If you’re flying in or out of the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) this month, there’s something you should know. From September 7 – September 27, two of its runways are under construction. The runway closure is causing major delays and cancellations, both on domestic and international flights, and shorter flights more affected. Here’s what you need to know and the best tips to avoid a travel issue at SFO.
Why is construction causing delays?
The construction project for SFO’s runway 28L was planned, but is causing flight delays and cancellations nonetheless. The runway typically serves 68% of the airport’s flights. With only two other runways operational, it’s no surprise issues are occurring. For comparison, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport has five runways, and Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has eight. This past Sunday, 266 flights were delayed and 52 were cancelled by 4pm. Though seemingly high, it is significantly lower than the previous Sunday, with 358 flights delayed and 137 cancelled.
The time frame of the project was slated for September, specifically to avoid inclement weather. As you can imagine, escaping temperamental fog and rain can be difficult in the Bay Area. Precipitation is usually low at this time of year. Airport traffic is also lower, dipping between summer travel and holiday travel. Construction started September 7, and is scheduled to be out of use until September 27. A bit of good news though, airport officials said last week that crews reached the halfway point of the project two days ahead of schedule.
What can I do to avoid flight delays or cancellations?
Unfortunately, not much. If you must fly through SFO this month, plan for a two to three hour delay. The airlines are also doing their best to reduce travel issues. Legacy airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines, are waiving change fees during the dates of construction. Alaska Airlines and Southwest have adjusted timing of their flights and warned travelers to expect delays. Here are some other tips for flying through SFO this month:
If your plans are flexible, change your travel to a different day or time. SFO suggests flying out before 9am, when flight delays typically begin.
If possible, fly out or into a different airport. Oakland International Airport and San Jose International Airport are both close by.
If your plans are set in stone and cannot be changed, expect delays. Download the airline’s app to stay up to date on your flight’s status. Your flight may be delayed, but you could at least you’ll avoid spending it in the airport.
Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. Contact us to learn more about our consultative approach to account management or schedule a demo of our AirPortal technology.
Lithium-ion batteries have a pretty awful reputation when it comes to plane travel. They’re the reason why hoverboards began spontaneously exploding and are now no longer allowed on flights. They’re also the culprit for the briefly released Samsung Galaxy Note7, which had similar instability issues and also banned from flights. Part of the technology that makes lithium-ion batteries so powerful also leads to them overheating and as a posing a serious fire hazard. In result, new policies regarding the proper procedure for lithium-ion batteries on flights are being created. Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines have recently announced an updated protocol for passengers traveling with lithium-ion batteries, including items like smart bags.
What are ‘smart bags’?
Smart bags are typical pieces of luggage, but also feature integrated technology. There are a few different models on the market, but most allow travelers to weigh their luggage and even lock it through an app on their phone. Some can track your luggage using GPS. And others can even be used as a mobile charging station for phones and laptops. This autonomous smart bag is hands-free and will automatically follow the owner as they walk! As amazing and innovative as these new smart bags are, they unfortunately use lithium-ion batteries to operate. Due to the unpredictability of lithium-ion batteries, a debate has taken hold. Where is the safest place for smart bags on an aircraft? Should these batteries be stored in the cargo hold, where the Department of Homeland Security recently announced large electronics should be placed? Or, should they be in the cabin, where if an error occurs, it could be addressed immediately? Now some airlines are taking the lead and implementing policies that regulate lithium-ion batteries on air crafts.
Airlines restrictions on lithium-ion batteries and smart bags
Delta, American, and Alaska are the three airlines leading the charge on these restrictions. Both recently announced their decision to ban smart bags with non-removable lithium-ion batteries from flights. The removed batteries should then be brought in the passenger’s carry-on, similar to how passengers should bring extra batteries. If the battery is removable, the smart bag will be allowed on the flight. American added that in their policy, non-removable batteries will be allowed, but only if the battery can be turned off. If the traveler cannot turn off or remove the battery, the bag will be refused. These restrictions will go into place starting January 15, 2018.
It should also be noted that many smart bag companies claim their products comply with TSA and FAA procedures. This may be true, but they are not endorsed by the airlines.
With the use of cutting-edge technology, Delta Air Lines always seems to be at the forefront of traveler innovation. Their tracking technology has eased the stress of checked baggage. And their on-time landing rates are outstanding due to internal adjustments. Delta’s continual commitment to travelers often involves facilitating convenience. That’s why it’s no surprise that Delta’s recent updates yet again ease the burden of travel for their customers.
Most recently, Delta has announced that travelers who have downloaded and logged into the Delta Fly app, will be automatically checked-in to their flight and sent a boarding pass. That’s right, potentially gone are the days of setting a 24 hour reminder before your flight. Or hurriedly using a ticketing kiosk at the airport before heading to the security line. Now, you’ll just to open your app to retrieve your boarding pass.
Currently, the automatic check-in is only available for flights traveling in the United States, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. Delta has not yet announced how it will handle additional details, like checked bags and seat changes. They’ve also listed circumstances in which the feature is not compatible. This includes reservations with a delay or cancellation present. Reservations without a seat assignment at the time of check-in. And reservations that include special service requests, like wheelchair service, unaccompanied minor travel, or pet traveling in the cabin.
Another venture in which Delta is innovating with technology to ease the stress of their flyers, is providing in-flight free messaging. Now, travelers can stay connected with friends, family and co-workers while onboard. Through their wifi, travelers can use iMessage, Facebook Messenger and What’s App, as long as they have downloaded the app prior to boarding. It also will only be available on wifi enabled flights. Just remember to select the “Free Messaging” pass once you logged on to the Delta wifi through your browser.
Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. Contact us to learn how our proprietary technology helps relieve burdens for both the travel manager and the traveler.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you have probably noticed recent scrutiny over airline’s overbooking policies. In the wake of an event on a United Airlines flight, these processes and its protocol have heavily been in the media. In response, most major airlines are updating overbooking policies.
What is overbooking?
Overbooking is the process of airlines overselling seats on most flights. Using advanced algorithms airlines estimate the number of no-shows or canceled tickets. This allows them to fill flights to capacity, while saving on fuel costs and keeping ticket prices low. Read our recent blog for everything you need to know about overbooking.
Updates made to overbooking policies
United:Their new policy says passengers will not be removed from the plane once they have boarded. Also, local police will no longer be used to forcibly remove passengers. And crew members will not be allowed to bump passengers from planes. They will require one-hour advanced notice of the plane boarding, or wait for a later flight.
Delta: Though still allowing displacement of passengers once they have boarded the plane, they raised their compensation rate. Originally capping at $1,350, it is now $10,000. Compensation has also been increased at the gate, from $800 to $2,000.
