The One Statistic That Sums Up Pittsburgh Airport

From the NY Times article today about how the airport will generate more than 20% of its operating budget by allowing fracking on its land:

The terminal was built for 30 million passengers a year. The peak was just under 21 million, in 1997. Last year, there were eight million.

Ouch.

The Most Underrated Flight Amenity Is…

I arrived in Sao Paulo this morning after the overnight flight in coach (as always: not as terrible as everyone makes it out to be). I’ll write a bit more about that later, but I wanted to point out what is actually the most underrated flight amenity:

The shower in the arrival lounge.

Even when I fly up front, after overnight flights I generally feel (and look!) like I’ve been run over twice by a truck. The in-flight experience is what it is, and even in a lie-flat bed I get a pretty crappy night’s sleep. So I was thrilled when I came into the Admirals Club lounge at Sao Paulo’s airport (thanks, AA Exec credit card!) and used their shower facility. Now I feel like a million bucks. A million bucks that slept about 4 hours sitting up, but a million bucks nonetheless.

I’m not sure why whether the airline adds a slice of lemon to your Diet Coke gets more mentions on blogs than the lounge shower, but whatever….you can keep your lemon and I’ll just take a shower.

(Side note: the much, much reviled United Club at Sao Paulo closed down in June. For those who have sat on the floor for hours while 600 other people squeezed into a space meant for 175, I had a little tinge of sadness when I saw they had shut its disgusting doors for the final time…)

The OTR Flow Chart to Guide You to the Best Everyday Credit Card for You

One of the questions I get most is about what credit card someone should get as their everyday spending card. This is a separate question from churning – if you churn, you’re going to need to put some spend on those cards to hit minimums. This is about what card you should use when you’re not hitting minimum spends (or if you’re not a churner).

It pains me when I see people using the Marriott credit card or the American Airlines credit card because there are better ways to maximize rewards (or cash) from your everyday spend.

Also, if you’re someone who likes to use 7 different cards to maximize your spend for every category, this is not for you – by all means, use those cards.

But for 85% of the world, this chart (which I’m excited about since I’ve been playing with a moderately fun flow chart program) should answer all your questions. I look forward to everyone telling me how wrong the chart is.

(Click the image to see more detail)

Choose Your Everyday Credit Card

Rats on a Plane….

This is an odd one:

A report came out of India saying that an Air India plane was grounded after it landed in Delhi following a flight from Kolkata. The reason? Dozens and dozens of rats were supposedly found on board.

(I was going to make a comment about Air India mistakenly joining Rats Alliance instead of Star Alliance because everything they do is ass backwards).

Supposedly they had to exterminate the plane because rats could chew through electrical wires. Also because flying around with 100 rats is revolting.

However, a spokesperson – whom I don’t believe for a single second – said only one rat was seen on the airplane (which is like infinity rats too many, if you ask me).

How to Book Award Tickets on GOL Airlines

I’m heading down to Sao Paulo next week, and for I’m-not-sure-what-reason I decided I wanted to spend a night in Asuncion, Paraguay, since I how often do I have the opportunity to go to Asuncion? (Answer: Once).

The most obvious way to accomplish this would have been to use 15,000 Avios miles and fly roundtrip on TAM, which has 2 flights a day between the cities. But the times of those flights didn’t work for me (I’m not sure a 3:50am flight from Asuncion works for anyone).

But GOL had mid-day flights that worked for the times I needed, so I went about looking to use miles for a seat instead of spending the actually-kinda-reasonable $270 for the flight.

GOL, a South American low fare (or “low fare”) airline, is a partner of both Delta and Air France, so I had a couple of options. Delta charges 25,000 miles roundtrip for flights within Southern South America, while Air France charges 30,000 miles for the same trip. Neither adds additional fuel surcharges, while (at least for the rest of 2014) Delta will only allow you to book a roundtrip award ticket, Air France will allow you to reserve a one-way award ticket, allowing me some flexibility if I wanted to take that 3:50am flight on TAM.

The easiest way to check award availability for GOL is to use the under-appreciated (and free!) Flightstats.com. Here’s how:

– You’ll need to create a free account with flightstats.com.

– Go to this page on flightstats.com and enter your cities and dates you’d like to fly.

– You’ll see results that look something like this:

gol2

– GOL books award space (they only offer Coach) into the X fare class. I’ve put an arrow next to where it says X/4, meaning there are at a minimum 4 X class seats available for award booking.

(Flightstats offers free award availability checking on a host of airlines, and View from the Wing has an older post outlining the award seat fare classes for lots of airlines here.)

Now you can just go and call Delta or Air France to book that space.

