Canada was flooded with complaints after being forced to cancel or delay flights due to snowstorms.

Humbug: Airlines Double Holiday Surcharges

dollar plane

In early October, we noted that American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways added $10 surcharges to airfare for flights on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and for Jan. 2nd and 3rd – the busiest days for holiday travel.  Well, let’s now make that $20 each way!  Delta, American, United, US Airways and Northwest Airlines all announced that they have boosted their surcharge on some routes.

This could have a real financial impact for those traveling with large families during the holidays.  For instance, a family of five would have to add $200 to their total cost of travel.  That’s not insignificant.  In fact, it may be enough to keep some people at home this year.

What do you think?  Are these surcharges enough to sink your travel plans?  Or will you be flexible around the holidays and travel on off-peak dates?

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Omni Hotels have launched a 72-hour sale for stays between Dec. 2 and Feb. 10, excluding New Year’s Eve.  If you book by Thursday (11/5), you can get up to 40% off a room in cities such as Austin, Chicago, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Diego, New Orleans, San Antonio, Houston & Tucson.  Of course, the offer is subject to availability and can not be combined with other special offers.
  • Another day, another bird strike that diverts a plane.  This time it was a Delta Air Lines flight from Phoenix bound for Salt Lake City that was forced to make an early landing after it was hit by a flock of birds.  Airport authorities reported that the windshield of the plane was cracked, but nobody was injured.  According to FAA records, there have been 600 bird strikes nationwide this year and bird strikes cause 600 million dollars in damage to aircraft every year.
  • The state of Florida is suing online travel reservation companies over hotel taxes, the latest in a string of lawsuits nationwide claiming the sites owe local authorities millions of dollars.  Attorney General Bill McCollum sued Expedia and Orbitz today, claiming they failed to pay Florida the full amount of taxes collected on hotel room rentals through their sites.  Consumers are charged a rate when they book a room online, and the company later reimburses the hotels a lesser amount, allowing them to pocket service fees. The taxes are paid on that less expensive rate, prompting legal action by cities and states that claim they’re being cheated out of millions of dollars in tax dollars.

Obama Ends U.S. Travel Ban on Those with HIV-AIDS

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.hivhouse

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.

Staying Healthy When You Travel

If you’re a busy business traveler, you know that exercise and healthy eating while on the road are near impossibilities.  Well, if you want to know how it’s done, read this story from today’s Wall Street Journal detailing how fitness expert Jillian Michaels (from the TV show “The Biggest Loser”) maintains her healthy eatinJillian Michaels 2g and exercise habits while constantly traveling for work.

“Ms. Michaels… packs her own snacks and breakfast foods—or sends them FedEx to the hotel where she’s staying. Before arriving, she asks the hotel to clean out the minibar so she can fill it with her own food, such as dry roasted almonds, Greek yogurt, fruit, carrot sticks, hummus, protein bars and shake mixes. ‘I work 16-hour days when traveling, so fitness can be hard,’ she says. ‘I get meticulous about my diet under these circumstances.’

She also brings along fitness DVDs that she can pop into her computer and easily do in her room. Rather than use her own (’I'm a little weirded out by myself,’ says Ms. Michaels), she prefers hard-core circuit training and cardio-based fitness DVDs.

Ms. Michaels often calls ahead to find hotels with gyms and nearby health-food stores. A gym doesn’t have to be upscale. ‘As long as you push yourself, it doesn’t matter how fancy the equipment is,’ she says. She also asks hotel concierges to find local gyms where she can get day passes and take spinning classes. To stay healthy, she prioritizes sleep and tries to boost her immunity before plane rides with vitamin C.

No matter what kind of restaurant she’s in, Ms. Michaels likes to ask for fish grilled with lemon or garlic sauce on the side and steamed vegetables. When you’re away from home, staying in shape ‘just requires [that] you be a little high-maintenance,’ she says.”

