Matthewonlive and let's fly

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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Breaking: Hijacking on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702


No media has picked up this story yet, but after a failed hijack attempt earlier today, it appears Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 from Addis Ababa to Rome was successfully hijacked and after circling Geneva for two hours, has landed. Geneva airspace is now closed with incoming flights diverted to nearby airports.

Listen to Geneva ATC here.

Upon landing in Geneva, the Ethiopian pilots were heard on radio stating they will be exiting via ...

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Brussels Airlines Award Space Returns to


Shielded from the user-friendly, Brussels Airlines has been one of the hidden secrets of my award booking business for several months. Award space is generous in both economy and business class and Brussels Airlines serves both Washington Dulles and New York Kennedy from its BRU hub. With a sleek lie-flat seat and a relatively easy connection experience in Brussels, I have booked many on Brussels Airlines over the last year. Now, United Airlines has restored the ability to book ...

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Plenty of Award Space at Park Hyatt Paris - Vendôme for Summer 2014


The deadline to make changes to your existing Hyatt Gold Passport reservations and still pay the old rate is this Saturday, February 15th. I booked a couple nights at the Park Hyatt Paris - Vendôme for this summer under the old rate of 22,000 points per night, but did not get the dates I wanted--everything was sold out and very few days offered Gold Passport redemption space. Since then, I have closely monitored for changes to award space, hoping that additional space ...

United's Team USA Olympic Videos

U.S. companies are never hesitant to remind us of their support for Team USA in the biennial winter and summer Olympic games. Olympic logos tend to appear near the corporate logo and special ads are taken out as the games draw close. Airlines are in a unique position because they transport athletes and also have the ability to remind captive audiences locked inside a metal canister of this fact. To that end, United Airlines has produced three new promotional videos highlighting its role in ...

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United Airlines Ditches Styrofoam Cups


Styrofoam is so 20th Century. United finally got the memo and today has introduced new "eco-friendly" coffee cups that will soon be appearing onboard your next United flight and in United Clubs worldwide.

A token move, but still laudable that United is trying to be a better steward of the environment.

I hate the feel of styrofoam on my lips, but I am not sure that plastic will be much better--far better to use the real coffee mugs available in most United Clubs and to fly in ...

Customer Friendly? United Softens Blow of New Award Chart

United Airlines left a substantial question unanswered before its award chart devaluation yesterday--what changes to awards booked under the old chart will be permitted without having to pay additional miles? Today, it answered the question and also lessened the harshness of the new award chart by relaxing a convoluted rule that would have forced regional partner flights into a lower class of service.

Here's the official word-- 

The updated Saver and Standard Award ...

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Old United MileagePlus Award Chart Extended Through 02 February 2014!

Just got off the phone with United, where an agent read a memo stating that to "ensure a seamless customer experience" the old award chart will remain in effect through 02 February 2014. All travel booked on or after 03 February will incur the new massively devalued rates. 

My guess is that UA's crack IT team could not complete the transition in time. I do not underestimate the difficulty of this re-code and I still have trouble envisioning how the award pricing will be displayed ...

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