Mikeonbehind the curtain

Amtrak Coast Starlight: Booking My Ticket

amtrak-engine-186

Last year I had to travel from the bay area to Los Angeles. Although my airfare from SFO-LAX was relatively cheap ($85 one way) the return airfare options were a little high ($200 plus). I kept waiting in the hopes of a VX last minute discounted price.

I also checked out Amtrak's prices on the Coast Starlight (train 14) which travels from Los Angeles to San Jose (then continues all the way to Seattle). The fare was $103 for a coach seat and there was a $131 upcharge to a private ...

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Ever had the wrong day?

airline-checkin

Last Friday, I arrived at the airport dragging my suitcase, golf clubs, and backpack for a two week trip to see family and clients on the other coast. I tried to use the United Airlines checkin kiosk but it simply stated 'See Agent'. After handing my ID to the checkin agent, she tapped on the computer, looked up at me, and said "I don't see your reservation" smiling broadly. Due to her grin, I think she's joking, I smiled back.

We both continued to smile at each other.
...

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Welcome to our new bloggers and a big thank you for your feedback

In the past two months we've expanded our team of bloggers and I am very excited to introduce:

Gabrielle - whom many of you know from the Hangar Flying podcast here on upgrd.com. As a private pilot and flight attendant Gabrielle has lots of stories from both sides of the cockpit door. Her first post A Day in the Life of a Flight Attendant is a great start for anyone wondering about the "glamour" of the job. Saul, from the Hangar Flying Podcast Flying in the ...

Northwest Orient Trip Report JFK, NRT, KUL (1986)

I spent the weekend digging through old photos and found some from a trip to Kuala Lumpur in 1986. The routing was SYR-JFK (on Piedmont shortly after their acquisition of Empire Airlines) then JFK-NRT-KUL on Northwest Orient. That's right. Orient. Seeing as this trip was 25 years ago - I don't remember much. We flew in coach on the way over, but paid for an upgrade on the way back. Here are some (low quality) photos from different parts of the trip:

The gate area ...

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Photos from the 2011 Frequent Traveler Awards

Robert Wuhl Hosting the Frequent Traveler Awards

On Thursday night, the Frequent Traveler Education Foundation awarded the best hotel and airline loyalty programs for their 2010 promotions. In attendance were a number of airline, hotel and other travel industry employees. The event was held at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. Below are some photos of the event:

The event was MC'd by Robert Wuhl

Fozz delivering an award

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Get your Corporate Speak on: Travel Executive Summit

At the Travel Executive Summit luncheon during the Frequent Traveler Education Foundation series, a number of loyalty program managers spoke including:

Maya Leibman, President of AAdvantage Program, at American Airlines Jeff Foland, President of United Mileage Plus Jeff Zidell, Vice President of Hyatt Gold Passport Jeff Robertson, Vice President of Loyalty Programs, Delta Air Lines Joshua Berwitz, Vice President Membership Rewards, American Express

Randy ...

Reader and Listener Survey - We need your input!

We can use your help. As we continue to grow upgrd.com we need to learn more about you - our readers and listeners - so that we can offer promotions and events with sponsors that match your travel habits. To get started, we want to know a little bit about you including your reading and listening habits. Please take a few minutes to complete the anonymous survey. And, as always, feel free to write me directly with any suggestions or comments at [email protected]

2011 Survey 

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Looking for a job? Apply now to be an Pilot-Astronaut at Virgin Galactic

Attention all pilots and Star Trek aficionados. Today is your big day to reach for the stars and apply at Virgin Galactic to test and develop the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo spaceflight system then move onto regular spaceline operations.

Virgin Galactic is only looking for team players. And there are some other job requirements, most of which I forget now, but I can't imagine it matters much as long as you are a team player. The requirements and more details on the position can be found here.

SFO T2 Grand Opening Photos

The grand opening of SFO T2 today gave the public a chance to see the new terminal. The first flights from this terminal are not schedule for another week.

Since this is a renovation - and not a new terminal - the reveal today was a little underwhelming. The ceilings are low due to the old design and like most of SFO is jam packed with overpriced eateries and retail stores. Thankfully the seating is upgraded and power plugs are easier to find.

The checkin ...

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Rumor: US Airways to Split

US Airways and America West merged in late 2005. It was just on the heels of America West coming out of a four year bankruptcy and US Airways, at the time, was in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings. It sounded like a match made in heaven – two bankrupt airlines merging to make one big bankrupt airline.

All joking aside, it's been over five years now and the flight attendants from the two pre-merger airlines still work under separate contracts. In fact, the National Mediation ...

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"Nobody wants us to die because everybody makes money off of us."

