Mikeonbehind the curtain

Take AAdvantage of AA's 24-Hour Fare Hold or Fares will take AAdvantage of You!


I almost learned an expensive lesson this week. I was trying to take advantage of the inexpensive New York to Honolulu fares currently available, coupled with double elite qualifying miles to reach Executive Platinum Status, on American Airlines. While searching for airfares, I checked expertflyer for EVIP upgrade space (A inventory on two class planes and C class on three cabin aircraft). Although I found one set of flights for $570 to Maui that had confirmable upgrade space, I waited ...

UPGRD.com server status 31 October 2012

Firstly let me apologize for UPGRD.com being offline for so long. The site is hosted in a data center in lower Manhattan. During Hurricane Sandy, storm surges caused much of the power grid in lower Manhattan to shut down - in part due to a transformer explosion nearby on 14th Street. ConEd, the utility company, then shut down power to most of the lower half of Manhattan affecting over 250,000 businesses and homes. It will likely be two to three more days before power is fully ...

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Using Google Flights to Search for Airfares FAST!


Google's Flights search has generally been panned by the frequent flyer community for being too focused on commodity flights where price and shortest duration trump all else. However, it's blazing fast speed makes it a great tool to start your mileage run planning.

There are some some good tools hidden behind the seemingly featureless interface. First is the stock standard searching. Start by specifying your departure and destination. Immediately (and I mean immediately!) ...

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American Airlines New Aircraft Cabin Tour Video


American Airlines released photos and a promotional video of their new A321's (due in 2013) and 777-300 ER aircraft due in service later this year. The photos and videos highlight a long overdue upgrade to the hard product in all three cabins. The A321's promise three class service on all transcontinental flights including entertainment at every seat, wifi, and relatively large first and business class cabins for a single aisle aircraft.  Watch the video below for more details on both ...

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As American's CEO, with which airline would you merge?


 It's being reported that American Airlines is now evaluating potential mergers with US Airways Group Inc., JetBlue Airways Corp, Alaska Air Group, Republic Airways' Frontier Airlines, and Virgin America. If you were CEO of American which merger would you proceed with? Or not merge at all?

  US Airways

US Airways, if you read the press, is the most talked about option. After reaching a deal with three of American's big unions (Allied Pilots Association, the ...

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Intrepid Museum Concorde Tour


If you're visiting New York City, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a great stop for any aviation enthusiast. After an extensive renovation from 2006 to 2008 the museum has always had a wide assortment of aircraft for viewing including:

F-16 Falcon Lockheed A-12 the predecessor to the SR-71 A-4 Skyhawk A-6 Intruder and more

One of the more recent additions is the former British Airways Concorde (G-BOAD) affectionately referred to as "Alpha Delta". This aircraft ...

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Business Class Airline Amenity Kit Showdown


On my last frequent flyer award trip I flew Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines and Continental (now United Airlines) in business class. On each long haul flight I received an amenity kit which was given to all business class passengers. Most flights were two cabin flights: BusinessFirst on Continental, Business Class on the new A330 on Egypt Air and Business on Turkish Airlines 777 (trip report coming soon).  Turkish Airlines' 777 was configured for three classes, but it was Business, Comfort ...

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Turkish Airlines Free Tour of Istanbul


Turkish Airlines offers a free tour of Istanbul to business class passengers laying over for more than seven hours and for economy class passengers with at least a nine hour layover. I had spent an hour in the Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge at Istanbul Airport and had to make my way back out to passport control and to the tour desk. 

I'm not sure if there was a quicker exit (please comment below if so) but I walked back through the entire terminal to the food court where ...

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American Airlines CEO updates employees about US Airways

Six months ago, in the Q3 earnings call for American Airlines, CEO Tom Horton responded to a question by TheStreet.com's Tom Reed about the possibility of "further consolidation" in the industry:

"Does that include you?" asked Reed.

"Yeah, it could," Horton replied.

Horton has more recently also said "For years I've said that I think consolidation has been — can be healthy and constructive for the U.S. airline industry." Yet he couched this comment within ...

Ask UPGRD: Chase Credit Card Offer Changing?

Update: April 3rd: This offer is actually now retired. 

The flying blogosphere seems abuzz with "sky is falling" posts about the current Chase Sapphire Credit card promotion. I received an email asking if the 50,000 mile promotion is still current due to these other posts.

The promotion currently hasn't changed [edit April 3: it's ended until the new offer is announced], the Chase Sapphire Preferred card still provides 50,000 bonus points after just $3,000 in spend ...