Southwest: This airline has said they will end overbooking policies completely. Gary Kelley, CEO of Southwest said to USAToday, “We’ve been taking steps over the last several years to prepare ourselves for this anyway… As we have dramatically improved our forecasting tools and techniques, and as we approach the upcoming implementation of our new reservations system on May 9, we no longer have a need to overbook as part of the revenue management inventory process.”
American: They have updated their Conditions of Carriage policy to no longer allow passengers to be removed from the plane once it has boarded. They also stated their compensation has never been capped, and it will remain that way.
We all nonchalantly agree to this when we book a flight, but the fact of the matter is that all major airlines overbook their flights, often leaving travelers in the lurch. Overbooking came into the spotlight this week when a United passenger was forcibly removed from a flight, leaving many of us wondering the extent of enforcing this policy.
It’s standard practice for airlines to sell more tickets than the plane has seats, anticipating a few cancellations and missed flights. Rather than having half empty planes take off, extensive calculations are been made determining the probability of no-shows. Additional tickets are then made available based on these solutions. The video below from Ted-ed perfectly summarizes the process and statistics behind overbooking.
Though overselling results in more profits for the airlines, not having enough seats on a flight is still a common occurrence. According to the video above, about 50,000 people get bumped off their flight each year. Overbooking processes are outlined in each airline’s “contracts of carriage” policies, which passengers agree to when tickets are purchased.
What happens when a flight is oversold?
Federal rules require that airlines must first ask if any passengers will voluntarily give up their seat. Airlines can individually decide on compensation, but typically a travel voucher or gift card is given.
If passengers are unwilling to voluntarily to give up their seats, airlines are then allowed to bump fliers involuntarily. Every airline has a different policy on how they decide who is denied travel as well as their compensation.
United – Excludes individuals with disabilities and unaccompanied minors. Priority is then determined by passenger’s fare, class, itinerary, status of frequent flier membership, and order of check-in.
Delta – Decided with regards to priority boarding rules and elite status and check-in order and cabin.
JetBlue – JetBlue claims they never overbook flights, but have information in their contracts of carriage if a situation arises. Passengers denied boarding involuntarily will receive $1,350 dollars.
American – Usually deny boarding based upon check-in time, but may include additional variables such as severe hardships, fare paid, and status within AAdvantage program. Compensation and protocols differ for domestic and international transportation.
Spirit – Unaccompanied minors and people with disabilities are excluded. The last customer to check in will be the first to be involuntarily removed first from an over booked flight.
Southwest -The last Passenger who receives a boarding position will be the first Passenger denied boarding involuntarily in an oversale situation, with no preference given to any particular person or category of fares. Compensation differs based on their readiness to get the passenger on anther flight.
How business travelers can avoid being involuntarily removed for oversold flights
Getting to your meeting on time is tricky enough when you’re a frequent business traveler. It’s best to keep additional possibilities to a minimum.
Acquire elite or member status through the airline
Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company. We’re focused on getting our travelers to their destination smoothly, and with limited headaches for the travel manager. Contact us to learn how we do it.
If you have traveled frequently in the last month, you may have noticed a major change. Most airlines are no longer providing free TSA Pre-check status like they have in the past. Those receiving TSA Pre-Check for free will now be offered it less and less. The Transportation Security Administration has begun limiting access to its expedited physical screening lanes. Only those who have paid for and enrolled in a Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler programs—TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI will be offered on a consistent basis. My thinking is that every once in a while they want to make sure you are still going by the rules and have you go through regular security lines for a full review.
Applying for TSA Pre-Check
Though an application and approval process is required to receive TSA Pre-Check status, it is very easy. Interested fliers apply online, submit to a background check, and then visit one of more than 380 enrollment sites across the country. This in-person appointment with a TSA agents can be scheduled online as well. I enrolled in Global Entry early in 2016 and loved how it expedited my re-entry to US. If you travel 3-4 trips a year, it is well worth the $85 for five years ($17 a year) or Global Entry is $100 ($20 a year). Learn more about the application process in our ultimate TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry guide.
TSA Pre Check alternative payment methods
Some airlines are offering payment by using your miles. United Airlines and Alaska Airlines require using 10,000 miles, while Southwest needs 9,000 rapid rewards points. Delta Air Lines is using miles, but instead offering Diamond and Platinum Medallion Members the ability to select Global Entry application vouchers through Choice Benefits. This loyalty program feature is only available to Delta elite Members. JetBlue is also offering TSA Pre Check for free to elites, similar to Delta’s system.
If you love not having to remove shoes, leaving laptop in your bag, along with your Ziploc bag of liquids don’t delay because the necessary face-to-face appointments are filling up fast. In other words—don’t wait until right before your next trip to apply as you will be sadly disappointed.
Any questions about TSA PreCheck eligibility contact TSA at (866) 289-9673 or submit questions to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook.com/AskTSA.
More exciting news comes from Delta Airlines in 2017. Delta and Aeroméxico recently announced a transborder alliance, establishing a historic partnership between the United States and Mexico. These two airlines have been partners for 22 years, offering more than 400 flights between the two countries. This Delta and Aeroméxico partnership is expected to increase these benefits and choices for fliers.
The Department of Transportation recently authorized an antitrust immunity, allowing the airlines to establish a joint cooperation agreement.
Delta CEO, Ed Bastain said in a recent press release, “Together, Delta and Aeroméxico are stronger in the U.S.-Mexico market than either airline can be on its own. The partnership will make it possible for us to offer customers more flights to more destinations, with more choices every time someone travels across the border. We will offer industry-leading reliability, great service and an unmatched array of options.” “Our partnership means growth of services and jobs for both Delta and Aeroméxico,”
Once finalized by the DOT and the Mexican Federal Economic Competition Commission conditions are met, it will allow Aeroméxico and Delta to coordinate and enhance the experience for their travelers.
What does this Delta and Aeroméxico partnership mean for travelers?
Collectively, they already operate more than 400 flights between them, offering greater benefits to their flyers. In the near future travelers can expect to see:
Improved connecting schedules
Improved experience on the ground, including updated gate and lounges
Sales and marketing for this venture will soon be created, increasing the presence in Delta’s United States hubs in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, Salt Lake City and Seattle. Aeroméxico will begin marketing efforts in their hubs in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara.
Christopherson Business Travel is a premier business travel management company in the United States. We offer travel solutions with our top-of-the-line custom technology, account management services and 24/7 agents. Contact us to learn how we can save you time and money on future business travel.
Here at Christopherson Business Travel, we’re pretty big fans of Delta Air Lines. Their continual innovation and commitment to fliers is inspiring. Earlier this year, our management team had an opportunity to hear some of Delta’s top leaders speak. One of those industry leaders was Tim Mapes, Senior Vice President – Chief Marketing Officer of Delta. With a company that is consistently pioneering, we valued the opportunity to understand the message behind the brand.
