Thursday, December 18, 2014

United modifies Asia/Pacific baggage allowance policies

United has changed its seasonal checked baggage allowances to be year-round for tickets purchased on/after December 18, 2014 and for travel on/after January 8, 2015. As a result, United and joint venture partner ANA now offer aligned, year-round free baggage allowances in most key Pacific markets.

The following free baggage allowances apply to MileagePlus Premier Silver, General and non-members traveling in the United Economy cabin. Note: the policy is applicable for travel based on the first point of origin. For example, if a customer originates in Shanghai (PVG) to Los Angeles (LAX), the customer will receive free baggage allowance for 2 pieces (based on the chart below) on both the outbound and return.  

                    Countries                                       To Pacific                              From Pacific
North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East TO  
the Pacific 
North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East FROM  
the Pacific 
Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam
2 pieces 
2 pieces
Rest of Asia (excluding Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia)
 1 piece  
2 pieces 
Australia, Micronesia, New Zealand
1 piece
1 piece  
Between Japan and Micronesia/Guam
   1 piece   
1 piece

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2015 Travel Probabilities

After going over some of the 2015 myths, some predictions for 2015:

* Value of frequent flyer points will be further diluted.
* The term: "frequent flyer" will have less meaning.  New term: "Higher Fare Flyer"
* Different tiers of economy fares (i.e.: be prepared to pay more) will be the new normal.
* Achieving "status" with mileage will be much harder.
* Hotel fees and pricing will resemble the airline model.  Prepare to pay more.
* The difference between the "have more" and "have less" travelers will be more visible.
* New or higher ancillary fees for travelers
* Major domestic airlines, despite billions in profits, will not pay any taxes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2015 Travel Myths

So here we are at the end of another glorious year in travel.  2014 will be remembered as a year that airline profits have really started to take off and a banner year for travel in general.

So what will 2015 bring us?  These are the myths that pundits are predicting:

* Service and travel experience will improve: Not a chance.  U.S. airports are not adapting to today's      (or tomorrow's) needs.  From TSA, outdated facilities, overcrowded terminals and lounges, there is    no relief in sight.  Don't expect domestic carriers to improve either.
*Fares will go down: Not really! With less competition and reduced capacity, airlines might claim        that fares will stabilize, but once you add an increasing number of ancillary fees on very basic things such as seat assignments, the fares will be up again in 2015.  Also, forget any savings from cost of jet fuel going down.
* There cannot be more ancillary fees-airlines have maxed them out: Wrong! Fees will increase on many "services" and a tiered fee structure will make the previous fees look tame in comparison.
* Fuel Surcharges will be eliminated: Nope! Airlines are always quick to introduce or add fuel surcharges at the hint of rising fuel prices, but when we have a dramatic sustained drop such as the 40%+ drop in the past several months, airlines either do not react or they shrug it off in anticipation of a future increase.

The next edition will be the predictions for 2015.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

United Alters MileagePlus Benefits

United News

November 19, 2014

MileagePlus announcements

MileagePlus is making several announcements today.

 2015 Premier® benefits
 Traveler benefits on award tickets

MileagePlus members will be notified via the monthly MileagePlus statement email and information posted on

1. Premier benefits
2015 MileagePlus Premier benefit changes

As of February 1, 2015, the following MileagePlus Premier benefits will change

a. Baggage: Premier Gold members traveling on domestic Economy tickets will only receive two (2) complimentary checked bags, changed from the current allowance of three (3).

b. Global Entry payment reimbursement: MileagePlus members will no longer receive a payment code for the $100 Global Entry application fee.

c. Mileage Upgrade Award on Premium Service (p.s.) routes: Premier members will no longer be exempt from the co-pay when requesting a MileagePlus Upgrade Award on the p.s. route (JFK to/from LAX or SFO).

Read more here.

2. Traveler benefits on award tickets

Effective April 15, 2015, Premier travel benefits for customers traveling on an award ticket for United- and United Express®-operated flights will be determined by the traveler's own Premier status, even if another member's miles were used to purchase the award ticket.

Read more here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Airlines on Track to Rake in $50 Billion in Fees in 2014

Airfares that are quoted are only a percentage of the actual cost of travel.  Increasingly, airlines who never miss any opportunities to tack on a multitude of fees, will end up collecting about $50 billion in 2014 just on ancillary fees.  The trend will continue in 2015 and beyond.  Fees represent the biggest source of new revenue for airlines and will grow about 15% annually for the foreseeable future.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Myth of "The best day to buy cheap airline tickets"

Those so-called "experts" keep coming up with new ideas supported by dubious facts about what is the best day to buy tickets on the cheap.  Wednesday? That is so out.  Tuesday? That came after Wednesday, or was it before?  The latest claim by clueless reporters is Sunday!   Citing faulty airline data of average price per ticket and other factors, those "experts" are trying to handicap the airlines' complex pricing models.  The truth is that the best day to buy the cheapest ticket depends on so many complex factors that includes among other things: Seasonality, competition, capacity, shifting routes and schedules, frequency and so on.  Add to all that some irrational randomness in pricing followed by airlines matching each other, you have the rubik's cube of pricing that pundits and experts are trying to divine.  These articles published from time to time make for entertaining reading but are otherwise devoid from any facts.  In conclusion, the best day to buy a ticket is when you like the price.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jet Fuel Cost Goes Down, But Airlines Increase Fares and Maintain Fuel Surcharge

Well, may be Southwest went along the "successful" fare increase so they can slap colorful hearts on their freshly painted 737's.  Delta started the fare increase signalling Thursday October 16.  By Friday the 17th, Southwest aggressively matched  Delta which was then copied by almost all airlines.
Southwest has transformed itself to act like a legacy carrier.  The once proud discount carrier with friendly service now resembles all others. What is really puzzling about this latest fare increase is that fuel costs have gone down dramatically over the past 3 months, down about 25%.  International airlines, with the DOT's blessing or looking the other way, have maintained the "Fuel Surcharge" that was implemented when fuel prices were above where we are now.