American Airlines Plays Another Dirty Trick On Us

American Airlines recently cut off the ability to redeem AAdvantage miles for travel on Hawaiian Airlines between the mainland and Hawaii. That was an unfortunate loss, considering Hawaiian Airlines was a dependable source of premium cabin award space, but award space to Hawaii on AA and ...
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Saudia Award Space Now Bookable on

Saudia, formerly Saudi Arabian Airlines, is the flag carrier of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a member of SkyTeam. Many are quick to dismiss Saudia because it is a dry airline, but I've flown Saudia four times and give it my stamp of approval. Saudia is also a tremendous source for award ...
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A Weekend in Small Town America

I am a city slicker at heart – there is no question about it. I grew up and still live in Los Angeles and have lived in Washington, Philadelphia, and Frankfurt as well. In other words, I have always lived in big cities and like it that way. But there is something incredibly endearing ...

Havana to Los Angeles in TACA Economy Class

Back at the airport, I had a couple hours to kill before my flight to Costa Rica and used the time to have one final walk around the airport. 
Cubana check-in was flooded with tourists queuing for the afternoon bank of departures. Ticketing offices and a smoking lounge were on the bottom ...

New United CEO Shares 9/11 Thoughts

A FA friend at United sent me the following letter received by all employees today from new CEO Oscar Munoz concering the 9/11 attacks.
Dear fellow employees:
This day - Sept. 11 - is a significant and emotional day. I can recall exactly where I was and what I was doing when I ...

Day Two in Cuba: The Juxtaposition of Two Cubans

I walked out of the domestic terminal and down a pot-hole ridden road to the main street. I wanted to take pictures, but figured I was still being watched and that nothing says espionage like taking photos of a government facility with an SLR camera…
Sanitation and draining is poor in ...

New United Airlines Domestic First Class Seats

Yesterday Travel Skills broke news of a new United Airlines domestic first class seat and today United has made it official with more details. Here's a look at the new seat: 
The seat will debut on an Airbus A319 next week, with retrofits on A319s, A320s and many Boeing 737s and ...

Day Two in Cuba: Escorted Flying

For those who missed the first part, be sure to read this first. 
After denying that I worked for the U.S. government, the official began a volley of questions:
Cuban Official: Why are you in Nueva Gerona?
Me: I am an aviation enthusiast and wanted to fly Cubana.
Cuban ...
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Who is Oscar Munoz?

Oscar Munoz, 56, was named United Airlines' new CEO yesterday. Though a Board Member of United Continental Holdings since 2010 and involved in the Continental organization since 2004, I had never heard of him prior to yesterday's news of Jeff Smisek stepping down. Here's a glimpse at the ...
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Analysis: A Letter from United's New CEO Oscar Munoz

United named Oscar Munoz as CEO today, tapping another insider to head the company. In a letter to employees, Munoz laid out the news and his leadership vision. Here's my analysis of it.
Dear fellow employees:
No more "co-workers"? The employees all say thanks.
Today we ...

The Real Reason United Fired Jeff Smisek

In an unexpected move, United Airlines announced today that CEO Jeff Smisek, along with two top lieutenants were "stepping down" (translation: fired). With record profit on the books and relative harmony between labor and management, what happened? Apparently, New Jersey politics, but as I argue ...

Day Two in Cuba: Accused of Being An American Spy!

The alarm sounded at 5am and my taxi was already waiting downstairs. Not a vintage American auto, unfortunately, but a comfortable Toyota Corolla to take me to the airport. We had negotiated a cost of $12 for the ride.
The driver dropped me off at the domestic terminal and I proceeded in, ...

Here’s How to Smartly Use Your Lufthansa Miles

So, here’s the story of how I saved my family trip and even scored a business class seat using my Lufthansa Miles & More points. If you don’t want to read the background, skip down to the Use Lufthansa Miles to Book Last-Minute United Flights.
I’m on a special father-sons ...

Day One in Cuba: An Evening Surprise

Back on the street, my first stop was the American Embassy, currently surrounded by a staging ground for routine protests against the American government. Still the “American interests section” during my visit, it has recently been upgraded to full embassy status. Adjacent to the staging ...
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United Airlines Closing Honolulu and Detroit Call Centers

Mention "Honolulu Call Center" to any frequent United Airlines flyer and you will see a smile and hear a story about how Team HNL has worked magic or gone the extra mile to save a trip. For United's valuable Global Services members (a small group of top-spenders), mention Detroit and you'll hear ...

Pictures: Budapest Keleti Railway Station

One of my favorite things about traveling is to be in places that later become focal points for international headlines. I was in Tahrir Square in Cairo months before the Egyptian Revolution, drinking coffee in the Argana Cafe in Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech, Morocco that was the ...
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Day One in Cuba: A Tour of Havana

I was only traveling with hand baggage and proceeded out beyond baggage claim to a very balmy haze outside – it was over 90ºF and it felt even warmer. We walked past the terminal to a small parking lot, where Marco’s wife Calisto sat waiting in a white Toyota Corolla – as ...

Flight Attendants and Religious Freedom

As a lawyer who studied free speech extensively in law school, controversies pitting religious liberty and accommodation against employer demands are of particular interest. Two simmering issues surrounding the actions of flight attendants bring this legal tension to our attention once ...

Visa Requirements for Visiting Cuba

When I reached Costa Rica, I had to check in for my flight to Havana because it was on a different reservation than the U.S. flights. A TACA agent asked to see my Cuban visa…I was not even aware that one was needed.
Turned out I could purchase one directly from her. Digging through a ...

Los Angeles to Havana in TACA Economy Class

This was not my first time flying TACA…last time the Lead FA thought I was a terrorist (for taking pictures…). No drama this time and that is exactly the way flying in economy class should be. TACA, or Transportes Aereos del Continente Americano, is now called Avianca ...