Archive for the ‘United Airlines’ Category

Virgin America’s messin’ with Texas

A Texas-style greeting for Virgin America's inaugural flight to DFW today.

A Texas-style greeting for Virgin America’s inaugural flight to DFW today.

First it was the San Francisco-based Giants. Now it’s San Francisco-based Virgin America tearing into Texas and hoping to tan some hide.

Virgin America is throwing a big hoedown in Dallas today to celebrate its arrival at Dallas-Ft Worth International Airport, the primary hub and headquarters of American Airlines. (American also happens to be the former employer of Virgin CEO David Cush.)

Dallas is also home to Virgin archrival Southwest Airlines, so it is time to pull out all the stops.

Those lucky enough to be on Virgin’s first flight (from LAX…SFO service starts Dec. 6) were treated to a catered Texas-style barbecue lunch on the tarmac upon arrival. Mayors of both Dallas and Ft. Worth along with small herd of Texas longhorn steers were there to greet them (see photo above).

Tonight, there’s a big party benefiting cancer research at the Dallas Opera House that will include a performance by Willie Nelson and an appearance by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson (natch).

American Airlines is not about to take a whoopin’ from a San Francisco-based outsider like Virgin, especially when it comes to the lucrative business travel market. To fight back, it’s pulled out its most powerful (and expensive) marketing gun: double elite qualifying miles on all flights between DFW, SFO and LAX from now through February 28. (To get the bonus miles, AAdvantage members must register prior to travel.)

From SFO, Virgin will operate just two flights per day compared to American’s nine. Its arrival in the market has brought down fares, with the lowest promotional ones now running about $260 round trip- matched, of course, by American and United. (Like Virgin, United offers only two SFO-DFW roundtrips per day and so far has not matched American’s double mileage promo.)

How will Virgin’s fleet of brand new planes equipped with seatback TV, Wi-Fi, signature cocktails and mood lighting stand up to American’s more conservative offering? Wrangling business travelers could be a tough for Virgin according to San Francisco resident Henry Harteveldt, principal travel analyst at Forrester Research. He said,

“It’ll be tough for Virgin America to get many business travelers with its limited schedule. Still, American’s actions show that it takes Virgin America seriously as a competitor, as they should. American will have to work hard to defend its market share. Virgin’s product and experience are tangibly better than what American offers. If Virgin adds more flights between Dallas and LAX/SFO, or adds other cities from DFW, they will give American a run for its money.”

In addition to some tough competition from American, Virgin is going to have to fend off nonstop competition between SFO and Dallas Love Field from Southwest starting in 2014. That’s when the Wright Amendment fizzles out, allowing Southwest to offer nonstop flights from SFO, OAK, SJC to Dallas Love. (Currently, it’s only allowed to offer one stop or connecting flights.)

  • Share/Bookmark

United 747 buzzes SF Bay. Good or bad idea?

A United Airlines 747 swoops in over Golden Gate for a low-level fly over the Bay. (Photo: DGies / Flickr)

I was out on the San Francisco Bay with thousands of others for the Blue Angels show on Saturday. What a day!

Part of the show included a low-level flyover by a giant United Airlines Boeing 747.

I thought it looked pretty cool. But I heard some grumbling among the crowd I was with about it. When I posted some shots and video (below) on my Facebook page, a minor scuffle broke out between some friends who liked it, others who said it reminded them of 9/11, and a vet who was appalled at the invasion of corporate sponsorship into a military show.

Personally, it did not bother me much. Since I’m a window-seat sorta frequent flyer, I would have loved to have been on board peering out at the Golden Gate at such close range. Wow!

What about you? I’d like to get your reaction to seeing this big bird fly over the bay.

Please leave your comments below!

  • Share/Bookmark

United tweaks new logo, livery

The new combined United/Continental released a “tweaked” new look today. (It originally just replaced the word “Continental” with “United.” This is a bit more refined.)

The new logo displays the combined company’s brand name in capital letters (UNITED) in a custom sans-serif font, joined with the global mark which has represented Continental’s brand image since 1991.

A corresponding update of the combined airline’s aircraft livery will adopt Continental’s livery, colors and design, including its blue-gold-white globe image on the tail, combined with the new-style UNITED name on the fuselage.

Scroll down to see both and leave a comment!

  • Share/Bookmark

Summer fares soar out of SFO

I’ve been predicting a busy, expensive summer when it comes to air travel for a few months now. That’s because airline capacity is down, but demand is increasing as the economy continues to strengthen. When you combine those two factors, the result is higher prices. Which is exactly where the airlines want us to be.

So now that it’s time for me to start booking my summer trips, it looks like those predictions of high prices are coming home to roost.

Here’s a sampling of what I’m looking at…and what you’ll find, too. Ouch!

