Matthewonlive and let's fly

British Airways Companion Voucher Now Valid for One-Way Travel

British Airways offers a companion voucher when you accrue more than $30,000 in spending on its Chase-branded credit card. With this voucher, you can redeem your BA Avios for a complimentary companion ticket, paying only the taxes and fuel surcharge on the second ticket. Although BA's exorbitant fuel surcharges often make the use of the voucher a poor value (I let mine expire...), if you are traveling to Europe, the Middle East, or South Africa the voucher can come in handy.

One ...

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Pictures: Airline Amenity Kits from World's Leading Carriers

With the loss of Darren, our resident expert on airline amenity kits, I admitedly have not kept up with the current amenity kits offered by airlines outside the handful of Star Alliance carriers I frequent regularly. The Daily Mail has taken on the mantle with a great photospread of more than 20 airline amenity kits from the following airlines:

Emirates - ****** British Airways - ***** airberlin - **** Air Canada - *** Air New Zealand - ***** American ...
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Giving up Lufthansa First Class for Love

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Today was the day that my wife was to fly Lufthansa First Class for the first time. I was looking forward to it so much! First Tokyo Haneda to Frankfurt, then Munich to Toronto in First Class tomorrow with visits to the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt and First Class Lounge in Munich. Lufthansa First has been one of the pinnacles of commercial flying since my first flight in first class six years ago, but I was curious to see how my German wife Heidi would like it. After all, she was not ...

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Review: Park Hyatt Vienna

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Vienna is a stately city rich with majestic architecture, an erudite culture, and a regal sense of style. In the center of the old city, replete with cobblestone walkways, horse drawn carriages, and glistening statues of historical luminaries, a new Park Hyatt hotel has opened on the site of a former monarchical bank. My wife and I celebrated my birthday in Vienna last weekend and stayed for two nights at Park Hyatt’s newest property.

A ...

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Passengers Steal Baby Strollers at London Gatwick

One of the things I love about Frankfurt Airport is that Lufthansa has coffee stations set up around many of its gates -- areas which offer complimentary self-serve coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Not to denigrate other cultures, but it just shocks me to see these stations orderly, clean, and still stocked even for evening flights - can you imagine what would happen to the cups, tea bags, napkins, and sugar (and machines) in about 20 minutes at other airports, even in more civilized ...

U.S. Secretary of State Rescued by United Airlines

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It is not just us hoi polloi that run into mechanical delays that foul up our schedules and cause us to shift travel plans…it even happens to the Secretary of State of the USA.

Sec. John Kerry has been on a whirlwind tour on his Air Force Boeing 757 in the last several days. Afghanistan, Burma, Australia and the Solomon Islands were all destinations before his final fuel stop in Hawaii on the way back to Washington. But that is a lot of ...

A New Problem for Malaysia Airlines

In light of two deadly crashes and the questionable handling of each incident, beleaguered Malaysia Airlines faces an uncertain road ahead. The state-run carrier is 70% government owned and the privately-held 30% will soon be acquired by the government. MH will be de-listed and a restructuring program to remake the airline will begin in earnest. Note that the carrier's economic outlook was far from rosy before this year's two deadly incidents: the carrier has lost over 1BN USD over the last ...

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The US Airways Dividend Miles Tax Game

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While charging fraudulent "government" taxes on Dividend Miles transfers appears to be a nefarious policy choice by US Airways, another equally distressing issue is just as concerning -- agent incompetence may mean you pay a lot more taxes on your US Airways award trip than you should.

The problem

I will start by saying that I do not think this problem is deliberate, just a reflection of outmoded technology and poor training. While some simpler US Airways award ...

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Air India: Rats on a Plane

Despite my love of German autos, I do not own one and instead use public transportation daily in Frankfurt. While the system is great for getting just about anywhere in town (and indeed, in the country), the underground stations have a serious rodent problem - it is not uncommon to be waiting for the next U-Bahn train with dozens of rats scurrying about within eyesight, both on the tracks and on the platform. 

Those little critters came flooding into my mind today as I read that ...

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United Loosens Award Routing Rules Between North America and Africa

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Fearing that United Airlines had further tightened up award routing rules to Asia based on a new and restrictive revision of the fine print, I warned in May that if enforced, United's draconian new routing rules would mark a stealth devaluation of the MileagePlus program. Though the new rules remain in effect (published), they have thankfully been not enforced. Even better, award rules to Southern Africa from North America have loosened up, making United points much more versatile to get ...

