Mike behind the curtain

Surprise Surprise - Continental and United "Talking" again

The New York times is reporting that Continental Airlines is reopening merger talks with United. As we know, United has also allegedly been speaking with US Airways. But as we have all commented on our podcast, Continental has long been the favored partner.

Continental Airlines has reopened merger talks with the UAL Corporation, the parent company of United Airlines, people ...

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Long Awaited Improvement to Admirals Club Finally Here - Wasabi Peas!

Life is like a box of chocolates...or is it "Life is like a plastic cup of snack mix". We all know how pathetic the food offerings in the Admirals Club are and even the pay-for choices are meager at best. While other airline clubs continue to add amenities including free alcohol and decent snacks, the Admirals Club remains stagnant.

Well not anymore! 

As I walked up to the one-twisted-arm-bandit (as I like to call it), I was in for a big surprise. Wasabi Peas! When did they slip these little gems in there? I didn't receive an AAirmail about them, nor remember any tweets from @AdmiralsClub. When did you first find them? Did I miss them the last time? Write in below...


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New American Airlines Feature - Unrequested Flight Change Only $49

I had missed a call from American Airlines this morning.  As I was driving later today my mind started to wander as I thought of the possibilities. Perhaps my SFO-LAX-JFK flight next week is already canceled and I could sweet talk them into routing me through SEA and MIA for the most miles. I almost ran a red light as my mind was in "upgrade heaven" counting the additional ...

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My Pics of two "Amazing Race" teams at LAX

Warning: Possible spoilers! (???)

This Sunday CBS is airing the 16th edition of The Amazing Race. As you may know contestants race around the world performing tasks and trying to reach the finish line, in each stage, before everyone else. The last team at each stop is eliminated until only one team remains.

Back in November there were several film crews and some ...

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Oneworld lives! JAL to stay with American

I can't keep up - but as of right now rueters is reporting that JAL is sticking with OneWorld and not joining Delta in Skyteam.

JAL's new chief executive officer, Kazuo Inamori, and officials of the ETIC have decided that switching alliances is too risky and could hinder their ability to turn around the airline quickly, the Asahi said on its website.

As expected there are too many hurdles for cash strapped JAL to overcome including anti trust challenges that were sure to arise. Long term I think this makes the most sense for JAL's growth as they have much bigger issues to deal with immediately. Obviously this is good news for OneWorld and American.

The only downside is what to do with the JAL content from this week's podcast that will go up later today? It seems outdated already ;)


What is your first class hot towelette strategy?

Are you a bather or a wiper? Individual fingers or the whole hand at once? Steaming hot or wait till it cools?

On many airlines hot towelettes are provided for passengers in premium cabins, presumably to act as a way to wash your hands before eating. However, many airlines provide the towelettes after the highly acclaimed hot-nut service, thereby missing the obvious opportunity to clean ...

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United Airlines CEO: More mergers on the way - clever analysts agree

The Chicago Tribune reports that United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton predicted that there will be more airline mergers in the next two years. Shocking I know. Even more shocking is this statement from the article:

Analysts think that is likely.

Those crazy analysts. This must be why they get the big bucks. If there has ever been a merger in the making, unlike US Airways bizarre ...

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Amtrak is finally adding wifi

It's hard to believe that so many of us blog from 34,000 feet in the air, but have to rely on PDAs and cell phones for internet access at zero feet on Amtrak.  That looks to be changing as a recent Wired magazine article states that wifi will be starting soon.

During the recent Amtrak financial conference call with Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman the new changes include:

  • wifi on the Acela high speed trains in March
  • Possible rolling stock upgrades and new equipment when the money is available. Whenever that is.

With the stiff competition from bargain bus services including Bolt, MegaBus, Fung Wah, Lucky Star and the airlines - Amtrak will have to make improvements to continue charging their current premium fares.

Happy Christmas from all of us at Upgrd!

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the airport
Not a flyer was stirring, not even a rat around D36.
The airplanes were parked by the jetbridge with care,
In hopes that the economy rebound would soon be there.

The Captain and FO were nestled in the cockpit,
While visions of pay cuts and long hours gave them a fit.
And the Gate Lice ...

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"Up In The Air" review from up in the air

As I am flying to DFW I've got a few minutes to write a review of "Up In The Air" the recent Jason Reitman and George Clooney movie about a very frequent traveler.

Ummmm, what can I say? The movie was so hyped in upgrd-land that I had exceptionally high hopes for ... well I don't know what for. Technically there was lots of flying geekiness that fit the bill: Concierge Key, ...

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I've heard of airline bumps, but this is ridiculous

Jason Reitman, director of the "Up In The Air" movie, got bumped back to coach by some turkey. Errr...I mean...by a turkey.

Today, on "Turkey 1" a United Airlines flight from IAD to LAX, first class was occupied by the National Thanksgiving Turkey and his alternate who had just received a presidential pardon. And, I am assuming, their entourage.

I hear that the inflight meal consisted of turkey meatloaf with a side of seat 2D. See them in this quick video: http://qik.com/video/3687471

Thanks to Joe for mentioning this in the comments on Ben's blog.

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"Up In The Air" Movie Screening Next Week

It's no secret that every frequent flyer now thinks they are George Clooney due to the impending release of "Up In The Air" this Christmas. This movie chronicles the fictitious Ryan Bingham (Clooney) as he chases millions of frequent flyer miles - a theme that pulls all our upgrd heart strings. In conjunction with Entertainment magazine there is a pre-screening next Wednesday in certain major markets. Look for my review on Thursday.

Also, there is a new Up In The Air website which seems like a big miss to me. The previous site simply had links to the great trailers. The new site takes a long time to load, loops the theme music, and provides little more than...links to the trailers. Note to Jason Reitman - next time save the bucks on the flash website and just stick to something simple.

Looking forward to seeing it! Anyone else attending next week?

Transit the TSA security line like an expert

Ah...the joys of traveling. Traffic, check in agents making up their own rules, and our tax dollars hard at work at the TSA security check point. I am not sure what is more frustrating, the incompetent TSA staff standing around talking while passengers are waiting or the infrequent traveler that takes the last six...yes that's right six plastic bins for use on the conveyor belt.

First, ...

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Airline Club Membership Survey Results

After sending a distressed tweet on Twitter that I thought the Admirals Club was crazy for only serving cookies until 3pm on Sundays, I exchanged a few messages with @AdmiralsClub about the club offerings.  I replied something to the effect that the recent improvements in inflight service were not reflected in the Admirals Club product and only heavily discounting membership (by giving $70 ...

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Google offering free wifi at select airports starting today

Google, in partnership with Boingo Wireless, Advanced Wireless Group and others is providing free internet access at 47 airports now through January 15, 2010.  This is in addition to the free wifi that Google is offering on Virgin America flights.

From their FAQ:

Q. How do I sign up for complimentary WiFi?

No login or email is required, simply select the option for the complimentary WiFi and accept the terms of service.

Find out more, including which airports this service is available from at: http://www.freeholidaywifi.com/


Connecting to the JFK Airtrain from Manhattan

If you are looking for a simple cost effective way to get from Manhattan to JFK airport, I'd suggest taking the subway or Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to the JFK Airtrain. Since a taxi will generally cost you $55 ($45 fare, $5 tolls, $5 tip) and a variable amount of time, depending upon traffic, the train or subway can be much cheaper and get you there in almost the same time.

LIRR and JFK ...
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