Friday, March 30, 2012

US Airways Company Store Discount Code

US Airways' Company Store is having a sale, 20% off all non clearance items.  Just use the coupon / discount code Madness. Free shipping on orders over $75 too! Sale ends April 2.
US Airways Sale Details

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

KLM Meet and Seat

I would rather have someone interesting sit next to me on a flight than an empty seat, really, even in coach.  Belgians are always good to talk with, Irish too.  I’ve chatted with an Antarctic researcher, pilots, networking contacts, and many frequent travelers.  Every time I’ve had an interesting seat mate, the flight has been memorable and fun.  KLM has a program to help facilitate having an interesting seat mate, KML Meet & Seat.
KLM Meet and Seat
The premise of KLM Meet & Seat is you can link your Facebook or Linked In profile to a seat map and see other passengers’ profiles.  Find someone interesting, connect with them, and sit next to each other on the flight.  Sounds like a great idea with professional and personal benefits.  KLM allows each person to control the amount of profile information shared.  You can also contact the other person before the flight if you like.  KLM Meet and Seat sounds like a fun and innovate way to create a better flying experience.  If your seat mate doesn’t work out, you can always watch a movie or try to sleep, but those tactics aren’t new.

I also like how they are using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in their images.  It seems I'm not the only one excited about this airplane.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Picked Up The Chase Sapphire Card

My new Chase Sapphire Card is coming in the mail!  I picked up the 50,000 point sign up bonus (not on any more, but on some banner ads still).  I just need to spend $3,000 in 3 months.  I’m excited to have it because my JP Morgan Palladium card didn’t have a sign up bonus and my Ultimate Rewards (Chase points program) balance will be too small to do anything, but a cheap 1 way on Southwest.  That will change soon.  I’ll have a more detailed review after I have a little time with the card.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Travel Tip - Avoid the Phone Reservation Fee

Airlines have offered gift cards for years and they once served a valuable purpose.  It used to be that gift cards were only accepted over the phone and using a gift card would get the telephone reservation fee waived.  Due to advances in IT, most airlines can take gift cards online so the fee waives are gone.  US Airways is the exception that still allows free telephone reservations with a gift card and are the only ones worth buying.

Here is a rundown of airlines and gift cards:
US Airways CRJ-200 at ABQ
US Airways
You can buy a gift card online or at Walgreens.  Any amount will let you ticket by phone without a fee.
United Airlines CRJ-200 at ABQ
United Airlines
Now that Continental runs United, the free phone reservation trick is gone.  Gift certificates can be purchased for use at  Don’t bother.

American Airlines
American Airlines can process gift cards on their website, so they don’t waive the phone reservation fee. 
Southwest Airlines Taking Off at ABQ
Delta gift certificates expire in 1 year and can only be used at a ticketing office outside the US.
Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines gift certificates are only valid on their website. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Travel Tip - United and Mileage Plus Mailing Addresses

Are you missing miles from a flight?  Have an extra miles account?  Is there an unexplained hole in your balance?  Well there’s an address for that: MileagePlus Service Center, P.O. Box 6120, Rapid City, SD 57709-6120.  When something goes wrong with your account and the people on the phone can’t help you, send a letter to the service center.  I needed to mail in a boarding pass to them when Continental said I didn’t take a flight segment that I had.  My mom had to write there to have her two accounts combined into one.  This is just for Mileage Plus program items, not a general complaint inbox.  
United Airlines A320 Taking Off From Albuquerque
Service and operational complaints should be mailed to:  Customer Care, United Airlines, Inc., 900 Grand Plaza Drive NHCCR, Houston, TX 77067-4323.  A written letter can make a more powerful impact than the web form complaint.  

The United Club, nee President’s Club and Red Carpet Club, can be reached at: United Club, P.O. Box 4555, Houston, TX, 77210-4555.  I recommend sending a letter to complain about the unpalatable coffee.  Loud customers are the only way a change will be made.  While we are making demands, some soup and finger sandwiches would be nice too.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pick the Next Frontier Airlines Tail

Frontier Airlines is letting customers pick the next tail image.  Voting is open here and you can win $100 gift card for participating.  I like Frontier’s animal tails; they help make looking out the window at DEN fun.  It’s also a very unique marketing ploy.   
Frontier Airlines Planes Lined Up at DEN

Sunday, March 18, 2012

United Airlines First Class - 757 Review

Update: Flat bed 757 seat review and 757 Business First to Europe review.

