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Media Query — A Chance for Readers to Sound Off
How has the in-flight experience changed in coach? What do you get in terms of service and amenities today compared to previous years?
A reporter for a major news publication is looking for insight from
travelers about the coach class travel experience on U.S. airlines today. If you would be interested in sharing your thoughts on this for the record, please reply in an e-mail with details about your most recent in-flight experiences in coach, including specifics about what you get onboard in terms of service and amenities now compared to the past. Please include your full name, occupation, and contact info for possible follow-up questions by Monday, October 29.
“Up Front with Tim Winship” Blog Entries
Among Tim’s recent SmarterTravel.com blog topics:
FrequentFlier Forum Topics
In the “Airline Programs” Forum, Max Bialystock questions the convention wisdom regarding ticket prices: “We have been trained, informed, educated and brainwashed to think that it will always be more expensive to cut-and-paste an itinerary together using different airlines. Lately, I find this not to be the case…”
Also in the “Airline Programs” Forum, flea123 wonders how accommodating the airlines are when program members pass away: “My dad died in August and he had 80,000 Alaska and 175,000 AAdvantage miles. Are these programs pretty fair and reliable about letting heirs transfer these miles??”
Questions, answers, opinions? Post them to the Forum!
Feedback from the Frontlines of Travel
“I thought Tim’s article on SkyMiles was right on target and the most articulate of any response I’ve seen. I couldn’t believe this move. DL is becoming one long trail of broken promises. I am especially angry that American Express is allowing them to make this change. I will be cutting my card in half and sending back to AmEx in the next couple of days. I think it’s time for a class action suit, and I think there should be punitive damages. Only something like this will get the attention of the bean counters.” [Barry F.]
“Could US Airways make flying any more unpleasant?
“Yes. On a recent flight from Philadelphia to Hartford we sat in the plane for 20 minutes after take off time. We were told maintenance was coming to replace a placard that was missing. When maintenance arrived they replaced a three inch long label on the inside of an overhead compartment door. But we were not done! We waited another 20 minutes for maintenance to return with the captains log. Could they get any more ridiculous?” [John S.]
“Should you ever consider advising your readers to use an expedited visa service like TRAVISA (www.travisa.com), I hope you will note the difficulties I experienced in securing a visa to Brazil in time for my boss to attend a key business meeting.
“The visa did not arrive on time, the trip had to be cancelled and more than two months later, I am still waiting for a refund or a credit from TRAVISA. Mr. D***, who heads up the Washington, DC, office has not seen fit to return or acknowledge even one of my many calls or e-mails. It seems that poor customer service is an issue in many facets of the travel industry.
“Buyer beware.” [Nanette B.]
Until next week…
Win 1 Million Marriot Points Plus 1 Million Airline Miles
Enter Marriott Vacations’ “Millionaire” sweepstakes by September 30 for a chance to win 1 million Marriott points, 1 million airline miles, and a $25,000 Marriott Gift Card. Daily instant-win prizes include lesser quantities of Marriott points.
[Visit http://frequentflier.com/sweeps.htm for more travel sweepstakes.]
Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com
1) Holiday Fares on Southwest from $39 Each Way
Holiday season flights are on sale from Southwest. Fares start at $39 one-way or $78 round-trip, and destinations include Chicago, Las Vegas, and Denver.
Travel is valid from December 20 through January 6, 2008. Book by October 29, 11:59 PM CT.
2) Skybus Adds Hub, Fares from $10 Each Way
Skybus is adding a second base at Piedmont Triad Airport (PTI), which serves Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point, North Carolina, in addition to its Columbus, Ohio hub. Nonstop flights from Piedmont to seven cities around the country will begin in January, and as always, Skybus will offer at least 10 fares as low as $10 each way.
Service to Portsmouth, Punta Gorda, and St. Augustine begins on January 15, 2008, and service to Ft. Lauderdale, Gulfport-Biloxi, and Chicopee begins on January 17. Burbank service begins on February 25.
Reconnect with Aeroplan Partners to Collect Bonus
Through November 30, Aeroplan members can earn bonus miles for transactions with selected program partners they have NOT done business with between October 15, 2005, and October 15, 2007.
Participating partners include Esso, Rogers, Radisson, Uniprix, Home Hardware, FloraWorld, Bose, FTD.com, American Express AeroplanPlus Gold and Platinum Cards and CIBC Aerogold Visa Card, and Quaker, Tropicana, and Propel products. Bonuses vary by partner.
Alaska Will Cut Life of Miles
Alaska is the latest airline to decrease the lifetime of miles in its loyalty program. In the airline’s own words:
In an effort to reduce costs while minimizing the impact to our customers, we will be changing our Mileage Plan account inactivity policy. Currently, if an account has no activity for three years, it becomes inactive. Effective April 1, 2008, accounts with no mileage activity for the previous two years will become inactive and the miles will be removed from the account.
As a small carrier with a particularly attractive mileage program, Alaska missed a chance to gain a competitive edge by retaining a more customer-friendly expiration policy. Instead they joined other airlines in a race to the bottom. (American, United, and US Airways recently adopted 18-month expiration policies, while Delta cut back from three years to two.)
That leaves Northwest as the only major carrier which allows program members to extend the life of their miles with account activity every three years. Look for Northwest to change their policy before the end of the year.
Bonus Continental Miles for MasterCard Charges
Between October 24 and December 31, OnePass members can earn a 3,000-mile bonus when using a MasterCard to purchase a first-class or BusinessFirst ticket at continental.com.
Offer is valid for the following fare classes: A/U/C/D/Z/R. A maximum of 12,000 bonus miles can be earned during the promotion period.
Donate Priority Club Points to SoCal Fire Relief
As Crier readers may know, we publish from Los Angeles. And as we go to press today, there are wildfires burning to the west, to the east, the north, and to the south. According to the Los Angeles Times, 440,424 acres have already burned, 1,155 homes have been destroyed, and 881,500 residents have been evacuated.
It’s the kind of serious disaster that puts such concerns as mileage promotions and the World Series in context. And it’s always interesting to see which travel suppliers step up and respond to such situations, and how.
Kudos to the folks at InterContinental Hotels’ Priority Club, who weighed in with the following:
Priority Club Rewards members who would like to help the victims of the Southern California Wildfires by donating their Priority Club points to the American Red Cross can visit the program’s homepage at priorityclub.com. Points will be converted to cash by IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) and pledged to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to support Southern California Wildfire victims. Additionally, IHG will match all contributions up to a maximum of $100,000.