Monthly Archives: November 2012

You Know How Sometimes an Idea Seems Good at the Time…

My company allows us to fly to Europe in business class, which is quite nice of them. That said, those tickets can cost in the $7,000 range, and God knows I am not worth spending $7,000 on. Also, it kinda makes me physically ill to spend $7,000 on an airplane ticket.

So when I go to Amsterdam more often than not I fly to Frankfurt, where business class tickets are generally in the $3,000-$3,500 range and I buy a cheap coach ticket for the short hop to Amsterdam from there.

I’m going in about a week and flights were ridiculously expensive again – even Frankfurt flights were absurd. But I’ve now convinced myself that traveling in coach is a fate worse than death (even though it isn’t, especially since I can grab an exit row seat on United). So I decided to buy a coach seat over, upgrade using a United systemwide upgrade and come back via this incredibly-stupid-in-hindsight routing:

Amsterdam to Frankfurt on Lufthansa; Frankfurt to Zurich on Lufthansa; Zurich to JFK on SWISS.

There are several reasons why that is ridiculous. First, the Amsterdam-Frankfurt leg leaves at 7 o’clock in the morning, the morning after we have some sort of social event in the office. I will be a mess. Second, when I booked it hopping around Europe sounded kinda exotic. But then when I thought about it, it occurred to me that this would be like one of my European counterparts flying home JFK-Pittsburgh-Charlotte-Amsterdam, which just sounds incredibly stupid. I am that incredibly stupid guy.

On a plus note, I get to fly SWISS’ business class, which I understand is fantastic. However, my journey home will take 15 hours in business class, instead of 8 on the nonstop in coach. I believe the extra 7 hours will negate the enjoyment I would normally have flying coach.

Also, I believe I saved $4,000 compared to my colleagues who are flying nonstop. That is no consolation.

Anyone every do anything ridiculous like this?

And the Best Airline Ad Is…

A few short stories from today:

– British Airways has once again increased its sign up bonus for the British Airways Visa card. It’s now 50,000 miles after the first $1,000; another 25,000 points after $10,000 in spend in the first year, and another 25,000 points after an additional $10,000 spend. So I guess the headline is that the BA Visa offers 100,000 points. But you have to spend $20,000 to get it. Just as a side note, if you bought 40 $500 Visa Pre-paid cards at Office Depot with your Ink Bold card, you would also have 100,000 Avios points. I’m not sure what my point is, but there ya go. Application here. For a quick refresher:

Avios Pros: Short-haul coach awards are just 4,500 points each way. Mid-haul can be a bargain too — LA to Hawaii is just 12,500 points each way. No fuel surcharges on American Airlines or LAN.

Avios Cons: Long-haul is ridiculous. You pay per leg, so flights with a connection are ridiculous. Domestic business class requires 3X the points of a coach ticket. Fuel surcharges on British Airways.

– Entirely unrelated to Avios, JAL will be serving Kentucky Fried Chicken on flights to the US and Europe during the next 3 months.

– 12 years after the Concorde accident in Paris, a French court has cleared Continental of any responsibility from the incident.

– JetBlue launches flights from Providence to Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale.

– This year’s entrant into the “there’s literally no way this can work” airline contest is SkyGreece Airlines, which somehow believes that every airline that has pulled out of the North America – Greece market is wrong. They plan to launch service from Athens to Montreal, Toronto, New York and Chicago this summer. Best of luck.

– Best of luck especially since Qatar Airways announced that it will launch Doha-Athens-New York service next summer. Qatar has fifth freedom rights between New York and Athens (for you non-airline-dorks, Fifth Freedom rights allow an airline to carry passengers between two countries outside of its home country — in this case, Qatar selling tickets between the US and Greece).

– AdWeek said this ad for Norway’s Widerøe Airlines was the only airline spot to make its annual Top 10 list:

Woman Stung by Scorpion on Iberia Flight

A woman traveling from San Jose, Costa Rica, to Madrid on Iberia was stung by a scorpion during the flight.