How Delta continually innovates
During the meeting, Mapes said, “If the world is changing faster on the outside than you’re changing on the inside, then your company is dying”. Sound business advice, it dawned on me how hard Delta strives to be on the cutting edge. For example, their revolutionary new baggage ticketing system released this year. Or how their Gift Back Project cultivated altruism by recognizing selfless individuals. Mapes also explained the three pillars of their brand:
Thoughtful ? Always be warm and caring.
Reliable ? Get our passengers home on-time, safely, and with their bags.
Innovative ? Strive to be the first in the industry to make a change, and then continually innovate.
Delta Air Lines continues to deliver on their reliability brand promise. Their hard work and dedication lead to great accolades. For example, this November Delta was named the most punctual airline in North America. Hearing Mapes speak about the foundation of the Delta brand and recognize it in their recent updates was inspiring.
Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company. We help busy companies book, manage, and expense their business travel, so they can get back to what’s important to them. Contact us if you are interested in learning how we can simplify your company’s travel.
Almost two months ago, Delta introduced their much-anticipated new baggage tracking process. Originally announced last spring, their new checked luggage process is now active in 84 airports. If you are a frequent business traveler, make sure you take advantage of this new technology.
Delta’s New Baggage Tracking System
What makes Delta’s new tracking system so innovative? Bags checked through Delta Air Lines receive a tag. These Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags transmit an individual frequency, making them easier to locate. This is the same technology as used in E-Z Lane toll passes, id badges, electronic locks and even library books.
Once the RFID tags are attached to the luggage, they continue down the conveyor belt to the designated plane. A red light/green light system identifies the bags and their correct flow. The system shuts down when a bag is scanned and found to be headed the wrong way. If this happens, an agent easily locates the bag and moves it to the correct flow. Delta claims it has 99.9 percent accuracy of luggage making it to their correct destination.
Mobile app provides instant information for the flyer
Delta’s conjoining app notifies the flyer when their luggage reaches baggage claim. More incredibly, it allows the flyer to see their bag’s journey throughout the day. I already know I’ll be obsessively monitoring my bags the next time I fly with Delta!
Christopherson Business Travel is a leading travel management company in the United States. We specialize in exceptional customer service and forward thinking travel technology, making the lives of our clients and their travelers easier.
This week, Delta Airlines, along with famed fashion designer, Zac Posen, unveiled their new exclusive employee uniform collection. Premiering through social media on a Facebook Live event, it showed the new fashion-forward look of Delta. The new collection will eventually be worn by 60,000 Delta employees.
Delta Air Lines Modern Uniforms
You may remember the renowned fashion designer Zac Posen from Project Runway, or his other in-store collaborations, such as with David’s Bridal or Target. He is known for creating high-fashion looks beloved by celebrities and the masses. In preparation of the new line, Posen paired with employees in each department. This ensured the new design was comfortable and suited to their needs.
Ultimately, looks were created for client-facing positions, like flight attendants and customer service agents; and as well as below the wing and mechanical positions, like technical operation employees and ramp agents.
Though the iconic Delta red color is prominent, surprisingly other unlikely colors make their debut in these new uniforms. Dubbed Passport Plum, Cruising Cardinal, and Groundspeed Graphite, these darker hues compliment the red, ushering in a new, contemporary age for Delta. The runway fashion show featured real employees modeling the collection, all from different airport hubs throughout the nation. More pictures can be found in Delta’s ‘look book’ gallery on their website.
Creating uniforms their employees deserve
After the show, Posen and Delta CEO, Ed Bastian, spoke about their excitement in creating a new global design that permeates throughout the Delta brand. In the same vein that Delta strives to provide individual and exemplary service to their clients, this uniform collection gives the same opportunity to their own employees. Bastain previously said, “The world’s best employees deserve the best uniforms and this new collection is classically influenced, yet modern…Zac and the Delta team worked closely with our people to create timeless and fashionable pieces that reflect the thoughtful and innovative spirit of Delta.”
The next phase will be real-world testing of the clothes. Beginning in December, 1,000 employees will be testing the uniforms. Based on feedback, the uniforms will be rolled out to Delta employees during the first quarter of 2018. Land’s End has recently been announced to produce the non-client facing wear. The last time uniforms have been updated for client-facing staff was in 2006. Delta last updated their uniforms for below wing employees in 2000. This is just another example of Delta taking opportunity to rise above and further develop themselves as an exemplary airline. Sure, it’s just uniforms, but it symbolizes the changes that Delta is making in all departments. Now with an updated, fashionable ensemble, we can see what really makes Delta different.
Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company. We specialize in exceptional customer service and forward thinking travel technology, making the lives of our clients and their travelers easier.
Delta is making history by updating their luggage handling process, benefiting business travelers and leisure travelers alike. This new technology uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), as opposed to the existing hand-scanned barcodes. The technology uses scanners to read embedded chips in luggage tags via radio waves to track the bags.
This system will automatically catch improperly loaded luggage and assist the luggage handlers as well. Currently, when a traveler misses their connection, ground agents must manually scan each bag to find the specific piece of luggage. With RFID scanners, inventory will be taken quickly and at defined checkpoints to efficiently find the lost bag and route it appropriately. Delta is investing $50 million in the technology and have plans to install this at 84 locations, covering all hubs and about 85 to 90 percent of its total bag volume. Delta handles 120 million bags of luggage annually, this improvement will affect the majority of the luggage.
Interestingly, Delta is the first of all airlines to make such a vast improvement on luggage technology. Additionally, they have plans for real-time tracking and monitoring for the passenger. Push notifications through the Delta app will be available for the traveler, so they know when their bags hit different checkpoints. This is believed to have a 99 percent accuracy rate, ensuring proper routing and loading.
Travelers will begin seeing this technology in the fourth quarter of 2016. Read more about Delta’s other promotions, or watch their video explaining the technology further.
Have you heard about Delta’s Gift Back Project? Through this project, anyone can nominate the most selfless person they know and give them their dream gift.
To nominate someone, nominators must register on the Gift Back Project website, and submit a short essay explaining how their nominee is truly selfless and in what way they’d like to see them gifted back. If the nomination is chosen, Delta will make that dream gift a reality.
Delta spokesperson Paul Skrbec explained the project to The Huffington Post, stating, “Giving back to the community is one of our core values. Any time we can do things for the people we serve … it highlights those values.”
I have consistently seen Delta flight attendants, gate agents, and pilots do so many things over the years that truly reflect the truth of that advertisement, which not only makes air travel more enjoyable, but puts a smile on my face.
In the last month, I have seen Delta employees wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and raising money for research and support. On one flight, they recognized a couple celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary, and on my flight last week, they recognized our veterans and active duty military in honor of their service and Veterans Day.
As the commercial says: WE LOVE TO FLY AND IT SHOWS. Thanks, Delta, for making it a pleasure to fly.
