Featured Articles

Let’s Help Out a Honeymooner Stranded by United.. My Advice Is Radically Different from Another Consumer Advocate.

Apr 26 2015

United’s flight schedule from Antigua has changed, and honeymooners have to stay in paradise an extra night. Their hotel wants $900.

One consumer advocate says they should go to Congress for help. I say they should get the United flight segment refunded, and take the American non-stop home instead… or book a cheaper hotel for that last night. What say you?

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Airbus Celebrates 10 Years of the A380 — With Disingenuous Claims

Apr 26 2015

Airbus released a video on Friday celebrating 10 years of their A380 program. The video was produced before Airbus announced a new higher-density economy configuration, or they conveniently ignore their own announcement when talking about economy class comfort. Of course it’s a promotional video and they make some rather incredible claims. The video suggests that the A380 is more efficient than the Boeing 787 because you’d “need 2 787s to carry as many passengers” and that would be more costly and burn more fuel. That misses the point, of course: the question is whether a given route has as many passengers as an A380 can hold, where it’s economical to fly such a large aircraft. You need to fill an A380 for it to make sense. And that’s not something that works on most routes.…

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Here’s How New Boeing Overhead Bins Will Make Boarding Faster and Flying Easier

737 Space Bins at 737 Configuration Studio
Apr 26 2015

Many flyers don’t remember that before 9/11 passengers could take two carry on bags onboard. Generally passengers had a free allowance of three bags — and those could be two carry ons and one checked bag, or one carry on and two checked bags.

This changed by government regulation. The TSA wanted fewer bags going through the checkpoint, which meant less screening work, and fewer delays given a fixed throughput at the checkpoint.

Continental Airlines actually pushed back: they had installed higher capacity overhead bins as a customer convenience. Passengers wanted to carry on bags, and they viewed this accommodation as a competitive advantage.

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How to Avoid Onboard Fistfights and Still Get the Seats You Want

Apr 26 2015

A couple of weeks ago the New York Times carried a trend piece on arguments over seat swapping onboard.

I suppose if desires to switch seats are a trend, it’s a function of:

  • Fewer seats available for advance assignment, as airlines want customers to pay for ‘premium’ seats (more and more seats are designated as somehow premium even though they aren’t better)
  • Full planes, so fewer seats left for assignment at time of booking.

Nonetheless, it amazes me how many people don’t secure advance seat assignments, usually on international flights, and this is for people who really care where they sit.

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SEC Filings Reveal Data Behind American’s Frequent Flyer Program

Apr 26 2015

American Airlines has consistently revealed key metrics for the AAdvantage frequent flyer program in their 10-K SEC filings. And that let me build a spreadsheet showing how many members of the program there are, how many miles outstanding and redeemed for a given year, and what percentage of miles were accrued through partners rather than from flying.

What we see in the numbers is that American has had success in printing miles, selling them to partners, but also redeeming them. And the number of miles outstanding really hasn’t grown especially quickly over the years. So there’s not a situation of ‘too many miles chasing too few seats’ though if anything at the moment it’s ‘too few seats’.

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Now You Can Order Your Sandwich When You Hit the Tarmac at O’Hare. And That’s a Good Thing.

Apr 25 2015

The single greatest sandwich at any airport can be found at Tortas Frontera, at Chicago O’Hare (terminals 1, 3, and 5).

The only downside is that they make the sandwiches fresh, and while they’re generally ready in about 10 minutes I’ve turned up.. had to wait in line.. and been told to expect a 15 minute wait once I’ve been able to order. That can make things dicey on a quick connection – a choice between a delicious choriqueso and risking having to gate check a bag.

Now you no longer need to make that tradeoff…

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How to Handle Flight Delays and Checked Bags When Traveling on Separate Tickets

Apr 25 2015

Traveling on separate tickets is sometimes necessary to save money, or to put together award travel. But it presents risks.

If you’re connecting on different airlines with separate tickets, neither airline may be responsible for getting you to your final destination if things go awry. And you may not even be able to check your bags all the way through, either.

Here’s how different US airlines approach the problem, and what you can do to protect yourself.

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