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January 30, 2009

Continental to Star Alliance; Fewer Hotel Fees; Mexico Bargains,

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 12:18 am

Continental To Join Star Alliance In October
Continental Airlines plans to officially exit the SkyTeam airline alliance on Oct. 24, after which is will transition to the Star Alliance. This is great news for United Mileage Plus members who will be able to redeem their miles for travel to Continental destinations (click for route map) in Central and South America and several other international destinations where United does not fly. United fliers who will likely be flying Continental more often as a result will find a much better run airline with newer, cleaner planes and a very nice new international hub at Houston Intercontinental Airport…but not so much its scary Newark hub, which is plagued with delays, bad weather and bad attitudes. (Continental had been a partner in the SkyTeam alliance, but decided to break up when Delta merged with Northwest Airlines.)

Bright Side to the Downturn: Fewer Obnoxious Hotel Fees.
A recent article in Hotels Magazine predicts that as a result of decreasing demand, those irritating extra fees hotels charge will decrease this year for the first time since 2001. (Last year, the hotel industry slapped on the extra fees to the tune of about $1.75 billion; this year, the take will decline to $1.65 billion.) You know the fees I’m talking about here…resort fees, early departure fees, internet fees, telephone call surcharges and fees, fax receiving fees, room service delivery fees, fees for in-room safes, automatic gratuities for staff, even mini-bar restocking fees and fee for bellhops to hold bags after check out. Did I miss any?mexicofan1

Another Bright Spot: Mexico Gets Even Cheaper for U.S. Visitors
You’ve read the previous posts about the plunge in airfares and hotel rates to Hawaii. Well, the same thing is happening to trips to Mexico. Unusual currency fluctuations of late have strengthened the US dollar significantly against the peso. For years, the “going rate” between the two currencies was 10 pesos per dollar. In recent weeks, that’s changed to 14-15 pesos to the dollar— so everything is an additional 30% off. (Airfares are low, too. We checked mid-February roundtrip fares from the Bay to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo and one-stop flights to all three were in the $250 to $300 range. You’ll pay significantly more for non-stops.)

$5000 for Lost Bags? Sweet Deal
The AP is reporting that US Airways has sent $5000 checks to each of the 150 passengers on flight 1549 (the one that landed in the Hudson River) to compensate them for lost luggage and other personal belongings. (Interesting, considering that the government recently upped the airlines’ maximum liability for lost or damaged bags to just $3300.) US Airways is also reimbursing passengers for the cost of their tickets. I’m sure they are doing this as a first line of defense against the ambulance chasers that will inevitably try to sue the airline….


1 Comment »

  1. So now it looks like US Airways is giving crash survivors super-duper platinum status in its frequent flyer program. The WSJ has an interesting blog entry about this:

    Comment by Chris — January 30, 2009 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

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