Matthewonlive and let's fly

Air India Joins Star Alliance

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After years of drama, Indian flag carrier Air India has formally partnered with Star Alliance and becomes the first Indian carrier to join a global air alliance. I remember all too well how the drama unfolded in 2011 while I was working at Star Alliance and am relieved that the bitter controversy is now history and heartened over the progress Air India has made over the last three years. The carrier still faces many hurdles to make it competitive (and ...

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Flying Blue Promo Awards for Autumn 2014 Travel

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I've written about Air France/KLM Flying Blue Promo Awards in the past and though the program has become stingier in allocating Promo Award routes, each promotion cycle usually has at least a couple deals worthy of consideration. This fall, Flying Blue is offering 50% off economy class redemptions between Dallas and Europe and 50% off business class redemptions between Montreal and Europe.

Remember that Air France classifies Israel as Europe, so you can get all the way to ...

More Stringent Airport Security for USA-Bound Flights

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There's a man that U.S. intelligence agencies are watching named Ibrahim Al-Asiri who has been called a master bombmaker for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). He allegedly is skilled in constructing bombs out of ordinary material that can escape the detection of most airport screening equipment. With "chatter' that another terrorist attack against commercial jetliners is in the works, the Transportation Security Administration has increased scrutiny on electronic ...

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Free Upgrade to Business Class on Aeroflot

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Aeroflot Russian Airlines introduced a premium economy "Comfort Class" last year that provides a hybrid between business and economy similar to Air France's Premium Economy product. Through the end of August, Aeroflot is offering Comfort Class passengers a free upgrade to business class on the shorter leg of their intercontinental journey via Moscow. 

The offer is valid if you start or end your destination in: 

New ...

Newark AirTrain Back in Service

Track corrosion forced the closure of AirTrain service between Newark's Liberty International Airport and the EWR Rail Station in May, but the restoration work is now complete, more than 10 days ahead of schedule.

With runway construction, no rail service, and poor weather, Newark has been a nightmare to fly through lately, but travelers will appreciate the resumption of AirTrain service. Amtrak and NJ Transit have also resumed service to EWR Rail Station, eliminating the necessity of taking a bus to Newark's Penn Station - a 3-mile journey that could take up to an hour in traffic.

Lufthansa Lounge Cheat Receives Huge Bill

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For one Munich man, a strategic calculation to save money by buying a refundable Lufthansa ticket, enjoying food and drink in the Lufthansa Business Lounge, then cancelling his reservation, has proved a grave mistake. After 36 incidents, Lufthansa had enough and sued the man for damages. Yesterday, a court sided with the German carrier and fined the man €1,980 - his ticket was only €744.

Here's the heart of the ruling in ...

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United Airlines Bends Rule, Saves the Day for Sick Boy

United Airlines gets a lot of bad press and rightfully so - it has torpedoed the MileagePlus program on both the earnings and redemption side and has severely cut back on in-flight services, particularly in the forward cabin of domestic flights. But, a Huffington Post story demonstrates the power of going the extra mile...and also why the chain of command must sometimes be breached.

Here's the summary: boy gets sick on a school trip to China, his condition worsens, and he is ...

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In My Absence...

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Some of you may have noticed that things have been quiet lately…in the four years that I have written Live and Let’s Fly, there has never been a month with as few posts as the last one. Thankfully, my absence was not due to work obligations or a death in the family or a health crisis or just plain laziness; rather it was due to a very special event in my life that required my full attention: marriage.

Where to start? This blog has been all business, with the exception of ...

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Why I'd Hate to Be a Gate Agent

I spend enough time in airports to know that I would never want to be a gate agent. Some agents are just nasty, but most try their best and get gangraped (I suppose that is a bit strong) by passengers when something goes wrong beyond their control.

It doesn't help when you work for United Airlines and I'll be the first to say that Newark gate agents have a bad reputation, but watch this scene in the videos below (shot from two angles for your viewing pleasure!) and see whether you ...

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United Cuts Winter Service to Rome, Belfast, Dublin, Manchester

I wrote about United's new service to Santiago, Chile yesterday as well as additional flights to Punta Cana and Belize City, but that was only half the story. While the resumption of Santiago service will be a nice addition to the route map, travelers looking to get to Rome, Belfast, Manchester, or Dublin during the winter months will find their United options are limited.

Rome / FCO - no service (Washington / IAD or Newark / EWR) between Nov 6 - March 28
Belfast / BFS - ...

