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All about airlines, airports, flying in general. How to navigate them, get the best airfares, maximize your experience in a sector that hasn't exactly been a joy in recent years...come fly with us!

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Comment by Luke James Dudley on August 26, 2009 at 3:49pm
Hello fellow flyers

This comment is to announce a new travel website that helps flyers find the luggage allowance on any flight or ticket class with relative ease. The site is very new and any feedback or comments on the site would be very welcome.

Site: www.luggagelimits.com

Luke Dudley, Website Founder
Comment by Jose Balido on August 14, 2009 at 11:30pm
And now, the latest (or is it the first?) nominee for "Dumbest Moments in Airport History" comes from our very own backyard: A British comedian was detained at MIA (that's Miami International Airport, for those of you who haven't been blessed with a chance to sample its many delights) for... get this... "sounding Cuban."

Read the full story on Gadling: http://www.gadling.com/2009/08/14/united-states-makes-a-fool-of-itself-arrests-uk-comedian-for

Any other candidates from you frequent flyers out there??
Comment by Jose Balido on August 11, 2009 at 8:35pm
Howdy folks,

Flying through Philly today, I saw something that made me stop in my tracks: old-fashioned rocking chairs scattered throughout the terminal! The friendly gent behind the information desk says they've been there for years, but I'd never seen them before... Have you? Judging from the happy campers reading their books and surfing the Web while rocking like they were somebody's granny .......... I'd say this is an idea whose time has come. How come other airports haven't followed suit???

Comment by David Paul Appell on July 21, 2009 at 12:58pm
Interesting value-oriented development re El Al from YNetNews.com!:

El Al to introduce low-cost economy class
Airline to offer cheap tickets on flights to Europe, but passengers will have to pay for every additional service, including luggage check in, food and pillows

Israeli airline El Al announced Monday that as of next week it will offer its passengers a low-cost economy class on flights to Europe. If the new service proves successful, it may also expand to flights to the company's other destinations, including the United States and East Asia.

Low cost airlines EasyJet and Air Berlin recently announced they will soon start operating flights to Israel, a fact that is expected to increase competition over flights to Europe.

El Al CEO Haim Romano said that while basic price tickets for the low cost economy class will be cheaper, passengers will be required to pay extra for services such as food and beverages, entertainment and luggage shipment.

"On EL Al planes we currently operate first class, business class and economy class, which is divided into sub-classes. But on all sub-classes we provide passengers with the same service, even if they paid less," explained Romano.

"Our plan is to open on the planes another class, the low-cost economy. While leg room will be the same as in the rest of the economy class, low-cost passengers will receive no free services. They will have to pay for every suitcase they check in, for food and beverages on board, for headphones or any other entertainment service, for blankets and pillows and for reserving seats."

According to Romano, El Al plans to start operating the low-cost service as early as September. The low-cost class is expected to make up 10%-20% of the overall number of seats on the plane.

Tickets for the low-cost class will go for about $199 for flights to Europe and $599 for flight to the US. The prices of the additional services have not been determined yet.

Estimated prices for extra services on the low-cost class:
Luggage check in: $10 per suitcase
Hot meal: $10
Breakfast, including coffee: $6
Light meals and snacks: $3-4
Hot and cold beverages: $1.5-2
Sandwich: $5
Comment by David Paul Appell on June 20, 2009 at 9:38am
Just saw this piece from AP on burgeoning airline fees. The trend's been building for a while, but it's an eye-opener to see it all summarized in one place like this:

Airlines add fees, and some fees on top of fees
by Joshua Freed, AP Airlines Writer Fri Jun 19

MINNEAPOLIS – As if charging $15 to check a bag weren't enough, two airlines are asking for $5 more beginning this summer if you pay at the check-in counter — a fee on top of a fee.

Of course, you could always pay your baggage fee from home. The airlines call it the "online discount."

If airlines can get away with that, what's next? Rather than raise fares in the middle of a recession, they're piling on fees to make money — fees for bags, fees to get through the line faster, even fees for certain seats.

United Airlines alone expects to rake in more than $1 billion this year in fees ranging from baggage to accelerated frequent-flier awards. That's more than 5 percent of its revenue.

The most likely new fees are those that some airline, somewhere, has tried. Fees usually originate with one or two airlines, and competitors watch to see whether passengers accept them or revolt. For instance:

• US Airways and United are hitting passengers up for $5 to pay their baggage fees at the airport instead of online. United implemented the fee June 10, while US Airways will put it into effect July 9.

