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For frequent flyers to Washington D.C., good news: US Airways is adding flight service to eleven new locations, mostly in the Southeast and Midwest, eight of which currently have no direct service to the downtown D.C. Reagan National Airport. Daily flights are also to be added to three locations, and Hartford, Connecticut is getting increased daily nonstop frequency. The expansion comes with the reduction of US Airways flights to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, although US Airways will continue to be the airport’s third largest carrier. (For a full list of the changes to take place on March 25, click here.)
Why the increase in D.C. and the decrease in New York? It comes as part of a slot-swap deal with Delta; the two airlines traded takeoff and landing slots so that Delta could cement its hold on NYC and US Airways could become even stronger in the Washington market, where they also note there will be a job increase. With increased holds at their hubs, the airlines can easily expect an increased percentage of the hub’s passengers (and their money).
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Recently rated the most tech-friendly airline, Delta Airlines continued its tech trend by installing six cameras in a suitcase to show us exactly what journey our luggage goes on when we check it. Although the video leaves some to be desired (no TSA screening area photography allowed, for example, and the outdoor shots are at night), it’s no doubt interesting to see the journey that the bag makes, especially as it rides through a maze of conveyer belts reminiscent of the airport scenes in Toy Story 2 (which turn out to be pretty accurately portrayed, animated dolls aside).
After years of helping my kids with their homework I figured it was about time they returned the favor, so last night I sat down with Libby, Maya, and Felix (ages 12, 9, and 5, respectively) and asked them what they thought hotels, restaurants, and airlines ought to be doing differently to satisfy vacationing kids.
What follows is perhaps some food for thought for the travel industry (Bathrobes and omelet chefs just for kids? Pink airplanes?), or, at the very least, inspiration for parents to occasionally ask their kids what they think.
Sorry, underage drinkers: Air travelers will have to leave their fake IDs at home starting early next year, as the TSA plans to introduce 30 document-scanning systems that will make it easier for screeners to spot fraudulent documents.
TSA employees at select U.S. airport checkpoints will use the machines to verify boarding passes and passenger IDs, such as driver’s licenses. TSA Administrator John Pistole said that the move was all about “facilitating risk-based security, while making the process more effective,” according to Bloomberg.
The announcement comes after an incident in June in which a Nigerian man passed through a checkpoint at JFK Airport in New York and took a Virgin America flight to Los Angeles using another passenger’s boarding pass.
The days of air travelers having to take off their shoes during security screenings are numbered, according to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “We are moving towards an intelligence and risk-based approach to how we screen,” she said at a recent forum in Washington, according to Bloomberg. The announcement comes 10 years after the 9/11 attacks that redefined air travel and security, domestically and abroad.
Better technology is the key to eradicating the policy on shoe checks, which stems from the 2001 attempt by Richard Reid to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes while on a flight from Paris to Miami. The Transportation Security Administration’s goal, according to an October 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office, was to have shoe scanners deployed at airports by 2015. These would only require passengers to step on a black mat to have their shoes scanned. No decision has been made on the technology.
As Hurricane Irene raged up from the Caribbean to the Northeast last week, many displaced travelers were left in its wake. Some airlines and hotels really stepped up to accommodate their storm-battered clients – others, not so much. Here, we present the best and worst responses to the storm.
As the storm headed north, a number of airlines waived change fees for flyers headed into or out of the hurricane’s path. However, trying to get a hold of a customer service agent last weekend was a different story.
- Baltimore Washington, MD: Monday, Thursday, from $99 each way (about $319 round-trip after taxes)
- Fort Lauderdale, FL: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, from $39 each way (about $199 round-trip after taxes)
- Louisville, KY: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, from $99 each way (about $319 round-trip after taxes)
- Raleigh/Durham, NC: Monday, Friday, from $99 each way (about $319 round-trip after taxes)
- Richmond, VA: Monday, Friday, from $99 each way (about $319 round-trip after taxes)
The partial FAA shutdown and resulting expiration of certain taxes has wrought a whole mess of money issues for airlines and their passengers, and now the IRS is providing some much-needed guidance.
The good news so far: If you’re flying during the partial shutdown but bought plane tickets before it began, you should receive a refund. The annoying news: You’ll probably have to wade through IRS red tape to get that cash.
In a notice on its website Wednesday, the IRS announced that, “Passengers who paid for tickets on or before July 22, 2011, for travel beginning on or after July 23, 2011, may be entitled to a refund on the tax.”
The notice goes on to explain that airlines may refund passengers, “just as they do in the ordinary course of business when issuing refunds for unused refundable tickets (including the associated taxes).”
JetBlue spoiled many flyers’ plans when it announced in June that it would scrap its popular All You Can Jet pass this fall, which let passengers fly anywhere in the JetBlue network an unlimited number of times for one month.
Well, buck up: The airline is back with the BluePass, a sort of counter-offer, albeit a much less freewheeling one.
This time around, instead of opening up the entire flight network to passengers for a month, JetBlue is issuing three airport-specific passes that allow travelers to fly from either Boston or Long Beach to select destinations an unlimited number times – for three whole months, from August 22 to November 22, rather than just one.
The cheapest of the three passes is $1,299, or $433/month, less than last year’s limited travel version of the All You Can Jet Pass (though note that domestic taxes are not included in this price, so you’re responsible for those). The trick, of course, is that you must fly to and from Boston or Long Beach, depending on which pass you buy.
JetBlue’s Over the 405 sale – with tickets from Long Beach to Burbank priced at just $4 and $5 – sold out yesterday within hours of its announcement. But if you missed it, fear not – the airline has concocted another way to flee L.A.’s impending Carmageddon.
Book flights from Long Beach, Burbank, or LAX this weekend to anywhere JetBlue flies, and the airline will slash, appropriately, 40.5 percent off the ticket price (not including taxes).
We think a shut-down expressway is as a valid an excuse as any to embark on a spontaneous trip, but keep in mind that though the discount is generous, the markdown is off of pricier last-minute fares.
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