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A Comprehensive Worldwide Guide to Tipping

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In celebration of my recent birthday, Heidi and I spent the weekend in Vienna, Austria. More on that in future posts including a great stay at the brand new Park Hyatt Vienna, but I once again encountered a problem that I have faced often in the 100+ countries I have visited - to tip or not to tip, and what is the appropriate amount?!

I usually tip 10% in Germany at restaurants, which is on the generous side, but had no idea if Austria had a similar custom or I was being rude by ...

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Onboard Photos: The Hidden Hypocrisy in United's New Safety Video

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Another passenger was thrown off a United Airlines flight yesterday for taking pictures. 

Full details here, but here's my summary: Passenger is on a flight from Austin to Denver. He has top-tier status with United and is a million-miler flyer, so he has witnessed the politics between ex-Continental and legacy United staff since the 2011 merger.

This flight is operated by an ex-Continental crew and the purser and captain do not seem to be getting along. Captain announces ...

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Air France/KLM FlyingBlue Promo Awards for October & November 2014

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I have highlighted the value of Air France/KLM Flying Blue Promo Awards on many occasions, though the latest promotion illustrates the deal is not what it once was. With no discounted business class redemption this time around, the value proposition is less, but there are a few economy class redemptions worth considering.

Air France/KLM tends to release a lot of saver space to its own Flying Blue members, not just on many dates, but multiple seats per flight. With diminished ...

U.S. House Shamefully Passes Transparent Airfares Act of 2014

In a bipartisan vote yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 which would roll back 2012 legislation requiring that the full fare be displayed at all steps of the airline ticket booking processing. We've had this discussion before, so there is no need for me to go too much into why I strongly oppose the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014.

Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Bill Shuster is the chief sponsor of the Act and ...

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Free In-Flight Movies, TV, Music on Delta Air Lines Starting Friday, August 1, 2014

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Delta Air Lines will offer free streaming movies, television programming, music and video games on all U.S. flights of 90 minutes or more, starting Friday, August 1, 2014. Dubbed "Delta Studio", entertainment will be offered through seat-back systems and streaming on wi-fi equipped flights to laptop computers, smart phones, and tablets.

Importantly, there seems to be no catch here and Delta is touting the news as such--

"Through the introduction of Delta Studio our customers ...

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New (Humorous) United Airlines Safety Video!

United Airlines has introduced a new safety video that for the first time incorporates some levity into what has been a serious, humorless public service announcement for at least the last two decades.

The video is not over the top like Air New Zealand's many send ups, but does two things nicely - first, it brings some well-needed humor (cheesy, but cute) to an airline that is fighting a public image problem of being seen as unloving, ...

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Always Check: First Class for the Price of Economy Class

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A client in Los Angeles called me this morning saying he had an emergency meeting in Miami on Monday morning and needed a ticket to Miami tomorrow afternoon or evening, returning Monday night.

I noted immediately that AA or DL would be best for non-stop service and priced out an itinerary - economy was $1110.

 

 

The client asked about upgrading and before even checking for upgrade space, I ran the search in business ...

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Airplane Feet Etiquette

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I could never become a medical doctor because blood makes me squeamish. That's about it, though - most things do not bother me. Except bare feet. I don't know how those people with permanently dirt-stained, calloused feet can stand it: I hate to even take my socks off and avoid beaches like the plague.  Some people have a foot fetish but I have an aversion to feet. Especially on an airplane.

Which leads me to my point - what is it about people that makes them ...

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Scam Artists Claim I am in a German Prison to Extort My Grandma

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Imagine you are 88 years old and your grandson and his new wife live in Germany. You have not seen him in a couple months and know that he is a good boy, but his idea of fun is vacationing in Iran or Afghanistan. 

One morning you receive a call from a man who identifies himself as Sergeant Holt from the United States Embassy in Germany. He says "I'm sorry to report that Matthew and Heidi have been locked up for drug possession. They were pulled over tonight and marijuana was ...

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Winner of the Rimowa Amenity Kit Contest

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It has been a very busy day with a totally unexpected (and frankly grotesque) surprise. All I will say now is check back tomorrow - wait till you read what happened today.

And on that happy note, I am pleased to announce that Giovanni has won the Rimowa EVA amenity kit. Giovanni, look for my e-mail and based on your .it address, looks like I'll be sending it to Italy!

I have a United Airlines special edition amenity kit that I will be giving away next week and perhaps there are some additional amenity kits in my garage full of them (I wish I was joking...) that can be future contest prizes.