Friday, April 17, 2015

Flying Somewhere? Your Checked Baggage May Not Be On Your Flight

The first text notification you might receive upon  arrival at your destination may be from your carrier advising you that your bag may have been put on an earlier flight or a later flight.

This is one of many examples of airlines' notifications to passengers, which include among other things flight delays, change of gates, missed connections and protection.
It is highly recommended that passengers provide airlines and/or their travel management companies their mobile phone numbers for better service.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Airline "Misery Index" Hits an All-Time High

Airlines promised better service and cheaper fares to get their mergers approved.  After USAirways and American were the latest pair to tie the knot, passengers' frustration with airlines and the travel experience hit another high.  In every category, airlines fared worse than years before:
  • On-time arrivals dropped 2 percent;
  • A slight increase in the percentage of passengers bumped from flights;
  • Mishandled baggage climbed 11 percent.
The good news? Airlines like United climbed from #12 (last year) to #9 overall.  Part of the reason is there are less airlines to rate because of mergers.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Airlines' Waivers and Flexibility Not So Flexible

The 2015 winter has been brutal for the Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and even the south.  When flights are cancelled or delayed, the effect cascades throughout the system and airlines have to react.
While we all know this is not easy for anyone, the tight capacity and limited options can wreak havoc for days even when the weather improves.  Airlines have very limited slack and changes cannot easily be made.  So who loses? The traveler is always the number 1 loser in these events.  Airlines grant "waivers" and "flexibility", but when you are going to a specific event on a certain day and you hold a non-refundable ticket, this flexibility does not mean much.

Here's an excerpt of one airline's policy:
Due to weather in the Eastern U.S., XYZ Airlines offers the following flexibility options to ticketed customers whose travel may be impacted by this event. Customers ticketed to travel , departing from the affected airports  may change flights
On the following dates: February 16, 2015 - February 17, 2015
And your ticket was issued no later than: February 15, 2015
You may travel: February 16, 2015 - February 20, 2015
Original inventory required? No
Origin/Destination/Stopover Changes allowed? No
The ticket reissue charge will be waived for one ticket change.
To change travel dates, contact our Reservations personnel at 1-800-XXX-XXXX within the United States or Canada.

As you see from above, the flexibility offers the same dates that flights are cancelled (February 16 and 17), and only allows 3 additional days to make the trip.  Problem #1, you may no longer have the need to travel.  Problem #2, if you do travel, you have to compete with other passengers on what looks like already oversold flights in a very tight window.  Problem #3, if you choose not to travel or cannot find seats, you will have to pay a penalty for using your ticket on a future flight.

Friday, February 6, 2015

U.S. Legacy Carriers Launch Offensive Against Gulf Carriers

A multi-pronged attack was launched by United, Delta and American on Qatar, Emirates and Etihad claiming that Gulf carriers compete unfairly as they receive direct and indirect subsidies from their governments.  The offensive includes robust lobbying and an attack on the "Open Skies" treaties that the three U.S. carriers championed for the longest time.  Now that the three U.S. carriers have already received approvals for anti-trust immunity by joint venturing with their foreign carrier partners, competition, which was the unintended result, is no longer convenient.  U.S. Carriers want the U.S. to impose restrictions and modify treaties to "level the playing field".

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.