The Best of the Rest is part of my effort to summarize all the travel/miles & points stories that interested me on a daily basis but didn’t have time to write about in length. I’m going to try to put one of these together each evening for those who might not have the time to read dozens of travel blogs to get all the best info. Here goes:
More business class award seats on American to Europe? That’s the scoop courtesy of View From the Wing. Finding options to Europe on American generally involve fuel surcharges since British Airways is the most common way across the pond. I’ve done okay finding availability to Europe, though some of that has been on British Airways and using alternate airports for US Airways flights. It’s too early to tell if Gary’s reports are a brief change or a new philosophy, but more seats on American metal would be welcome for AAdvantage members looking to avoid those pesky fuel surcharges.
Eastern Airlines is back (kinda) after years of trying to get up in the air again. As The Gate notes, they received their operating certificate, another step in the process to becoming a full-fledged passenger airline again. Nice touch that the ceremony was at the original Op Center for Eastern down in Miami. There’s also been a sighting of one of their newly branded (with the classic logo) 737s touching down for a quick spell at DFW.
I consider myself to be a bit nostalgic when it comes to the airline industry, though I don’t consider myself a complete nut. I do have memories of Eastern, and while the memories themselves aren’t good ones I still have a relatively positive opinion of the brand. I can’t be certain, but if they weren’t the first airline I flew as a child they were one of the first. I can recall our connecting flight being canceled on the way to a cruise in Florida for a family vacation. I remember my mother pitching a fit at a gate agent that we were going to miss our ship and ultimately being hustled to the tarmac and loaded into a station wagon (dating myself there) to be taken to another plane that would get us closer to our destination.
American Airlines president Scott Kirby is on record talking about the next steps as they move closer to the completion of the merger. The first bullet point mentioned here is a little confusing, as I would imagine the US Airways website and code sharing between the two airlines would fade away at some point not too long after they move to a single reservation system. Being able to move planes around more freely is bound to lead to cost savings.
What’s a little scary are his comments about investing in other changes in 2016 to “outperform relative to the industry and help us catch up to the margins of those still ahead of us.” It’s likely that changes to the frequent flier program are coming in 2016. It’s been a while since the chart has changed, and the merger has been job one for the last couple of years. The airline is currently making money. And, while public companies always need to strive to return value to shareholders, there can be a law of diminishing returns if you squeeze too hard. Kirby and Parker were known for scraping copper off of pennies at US Airways (heck, the stock symbol was LCC, for Low Cost Carrier). I’m just hoping they’ve had enough time to realize that a decent chunk of American Airlines customers patronize the airline because of the level of service they offer. American likely can’t win a race to the bottom in terms of lowering costs and unbundling service.
The Wandering Aramean has an interesting piece on the state of the in-flight connectivity world. Companies like Gogo have been around for years serving the domestic US airlines and still struggle with profitability. The piece notes that the big players in this space believe there will be consolidation. It seems likely that some of these providers need to go away in one form or another to make the industry profitable. The dreams of in-flight connectivity go back decades. I can recall right around the turn of the century (boy, doesn’t that make me sound old) in a previous job, sitting down with folks from Boeing. They were talking about launching a product called Connexions, where they would be installing an ethernet connection at every seat on airplanes and had broad plans to offer wireless service as well. That’s been gone for roughly a decade now, and others have taken up the challenge. It’s still unclear whether and when there will be winners here, but there don’t appear to be any yet.
American Airlines is offering really cheap fares to Brazil from a number of their hubs, LAX, Miami, and DFW. The Points Guy is seeing fares starting in the low $400s, which is a pretty good deal to visit Sao Paulo. These fares are eligible for upgrades, which means if you have any SWUs you can be sitting in their new business class product on the 777-300ER for about $500. It’s a great product. I had to cancel my fun-flight trip to South America earlier this year, so this one tugs at me bit even though I have a crazy travel schedule the rest of the year.
If South America is a bit far for you, TPG also noted $49 fares from Philly to Fort Lauderdale on JetBlue. They’re offering these low prices right through the holiday season, starting in November of this year.
How do you get more points? Have you tried asking? That’s what Deals We Like did to score an extra 10,000 points from IHG for applying for their credit card.
PointsCentric got 30,000 miles by signing up for a Citigold account and was able to do so without getting charged any fees. I’ve been a CitiGold account holder for years and enjoy very much some of the perks they offer. For example, their World Wallet service, where they’ll FedEx me any currency I need with no shipping charge and a reasonable conversion (and allow me to redeposit any paper currency I bring back without any fees as well). HT: View From The Wing
And, finally, a happy/sad post from Mommy Points on being grounded as they wait for the arrival of their second little traveler. I remember how our travel patterns changed when our youngest was born 4 years ago. We were a bit slower to get back into the travel groove with 2 kids, but we’re back in full swing now. I’m excited for her clan to welcome a new points earner into the family and begin the next chapter of showing their family the world!
That’s the Best of the Rest for Tuesday. Hope your travels are taking you somewhere fun!
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