A quick note if you’re travelling to Thailand (or not travelling to Thailand) in the next 2 weeks: The international airport will now be closed through December 15th. Airlines are allowing for changes (including changes to different airports). Singapore Airlines is flying twice-daily flights into U-Tapao airport, about 100 miles south of Bangkok, through Friday.
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A quick note about what airlines are doing if you have a flight scheduled to Mumbai:
US carriers have resumed flights to Mumbai, but all are offering to re-accomodate if you have a flight in the next week or so.
Continental: If you have travel between now and December 2nd, you can change the flight to depart any date before December 9th without incurring a fee.
Delta: If you have travel scheduled between now and December 3rd, you can change the flight to depart by December 10th as long as you re-book by December 3rd.
American: If you have travel scheduled between now and December 4th, you can change you flight to depart any time before December 4th without a fee.
British Airways: If you have a flight before December 3rd, you can rebook to a different city in India or change your flight date (they don’t have a restriction on when you can change the date of the ticket).
Air India: You can change the date of travel to Mumbai without penalty.
Interesting that US carriers have such tight restrictions, but if their restrictions don’t meet your needs, I would certainly speak with a supervisor to see if they can be a bit flexible with your flight dates or cities (even if that means putting you on a partner airline).
Ugh…Sometimes when things seem too good to be true:
That Delta promo I mentioned last week where you earned a 150% bonus for partner activity is now showing up as not available. (Flyertalk has a thread here). The long and short is that depending on whom you speak to at Delta, either there is a technical glitch that is being worked on (I hope) or that they’ve decided Starwood transfers are not eligible, despite what it said in the Terms & Conditions (I hope not). I’ll keep you posted as we learn more.
(Thanks – I guess – to View from the Wing)
In case you are obese and were annoyed at having to pay for two seats on a plane, you’re in luck: move to Canada. The Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Air Canada cannot charge obese passengers for two seats if they cannot fit in one. However, they will still have to buy two inflight meals.
For whatever reason, the airline industry’s woes have gotten lots and lots of media attention, but when it comes to facing down a gigantic mess, the hotel industry has it far worse right now. How bad? Hotel occupancy for the first week in November dropped more than 14 points versus last year to a very, very bad 56.9%. We’re talking post-9/11 bad. Other stats? Revenue per available room (so-called RevPAR) in the luxury segment is down 23% year over year during the first week in November. Average daily rates (ADRs) in Vegas were down 21% in September versus last year.
With travelers typically booking 45 or so days out, hotels are just now feeling the effects of September’s terrible financial news. Unlike airlines, hotels can’t easily take capacity out of the market (short of shutting down hotels entirely, a move that some chains are taking with their lesser-performing hotels, or taking this opportunity to renovate).
On the plus side, travelers will be happy with the cheaper hotel rates and, especially in the upper and luxury segments, packages with extras that are available during the coming months.
(Thanks so OTR Swedish correspondent Marcus for the heads up)
Iceland-owned Danish airline Sterling has gone bankrupt, stranding thousands of passengers across Europe (I feel like it’s actually been a couple of weeks since we’ve seen a bankruptcy. Well done.) The carrier had flown to 40 destinations across Europe but struggled with higher costs, etc. The financial meltdown in Iceland certainly didn’t help, as it had been trying to raise additional capital over the past couple of months.
Unfortunately, if you’ve purchased tickets with them, they’re not refunding the cash – call your credit card company. SAS says they’ll help get travelers who are stranded back home.
Someone over at Airliners has posted the copy of an internal memo from the head OpenSkies that sounds very, very, very much like the type of memos we used to see at Eos right when it was getting bad: They’re not taking delivery of their 5th airplane thereby cutting out any expansion in the near future, they’re eliminating flights on slow days through the holiday season, they’re moving their headquarters to Paris, and they’ll have full codeshare on both the OpenSkies and L’Avion flights (even though the products are pretty different).
Much like Eos, it’s a great product at a fantastic price. Unfortunately, given the cost structure and economic environment, that’s not nearly enough to succeed.
This is not something you hear every day: A Jet Airways flight attendant fell out of a 737 at Delhi’s airport while she was trying to close the door to the plane. She suffered only minor injuries when she fell and landed on her head after she slipped while closing the door. The airline claims she did not follow correct procedures for closing the door.
American is in some sort of pissing match with Continental, because they have a $35 each way fare from Newark to Belize (not good during X-Mas). Round trip comes to about $145 including taxes. Crazy!
A bit of a departure today for the OTR…
As some of you know, most of my time is spent running Tripmela.com, India’s only publisher of travel deals (if you know Travelzoo, we are Travelzoo for India – we publish a weekly email newsletter and website with airfare, hotel and package deals for India). We also run Searchmela.com, which is basically Bookingbuddy for India (airfare and hotel comparison). We’ve been running for nearly 3 years, but it’s been a fulltime endeavor for about a year since we raised a bit of cash.
Long story short: we need some help in three areas, and I’m using Online Travel Review to hit my readers up for ideas with the following (I thank you in advance for indulging me):
– We have not seen the growth in Tripmela newsletter subscribers that we had hoped. We can acquire customers cheaply, but we’ve struggled to drive free traffic to the website. If anyone has any thoughts about how we can do a better job driving traffic, I’d love to hear them.
– Searchmela actually works pretty well – we’ve launched paid search campaigns driving cheap traffic to the site. Our issue is getting more people to do searches (which is how we get paid). Feel free to check out Searchmela.com and any suggestions you have about how to increase the number of people actually doing searches on us would be very helpful.
– Last, and most importantly, we have been trying to raise about $700,000 to take the business to the next level. We feel we have all the pieces in place (nearly 100,000 newsletter subscribers; paying clients, etc), but we have, as yet, been unable to find an angel investor (or investors) for the business. If you know anyone who might be interested in hearing a bit more about Tripmela, I’d be extremely thrilled to chat. We’ve found that people who understand the travel business and people in the Indian American community are the most receptive, as they understand the potential. We think there’s a great opportunity here, and we know that the right investor will help make it possible. We just need some help meeting that person.
I can be reached at jared (at) tripmela.com
Thanks for your indulgence, and I promise I’ll be back on Monday with the usual ridiculousness.