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United Announces New Routes to Santiago de Chile, Punta Cana, Belize City

After bludgeoning the majority of MileagePlus members with a customer unfriendly move toward revenue-based award mileage earning earlier this week, United has thrown us a bone in introducing new service to three Latin American cities. Of special interest is the resumption of service to Santiago, Chile this winter; a destination United has not served for several years.

Here's a note that went out to employees yesterday--

We will announce on Monday plans to launch nonstop ...

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RDMs Will Be Revenue-Based Starting March 01, 2015 on United Airlines

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When Delta Air Lines announced a revenue-based earnings chart for 2015, I predicted that it would only be a matter of time before United Airlines would match, though I did not expect it to happen so soon. Copying Delta almost exactly, United has announced revenue-based earnings will replace distance-based earnings starting on 01 March 2015 for redeemable miles on United issued tickets. Elite miles will still be distance-based and tickets issued on other carriers (except for United ...

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Win 200,000 Flying Blue Miles + Platinum Membership

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Air France/KLM Flying Blue wants your best travel pictures from around the world. Three winners will receive 200,000 Flying Blue miles, Platinum-level elite membership for one year, and their photo will be placed on Flying Blue luggage tags for elite members.

Phtotos will be judged by a panel of three "experts" and the contest ends on 09 July 2014 at midnight in France. You can enter up to 10 photos in the contest. There are two ways to enter--online at Flyingblue.com or on ...

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Video: New United Airlines Commercial

United Airlines has a new commercial out highlighting its international route map through a light-hearted tale of a man trying to learn catch phrases in several languages. The ad is targeted toward New York City flyers and was filmed at Newark Airport.

I also like to learn a few phrases at least wherever I am in the world, so this ad struck a chord with me. Still, it seems a bit indirect in terms of distinguishing United Airlines from competitors. ...

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Last Day for 100% Bonus on US Airways Purchased Miles

It frankly shocks me that US Airways is still selling miles so cheap, but perhaps it should not—after all, Doug Parker is still running the show. I sense a steep devaluation coming, and coming soon, but until then US Airways Dividend Miles retain some incredibly great sweet spots on the award chart with generous routing rules. Today is the last day to take advantage of the following promotion:

Buy 10,000 to 19,000 miles, get 50% bonus miles Buy 20,000 to 29,000 miles, get 75% ...

Free Boingo Internet for American Express Platinum Cardholders

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American Express Platinum is on the rebound. It was right to question the value of the $450 annual fee when Continental left Membership Rewards, US Airways lounge access was lost, and Delta lounge access was severely curtailed, but in many ways, the AMEX Platinum is now my most valuable credit card. And with the introduction of free and unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi from 1MN+ ground-based sources worldwide, the card is now even more valuable for U.S. cardholders.

This program has been ...

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Scandanavian Airlines SAS Introduces New Business Class

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Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has trailed the competition for years in terms of longhaul business class product. I reviewed business class from Copenhagen to Washington Dulles in 2010 and four years later the seats still have not changed--SAS still does not offer lie-flat or even 180º "angled lie-flat" seats on its longhaul routes. With a refurbishment coming to existing aircraft and new aircraft on the way, SAS has finally introduced a new business class seat--and it looks ...

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Why Congress Should Mandate All-In Pricing for Hotels Too

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As Congress considers whether to allow airlines to hide taxes and fees from consumers until late in the booking process, perhaps a hotel anecdote will be instructive. Hotels and the online travel agencies that sell hotel rooms are not required to breakout all-in pricing on hotel stays and the result in some cases is absolutely absurd pricing that is misleading and contravenes consumer interests. 

Flight delays and cancellations last night made it a realistic possibility that I ...

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Can I Access An American Express Lounge Without My AMEX Card?

I was in Las Vegas today and giddy to check out the American Express Centurion Lounge that opened last year. Available to American Express Black and Platinum cardholders for free or $50 to other AMEX cardholders, the lounge offers a great spread of food and a comfortable oasis from the airport concourse. But there was one problem--I left my Platinum card in Germany...

I can be a scatterbrain sometimes and although I was anticipating this trip to Vegas when I left Germany last week, I ...

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An Unrealized Memorial Day Wish

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U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, a man of so few words he was referred to by many as "Silent Cal", delivered an uncharacteristically long speech at Gettysburg on May 30, 1928 to commemorate Memorial Day.

The context of his speech was a time in which Americans were looking inward, enjoying the prosperous boom years of the Roaring 20s and highly adverse to war. At the time, the U.S. and French were collaborating on an international treaty condemning war and renouncing it as an ...