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May 6, 2009

OAK GETS NEW NONSTOP FLIGHTS TO HAWAII

Filed under: OAK — Chris @ 5:22 pm

Aloha! Alaska Airlines says it will launch trans-Pacific flights between Oakland International Airport (OAK) and both Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii, beginning Nov. 9, 2009 using a two-class Boeing 737. Alaska will operate four weekly flights between OAK and Kahului Airport (OGG) on the island of Maui on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Three weekly flights between OAK and Kona International Airport (KOA), on the west side of Hawaii’s Big Island, will operate on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. We found fares as low as $359 (all in) during December. www.alaskaair.com

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April 15, 2009

BELEAGUERED OAK GETS MORE LOW FARE FLIGHTS.

Filed under: OAK — Chris @ 11:32 pm

Over the last year, Oakland has remained near the top of the list of airports losing flights as airlines cut capacity. However, Allegiant Air, which specializes in serving small cities without nonstop flights to major tourist destinations is stepping in. Starting June 8, it will offer twice weekly nonstop flights (using MD-80’s) between OAK and Eugene, OR. The carrier also offers three weekly flights between OAK and Bellingham, Washington, located between Seattle and Vancouver. http://www.allegiantair.com

February 25, 2009

Southwest Charms Me

Filed under: OAK,SFO,Southwest,United Airlines,Virgin America — Chris @ 8:10 pm

southwest_airlines_logoYour BAT editor flew Southwest for the first time in a L-O-O-O-N-G time last week (SFO-PHX-SFO). Having fallen for the sexy charms of Virgin America and swayed by the miles and upgrades from United in recent years, I’d neglected good ole Southwest. I won’t from now on. Overall the experience was simple, hassle-free, a great value, and generally exceeded my expectations. I’ll be back for more. Some of the changes I noticed:

  • >Easier boarding. The new boarding process works like a charm. Here’s how: you check in and queue up online for your flight exactly 24 hours prior to departure time. My first flight departed at 8:20 a.m. and I was on southwest.com at 8:21 a.m. the day before. I ended up 31st in line and had no problem scoring an exit row window seat. (I was 59th on the way back and got a window on row 10 with an empty seat next to me.) Legroom was fine…probably 32 or 33 inches, which is just above industry average.
  • >Business Travelers. At boarding, I did notice that agents now allow Business Select ticket holders (higher fare class) and A-List (elite members of its Rapid Rewards program who fly at least 16 round trips per year) to board first, a signal to me that Southwest is definitely out to snare more business travelers who have steered clear due to the old boarding process.
  • >Modified Cattle Call. Southwest seems to have done away with the most distasteful and uncivil part of its boarding process that’s often derided as a “cattle call.” It’s not assigned seating, but it’s not so bad. (However, I’d be more frustrated with it if I were in a meeting or elsewhere at the 24-hour mark and missed my chance to get to the head of the line…and ended up with a middle seat on a full flight.)
  • >Planes in both directions were about 80% full, clean, new and serviced by friendly and efficient flight crews. (Can’t wait to try its onboard Wi-Fi, which is currently in beta.)
  • >Pay on board. I liked paying for a cocktail on the return flight with my credit card, which was swiped through one of those handheld wireless doo-dads. Easy.
  • >Southwest.com. I’m still not in love with booking flights on southwest.com. It’s a more unwieldy experience than the other airline or booking sites we all use frequently. I’ve heard the site is getting an overhaul soon. So we’ll see about that.
  • >Terminal 1. Southwest operates out of SFO’s terminal 1, which is sorta drab compared to the bright and modern international terminal where I catch Virgin America flights. However, Virgin doesn’t flight to Phoenix.  Security lines at 7:30 a.m. where manageable, but I breezed right through using my Clear Card.
  • I fly SW out of Oakland in a coupla weeks and will report back on my experience here in THE BAT!

What do YOU think about Southwest? Have you flown them recently? How was your experience? PLEASE leave your comments below!

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January 14, 2009

BART to the Airport? Be Wary of Possible Changes

Filed under: BART,OAK,SFO — Chris @ 7:49 pm

With a $92 million deficit, BART is starting to look at service cuts to save money—many of which could affect frequent travelers who use BART to get to/from SFO or OAK. Today’s SF Chronicle reports that the agency could quickly move forward with plans to reduce service at many stations on nights and weekends, running trains every 20 minutes instead of every 15 minutes.  Also on the table: charging to park at stations on weekends (now free) as well as a $1 increase to existing parking rates. BART is also talking about starting service an hour later in the morning and ending it an hour earlier at nightnot good for BAT readers taking early morning flights back east, or arriving back late at night. Stay tuned.

Fly Nonstop from SFO/OAK/SJC to NYC-LaGuardia or DC-National?

Filed under: airports,OAK,SFO,SJC — Chris @ 12:38 am
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Maybe so! Our buddies over at the Cranky Flier tipped us off to this interesting tidbit:  Apparently Sen. John McCain is busy in Washington trying to abolish the silly, outdated “perimeter rules” that forbid airlines from offering non-stop flights to the more convenient New York-LaGuardia or Washington-National from most cities west of the Mississippi. (A few exceptions have slipped through the cracks, such as flights from Denver, Phoenix and Vegas and a handful of Alaska Air flights from LA and Seattle.) The rules were instituted back in the 60’s when the government wanted to promote the use of JFK and Dulles airports. Stay tuned for more on this one. I for one will not miss that LONG ride into DC from Dulles or the traffic choked haul to Manhattan from JFK.

January 12, 2009

Oakland Takes Hit (But SFO is OKAY)

Filed under: OAK,SFO — Chris @ 5:13 pm

A study by USA Today of currently available airline schedules for March 2009 shows that not all cities are being affected equally by the industry’s ongoing reduction in capacity. The newspaper found that Oakland apparently is taking the biggest hit in reduced airline seat capacity, an overall drop of 28.5 percent for March 2009 compared with March 2008. In San Jose it is down nearly 11%. At SFO, it is down just 2.7% (thanks to new flights from Virgin America and Southwest).

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