Tag: US Airways

You’re Surfing Gravity Waves, Dude

gravity waveAccording to a new study, gravity waves, mysterious waves that ripple unseen throughout the atmosphere, may be a major source of airplane turbulence.  Yep, gravity, the source of all my weight and aging problems, is now found to be hitting airplanes in waves (like water).  Gravity waves in the atmosphere can amplify and break , and it’s been determined that’s it’s a major contributor to turbulence in the atmosphere that affects aircraft.

Gravity waves form when air traveling up and down in the atmosphere meets resistance.  For instance, clouds rising in the troposphere, the lower level of the atmosphere where air mixes freely, will bump up against the boundary of the much more stable stratosphere, forming ripples in the process.  Big mountains like the Colorado Rockies often form gravity waves as air flows over the mountains and then overshoots as it reaches the other side.

Gravity waves in the atmosphere can amplify and break, and we’re finding now that’s a major contributor to turbulence in the atmosphere that affects aircGravity waves in the atmosphere can amplify and break, and we’re finding now that’s a major contributor to turbulence in the atmosphere that affects aircraft.

If you think about it, the theory behind gravity waves make a lot of sense.  For example, have you every asked yourself why it’s harder to get out of bed in the morning on some days than others.  Or why your weight fluctuates 5-10 pounds?  It’s not the extra piece of holiday cake.  It’s because you’re being hit with a gravity wave.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • US Airways has become one of the world’s first airlines to accept MasterCard PayPass-enabled cards and devices to make contactless payments for in-flight purchases. Passengers can tap their PayPass-enabled MasterCard or device on a US Airways’ PayPass-accepting reader to complete a transaction without use of a PIN or signature because of the low-value transactions.
  • Those who want to see the TSA go away may have their day.  The agency has been so widely criticized for its procedures that it didn’t even bother to show up for a House aviation subcommittee hearing last week, as officials seemed fearful of having to answer hard questions and wanted to avoid getting publicly lambasted (again).  But the TSA’s absence may have spoke louder than words.
  • YouTube has reached a new agreement with commercial airline Virgin America that brings web video content to passengers during flights. Beginning Dec. 15, passengers can watch videos from five YouTube channel partners on the small screen that’s in the back of each seat’s head rest. The content includes Warner Brothers’ H+ The Digital Series, WIGS’ Blue, Geek & Sundry’s Written By a Kid, Crash Course, and Barely Political’s The Key of Awesome.

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


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.

Your Guide to Travel Gift Guides

airplane bow

Tis’ the season for travel gift guides.  Every year around this time, there’s a flood of them.  So many in fact, that we thought you might need a guide for all the travel gift guides.  So here you go – our top 10 travel gift guides for frequent flyers:

The AOL Travel News Holiday Gift Guide

The San Jose Mercury News Travel Gift Guide

FOXNews.com Travel Gift Guide

TimeOut Chicago Travel Gift Guide

Budget Travel Gift Guide

Portfolio.com Business Travel Gift Guide

WorldHum Travel Technology Gift Guide

The New York Times Frugal Traveler Gift Guide

The Columbus Dispatch Travel Gift Guide

New England Cable Network Travel Gift Guide

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Former Bay Watch star Donna D’Errico is calling foul on the TSA for pulling her aside at the airport for “extra” screening – simply because she’s attractive.  When she asked the agent why she was picked to go through the body scan, he only responded with, “because you caught my eye.”  She said that after the search, she noticed the male TSA agent who had pulled her out of line was smiling and whispering with two other TSA agents and glancing at her.  ”I was outraged,” she said.
  • Earlier today the folks at hotels.com issued some unique tips for families that are traveling this holiday season.  They explain how to take the entire yuletide season on the road, props included.  If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll want to give this one a read.
  • A US Airways flight from Newark to Phoenix was diverted to Pittsburgh this morning after a passenger’s small dog got loose and bit a flight attendant and another passenger.  Flight 522 from Newark, an Airbus carrying 122 passengers, landed at Pittsburgh International Airport, where medical personnel treated the two people who were bitten.  US Airways said the passenger with the dog was supposed to keep it in its cage under her seat, which is the airline’s policy.  But she took it out and the animal ran loose.

JetBlue Brings Back “All You Can Jet” Offer


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.

The USA Today reports that American Airlines agents who roam airport check-in lobbies with a handheld computing device can now print boarding passes.

