When our parents said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” they were right.
The price of a free airline ticket is rising drastically. Yes, we’re talking about FREE tickets – award flights –so, how could the price rise when it’s essentially nonexistent?
Turns out, they weren’t free to begin with, and the fact of the matter is: your reward points are (were) worth more than you think. A study published by IdeaWorks Co. in July found that each United MileagePLus mile is worth about 5 cents when used to purchase Business Class upgrades on international flights, while domestic coach awards are worth about 1 to 1.4 cents per mile.
Beginning Feb. 1, United Airlines will raise the number of frequent –flier miles needed to book an award flights. Business Class to Europe will increase by about 20 percent and First Class on partner airlines will climb about 63 percent to Europe and Japan and a whopping 87 percent to the Middle East.
But let’s not place all the blame on United. Business Class flights to Europe at the lowest saver level will hike from about 100,000 miles to 125,000 miles starting June 1.
Luckily, domestic travel won’t be affected all too much. Standard economy tickets to Hawaii on United will raise about 12 percent and about 10 percent on Delta starting Feb. 1.
And while Southwest and Alaska airlines plan on taking similar initiatives early next year, people can beat most of the award-price increases if they act fast. Begin planning your 2014 travel now, if you haven’t already.
Customers complain that the raising price for awards devalues the miles or points in the account, and rightfully so. The currency no longer has the same buying power, and frequent flier forums are jokingly referring to Delta SkyMiles as “SkyPesos” and United’s MileagePlus program as “MileageMinus.”
The increases on long-haul flights reflect product improvements, Delta spokesman Paul Skrbec told The Wall Street Journal. For Business Class, this includes lie-flat beds and cabins configured so every seat has aisle access.
“To maintain the same price for a superior product doesn’t make sense,” Skrbec said.
United is saying the same thing: that the premium-cabin award prices increased because of improvements made in Business and First Class.
“These award levels reflect the value of the product,” United’s vice president of loyalty, Praveen Sharma, told The Wall Street Journal. United hasn’t raised award rates since 2008.
Airlines also attribute the higher award requirements to higher ticket prices. It’s a classic example of supply and demand: a recovering economy has ceded high demand for premium seats. The International Air Transport Association recorded an 8.6 percent increase in the number of premium travelers flying world-wide in August and a 3.3 percent increase in September.
Elite airline status is no longer what it used to be, and your loyalty will no longer be rewarded like it used to be. These days, your best bet may be to find the cheapest fare and consider your “rewards” as the immediate savings you saw.
The creation of the world’s largest airline was inevitable.
Now that the U.S. Justice Department has approved the merger between American Airlines and US Airways, it’s a win-win for both Washington and what’s soon to be the world’s largest airline. So who are the losers? The flying public, obviously.
The government permitted the merger under the conditions that the “New American Airlines” scale back operations at Reagan National and La Guardia and cede gates in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Miami to low-cost carriers like JetBlue and Southwest.
Valiant effort, but hardly sufficient enough to ignite competition and keep fares down. And what about smaller markets like Phoenix, Charlotte and Philadelphia? Airfares will undoubtedly rise, as the merger will give American Airlines 336 destinations in 56 countries. Furthermore, US Airways is a legacy carrier that is very aggressive in international travel. When it conjoins with American, it will no longer offer competitive pricing in Business and First Class International travel.
Although the merger will be complete by the end of the year, passengers won’t notice any immediate day-to-day changes until after January. The airlines will likely combine frequent-flyer programs and honor each other’s elite status, but beware: the moment US Airways exits Star Alliance and joins Oneworld Alliance, award opportunities will be lost. So if you’ve been collecting points to use on Star Alliance carriers (including airlines like Lufthansa and All Nippon), cash out now, says travel columnist Joe Brancatelli.
And for the future: Brancatelli predicts that the two airlines will wait until the first weekend of March 2015 to merge its passenger-service computurs to begin operating under a single brand name. Hopefully they learned from the debacle that was the United/Continental Airlines merger, but nonetheless, be weary of booking flights that weekend—just in case.
