Featured Articles

You Always Get Upgraded When You Want Upgrades the Least

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Sep 29 2016

Last week I needed to be in San Diego for one night. There aren’t any non-stops between Austin and San Diego, I rather expected Southwest might have one, but I wound up on American through Dallas. My flight into Dallas was a few minutes early but we had to wait about 20 minutes for a gate.

I wasn’t concerned as my relatively short connection time dwindled. I didn’t need to make it to my connecting gate before boarding started — for a simple overnight I just had my laptop bag and didn’t need any bin space. I’d be happy to be the last to board.

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Review: New York JFK – Abu Dhabi Etihad First Class Apartment, the Best Flight in the World

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Sep 29 2016

I’ve argued many times that the greatest luxury in air travel is space and privacy. As a result there’s no first class product that comes close to Etihad’s First Apartment on the Airbus A380. There’s an inflight chef, an onboard shower, but that’s all extra.

It’s the sheer spaciousness of the suite that makes this the best first class in the sky — and I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to fly it again and to be redeeming miles to do so.

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13 Best Songs About Travel

Comeflywithme
Sep 28 2016

Following my stab at a list of the 13 best movies about travel, I thought I’d work to come up with the very best songs about travel.

That’s a very different exercise than the best travel songs, this isn’t a ‘play list for the road’ it’s about borrowing someone else’s poetry to describe the travel experience. There’s no question that George Gershwin didn’t write Rhapsody in Blue to be about travel, but it’s equally clear that the 1924 composition has become inextricably linked with United Airlines.

What songs most evoke travel for you and are missing from my list? Which ones here are new to you?

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A New Trick to Jump the Upgrade Queue on American (But if You Don’t Know It, You Could Lose Out)

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Sep 28 2016

American Airlines gate agents are under a lot of pressure to get flights to push back exactly on time. As a result they organize their duties around this goal, at the expense of passengers.

There’s another wrinkle that several readers have emailed me about, though I haven’t experienced directly: gate agents who process upgrades by calling people at the gate, and skipping them if they aren’t waiting at the gate.

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Department of Justice Standing in the Way of Alaska-Virgin America Merger

westcoast
Sep 28 2016

Earlier in the week Alaska Airlines agreed to delay the close of its acquisition of Virgin American to at least October 17 in order to give the Department of Justice more time to review anti-trust issues.

Of course the Justice Department doesn’t need ‘more time’ so they can think deeply about the issue and decide what to do. They’ve clearly expressed reservations about the deal. We can conclude:

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Free American Airlines Lounge Access if You Have United or Delta Status

Last year I wrote How to Get – and Use – Airline Status Matches. Travel providers are interested in acquiring their competitors’ best customers, but elite status has a lock-in effect. Sure, you might want to defect from United to American or from Delta to Alaska, but it’s pretty tough to do that and start from scratch with a new airline. You’re well treated as an elite, and it’s rough out there flying without any status (although now the bottom tier of status can be approximated in many cases with the airline’s co-branded credit card). So airlines came up first with status matches (you have elite status with a competitor, we will give you that status on our airline to make it easier to move your business over) and then status challenges (we’ll let you…

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