Monthly Archives: May 2010

Crazy Summer Deal to Europe: $399 Round Trip, Tax Included

Iceland Express is running an absolutely ridiculous fare to Europe from Newark this summer:  $399 round trip (tax included).  Purchase by June 30; fly July 1 – September 30th.  Available cities:

Aalborg, Berlin, Billund, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Krakow, London, Luxemburg, Oslo, Reykjavik, Warsaw.

You must visit icelandexpress.com/newyorkoffer to see these fares.  Enjoy!

Delta Announces Launch of Monrovia, Liberia Service (Finally!)

Delta Air Lines announced that it will launch 1-stop, once-weekly service from Atlanta to Monrovia, Liberia (via Accra) beginning in September.  Delta rolled out plans for the service several years ago as part of its ill-fated Cape Verde hub strategy (fascinating, but never launched).  The Liberia portion of that plan was quashed when the airline did not receive necessary approvals from the US and Liberian governments.

In case you were wondering, no Delta crew will spend an overnight in Monrovia which, while safer than before, is not exactly Cape Town.  Flights will depart within 3 hours of landing.

Delta now has plans to serve 10 African destinations from the US, which is impressive as just a few years ago no US airline served the continent.

Part of that Cape Verde hub strategy involved flights to Equitorial Guinea and Angola, flights that appeared to be permanently scrapped when Cape Verde went away.  But the end of the press release linked above suggests that the airline may, one day, serve those countries.

Iraq Dissolves Iraqi Airways Over Dispute with Kuwait

First Kuwait is angry because you invade they’re country, then they’re demanding $1.2 billion in reparations for the 10 airplanes you stole during the first Gulf War.  Sheesh – Iraq can’t catch a break.

The Iraqi government is dissolving Iraqi Airways because the Kuwati government has threatened to seize the aircraft that the Iraqi carrier uses on its first flight to London.  Kuwait claims that Iraq owes it $1.2 billion in reparations for 10 planes and a bunch of spare parts that were stolen (allegedly?) during the first Gulf War.  In response, Iraq has announced it will dissolve Iraqi Airways so it doesn’t have to pay the debt.  There’s no timeframe for shutting down the carrier, but it has canceled scheduled service to Stockholm and London in preparation.

Free Food Returns to Airlines (Sponsored By…)

Alaska Airlines’ regional cousin Horizon Air re-introduced free food to some of its flights, rolling out a program where advertisers can sponsor the snack box on routes they choose.  Creative Labs, a producer of MP3 players, was the first advertiser to take part in the program, boxing up a combo of pita chips, pretzels and chocolate on Seattle-Portland flights. Flight attendants told passengers that their snack was sponsored by the company.

The program, run through an agency called Air Advertainment, would theoretically appeal to advertisers because they can target the routes on which the snacks are offered. Passengers like the snacks because now they can stop whining about not getting food on a 45 minute flight.

Want to Advertise on Spirit Airlines’ Barf Bags? It’ll Only Cost Ya $20,049

Spirit Airlines is now selling advertising space on just about everywhere it can, and they just released their 2010 rates, which I thought OTR readers (and advertisers, of course) would be interested in hearing:

Barf bags will cost you $20,049, or, if you’re my family, $10,024.50 for each time a child threw up on my last trip.  Sounds like a steal.

They’re very into bodily fluids (obviously), as they have not one, but two opportunities in the toilet: Bathroom door panels ($54,885) or bathroom mirror clings ($18,950).

The highest price is for traytables, which will set you back $300,000.

And that’s how they keep selling tickets at $9*.

(*plus fees).

(Thanks, Airline Reporter)

iPad-Based In-flight Entertainment System Coming Soon (Probably)

A company called Bluebox Avionics is rolling out an iPad-based in-flight entertainment system in July, with, they say, one international airline offering the product to passengers this summer.  The idea is that airlines would give/rent passengers an iPad equipped with the the IFE.  The content on device is streamed wirelessly, which allows passengers to use the device during takeoff and landing (as it can be paused for safety announcements).  The primary benefit is that you would not have to stare at the screen right in front of you for 11 hours.  Assuming someone actually rolls this out, expect it to be free up front and $15 or so in the back (I’d guess).  Sure beats the digEplayer.

(Thanks D-Lux for the heads up)

United Airlines Locks Blind Woman in Empty Plane (Yes, It Was a Mistake)

A blind 18-year old woman traveling on United Airlines from Vancouver to Jacksonville (via Chicago) found herself locked inside the plane alone in Chicago after flight attendants apparently forgot about her.  After the plane landed in Chicago flight attendants told her to wait until all of the other passengers disembarked, then she would be helped off.  They managed to get half of that right.  The woman says she heard the sound of the airplane door closing, then silence.  It was then she realized that she was stuck alone on the plane.  After 10 minutes or so, she was lucky to hear a maintenance crew enter the plane, and she was escorted off.

