Monthly Archives: February 2014 - Page 2

And American Will Bid Farewell to the Barclays US Airways Credit Card Next Year

American Airlines announced today that Citi will be the exclusive provider of new credit cards for the Aadvantage program beginning some time in 2015. This news had been rumored for a little while, but American put out a release today confirming it.

Barclays will convert their current US Airways cardholders to be American Airlines cardholders in the next year, and they’ll continue to be Barclays customers until 2017. But starting the middle of next year, they will not be able to issue new American Airlines credit cards.

That means you’ve got about 12-15 months to get your last US Airways churns in. Man, I’m going to miss those easy miles.

Welcome to the World, Florida Express Jet

We have not had a new airline launch in quite some time (Virgin America, maybe?) The 1990s were such a heady time for new airlines to come (and go), and since the end of the financial world in 2008, we’ve heard nothing.

Well, 1990s nostalgists, I’ve got me some good news for you: Florida Express Jet has launched, and they’re putting the “they have no chance” into “this airline has no chance.”

If you were launching an airline today, where is the biggest opportunity? Why, flying between Tallahassee and Orlando, of course! But don’t just stop there, you would also want to offer nonstop service from Orlando to Ft Lauderdale, right? Sure, go right ahead! And you’d charge $69 for those nonstop flights and $99 for connections, right? Absolutely!

And instead of buying planes you’d just hook up with charter operator Swift Air and use their 737-400s configured with 138 coach and 12 business class seats, because who doesn’t want to pay $99 to fly business class from Orlando to Tallahassee? It’s a 50 minute flight.

Sure, a little airline called Spirit offers service between Ft Lauderdale and Orlando. And Silver Airways – a codeshare partner with United – flies from Orlando to Tallahassee. How could that possibly be a problem?

Flights launch March 20th. No word on the shut-down date.

On a plus note, I like their colors.

fej

Me, Opening the Box with the New AA Credit Card In It…Wow!

Here’s one thing I know about blogs: everyone loves when some blogger they don’t personally know receives a credit card in the mail and posts pictures of themselves opening the package. Woo is that interesting. I know, because in some sort of moment of clarity, I posted exactly that 2 years ago. Fascinating, right?

Well, I’m not one to let down my readers, so when my Citi Executive AA card arrived in the mail in a nice package, I thought that everyone might like to follow along as I opened it. Here we go!

Here’s something you don’t see every day – a piece of mail! Except this one contains a credit card. Probably.
image

I thought a scissors would be the correct tool to bust open that bad boy and start on my way to collecting those 100k miles. Oooh, I can just taste those miles – so tasty!

download

Hm, that didn’t work. I tried a few more times. Son. Of. A. Bitch. Open, goddammit!

download

OK, fine. I’ll fight fire with fire. We’re going to use a credit card to get to the credit card. And earn 1 Starwood point per dollar spent.

Picture1

Also not a success. Next obvious solution: open it with a magazine with Dr. Oz on the cover.

download

A few more failed attempts. Hammer:

download

Playbill from performance of Matilda:

download

Hacksaw (Not of the Jim Duggan variety, unfortunately):

download

We’re making progress. Now for the big guns. Ooh, free lounge entry, here I come! A box set of Sports Night should do the trick (Quo Vadis?), being pounded with a hammer:

download

Almost there. Speaking of free booze in the lounge:

download

Finally, I’ve gotten through to the inner box, which I will now slice open with a mandoline:

download

The inner sanctum! Nothing a soldering iron can’t fix:

download

And finally, with the help of a drill, here’s the card. download

Wow, that was exciting.

Added bonus info: Did you wonder how to hit that $10,000 minimum spend to earn those miles? I’ve got a great solution: Buy something for $10,000.

See you Monday!

United: We Have Successfully Destroyed the Environment With Our Old Coffee Cups, So Now It’s Time to Move On to Different Cups

Let me ask you a couple of questions:

– Are you one of the millions of people who choose their airline based on the cups in which their beverages are served?

– Do you love your piping hot beverage served in a styrofoam cup?

Well, if you answered yes to that second question you’ve got a decision to make:

United Airlines has announced that it will no longer serve coffee (or tea!) in styrofoam cups (like it’s 1973), and will be switching to – wait for it, beverage lovers – insulating InCycle┬« cup, manufactured by Washington-based technology company MicroGREEN, which is made from 50% recycled materials, and is, itself, 100% recyclable.

cup

Yep, that’s it. It holds hot beverages, cold beverages, lukewarm beverages, beverages of indeterminate temperature – and everything in between! In the United Club (where it debuts this month), you can fill it with those little cheese crackers and yogurt-covered raisins (where available). If you’re not in a Club, you can fill it with all of the extra miles you’ll need to fly anywhere now that they’ve devalued their award chart. Your choice!

If you love styrofoam, I suggest getting a bunch of flights in before Mid-March, when they roll out the new cup in the skies.

A Clarification on Which US Airways Flights Earn United Miles

Based on what I’ve seen elsewhere, there is still some confusion (including my own confusion) around which US Airways flights earn United miles, now that US Airways is owned by American. Here we go…Until March 30th:

– US Airways flights on US Airways metal will earn United miles, as they always have.