She was bitten on the arm and, upon arrival in Madrid, was taken to a hospital where she spent the night for observation.

The A340 was quarantined so it could be disinfected and the scorpion could be found and put on a plane back to Costa Rica. Presumably he would have to pay the full Y fare for the last minute booking.

Stay 2 Nights at a Holiday Inn Resort, Get 1 Future Night Free

Not everyone stays at Holiday Inn Resorts, but if you do this is a pretty good deal:

Stay at a Holiday Inn Resort for 2 consecutive nights between now and February 28, 2013, and you’ll get a free night at any Holiday Inn Resort good for the next year. You must register here. Most room rates are eligible for this promotion, but Priceline and Hotwire rooms are excluded.

This are the participating hotels:

Holiday Inn® Waikiki Beachcomber Resort
Holiday Inn Resort® Aruba
Holiday Inn Resort Los Cabos All Inclusive
Holiday Inn Resort Acapulco
Holiday Inn Resort Puerto Vallarta
Holiday Inn Resort Castle I-Drive
Holiday Inn Resort Daytona Beach Oceanfront
Holiday Inn Resort Fort Walton Beach
Holiday Inn Resort Lake Buena Vista
Holiday Inn Resort Panama City Beach
Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach Gulf Front
Holiday Inn Resort Wilmington E-Wrightsville Bch
Holiday Inn Resort Lake George-Turf
The Lodge at Eagle Crest, a Holiday Inn Resort
The Lodge at Running Y Ranch, a Holiday Inn Resort
The Beach House, a Holiday Inn Resort
Holiday Inn Resort Galveston-On the Beach

3 Airlines Tell Woman She Is Too Fat to Fly; She Dies While Awaiting Flight that Will Accept Her

Hm…what’s the best way to summarize this?

A woman weighing more than 400 pounds is in Hungary and needs to get back to the United States for medical treatment (she has kidney problems and diabetes….and weighs 400 pounds). She books 3 seats on a KLM-operated flight for the first leg home. Oh, speaking of legs, did I mention that she only has 1 leg? I should’ve mentioned that. Anyway, she gets onto the plane but there is no seatbelt extender large enough for her. Also, she is told that the seats won’t hold her.

Anyway, she then drives to Prague where she intends to board a Delta plane, but she is soon told by Delta staff that the wheelchair that the airline uses will not hold her weight.

Finally, she purchases 3 tickets for a flight on Lufthansa. When she goes to board that plane, staff are unable to lift her out of her wheelchair after struggling for half an hour.

Two days later the passenger dies (full story here, though let me note that some of the photos are kinda unpleasant), and now her family is preparing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the 3 airlines.

I have absolutely no idea what the moral of this story is, but as a blogger I think I’m now obligated to note that had she purchased her ticket with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, she would have earned double miles. (Now the blogger police won’t come and get me).

$48 All Inclusive Resort in Dominican Republic…and United Finally Credits My Account

Welcome back. A few quick updates this morning:

– Travelzoo is promoting a deal via CheapCaribbean.com offering $48/night all-inclusive at the Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort & Spa in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. That’s for 2 people. Crazy.

– I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat, but my long national nightmare is over: United has credited me my missing miles from my Auckland-Sydney flight I took on May 30th. As I said at the time, I’m pretty sure that if you fly in the Southern Hemisphere your points won’t post until it’s the same season in the Northern Hemisphere. So I flew in late fall in the Southern Hemisphere so I guess it makes (no) sense that it posts in late fall up here. Or something.

– The Flight Deal notes that TAM has flights to Buenos Aires from much of the US for under $400 this spring. That’s a very good deal, though remember that American Airlines only charges 40,000 miles for a roundtrip ticket to Brazil and Argentina from March through May. Use those miles!

– Brazilian lowfare carrier GOL will shut down its Webjet division while laying off 850 employees and returning 20 aircraft. A spokesperson said the fuel-guzzling older aircraft used by the airline made the company unable to control costs.