$500 to New York City. I need to be in New York in early June to meet with a large international airline. I need to take a morning departure from here to arrive in New York in the evening. The cheapest midweek nonstop fare I can find is $513 on American. There are a few one-stops or red-eyes in the $400 range, but I’m not willing to do that for $100 in savings.

$520 to Boston. I’m taking a work/vacation trip to Massachusetts straddling the July 4 holiday weekend, which means peak prices, so there’s no getting around high fares- in this case $520 round trip on United. Again, I can get a slightly cheaper fare for a one-stop or red eye, but I’m not willing to take that much time out of my holiday to save less than $100.

(Like what you are reading? Then follow me on Facebook for more frequent updates and info.)

$380 to Atlanta. I own a rental house in Atlanta that I like to go check on each summer. The cheapest nonstop coach fare on AirTran in June is running $377. Delta wants $409. Not horrible, but I’ve paid as little as $220 on this route in recent years.

$450 to Houston. In August, the National Business Travel Association is having its annual convention in Houston. I try to hit this one up each year because it’s so important to my business. But that $450 fare is making me think twice. This might be a case where I’d be willing to take a one-stop flight on Frontier or Southwest where the lowest fare is running about $340.

$1500 to Europe. Since I’m going to Massachusetts for my summer vacation, I won’t be hitting Greece in August. But I still like to THINK about going to Greece in August (despite the recent unrest). But not this year. With airlines reducing frequencies across the Atlantic, and demand increasing, fares are soaring. The least expensive one-stop flight from SFO to Athens in mid-August is now $1520. It’s like that all over Europe this summer. London nonstops are already about $1200 round trip. Frankfurt nonstops are $1500 in August. If you find anything under $1000, book it now!

(Note: I did a quick scan of fares on Kayak.com on Tues. May 11. Fares will undoubtedly change…but I doubt they will decrease much!)

Where are YOU going this summer? Have you checked fares yet? Please leave a comment below and let us know what sort of fares you’re looking at.

  • Share/Bookmark

What United + Continental means to YOU

The new United livery keeps the Continental look, but changes the name. (Photo: United Airlines)

United and Continental boards have approved a merger of the two carriers, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

What does all this mean to Bay Area Travelers?

FARES: While consolidation and fewer competitors ultimately leads to higher prices, the reality is that Continental and United never really competed with each other out of Bay Area airports. And there are few routes from here that are dominated by the two. For example, nonstop flights between SFO and Houston on both United and Continental have always been expensive- expect them to stay that way. Those who want a deal on the route should consider a one-stop flight on low-fare carriers Southwest or Frontier.

FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAMS: Since it appears that United will be the surviving entity, Mileage Plus members should not expect any huge changes. If you’ve got any extra Continental OnePass miles lying around, those will be added to your Mileage Plus balance. Good news: OnePass has always been one of the best rated frequent flyer programs out there, so maybe Mileage Plus will cherry pick the good parts? Time will tell.

EARNING, BURNING MILES: Mileage Plus members already have access to the Continental network due to its recent inclusion in the Star Alliance, which added nice earning and burning opportunities where Continental is strong, such as in Mexico, Central and South America as well as the South Pacific (on Air Micronesia). See Continental Route Map.

ECONOMY PLUS: United is the only legacy carrier to offer its frequent flyers roomier coach class seats. Continental does not offer the equivalent of United’s Economy Plus seating (which I really appreciate on the long haul) so I hope the concept survives.

>LIKE WHAT YOU ARE READING? The Follow me on FACEBOOK! <

P.S. FLIGHTS: I’m wondering if we’ll see those nice P.S. flights between SFO and New York-JFK shift to Newark where Continental has a large, efficient hub operation and better club space… at least nicer than United’s minor presence at JFK.

SFO AIRPORT: The combination of United and Continental will mean Continental will leave Concourse 1 and operations will move to United’s hub at Concourse 3, which will get even MORE crowded than it already is at peak times.

BRAGGADOCIO. SFO will also get bragging rights for being a hub of “the world’s largest airline” which will result when United and Continental merge. The new United will take that title away from the new Delta, which when it merged with Northwest, enjoyed a short life as the biggest player.

WHO NEXT? American and US Airways are likely entering a major flirtation stage at this point. They are the remaining two legacy airlines and will be dwarfed by the new United and new Delta.

More info from United on the merger here.

It’s a little early to tell, but here are my initial thoughts. I’d be eager to hear what you think about the merger and how it might affect your flying. Please leave your comments below.

>LIKE WHAT YOU ARE READING? The Follow me on FACEBOOK! <

  • Share/Bookmark

United + Continental deal is done.

(Crain’s) — United and Continental airlines have reached an agreement on a merger and expect to announce a deal by Monday, pending approval by their boards, a source briefed on the matter says.