My husband is a Delta Platinum Medallion member due to his frequent business travel, and has come to live and breathe for the free upgrades to first class (or at the very least, Economy Comfort) that this status often provides him. On a recent crowded flight, his status was of no help to him and he ended up in a middle seat towards the back of the plane. Of course he complained to me about it, but we both understand that unless you actually pay for the upgrade, you can’t complain or expect too much!
A few days after this flight, he received the following email from Delta:
SOOTHING THE MIDDLE-SEAT-ON-MONDAY BLUES.
SORRY YOU GOT STUCK IN THE MIDDLE SEAT. HERE’S A 500-MILE BONUS FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.
Mondays are tough enough as is, and yours didn’t get any better when you got stuck in the middle seat.
Loyal Platinum Medallion® members like you deserve our best seats. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible.
In appreciation of your understanding and flexibility, we added 500 miles to your account.
We hope to see you flying in a Preferred Seat or First Class on your next flight — but know that we’ve got your back regardless of your cabin or seat.
And we’ll always do what we can to make things right.
Pretty cool, right? Of course 500 miles isn’t a huge amount, but the fact that they were even aware of him (one of their millions of customers), that he had been in a middle seat, apologized for it, and then tried to compensate him for the inconvenience really went a long way in making him an even more loyal customer.
As a frequent Delta Air Lines traveler, I wanted to learn more about the new 2015 SkyMiles Program; I was pleased to find out that their already great program will soon become even better.
How is Delta’s new SkyMiles Program different?
Beginning January 1, 2015, miles will be earned based on ticket price to better reward customers who spend more with Delta. In the past, the airline issued points based on miles. Delta has also created more redemption options and increased the number of Award Seats at the lower price points. Just like before, your existing miles and any earned going forward will not expire. Delta SkyMiles credit card members will also continue to earn up to an additional two miles per dollar on Delta purchases with the card.
The best part about the new program? You can redeem award tickets for any Delta flight with NO blackout dates!
Delta Air Lines can keep flying from Dallas Love Field–at least through the end of the year. Recently, the City of Dallas informed Delta it had to two weeks to exit the airport. But for now, Delta will continue operating its five daily flights to and from Atlanta after Southwest Airlines agreed to let Delta use one of its gates until January 6.
United Airlines will also allow Delta to use ticket gates and other operational space until the end of the year. After these dates, Delta will have to negotiate a more permanent deal with Southwest, United, or Virgin America to lease a slot to continue flying to Atlanta.
Delta also issued a statement announcing the ongoing negotiations: “Delta Air Lines has secured the right to continue to operate service at Dallas Love Field through the end of the year, and continues to work with all parties involved toward a permanent solution to allow for long-term service.”
Complaints about airlines, rental car companies, and hotels seem to be more the norm than the exception. Certainly, most of us have had an unsatisfactory experience with some travel service provider. However, I recently found myself pleasantly surprised with how well my airline reacted to what could have been a very frustrating situation.
On a Delta Air Lines flight from Washington D.C. to Seattle, I missed my connection in Minneapolis due to weather. I arrived at the Minneapolis airport at 11:00 p.m. and there were no other flights to Seattle until the next morning. Since the delay was due to weather, the Delta was not obligated to make arrangements for their passengers. However, all the hotels near the Minneapolis airport were sold out. I could have stayed at a hotel downtown, but by the time I’d have arrived, I would have only had a couple hours to sleep before needing to go back to the airport to catch my early morning flight. Another option would have been to take a later flight, but then I would have been traveling most of my work day. I decided to spend the night in the airport.
It was amazing to see how Delta did their best servicing us through an unavoidable event. A wonderful agent let those of us who’d decided to sleep over know that Delta had futons, blankets, and pillows for us. She guided us to a business center area, where cubicles became our overnight station. We only had a few hours to sleep but that little bit of extra comfort went a long way. The agent also brought us snacks and water from the aircraft. It certainly wasn’t the best of conditions, but it was better than trying to sleep in a seat in the airport waiting area or staying up all night.
Weather delays and airport sleepovers can make even the nicest person a bit cranky, but it helped that Delta’s staff was pleasant and helpful. So yes, we all will experience the negative aspects of travel at some point, but maybe if we try to see the positive sides of things, those frustrations would be smoothed over much more easily.
I travel frequently enough to appreciate airplane amenities such as large overhead bins and higher ceilings, but when I recently boarded one of Delta’s new Boeing 717s for a business trip to Atlanta, I was most surprised and delighted by the extra leg room and in-seat power outlet!
Doesn’t every commercial aircraft need power outlets with a USB port? How different the airport would look if travelers could charge their devices in-flight rather than scrambling to claim one of the limited outlets in the airport to power up before takeoff. We’re not quite there yet, but it was encouraging to see and experience this feature on board my Delta flight.
I was curious to know how often I might come across this aircraft in my travels and found that Delta acquired and refurbished AirTran’s fleet of approximately 80 Boeing 717s when AirTran was acquired by Southwest Airlines. Southwest did not want to integrate the 717s into its own fleet of 737s. Delta however, is well equipped to handle the complexity of operating many different aircraft types. And as Delta is leasing the 717s at a good price, they will be much cheaper to operate than the aircraft they are replacing.
Delta Air Lines continues to invest in their presence at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and in meeting their clients’ global travel needs. Some of their exciting 2013 milestones are:
Commenced a $229 Million renovation at LAX which, when complete, will feature four new check-in islands, a new baggage claim area, same-floor security check-in with 10 lanes and even more restaurants and shopping options
Closed on their 49% equity stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways, giving Delta non-stop, twice daily LA-London service on Virgin’s industry-leading product. This service will commence in January 2014.
Launched a new “Shuttle Service” on the busy L.A.-San Francisco route with 15 daily hourly trips with a top-of-the-hour memory schedule similar to the East Coast shuttles between New York and Boston/DC/Chicago
Standardized flat-bed seats with no-step over aisle access in business class on all Delta transoceanic daily international flights from LA to Sydney and both of Tokyo’s airports, Narita and Haneda
Launched new destinations from LAX including Seattle, Portland, San Jose (CA), Nashville, Spokane, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose (Costa Rica)
Delta recently announced the best 3rd quarter financial results in their history. They are performing well on all fronts.
Delta has a new joint partnership with Virgin Atlantic that will benefit Christopherson’s corporate travelers! The reciprocal code-sharing will become effective July 3, 2013. The initial phase of the partnership will bring to our valued clients the following added benefits:
30 total peak-day flights from North America to the UK, including 23 flights to London–Heathrow
Six additional daily frequencies to Heathrow from the greater New York area
Priority check-in, boarding, baggage handling and additional baggage allowance on all Delta- and Virgin Atlantic-operated flights worldwide for Delta BusinessElite and SkyMiles Diamond, Platinum and Gold members, as well as Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and Flying Club Gold members
Reciprocal Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse access at applicable airports for BusinessElite and Upper Class passengers, as well as SkyMiles Diamond and Platinum Medallion members and Flying Club Gold members
More opportunities to earn and redeem miles through the SkyMiles and Flying Club programs
Complementary products and services, including flat-bed seats with direct aisle access
Frequent flyer programs have now been around for 32 years. American Airlines started the first program and the premise was simple–fly on American, accumulate miles, then cash those miles in for a free ticket. The idea quickly caught on and created a fierce loyalty between the traveling public and the airlines.
