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Airlines Limit Smart Bags Allowed on Flights

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 12/06/2017, 3:30 PM

The supposed next big thing in luggage just hit a snag.  Several U.S. airlines have announced bans on technologically sophisticated "smart" suitcases with lithium-ion batteries that can't be removed. The high-powered batteries help make possible such wonders as suitcases with the capacity to charge cell phones, make their locations known via GPS, and even follow their owners around airports.  B...

UPDATED: Will American Airlines' Scheduling Glitch Leave You Stranded for the Holidays?

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 12/04/2017, 12:00 AM

This post, originally published on December 1, has been updated below. American Airlines discovered earlier this week that a glitch in the internal system used by pilots to schedule vacation time had caused the accidental approval of time-off requests affecting more than 15,000 flights from December 17 to the end of the year. Unexpectedly, many flights were left with nobody to steer the plane. B...

Blaming Trump, Another Airline Calls It Quits in Cuba

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 11/17/2017, 8:30 PM

Alaska Airlines will discontinue its service to Cuba on January 22, 2018, the carrier has announced. The reason: the Trump Administration's new rules that make it too difficult for Americans to visit the island. The tighter restrictions do away with the Obama-era "people-to-people" travel exemption. That means that Americans who want to visit Cuba must now do so with authorized tours and cruises ...

The U.S. Frequent Flyer Program with the Highest Customer Satisfaction Is...

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 11/17/2017, 12:00 AM

Measuring loyalty programs separately from overall airline satisfaction for the first time, the market research company J.D. Power devised a 1,000-point scale rating the six largest U.S. carriers on four factors: earning/redeeming rewards, program benefits, account management, and member communication. JetBlue's TrueBlue program came in first with a score of 800, narrowly beating out Alaska Ai...

Airfare is About to Rise. Here's Why

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 11/01/2017, 6:00 PM

American and Southwest airlines have both sent signals that their airfares are about to go up. Why? Simple: They're making more money, so they don't need to put flights on sale as often. The message came in the form of Q3 earnings reports, says the Chicago Tribune, in which major carriers reported a rise in "revenue per mile," which is the monetary metric that all airlines use to judge your busin...

Passenger Jets Now Fueled by Food Scraps and Vegetable Oil

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 11/01/2017, 7:00 AM

At the end of 1985's Back to the Future, Doc Brown opens his Delorean and dumps table scraps and beer into a "Mr. Fusion" tank to generate the power to whisk Marty McFly into the year 2015. Now it's 2017, and although personal fusion-powered travel is still in the distant future, the ability to fly passenger planes using food waste is here. In September, JetBlue announced a plan to purchase more ...

Date Set for Last Virgin America Flights

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/09/2017, 7:15 PM

Your last chance to fly with Virgin America is April 24, 2018.  The award-winning and much-loved carrier was acquired by Alaska Airlines for $2.6 billion in late 2016. Alaska later announced that it would axe the Virgin America brand, albeit while adopting many of its most popular features, including distinctive mood lighting (pictured above), above-average meal options, and excellent in-flight e...

The Shortest Flight in the U.S.

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 09/29/2017, 12:30 AM

United Airlines has begun operating the shortest commercial flight in the United States.  Zipping between San Francisco and Santa Rosa in California's Sonoma County wine region three times a week, the route covers about 60 miles and stays in the air for just 16 minutes. (Factor in taxiing and such and the one-way trip takes a still-speedy 45 minutes.)  In addition to putting themselves through t...

U.S. Airlines Are Making a Fortune from Checked Bag Fees

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 09/21/2017, 8:30 PM

Two recent government reports have underscored the huge revenue-generating power of checked bag fees at the airport. First, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that while unbundling airfares from services such as checking bags and priority boarding has indeed resulted in lower base fares, the new fees often more than make up the difference that customers think they're saving. ...

The Case of the Missing Gift Certificate: Flying in the Age of Monopolies

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 08/15/2017, 1:15 AM

An airplane aisle separated the haves from the have nots. I’m not writing about the aisle separating business class and economy. No, in this case, the left-side of the plane, on a six hour flight from San Francisco to New York City, was in a 21st century crisis: our seatback monitors were on the fritz. The right hand side passengers were lulled into a stupor by visions of Americans who supposedly h...

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