• If you want to select an exit row seat on AirTran and enjoy the extra legroom, expect to cough up $20.

• Allegiant Air, a smaller national discount airline, charges a $13.50 "convenience fee" for online purchases, even though most other carriers encourage purchases direct from their Web site.

• European discounter Ryanair charges for something everyone has to do if they want to fly: check in. It's 5 euros, or about $6.75, to check in online, double for passengers who pay at the airport. Ryanair plans to eliminate airport check-in desks.

• Spanish airline Vueling charges a fee to pick a seat. Any seat at all. A "basic" seat behind the wing runs 3 euros. For 30 euros, travelers can choose an aisle or window seat and guarantee that the middle seat will remain empty.

"They need to chill out with those," said a frustrated Jim Engineer, a public relations executive waiting for a flight out of New York's LaGuardia. "Charging for a glass of water and seats just translates into unhappy customers."

As recently as last year, most fliers only came across a fee if they checked three bags or sent a minor child across the country. Most people, most of the time, traveled fee-free.

But that began to change last spring. Spiking jet fuel prices and passenger resistances to higher fares started airlines looking around the cabin for things they could charge extra for.

Passengers are finding it's a lot easier for the airlines to add the fees than to take them away.

"They're going to keep nudging them up until they run into market resistance," said Ed Perkins, a contributing editor at the Web site Smarter Travel.

That's what happened at US Airways. It tried for seven months to charge for soda and water but gave up in March after no other airlines took up the idea. And Delta scaled back a plan to charge $50 to check a second bag on all international flights. Instead, the charge will apply only on flights to Europe.

United has been a leader in finding ways to charge passengers separately for things. Some are for perks coach travelers used to get for free, like food. Others are new services altogether, like United's door-to-door luggage service via FedEx.

Airlines say fees are part of "a la carte" pricing that allows them to hold the line on fares. Rather than charge higher fares to everyone, they say, passengers can pick and choose the extras they want to pay for.

Ideas for fees don't come out of thin air. Last month in Miami most of the big U.S. carriers and many overseas airlines attended a conference devoted to a-la-carte pricing and fees. (Motto, next to a cartoon of an airliner: "Discovering the flying store.")

Some fees stretch the imagination: The CEO of European discount carrier Ryanair has floated the idea of charging for lavatory use and sick bags. But even he hasn't gone ahead with what appears to have been a publicity-seeking gambit, and no other carrier has suggested such a charge.

Still, there's no rule against such a fee in the U.S., according to the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Delta Air Lines Inc. and AirTran Holdings Inc. say they have no plans to tack a fee on to carry-on bags, an idea that would almost certainly annoy passengers just getting used to paying for checked baggage.

It would also put airline workers in the awkward position of deciding whether that bag on your arm is a big purse, presumably free, or a lumpy suitcase. Already, fees for checked bags have made finding space in the overhead bin tougher.

And even if carry-on bags stay free, United is already offering a "Premier Line" check-in for $25. It allows fliers to get through check-in and security faster and board earlier.

That guarantees some of that precious overhead space — so in a way, it's like a carry-on fee, said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks Co., an airline consultant who has written a guidebook for airlines seeking "ancillary revenue," the industry term for fees and extra services such as airline credit cards.

Matthew J. Bennett, CEO of FirstClassFlyer.com, said he thinks travelers in the front of the plane will remain immune from the nickle-and-dime fees airlines aim at coach passengers.

For those in coach, though, "What they are going to charge for in the future is anything that's not bolted down."

"They've already gotten sufficient revenue from them," Bennett said. "All they're saying to coach-class travelers is 'We really haven't gotten enough from you.'"
Comment by David Paul Appell on May 28, 2009 at 10:19am
Just caught this re a new mobile app from Singapore Airlines:

Singapore Airlines Introduces Mobile Check-In

Singapore Airlines has launched a new option for travelers on the go, named "SIA Mobile." The new function allows passengers to select seats and check-in for any Singapore Airlines and select connecting flights operated by different carriers using a Web-enabled mobile phone.

Users can visit m.singaporeair.com on their mobile phone and either download the "SIA Mobile" application software or check in directly between two and 48 hours prior to departure. The airline plans to add additional options later this year, like booking tickets and accessing certain services offered by its frequent flier program, KrisFlyer. For more information on the downloading and check-in process, visit singaporeair.com/mobile.
Comment by David Paul Appell on May 12, 2009 at 10:20am
For especially good transatlantic discounts this summer, keep an eye on Icelandair and Aer Lingus!
 

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