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On-Time Departures (31-August): Name Changes, Bourdain, and the Super Bowl

August 31, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News | 0 comments

Looking for something good to read over the Labor Day weekend? Here are some offerings from some of my favorite sites and bloggers:

On-Time Departures (31-August): Name Changes, Bourdain, and the Super Bowl

Changing Your Airline Ticket – Waiving Fees

August 31, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick,Travel Tips | 33 comments

As time permits I will be selecting questions from the Ask Rick Blog Post (in the comments section) and providing some advice. Be sure on all questions to include departure, destination, airline, time frame (as they apply).

Kim asks:

I just discovered the Aloha flight I booked from Maui to Sacramento has a stop. We will be traveling with my daughter who will be 22 months at the time and I really need a non-stop. I contacted Alohas reservations and the would allow me to change the flight for a $125 fee plus any increase in the ticket cost. When I looked online the return flight available was actually about $5 less than what I originally paid, not the $86 increase they quoted me. Is there any way to get them to waive the $125 and get the lower priced airfare?

I wasn’t familiar with the non-stop from Maui (Kahului, Airport Code: OGG) to Sacramento (Airport Code: SMF), a quick check on Farecompare.com flight schedules shows the flight and the list of airfare prices on this route.

As background, airline change fees are governed by a rule on the airfare called — oddly enough — “Penalties” — and to some degree requirements in the Aloha contract of carriage and other applicable reservation fee policies (like charges for making a phone call to an airlines reservation agent).

Changing Your Airline Ticket – Waiving Fees

US Airways: The Fight Continues

August 31, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick | 2 comments

I want to thank everybody for the great responses and advice regarding my cousin’s and my ongoing battle with US Airways.

After weeks of trying to file a claim under the EU’s Regulation EC 261 which should ensure my cousin compensation of 600 Euros (about $819 US) in cash, US Airways offered a travel voucher of $250.

After some more prodding, they offered a voucher of $600. The airline has stated that they cannot accept the EC 261 claim because the two days of delays in Munich my cousin experienced were due to unexpected flight safety shortcomings.

US Airways: The Fight Continues

Virgin America from LA to NY

August 30, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Destinations | 0 comments

Virgin America took another step forward today by starting service from Los Angeles to New York. You might remember a few weeks ago when Virgin America’s maiden flight between New York and San Francisco captured the imagination of the media (and this particular blogger), and while their first flight from LAX to Kennedy didn’t garner the same type of buzz, it does mark a major move for the new upstart airline.

Virgin America has positioned itself as the airline that offers something totally new and different for travelers. While that might be true, they couldn’t really take on all those old-fashioned airlines until they started challenging them on major routes such as LAX to JFK. In the near future, we should see Virgin America hitting other major markets such as Chicago, as well. It should be very interesting to track the effect Virgin has both immediately and in the long-run as it becomes more of a presence in the skies over the U.S.

Oh, just so you don’t think the flight took off without any fanfare, Richard Branson was at LAX to eat breakfast, celebrate, and tell the world why Virgin America is the only way to fly: “Virgin America has taken the spirit of the Virgin brand and is forging new ground in America…

People want to be entertained while traveling, and these planes offer the best entertainment package I’ve seen.” (From the LA Daily News)

Airline Food Returns (for a price)

August 30, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick | 1 comment

Over the past several years, most of us have watched the good-old airline meal become a thing of the past. We went from “do you want chicken or beef” to “do you want these crackers or this cereal bar?” Even the boxed lunches with a small sandwich and cup of fruit have all but disappeared from the airways. Well, Delta has decided it’s time to bring real food back to the people in coach. There is a bit of a catch, though. They’re going to charge you for it.

While some airlines have begun to offer an a la carte menu for basic snacks like candy bars and chips, Delta will be offering more complete meals. Over on Consumerist, they highlighted the menu (set to debut in November on flights over 2,000 miles), which includes things like cereal and fruit for breakfast and California Salad for lunch or dinner. It will even feature selections from world-famous chef, Todd English. First class fliers will enjoy these meals for free, but those flying coach will be charged $2 to $10.

I believe that flights over 2,000 miles should have meals on them. After all, that’s a long time to be on plane without food. But I wonder if this is the best way to go, and if passengers will embrace the paid meal menu. My guess is that when faced with hours in the air, many travelers will fork over the money for a meal. But let me know what you think. Would you rather pay for Delta’s Califronia Salad or just grab something on your own before you get on the plane?

Airline Food Returns (for a price)

Pizza and Pilots and Planes, Oh My!

August 29, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick | 43 comments

Yesterday, I mentioned the delayed Delta flight that was rerouted to Syracuse and the pilots and customer service folks that made sure the passengers were well taken care of and well fed. Well, we were lucky enough to talk to one of the Delta agents that went above and beyond the call of duty.

Your flight has been delayed and then diverted; the weather is bad, and you know you’ll be stuck for hours. Terrible, huh? Well, if you happen to be flying Delta and you’ve been diverted to Syracuse, it’s not so terrible: in fact, its pizza party time! The Delta team in Syracuse has been throwing such parties for stranded passengers, for more than a decade.

The latest was held August 17. As always, the party is preceded by a problem that calls for an imaginative pilot who can think outside the plane. In this instance, the Delta pilot decided his passengers would not be subjected to another summertime-hell-flight-saga, so he made 2-simple decisions:

Pizza and Pilots and Planes, Oh My!

Ask Rick

August 29, 2007 | Posted in: Ask Rick | 30 comments


This post has been moved to a special section.

I get a lot of questions from readers regarding travel tips, airline policies, fare pricing, and more. I do my best to answer every question, but as most of you know, there just aren’t always enough hours in the day to get to everything.

I thought it might be a good idea for me to start a weekly segment on the blog where I choose the questions that seem to come up the most, or those that shed some light on issues that affect all of us as travelers. I’m calling it Ask Rick, and it will debut this Friday.

Please submit any questions you have about the airline industry, travel, or anything else that you think might make your life in the air a little bit easier. My hope is that over time, we’ll be able to cover a wide range of issues, and everybody will be better prepared when they’re planning their next trip.


Now Posted:

The Battle for California’s Skies: SW vs. VX

August 29, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Destinations | 0 comments


After eight years of absence, Southwest is once again taking on the SFO to LAX route. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Southwest will begin flights on November 4th. They’ll be kicking off with eight flights a day, which gives them two more flights than Virgin America is offering along the LA to San Francisco corridor.

While Southwest has a history of coming in and taking down the old legacy lines, things could be a little different this time out. While United and American, who also fly between LAX and SFO, might be feeling a bit of the burn from Virgin America, it remains to be seen if Southwest can come in and decrease fares even further, as Virgin has done a pretty good job of keeping things affordable.

In the end it might come down to the age-old battle of mood lighting vs. open seating. In the meantime, Californians and visitors looking to take in the whole state can expect to enjoy the low fares that generally come from stiff competition.

As The Cranky Flier said, Its going to be a bloodbath as these guys fight it out. Could we see the return of $19 fares? One can only hope.

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