In remarks last Friday at the CERA Conference on energy, United CEO Jeff Smisek reiterated the high costs of fuel and government mandated taxes and fees that are a burden on the airline industry. Although the airlines have lost money for several years, which means their corporate tax obligations are negligible, the amount of government fees, taxes and surcharges on airline tickets can average 20% per ticket. Which brought Smisek to speak the title of this ...

SFO T2 Grand Opening - Open to the Public

You can now RSVP for the upcoming grand opening of the new Terminal 2 (T2) at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on April 9th, 2011. A $383 million dollar renovation that will be the new home for American Airlines and Virgin America.

The new sustainable facility boasts cleaner air, better seating, water bottle filling stations, and a unique "recomposure" area right after you pass through the TSA.

American Airlines flyers will finally get a new lounge instead of the dark micro lounge that currently occupies  T3. The open house is open to the public but does require registration, so follow the link above and reserve your tickets today.

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Unofficial Guide to San Jose Airport (SJC) Long Term Parking

Although I had plenty of time to catch my flight, there is something about making "good time" getting to the airport. As I pulled into the San Jose Airport (SJC) long term parking lot, I spied the shuttle bus making its way into the lot. I had to act fast - get to a stop in front of the bus, park, grab my bags and go.

I rapidly scanned the unfamiliar surroundings - the lot expanded far to the left and right. I quickly turned right and parked in the ...

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Are you a frequent flyer on short-haul flights?

Marketplace from American Public Media are looking for sources for possible upcoming news stories on the decline of short haul flying. I know a lot of you still make your status through elite qualifying segments, so perhaps you want to add your voice to their story.

Through American Public Media, you may have opportunities to inform reporting for Marketplace, Marketplace Money, Being, American RadioWorks, and other news outlets. To be considered head over to their source information form here.

New Blogger, New Webisodes

I'd like to welcome Elyse Pasquale to upgrd.com where she will be tackling the world of airline meals in her Inflight Dish column. Elyse is a frequent flyer who seeks out great local meals across the globe, writing about the experience at Foodie International.com She will be posting here to highlight some of the best (and worst!) airline meals along the way.

An introduction in her own words:

Flying more than 100,000 miles a year for delicious meals around the world ...

Major Airline Websites Unavailable - Denial of Service Attack?

Right now - aa.com, united.com, delta.com and other travel sites are unavailable for many and slow for others.  This week has been difficult for many online properties with the denial of service attacks on Visa and Mastercard and the Gawker password compromise that Mark mentioned. When the sites do come back up, please follow Mark's advice and monitor your account balances and make sure you have strong passwords on all your accounts.

Update 1: United is always on top of things: "We are investigating reports of united.com issues" I guess it's better than American and others that have said nothing yet.

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New Design - New Announcements

It's been a busy few months at upgrd.com HQ. Gabrielle and Steve have joined the podcast network with their new pilot podcast Hangar Flying. Bobby and Sara have extended their reach to the big little screen with the Tips From Above webisodes. 

In the mean time, thanks to the outstanding design ability of Davina, we have a fancy new look to the site. (If anything is broken - that is my fault not hers!) In addition the penis logo has now departed and we now have a logo that ...

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New Flight Attendant Bikini Calendar Now Available

Without Hunter around here anymore I guess it's up to me to bring the hard hitting stories to upgrd.com. Ryan Air has once again released a flight attendant calendar in time for the new year. The proceeds from the bikini calendar will be donated to charity.

Ryanair’s people chose to donate all the 2010 proceeds to the UK based “KIDS” charity, which provides support to disabled children and their families throughout the UK.

You can order your calendar by visiting http://www.ryanaircalendar.com/ - now to see about getting "The Crew Lounge" calendar going...

Thanks to Robert for sending this one in.

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United Airlines 747 Escape Slide Deployment Video

During the United Airline's Open House and Family Day the airline demonstrated an emergency escape slide deployment. For those of you who missed it, here is a very short video showing the 747 door opening and slide inflation. It all happens pretty quickly - too bad they wouldn't let us go for a slide.

 

 

 

Air Berlin: new codeshares with American Airlines and new New York to Berlin route

At a joint event with American Airlines on Tuesday, Air Berlin announced a new nonstop flight from New York to Berlin starting next year, and further clarified their plans with American and OneWorld.

Codeshares with American Airlines are planned as early as November 2010 after regulatory approval. With entry into OneWorld planned for mid 2011, this brings a nice option for American Airlines flyers to get to European destinations without a dreaded transit at Heathrow.

New and existing routes - increasing frequencies to Germany

 

The announcement by Airberlin's CEO Joachim Hunold

 

And finally, some Italian's singing the Airberlin theme song.

Yes, Italian singers flown into Manhattan to sing a theme song for a German airline.

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