United’s board is set to meet Friday to discuss the deal, the source told Crain’s, and Continental’s board is expected to vote Sunday.

A deal isn’t assured. Continental’s board voted down a merger with United two years ago in a Sunday afternoon vote.

But that seems less likely now. Then, the industry was headed into a recession, and United’s financials were deteriorating. Now, air travel is beginning to recover, and United is leading the way, enjoying the biggest gains in revenue among the traditional carriers.

Here’s the full story:

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=38032&ba=1

What are your thoughts on this big move?

  • Share/Bookmark

More in-flight wi-fi coming to the Bay

Alaska Airlines 737. Photo: Keith Gaskell

I’m a huge fan of in-flight Wi-Fi, especially for flights longer than 90 minutes, so I’m excited to learn that two more airlines that serve the Bay Area in a big way are adding it. But not for a while.

First off, Alaska Air announced that it’s reached a deal with AirCell’s Gogo—the same provider used by Virgin America, United, Delta and others. But don’t hold your breath. The carrier still has to go through testing and certification with the FAA. It plans to outfit its fleet of new Boeing 737-800’s first, but has not officially set a target date for installation.

One downside: Much of Alaska Airlines’ flying is over water or desolate areas in Alaska, Canada and Mexico where the ground-based Gogo system is currently out of range of the network of radio towers it depends on. That means I’ll get a good Wi-Fi signal in-flight if I choose an Alaska Airlines flight from here to Seattle or Austin. (It adds a second daily “Nerd Bird” nonstop between San Jose and Austin next week.) But my Wi-Fi is not going to work on those new Alaska Air flights from here to Hawaii. And it will be spotty at best on the long coastal flights between Seattle and Anchorage.

Here’s where this story gets ironic. Southwest Airlines, which flies almost exclusively over land, has chosen another in-flight Wi-Fi provider called Row 44, which uses a satellite-based system that works over water and just about anywhere else.

At one time, Alaska Airlines seemed close to landing a deal with Row 44, which would make sense given its flying patterns. Instead, it’s gone with land-based Gogo. Why? “Ultimately Alaska Airlines decided to go with Aircell’s Gogo service because of its proven track record of deploying affordable inflight Wi-Fi services to travelers. Its lower-cost equipment, coupled with the ease and speed of installation and finally its system reliability, allow us  to rapidly deploy a desirable service to customers,” Alaska Airlines spokesperson Bobbie Egan told The BAT.

Anyway, Southwest plans to start outfitting its fleet of 540 Boeing 737’s this spring, and says Wi-Fi will be available fleet wide by late 2012.

Frequent travelers from the Bay Area are lucky… they have more in-flight Wi-Fi choices than nearly any other major city. (Except maybe Atlanta, where AirTran offers it on all flights from its hub there, and Delta’s got it on well over half its fleet.) From the Bay, all Virgin America flights offer it. Delta, United and American offer it on all flights between SFO and JFK, and on select flights to other cities. AirTran offers it on all flights between here and Atlanta and beyond.

Have you tried in-flight Wi-Fi? Are you as big a fan as I am? I can’t think of a better way to take advantage of a long flight. To me, it’s the greatest thing since the introduction of the in-flight movie. I don’t mind paying for it either. It definitely drives my airline choice, especially when planning flights longer than 90 minutes. Please leave your comments and experiences with in-flight Wi-Fi below.

Here’s an interesting video that explains how Gogo’s ground-based in-flight internet works:

  • Share/Bookmark

The BAT on Bloomberg! (Talking Business Class)

United's Lie-Flat Biz-Class Sleeper. Now on ALL 747 and 767 aircraft

Hey Folks: Our new little BAT blog is getting some good press! Check out our quote in the following Bloomberg article about the s-l-o-w return of business class amenities on international flights.

Here’s the link: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=a10He8umbUY4

And here are a few lines from the intro:

By Mary Jane Credeur and Mary Schlangenstein

Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) — Delta Air Lines Inc. and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines, the world’s two largest carriers, are counting on lie-flat seats and Tahitian crab soup to help win back their most-profitable customers.

With the easing of an 18-month global slump in first- and business-class travel, Delta’s seats that recline 180 degrees into beds and American’s Asian-fusion appetizers are lures for the corporate passengers whose ranks dwindled when the global recession ravaged budgets for international flying.

Filling the premium seats at the front of airplane cabins is pivotal to U.S. airlines’ efforts to return to profit in 2010 after weak demand forced them into discounting to woo vacationers. Business fliers are prized because they typically pay the highest prices and take to the air more often.