As mileage accounts grew, it became obvious to the airlines that the programs needed to be tweaked. After all, road warriors were racking up some pretty serious miles. Over the years we’ve seen that mileage redemption for a “free” ticket has been increased. As technology improved, airlines were also able to increase the number of miles needed to travel at peak times or to popular destinations.
The watchword from the airlines was to be “flexible.” To most people that meant they would have to check other dates or times which may not be as desirable. But being flexible also meant you may not get to fly to the city of your choice.
For example, if you wanted to perhaps cash in your miles for a family vacation to Disneyworld, you would want to fly into Orlando, right? But trying to get a free ticket to Orlando could mean draining your frequent flyer account. It’s a popular destination and the airlines would rather have fare paying passengers in those seats. So the mileage redemption is going to be high. One recommendation would be to try a surrounding airport, such as Tampa. It’s about a 90 minute drive, but one family saved about half of their miles by choosing that airport over Orlando. And, since they were renting a car anyway, it really didn’t add much to the cost of their entire vacation.
In time, airlines also soon began to realize that a lot of road warriors didn’t want to see the inside of an airplane during their vacation. After all, many of them spend a week or two each month in planes and airports. And another flying trip, even for a vacation, would just mean more time doing what they already do for business. The airlines also realized that, collectively, their top 10-20% of travelers had millions of miles sitting on the books. So they’ve now created new ways to redeem those miles for merchandise or benefits.
You can now cash in miles for airline club memberships, GPS units, household goods, and even Broadway show tickets. Some airlines even run auctions for exotic vacations. You can also donate miles to charity. For example, Delta has partnered with organizations such as Children’s Miracle Network, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Hero Miles.
Visit your favorite airline website to see the many different options for redeeming your miles.
I recently had the privilege of touring Delta’s new Terminal 4 at New York’s JFK Airport. From the minute we stepped inside, it was quite apparent that Delta was very proud of their new “baby,” and rightfully so!
Terminal 4 is part of Delta’s $1.4 billion renovation project at JFK. The first thing I noticed were the floor to ceiling windows which added an abundance of natural light to the terminal. There are also plenty of kiosks, check-in counters, and Delta employees ready to assist travelers at every step of the check-in process. There is also a separate check-in area for Sky Priority members. The TSA screening area was a bit unorganized, but that should improve soon as Sky Priority lanes are added.
After looking around the check-in area of the terminal, we were led downstairs to the gates, which included many shops and restaurants. After a quick walk through the area, we were taken to the new Sky Club. This is definitely the grandest of Delta’s Sky Clubs. It is 24,000 square feet of work (or relaxation) space for Sky Club members, including an outdoor rooftop terrace called the Sky Deck.
The Sky Deck is a great place to relax and get some fresh air before heading to your flight. For those with a Sky Club pass, it is well worth the visit. For those who don’t feel they travel enough to purchase a one-year pass, you can purchase a one day pass for $50.00 and visit any of Delta’s Sky Clubs.
As a sidenote, while we were out on the Sky Deck, we actually saw an Emirates Air A380 Airbus land. For those not familiar with the A380, it’s a twin deck jet that can hold more than 500 passengers. It was amazing to watch it land.
Delta’s new Terminal 4 reinforces the company’s commitment to the New York airport. If you have an opportunity to travel to, from, or through JFK, Terminal 4 is a must see (especially the Sky Club).
It’s no wonder Delta Airlines is consistently voted the best run and most admired airline by industry insiders and business travelers alike. One of the ways Delta stays ahead of other carriers is by constantly improving customer comfort and superior service on-board its flights.
Customers on Delta’s transcontinental service from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and New York-JFK can look forward to upgraded food and entertainment options, beginning this spring, summer and fall.
Economy Comfort and Economy customers will be offered:
Complimentary headsets, beer, wine, spirits, and premium snacks
Complimentary movies and on-demand TV shows, plus free HBO selections and new movie releases
Business Elite customers will be offered:
Sparkling wine and express meals
Copies of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, beginning later this fall
Additionally, 375 ml bottles of Hess Select Chardonnay and Meiomi by Belle Glos Pinot Noir will be available for purchase in Economy class beginning in March. Expanded movie and on-demand TV libraries, with up to 100 movies to choose from, as well as Starbucks coffee will be available for all transcontinental customers beginning this summer.
Delta’s commitment to its customers has not gone unnoticed as they continue to grow customer loyalty with business and leisure travelers from around the world.
Although I am not a pro at maximizing my preferred traveler and credit points, I was excited to hear the announcement that Delta Air Lines and Starwood Hotels and Resorts have launched a joint loyalty partnership.
The new program, which begins March 1, is called Crossover Rewards and allows Delta Medallion and Starwood Preferred Guest members to share program benefits to earn more Skymiles and Starpoints when traveling with either brand.
In Delta’s announcement, they state: “SkyMiles Diamond and Platinum Medallion members will have access to added benefits including priority check-in, 4 p.m. late checkout and free in-room internet access when staying at Starwood Hotels and Resorts. All Delta Medallion members also will earn one mile per dollar spent on eligible room rates when staying with Starwood in addition to the Starpoints usually earned for their stay. In turn, SPG Platinum members will receive one free checked bag, priority check-in and priority boarding when flying Delta. SPG elite members will earn one Starpoint per dollar spent on eligible flights in addition to the miles usually earned for their flight.”
This program will be a great advantage for frequent business travelers and brings added value to both of these companies’ loyalty programs. It will also be interesting to see if this is the beginning of a new trend that will benefit everyone chasing points.
Delta Launches the Final Phase of Their Expansion at the New York-LaGuardia Airport
In July Delta added 11 new destinations from the hub in addition to a dozen new routes launched in March, completing the largest route expansion at the New York City gateway in more than 40 years. Since March, Delta has increased service at LaGuardia by more than 60 percent, with 100 new flights and 26 new destinations.
Delta Offers Improved Productivity and Convenience for New York Travelers
Travelers arriving at LaGuardia enjoy the airport’s easy access to Manhattan. They can also connect at the conveniently positioned hub to dozens of business destinations. At LaGuardia, Delta operates a combination of narrow body and regional jets, the latter of which offer the convenience of First Class Cabins on most routes.
