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Reminder: New Travel Regulations for Entry to the U.S.

December 31, 2008 | Posted in: Security,Travel Tips | 2 comments

We’d just like to remind U.S. visitors about the recent changes in entry regulations as of 12-Jan-2009.

Many of you outside the U.S. (who don’t already have visa in their passport and are accustomed to traveling visa free) now must register via the internet at least 72 hours before your departure to the U.S. in order to get an electronic travel authorization (or obtain a visa the old fashion way).

The complete details can be found at this link.

  • Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei
  • Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland
  • France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland
  • Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania
  • Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand
  • Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia
  • Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
  • United Kingdom

2009 Airline Predictions: The Good and The Bad (Mostly Good)

December 31, 2008 | Posted in: ABC Column,Forecast | 1 comment

Just the other day, I donned my turban, grabbed my crystal ball and began looking into the future for my latest ABCNews.com column.

And I distinctly saw airfare sales.

No, not all the time — in general, airline prices are higher and they’ll likely stay that way, BUT — there will be sales. Good ones. Here’s what I wrote:

“Talking U.S. airlines now, look for more of those targeted sales…some examples: recession sales for winter/spring 2009, seasonal and off-peak sales; discount pricing for Tuesday/Wednesday/Saturday departures and arrivals; sales to Florida during hurricane season; special back-to-school fares for the college crowd; and more off-peak winter travel deals.” –Rick Seaney, ABCNews.com

Case in point: Southwest Airlines current 48-hour sale for 50% off the cheapest airline tickets across its entire route system to one destination — Las Vegas.

Northwest Wants to Delay New China Routes — Guess Why

December 30, 2008 | Posted in: Destinations,Northwest | 0 comments

Northwest (now part of Delta) wants to push back the start of its service from Seattle to Beijing a year — until March 2010.

The airline also wants to delay its Detroit-Beijing service. And, temporarily suspend its Detroit-Shanghai route for a few months this spring.

Northwest lobbied long and hard for these routes, but now wants a delay due to “adverse market conditions“.

According to one report, Northwest told the Dept. of Transportation that bookings between the U.S. and China (overall) have dropped by almost a third in the past year.

Guess that is what happens when leisure tickets are $1,600+ and biz class tickets are $8,000+ in a global economic downturn.

A quick check of Detroit to Shanghai in June shows the non-stop roundtrip flights at a few bucks under two grand … ouch.

Crazy Time: Look Out for Mileage Run Marathoners

December 30, 2008 | Posted in: Airline News,Frequent Flyer | 0 comments

It’s that time of year again, when frequent fliers head for the airports to do “mileage runs” — a way to earn the last few qualifying miles they need to keep their “elite” status into the New Year.

Back in June, I told you about a mileage runner named Karen whose adventures included a roundtrip flight to Singapore — a city she spent just 6 hours in.

Now the LA Times has come out with a fun read called, Hi, I’m a Frequent-Flier Addict”. The addict in question talks about a similar quick trip to Amsterdam — “just long enough to visit a coffee shop and see some Van Goghs”.

Of course, destinations aren’t the point — miles are – and all the good stuff those miles bring, such as free upgrades, moving to the head of the boarding line, and yes, avoiding those checked-bag fees.

Our friend Karen says she has all the miles she needs for this year, but she’s already got a head start into next year, because she got the best christmas gift ever from my hubby–a mileage run on any airline to anywhere in the world, as long as it’s under 5 cents a mile”. She plans to hit Singapore again early this coming year with some fellow mileage runners, and after that — who knows?

Crazy? I guess it depends on what’s important to you. I can say this — it makes me exhausted just thinking about it!

Southwest Airlines 50% Off Las Vegas Sale

December 30, 2008 | Posted in: Airfare News,Southwest | 0 comments

You probably know I don’t often comment on airfare sales here — since that’s what our FareCompare Deals Blog is all about — but this Southwest Sale is something special.

2009 is shaping up to be “the year of the airfare sale” –which is a nice change of pace, since 2008 was the the “year of the airfare hike and airline fee” (also the year of the “Rat” according to the Chinese calendar …)

This latest sale starts today and you must purchase before the ball drops on the West Coast this New Year’s Eve. Travel is good through January 13 and March 11 (with a 14 day advance purchase). The discount is only applied if you book from this Las Vegas page on the Southwest Airliines Web Site or go to Southwest.com enter the promotion code “LASVEGAS”.

Those of you looking to participate in the January inauguration festivities or any celebration in recession ravaged Vegas should take advantage of these ridiculously low airline ticket prices with the 50% discount. The following examples are for departure on Jan. 18 and a return on Jan. 21:

  • $35 each way from Los Angeles or Phoenix
  • $75 each way from Philly
  • $80 each way from Dallas

I think I am going to have a lot more fun during the first half of 2009 than I did in the first half of last year — tracking airfare sales rather than weekly increases.

Airlines Do NOT Make List of “21 Dumbest Moments in Business”

December 29, 2008 | Posted in: Airline News,List | 0 comments

Fortune has come out with a new list: 21 Dumbest Moments in Business 2008 — and as noted, the airlines aren’t anywhere in sight.

Good for them — they “managed smart” this year and yet were still able to offer folks deals. There was, however, one aviation-related matter on the list, and it had to do with private planes — the ones the automakers flew to Congress for their bailout request.

The opening line, describing this bone-headed move, is priceless:

“Like someone arriving at a food bank in a limousine, the chief executives of the three major U.S. automakers spark outrage when they fly their corporate jets to Washington D.C. to beg Congress for a multi-billion dollar bailout.” –Fortune’s “21 Dumbest Moments in Business 2008″

New Year Celebrations: Ball Drops, Pickle Drops, Peep Drops…

December 29, 2008 | Posted in: Deals,Holiday Travel | 0 comments

We all know Times Square is home to the great “ball drop” on New Year’s Eve — but if you have a taste for something different, you might want to check out these weird and wonderful “drops” (courtesy Reuters, via TripAdvisor).

In Port Clinton, Ohio, you can watch a giant fiberglass fish get dropped; or go to Mt. Olive, North Carolina to watch the descent of a 3-foot tall glowing pickle.

In Elmore, Ohio, an 18-foot sausage will be dropped; in Plymouth, Wisconsin, look out for an enormous hunk of cheese.

And in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a 25-pound “illuminated” Peep will be dropped. You know, a Peep — one of those marshmallow confections that used to crop up only at Easter time but are now a year-round staple.

Read about all these “drops” and more, right here.

And of course, if you decide to travel to any of these festivities, head to FareCompare.com first, for the very best airfare available. There are still plenty of deals out there.

It’s Official: Go! Airlines Pilots Admit They Fell Asleep

December 29, 2008 | Posted in: Pilots,Travel Safety | 0 comments

This was one of the crazier stories of the year: a pilot and his co-pilot both fell asleep on a flight from Honolulu to Hilo — and overshot their destination by at least 15 miles.

Now thanks to a recently released report from the National Transportation Safety Board report (and we saw this story in the Honolulu Star Bulletin), we learn that the pilots — after first covering up the February incident — later admitted they fell asleep.

Must have been some nap. According to the NTSB report, there was an 18-minute gap when first one air traffic controller, then another, tried in vain to contact the plane — then another Go! Airlines flight was asked to try and raise them, then a Continental crew gave it a shot — again, no response for 18 minutes. Scary. Here’s what the (unnamed) pilot told investigators:

“The warm Hawaiian sun was blaring in as we went eastbound. I just kind of closed my eyes for a minute, enjoying the sunshine, and dozed off.” –Sleeping pilot from Go! Airlines

FYI, the pilots in question were dismissed.

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