Unfortunately in my case, once I added in the $80 in taxes plus the $25 phone fee for Delta, it wasn’t worth 25,000 miles plus $105 to use miles (though one could argue what I’m going to do with my Delta miles, so why not just use them here?). I thought about using roughly 21,000 Ultimate Rewards points using their book with points option where you get 1.25 cents per point, but GOL does not show up in their airfare search (also it’s probably not a great use of those miles).

I did use my airfare credit I got with the Wells Fargo Amex Propel card. You can book on GOL through their booking portal, and I used 27,000 of the 40,000 bonus points I got with that card. I know that people have been saying they get roughly 1.5 cents per point when redeeming those points for airfare, but it showed me 1 cent per point when booking this flight.

Aer Lingus to Add DFW, Introduces New Business Class Product

Aer Lingus is likely to add Dallas to its growing North American route network next summer, following success in its new Toronto and San Francisco markets.

At the same time, they’ve announced that they’ll be outfitting their A330 aircraft with new business class cabins, featuring lie-flat beds, free wi-fi, and 16″ video screens. You can see the details here.

The new seats are similar to those that JetBlue has installed for its Mint service.

aerlingus

This will make Aer Lingus a decent option to Europe, as they’re pretty reasonably priced using Avios, and on the way home you can pre-clear customs in Ireland (though with Global Entry, that matters a lot less these days).

What the Hell? Eastern Air Lines Is Coming Back?

How did we miss this? Eastern Air Lines is coming back. Or at least some people have bought the rights to the name and for God knows what reason are looking to revive an airline that was, at least in its last years, reviled. What could go wrong?

Did you know they signed an order for 10 737-800s? I didn’t either. And 10 737 MAX aircraft. Who knew?

I noticed all of this today because they announced that the owner of the Florida Panthers has invested some of his hard-earned dollars in this.

They’ve announced nothing about the business, other than they’re based down in Florida and they sponsored Miami Fashion Week, which suggests that they’ll be based down there.

They’re hiring, so if you’re a pilot, HR specialist, or a manager of charter operations, they’d like to hear from you.

American Airlines Moves Some Sao Paulo Flights to Viracopos Airport

American Airlines said today that on December 2nd they’ll move 1 daily flight from Miami to Sao Paulo (GRU) to land, instead, at Viracopos Airport (VCP), about 60 miles outside the city. They’ll also move 3 weekly JFK flights to Viracopos.

VCP flights will be served with 767-300s with lie-flat seats up front, while all GRU flights will be on 777-300ERs outfitted with new cabins.

In October, AA will drop US Airways service to GRU from Charlotte in October and shift those passengers to fly to GRU via Miami.

(Got all that?)

VCP is useful for those connecting to secondary cities in Brazil on Azul, which has its main hub at Azul.

United Club Card First Year Free OR United Explorer with 50k Bonus

UPDATE: THERE IS NOW A PUBLIC OFFER FOR THIS:
https://www.theexplorercard.com/50kAFWLTO?cell=KWM

IT’S VALID THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2ND.

United has offered 50,000 bonus miles + $50 credit from time-to-time (and targeted), and it appears that offer is back for some users (including my father, who received a piece of mail with this offer). You also get 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user.

To see if you qualify, clear your cache, then log in to your United account. Then visit either of these links:

https://www.theexplorercard.com/50k50AFWIC
https://www.theexplorercard.com/50kAFW

united

The terms of the offer allow you to get the bonus if you’ve had the card more than 24 months ago, (which I don’t remember ever seeing on a Chase card):

[Bonus is not available for] previous cardmembers of this consumer credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this consumer credit card within the last 24 months…

Also interesting was that on that landing page there was a link to an offer for the United Club card – which gets you a year’s access to the United Club – for free for the first year ($395 thereafter). I haven’t seen that offer in quite a while either.

(Thanks, Flyertalk)

Notable New Routes: Curacao, Haiti and More

– JetBlue will launch nonstop service to Curacao (my favorite Caribbean island) beginning in December 2014. Twice weekly nonstop service from JFK will be available Tuesdays and Saturdays. Roundtrip fares start at a reasonable $325 or so.

– Ameircan Airlines will launch service from Miami to Cap Haitien in northern Haiti beginning in October, becoming the first international airline to serve that airport.

– KLM is ending longstanding service to Luanda Lusaka, Zambia.

Seaport Airlines (?) is launching nonstop service between San Diego and Burbank. Fares start at $77 each way.

– United is dropping San Francisco – Guadelajara on September 22nd.

– Anyone looking for an upgraded business class experience — American Airlines will run 5 (of its 7) daily flights between JFK and Miami on 757s with international business class configurations (angled lie-flat).