Thursday, February 27, 2014

Delta Changes To Southwest Miles Earning Model

Delta will change the way passengers earn miles to a model based on ticket price rather than distance flown. I don't think this is a big deal for a few reasons.  Southwest already has an earning (and spending) model based on ticket prices and it seems to be going well. Also Delta hasn't announced how partner flights will earn miles. Further ground based partner earning is not impacted and miles still do not expire.  Delta also will add one way awards and a few other carrots to smooth the transition.
Fly Delta Jets
The scary aspect is that the award chart will change, but Delta doesn't know how. "[Award charts] will be available later in 2014." To save some anxiety, credit Delta flights to a partner; I prefer Alaska (same for my American flights) because they have great partnerships, a stable award chart, and care about the customer experience.  Spending miles will also protect against likely award chart inflation, but there is no rush until the new award chart is published and confirms devaluation fears.
Building A Better Frequent Flyer Program Too?
I hope Delta adopts a Southwest award chart too.  On Southwest every flight can be booked if seats are available.  70 miles per dollar of fare (Wanna Get Away rate) and you are free to move about the country.  It's a simple system and an easy way to know what your balance is worth.  This model removes any award chart deals, but it also eliminates award restrictions; I am happy to make that trade.  N.B. - I earn my Southwest and Delta miles primarily though ground based partners like credits cards and online shopping.

Monday, February 24, 2014

New United Express CRJ 700 Seats

United Express (SkyWest) has new seats on their CRJ-700 aircraft and they look great, but are terribly uncomfortable.   The seat design is visually outstanding and provides a new and modern feel to an otherwise dreary and cramped cabin.  Unfortunately I was able to experience the seats for a 3.5 hour flight from ATL to DEN and they became incredibly hard very quickly.  Regional jets like the CRJ series are best for short flights (less than two hours) because their cramped cabin and lack of in flight amenities.  The new seats wouldn't be bad on a short flight, but are unbearable for four hours.  United needs to keep their focus on customer experience rather than unending cost cutting.
Economy Seats - Window Seat At Full Recline
First Class Seat 1A

Saturday, February 22, 2014

High Winds In Denver

Winds greater the 45 mph have been reported in Denver all this week, so I'm happy to be grounded at the moment.  A windy landing or take off (especially heading west over the mountains) is never fun.  Enjoy a picture of better weather.
Speedbird 747 & United CRJ

Friday, February 21, 2014

Why Do It That Way?

Why do European airlines prefer to board from a remote position when the airport has more gates than flights?  There were plenty of available jet bridges at Barcelona, but Austrian preferred to pack all the passengers on buses and board from a remote position.  I don't get it.  I guess it may cost less in fees even though it seems to be less efficient in every other way and it makes for a poor customer experience.
Remote Position Boarding

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Frontier Airlines Coupon / Discount Code

10% of Frontier Airlines flights booked before the 26th.  

Frontier Airlines will offer a 10% discount on domestic fares from Tuesday, February 18, 2014, through 11:59 p.m. Eastern time, Wednesday, February 26, 2014. The discount will apply to regular and sale fares for domestic travel through June 12, 2014. All fare rules will apply.
Frontier Airbus at Denver

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Great Circle Mapper

I enjoy tracking my flights each year with  Every time I fly, I update my map.  Since the website doesn't have accounts, I save my map as a web browser favorite.  It's a cool tool that has a few other fun features too.  Enjoy!
2012 Paid Travel

Saturday, February 15, 2014

US Airways Company Store Sale

Grab your US Airways branded gear while you still can, now 20% off.

Get an additional 20% off your entire order plus free shipping on all orders over $75.    
  • Shop for gifts online February 14 - 18, 2014
  • Enter discount code PRESIDENT after you add the first item to your cart
  • Your 20% discount will be taken off your order
US Airways 737

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Delta Museum at Atlanta Airport

The Delta Museum at ATL is closed for renovations until summer.  The closure is a bummer because I had some time before my flight and was excited to see the classic aircraft and trinkets on display.  I guess I will need to wait until next time, but I will definitely stop in.
Delta in Vegas

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Atlanta Ice Storm

Southwest and AirTran cancelled all their flights out of ATL today and won't start flying until 1:00pm tomorrow.  That seems a little extreme.  I'm in suburban Atlanta this week for work and was able to drive to Waffle House for dinner without issue (though at 30 mph rather than the posted 55 mph).  I would expect Southwest to run a partial operation like other carriers.  As long as United is flying Friday, I'll be fine.
Southwest and AirTran in Better Weather

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dreamliner Excitement

I'm at Denver with a flight delay, but I just spotted the United 787 Dreamliner taxiing out to the runway and was stuck by excitement.  Even with fog and delays, flying and airports are still amazing.
Even Spirit Airlines Can Be Exciting

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ready For The 787-9?

EWR's gates are ready for the 787-9, too bad deliveries are a few years away.
777-200 & 787-9 Parking

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blue1 - Now a Charter Airline

SAS ran Blue1 as a low cost airline to compete with Norwegian.  It didn't work and now Blue1's beautifully painted 717's are used for charter flights. That's a shame because Blue1 had the best looking planes in the air. 
Blue1 717 Tail
Norwegian 737

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Milwaukee - Chicago's Third Airport

Illinois is still trying to obtain federal funding for a third Chicago airport in south suburban Peotone.  This plan was unlikely before O'Hare spent $8.7 billion on a modernization program; it's impossible now.  A third Chicago airport was always unnecessary because Milwaukee is a $22 one hour train ride away from downtown Chicago (or an hour or so drive) with plenty of space and gates.  Milwaukee is Chicago's third airport and has better prices on flights (even if their first connection is in Chicago), $5 a day parking, handles poor weather better, and a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Clean, Quiet, Plenty of Seating - Fly Milwaukee

Monday, February 3, 2014

Never Buy Miles at Check In

My dad called and asked about buying miles at check in recently.  United offered to sell him miles for about 3c each.  He thought that was a good price, but I disagree.  First he has almost 1 million miles in his account; with a balance that size, you don't need more to reach a certain award.  Also miles are subject to inflation, so the more you hold, the higher the cost of award price inflation.  Finally miles can be purchased for cheaper if they are needed.  The United shopping offers, flowers and magazines usually, can yield more than 33 miles per dollar spent.  Unless you need the miles tomorrow, never buy then directly from United.
United Heavy jets at EWR

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Starbucks Rewards Woes

Even my Starbucks Rewards status feels light.  I need to start flying soon.  Luckily I have a business trip this month.
28 More For Gold Status
UPDATE 2/2: I must be great at complaining because Starbucks is running a bonus Stars program.  "Start collecting Stars now through February 11 and earn up to 20 Bonus Stars. With so many new treats you’ll have enough Stars in no time.  Earn 8 Stars and get 10 bonus Stars,
Earn 12 Stars and get 20 bonus Stars."