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • JetBlue said today it will boost its service from Boston Logan by 30 percent by next summer, as bigger carriers pull back and competition from rival Southwest heats up.  JetBlue plans to offer up to 78 daily flights from Boston to 33 destinations.  That includes two more flights to Chicago and Raleigh Durham, N.C., for a total of three daily flights each. JetBlue will also add flights from Beantown to San Francisco, San Diego, Washington and spots in the Caribbean.  JetBlue currently serves more cities out of Boston than any other airline.
  • United Airlines, the first carrier to make the Boeing 737 a staple of its fleet 41 years ago, retired the last of those jets yesterday as “Flight 737″ lifted off from Washington Dulles International Airport before dawn Wednesday and touched down at every one of the carrier’s hubs on its way to a giant maintenance base in San Francisco.   Mechanics will strip down the plane and prepare it for its final journey to the central California desert, where it will be parked.
  • Forbes has partnered with the Travel Channel to produce FORBES LUXE 11, a luxury lifestyle series consisting of 10, hour-long episodes.  The series, featuring Forbes content and Forbes on-camera talent, will begin airing on a weekly basis starting Saturday, Nov. 7th @ 10 PM ET.  Topics will include: Exclusive hotels, extravagant meals, extreme excursions, luxury steals, icy hot spots, first-class traveler, high seas style and billionaire-owned hotels.  Robin Leech would be proud.

FAA Pondering Fines for US Airways & United

Earlier today the FAA proposed levying multimillion-dollar fines against United Airlines and US Airways for safety violations, including flying a plane after mechanics stuffed shop towels into an engine.

The agency is proposing to slap US Airways with a $5.4 million fine for operating 8 planes that conducted 1,647 flights from October 2008 to January 2009 that were in violation of safety or maintenance rules.  United may get hit wshamwow-snuggie-slanketith a $3.8 million fine for operating a Boeing 737 on more than 200 flights with shop towels covering openings near where oil collects in the bottom of the engine instead of using protective caps required by the carrier’s maintenance procedures.

According to FAA rules, the airlines have 30 days to plead their case before the agency can impose the fines.  Perhaps United should it explain that it wasn’t actually a towel, but a Sham-wow.  I think they’ll see the genius in that.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Reuters is reporting that there’s been an industry-wide increase of domestic air fares.  The fare increase, initiated on Tuesday by American Airlines, represents a boost in round-trip ticket prices by as much as $16 for a large number of U.S. city pairs.  The increase saw matches from Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways.
  • The L.A. Times’ Daily Travel & Deal Blog notes that Southwest Airlines, Virgin America and JetBlue are all offering $44 fares on flights within California and to Las Vegas (from California).  Check out their blog for details on each of these sales.
  • The New York Times blog In Transit notes that, “When shopping for airfare, it’s easy to overlook smaller, unfamiliar carriers. But those so-called B airlines may offer the best deal.”  One such “B airline” is a new one from Richard Branson’s Virgin Blue Group called, V Australia.  They’re now competing with United and Qantas by offering non-stop flights to destinations down under.
  • Nashville International Airport Police had to shackle an unruly passenger by the wrists and ankles to get him off a Delta airliner after it made an unscheduled landing there on Tuesday.  According to witnesses, the man would not allow the person sitting next to him to leave her seat to use the restroom.  So, the next time you’re torn between choosing a window seat and an isle seat, think of this dude’s mug-shot and choose the isle.  I’d gladly take the beverage cart in the elbow a 1000 times  before asking this guy for permission to go to the john.

This month Yapta is giving away another 5-night / 6-day stay at a Marriott or Renaissance resort in the Caribbean or Mexico as part of our “Nine Months of Paradise by Marriott” Sweepstakes.  By simply tracking a flight with Yapta.com anytime in October, you can enter to win a stay at the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa.  You can also win one of 14 other prizes, including Bose On-Ear Headphones or a Starbucks gift card.

Again, all you have to do is visit Yapta.com and track the airfare on any flight and Yapta will present you with the opportunity to participate.  You can increase your chances of winning by tracking up to 25 flights each month to receive the maximum 25 entries into the sweepstakes.

Don’t think you can actually win?  Well, don’t say that to Emily Lakin from San Francisco, CA; Jan Walker from Springfield, MO;  Laquitta Sobieski from Ocala, FL or Sharon Weinstein from Branford, CT.  They’ve each taken home a Grand Prize in the first 4 months of our 9-month sweepstakes contests.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • United Airlines has introduced a “Premier Baggage program” where  you pay a $249 yearly subscription fee and you (plus up to eight people traveling with you on the same reservation) get to check up to two bags per person, per flight for “free” all year.
  • AirTran Airways is now offering nonstop service from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to New Orleans and Indianapolis.  Previously, Southwest Airlines was the only carrier to offer a daily nonstop flight between New Orleans and BWI.   Southwest stopped running two daily nonstop flights after Hurricane Katrina decreased flight demands.
  • There’s an apparent email scam that’s offering people domestic and international flights at low fares.  However, once people put down their money and attempt to collect the ticket from the airline, they find they’ve been duped because the booking does not exist.