“If you’re flying to Japan or Seoul, it makes all the difference in the world to put your legs up and really sleep and arrive rested and ready to go,” said Chris McGinnis, editor of The BAT, a San Francisco-based newsletter and blog for frequent travelers. “You’re going to feel really taken care of.”

U.S. airlines have been playing catch-up in recent years with overseas competitors such as Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. that moved more quickly to add amenities including seats that convert into beds.

Here’s the link: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=a10He8umbUY4

  • Share/Bookmark

A new private check-in/security area at SFO (video)

follow this link to the 1.5 min videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRHRzSzaBU4

[The BAT is now on SFgate! Check it out here.]

(Do you like what you are reading and watching?? Then SIGN UP for The BAT today!)

  • Share/Bookmark

A Round-Up of New and Reinstated Flights at SFO

The following new airlines and routes will be added at San Francisco International Airport in upcoming months:

January 5:

  • Jetblue adds second daily A-320 nonstops to/from Boston and New York-JFK
  • JetBlue adds two daily roundtrips to Long Beach for a total of five daily.

February 11: United adds new roundtrip A320 nonstop to/from St. Louis

March 28:

  • United reinstates second daily  flights to: London,  Frankfurt and Tokyo (all Boeing 777 aircraft)
  • United adds two more flights per week to Osaka for daily nonstop service

May 4: WestJet adds seasonal nonstops to/from Calgary with B737 aircraft.

May 10: AirBerlin starts Weds and Fri roundtrips to/from Dusseldorf using A330 aircraft

June 1. Swiss begins 6x per week roundtrips to/from Zurich with A340. (no Tuesdays)

June 22: Air France adds second daily seasonal flights to Paris on Tues, Thurs and Sat.

  • Share/Bookmark

A Mixed Bag of Newsy Nuggets: United VERY On-Time, Big New Plane Order, Vegas Packed for CES and more

Boeing's New "Dreamliner." Squint and look at that coach section at the back. Familiar?

UNITED ORDERS NEW PLANES. While they won’t be touching down at SFO until at least 2016, United recently announced that it’s placed orders for 50 new wide-body aircraft. It split the order 50/50 between the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” and the Airbus A350. Both are about the size of current Boeing 767 or 777 aircraft and will eventually replace them.

NOT SO DREAMY. We’ve got an issue with the whole “Dreamliner” name… and get irritated when we see reporters get all wistful and dreamy-eyed thinking that everyone’s going to get a massage and a flat bed for sleeping (and dreaming) on every flight. Sorry folks—the plane is a dream to the airline, because it purportedly uses about 20% less fuel. But it’s not so dreamy for passengers sitting in coach- it’s just another twin-aisle, wide-body plane…okay, with bigger windows, maybe, but still…. (See photo above. Look beyond those dreamy first class seats!)

LOOK RIGHT>>> AND CHECK OUT OUR NEW ADVERTISER! Cavallo Point, located next to the Golden Gate Bridge (down and to the right if you are headed north) has been on our list of must-see Bay Area hotspots since it opened last year. While it’s a gorgeous, historic and luxurious resort, locals should visit to sit in the winter sun on the veranda at it’s Farley’s Bar, soak in the rays and the views, have a great meal and a bottle of wine….and look for your BAT editor! I’ll be there! Really, folks, if you like what you are reading on The BAT, please support our advertisers! It helps us help you! -cjm

UAL: BEST ON TIME PERFORMANCE—EVER? Yep, it’s true. According to the DOT, United was on time 91% of the time this past November, its best performance since the government starting tracking it in 1987. How did this happen? It’s all about the money according to gadling.com. Since last winter, United has offered all employees a $100 bonus each month the airline tops the DOT on-time ranking. They get $65 for second place.

MORE JETBLUE TO THE BAY. Starting May 13, JetBlue will add new nonstop flights between San Jose and Boston. (Introductory fares start at $99 each way.) JetBlue already offers nonstops from San Jose to New York-JFK. It also offers nonstops between Boston and SFO and Oakland.

CONNECT IN THE BART TUNNEL…EVENTUALLY. If you take BART to/from the airport or to/from work, you’re gonna like this: AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint/Nextel and Verizon flipped the switch on their wireless networks in the Transbay Tube on Dec 20. However, the Chronicle reports that despite the announcement, the service did not work as well as expected, so seamless use of mobile devices in the tunnel could take a while…

FLOWN LOW COST LATELY? Did you know that just 10 years ago, 90% of all air travel in the U.S. was on so-called “legacy carriers” like United, Continental, Delta, etc. Only 10% was on low cost carriers such as Southwest, AirTran or JetBlue. Well, what a difference a decade makes. Legacy dominance has declined to just 74% of the market this year…low-cost carriers have 26% of the market and low-cost giant Southwest owns 64% of that market.

