Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lower Airline Complaints Due to Lower Consumer Expectations

Virgin America landed in Consumer Reports' ratings top category for customer satisfaction.  Spirit Airlines, with their crass attitude, tacky commercials and service landed in the last spot.  The takeaway from this survey is that consumers' expectations of airlines' service continue to trend lower.  Because travelers are now resigned to deal with it, less complaints were registered.

Airline majors continue to "tweak" their mileage awards and status by devaluing the miles earned and pegging the status to dollars spent rather than miles flown.

Monday, March 31, 2014

10 Things Airlines will not tell you...

This is a revised 2014 version of the "10 things...", so before April fools day, here they are:

1) We want to put your travel agent out of business.  They work for you not for us.
2) We get to keep a good chunk of taxes/airport fees on unused non-refundable tickets.
3) We will nickel you and dime you any way we can.
4) We know so much about you, you may think it's creepy.
5) Your "loyalty" means nothing to us.  Your dollars is all we care about.
6) Your miles will continue to depreciate, expire and will be worth less and less. We make the rules.
7)  Our regional pilots and crew make close to minimum wage.
8) We are the judge and the jury.  Your complaints don't matter that much.
9) We are in cahoots and we raise prices in tandem without any regard to price fixing.
10) With so few domestic airlines, you really don't have much in terms of choices.
11) Our baggage handlers may treat your luggage like garbage bags and may pilfer them too.

Okay, so that's 11...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Airlines Complicating and Contradicting Baggage Rules

Airlines have continuously experimented with ways to speed up the boarding process.  Experiments such as boarding from the back to the front or from window to aisle have not shown material efficiency or time savings.  Passengers continue to find ways to game the process by bringing on board more than airlines allow and causing delays when the overhead bins become full, a frequent occurrence.  Airlines also further complicate and contradict the process as they devise new ways to collect fees directly and indirectly.  The direct approach is to charge passengers fees for carrying on board additional items.  In addition, airlines and their credit card partners tout card amenities such as priority boarding.  These cards with priority boarding have become so prevalent that airlines are defeating their own efforts of boarding from back to front or window to aisle.  Until policies are streamlined and until decision makes realize that the top priority is the speed of boarding, avoiding delays and on-board passenger confrontations and fighting over bin space, this problem will never go away.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Checked Baggage: Know Before You Go

Travelers contemplating checking bulky baggage must be aware that the following cities do not permit checked baggage in excess of 70 lbs. (32 kg):
  • Athens, Greece (ATH)
  • Belfast, United Kingdom (BFS)
  • Birmingham, United Kingdom (BHX)
  • Brussels, Belgium (BRU)
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates (DXB)
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom (EDI)
  • Glasgow, United Kingdom (GLA)
  • Istanbul, Turkey (IST)
  • Lima, Peru (LIM)
  • London, United Kingdom (LHR)
  • Manchester, United Kingdom (MAN)

Note: Information is subject to change without notice.

United Enforces Carry-On Bag Limits

Technically, it has always been the rule, but some passengers will always try to push the limits.  United Airlines will stop oversized carry-ons before they make it to  security check.  In case they make it past security, gate agents have been instructed to send passengers with over-sized bags back to ticket counter and pay the check-in fee.


Carry-on baggage allowed

Each traveler can bring on board one carry-on bag plus one personal item free of charge.
  • Maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels
  • Maximum dimensions for your personal item, such as a shoulder bag, backpack, laptop bag or other small item, are 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm)
Please see our Carry-on Baggage page for more information.

Checked baggage

To determine first and second checked baggage service charges for your itinerary, use the baggage calculator below. Please note that as required by U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, baggage service charges for your entire itinerary are determined by the marketing carrier for the first segment of your itinerary. Your originating marketing carrier is the airline whose flight number is assigned to the first segment of your itinerary. If this carrier is not United or United Express, different charges may apply. Baggage service charges are based on the date of ticketing.
Checked baggage service charges apply at any point where bags are checked. For a trip that includes one or more connections, bags will be checked to your final destination, and the charge for checking a bag from your origin to your destination will apply. For a trip that includes a voluntary stopover, your bags will be checked to your stopover point, where you will collect your bags. When you resume travel, subject to applicable charges, you may check your bags again from the new point of check-in to the destination.
Temporary or permanent baggage embargoes, based on size, weight or number of bags, may be in place at certain airports. See our Excess Baggage Embargo page for details.

Service charge exemptions

Some customers are exempt from certain checked baggage service charges for bags within specified size and weight limits. For specific exemption details relating to your itinerary, select the appropriate status or membership from the dropdown list in the baggage calculator above. Note that exemptions cannot be combined to provide waived charges for additional bags. In the case of multiple exemptions, the greater of the allowances will apply.

