Monthly Archives: April 2004

Get the Hell Out of Here

It’s an awfully slow news day for a Friday, so I think I’ll pass on some great vacation deals that are floating around out there right now:

Through May 24th, Go-Today has a $579 Bangkok package departing from LA. The price includes air and 5 nights hotel. I took a similar package a few years ago for $599 and it only included 4 nights, so there ya go.

Gate1 Travel has a Memorial Day weekend package from NYC to London, including flight and hotel, for $449.

You can get 7 nights hotel and flight from several US cities (including Baltimore) to Costa Rica for, get this, $369. Price includes breakfast. Sure, it’ll be a bit rainy, but the price is right, no?

And finally, Icelandair’s Midweek Madness package is extended through June. For just $399 you get a flight from NYC, Boston, or Baltimore and 2 nights hotel in my favorite city, Reykjavik. Depart on Tuesdays from NYC. The hotel options aren’t centrally located, unfortunately, but they’re just a quick cab ride away from the cafes, colorful little houses, and insane nightlife of Reykjavik’s old city. I can yammer about Iceland for a while, so I’ll cut myself off here, but I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Asleep at the Wheel

By way of USA Today, I’ll share the tale of the Japanese pilot who fell asleep at the wheel. During an ANA flight from Tokyo to Ube the pilot fell asleep at the controls. Twice. The real problem, though, was that an government transport official was on board—inspecting the safety of the aircraft. D’oh! The pilot has been placed on leave.

Laptop Panic in Detroit

Four former baggage screeners in Detroit were indicted yesterday on charges that they stole laptops and game consoles (Gameboys) from luggage they were screening. Sure, their baggage screeners may be thieves, but Detroit’s airport has a supercool monorail in it. I’m always trying to look on the bright side.

US Airways Fare News

I just saw US Airways’ announcement of its new GoFares program. In short, fares start at $29 and cap at $499 each way and a Saturday night stay is not required. Wow, I thought, that is amazing. They’re actually overhauling their fare structure, as America West did, because they realize that they’ll never survive without it.

Then I read the rest of the release. And here’s the real story:
For now, US Airways is ONLY introducing this program in Philadelphia, and only to cities where they have to compete with Southwest. Other cities served from Philly will continue with the current fare structure. Which is interesting, considering these comments from a US Airways exec:

“We have heard our customers loudly and clearly. They have told us that fares are too high, too complicated, and that we need to do something about that — and we are…”

Whoa…hold the phone. What about customers who fly from Philadelphia to Charlotte, who will continue to pay $1000 round trip? Did you hear them loud and clearly? I will give them a bit of credit…the old fare structure was not that complicated. It was simple: We will take every single penny we can from you when we have no competition. That’s why the old walk up fare to Phoenix was $2540 round trip. Simple, eh?

United’s Promotion in Washington

Gearing up for the onslaught of low fare competition in DC, United launched a promotion for travelers in the DC area. Fly 4 round trips over the next year from any DC-area airport and you’ll get a free coach domestic ticket. Fly 6, go to Hawaii. 8 round trips gets you an international flight, and 12 round trips gets you a free around the world ticket. Double those round trips and you can go in first class (highly recommended for that around the world ticket). The around the world ticket can be flown using any Star Alliance partner, which makes that a pretty amazing deal if you happen to be a consultant who already flies 24 round-trips per year and has somebody else pay for the ticket. Though if you’re flying 24 round-trips per year, do you really want to hop back on a plane and fly around the world? Moot point—this is a pretty good deal.

Low Cost Carriers from Around the World

Two pieces of news from low cost carriers around the world:

–Air Asia, the Malaysian low-cost juggernaut, announced $25 flights from Bangkok to Macau. This marks the carriers continued expansion outside of Malaysia, bringing low fares to the former Portuguese colony for the first time.

–CNN has a nice overview of the strong aviation market in the Middle East. As Americans have stayed away from traveling in the Middle East (mostly because we, as a whole, have no concept of geography), carriers based in the region have thrived. One of the new kids on that block is Air Arabia, which offers low fares from just outside of Dubai (Sharjah) to cities in the region (if you go to their website, the fares on the front page are listed in AED, which convert at 3.7 to the US Dollar). While this may mean nothing to you, the airline offers $79 one-way flights from Sharjah to Khartoum, Sudan. You may ask yourself whether you’d fly that route for $9 one-way. Good question. But that’s besides the point. If you need to fly from Dubai to Tehran, Khartoum, Colombo, or Damascus these guys’ll get ya there cheap. You probably don’t need to fly from Dubai to Tehran, but I find it’s nice to know that I can.

Ex-TACA CEO Murdered

Federico Bloch, the former CEO of Grupo Taca (the Central American airline group), was murdered in San Salvador on Monday. Bloch was killed by machine gun fire from a passing car. There is no motive yet for the killing.

$100 Round Trip to Europe

Executives at Cologne-Bonn airport in Germany say that low frills flights with fares as low as $100 round trip could start next summer between their airport and the US. Here’s the best part: The executives say that these low fares will enable people to change their traveling habits:

We can make it possible for people to go ice-fishing for a single day in Canada, if that is what they want to do.”

Of all of the things that one could do, how the hell did they decide that this would let people spend a day ice fishing? Ice fishing?

Take the Bus

A couple of great tips from Frommers.com:

—National Express, a UK bus company, has lowered fares to about $2 for bus trips within the UK. They also have $21 fares from London to Paris and Amsterdam.

Here’s the best part: if you find a lower bus fare, they’ll give you your weight in cheese. Really. Go back and read that again. If you find a lower bus fare, they’ll send you roughly 14 Stone of cheese. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

—The second tip is a website that lists the seat pitch for nearly every airline in each class of service. It’s a nice guide if you’re choosing between two carriers for a long-haul flight. On a flight from JFK to London Heathrow, for example, you can choose between Virgin Atlantic with 31 inches of seat pitch and American with 35 inches. Those 4 inches equate to a significant boost in legroom.

United to Vietnam

United unveiled plans to re-introduce service to Vietnam next year. The service, which will stop in Hong Kong, will be the first to Vietnam by a US carrier in more than 30 years. The daily flights will originate in San Francisco. Amazing how quickly the world changes.