JetBlue Hocks Flights on eBay?We're generally a little leery of tickets (plane tix, train tix, Hannah Montana tix, you name it...) sold on eBay, but that was before we'd checked out the new JetBlue store. Yes, weird. JetBlue (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com) is auctioning off round-trip one passenger and two passenger flights as well as vacation packages (Nassau, Vegas, and four mystery locations). The tickets up for grabs are all for specific dates, so check your calendar and make sure your trip won't conflict with ballroom dance class or whatever it is that keeps you so busy (and so young looking!). Another thing to keep in mind, the bidding price does not include taxes, although the taxes and fees are very clearly listed below the flight info.
As much as we like the idea of using eBay to bid on tickets (legitimate ones!) for two to Cancún, or a five-day trip for two to a mystery grab bag hot spot, we imagine that by the end of the auction (which goes on for several days) these tickets will end up selling for way over what they might have normally sold for on JetBlue.com or elsewhere.
Of course, you could just bid on this instead. And let us borrow it sometimes. We'll even Armor All it when we're done?
Continental Adds $15 First Checked Bag Fee
Well, it looks like it's time to update our baggage fee chart yet again. Continental (tel. 800/525-0280; www.continental.com) has added their own first checked bag fee. You'll pay $30 round-trip to check your first bag, and $50 for the second. There are exceptions to this new fee, and it only applies for travel within the 50 U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada. This is in addition to $50 round-trip for a second bag, and to any overweight or oversized penalties. Sigh.
Jet Now and Later: $50 Voucher from JetBlue
Receive a $50 voucher from JetBlue (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com), good for travel between January 8 and February 9, 2009. What do you have to do? Register for their Jet Now and Later promo and purchase a round-trip ticket for travel between October 15 and November 15.
Vouchers will be emailed on or after November 30. This offer expires September 21, at 11:59pm MDT.
Everyone Else is Doing it, So Why Can't We?
The Europeans have it, and now the Canadians do too. Americans? Meh, not so much. We're talking about a passengers' bill of rights. The program, known as Flight Rights Canada, was introduced last week by Canadian Minister of Transport Lawrence Cannon. Under the new program, airlines must make passengers aware of schedule changes and delays, as well as refund tickets for canceled or overbooked flights. Meal vouchers must be given for delays of over four hours, and hotel accommodations must be provided for delays exceeding eight hours.
The new bill also requires that beverages and snacks be provided to passengers stranded on the runway, and passengers will now have the option to disembark after runway delays over ninety minutes. Lost or delayed luggage? Your airline must provide you with an overnight kit and deliver your luggage to you (wherever you may be) once it is recovered.
About the only thing Flight Rights can't save you from is bad weather, or acts of nature. Well, hey, fair enough.
The news comes after Canadian and UK based Zoom Airlines threw in the towel last month, leaving passengers waiting on the runway for several hours and stranded with no way home.
So when are we getting a passengers' bill of rights here in the states, huh? If you'd like to help, we suggest you visit Flyersrights.com and start wagging some fingers at (and sending emails to) your state representatives.
When Your Nonstop Becomes a Connecting Flight
Many, but not all, people prefer nonstop flights (hey, some folks like to visit new airports and stretch their legs). But if you buy a nonstop flight, shouldn't you get one? After all, nonstops almost always cost more than connecting flights (airlines charge you for the convenience).
But increasingly, judging from our email stream, airlines are selling nonstop flights and then calling passengers to tell them that they're now on connecting flights.
Here's one mother's story:
Delta unilaterally changed my daughter's itinerary, saying that 'our schedule has changed' and that they 'apologize for this change'. They changed her nonstops to connections via Atlanta. Here's the thing: her original nonstop flights did not change. The flight numbers stayed the same, the equipment stayed the same, and the times of the nonstops only changed by a few minutes. The only thing that changed was that our daughter was no longer on these flights. The new connections they put her on were much further from the original schedule than that! She called DL up and they put her back on the nonstops, which I note are now significantly more expensive than the connection options for the same dates and times.
Diana asks, "Do you think this was DL just trying to make more money by selling the (more valuable) nonstop seat again, this time at a higher price? It seems fishy to me... Since they fixed it, it doesn't matter-but can they do that?" Yes, they can do that, but only if you let them, and yes, they were trying to make more money. Shame on them, and good for you for standing up to them.
The same thing happened to our friend Lew when he was flying from New York to Denver over Christmas. We badgered him to badger Delta, and they finally relented.
