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Accumulating enough frequent flyer miles to jet around the globe is no easy task, but winning one of these three sweepstakes could get you well on your way. American Airlines (celebrating its 30th anniversary of the AAdvantage Program), British Airways, and Frontier Airlines are each hosting April sweepstakes with grand, million-dollar-mile prizes. In case you’re feeling lucky, we’ve rounded up three contests to check out:
British Airways is back with what it dubs “the most generous enrollment offer of the year” : New cardholders who sign up for its Chase Visa by May 6 earn a whopping 100,000 miles – enough for two round-trip transatlantic coach tickets, one business class flight to the Far East, or an economy jaunt to Central Africa.
Even without the lavish signing bonus, the British Airways Visa claims plenty of travel perks: Foreign transaction fees don’t apply to card purchases abroad, each dollar spent earns 1.25 miles (compared to one mile in most other programs), and points only expire if your account has had zero activity for three years. Anyone who charges $30,000 on the card within a calendar year also gets a free companion ticket, eligible for use with a reward ticket.
Still skeptical? Here’s what you need to know before swiping that plastic:
Three months after Expedia banished American Airlines fares from its site for what it considered the carrier’s anti-consumer and anti-choice practices, the two travel heavyweights have reconciled.
As of late Monday, AA and American Eagle fares and schedules once again populated on Expedia.com and its other brands, which include Hotwire.com, Tripadvisor.com, and Hotels.com.
The dispute began in late December, when a judge approved American’s request to pull its fares from Orbitz and save money on the commission it pays third-party booking sites. In a sign of solidarity, Expedia buried AA flights in its search results before stripping the tickets entirely from the site January 1.
Orbitz and American are still caught in their dispute.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights, hotels, packages, and more travel deals.
During the month of February, seven airlines have partnered with Gogo Inflight Internet (with sponsorship by Ford) to offer complimentary access to the king of social networking websites and the most-trafficked website by Gogo users: Facebook. AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, US Airways, and Virgin America are each offering the promo on Wi-Fi-enabled domestic flights. (Note that Airtran, Delta, and Virgin America are the only of the bunch to currently offer full Wi-Fi capacity on all their domestic flights.) This month-long bargain allows flyers to maintain social communication with friends 10,000-plus feet below them using personal laptops or handheld Wi-Fi devices absolutely free, though for access to other websites besides Facebook, flyers must still pay a fee ranging from $4.95 to $12.95 (the price differential depends on flight time).
Savvy Flyers – what has your experience been like with in-flight Wi-Fi?
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights.
Travelers in 2011 have already hit some serious turbulence, with record-breaking snowstorms canceling flights in the Midwest and along the East Coast, a suicide bomber at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport killing 35 people, and now a week of violent political protests in Egypt forcing governments worldwide to dispatch charter flights and evacuate their citizens.
For foreigners at Cairo International Airport, the political upheaval has generated a perfect storm of travel nightmares: Thousands of displaced passengers wait for planes, while commercial airlines cancel service to the city indefinitely; food supplies in the airport dwindle, with even duty free candy selling out; and traffic jams snake up to the airport departures terminal, even as the arrivals area remains deserted.
A 17-hour, country-wide government curfew (from 3pm to 8am) further complicates the bedlam, as both foreigners and Egyptian citizens are prohibited from going anywhere during those hours – leaving the airport understaffed and making it even more challenging for commercial flights to resume.
The trouble brewing between American Airlines and the third-party companies that sell its tickets has become a full-blown feud – and American won the last battle on Monday, when a Texas judge stopped Sabre holdings from burying the carrier’s fares at the bottom of its search results.
The move was the third standoff in the conflict, which began in late December when American pulled its inventory from Orbitz after the website refused to implement the airline’s Direct Connect technology. Expedia, sensing industry-wide trouble, quickly hid American fares in its own search results before dropping the airline’s flights altogether January 1.
When Sabre joined the fight January 5 and demoted American Airlines tickets in its search results, it raised the stakes substantially: Sabre, Travelocity’s parent company, processes up to 1 million travel transactions per minute for travel agents, corporations, government agencies, and other subscribers.
The tangled battle between airlines and online booking agents has become even knottier. After Expedia announced in December that it would bury American Airlines fares in its search results, the site has plowed ahead and dropped the carrier from its inventory entirely.
The spat began when American announced that on December 21 it would stop selling flights through Orbitz, which receives a commission from the carrier on every ticket sold. Expedia, in a sign of solidarity with its competitor, pushed American Airlines tickets to the bottom of its search results before cutting off the carrier entirely January 1.
The move could be risky for American, as about one-third of U.S. travelers use third-party sites to book flights. Moreover, the whole debacle makes it even trickier for flyers to accurately compare tickets across carriers and to book cheaper, multi-airline itineraries. Happily, Priceline and Kayak still display American Airlines – plus, our very own Travel Search price comparison tool pulls data from both of those websites, in addition to other smaller booking engines.
American pulled out of the online booking site, which typically earns a commission off of the sales, in order to trim its own budget and guarantee that customers only book travel on AA.com.
It’s not the first time American has limited its searchability – in 2008 it demanded that Kayak only display tickets listed on its own site, instead of comparing to prices from third-party agents – but this judge’s most recent ruling set off a firestorm of activity.
Expedia, in a sign of solidarity with Orbitz, decided December 23 to list American fares last among search results and force customers to click over to a new page to see any American flights. Delta, meanwhile, felt left out and ditched smaller booking sites CheapOair, BookIt, and OneTravel.
As a flight attendant topped off my glass of champagne before the flood of economy passengers filed into the main cabin, my seatmate and I couldn’t help but reference that classic Seinfeld episode – the one where a schedule snafu forces Elaine into coach and bumps Jerry up to first class; he sits next to a supermodel and spends the St. Louis to New York trip flirting and dining on hot fudge sundaes, while Elaine roughs it in the back of the plane.
Although exaggerated on-screen – I didn’t spot any Zoolander types on my November flight from JFK to Madrid’s Barajas Airport – life in the front of the plane does have a certain sheen to it. Specifically, American’s business class excels at what is perhaps the biggest benefit of upgrading: Providing peace of mind. There’s no jostling for laptop space or worrying that you stashed your earplugs and pashmina in the overhead compartment. Instead, all the tools you’ll need for a comfy trip are tucked in the seat-back drawer (many of them in a handy, take-home amenity kit).
If you’re considering splurging on a business class ticket (February sample fares from NYC to Madrid cost about $2,700, compared to $780 for the same trip in coach), here’s what to expect behind American’s curtain.
The airline has added Christmas trees for limited release liability shipping within the 50 states, which means that passengers can check the evergreens, but Delta won’t shoulder as much responsibility if a bough snaps. In order to fly, trees must be covered from top to trunk, and if you’re shipping to Hawaii, it will need to pass the standard agriculture inspection. Moreover, all the usual baggage fees apply (as much as $300 each way for oversized items), so if you and yours tend to trim the tallest evergreen on the lot, we suggest purchasing the plant after baggage claim.
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