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Generous Lufthansa First Class Award Availability between Tokyo Haneda and Frankfurt

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When Lufthansa recently announced new service between Mexico City and Munich as well as Toronto and Munich, premium class award seats were released on every flight. Even first class, which is normally only released to Star Alliance partners two weeks prior to travel, was made available on the Toronto route. With new routes between Tokyo Haneda and Frankfurt/Munich just loaded into the system, Lufthansa has again released a glut of premium cabin space, including two first class seats on every ...

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Star Alliance Should Pursue Alaska Airlines

For all the complaints about US Airways being a “low-cost carrier” or offering an inferior in-flight product, the carrier has been a valuable member of Star Alliance that will be missed tremendously. With a healthy European route network and an expansive route map in the Southeast and Northeast, US Airways has nicely complimented United’s route network and been very generous with award space, particularly with North American premium cabin space. US Air’s departure from ...

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Air India Again Positions Itself for Star Alliance Membership

When I worked for Star Alliance in 2011, the politics surrounding Air India’s failed bid to join the Alliance were fascinating. I am bound from disclosing the nitty gritty details, but the situation opened my eyes to how much maneuvering and backstabbing goes on in the airline industry. Now Air India is again making a concerted push to join Star Alliance and I think I can get away with saying, buyer be warned.

But for all the pitfalls of doing business with a flailing state-run ...

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Hitting the Million Miler Mark on United Airlines

My first United Airlines flight was from Los Angeles to Denver in the winter of 1995, but I did not start seriously flying United until 2005, the year I decided I did not want to sit behind the curtain any longer. Nine years later, I have logged over 998,500 lifetime United flight miles and this afternoon’s flight from Denver to New York LaGuardia will put me over the million mile mark.

In the coming days, I will recount my years of flying on United as well as look ahead to what ...

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Delta Actually Improves Skymiles Program with Attractive Upgrade Options

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Delta Air Lines has led the U.S. airline loyalty industry in duplicity and penny-pinching for several years running (even with a commendable challenge from United last month) so a day in which positive news is announced is quite rare. Yesterday was one of those days, as Delta announced a new confirmed upgrade incentive for Platinum and Diamond elites without the onerous fare class restrictions that have made such instruments virtually useless in the past.

Regional Upgrades for ...

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Video: WestJet's Heartwarming Christmas Surprise

Several airlines have released holiday-themed videos this month, but WestJet's "Christmas Miracle" film brought a big smile to my face.

The simple message--that it is more blessed to give than to receive--is not a trite expression, but a truism that this video so nicely demonstrates. 

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Higher Airline Fees in Congressional Budget Compromise

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), Chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, have unveiled a compromise plan to fund the U.S. federal government for the next two years, eliminating the spectre of another government shutdown in January. Pols from both sides have expressed indignation over the deal, suggesting it is not a bad compromise, but part of the deal is an increase in airline security fees. If it the ...

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United: US Airways Award Flights Bookable through March 30, 2014

United Airlines released an update concerning its future relationship with US Airways--

As you've undoubtedly seen, American Airlines and US Airways closed their merger today. While our partnership with US Airways will be ending on March 30, 2014, it's still "business as usual" until then. Here are some things you need to know for the next few months:

All current tickets for travel on US Airways will be honored You can continue to book award travel on US Airways using ...
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Frequently Asked Questions About the American Airlines - US Airways Merger

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American Airlines and US Airways have officially merged, but for practical purposes, the airlines remain separate entities and will maintain separate operations for several months. Business will continue as usual, with separate check-in, gates, loyalty programs, and policies: like recent mergers, integration will be gradual. Below are some frequently asked questions about the merger. 

Q: When will the merger happen?

A: Although ...

Man Wakes Up Onboard Dark, Empty, United Express Plane in Houston

A man buys a United Airlines ticket from Louisiana to California via Houston on United. He boards the first leg and being an extraordinary sleeper, falls into a deep slumber on an Embrarer regional jet, one of the most uncomfortable aircraft in the United Express fleet Upon landing in Houston, none of his seatmates wake up Rip Van Winkle and the crew leaves the aircraft without performing a walk through the cabin to ensure that all passengers and baggage have been removed. The lights are ...
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United's IDB Nightmare: 90-Year-Old Pearl Harbor Veteran Among 41 Bumped Off Flight to Honolulu

United Airlines is facing another firestorm over news that a 90-year-old Pearl Harbor veteran bound for Honolulu was among 41 passengers bumped when bad weather necessitated severally weight restricting a 737-800 aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport.

