Matthewonlive and let's fly

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 ...

Is it Safe to Travel to Thailand?

A coup d’état has taken place in Thailand with a military junta now running the show. As horrible as that sounds, is it safe to travel to Thailand during this time?

In a word, yes.

King Bhumibol Aduljadej has been on the throne longer than Queen Elizabeth and this marks the 12th coup of his reign. That's not to say this latest failure in democracy is nothing to be worried about--the junta has dissolved the upper house of parliament and has banned over 200 ...

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United Has Tightened Routing Restrictions on Asia Awards

Exactly one month ago, I wrote a post entitled New, Stricter United MileagePlus Routing Rules for Travel Between USA and North Asia? At the time, I concluded the rumored draconian new routing restrictions on awards between North America and North Asia were merely rumors, but now it turns out they were a foretaste of what was to come. New routing rules have been published that (if true) significantly devalue the MileagePlus program. Currently, united.com has only been partially ...

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FAQs About Waitlisting a Singapore Airlines Award

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Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is now a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner and with that comes the possibility of reasonably priced awards in premium cabins on SQ flights. Singapore has three award pricing tiers on their own metal and often your desired flight will not be available at the saver level. With SQ's waitlisting feature, you still stand a chance at getting a seat on your desired flight for the cheapest mileage rate.

Q: How do I waitlist for an award on Singapore ...

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4 Years, 28 Countries, 1 Wedding Proposal

I hate to hear my own voice, so it is rare that I make videos when I travel. That's a shame, really, because I've been to over 100 fascinating countries and though I make it a point to get at least one good picture in each country, putting together a collage of videos of my travels over the last decade would be pretty cool. I also don't plan too far in advance - it is debatable whether that is a good quality or bad, but the thought of planning a wedding proposal four years in advance is just ...

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United Airlines Increases Mileage Upgrade Co-Pay on Premium Transcon Routes

United has transformed its premium service (p.s.) fleet that operates between Los Angeles/San Francisco and New York JFK from a three-cabin configuration with older seats in business and first class to a two-cabin configuration with fully lie-flat seats in business class. United has also increased wi-fi speeds, provided on-demand entertainment at each seat, and caters the flight as an international longhaul (though economy still must purchase hot and cold meals). With that transformation ...

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Chase Ultimate Rewards Adds Singapore KrisFlyer as Transfer Partner

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Chase Ultimate Rewards just got even more valuable with the introduction today of Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer as a 1:1 transfer partner.

KrisFlyer is not a particularly valuable program for most Star Alliance redemptions, but like any program there are award sweet spots. Domestic business class tickets within the USA or travel within South America is 40K r/t and often available without fuel surcharges. But, the ...

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Reaching Lufthansa Miles & More After Hours

Lufthansa Miles & More offers a great value on United Airlines redemptions within the USA, particular in business class (35K r/t). The downside is that most partner flights, including United, must be booked by telephone. Like many things German, working hours are limited and forget about Sunday. Sort of. While the US call center maintains very limited working hours from 8am to 8pm ET Monday-Friday, if you ever find you need to book late or on a Saturday or Sunday, you do have a couple ...

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Photos: Remembering United's Bangkok City Ticket Office

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I was sorting through some old pictures today and stumbled upon a series of photos of United Airlines' former Bangkok city ticket office. United pulled out of Bangkok in March after decades of service to Thailand and left behind, among other things, a dedicated staff of employees at one of the few remaining United city ticketing offices.

My visit was in 2011 and I did not have any specific business to sort in the office: being the aviation nut that I am, I was just so surprised to ...

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