NO MORE THAN THREE. Lengthy tarmac delays are a rarity at Bay Area airports, thank goodness! But they do happen (but mostly back east and most often due to snow and ice or de-icing.) Nonetheless, the feds have enacted new rules (effective later this winter) that will force airlines to provide food and water after two hours on the tarmac and a mandated return to the gate if they’ve been on the tarmac for more than three hours. If they don’t, they are fined $27,000 per passenger (that’s $5.5 million for a planeload of 200 pissed off passengers). Ouch! While the airlines are saying that the new rule will do more harm than good, the reality is that when faced with a fine like that, they will be forced to make operational changes that, in the long run, will prevent the horror stories we’ve all heard about folks stuck in stinky planes for hours on end. Your BAT editor has a comment about the whole brouhaha in this ABCNews.com article.

NEW MEMBERSHIP REWARDS PARTNER. Got a big bank of American Express Membership Rewards points that you are aching to redeem? You’ve got a new option: British Airways Executive Club recently became the 17th participating frequent flyer plan in the program. BA flies to 150 destinations worldwide from SFO via its two flights a day to London. (Stay tuned for a first hand BAT report later this winter from the Maldives…BA’s newest, and perhaps sexiest destination ever!)

VEGAS WILL BE PACKED. All indications are showing that this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (Jan 7-10) is going to be full to overflowing. Why? Pent up demand. This time last year we were all in economic shock. Attendees for CES and many other conventions were forced to cancel their plans. With things looking up this year, everyone wants to go back. So expect FULL flights between the Bay and Vegas, full hotels, and the necessity of restaurant reservations. The city is expecting in excess of 100,000 visitors for this, the city’s largest event of the year.

NEW ARRIVALS TAX IN ARGENTINA. Effective immediately, all U.S. citizens arriving at Buenos Aires Ezeiza Airport must pay a one-time “reciprocity fee” of USD $131.00 upon arrival. Why? Because that’s the amount the U.S. charges Argentines applying for entry into the U.S. (Several other South American countries such as Chile, Brazil and Bolivia already require such fees.) While the fee might make travelers wince, the Argentine government stands to pull in a cool $52 million from the 400,000 or so Americans that arrive each year.

REGIONAL UPGRADES ARE BACK FOR 1K’s. United is getting very good at listening to their best customers. After the backlash surrounding the elimination of regional upgrades, this announcement recently appeared on the UAL site: “Sometimes no change is good news. After our last announcement, we heard from our 1K members how much they value their Regional Upgrades. To thank them for their ongoing loyalty, we’ve decided to continue issuing regional upgrades to 1Ks, even after the unlimited domestic upgrades program launches.” Regional upgrades are considered more valuable than the newer “unlimited upgrades” because they can be applied at the time of reservation.

HILTON HHONORS—GOOD AND BAD NEWS. First the good. Members of Virgin America’s Elevate program can now earn miles for stays at Hilton’s family of hotel brands. Now the bad: Hilton is increasing the number of HHonors points required for award redemptions starting on January 14. Most reward categories will require an additional 5000 points for a free night stay. Stays at Hilton’s poshest brand, the Waldorf=Astoria Collection, are now pretty much standardized at 50,000 per night in the low season and 60,000 in high season.

SOUTHWEST BUMPS UP AT OAK—REINSTATES NASHVILLE. In May, Southwest will restore a single daily nonstop service between Oakland and Nashville, Tennessee. It will also add frequency between OAK and the cities of Albuquerque, Denver, and Seattle-Tacoma.

WHICH BAY AREA AIRPORT DO YOU USE? From a VERY interesting article in the San Jose Mercury News: “Among domestic passengers departing or arriving in the Bay Area, 57 percent use SFO, up from 43 percent just three years ago. By contrast, Oakland’s portion of the region’s passengers has dipped from 33 percent in 2006 to 23 percent now, while San Jose’s share dropped from 24 percent to 20 percent during that span. The analysts contend that the turning point arrived in 2007, when SFO landed low-cost carriers Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Virgin America. Southwest and JetBlue have long been Oakland territory, with nearly six of every seven passengers taking those two airlines, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. About half of San Jose’s passengers fly Southwest. Now, Southwest has quickly become the third-most popular airline at SFO, even though it does not fly international routes.”

  • Share/Bookmark

Delta Offers New Upgraded “Business Elite” SFO-New York (2.5 min VIDEO)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khIytDRus58

Delta’s now offering a schwanky new transcon Business Elite service for flights between SFO and New York-JFK.  Fares run in the $1000 to $3000 range.

I have only flown United P.S Business and Delta on this route and would love it if someone could chime in with some comments below about American’s premium classes or Virgin America’s first class on the route.

Delta’s upgraded service brings it up to par with rivals on the busy route.