Ewalt Shatz travels to Pearl Harbor each year to take part in commemorative ceremonies and this year his trip was book on United Airlines. But at the check-in counter, he was told bad weather enroute meant that many ...

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Yerevan to Istanbul in Armavia Economy Class

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Armavia was Armenia’s flag carrier, but entered bankruptcy on March 29, 2013 and suspended all operations on April 1, 2013. I got in just in time, for I doubt there would have been a refund if my flight had been one month later.

Armavia is gone…liquidated, and Armenia’s primary cargo carrier, Air Armenia, has been granted authority to operate commercial flights and thus become Armenia’s new flag carrier. Armavia was founded ...

Why I'm Not So Optimistic About Jeff Smisek Anymore

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On October 12, 2010 I wrote a post entitled, "Why I'm Optimistic about Jeff Smisek Leading United Airlines." Based upon an inflight anecdote in which Smisek engaged both crew and customers, I posited that "he appears to be laying the foundation to substantially lift employee morale." Three years later, I wish my foresight had been better.

People tell me that Smisek gets angry when anyone calls him Mr. Smisek. He is to be called Jeff, because he is ...

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Feeling at Home in Yerevan

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I grew up in Glendale, California, home to one of the largest Armenian populations outside of Armenia’s capital city of Yerevan. My best friend in grade school was Armenian and I have several friends in the Armenian community. In school the Armenian Genocide was remembered each year and Armenians run my barbershop and favorite restaurant. Even one of my former bosses was Armenian. Consequently, Armenia has been near the top of my destination list for years and visiting Yerevan was a big ...

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Delta Cancels Flight to Charter Basketball Team Instead

Whatever the going rate is for a chartered jet on Delta Air Lines, it must be better than the revenue from a scheduled flight, because when a Delta charter went mechanical on Saturday in Tampa, Delta promptly cancelled a commercial flight to Atlanta in order to get the University of Florida men's basketball team to Connecticut.

Delta spokesman Michael Thomas told The Sun in an email that the passengers from flight 5059 were accommodated on other flights and ...

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Overnight Train from Tbilisi to Yerevan, Armenia

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Back just after dusk at Tbilisi’s central railway station, I had a bite to eat in a small food court upstairs before boarding my second consecutive overnight train, tonight bound for Yerevan.

I had purchased the ticket earlier in the day at the station for ~$28, again in a second class compartment with four bunks. I was traveling with one rollerboard bag and my duffel bag and did not want to lug it around the city with me, so upon arrival in Tbilisi I inquired about whether the ...

How to Expedite US Airways Mileage Transfers with Points.com

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Many of you are taking advantage of US Airways' 100% bonus on Shared Dividend Miles this week and I have encouraged many of my clients to do the same. Transfers from account to account are typically instant, but can take up to three days to to process. That can be problematic, as it was for me yesterday. A reservation I had created for a client in Oregon was nearing the end of its 72-hour courtesy hold and the shared mileage transaction had not been processed 10 hours after initiation. I had ...

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Cyber Monday Specials at Marriott: Up to 30% Off

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Marriott's relationship with United Airlines has made me a Marriott customer once again and so today's Cyber Monday 30% off promotion caught my attention.

Bottom line--there are actually some very attractive deals with this one-day promotion.  A few properties stood out in particular--the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC for as little as $90/night. The JW Marriott just a few blocks from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue is as little as $118/night. The Marriott Downtown property in New York City is as little as $139. I got socked with an extremely high hotel bill last year--$139 would have much more palatable.

The offer is valid for over 300 hotels in the U.S. and Canada for stays between December 20, 2013 through March 31, 2014. The sale ends tonight at 11:59p EST.

100% Bonus on Shared US Airways Miles (Business Class to Europe + Asia for $1027.50)

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US Airways is running the most lucrative mileage purchasing promotion this week, from 02-06 December 2013. Notice I said the most lucrative, not its most lucrative. Nowhere else in the airline industry can you generate enough points to travel to both Europe and Asia in business class for $1027.50.

The proposition is simple--share your miles and US Airways will give the recipient a 100% bonus when you transfer between 30,000 and 50,000 miles. ...

Pictures: One Day in Tbilisi, Georgia

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Tbilisi’s history dates back 15 centuries and like many capital cities, features a mix of war and peace spanning various empires. The Soviets invaded in 1921 and a Bolshevik regime was installed. Independence came in 1991, but like many of the former Soviet Republics, the transition was not smooth and a civil war broke out. Throughout the 1990s, the quality of life was poor and corruption rampant. A rigged election in 2003 ushered in the Rose ...

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