Monthly Archives: April 2013 - Page 2

Monday Morning Roundup: Icelandair to Newark; Emirates to Milan; Kingfisher’s Aircraft

A few quick updates this morning:

Icelandair will launch Newark – Iceland (Keflavik) service 4x/week beginning in late October to supplement its 9X weekly service to JFK.

– Emirates will launch daily JFK – Milan service beginning October 1st, which I only find surprising because I thought it was the Italian government’s goal in life to protect Alitalia.

– If you were wondering (you weren’t) what was going to happen to Kingfisher’s aircraft now that the airline has stopped flying, here’s the answer: it turns out that they spent the past year stripping parts from 15 of its leased A320s to keep its other aircraft running. When its lessors went to repossess the airplanes, they found that they were no longer in working condition (as many of their parts were now missing). I’ll give them credit for being scrappy.

– United has planned to resume 787 flights on May 31st with Houston-Denver service. Denver – Tokyo begins June 10th. Houston – Lagos; LA – Shangahi; and LA – Tokyo all get pushed out til August. No word on when Houston – Auckland will launch (that was a joke).

– Spirit continues to build out DFW service with new daily flights to Minneapolis and Philadelphia. They now fly to 21 destinations from Dallas.

Getting an Expedited Passport in New York City…Not So Bad, It Turns Out

I needed to renew my passport, and because of some upcoming travel I needed to actually go to the US Passport office in Manhattan on Hudson Street at Houston.

If you go online to read about this experience, you may go in expecting a scene like Ellis Island in 1897, with huddled masses yearning to renew their passports. Stories abound of getting in line at 6am or arriving at 8am and not being seen for 2 hours.

You can also make an appointment by calling an automated number (Internet hasn’t yet reached 1897 Ellis Island), though if you were to believe the Internet (terrible idea, generally), the appointment won’t get you seen any faster.

I was doing a renewal, and not a same-day renewal, nor getting a new passport, so perhaps the online tales applied to those situations.

Me? I sauntered in at 1015am, walked up to the window, gave them my $170, proof of my upcoming trip, old passport, 2 photos, and application and in approximately 90 seconds they told me it would be ready the next day. Ta da!

I believe the moral of the story is not to believe what you read online (unless in writing it), and that if you need to renew your passport in NYC, it’s the easiest government-related experience I’ve had.

A Question for Readers: How Would You Fly to Moscow (In Coach)?

I’m (very likely) going to Moscow in June for a short work trip, and for reasons that aren’t important here that trip will have to be in Coach. Let’s assume for the moment that I cannot use my own miles to fly Business class. My question is this:

If you had to fly New York – Moscow in Coach, what would your carrier of preference be? A United/Lufthansa combo is twice the price, so my preferred carrier is out of the question.

I’m leaning toward a connection on Delta (Delta to Paris, then onward on AF; or Delta/KLM to Amsterdam and onward on KLM) because I can at least buy up to Economy Comfort.

Aeroflot and Transaero are the cheapest, followed by the Delta options above.

Can someone buy up to Business or Premium Economy on Aeroflot using cash or miles?

I’m kinda flummoxed here…help?

Tuesday Roundup: Goodbye Armavia, Pay By Weight, and the End of an Era at Gatwick

– Armenian carrier Armavia has closed down operations after it failed to find a buyer. The airline blamed the 2008 (?) economic crisis for the failure of the airline (of course). Perhaps most interestingly, the owner of the carrier said “there were no Armenian businessmen in a position to buy the airline.”

– Samoa Air is offering a (crazy ass) scheme where they’ll determine how much you pay based on how much you weigh. Seriously.

– Saturday marked the last day that a US carrier flew into London Gatwick airport. For those of you keeping score at home, it was a US Airways flight from Charlotte. That service will move to Heathrow. Gatwick will be without a US airline for the first time in 35 years.

– Spirit Airlines has added a $2 “Department of Transportation Unintended Consequences Fee” to every ticket sold because they’re angry at the DoT for a new rule forcing airlines to allow customers to cancel within 24 hours of purchase with no penalty.

You Can Book Award Tickets on Saudia Using Flying Blue Miles with No Fuel Surcharges

This is one of those pieces of information where I don’t actually have a specific scenario where it’s useful, but I’m going to imagine that at some point it will be helpful for someone:

One of the frustrations of Air France’s Flying Blue program is that they charge a fuel surcharge on most of their award tickets, making the awards pretty much useless for many. That’s frustrating, since you can transfer both Membership Rewards and Starwood points into Flying Blue. That said, one bright spot has been how you can use Flying Blue miles to book one-way tickets one Delta with no fuel surcharge.

Well, I discovered this weekend that Flying Blue also does not charge a fuel surcharge on partner Saudi Arabian Airlines (aka, Saudia) when redeeming miles. I realize that the flew people who will be booking on Saudia will likely be using Delta miles. However, if you wanted to book a one-way award ticket, Delta won’t allow that. Flying Blue will, however. So if you needed a one-way business class ticket to Dubai, Saudia may be a good bet (especially, as View from the Wing has outlined, they have a TON of business class award availability, even for multiple seats).

So, if you wanted 4 one-way business class tickets to the Gulf or India, this might be helpful to you.