Like United’s PS flights, Delta flies only Boeing 757’s on the route. However, Delta offers 16 Business Elite seats in the front section of the aircraft (forward of the galley and to the left when you enter the plane). The rest of the plane is coach (no first class.)

United P.S. offers 12 first class, lie flat seats and 26 business class, cradle style seats which are similar to Delta’s. (On United, first and business class comprise about two thirds of the on-board real estate.)

Delta Transcon Business Elite offers a wide range of entertainment options, but no live TV on its in-seat AVOD system. United passes out portable, individual inflight entertainment units that offer more limited choices than Delta’s.

United currently has in-flight wi-fi on ALL P.S. flights. Delta says that its wi-fi installation on these flights should be complete by the end of Dec 2009. Both United and Delta offer in-flight power plugs for laptops.

Anyway, The BAT recently went along for a test ride— see our 2.5 min video review. Enjoy! Take a look and let us know what you think. LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW!

  • Share/Bookmark

Mixed Bag of BAT News and BAT Tips

MORE $$ FOR MORE SPACE. United says that it will raise the price for annual membership to its Economy Plus Annual Option from $349 to $425 starting Jan 10. This promo is a good idea for someone who does not fly UAL enough to get elite status (and therefore automatic upgrades to more spacious economy plus seating) but would like to have access to roomier seats onboard.  Note: While you get the ability to reserve Economy Plus seats with this plan (for you and a companion), you are not always guaranteed one.

FARES A TWITTER. The new flight search engine Fly.com is now tweeting last minute flight deals from Bay Area airports…as we go to press, some deals:  SFO-Cabo for $294 round trip. Vegas for $99 round trip. Twitterati should follow at: #SFfares

RED CARPET CLOSED AT FRANKFURT. United has closed its Red Carpet Club in Frankfurt and encourages members to use partner Lufthansa’s (distant, but much nicer) clubs instead. (Notefrom BAT reader Mark: “The Lufthansa clubs in Frankfurt aren’t always farther away.  A good number of United’s daily departures leave from the A gates and the new Tower Lounge @ FRA’s A concourse is in the right spot to make relaxing before the flight a breeze.”)

KOREAN AIR TO BRING ON 747. Korean Air will switch out its current 777 flying between SFO to Seoul with a 747 starting next summer.

MILWAUKEE BOUND? Midwest Airlines, which abandoned SFO a while back, will return with new nonstops to Milwaukee, WI using an Airbus A319 starting in April.

UNITED COPAYS. After going back and forth on the issue,  United will begin charging copays for upgrades in January. This pay-to-play move is both good and bad: Good in that you can now score a confirmed upgrade off of any discounted fare, which was prohibited in the past. Bad in that you actually have to shell out some coin to get out of coach. So, BAT readers, what do you think….is this a positive or a negative? Would you rather UAL stick to the old plan, or is this new one a good thing?

SO LONG 737. In case you missed the celebration, United has officially grounded its last Boeing 737. (We’re glad. They were getting a little tatty and worn out.)

MORE FLIGHTS FROM BAY TO HAWAII. Fresh off its inauguration of new flights between Oakland and Hawaii, Alaska Air has announced that it will add new nonstops between San Jose, Sacramento and Hawaii (Kona and Maui) starting on March 11. It will use a two class 737 on the route. Current lowest fares for travel next spring are running at about $350 roundtrip.

SFO TERMINAL 2 TOPS OUT. Workers welded the final steel beam into place on the renovation at Terminal 2 at SFO, which will be the new home of Virgin America flights in about another 18 months. (Scuttlebutt: American Airlines is a possible Terminal 2 tenant as well. This would make sense if United’s new partner, Continental, moves into AA’s space in Terminal 3.) The state-of-the-art, LEEDS certified terminal will have 14 gates, a “slow food” marketplace (more wholesome, locally produced selections), a spa, and two 500-sq foot kiddie play areas. Bring it on! (The terminal is paid in part with stimulus funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Thank you President Obama.)

DOWN HOME WITH SOUTHWEST IN MANHATTAN. BAT editor Chris McGinnis checked out Southwest Airlines “porch” in New York’s Bryant Park. Southwest is using the porch to woo Big Apple business travelers to its new flights to New York’s nearby La Guardia Airport. Would you fly SW to New York? To do so, you’ll have to make a quick stop at Chicago Midway, and sale fares are currently running at about $300 roundtrip.

TRAIN TO/FROM THE PLANE IN SEATTLE. Starting on December 19, the long awaited light rail link between SEA-TAC and downtown Seattle will open! The station will be connected to the airport via walkways through the parking garage. Stops along the 35-minute trip to downtown Seattle Link include: SODO, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley neighborhoods and Tukwila.