U.S. military exemptions

  • Active U.S. military personnel and their accompanying dependents, not traveling on official business, receive waived service charges for up to three checked bags.
  • Active U.S. military personnel and their dependents traveling in United Economy on official business receive waived service charges for up to four checked bags
  • Active U.S. military personnel and their dependents traveling in United Global FirstSM, United BusinessFirst®, United First® or United Business® on official business receive waived service charges for up to five checked bags.
  • Dependents traveling with active U.S. military personnel are also exempt as long as they are traveling in the same reservation. This exemption will not apply to group reservations including ten or more customers.

Other baggage service charges

Excess baggage

Bags checked in addition to the traveler's baggage allowance.
Checked baggage allowance may vary depending on cabin, status level, military status, itinerary and date of purchase.
From $125 to $200 per bag
Learn more

Oversized baggage

Checked bags in excess of 62 linear inches* (158 linear cm) to 115 linear inches (292 linear cm)
Maximum size allowed may vary depending on cabin, status level, military status, itinerary and date of purchase.
*linear measurement = length + width + height
$200 per bag
Learn more

Overweight baggage

Checked bags weighing more than 50 pounds (23 kg) to 70 pounds (32 kg)
Maximum weight allowed may vary depending on cabin, status level, military status, itinerary and date of purchase.
From $100 to $200 per bag

Checked bags weighing more than 70 pounds (32 kg) to 99.9 pounds (45 kg)
Maximum weight allowed may vary depending on cabin, status level, military status, itinerary and date of purchase.
Up to $400 per bag
Learn more

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More Airlines Turning "Frequent Flyer Programs" to "High Pay Programs"

More airlines are telling travelers that it is not the frequency you fly but how much you pay that will determine mileage credits and status.

From Delta Airlines:
Delta Continuing to Improve the Travel Experience

(February 26, 2013) - Delta Air Lines has taken another step in its ongoing commitment to improve the travel experience by unveiling changes to the SkyMiles program. The 2015 SkyMiles program will introduce a shift from today’s current model in which customers earn redeemable mileage based on distance traveled to one based on ticket price. The program updates will be effective Jan. 1, 2015 and will also include a new mileage redemption structure that will improve Award Seat availability at the lowest mileage requirement levels, offer One-Way Awards at half the price of round-trip, provide Miles + Cash Award options, as well as make significant improvements to and Delta reservations Award shopping tools.

Today’s announcement is the latest innovation in Delta’s continued effort to rethink and reshape the airline business. During the past five years it has made strategic investments in Virgin Atlantic Airways, AeroMexico and GOL; invested in the newly opened $1.4 billion Terminal 4 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal in Atlanta; built a hub at New York-LaGuardia; made facility improvements at Los Angeles International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport; created Monroe Energy to provide 80 percent of its annual domestic fuel needs; transformed its fleet strategy including significant reduction in 50-seat aircraft; and invested millions of dollars to improve the customer experience.

A New Mileage Earning Model

Today’s method of earning redeemable miles based on the distance a customer flies will change to a model of earning redeemable miles based on the price of the ticket purchased. Delta is providing 10 months advance notice of the upcoming program changes so that customers have ample time to make travel plans.

Under the new 2015 SkyMiles Program, customers will earn between 5 and 11 miles per U.S. dollar* spent on Delta flights based on their SkyMiles status, and continue to earn up to an additional two miles per dollar* when using their Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, for a total of up to 13 miles per dollar. The updated program will better reward the customers who spend more with Delta and give them improved mileage earning opportunities.

“The introduction of a new model for earning miles will increase rewards for those who spend more as well as differentiate the SkyMiles frequent flyer program for our premium travelers,” said Jeff Robertson, Delta’s vice president – SkyMiles.

The updated mileage earning plan, for travel beginning Jan. 1, 2015, will better recognize frequent business travelers and those less frequent leisure customers who purchase premium fares. The move is consistent with a trend in the travel industry of rewarding customer behavior based on spending. Customers will continue to earn additional miles for purchases with a Delta SkyMiles Credit Card+.

Mileage Earning Chart

SkyMiles program status
Miles per dollar*
Miles earned with Credit Card*+
Total miles per dollar*
General SkyMiles member
Up to 2
Up to 7
Silver Medallion
Up to 2
Up to 9
Gold Medallion
Up to 2
Up to 10
Platinum Medallion
Up to 2
Up to 11
Diamond Medallion
Up to 2
Up to 13
+ on Delta spend

For travel marketed and ticketed by Delta’s partner airlines, members will earn a percentage of miles flown as determined by the fare class purchased and will also earn Medallion mileage bonuses on eligible fares.

Mileage Accrual for Exception Fares

Tickets where the fare is not disclosed are those that are issued with a BT, NT or IT indicator (discount fare type code). These tickets (including those issued in international regions) will earn miles based on a percentage of distance flown and the fare class paid as published at at the time of travel.

