Matthewonlive and let's fly

Train Derails at Chicago O'Hare - Dozens Injured


Not being a car guy, I have often availed myself to Chicago's CTA Blue Line to get from O'Hare Airport into the city and back. This morning, though, I am glad I was far away as a train derailed from the tracks at the airport station, eventually riding up an escalator and injuring 30 people.

No deaths and injuries seem minor, which is great news, but another reminder that life takes very unexpected turns.

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Last Call on the US Airways 90K USA + Europe + Asia Business Class Award

US Airways is leaving Star Alliance on March 30th, 2014, meaning your last chance to book on many Star Alliance carriers with US Airways Dividend Miles is this week.

There are several gems on the chart, but the most valuable to North American flyers is round-trip business class to North Asia (includes as far south as China/Hong Kong/Taiwan) for 90,000 miles. US Airways has very generous routing rules, allowing connections and even a stopover within Europe before continuing on to ...

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United Cuts Special Meals on Premium Transcon Routes Between Newark and Los Angeles & San Francisco

There was no formal announcment, but in fine print on the United Airlines North American premium cabin dining webpage, the following has appeared:

*Effective May 1, 2014, we no longer offer special meals on flights between New York/Newark and San Francisco or Los Angeles. Special meal requests will not be accepted after March 13, 2014.

I will speculate here: I think the bigger issue is not just the elimination of special meals--quite imprudent as I argue below--but that ...

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Air Canada Suspends Service to the Failing State of Venezuela

Air Canada is halting its thrice-weekly service between Toronto and Caracas as hyperinflation and violence continue to engulf Venezuela.

In a statement, Air Canada said--

Due to ongoing civil unrest in Venezuela, Air Canada can no longer ensure the safety of its operation and has suspended flights to Caracas until further notice.

Passengers who are booked on Air Canada on a future flight will receive a full refund, though that hardly seems like a deal if you have ...

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To Selfie or Not To Selfie?


An aborted takeoff at Philadelphia International Airport tonight led to an evacuation of 149 passengers and five crew members. One passengers elected to post a selfie on Twitter just moments after evacuating the US Airways A320 aircraft with a "so yup" quip. Was this in good taste?


At first impression, it appears extremely tawdry that anyone would post such a picture. Even setting aside the fact that no one was injured (at least based on ...

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Chaos at Philadelphia International Airport After Aborted US Airways Takeoff

An aborted takeoff on a US Airways flight bound for Florida from Philadelphia International Airport has shutdown PHL. The culprit: a blown tire; the result: smoke billowing out of the engines and a runway evacuation of the 149 passengers and five crew members onboard. No injuries have been reported.

U.S. Airways flight 1702, an Airbus A320, was taking off for Fort Lauderdale just after 6 p.m. when the incident occurs. One witness shared what he viewed on ...

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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Wreckage Found?

A Chinese satellite has located what may be the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Then again, we've head that before.

The Chinese agency gave coordinates of 105.63 east longitude, 6.7 north latitude, which would put it in waters northeast of where it took off in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and south of Vietnam, near where the South China Sea meets the Gulf of Thailand.

There's still many unanswered questions surrounding this incident. What about the first ...

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On Malaysia Airlines and the Fragility of Life


I am working on a trip report that will include the scariest flight of my life, a Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. An odd coincidence that it was on Malaysia Airlines but a sobering wake-up call that each day may be our last.

My brother and I had a great stay in KL and were looking forward to several days in Cambodia. Competing with low-cost carriers like Air Asia, we snagged a ticket from KUL to PNH on Malaysia Airlines at an ideal afternoon ...

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Report: Malaysia Airlines 777-200 Crashed in South China Sea

A Malaysia Airlines 777-200 flight from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing has crashed in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam according to reports breaking now from both Vietnamese and Chinese state media. The flight was carrying 227 passengers plus 12 crewmembers and earlier reports suggesting that the plane safely landed in Nanming, China appear to be nothing more than illusory hope. Relatives anxiously assembling at Kuala Lumpur International Airport have been instructed to ...

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I Will Not Allow This Plane to Land!

It sure pays to have friends (or fathers) in high places...

A passenger plane flying from Lebanon to Iraq was forced to turn back after the Iraqi transport minister's son missed the flight and phoned Baghdad to stop the aircraft from landing, a spokesman for the airline said.


So Mahdi al-Amiri and his friend are loafing in the expansive Middle East Airlines lounge in Beiruit and their flight to Baghdad is nearing last call for departure. Finally, a lounge ...

