July 18, 2011 |
A plan to let pre-screened frequent airline passengers — such as business travelers — bypass the regular airport security checkpoints and instead zip through an expedited screening process will be tested this fall in Atlanta, Miami, Detroit and Dallas. Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole announced the details of the test program in a conference call with airline executives last week. The idea behind the pilot program is to pre-screen travelers who pose little risk and remove them from the general screening lines, making the process for all passengers move faster.
June 10, 2011 |
Forget about beverage selections. The flight attendant on a recent US Airways flight to Denver was peddling credit. Any passenger willing to sign up for the airline's frequent flier reward credit card would get 30,000 bonus miles — enough for a domestic flight — plus a litany of perks longer than the drink menu. But you had to act fast. The flight attendant said you'd get the promised perks only if you signed up while still in the air. But limited-time offers almost always come with a catch, and this one had two: The card had an $89 annual fee, and US Airways has the worst record of reward seat availability among 24 major carriers, according to the recently released ezRez Reward Seat Availability Survey.
May 23, 2011 |
The nation's first frequent flier program launched 30 years ago this month and, by most accounts, the programs have only gotten more complicated with age. When American Airlines introduced its frequent flier program in 1981, the concept was simple: Passengers received free tickets or upgrades based on how many miles they had flown. Today the programs are more complicated, with some airline passengers getting reward points for flying, staying at hotels, renting cars and using certain credit cards.
April 18, 2011 |
The nation's largest travel trade group launched an ad campaign last week to pressure Congress to adopt an alternative passenger screening program so that business travelers and other frequent fliers can zip through airports faster. The U.S. Travel Assn. is promoting the idea of letting frequent travelers submit to background checks so they can speed through specially designated airport lines operated by the Transportation Security Administration. That is intended to shorten the lines for everyone else who has to go through the extensive pat-down searches and full-body scans.
March 18, 2011 |
Travelers are being offered many ways to contribute to the earthquake and tsunami relief effort in Japan. Some airline and hotel rewards programs will allow members to exchange their points for charity donations. In an earlier blog post, I wrote about donation options from American Airlines and All Nippon Airways . Here are more companies that provide ways to help, with links to their rewards programs: Hilton HHonors --Will match donations made by its members to a maximum of $250,000.
March 8, 2011 |
Here's good news for Delta 's frequent fliers: Delta SkyMiles no longer expire. The change came at the first of the year, but so far, no other carrier has followed Delta’s lead. Here’s a look at activity deadlines set by nine U.S. frequent flier programs, followed by a summary of the perks that elite -- that is, the most frequent -- fliers receive from airlines that track miles rather than points. Many carriers say miles or points never expire if you have activity in your frequent-flier account at least once in a certain period.
February 27, 2011 |
Frequent-flier miles are both a boon (to the vacationer who scores the award ticket) and a bane (to the person who has the miles but can't seem to score the ticket). That's where the commonality ends. Each program is different, with its own elite designations for very frequent fliers. Here's a comparison of seven plans for U.S.-based carriers. These are mileage plans (as opposed to points) unless otherwise noted. Alaska Pros: No fee to use miles to upgrade from coach; Alaska's MVP, MVP Gold and Gold 75K also receive a bundle of special elite benefits on Delta through a marketing alliance.
January 14, 2011 |
Southwest Airlines has moved on (well, actually backward) from a lively discussion that began last week over changes it plans to make March 1 to its frequent-flier program. Its blog's Flashback Friday post shows upbeat "luv"-centric print ads that date back to the airline’s beginnings 40 years ago. I'm not going that far back, but a quick recap is in order: I wrote a blog post last week that was mostly positive about the revamp of the airline's Rapid Rewards program.
January 11, 2011 |
Last week, I wrote somewhat glowingly about changes coming up in March to Southwest Airlines' Rapid Rewards program. Now my travel-writing colleague Jay Jones begs to differ (and he's not alone). You can voice your views in the poll at left and in the comments section at the end of this post. "Savvy travelers who worked the old Southwest system got a lot of free trips," Jones said. The system was simple: Take 16 one-way flights (eight round trips) in 24 months and you get a free round trip.
January 10, 2011 |
If it feels a bit more crowded in your airplane cabin lately, it's probably not your imagination. Airline experts say the industry is rebounding from the recession partly by limiting the number of new planes they add while the number of passengers continues to rise. As a result, the percentage of seats filled on each flight ? the load factor ? has reached the highest levels in at least 10 years. But some airlines cram their cabins closer to capacity than others. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Hawaiian Airlines operated with an 85.49% load factor in the first half of 2010 ?