In response, United apologized and gave her a $250 voucher, roughly what she would have received if you complain to them that the video players on the plane weren’t working.

American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Status Matching

American will not simply give you status because you have status on another airline. Rather, they have implemented a secret “challenge” program where you can earn status on American by flying a certain amount during a 90 day period. Here’s how it works:

American offers challenges for the opportunity to reach Gold and Platinum elite levels – until recently there has been no challenge to reach Executive Platinum, though there are reports this is changing.

American will occasionally grant Executive Platinum to frequent flyers who use a travel agent who gives American a large amount of business. If you will be flying American frequently, speak to your travel agent to find out if she can get you Executive Platinum status.

For the Gold challenge, you will need to reach 5,000 Qualifying Points within a 90 day period (remember that Qualifying Points were generally earned at 1 point per mile, though very discounted tickets were at .5 points per mile). Only people with no American elite status can partake in the Gold challenge.

For the Platinum challenge, you’ll need to reach 10,000 Qualifying Points within a 90 day period. For the Platinum challenge, however, you can already have Gold status and use the challenge to quickly get to the next level.

For the secret Executive Platinum challenge, you’ll need to reach 25,000 Qualifying points within a 90 day period. That’s a lot of flying.

Status matches begin either on the 1st or the 16th of the month, though we know that if you had a flight a few days before the challenge start date, American will generally include that flight if you ask for it.

More importantly, if you begin the challenge between January 1st and June 1st, your new Elite status will only go through the end of that year. For example, a May 1st, 2011, challenge will give you elite status through February, 2012. However, if you begin the challenge after June 1st, your elite status will continue through February 2013. If you can, it’s obviously best to wait until after June 1st to begin your match to maximize your Elite status.

Carefully read the information you receive from American about the challenge – there are significant restrictions as to which flights are eligible for inclusion in the level you are trying to reach (for example, TransAtlantic flights booked in ‘Q’ class don’t count).

To begin the AAdvantage challenge, call American at 1-800-882-8880 and ask for Customer Service. Remember, because this is a secret program your Customer Service Representative may be hazy on the details. Simply explain which challenge you would like to complete (Gold or Platinum) and they will be able to help.

Unfortunately, challenges aren’t free. It’ll cost you $80 for the Gold Challenge and $150 for the Platinum. You had better be sure that you’re going to actually make that challenge before plunking down the cash.

One final note: American has been known to match United Airlines elite flyers up to Platinum level without a challenge because the two airlines are so competitive on many business routes (they share a hub in Chicago, for example). If you have United elite status, call 1-800-882-8880 and ask them to match your status. If they agree, they will require a photocopy of your United Mileage Plus elite card plus several past statements. American has been inconsistent about matching United without a challenge, so you should definitely call before bothering with the challenge.

Delta Airlines Skymiles Elite Status Matching

Delta will offer a status match up to mid-tier (Gold) level status from other major carriers.

To get your status matched, send a current statement from the airline where you have Elite status, along with a letter explaining why you want the status. It will also help if you note any full-fare tickets you expect to be purchasing, and any upcoming business class travel. If you’ve switched jobs or projects, you should note how much you’ll be traveling on Delta in the near future.

Delta will occasionally offer an American-like challenge program where they will require you to fly a certain number of flights in a given period. If you will not meet the number of flights required in the challenge, do not agree to do it, as you may find that they will not offer it in the future.

For the status match send the letter and statement to:

Delta SkyMiles Service Center
Attn: Elite Status Match
Dept. 654
PO Box 20532
Atlanta, GA 30320
or
Fax 404-715-9220

If you’re having trouble finding the flights you want for all of those Delta miles you have, check out our Award Travel Booking Service.

United Airlines Mileage Plus Elite Status Matching

United will offer a status match up to the Premier Executive (mid-tier) level. Recently, they have done this by offering to give travelers a 90-day trial at the Premier status level, but to keep the status, they will have to fly 10,000 miles or 15 segments within that period. For Premier Executive, you’ll have to do 17,500 miles or 22 segments. If you are matching from American, United may match your status without this hybrid match/challenge scenario.

To get the match process started, send a letter stating why you want United to match your status (including a history of high-fare travel and any upcoming trips, especially those in business or first class) and your most recent elite mileage statement to the airline in one of these ways:

Mail to:

Mileage Plus Service Center
Elite Status Match
P.O. Box 6121
Rapid City, SD 57709-6121

Email: premiermatch@united.com
Fax: (605) 341-6140, Attn: Elite Status Match

Be sure to include your Mileage Plus account number
Your name, complete current mailing address and e-mail address
A copy of your most recent mileage summary or membership card that identifies your current elite level in your other frequent flyer program.