Facility Improvements at LGA Enhance the Customer Experience
In addition to new flights at LaGuardia, Delta is investing more than $160 million to modernize LaGuardia, with work expected to be completed by the end of 2012. The project includes a 630-foot connector bridge linking Terminals C and D, a new Delta Sky Club in Terminal C and expanded security lanes in both terminals. The connector bridge will allow Delta customers to walk between terminals behind security, providing easy access to departure and arrival gates and facilitating convenient connections.
$1.2 Billion in Improvements at JFK Complements LaGuardia Expansion
Besides modernizing facilities at LaGuardia, Delta also is part of a $1.2 billion expansion project at their JFK hub to add nine additional gates to Terminal 4. That terminal, which will become Delta’s international gateway at New York, will include a state-of-the-art baggage handling system, additional Customs and security lanes and one of the largest Delta Sky Clubs in the airline’s system. Customers can use their global hub at JFK to reach nearly 50 international destinations on five continents.
From business travelers to teenagers to blogging moms, all your online needs can now be taken care of in the sky.
Delta Airlines now offers in-flight Wi-Fi Access on more than 3,000 domestic flights daily. Depending on your needs, packages are available for purchase and offer everything from a one-time access lasting 24 hours to yearly memberships.
Delta has been the industry leader in offering this service to their guests and if you are wondering if your flight will have Wi-Fi access you can check the Delta website under My Trips. According to the Delta website, Wi-Fi is not yet available on international flights, but is available within the Continental U.S. and Alaska (although you may experience interruptions to your service in Alaska).
Have you been considering an airline credit card? You really can’t get through an airport terminal anymore without seeing the advertisements or being asked by an airline employee if you’d like to sign up for their branded card. “Earn 25,000 miles just by signing up … that’s enough miles for a free ticket!!” Well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t recall the last time I redeemed 25,000 miles for a free ticket.
My advice? Don’t get drawn into the card just for the initial free miles you’ll receive when you sign up. Look into all the benefits and interest rates, and pick the one that is right for you.
For example, the Delta Gold SkyMiles® card by American Express® has a $95 yearly fee, which is waived the first year. This card offers one free checked bag for up to 9 people on your booking. The card will essentially pay for itself if you and a companion were to take just one trip a year and each check a bag. It also offers priority boarding, which means you should be able to find that coveted space in the overhead bin before the majority of passengers board the aircraft.
If United Airlines is your choice, they have similar benefits with their MileagePlus® Explorer Card by Visa®. United also includes two complimentary day passes to the United Club® every year. The airline clubs are a great place to wait for your flight. You can relax a bit, and avoid the crowds at the gate.
Hotels, and even Disney, also offer their own branded credit cards so you can earn points for room nights and travel packages. So be sure to check out all the benefits before signing up.
The major U.S. domestic airlines had widely varied results for the first quarter of 2012. Delta Air Lines posted a first-quarter net profit of $124 million versus a $318 million loss for Q1 a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, the company’s pre-tax loss was $36 million, representing a $355 million improvement from the first quarter of 2011, despite $250 million in higher fuel expense. The airline posted a 10 percent increase in revenue, year-over-year, to $7.2 billion. US Airways Group posted a first-quarter net profit of $48 million versus a $114 million loss for Q1 a year earlier. The net profit included a special $70 million credit associated with a slot transaction executed with Delta, at New York LaGuardia and Washington National airports. Passenger revenue increased 11.5 percent, year-over-year, to $2.9 billion. United Continental Holdings posted a first-quarter net loss of $448 million versus a $213 million net loss for Q1 last year. The loss included $162 million in special costs, primarily related to United’s integration of Continental Airlines, according to the carrier. Corporate revenues increased 10 percent year-over-year. American Airlines parent AMR posted a first-quarter net loss of $1.7 billion, versus a $436 million net loss for Q1 last year. Bankrupt AMR attributed the loss to $1.4 billion in reorganization items and an increase in fuel costs. Consolidated unit revenues increased 10.3 percent year-over-year.
Delta Air Lines has launched a new air fare class called Basic Economy. It comprises the airlines “lowest-priced fares” and does not allow refunds, changes or advance seat assignments.
Basic Economy fares initially are available to customers traveling between Detroit and Orlando, Ft. Myers, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa, but “may be expanded to other markets in the future as determined by Delta,” the carrier noted on its website.
The main difference between Basic Economy and other advance-purchase, nonrefundable economy fares is that ticket-holders cannot select their own seats. Instead, Delta indicated that seats “will be auto-assigned for Basic Economy fare holders during check in.” That goes for elite frequent flyers as well, according to Delta, which called the fare “ideal for travelers who seek the lowest fare option, do not intend to make changes and do not consider seat choice an important part of their travel experience.”
Delta would not disclose the average cost difference between Basic Economy and the next step up on the ladder.
While its price may be appealing to cost-sensitive travelers, the fare requires some new disclosures to would-be buyers. “If the Basic Economy fare is selected, the customer must be notified of all the fare rules. In addition, expectations of the travel experience must be clearly explained,” Delta noted.
Its new “Trip Extras,” for example, is a suite of services that includes priority boarding in certain markets, frequent flyer mile bundles and inflight Wi-Fi access. Additionally, Basic Economy ticketholders “may purchase any available Preferred Seat,” but only at check-in, Delta noted.
For additional information you can talk to your Christopherson Business Travel agent or go directly to Delta.com.
Source: Business Travel News
A number of changes have occurred within the airline industry in the last month. Some, like the merger of United and Continental, have been very visible, while others have gone by unnoticed. And yet, many these changes will have long lasting impacts upon both the industry and its travelers.
With the United merger, we have seen the combining of two very large companies—including tens of thousands of employees, thousands of aircraft, hundreds of airport facilities, numerous policies, two frequent flier programs, and their reservations systems. Most of these changes will result in subtle differences that won’t seem all too unusual. However, there is one very noticeable change, that I haven’t seen mentioned in the media, and that is the change in the policy concerning exchanges and change fees.
Prior to the merger, United permitted travelers to make a change on a nonrefundable ticket with the payment of a change fee. If the new fare was lower than the original fare, then the change fee could be deducted from the difference. For example, if the initial ticket was a $850.00 round trip ticket between Spokane and Savannah and the new ticket was a $500.00 round trip ticket between Spokane and Denver, then the $150.00 change fee could be deducted from the $350.00 residual amount, leaving $200.00 on a nonrefundable credit:
$850.00 (old ticket) – $500.00 (new ticket) = $350.00 (residual amount) – $150.00 (change fee) = $200.00 in credit
This credit would be valid for a set period of time, generally one year from the date of issuance of the original ticket. But the change that occurred on March 3rd, however, is that United adopted Continental’s policy of not permitting the change fee to be deducted from that difference, instead the change fee is charged at the time of the exchange. This means that in order to make an exchange one has to initially pay more money out of pocket, however in the end, the traveler winds up with a larger credit. So in the above example, the math would change to:
$850.00 (old ticket) + $150.00 (change fee) = $1000 (initial out of pocket expense) – $500.00 (new ticket) = $500.00 in credit
While this may not seem like a big deal to some folks, to others, having to pay that extra fee out of pocket, is a bit of a burden.