China Airlines Sale from Honolulu
China Airlines (tel. 800/227-5118; www.china-airlines.com) has some great fares from Honolulu to select destinations in Southeast Asia, good for outbound travel through November 30. All fares must be purchased by September 30 and include:
- Honolulu to Bangkok, Thailand $948, including all taxes
- Honolulu to Ho Chi Minh City $955, including all taxes
- Honolulu to Hong Kong, Hong Kong $871, including all taxes
- Honolulu to Singapore, Singapore $955, including all taxes
Last Chance: Icelandair Sale Fares to Reykjavik
Today is your last chance to take advantage of the Icelandair (tel. 800/223-5500; www.icelandair.com) fall sale. As we mentioned before, their sale fares to Europe are easy to beat, it's their fares to Reykjavik that are the true bargains. Sale periods vary according to departure city (Boston from 9/11-10/31, New York from 9/11-10/30, and Minneapolis from 9/2-10/22), The clock is ticking so get a move on.
- Boston to Reykjavik $563, including all taxes
- Minneapolis to Reykjavik $563, including all taxes
- New York to Reykjavik $563, including all taxes
Eurofly 3-Day Sale Ends Tomorrow!
And speaking of last chances, this sale from Eurofly (tel. 800/459-0581; www.euroflyusa.com) has had folks talking all week, and it's ending tomorrow. These fares are good for travel on select dates in September and October, and vary according to destination. Like we said, this sale wraps up tomorrow and who knows when we'll see fares like this again:
- New York to Bologna, Italy $474, including all taxes
- New York to Rome, Italy $474, including all taxes
- New York to Naples, Italy $474, including all taxes
- New York to Palermo, Italy $474, including all taxes
To Russia with Love
As the world once again teeters on the precarious cusp of a new Cold War, a genuine Russian-American fare war has already broken out. Aeroflot turned up the heat on the foreign competition and fired the first shot yesterday by offering some drastic deals to Moscow that finally bring the cost of transatlantic flights below the magical $500 mark.
Nonstop fares are going for as little as $490 from New York and $650 from Los Angeles, and so should you. At least think about it, and for the sake of both savings and international relations consider packing a little goodwill in your suitcase, to show our formidable former foes that we can still be friends and encourage Prime Minister Putin to put a little love in his heart.
Pacifist motives and musings aside, according to the Wall Street Journal, hotels in Moscow are now the most expensive in the world, so unless you come equipped with an expense account or a trust fund be sure to pick your place wisely and take some comfort in the fact that the dollar is making a strong comeback, up over 10% against the rouble in the past couple of months.
As for that so-called competition, their efforts are lukewarm at best. Delta and American offer decent fares nonstop from or connecting through their respective New York, Atlanta, and Chicago hubs, while Singapore joins the fray with their new nonstop route from Houston. United, on the other hand, has decided to cop out completely for now, postponing the launch of their new service from Washington until next year. Whatever you do, remember to check fares to both Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo airports.
For the Cost of a Cab Take a Helicopter Instead
Hailing a cab to New York's JFK? Take the chopper instead! For a limited time, Delta (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) and US Helicopter Airport Shuttle Service are offering $45 one-way rides from Manhattan to JFK, for unrestricted economy class passengers. This deal is good for tickets purchased after September 1, for travel through October 31.
Bags are checked to your final destination, and passengers are screened by TSA at the heliport and no additional screening is required at JFK. Travel time between the Wall St. and 34th St. heliports to JFK averages 8 minutes (try and beat that at 5pm on a Friday, yellow cab!), with 27 flights a day.
Helicopter transport is complimentary for Delta BusinessElite members, as well as eligible First Class passengers.
Restricted Economy Class passengers may purchase one-way helicopter tickets outside of this promotion for $159 one-way.
New TSA Body Scanner Reveals All, Embarrasses Some
Think airport security is invasive and a tad humiliating? Well, chances are you won't be a fan of the new Provision body scanning machines, set to be installed in 24 U.S. airports by the end of the year. These new machines scan/x-ray beneath clothing to search for concealed weapons or explosives, including plastic and ceramic weapons that often slip through metal detectors, and provide an alternative to the TSA frisk search. However, some argue that these body scanners (as seen in the above image) work a little too well, like a hands-free strip search. More on that in our blog.
Additional Reporting by Tracy W. Stewart and Bo Borre
George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and blogger whose website, www.airfarewatchdog.com, tracks unadvertised airfare wars and fare sales, including the most helpful and always updated Top 50 Airfares.