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Archive for airlines

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

By Linda Tancs

Some recent news indicated that certain airlines will try matching passengers according to interests when assigning seats, a move no doubt calculated to make that long haul flight a bit more tolerable, not to mention social.  Well, for those who would prefer to take control of their own matchmaking, Air New Zealand’s Twin Seat option takes the worry out of bad neighbors.  For a reduced price, you can buy the seat next to you and enhance your personal space.   So which is more important to you:  your sociability quotient or your sanity?

Charting Checked Bag Fees

By Linda Tancs

Ever wish you could have a handy reference for each major U.S. airline’s checked bag fees?  Your wish is granted.  Airfare Watchdog has published an updated list of checked bag fees for first and second bags, additional bags, overweight bags and oversized bags.  With all those fees, you’d be tempted to make do with a carry-on.  Not so fast.  Airlines impose weight limits on carry-on bags, too.  Maybe that checked bag charge for your overweight carry-on will give you a lump in your throat.  But that’s better than a lump on the head from an overhead bin, isn’t it?

Air Pricing Rule Provides Transparency

By Linda Tancs

Under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s recently adopted consumer rule that enhances protections for air travelers, carriers and ticket agents have been required to include all government taxes and fees in every advertised fare since 26 January.  The airline price advertising rules apply  to both U.S. and foreign carriers as well as ticket agents.  Agents must ensure that airfares quoted to customers include all applicable taxes and fees, including transaction fees, when first communicating the price of the desired itinerary.  The following mandates apply directly to airlines:

  1. Baggage allowances/fees that apply at beginning of customers’ itineraries must apply throughout their entire journey.
  2. Airlines must allow reservations to be held at the quoted fare without payment or cancelled after purchase without penalty for at least 24 hours after the reservations are made.
  3. Once full payments are made, airlines are not allowed to increase mandatory fees (baggage, fuel surcharge, etc.).
  4. On all e-ticket confirmations, one of the following must be included:  (i)standard free baggage allowances and/or fees for carry-on, first and second checked bags, along with a note stating that additional discounts may apply depending on flyer-specific factors (e.g., frequent flyer status, military, credit card used, etc.); or (ii) a direct link to the applicable airline’s baggage allowance and fee information.

Easy Service to Gatwick

By Linda Tancs

Looking for an easy way to get from Gatwick Airport to central London?  The easyBus Gatwick Airport bus runs direct to and from Earl’s Court/West Brompton in just 1 hour 5 minutes.   Airport transfer prices start from £2 online, and you can  guarantee your seat.   Services are up to every 20 minutes from the North terminal and South terminal.  Another great alternative for transportation from Gatwick!

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Airline Complaints in the EU

By Linda Tancs

As US travelers know from reading this blog, air travel complaints and statistics for US travel are readily available from the Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement bureau.  Ever wonder about the EU equivalent?  The European Union Transport Commission publishes a list of aviation authorities in one convenient document.

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Secure Flight Rules Now Implemented

By Linda Tancs

Secure Flight is a safety program administered by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration requiring airlines to collect and transmit to TSA the full name, birth date and gender of passengers to better match them against watch lists.  The program is particularly helpful for those travelers whose names are similar to those that may be found on such lists and may erroneously be detained from flying.  The program isn’t new, but its implementation has now begun in earnest.  Travelers should be sure to match their airline travel reservations with their name exactly as it appears on the travel document (e.g., driver’s license or passport) to be used at the checkpoint for identification.

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The People’s Voice on Air Travel

By Linda Tancs

Air travel is rife with passenger complaints and concerns over everything from tarmac delays and status information to transparency in pricing and food allergies.  Do you want to have your say in the resolution of the matter?  Then be sure to comment on proposed regulations when they’re drafted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Regulation Room makes it easy to know what the feds are up to; you can easily view at a glance the topics that are currently awaiting public comment.  And who better to address the travails of the traveling public than…you?  As the late economist Milton Friedman once remarked, “The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.”

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Flying 101

By Linda Tancs

Can you identify the location of a jump seat on aircraft?  Did you know that the “black box” is actually orange? These and other curiosities of air travel are demystified courtesy of Kulula Airlines’s Flying 101 aircraft.  Talk about truth in labeling!  The South African carrier is also celebrating its ninth birthday.  If you register for their eBucks program, you might even get to fly for free.  That’s right–free.  eBucks are earned for doing everyday things like shopping and paying bills with eBucks partners.  Earn enough eBucks and redeem them for a flight–or pay part of the balance with a credit card. Ten eBucks equals one Rand.  That sounds grand.

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It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere

By Linda Tancs

Somewhere over the friendly skies someone prefers that martini shaken, not stirred.  Forget the mini bottles of Wild Turkey or Grey Goose.  Airlines are serving up specialty cocktails to rev up revenues as well as passengers.  For $7 you can have Delta’s Five O’Clock Somewhere concoction of rum, orange juice and cranberry-apple juice.  Or a $4 screwdriver on Southwest.  Use your Continental coupons or credit card (it’s a cashless cabin, folks) for some mojo from your mojito or pomegranate martini.  Perhaps it’s all calculated to make you forget those pesky bag charges and disappearing peanuts.

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Meet the Weather Experts

By Linda Tancs

Weather is an unavoidable variable when it comes to travel.  Ever wonder about the folks who provide aviation weather services?  Although their role has come sharply into focus recently as a result of the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland’s volcano, there is actually an international volcanic ash program to provide worldwide warnings and advisories to aviation interests regarding volcanic ash hazards. Comprising Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers, these experts provide ash movement and dispersion guidance to Meteorological Watch Offices and neighboring advisory centers. These centers are located in London, Toulouse, Washington, D.C., Montreal, Tokyo, Darwin, Wellington, Buenos Aires and Anchorage. Though the area of the Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center is one of the smallest areas, it covers air routes over some of the most active volcanic areas in the world. So the next time you see a weather expert, give ’em a smile. After all, they’ve got your best interests at heart.

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