To prevent long lines at check-in counters and self-service kiosks, the carrier began experimenting with the device — called Your Assistance Delivered Anywhere — in October at Boston Logan.  They’re now available for agents at nine airports:  Dallas/Fort Worth, Albuquerque, Boston, Chicago, New York JFK, New York LaGuardia, Miami, St. Louis and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The device can also check flight status, provide connecting information, display maps of other airports and print baggage tags for customers checking luggage.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Continental Airlines announced that it has partnered with Stirrings, a cocktail-mixer brand, and will begin selling “specialty cocktails” on its flights.  The airline will offer a mojito and pomegranate martini.  Continental also teamed with Red Bull to offer the energy drink.  All three are offered with alcohol for $9 apiece or without for $3.  (Maybe it’s me, but an energy drink while strapped in the middle seat at 30,000 feet doesn’t sound appealing.)
  • This ABC News article outlines the 5 biggest mistakes when buying airfare.  Here’s the Cliff’s notes: (1) Buying tickets on the weekend, (2) Flying on Fridays and Saturdays, (3) Checking bags, (4) Forgetting about Facebook & Twitter, (5) Not accounting for fuel surcharges.
  • Flights resumed this week on JFK Airport’s “Bay Runway,” after a four-month closing for construction.  The $348.1 million project to widen and resurface the runway, which is the longest and busiest in the region, was completed on budget and ahead of schedule.  Some were worried about the delays this project might cause for summer travelers, but not us.
  • The Feds have proposed fines of nearly $2.5 million for safety violations against two regional air carriers that operate commuter flights for United Airlines and US Airways.  The FAA said today that it wants to fine Trans States Airlines and GoJet Airlines for violating maintenance procedures and operating nine jets on 320 flights when the planes were not in compliance with safety regulations.

Summer Airfare Sales Have Arrived


It may only be March, but the first Summer airfare sales are already here.  AirTran, US Airways, United, Delta and American Airlines are all offering sale prices on flights through November 16th.  That’s right, November 16th!  That’s like 200 days!

So what’s the catch?  Well, the airfare sale period only lasts for 2-days.  In general, tickets have to be purchased by midnight Thursday.  There are also blackout dates around Memorial Day and other holidays.   Also, you may need to make a connection or travel to a smaller, alternative airport to get the lowest fares.

We made note of AirTran’s sale yesterday.  However, if you want dig around for the other sale prices (and you will have to dig a bit), you can find them here:

U.S. Airways

United Airlines

Delta Air Lines

American Airlines

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • If you’re a fan of “The Bachelor” on ABC and are wondering where Jason and Molly are heading for their honeymoon -  our friends at Down Under Answers are booking their trip and are telling all.  Check out their new Web page that has all the honeymoon details.
  • Have you’ve ever been curious about the U.S. govenment’s mysterious “no-fly” list – including how people get on or off the list?  Well, the Associated Press has revealed some of the Voodoo behind it all.  You might say that some people are dying to be de-listed, but never will be.  (Envision wringing hands and maniacal laughter.)

Is 5-Star Hotel Service in Jeopardy?

hotel service

The USA Today reports that if the luxury hotel industry doesn’t see a rebound soon, “some five-star hotels won’t be able to maintain five-star service and frills in the future.”  The current travel environment is forcing luxury hotels to cut staff and services, which may ultimately result in some five-star hotels become four-star hotels.

This could actually be very good news for budget-conscious travelers with an affinity for luxury offerings.   As more four-star hotels shift into the marketplace, they’ll become more and more competitive for your travel dollar – putting you in a position to get a great deal.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • This morning Priceline.com announced a major change to their vaunted “Name Your Own Price” model that has been the basis of their opaque hotel product since inception. Billed as a “limited time offer” until the end of March, Priceline is actually showing winning bids and allowing consumers to simply tag-along and buy the same thing, assuming availability still exists. No bidding, no guessing – just a posted price.  While it’s not perfect because Priceline may not have availability for the dates that travelers are checking (vs. what the last consumer bought), it’s still a big step towards full travel booking transparency – which we all can appreciate.
  • JetBlue is celebrating its 10th birthday by conducting a 1-day only sale where they’re offering $10 one-way fares on flights departing from New York’s JFK Airport on Tuesday-Wednesday, March 9-10, 2010.  The sale lasts until 11:59 p.m. MT today.
  • The U.S. DOT said today that it has fined US Airways $40,000 for not disclosing full ticket prices on its Web site.  The airline did not provide additional taxes and fees on initial searches for one-way flights, nor any notice that the additional costs would be added later in the transaction.  The DOT requires Internet advertising to display the full fare after taxes and fees on the first screen, along with a hyperlink that takes consumers to a page that describes the additional charges, according to the agency.

