Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday Travel - Denver International Airport Tuesday 25Nov 2008

Denver is "kinda" busy, but not too bad at 9:30am on Tuesday

United - Seattle-Denver 757 First Class

This is the EARLY (5:45am departure) to Denver from Seattle. The 757 was full in Coach (United upgraded my seatmate in 3D from coach). The service was much more attentive compared to my last United flight in first class.

Typical OJ/Water pre-departure service. Once in the air the flight attendants came by enough times to be helpful but not overbarring. Here is a shot of Seats 1AB, where United has placed the o2 bottle and other gear in the overhead above these seats.

The first class flight attendant was pretty senior and knew to go around to the Global Service, 1K and Premier Execs for first meal choices. This is another one of those things that costs the airline nothing, but provides some "value" to elite fliers. The omelet was some sort of cream filled thing, it was ok. The sausages and potatoes were cooked just right. The croissant was also warmed just right -- its my favorite part.

Flight was better than most on United...friendly, attentive service plus a full meal. Bonus: audio/video, seat mechanics, and overhead light all worked. Flight arrived a couple minutes early as well.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

USAirways Changes Min. Miles for Elites as well

Following United, US Airways once again offers min. miles for Elites -- plus adds back Preferred Bonus Miles. I want to like US Airways, but they keep on flip-flopping on whether they really like their Business fliers.

US Airways Reinstates Preferred Bonus Miles and Preferred Minimum Miles

TEMPE, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--US Airways (NYSE:LCC - News) announced today that it is reinstating the bonus miles and 500 minimum miles accrual benefits for customers with Preferred membership in the US Airways Dividend Miles frequent flyer program. US Airways Dividend Miles members earn and retain Preferred status when they purchase and fly at least 25,000 miles or 30 segments within a calendar year. The company also announced that all Dividend Miles members will receive a minimum of 500 miles for each segment flown on US Airways Shuttle.

Beginning Nov. 20, Dividend Miles Preferred members will receive bonus miles commensurate with their Preferred status level. Retroactive credit will appear in Preferred members’ December Dividend Miles account statements for bonus-qualifying travel between August 6, 2008 and Nov. 19.

US Airways Dividend Miles Program Elite Bonus Miles:


25,000 annual flight miles, OR 30 flight annual flight segments - Bonus Miles: 25%


50,000 annual flight miles, OR 60 annual flight segments - Bonus Miles: 50%


75,000 annual flight miles, OR 90 annual flight segments - Bonus Miles: 75%

Chairman’s Preferred

100,000 annual flight miles, OR 120 annual flight segments - Bonus Miles: 100%

In addition to reinstating the 500 minimum miles accrual that Preferred members will receive for every segment flown, effective Nov. 20 all Dividend Miles members will receive 500 minimum miles per segment on US Airways Shuttle flights between Washington, New York and Boston. Preferred and US Airways Shuttle 500 minimum miles accruals will be retroactively credited for qualifying flights taken between May 1, 2008 and Nov. 19. The retroactive credit will appear in members’ December Dividend Miles account statements.

Senior Vice President, Marketing and Planning Andrew Nocella said, “Our Dividend Miles Program members are extremely important to us, and these changes reflect our continued commitment to delivering the best product with the most value to our customers.”

US Airways Dividend Miles Preferred members enjoy benefits like the most generous upgrade window in the industry, free first and second checked bags, access to Choice Seat assignments and more. Dividend Miles' unique combination of features makes it easier and more rewarding for business and leisure travelers alike to earn and redeem miles. Information about the US Airways Dividend Miles Program and membership benefits is available at www.dividendmiles.com.

US Airways, along with US Airways Shuttle and US Airways Express, operates more than 3,100 flights per day and serves nearly 200 communities in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America. The airline employs approximately 34,000 aviation professionals worldwide and is a member of the Star Alliance network, which offers our customers 18,000 daily flights to 965 destinations in 162 countries worldwide. In the first eight months of 2008, US Airways ranked first in on-time performance among the ten largest U.S. carriers according to the Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report. And for the tenth consecutive year, the airline received a Diamond Award for maintenance training excellence from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its Charlotte, North Carolina hub line maintenance facility. For more company information, visit usairways.com. (LCCG)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Southwest filing for LGA -- not shocking really

Here is the press release from Southwest this morning about applying to fly from LaGuardia. While others maybe shocked, I am not. Southwest is not Herb's Southwest anymore. They already fly to primary/semi-clogged airports -- SFO (again), LAX, PHL, etc. This is just another one to add to the list, albeit a slot controlled one.

