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Issue #11 — September 5, 1998



Labor Day Travel Blues


I can’t remember a Labor Day weekend when there were more reasons NOT to travel, especially by air.

Flights are full. On average, planes have been running 80% load factors (percentage of seats occupied). And that doesn’t include the decrease in supply caused by the Northwest and Air Canada strikes, or the increase in demand caused by the summer getaway crush.

Security is tight. In the aftermath of the U.S. raids on suspected terrorist facilities, airport security and airline personnel are on heightened alert for anything that might suggest retaliation. That means your bags and identification will be scrupulously checked, which in turn means additional delays getting from curbside to shipside.

Flyers have the jitters. Cause: Swissair flight 111. Effect: It’s always hard to board a plane soon after a major air disaster without an extra dose of foreboding and anxiety. Even seasoned travelers are affected.

>> If You Must Travel… <<

* If you have a confirmed reservation, plan to arrive at the airport early. Depending on the airline, if you don’t check in 20-30 minutes before the scheduled departure time, your reservation can be cancelled and your seat made available to someone else. And with the overall increase in demand, even confirmed passengers who arrive on time may find themselves bumped. CHECK IN EARLY.

* If you do find yourself bumped, ACT QUICKLY to get yourself reaccommodated. You will be competing with other displaced travelers for those few available seats. If you can’t secure an alternative confirmed reservation, get your name on the standby list. If there are several alternative flights, all fully booked, have your name added to the shortest standby list-standby passenger number 10 is more likely to be given a seat than standby number 25.

* Because the odds of being bumped are higher, BE PREPARED to spend time at the airport or even a night at a hotel, possibly without your luggage. Carry prescriptions and other essential items including a change of clothes in carry-on baggage. Keep a little extra cash on-hand for meals, magazines and sundries.

* Use paper tickets. Wherever possible, TRAVEL WITH PAPER TICKETS. E-tickets are great, and will certainly replace paper tickets in the long (short?) term. The problem, for now: airlines cannot accept each other’s e-tickets. So if you’re booked on Northwest or Air Canada, or you get bumped off another airline, you’ll have to have to wait in line to have your e-ticket converted to a paper ticket before it will be accepted by a different airline.

* Call your travel agent. If you work with a TRAVEL AGENT, take advantage of their services. Your may be able to get your agent on the phone before you get to the front of the airport check-in line, or before you get a response from the airline reservations line. And your agent should be able to suggest flights with available seats, and help with reservations.

* Be patient. Waiting times will be long for everything: security, check-in, phone calls to airline reservations centers, phone calls to travel agents. YOU WILL BE KEPT WAITING. May as well do it patiently.

* Take ten deep breaths, and take them often. Even if everything goes according to schedule, you will be facing long lines at every checkpoint, crowded flights, and nerves frayed to the point of snapping. Again, BE PATIENT.

Have a good trip, and a safe one.


No Northwest or Air Canada Flights Through Monday, September 7


With this week’s suspension of all Air Canada flights, the North America air transportation system lost 600 flights a day. Add that to the 1,400 daily flights taken out of service by the Northwest strike, and you are left with a system missing over 2,000 daily flights, affecting 235,000 passengers each and every day the strikes continue.

>> No Movement at Northwest <<

There’s no sign of progress in the Northwest strike. In fact, the two sides haven’t been able to so much as schedule the next round of negotiations. And it appears unlikely that the President will intervene to end the strike.

How long will it go on? I wouldn’t even hazard a guess. But, given the long history of acrimony between management and labor at Northwest, and the "no compromise" positions taken by both sides, I’d put my money on "longer" rather than "shorter."

>> A Silver (Sort of) Lining <<

Northwest is extending the expiration date of WorldPerks miles. All miles set to expire on December 31, 1998 now will be valid through December 31, 1999.

According to a Northwest spokesperson: "We are very much aware of the inconvenience and hassle our customers are enduring. We appreciate their patience during this difficult time and this is a small way to say ‘thank you.’"

Northwest is also offering WorldPerks bonus miles to those Northwest customers who have been rerouted to another airline. Affected customers may obtain a WorldPerks Mileage Credit Request for Rerouted Travel form at Northwest ticket counters or on Northwest’s web site at, and return it to:

                    Northwest Airlines, Inc.

                    P.O. Box 1713

                    Minneapolis, MN 55440-1713

The form can also be faxed to 1-800-723-1588

>> More <<

o Northwest flight updates

o Further information on the labor negotiations

o The Northwest reservation line in the United States and Canada 1-800-225-2525.

>> Air Canada Update <<

Following is updated information from Air Canada:

* All Air Canada-operated flights scheduled until Monday, September 7, are cancelled.

* Regional carriers, AirBC, Air Ontario, Air Alliance and Air Nova are continuing to operate on their scheduled routes. New reservations can be made through the Cyber Ticket Office or by contacting your travel agent or Air Canada Reservations.

* Tickets Purchased for Travel More than Seven Days Away: Customers should avoid calling Air Canada or going to the airport or ticket office as our priority is to take care of passengers who have been scheduled to travel within the next seven days.

* Tickets Purchased for Travel Within the Next Seven Days: Customers opting to delay travel plans or obtain a refund are not required to advise Air Canada until normal operations resume.