There is also one disturbing aspect to this change that I have yet to mention.
United has made this new policy retroactive to all nonrefundable tickets, regardless of the date of issuance. This means that tickets issue last October, under the old rules, are now subject to the new rules, which I think has the potential for legal action by some travelers since it seems to be in violation of United’s contract of carriage which states the following points: RULE 3 APPLICATION OF CONTRACT
A) These rules constitute the conditions of carriage upon which UA agrees to provide Domestic and International Carriage and are expressly agreed to by the Passenger. These Rules are also the tariffs filed by UA in accordance with certain government regulations.
E) Except as otherwise provided within specific fare rules, transportation is subject to the Contract of Carriage and charges in effect on the date on which the Ticket is issued. References to pages, rules, items and notes are coterminous and include revisions, supplements and reissues thereof.
F) Where the Ticket has been purchased and issued before the effective date of an increase in the applicable fare, the increase will not be collected, provided there is no change in Origin, Destination, Stopover point(s), flight(s) or dates shown on the original Ticket.
K) Except where provided otherwise by law, UA‘s conditions of carriage, rules and tariffs are subject to change without notice, provided that no such change shall apply to Tickets issued prior to the effective date of such change.
This break from tradition and their long standing contract of carriage could have long term implications if it becomes normal for airlines to change the rules after the consumer has purchased their tickets.
While United made the biggest and most noticeable changes, Delta has also worked in a couple of changes worth noting. First, they have modified their international baggage policies. They have lowered the fee for a second checked bag for coach travelers and increased the fee for the third through tenth bags and for overweight bags. Additionally, they have added a second checked bag fee for transpacific flights. These changes can be viewed here.
The other and potentially more interesting change is that Delta has rolled out a new product for select domestic flights between Detroit, Orlando, Ft. Myers, Ft. Lauderdale, and Tampa. The new product is called Basic Economy and it creates a new type of fare. This fare is nonrefundable and non-changeable, except in the case of involuntary changes, like irregular operations. This product cannot be combined with refundable or changeable fares, nor does this product allow advance seat assignments. Currently this option is only available to the identified markets, however if successful, I would expect to see Delta expand in the future. If that happens, don’t be surprised to see other carriers come out with similar products. Currently the cost difference between this new Basic Economy ticket and the standard nonrefundable ticket is less than $10.00 in each direction. That could change fairly quickly and if it does, don’t be surprised if the difference increases to more than $50.00 in each direction.
The good news is that agents at Christopherson Business Travel are aware of this new product and can offer these choices to travelers. The bad news is that currently, travel sites such as Orbitz don’t make an obvious differentiation between the two types of fares, so travelers booking online will have to be very careful and read the fare rules in order to avoid getting stuck with a non-changeable ticket.
At the same time, Delta is rolling out what they call Trip Extras. This allows travelers to purchase a variety of “extras,” such as additional SkyMiles and/or 24 hour Wi-Fi Passes, which allow unlimited Wi-Fi on all GoGo-equipped Delta flights. It also allows travelers to purchase priority boarding. Delta offers packages that combine various options, such as the LIFT package that combines Priority Boarding and an extra 1000 miles, or the ASCEND package that includes Priority Boarding and the 24 hour Wi-Fi pass. These extra services are currently available for purchase at Delta.com and at the kiosks. Once purchased, they are nonrefundable and non-changeable.
As you can see, the one constant in the airline industry is change.
We recently received the following update from Delta and thought it pertinent to share with you business travelers:
Delta Air Lines is amending various international baggage fees for both transatlantic and transpacific travel. The amendments apply for tickets issued on or after March 12, 2012, and for travel on or after March 12, 2012. Details of the changes are outlined below. Transatlantic Travel Delta is amending its checked baggage fee structure for tickets issued on or after March 12, 2012, and for travel on or after March 12, 2012. The changes will affect travel between the Western Hemisphere* and Europe, and travel between the
Western Hemisphere* and North Africa.
Decrease in second checked bag fee in coach from 75 EUR to 70 EUR
Increase in third through tenth bag fee from 200 USD to 285 USD
Increase in overweight fee from 75 USD to 100 USD; and decrease the Euro amount from 75 EUR to 70 EUR
Delta is amending its checked baggage fee structure in the coach cabin for tickets issued on or after March 12, 2012, and for travel on or after March 12, 2012. The fees will affect travel between the Western Hemisphere* and US Pacific Trust Territories. Key Change:
Add second checked bag fee of 75 USD
The highlights of the policy changes including effective dates, fee changes and applicable travel areas are noted in the chart below. Fees in bold reflect a change.
Are you a top-tier frequent flier?
Have you heard about Delta’s SkyMiles Medallion® Status Match Challenge?
If not, we’d like to share some valuable information about how to leverage your current elite status (on American, United, or Continental) to receive comparable benefits on Delta.
Until June 30, 2012, if frequent fliers meet the outlined criteria, they will receive Platinum, Gold or Silver Medallion status from Delta for 90 days, based on their current elite level with another airline. To then maintain those matched Medallion rewards through the remainder of 2012, the flier would then simply need to earn a specific number of qualification miles. The required number of qualification miles is based on the matched Medallion level.
But what are the benefits of doing this?
Well, depending on the Medallion level, members enjoy exclusive privileges such as:
Unlimited complimentary upgrades for paid tickets
Access to preferred seats and economy comfort seats
Priority wait list status
Fee waivers for baggage and ticketing charges
Priority baggage handling
Premium benefits on in-flight food and beverage
Plus participating in challenges like this means you don’t have to start at square one in accruing points and miles if you want to switch airlines.
To be considered for this Status Match Challenge, visit Delta.com and submit your information. You can also find more general information on airline status matches here.
Every year J.D. Powers and Associates surveys thousands of people, including thousands of travelers, hoping to make life easier for consumers. As an Account Manager for Christopherson Business Travel who works closely with travelers and travel managers, I feel that the results of this survey can be very valuable as decisions are made that can significantly affect how pleasant a travel experience can be. These results will not only assist corporate road warriors and business travelers, but those who travel for leisure can certainly benefit from the results of this survey as they research car rental companies, hotels and airlines. To read about consumer satisfaction among major travel industry vendors click here.
Are you tired of the same old food and slow service at many airport restaurants? Well, OTG Management appears to be listening and it’s creating mouth watering experiences for many!