New Redemption Options

Up to a Five-Tier Structure for Wider Variety of Awards

SkyMiles members will gain even more redemption options with the introduction of up to a five-tier structure to give them a wider variety of Awards and improve overall availability at the lowest price points. The lowest level for SkyMiles Saver Awards will remain at 25,000 miles plus government-imposed taxes and fees for an Economy Class Award Ticket for travel within the U. S. and Canada excluding Hawaii. All of Delta’s worldwide redemption charts will be updated to reflect the new options in the last quarter of 2014 and will be effective for new Award bookings beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

New One-Way Awards, Additional Miles + Cash Award Options and New Award Shopping

In addition to offering multiple new redemption levels, the SkyMiles program will also introduce One-Way Award Tickets starting as low as 12,500 miles plus government-imposed taxes and fees within the U. S. and Canada excluding Hawaii and will offer customers the ability to redeem Miles + Cash to provide more Award booking options for tickets purchased at or through Delta reservations.

Access to Every Flight with No Blackout Dates

Customers will continue to have access to every Delta flight for Award travel with no blackout dates. In 2013, frequent flyers redeemed more than 271 billion miles in the SkyMiles program for more than 11 million Award redemptions.

Medallion Status Qualification Requirements Remain Unchanged

The way members qualify for Medallion status is not changing. The redeemable miles earned toward Award Travel differ from Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs). MQMs are used to calculate Medallion status and will continue to be based on distance flown.

Medallion members will continue to enjoy the same benefits they do now, like Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades, waived baggage fees and Priority Check-In.

Members with Million Miler™ complimentary Medallion annual status and Choice Benefits gifted Medallion status will earn the Medallion mileage bonus for their respective complimentary tier. Members with any other complimentary Medallion status will  not earn a Medallion mileage bonus, so they will earn 5 miles per dollar spent on Delta-marketed or -ticketed flights.

Additional Information and FAQs

Click here to view the complete news release with additional details.

Click here to view answers to frequently asked questions, including corporate, group, meeting and incentive, SkyBonus and leisure bookings.

To view a list of FAQs available on, please click here.

About Delta and its SkyMiles Program

Delta is the only major airline that offers elite perks such as no mileage expiration, no Award redemption fees, a published Diamond Medallion tier and Rollover Medallion Qualification Miles.

Now in its 33rd year, SkyMiles is one of the longest-running and most successful loyalty programs in the travel industry. Delta offers many ways to redeem frequent flyer miles, including airline tickets on Delta and 28 partner airlines, mileage upgrades, car rentals, hotel stays and Delta Sky Club® memberships, and is the only major airline with miles that don't expire. For more information on the SkyMiles program, Medallion status and mileage redemption options, visit

Terms and Conditions

For full terms and conditions, please visit All SkyMiles program rules apply. To review the rules, please visit Other restrictions may apply. Offers, prices, rules and benefits subject to change without notice.

* Ticket price eligible for mileage accrual includes base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges, but excludes government-imposed taxes and fees. Additional miles earned for purchases with a Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express will be based on the total ticket price, including base fare, carrier-imposed surcharges and government-imposed taxes and fees.

Miles on Delta Purchases with U.S. Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards from
American Express:

This offer applies to qualifying Delta, Delta Connection® carrier and Delta Shuttle® flights taken with the purchase of a fare that is eligible for SkyMiles mileage credit. Offer applies to any Delta-branded purchase where Delta is the merchant of record via or in flight such as upgrades, miles, seat selection, Delta Sky Club membership or passes, pre-purchased meals, food, beverages and in-flight entertainment. Offer applies to Delta Vacations® packages but not other all-inclusive packages. The chart reproduced here is not valid for Delta SkyMiles Options Credit Card Members who only earn a maximum of one additional mile per dollar spent on Delta purchases with their Card. The additional miles offer is subject to change without notice. Bonus miles will be posted to your Delta SkyMiles account 8 to 12 weeks after the end of each month.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Regional Airline Pilots Cheer Possible Increase of Minimum Wage

Pilots flying at minimum wage? Yes! Republic and many other regional carriers pay a starting pilot salary of about $15,000 a year.  That translates to a minimum wage.  Now those same regional carriers are complaining about a "pilot shortage".  Larger airlines after years of downsizing, and mandatory retirements are poaching the regionals for qualified pilots creating a shortage for those small carriers. In a desperate attempt to avoid massive cancellations, those regional carriers are relaxing the stringent requirements of hiring pilots with less than stellar backgrounds and fast-tracking the training to get those pilots ready.  So if you think names like Chautauqua Airlines, Republic and Shuttle America don't affect you, think again.  Republic is the operating carrier for United Express, Delta Connection, USAirways Express and American Eagle.