>> Another Silver (Sort of) Lining <<

Effective September 2, and for the duration of the Air Canada labor disruption, members of Air Canada’s frequent flyer program, Aeroplan, travelling on AirBC, Air Ontario, Air Alliance and Air Nova will earn triple Aeroplan miles.

>> More <<

o Air Canada’s website has a special area devoted specifically to strike updates, special policies and procedures, etc.

o For Reservations, call 1-800-776-3000. For Flight Arrival & Departure Information, call (English): 1-800-488-1800, (French): 1-800-488-1900.


Delta and United Get It Together Mileage-wise


Beginning on September 1, members of both United’s and Delta’s frequent flyer programs can earn miles for flights on either carrier-provided those flights are within the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

And beginning on October 15, members of both airlines’ frequent flyer programs can redeem miles for award travel on both airlines-again, provided those flights are within the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Normal SkyMiles and Mileage Plus conditions and restrictions will apply to accruals and redemptions pursuant to the Delta/United alliance. Members should check their program rules for specific details.

>> More <<

o For more on these alliances, see the full article.

o Delta

o United


DL and UA Codeshare… Not


Delta and United have discontinued consideration of code-sharing arrangements. Code sharing was expected to be a major component of the marketing agreement between the two carriers, announced on April 30. Reciprocal frequent flyer program participation, the other principal component of the alliance, survives (see article above).

The code-share provisions of the proposed alliance were subject to approval by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) units of both airlines, based upon the pilots’ contractual "scope clause," which governs certain rules of pilot flying. In May, Delta’s ALPA leadership agreed to consider negotiating a specific exception to its scope clause to allow code-sharing with United Airlines. They later rejected any such exception, effectively killing the code-share deal.

As an aside, and at the risk of being branded a pilot-basher, it seems recently that every time the pilots take a stand on something, the traveling public suffers. E.g.:

* The pilots’ strike at Northwest

* The pilots’ strike at Air Canada

* * The pilots’ refusal to allow Delta and United to proceed with code sharing

>> More <<

Delta’s website


10-Year Anniversary Promotions from MCI/AAdvantage


MCI, it seems, has been partnering in the AAdvantage program for all of ten years. (Where does the time go?) That, at least, is the excuse given for this promotion? (Who ever said you needed a reason to have a promotion?)

>> Anniversary Awards – The Specifics <<

AAdvantage members can use their miles to claim two special limited-time awards, good for MCI long-distance calling. The offer, good from September 1, 1998 through November 30, 1998, allows members who have MCI long-distance service to exchange 7,000 miles for a credit of $25 worth of MCI long-distance or 12,000 miles for a credit of $50 worth of long-distance calling.

New AAdvantage members can take advantage of a special anniversary bonus offer of up to 6,000 bonus miles. AAdvantage members who sign up for MCI long-distance service before October 31, 1998, will receive 1,000 bonus miles each month for five months, in addition to another 1,000 miles for making an MCI calling card call in the first 30 days as an MCI customer.

>> Caveat <<

The awards are a step in the right direction. Two gripes, though: 1) 12,000 miles are only worth $50? (stingy); 2) the offer is only valid for three months? (again, stingy). Think twice before surrendering 12,000 miles (half the mileage required for a free ticket) for $50 worth of long-distance calls.

>> More <<

o Call 1-800-473-5117 by October 31, 1998 to take advantage of the enrollment offer.

o American

Bonus Miles for Thrifty Customers Who Pay with AmEx


Thrifty Car Rental is awarding double miles to participants in most of the company’s frequent flyer programs when they rent from Thrifty and pay with an American Express card between Sept. 1 – Oct. 31, 1998.

To receive double miles, the rental must be picked up between Sunday and Wednesday and be kept a minimum of two days. Those paying with American Express are eligible for double miles on these partner airlines: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, America West, Continental, Horizon Air, Reno Air and TWA. American Airlines AAdvantage members may pay via any method and still receive double miles from Thrifty.

>> More <<

To book Thrifty, customers may contact their travel agent, call 800-FOR-CARS, or log on to the company’s web site.


"Pick Your Prize" at American’s Website


"Pick Your Prize" is American’s online sweepstakes.

The contest encourages Internet users to try out the personalized features of the new web site. Now, a single log in delivers a personal home page to the customer, including his or her AAdvantage Travel Awards Program mileage account balance and personal messages based on customer interests. The "Pick Your Prize" sweepstakes lets site visitors select the "personalized" prize they’d like to win after completing a brief profile online. The contest ends October 15, with winners to be announced later that month.

Ten sweepstakes winners will choose among an array of prizes: a New York Yankees baseball game; the 1999 U.S. Open Golf Tournament; skiing in Breckenridge, Colo.; a Caribbean reggae festival; a cruise in the Hawaiian Islands; wine tasting in California’s Napa Valley; holiday shopping in New York; golfing in Scottsdale, Ariz.; and racing at the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Orlando, Fla. Just in case none of these choices quite fits the bill, the tenth prize package is the opportunity to select any destination to which American Airlines flies. All prize packages include round-trip coach class airfare for two persons, event tickets and hotel accommodations.

To enter, go to and log in using your AAdvantage number and PIN.

>> More <<

American’s website