It’s Gonna be an Ugly Summer at JFK Airport

JFK AirportThe New York Post reports that over the next several months, air travelers can expect to wait longer — and pay more — to fly to and from JFK Airport after its main runway is shut down for extensive repairs.

The Queens air-traffic hub — already near the bottom of the barrel for on-time performance — is expected to face delays of what critics warn will be “multiple hours,” as planes are diverted to three smaller runways at the Queens facility.  And passengers will have to dig deeper to afford the higher ticket prices that the airlines will likely charge to make up for temporarily cutting about 10 percent of their flights into and out of JFK.  Adding insult to injury, the carriers are building in time to their schedules so that longer-than-normal trips won’t technically arrive “late.”

The shutdown will allow workers to tear up the 14,572-foot Bay Runway and replace its asphalt surface with more-durable concrete.  The runway — which normally handles a third of JFK’s traffic and half of all departures — will also be widened to accommodate new, extra-jumbo jets as part of the $376 million project.

Year-over-year fare increases can already be seen on some of the airport’s most popular routes, including flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Speaking of JFK Airport, the AP reports that in February, a child apparently directed pilots from the air traffic control center. Audio clips from mid-February — during a week-long winter break for many New York schoolchildren — were posted online recently where a child can be heard on the tape making five transmissions to pilots preparing for takeoff.  In one exchange, the child can be heard saying, “JetBlue 171 contact departure.”  The pilot responds: “Over to departure JetBlue 171, awesome job.”  The child appears to be under an adult’s supervision, because a male voice then comes on and says with a laugh, “That’s what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school.”  In another exchange, the youngster clears another plane for takeoff, and says, “Adios, amigo.”  The pilot responds in kind.
  • Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who deftly landed a US Airways plane in the Hudson River last year, retired today after 30 years with the airline.  His last flight was scheduled to arrive in Charlotte, N.C., from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., shortly after 3 p.m. ET today.  Meanwhile, Doreen Welsh, a flight attendant on Capt. Sully’s historic splash-landing, also retired today from US Airways after four decades of service.  Congrats to both Capt. Sully and Doreen.
  • The TSA is re-evaluating a technology that aims to take one of the biggest hassles out of airport security: removing your shoes at a checkpoint.  The USA Today reports that a dozen companies have designed shoe scanning machines, and the TSA says it plans to buy 100 of the devices by next year.  The machines, which find metal weapons and explosives in shoes, didn’t pass muster in tests three years ago.  The developers of the latest generation of the machines promise better results, and the TSA says the technology will improve security.

Shoes… er, hats off to this new technology!

The Top 10 “Dirtiest” & “High-Tech” Hotels

Hotel High TechTripAdvisor.com has named San Francisco’s Heritage Marina Hotel as this year’s dirtiest hotel in the United States.  The site ranked the 10 dirtiest hotels based on customer reviews.  The Heritage Marina Hotel was most often ranked as “dirty”, followed by the Days Inn Eureka/Six Flags in Missouri, Super 8 Virginia Beach/At the Ocean in Virginia, and the Quality Inn of Stroudsburg, Pa.

Rounding out the top 10 were New York City’s New York Inn, the Parisian Hotel & Suites of Miami Beach, Fla., the Capistrano Seaside Inn of Capistrano Beach, Calif., the Desert Lodge of Palm Springs, Calif., and the Continental Oceanfront Hotel South Beach of Miami Beach, Fla.

At the other end of the spectrum, AskMen.com has come up with a list of the top 10 high-tech hotels.  Here’s their ranking: 1.) Helix Hotel, Abu Dhabi 2.) Hotel Sax, Chicago   3.) Hotel 1000, Seattle   4.) The Peninsula Hotel, Tokyo   5.) Blow Up Hall, Poznan, Poland    6.) The Upper House, Hong Kong    7.) Mama Shelter, Paris    8.) Montage, Beverly Hills   9.) Element Hotels, across the United States    10.) Pod Hotel, New York City

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • A US Airways Express commuter flight from New York to Louisville was diverted to Philadelphia yesterday after an Orthodox Jewish teen started his weekday morning prayer and was mistaken for a potential terrorist by a flight attendant.  The 17-year-old and his 16-year-old sister were removed from the flight and questioned.  The two were later allowed to resume their flight to visit their grandmother in Louisville.  Meshuga!
  • Earlier today, the European Union and the United States announced that they have agreed to increase screening of airport passengers, on-board security and data sharing.  Yep, when it comes to air travel security, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!