American Airlines Extends Targeted Double Elite Qualifying DEQ11 Promo

The American Airlines Double Elite Qualifying Miles promotion between Los Angeles or San Francisco and Chicago O'Hare or Dallas/Fort Worth (for residents of California, Illinois or Texas) has been extended through June 30, 2012. If you registered for DEQ11 you should be registered already.

In addition, flights booked and flown between Chicago and Orange Country starting March 9, 2012 through June 30, 2012 will be eligible for this promotion. If you haven't registered simply visit the DEQ11 promotion page at aa.com to register.

IATA suspends Kingfisher sales


IATA, which administers the sales and reporting of travel agents, today suspended sales of tickets on Kingfisher airlines. This saga began when the local Tax Department seized several Kingfisher accounts due to non payment, tying up cash and preventing regular payments to workers and creditors. Kingfisher has repeatedly denied allegations that it would shut down operations due to a potential pilot strike for delaying salaries. 

Since India doesn't have a US style bankruptcy ...

Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge in Istanbul


I finally had my chance to experience the business class lounge in Istanbul operated by Turkish Airlines. You can access the Istanbul lounge as a Star Gold which makes connecting very comfortable. And I know we've had several posts on this subject, but the lounge is so nice it deserves one more.

After arriving on Turkish Airlines from Cairo I made my way towards the signs for connecting flights, but I was turned back to the security station for all flights to the USA. The security ...

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Turkish Airlines Short Haul Business Class on the A320


After my week in Cairo I took advantage of the free Istanbul tour from Turkish Airlines by laying over for more than 7 hours. Unfortunately that meant my flight left Cairo at 3:30am. After being dropped off at the airport at midnight, I made my way to one of the four small EgyptAir lounges. 

EgyptAir Lounge at Cairo

While the lounge itself is new and nicely appointed, they are small, and the food is awful. Well at least at 1 in the morning it was. Dry sandwiches and a pasta ...

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Giza Pyramids, Cairo Museum and Views Along the Nile


While visiting friends in Cairo a few weeks ago we took a "relatively" short drive, depending on the often horrible traffic, through Cairo to the Giza Pyramids. As soon as we arrived and parked on the street outside we were met by the first of many sellers of tours, horse and camel rides.

Entry for non-Egyptians was 60 Egyptian Pounds, about 10 U.S. Dollars at the current exchange rate. After passing through a metal detector we started the walk up the hill to the pyramids. Along the ...

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Paris Catacombs Museum Tour


During my short trip to Paris I had one day by myself. Having already seen the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum in past trips I asked around for another suggested destination. Brian suggested the Catacombs of Paris Museum. The Museum is open 10am to 5pm every day except Monday with the last entry at 4pm as it takes at least 40 minutes to walk the entire museum.

From their website the description of the Catacombs reads:

The Catacombs gather the remainders of approximately six ...

Business Class on EgyptAir's new A330-300 from Paris to Cairo


After flying to Paris in Continental's BusinessFirst I spent a few days with friends and visited the Catacombs. The next leg of my Aeroplan award was one segment on EgyptAir (MS) in business class from Paris (CDG) to Cairo. Many of my friends that lived in Europe and Cairo shook their head saying I would not like the flight and thought I should have booked another carrier, but I was pleasantly surprised.

EgyptAir A330-300 Business Class

As with checkin, boarding was delayed and ...

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Star Alliance Lounge in Paris CDG Terminal 1


After flying to Paris in Continental's BusinessFirst I spent a few days in Paris with friends and visited the Catacombs.  The next leg of my Aeroplan award was an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo. After arriving at CDG I walked through Terminal 1 past the checkin for Swiss, Lufthansa and other airlines. Each checkin desk was relatively calm as most of their flights had departed in the morning. As I rounded the bend to checkin area 1 for EgyptAir I was met with a mass of people queued ...

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Continental BusinessFirst from Newark to Paris


Since Aeroplan had their recent unannounced "award sale" I transferred some American Express miles to book an Aeroplan award to visit friends in Paris and Cairo. For the first leg I booked a BusinessFirst seat on Continental's United's 757-200 service from Newark (EWR) to Paris (CDG). After visiting the poorly appointed and spartan United Club near gate C71, I boarded my flight and settled into my seat. The flight was lightly loaded, surprisingly not a nonrev in sight, so I had the seat next ...

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United Airlines Strike of Christmas Past (1975)

Happy Holidays to all, for a little fun and a little history I thought I'd look into the archives for some aviation history from past Christmas travel.

In 1975 a strike by United Airlines, the then largest U.S. carrier, and National Airlines left thousands stranded for the holidays. This pre-deregulation strike meant many were unable to travel as there were few other options. However the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) approved international-only Pan Am to fly some domestic ...

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