– You may remember that Ryanair jumped into Budapest after the shutdown of Malev. They’re rolling that back by about 40%, complaining that the airport’s costs are too high.

Don’t Delete the Email You Get from Bank of America…

I received an email from Bank of America with the subject line “A complimentary gift card for you from Bank of America.” I immediately assumed it was garbage and deleted it.

But then I reconsidered and opened it and saw that it was an actual legit email offering a $10 gift card for Macys, Starbucks or Target as a thank you for having the B of A Hawaiian Airlines credit card (which you may have for the 70,000 Hilton Hhonors points you get with it.)

Not a huge deal, but if you have the card it’s worth going through your deleted items folder and see if you received the same offer. That $10 will get me, what, roughly 1 cup of coffee, no?

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday Roundup (Transvestite Flight Attendant Edition)

– Thailand’s PC Air, which made a few headlines by hiring transvestite flight attendants, shut down after, shockingly, it discovered that the cross-dressed cabin staff weren’t enough of a draw to keep the airline afloat. They stranded a planeful of passengers in Seoul. (Sure, read those other blogs for more credit card links, but who else is going to share transvestite airline news with you? The Points Guy? C’mon!)

– A Lufthansa 747 flying from Newark to Frankfurt made an unscheduled stop in Dublin earlier this week after the first officer suffered from a migraine and was unable to fly. An off-duty 767 pilot from another airline who happened to be on the flight co-piloted the plane to Dublin airport.

– A Southwest Airlines flight attendant working a trip from Oklahoma City to Las Vegas tripped over the leg of a passenger who had placed said leg in the aisle of the plane, and had to stop working because of the pain. Moral: get your leg out of the aisle (my bigger issue is my shoulder in the aisle, which occurs because I’m trying to scootch away from the person in the middle seat, so I move a bit toward the aisle, where my shoulder is repeatedly hit by the beverage cart.)

– Hawaiian Airlines has $452 roundtrip fares from New York to Honolulu for travel January 8 – March 6.

Spirit CEO: “We’re not in business to build an airline that maybe any of us specifically wants to fly”

The Wall Street Journal has a great interview (click that if you subscribe) with Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza that sheds some light on the way Spirit’s executive team thinks about the carrier (WSJ is a paid service, but you can read this – and all their articles – for free by going to news.google.com and searching for an article’s headline, in this case “Flying Spirit’s ‘Dollar Store in the Sky’ to Profit”).

The most telling part of the article is where he discusses their intense focus on driving down costs by unbundling the flying experience, not creating an airline that’s perfect for executives, by saying, “We’re not in business to build an airline that maybe any of us specifically wants to fly.”

That’s an interesting point because I would say that most airline executives (and really, most executive teams across industries, mine (apparel) included) would say they’re focused on building a product that they would be product to use/wear/fly/whatever. That’s not what Spirit is saying. They are trying to offer the lowest priced (and cost) flying experience available. That means re-thinking conventions about flying, something few airlines in the 80+ year history of the industry have done.

And as I write roughly once a year, that focus has paid off in constant, significant profits, year in and year out, even during the economic crisis of 2008.

You don’t have to fly them; you don’t have to think their ads are funny; you don’t have to be happy about paying for a carry-on; but you have to admire a company that has defined its strategic vision and executed on it as consistently and successfully as Spirit.

Check out the interview – it’s worth the read.

US Airways Offering Up to 18,000 Bonus Miles for Shuttle Flights

US Airways is offering an opportunity to earn up to 18,000 bonus miles when you take US Airways Shuttle flights between New York LaGuardia, Washington Reagan and Boston Logan airports. Fly 3 segments between now and January 31st, and you’ll get 6,000 bonus miles.

Fly an additional 3 segments (that’s 6 segments total) and you’ll get an additional 12,000 bonus miles- for a total of 18,000 (look, math!).

Register here.