Southwest Airlines Seeks Rights to Operate at LaGuardia Airport

Wednesday November 19, 2008, 8:00 am EST

DALLAS, Nov. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Southwest Airlines confirmed today that it has submitted a bid that would allow the airline to assume ATA Airlines' rights to operate at New York's LaGuardia (LGA) Airport through a purchase of ATA Airlines. The bid was submitted in connection with the publicly announced auction process in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis and consistent with the Federal Aviation Administration's recent rule clarification regarding LaGuardia's slots.

Southwest is working with ATA Airlines with respect to the terms and conditions of the bid. The bid does not contemplate operating ATA, but it is intended to allow Southwest to acquire the LGA slots.

The $7.5 million bid seeks to obtain the rights to 14 slots at LaGuardia that are currently held by ATA Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy protection on April 2, 2008. Those 14 slots would permit an operation of up to seven daily roundtrip flights at LaGuardia. Southwest would not acquire, as a part of its bid, any aircraft, facilities, or employees of ATA.

"It is our intent, with the successful conclusion of the transaction, to make plans to initiate service from LaGuardia," said Southwest's Chairman, President, and CEO Gary Kelly. "Even in this volatile environment, we have said we must monitor the competitive landscape and take advantage of prudent market opportunities."

The bankruptcy court must approve the bid and a reorganization plan for ATA Airlines before Southwest could gain the rights to ATA's LaGuardia slots.

Once the acquisition is finalized, Southwest will work with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority of New York to commence service at LaGuardia, including acquisition of the necessary airport gate(s) and facilities. Details on the commencement of service or the cities that would be served by Southwest from LaGuardia have not yet been determined.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Trip Report: United SFO - Seattle "first" Class

I scored an upgrade on United's often busy San Francisco-SFO route. Granted, it was the first flight on a very light Saturday morning. This was the second day of the "new" boarding where Premier Executives are to line up on the economy section BEFORE group 1. As on my flight from Seattle to SFO the day earlier, that didnt happen too well.

Most Group 1 folks mobbed the Economy section before the special Premier Exec boarding was called. The Seattle and SFO boarding agents did make announcements, but its clear regular folks just dont listen to these annoucements.

This was a regular United 757 (new paint, but same interior and seats). Each seat did have a pillow and blanket awaying eash passenger in first class.

Price Assurance Math (180x150)

The semi-cherful flight attendant came by with "juice" (OJ) and water. I asked for OJ but she only had water when she got to me, however she did remember me and come back with it.

I was in seat 4B which is about mid-cabin in First Class on United. The seat is a regular 757 United First Class seat with the uncomfortable head rest. Not sure why they made it this way -- it digs into your shoulders when its in the default setting. Luckily, mine still held up when I adjusted it after takeoff.

My only gripe about United's First Class is your personal space disappears if the person in front of you reclines fully. This happens on other carriers, but its seems extreme on United for some reason.

Unlike Alaska Airlines on this route, United offers NO meals -- even at breakfest time. Its just a drink and one of those hard, brown biscuits/cookie things. Once the one drink service was completed, the flight attendants hurried into the galley and stayed there. Even my seatmate had to ring his Call Button to get another drink.

Very typical United airlines inflight service -- "here is your drink - I am going to chat with my co-workers for the rest of the flight"

I really dont fly United much on this route since flights are normally full and its hard to go standby if you want to catch an earlier flight. Plus paying $150 to change flights is often more than my ticket price in the first place. To change flights is only $75 on Alaska -- or sometimes free if done the same day online. So its just "easier" to fly Alaska on multiple levels.

Alaska still has an edge on United on this route