To infinity and beyond – Lady Gaga will be the first artist ever to perform a concert in outer space, the entertainment industry announced earlier this week.
It shouldn’t surprise us that the woman who wore dress made entirely of meat to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and refers to her devoted fans as “Little Monsters” would strive for such a milestone. The performance will consist of one song as part of the 2015 Zero G Colony Galactic Music Experience Festival in New Mexico.
Although dates have yet to be confirmed, Lady Gaga will need to undergo an additional month of special vocal training to prepare. She’ll also be bringing her entourage aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.
NBC also just announced that they’ll be broadcasting SpaceShipTwo’s inaugural voyage, with Richard Branson and his children, Holly and Sam. The network will also broadcast a television series called “Space Race,” produced by “Survivor” mastermind Mark Burnett.
The aircraft has room for six passengers and two pilots. The flight begins will SpaceShipTwo is hooked up to a mothership called WhiteKnightTwo. After being carried to an altitude of 50,000 feet, the rocket plane is dropped from the mothership, and the pilots light up the hybrid rocket engine for ascent.
Worried about safety? SpaceShipTwo has been in development since 2004 and is currently undergoing testing at California’s Air and Space Port. If 63-year-old Branson worth about $4.6 billion is willing to risk his neck, then we are too.
Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber have already signed up. Virgin Galactic has collected nearly $80 million in deposits from about 680 people wanting to go to space. The going rate for a seat in space is currently $250,000.
Want to join them? Call us at 800-435-8776 or visit our Web site, and an agent will assist you with a quote to space
Be one of the first earthlings to travel commercially through space! Ensure your place in history. Give us a call today!
Economy passengers get crowded overhead bins and grumpy seatmates while they get great food and chirpy service.
The curtain that separates First/Business Class with Economy is more than a physical divide. The gaps within America’s classes of wealth have never been more distinct than in a commercial aircraft. The masses suffer while the elite receive an almost unattainable comfort.
Even if your wallet says you don’t belong in First Class, there’s an art to securing an that elusive, fleeting upgrade, Delta Airlines program manager Rebecca Simon told the Huffington Post.
Think about how many angry/rude/entitled passengers gate attendants come in contact with every day. If you’re polite and understanding instead, you’ll stand out for not standing out. The first step to being considered for an upgrade is an easy temperament.
Are you being realistic about your chances of being upgraded? Use common sense to take the temperature of the situation. If it’s a full flight between major hubs, space in the front of the aircraft will likely be limited.
Keep in mind that having some sort of frequent flier status significantly ups your chances of getting bumped to first. With a lack thereof, discreetly let the attendant know that you’d be interested in anything available. Although it seems obvious, the difference between those who want upgrades and those who get them is letting the appropriate person know.
Don’t make a show of it, though. Copycats will soon notice, and you can kiss goodbye to whatever slim chance you had.
No matter how comfortable, hoodies and Uggs are never going to cut it in the ritzier classes. Attendants look for well-dressed people to upgrade. You don’t necessarily need to wear a suit, but First class cabins house the most frequent business travelers, so it’ll help if you look like one.
Traveling in a pair, or worse, as a family? Forget the First Class seat altogether. Unless you’re willing to leave them behind, that is. While one may be the loneliest number, it’s also the best for getting upgraded.
Be a Wallflower
Don’t pester the crew after the initial approach. Keep a low profile, but you want to remain visible to the gate agent so that he or she doesn’t forget about you. Getting you a free upgrade isn’t on their list of priorities.
Did these tips work? Be gracious in accepting the upgrade, but continue to be discreet. A kind word will do just fine.
And if these tips didn’t work, a ‘Thank You’ will still suffice. Remember, while it was fairly easy to get an upgrade in the past, but these days normal passengers are just a number on a computer screen, and gate operators may not even be in charge of the gate.
Still, a little optimism never hurt.