– US Airways flights that are a codeshare with American Airlines that are on American Airlines metal will NOT earn United miles.

– US Airways Express flights operated by any of their express partners WILL earn United miles.

– Keep in mind that Republic flights Express flights for both US Airways and American. That is confusing. Just saying.

– American Airlines codeshare flights that are operated by US Airways WILL earn United miles.

The rule of thumb is that the operating carrier determines whether you’ll earn miles with United.

(Thanks to this FT thread…)

Delta Continues to Make Nice with Alaska Airlines Up in Seattle…Cabo, Anyone?

Delta has applied to serve the Seattle – Cabo San Lucas market beginning next December, a move that would not be noteworthy except the only nonstop competitor they have on that route is, you guessed it, their jilted former lover Alaska Airlines.

Although I’m entirely confused why in God’s name Delta is going after their partner in Seattle, the War of the Roses situation has become kind of enjoyable (from an airline nerd perspective). Delta hasn’t made any single move that would be a clear signal that they’re trying to really hurt Alaska, it’s been a bunch of little things, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Like separated spouses who are forced to live in the same house.

2 Long-Term Routes Get Dropped by Virgin Atlantic and by American

Two quick ones:

– Virgin Atlantic is dropping their LHR-HKG-SYD service after nearly 10 years, meaning they’ll be out of the Australian market entirely. The so-called Kangaroo Route has become incredibly competitive, with British Airways now being the last European airline to fly that service. Travelers have shifted to one-stop service from Cathay, Emirates, Etihad, China Southern, Air China, and Singapore.

– American Airlines is dropping their now-once-daily Newark – LA flight, leaving only United and Virgin America serving the route. Although there’s lots of competition for JFK – LAX, Newark is a lower yield market, and United has chosen to serve it primarily with 737s (while Delta, United, American and JetBlue have upgraded their JFK services to flat bed). I guess nobody wants to fly the CO 747 I flew on my first trip to LA from Newark 25 years ago.

Perhaps Working at Qatar Airways Isn’t So Great

A Swedish newspaper has a lengthy story (in English) about working conditions for flight attendants at Qatar Airways. The short version is that flight attendants are basically indentured servants whose every move is scrutinized and face begin fired for every small transgression.

I’m a little torn when I read the piece – sure, it doesn’t sound good that adult women have to sign in and out of their dorms and face termination for coming home after curfew. Oh, and they have a curfew.

On the other hand, I don’t think anyone is pretending that working in Qatar is like working in Houston. Except for the oil. And all the money. And the heat. Whatever. Foreign workers don’t have the freedom they would have working elsewhere. But they would likely know that going in, so I’m not entirely surprised by what’s being reported. The world has basically decided to turn a blind eye to working conditions in the Gulf States. I guess this article is outraged because the flight attendant they follow is from Sweden and not from Nepal.

Southwest Announces Nonstop Service to 15 Cities from Dallas Love Airport

Southwest Airlines has announced 15 new nonstop destinations from Dallas Love Airport now that the ridiculous Wright Amendment is no longer an issue. (You may remember that the Wright Amendment was created to help DFW airport by limited flights from Dallas Love to just going to contiguous states).

Southwest will roll out flights in 2 waves:

October 13
Baltimore/Washington (BWI)
Denver
Las Vegas
Orlando
Chicago Midway

November 2
Atlanta
Nashville
Washington, D.C. (Reagan National)
Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood
Los Angeles (LAX)
New York (LaGuardia)
Phoenix
San Diego
Orange County/Santa Ana
Tampa

Flights are not yet available for sale (unlike most other airlines, Southwest only sells tickets about 6 months in advance, not 11). But obviously this is great news for anyone who travels to Dallas, since Love is considerably more pleasant (and better situated to downtown) than DFW.

Also, I apologize that this likely means we will hear lots and lots more about the Southwest credit card. Though probably not from me. Maybe.

Monday Roundup: Indian Aviation, United in Cleveland, US Airways Miles and More

– The FAA has downgraded India’s airlines to a Category 2 status because India’s safety oversight of its aviation industry has been considered lacking. Countries with Category 2 status are not allowed to have new airlines fly to the United States (though carriers with existing service can continue). Other category 2 countries include The Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

– 4 years ago I wrote this post about Continental leaving Cleveland and taking its talents to South Beach. It was a joke, but Continental’s PR team asked me to take it down, because people thought Continental was actually abandoning Cleveland. Well – bad news. United is actually abandoning Cleveland. Beginning in April they’ll reduce flights by 60% and capacity by 36%. The airline says the hub hasn’t been profitable in 10 years.

– You can, once again, buy or gift miles for half price on US Airways.

– On May 2nd, Korean Air will launch nonstop Seoul-Houston service.

– Qatar Airways is upgrading their business class cabins on their older A330s.

– Air Zimbabwe flew without any insurance for several months back in 2009 after its insurance broker kept payments meant for an insurance company. The airline likely knew about that fraud and flew anyway.

– Cranky mentions that Great Lakes Airlines pays its first officers less than $16,000 a year.