Domestic First class isn’t what it used to be, even just a few years ago, but it still is far better than sitting in economy.  I decided it would be fun to compare first class on United 757 against first class on United’s website.  A few years ago, Northwest Airlines said that only 14% of people in the domestic first class pays first class fares.  United may have a slightly higher percentage (fewer seats than NW), but I would be shocked if the number is over 20%.  Since about 80% of first class passengers didn’t pay to sit there, airlines are degrading the first class experience to save money.  It’s noticeable and I won’t pay to fly first domestically, but upgrades still create some excitement.
United Airlines First Class Seat 757
United Airlines First Class Seat 757 
Onboard Amenities
Extra-wide leather seats with expanded legroom.  The seat is the star of the show.  More width, more padding, more recline, and more leg room.  The seat is very comfortable and something you can count on every flight.  There is a wide area between the seats for drinks and to create a bit of privacy. 

Complimentary blankets available onboard for use during your flight.  Not always.  Blankets are only found on overnight flights.  The blanket quality took a drop with the Continental merger too; they are now see through and scratchy.  Don’t look for a pillow day or night, those are gone. 
United Airlines First Class Seat 757 Reclined
United Airlines First Class Seat 757 Reclined
Meals and Beverages - (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Post)
Pre-departure beverage service.  It’s available only if the flight attendants want to serve drinks.  Continental crews will 95% of the time, but United ones are closer to 75% of the time.  Some crews offer water or OJ, other take drink orders.  You can always ask for what you want, wine aside (flight crews don’t like opening bottles on the ground), you should be able to get it.

Complimentary beer, wine, spirits, soft drinks and freshly brewed coffee.  All true.  Same drinks as in coach, but the wine comes in full size bottles.  The new United coffee isn’t very good though and Bailey’s isn’t always onboard to fix the flavor issues.  Drinking contests with seatmates make the flight go much faster.

Hot towel service.  Towels are provided after takeoff.  I like to wipe down my seating area before the meal service.  Towels used to become very dirty after this process, but now they don’t find as much dirt.  This is my unscientific way to see that United is keeping their planes much cleaner than in years past.
United Airlines First Class Seat 757 Legroom
Meal service on flights longer than two hours.  I’ve always liked airline food, even the slop served in coach when I was a kid, so digest this review with that in mind.  United flights offer two items, omelet or fruit plate for breakfast and usually pasta/salad or a sandwich/wrap for lunch and dinner.  Some meals also come with soup, usually excellent (bad lunch review, good lunch review).  A roll or salad is also sometimes offered.  The menu changes about every month.  Desert is a baked on board cookie.  They usually serve a great chocolate chip cookie, but every once and a while mix it up with oatmeal raisin or white chocolate cranberry.  On flights less than 2 hours, a snack basket is passed around with nuts, chips, Clif Bars, and bananas.  Not very inspiring, Lufthansa does a meal service on short flights, United can just as easily. 

Audio entertainment with complimentary headsets provided on aircraft equipped with in-flight entertainment.  Better headsets than in coach, but your own might still be better.

Complimentary DIRECTV® on equipped aircraft (most 90%+ of the 737 fleet).  Free live tv is standard on JetBlue, while United charges $4 or $6 in coach.  First Class gets it for free and has the same ear buds as in coach.
United Airlines 757 at EWR Sunrise
Complimentary movies on all flights three hours or longer.  This is a standard offering in all cabins.  They did show The Artist on a recent flight, so not every inflight movie is garbage.

A complimentary copy of Hemispheres magazine.  Every seat has a copy, not very special.  Hemispheres is a better read than most inflight magazines though.

Airport arrival and departure
Premier AccessSM check-in, baggage handling, boarding and security lines (where available).  2 free checked bags, short line for check in, security, and boarding.  All nice perks for flying first.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Today's My Lucky Day

I didn't believe it myself.  I'm flying out of EWR today and right after my ID was checked, an X-ray lane opened up in front of me.  I was first through the line and through in less than a minute.

It's a great day to fly.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

United Going Retro

United Airlines launched a retro livery A320 two years ago.  It looked pretty cool, but now they have one upped themselves with faxing boarding passes.  I guess the assumption here is that people own stand alone fax machines that do not double as a printer.  So very retro.
United Fax Ad