What started in the JetBlue Terminal at Kennedy Airport with Food Network is beginning to revolutionize your dining experience while traveling. OTG Management is offering cuisine instead of fast food at many airports. However, if you are in a hurry the answer may lie within the JFK Airport, Gate 15 & Terminal 3. This is where innovation is coming to life! You can ‘dine’ in a hurry or take time to multi-task prior to your flight: fuel your body, charge your cell phone, and work on your laptop all in one place.
Take a look at your enhanced options and the forward thinking of OTG Management when it comes to food and airline & airport partnerships. OTG has been listening to the rumblings of the hungry traveler’s stomach grumbling for more!
May 24, 2010 – Delta Air Lines continues to work with the TSA to ensure ongoing compliance with TSA Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) standards. Adherence with the required TSA Secure Flight Passenger Data standards is required for Delta and all airlines for travel to/from/through the U.S. effective November 1, 2010. Specifically, the regulation requires customers to supply the SFPD information at the time of ticketing. This includes full name, date of birth, gender and optional redress number.
Agencies are asked to provide SFPD information by July 1, 2010. While Delta will continue to accept agency reservations without complete SFPD data beyond July 1, passengers whose flights depart on November 1 or later will be required to see a ticket agent if SFPD was not included in their reservation.
All airlines with flights to/from and within the United States will be required to adhere to SFPD standards, including Delta’s joint venture partners – Air France and KLM. These partners are under separate TSA timelines. Specific Air France and KLM TSA Secure Flight information will be communicated separately.
It should only be a matter of time before the other airlines will be making official announcements regarding their timelines. We appreciate your cooperation in helping to be prepared to meet this important TSA requirement.
• Complete information on Secure Flight can be found at • A complete list of acceptable forms of I.D. can be found at www.tsa.gov/what_we_do/layers/secureflight/index.shtm
• Information on the Redress process can be found at www.dhs.gov/trip
• For more on TSA privacy policies, or to review the system of records notice and the privacy impact assessment, please see the TSA Web site at www.tsa.gov
In the midst of volcanoes and strikes and demonstrations, you might have missed some interesting developments in the world of frequent flier news this week.
United Airlines says “keep your money..” – well, at least some of it. The airline announced this week that its elite members in its Mileage Plus program will no longer have to suffer the indignity of paying a co-pay fee when using miles to upgrade flights in the continental U.S., Alaska or Canada.
Frontier Airlines announced that it will end its mileage program partnership with AirTran. Due in no small part to the union of Frontier Airlines and Midwest Airlines under the Frontier name last month, the Frontier-AirTran partnership is scheduled to end on July 16, 2010.
Delta Airlines announced that beginning fall 2010 elite members of Delta’s SkyMiles program will enjoy upgrade benefits on Alaska Airlines flights as part of the Delta/Alaska partnership extension.
For more information on each of these revelations, contact your Christopherson Travel Advisor.
Delta/Northwest is introducing its SkyMiles program that will go into effect in Spring 2010. Most notable changes include plans for one more level of Medallion traveler called Diamond Level bringing the program to a 4-level program for preferred members. Travelers can earn Diamond status by earning 125,000 medallion qualifying miles or by flying 140 qualifying segments within the year. Additional benefits for Diamond level status will include priority for complimentary upgrades, additional system upgrades ,additional Choice benefits and Sky Club membership.
A unique feature that Delta also plans to implement is a rollover program for Medallion miles to help travelers qualify for status in 2011. Currently this is the only frequent flyer program to make this available. Basically , once a traveler has reached a status level, any additional miles accrued during the year, will “rollover “ to the following year to begin the qualifications for the next years’ status.
A gift program called Choice Benefits is another perk proposed under the SkyMiles program. When a Platinum member reaches status, they receive a choice of a bonus gift that can be extra miles, gifting Medallion status to a friend, one day Sky Club passes or Systemwide upgrade certificates. Diamond members will receive 2 gifts once the program is initiated.
For additional information see http://www.delta.com/skymiles/about_skymiles/new_skymiles_program.jsp
Information provided by www.delta.com/skymiles
With summer vacations fast approaching and wallets seemingly thinner than they should be, more people are turning to their frequent flyer programs to help lower the expense of their vacation. Some folks are discovering that their miles have been devalued over the last year or two and suddenly need a few more miles in order to secure the flights that they want.
Here are some options that may allow you get a few more miles.
US Airways is offering double qualifying miles. The offer runs through April 30th, 2009. You do need to register prior to traveling. The url is https://www.usairways.com/awa/Content/dividendmiles/promotions.aspx.
United Airlines has a variety of offers which can be found at: www.United.com/mileageplus under the Airline Promotions section. These range from bonuses of 10,000 miles for flying on specific routes to triple miles in some markets. You do need to register in order to gain these benefits. Most of these offers require that travel is completed by late April or early May so you will want to get started as soon as possible.
American Airlines is offering members of the AAdavantage program the chance to earn double elite status miles from now until June 15th, 2009. You do need to register at www.aa.com/dbeqm in order to get these miles.
Delta Air Lines is currently offering bonuses for flying between Cincinnati and select cities. The have a weighted or scaled approach to their bonuses. Travel must be completed no later than the 12th of May, 2009. The first roundtrip is worth 3,000 bonus miles and by the time you complete your fifth trip you will get 10,000 for your trip. You do need to register for this trip at: www.delta.com/cvgbonus. Continental is offering a variety of promotions, including double elite qualifying miles. Most of their current promotions require travel to be completed no later than May 31st, 2009. You will need to register at www.continental.com/onepass and go to News and Offers for the specifics. Other strategies for enhancing one’s miles can including using specific car rental agencies, staying at hotels and participating in their frequent guest programs, or one can get miles by taking advantage of various credit card offers or there are the shopping and service options. The car rental agencies typically offer some set number of miles per rental, regardless of the length and cost of the rental. Generally these offers range between 250 and 1000 miles per rental. You can use rentals to help build your miles incrementally over the course of a year. The hotel programs generally allow you to convert their points into frequent flyer miles. Depending on the program, it may not be worth converting the points to miles since the points can be used for free night stays. The credit card programs frequently have hidden costs ranging from fees to utilize miles, to higher interest rates or fees to transfer points to miles. My advice is to do your homework to make sure that the program works for you before signing up. The shopping and services option that most airlines now are can be a gold mine of miles. You can get miles for purchasing everything from music at iTunes, to buying dinner, to purchasing electronics at Best Buy. Plus you can get miles for using Netflix, or Brinks Home Security or T-Mobile or for using partners when you do your mortgage or when you make investments through select brokerage firms, just to name a few options. If you are going be spending the money for shopping or if you need to get a mortgage or you are buying an investment or any number of other services, why not get miles for it. Last but by no means least, you can purchase a limited number of miles directly from the airlines. So if you find that you are short by 1000 or 5000 miles, you can buy enough miles to get you to that next award level. Hopefully you will find that some or all of these ideas are helpful and allow you to maximize your miles and allow you to enjoy your summer vacation at little or no cost to you.