Top 10 Airline Award Redemptions for March 2014

Award chart devaluations continue, there are still a number of superb deals available. Here are my top ten award travel bright spots for March 2014. Nothing has changed from last month except the removal of United Airlines Asian redemptions and the addition of Singapore Airlines Suites Class saver awards. 

1. US Airways Dividend Miles – 90K miles r/t for business class between North American and North Asia with a Stopover in Europe

Still the best award in the world, ...

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New Numbers Show the Route Network is Not Saving United Airlines

United Airlines has released its 2014 Quarter One investor guidance and the figures are ugly. United blames the weather, the late Easter holiday, and the reduction of its regional jet fleet, but the signs point to a more ominous reason—continued poor management of world’s largest airline.

My aim here is not to personally attack CEO Jeff Smisek or his team. Rather, it is to demonstrate that United’s continued excuses for its poor performance both outright and relation ...

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American Airlines Kills Bereavement Fares


With cost-cutting CEO Douglas Parker at the helm, American Airlines has deep-sixed bereavement fares. Considering bereavement fares rarely make sense to the cost-conscious consumer, this is not a big deal. Still, there was a better way to bury these special fares than by a formal announcement.

Essentially, American accurately claimed that times have changed and conventional bereavement fares are dead:

"We remain committed to doing all we can to relieve the burden of travel ...

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Video: Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule on United Airlines Flight

I don't own a TV and rarely watch television programming online. That saves me from a great deal of wasted time, though sometimes I wonder just what I am missing. Like this:

Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule is apparently a comedy program on Cartoon Network.

The program follows Brule as he examines different facets of living. His severe naivety and social awkwardness generally lands him in embarrassing situations, though he largely remains ignorant.

I ...

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United's Strict New Carry-On Policy or Business as Usual?


Word leaked last month that United Airlines would begin to strictly enforce its carry-on policy on March 1, 2014 and new carry-on sizers began popping up around the gate areas of many United stations. MileagePlus members received e-mails outlining the new baggage policy this week and an internal memo was sent out instructing airport staff at all steps of the check-in process to monitor for carry-on compliance. Today, the new policy officially went into ...

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Buying Elite Status from US Airways and American Airlines


As February draws to a close, today is the last day to buy elite status from US Airways at a preferential rate--the rate and even ability to do so changes substantially tomorrow. Meanwhile, American Airlines is enticing current elites who face status expiration or reduction tomorrow to buy back their status with a specially-tailored offer.

US Airways

US Airways has had far and away the best program available to buy up to preferred status. With it, you could buy up to 100,000 ...

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Humor: American Airlines to Eliminate Complimentary Cabin Pressurization

Oh, how I love the Onion, America's finest news source!

FT. WORTH, TX—Explaining that the costs of the service have grown too high in recent years, American Airlines announced Tuesday that it will no longer offer free cabin pressurization to passengers starting March 15. “Unfortunately, to stay competitive as a legacy carrier in today’s air travel market, it no longer makes economic sense for us to provide breathable air at altitude,” said American Airlines ...

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United Airlines Eliminates Canadian Staff

United Airlines' CEO Jeff Smisek is on a mission to cut $2BN in annual spending and is slashing anywhere and everywhere to meet that goal. The latest casualty is the United Airlines' employees in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.

CHICAGO - United Airlines says it is cutting 240 jobs in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

The U.S.-based airlines says the jobs, which include customer service agents and ramp agents, will now be outsourced.

There will be 95 jobs ...

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United Releases Award Space on New Los Angeles - Melbourne Route!


United formally announced new service between Los Angeles and Melbourne yesterday. The route will operate 6x weekly, utilize a Boeing 787-9, and be operated by ex-Continental crews. On Wednesday, I noted--

United has indicated that the flight will be loaded into the system tomorrow, so keep an eye out for premium award space on the route--usually when United announces a new route (like when it began service to Istanbul), a fair number of award seats are released in both ...

United Airlines to Launch 787-9 Service Between Los Angeles and Melbourne on 26 October 2014

Word has leaked that United Airlines will soon announce new six-times-weekly non-stop service between Los Angeles and Melbourne to begin on October 26, 2014. The flight will be operated by the new Boeing 787-9 aircraft, be staffed by legacy Continental crews, and will mean the end of United's tag flights between Sydney and Melbourne.

United is the North American launch customer for the 787-9 and the aircraft will be configured with 252 seats: 48 in United BusinessFirst and ...

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