NO UAL PREMIER OR 1K FOR YOU NEXT YEAR? If, like a lot of folks faced less frequent travel due to the recession, you’ve lost your elite status on United, you can buy your way into the perks you’ve grown accustomed to. Depending on flight length, you can pay a premium of anywhere from about $50 to $175 each way for “United’s Premier Travel Package.” With it, you’ll get access to the elite security lines, priority boarding, upgrades to Economy Plus, two-free checked bags and a Mileage Plus bonus. Pay twice that much, and you’ll also get a pass to the Red Carpet Club. (Purchase online or soon at United check in kiosks)

MORE ON TIME. With airlines parking more planes in the desert, airport congestion has become less of a problem at most airports (But not NYC!). In September, airlines had their best on-time performance since 2003, with 86% of flights arriving on time. That’s an improvement over August when just 80% arrived on time. It’s also slightly better than last September when 85% arrived on-time. Alaska Air and Southwest topped the list for best on time performance at about 90% on time.

AA TRANSCONS GET CREAMED. Starting Dec 1, business class passengers of American’s transcon flights out of SFO will get Ben & Jerry’s sundaes.

  • Share/Bookmark

Oh, Oh, Oh! The Places You Can Now Go!

Jean Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort

Now that Continental has joined the Star Alliance and has a code share arrangement with United, Mileage Plus members now have 123 NEW destinations where they can earn or redeem their miles flying Continental. Some of these new spots are very sexy, very exotic, very exciting….the ones that interest me the most? Hmmm: Fiji, Antigua, Cairns, Puerto Plata, Micronesia, Edinburgh, Oaxaca, Managua, Anchorage, Key West, Caracas…

PLEASE leave your comments below and tell me which ones interest YOU the most….??

Here’s the list of cities where Continental flies and that United does NOT fly. (Thanks, Continental for providing this info to The BAT!)

ANU ANTIGUA AG
BON BONAIRE AN
CUR CURACAO AN
CNS CAIRNS AU
BDA BERMUDA BM
NAS NASSAU BS
BZE BELIZE CITY BZ
YQM MONCTON CA
YTM MONT TREMBLANT CA
YYT ST. JOHNS CA
BOG BOGOTA CO
SJO SAN JOSE CR
TXL BERLIN DE
HAM HAMBURG DE
CPH COPENHAGEN DK
POP PUERTO PLATA DO
SDQ SANTO DOMINGO DO
UIO QUITO EC
BCN BARCELONA ES
NAN NADI FJ
KSA KOSRAE FM
PNI POHNPEI FM
TKK TRUK FM
YAP YAP FM
BFS BELFAST GB
BHX BIRMINGHAM GB
BRS BRISTOL GB
EDI EDINBURGH GB
GLA GLASGOW GB
MAN MANCHESTER GB
ATH ATHENS GR
GUA GUATEMALA CITY GT
GUM GUAM GU
RTB ROATAN HN
SAP SAN PEDRO SULA HN
TGU TEGUCIGALPA HN
DUB DUBLIN IE
SNN SHANNON IE
TLV TEL AVIV-YAFO IL
DEL DELHI IN
BOM MUMBAI IN
MXP MILAN IT
FUK FUKUOKA JP
HIJ HIROSHIMA JP
NGO NAGOYA JP
KIJ NIIGATA JP
OKJ OKAYAMA JP
CTS SAPPORO JP
SDJ SENDAI JP
GCM GRAND CAYMAN ISL KY
KWA KWAJALEIN MH
MAJ MAJURO MH
ROP ROTA MP
SPN SAIPAN MP
ACA ACAPULCO MX
AGU AGUASCALIENTES MX
CUU CHIHUAHUA MX
CME CIUDAD DEL CARMEN MX
DGO DURANGO MX
GDL GUADALAJARA MX
HUX HUATULCO MX
ZIH IXTAPA/ZIHUATANEJO MX
BJX LEON/GUANAJUATO MX
ZLO MANZANILLO MX
MZT MAZATLAN MX
MID MERIDA MX
MTY MONTERREY MX
MLM MORELIA MX
OAX OAXACA MX
PBC PUEBLA MX
QRO QUERETARO MX
SLW SALTILLO MX
SLP SAN LUIS POTOSI MX
TAM TAMPICO MX
TLC TOLUCA MX
TRC TORREON MX
VER VERACRUZ MX
VSA VILLAHERMOSA MX
MGA MANAGUA NI
OSL OSLO NO
PTY PANAMA CITY PA
LIM LIMA PE
MNL MANILA PH
BQN AGUADILLA PR
LIS LISBON PT
ROR KOROR PW
ARN STOCKHOLM SE
SAL SAN SALVADOR SV
POS PORT OF SPAIN TT
AEX ALEXANDRIA US
AMA AMARILLO US
ANC ANCHORAGE US
BTR BATON ROUGE US
BPT BEAUMONT/PT ARTHUR US
BRO BROWNSVILLE US
CLL COLLEGE STATION US
CRP CORPUS CHRISTI US
DAL DALLAS/FT. WORTH US
DRT DEL RIO US
ERI ERIE US
FNT FLINT US
FLL FT. LAUDERDALE US
VPS FT. WALTON BEACH US
GPT GULFPORT/BILOXI US
HRL HARLINGEN US
ITH ITHACA US
JAN JACKSON US
EYW KEY WEST US
GRK KILLEEN US
LFT LAFAYETTE US
LCH LAKE CHARLES US
LRD LAREDO US
LBB LUBBOCK US
MFE MC ALLEN US
MOB MOBILE AL/PASCAG US
MLU MONROE US
ACK NANTUCKET US
SHV SHREVEPORT US
TYR TYLER US
VCT VICTORIA US
PBI W.PALM BEACH US
ACT WACO US
CCS CARACAS VE

