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Analysis: What a United-Continental Merger Could Mean

April 30, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,News,United | 2 comments

analysis united continental merger

I put on my “analyst hat” today, to ruminate over what a United-Continental merger could mean.

Toward that end, I also went over tons of our current and historical airfare data, and came up with some interesting insights. For instance, the lack of “overlap” in the route systems of these carriers.

If you’d like to know more, please take a look at this “white paper” of mine, called “United andContinental to Merge — Will We Care in Twenty Years?”

And we’ll talk more about this Monday – one way or the other.

Arizona Immigration Law: Impacting Your Travel Plans?

arizona immigration law travel

We are starting to hear more about the new Arizona immigration law and how it may (or may not) impact travel – for some anyway.

Municipal governments including San Francisco and St. Paul have moved to ban official travel to Arizona – though it’s not clear how much “official travel” these cities actually conduct in “The Grand Canyon State”.

We also spoke with a spokesmn for Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways, and s James Olson told us this issue is “not impacting us and we don’t expect any impact.” He added that no flights have been canceled, and while the airline has heard of concerns from a few individuals by email (concerns that he did not characterize), the number of these emails “is less than the fingers on your hands”.

However, there are calls to yank baseball’s 2011 All Star Game out of Phoenix – not unlike the NFL’s decision to pull Super Bowl XXVII out of Arizona in favor of Pasadena’s Rose Bowl during the Martin Luther King Day holiday boycott back in 1993.

Meanwhile, protests are expected in more than three dozen cities this weekend, including New York and Los Angeles.

So tell me – is this law impacting your travel plans in any way – either for business or leisure?

Cheap Summer Airfare: Avoid Blackout, Surcharge Dates

cheap summer airfare blackout surcharge dates

Attention, summer travelers: You’ve seen this before – airlines advertising sales with “some blackout dates” – meaning days when the sale prices don’t apply.

To add insult to injury this summer, some of these “non-sale” days also include special “peak travel day” surcharges – that make these flights that much pricier.

Be alert for blackout dates and surcharges especially around holiday periods, year round.

For example, the blackout days for the current AirTran sale that ends May 6 include Memorial Day (May 31). Flying that day will not be especially cheap – nor will flying on the Fourth of July, thanks to the “peak travel day” surcharges some airlines have added.

In fact, this summer, it’s going to be difficult to avoid “peak travel day” surcharges – because there are so many of them.

Let me show you why – and tell you how you can still save on summer vacation travel. So keep reading…

Cheap Summer Airfare: Avoid Blackout, Surcharge Dates

The United-Continental Merger – Almost There

April 29, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,News,United | 0 comments

united continental merger

According to my sources, the merger that would create a new “world’s largest airline” – starring United and Continental – is now a 99% certainty.

Also, the Wall St. Journal is reporting that the boards of directors of the two carriers will meet tomorrow and over the weekend, and an announcement could come Monday.

Of course, it could all fall apart by then – mergers are tricky situations – but at the moment, it appears to be close to a done deal.

Funny to think that, just last year, there were six legacy carriers: American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways. And then there were four…

Or so it would appear, anyway - at least at the moment.

Airports We Love to Hate: “Tear Down LaGuardia!”

April 29, 2010 | Posted in: Travel Tips | 17 comments

airports love hate laguardia

Oh, how the mighty have fallen – and I’m talking to you, LaGuardia.

Back in 1960, the airport named for one of the city’s most colorful mayors (and that’s saying something) was voted the “greatest airport in the world”. Today, a Port Authority official calls LaGuardia, “chaotic” – and, as Reuters reports, he went on to say that the facility “is so outdated that it should be completely demolished and rebuilt.”

What the 26 million passengers that fly in and out of LaGuardia would do in the meantime is beyond me.

So – what other airports should be “demolished and rebuilt”? My editor votes for LAX – Los Angeles – but adds, “They have to keep their mitts off that bizarre Jetsonian “Encounter” restaurant smack in the middle of the airport that looks like a space ship and no one you know has ever eaten there.” Whew – she can be sassy.

Anyone else with an airport candidate for destruction and rebuilding? Share in the comments, please.

Plane Crazy: Another Bomb Threat Diverts Airliner

April 29, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Delta,News,Security,Travel Safety | 1 comment

plane crazy bomb threat airline

Okay, this is getting seriously ridiculous.

Somebody wrote what was considered to be a “threatening message” – a bomb threat of some kind – on a lavatory mirror aboard a Continental flight from Houston to Washington Dulles (actually, this flight was operated by ExpressJet).

There was no bomb, fortunately – but why would anyone do this? Did they want to make a side trip to Greensboro, North Carolina where the flight was diverted to?

A plane load of passengers was totally inconvenienced – just like the people on the Delta flight from Paris Tuesday, after a decorated combat vet allegedly made a bomb threat, causing his flight to divert to Maine.

Regarding that “lavatory mirror threat” – what are the rest of us supposed to do – become bathroom monitors? Take a good hard look at whoever is in the lavatory line ahead of us, so we can ID them later if need be?

I hope not. But it’s getting crazy out there…

Top Influential Twitter/Facebook Celebs and Rick Seaney

twitter facebook celebs rick seaney

No, I’m afraid I personally didn’t make Time magazine’s Top Social Networking “Influential” List* – the politicians and thinkers and celebrities with huge Twitter and Facebook followings.

But I have written about some of these influential folks. For example:

Pres. Obama – he’s #1 on the list: I’ve written about him and the world’s best job perk, Air Force One.

Lady Gaga – in the #2 spot: I’ve told you about her scanty costumes, and how one in particular got her into trouble.

Ashton Kutcher – #3: there was that wild ride to Vegas.

Sandra Bullock – #16: she and other celebs know American Airlines will keep their secrets safe.

Steve Jobs – #44: how 2008 airfare was like the iPhone

*Hard to believe I didn’t make this list – I mean, I’ve been on Twitter and Facebook for more than a year now; but then, neither did I make Time’s 2010 100 list of “the people who affect our world”.**

** Tongue is firmly adhered to roof of mouth.

Find Cheap Flights to 50 Best Restaurants in the World

April 28, 2010 | Posted in: Deals,Destinations,Europe,List | 0 comments

cheap flights best restaurants world

Did you hear about the World’s 50 Best Restaurants? It’s the annual list presented by S. Pellegrino (of bottled water fame), cobbled together by chefs, food writers and expert eaters.

Number one restaurant in the world?  A place called “Noma” in Copenhagen. In fact, here’s the top five (and see all 50 restaurants here): 

  1. Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  2. El Bulli (Roses, Spain)
  3. The Fat Duck (Bray, England)
  4. El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)
  5. Mugaritz (Errenteria, Spain)

Some totally random observations: 

So how to get to these restaurants? Easy. Just head for FareCompare’s Where-to-Go Flight Finder and click the destinations for the restaurants you want to try. For example, The Fat Duck is just outside London, so click on “top cities in Europe” and then, “find my deal”.

Right now, I see a cheap flight from New York to London for under $700 roundtrip total.

Fair warning: I can get you a flight for a good price, but when the waiter brings you the bill – you’re on your own.*

*The Fat Duck’s “tasting menu” is 150 pounds ($227)

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