PLEASE leave your comments below and tell me which ones interest YOU the most….??

  • Share/Bookmark

What United Mileage Plus Members Need to Know about New Continental Alliance

What do Mileage Plus members in the Bay Area have to gain from the entry of Continental into the Star Alliance and a code sharing deal with United? First off, plenty of new Continental destinations south of the border (Mexico) and in the south Pacific (via a hub in Guam) where you can now redeem miles for award trips.

Plus, Mileage Plus members will have a lot more opportunities the EARN United miles on Continental flights—the code share agreement adds 60 cities previously not served by United.

Here’s Continental’s global route map

The miles you earn on Continental can be accrued in Mileage Plus. And the flight miles you earn qualify toward elite status. You earn one Elite Qualifying Mile (EQM) for each flight mile you earn and one Elite Qualifying Segment (EQS) for each segment you fly.

map from airportterminalmaps.com

However, connecting from a United flight to a Continental flight at any of Continental’s three U.S. hubs is going to be VERY difficult for the time being. For example, most United flights land at Newark’s Terminal A. All of Continental’s operations are in terminal C. This means exiting and re-entering secure space, a transfer between terminals using the airport monorail system and potential delays transferring bags on tight connections. Also, EWR is famously congested and subject to serious air traffic delays. The same goes for connections at Continental’s main hub at Houston Intercontinental Airport. United flights use terminal A while Continental flights use terminal C (primarily) and terminal B (for mostly regional flights). If you’ve ever taken that rickety underground people mover system at IAH, you know it’s going to be a tough connection! (A newer “Terminal Link” train system will eventually connect Terminal A to the rest of the airport. But for now, it’s a slow-go.) When flying from SFO to Cleveland, only Continental offers nonstops, so connections in its Terminals C and D should not be a problem. However, if you arrive from elsewhere on United, you’ll use Terminal B, quite a long walk away.

Small upside: In recent months, Continental has co-located with United in several U.S. airports including Chicago, Frankfurt, Salt Lake City and Cincinnati. (And soon in Paris-CDG and Tokyo-Narita)

Frequent flyer guru Randy Petersen, the father of the mammoth frequent flyer social networking site flyertalk.com says that Mileage Plus members have a lot to gain and little to lose with this new alliance. “First off, Continental is going to force a lot of positive changes on the Mileage Plus program. Second, due to the way the alliance is currently structured, Mileage Plus members will not see any extra competition for Economy Plus seats or upgrades. However, Hawaii-bound travelers are going to be hearing a lot more Texas twang on United flights from the Bay Area to Hawaii as Continental OnePass members from Texas jump on those routes with their miles.”

If you are a Red Carpet Club member (or on a first or business class ticket), you now have access to Continental President’s Clubs at TEN new airports. Here’s what United’s Web site is saying:

United Red Carpet Club members now enjoy full access to Continental President’s Club locations, expanding members’ options to 58 clubs in 36 airports, including 14 lounges in 10 airports not currently served by a Red Carpet Club:
1. Atlanta
2. Austin
3. Cleveland
4. Dallas
5. Houston (five locations)
6. Ft. Lauderdale
7. Las Vegas
8. San Antonio
9. Guam
10. Panama City, Panama

Any Mileage Plus members flying in first or business class on United or Continental can also access the President’s Club lounges. Additionally, Premier Executive, 1K and Global Services members can access these lounges when traveling with a same-day international ticket.

  • Share/Bookmark

Are you a frequent traveler living in the San Francisco Bay Area?
Then you need to read THE BAT! We sift through all the travel news out there and post only the info that applies to YOU!

Subscribe
to the BAT

 Get The Bat via RSS Feed

The Bat on SFGate