The B.A.T. (Bay Area Traveler) has moved! See www.travelskills.com

June 26, 2009

UNITED’S NEW B-757 INTERIORS

Filed under: Business Travel,United Airlines — Chris @ 12:36 am

Good News: United is busy updating some of its hardest working, most worn out looking planes: its 757s.  New seats are all leather and have power outlets. Bad News: It’s cramming in even more seats on an already cramped plane. (No fun sitting at the back of one of these tubes!)

The new all-leather Recaro seats that United is installing are thinner (front to back) which means the carrier can add an extra row of seats. Seat width is mostly unchanged.

We can’t confirm if Economy Plus seat pitch has been cut.

Check out a great blurb, photos and discussion of this on the Cranky Flier.

Have you been on a newly configured UAL 757? If so, please leave your comments here!

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UNITED DELAYS CO-PAY

Filed under: Mileage Plus,United Airlines — Chris @ 12:18 am

United’s decision to assess $100-$500 co-pays for upgrades using miles on low-fare tickets starting this month has stalled.

According to an update posted on the UAL site, awards with co-pay won’t go into effect until January 12, 2010.

Wondering just how much you’ll pay to upgrade? Here’s the new chart.

Note: This post supersedes a previous THE BAT post warning that the new rules would go into effect this month.

BRINGING YOUR MOD NEW IPHONE OVERSEAS THIS SUMMER?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 12:04 am

Then be prepared for surprises on your bill. Especially if you want to send your Eiffel Tower snaps to the folks back home. (When you are traveling overseas, AT&T charges 50 cents per text and $1.30 per photo.)

It’s best to use your PDA as a phone, and not a browser or email reader, according to a really helpful article in the NYT. Vague data roaming charges seem to be the culprit here.  Save your data heavy communicating for when you’ve got wi-fi access.

Here’s an excerpt: “AT&T and T-Mobile web sites state the cost to use data when roaming. But it’s priced in megabytes, a measurement that means nothing to most people. (Can you imagine if your wireless plan told you how many MB of data you could use, rather than how many minutes you had?) How much data you use to send a text or visit a Web site depends on whom you’re asking. T-Mobile’s site says that a text message uses about 3KB, and visiting a Web site will eat up between 250 to 500 KB a page, depending on how many images are on the site. AT&T’s site does not state an equivalency between Web-page access and the amount of data used, although a spokesman said that the company would add that information soon. According to AT&T, visiting a Web site could use 50 to 75 KB a page and checking three e-mail messages could eat up 60 KB.”

“AT&T offers monthly packages …starting at $25 for 20MB. That could be the amount of data you’d use to watch 10 video clips or visit 40 Web sites.”

June 22, 2009

A Third Checked Bag Costs $1150? You Betcha!

Filed under: united — Chris @ 6:43 pm

Check out Delta’s new fees for excess baggage and you’ll be shocked.

Let’s say your kid is flying off on Delta for a semester at a university in Europe. She’s got a lot of stuff that will only fit into three bags. That third bag weighs 52 lbs and is large.

You’ll pay:

$400 round trip for the third bag,

$300 round trip if the third bag is overweight,

$350 round trip if the third bag is oversized,

Plus $100 round trip for that second bag.

So that’s a total of $1150 in checked luggage fees—which is probably more than you’d pay for her airline ticket. LESSON: Learn to pack light, or ship excess bags ahead of time.

Other airline fees are similar…Delta is not alone here…For example, United says that it stands to make an extra $275 million for domestic baggage charges alone…that’s the $15/first bag, $25 second bag charge if paying ahead of time on the internet.  Now you’ll pay United $20 for the first and $30 for the second if you wait to pay at the airport. (Elite level and business/first class passengers are exempt.)

What do you think…are these charges fair?

June 8, 2009

GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS RE: UPGRADES ON UNITED

Filed under: International,Mileage Plus,united,United Airlines — Chris @ 5:08 pm

First the good news: Starting July 1, Mileage Plus members will be able to upgrade to using miles from ALL domestic and international coach fares, even the cheapity cheapest ones from which upgrades are currently forbidden.  (This sets UAL apart from other most other carriers, which currently disallow upgrades from the cheapest coach fares.)

Now the bad news: Starting July 1, you’ll have to make a “co-payment” of $50 to $500 for the honor of using your hard earned miles to upgrade off of those cheap fares.

Want to upgrade on that bargain coach fare from SFO to Honolulu? That’ll be 17,500 miles plus $250-$500 extra bucks. How about an upgrade from that awesome coach-class round trip deal you scored for your flight to Europe this summer? That will be 20,000 miles plus $250-$500. (Painful, but not a bad deal for business class to Europe.)

Generally, you’ll only pay with miles if you book the pricier Y, B, C or D class of ticket. All other classes of tickets will require the copay.

United details here:
http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6722,52895,00.html

June 6, 2009

Under the Golden Gate Bridge [VIDEO]

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 12:42 am
Tags: , ,

You may be used to departing SF by jet, but have you ever wondered what it’s like to cruise out under the Golden Gate Bridge on the deck of a giant cruise ship? THE BAT was there on May 8 on the Star Princess with the new FLIP camera and took this fantastic one minute video of the experience.  Enjoy!

June 3, 2009

Has the Economy Turned Around?

Filed under: Southwest,television segments — Chris @ 12:19 am

Southwest Airlines seems to think so. We really like this clever new, feel-good ad campaign. To us it’s clear that SWA is going after business travelers. Big time. Check the ad out (less than one minute) and let us know what you think! Is Southwest an airline you’d choose for business travel? Why or why not? Be sure and leave your comments below.

May 13, 2009

SUMMER TRAVEL SPIN

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 4:20 pm

I’ve been tracking travel trends since 1988. Every year at abstatisticsout this time, the news is flush with polls, prognostications and predictions for the upcoming summer travel season. So let’s examine this week’s AP-Gfk poll that produced the following gloomy headlines:  “Fewer Americans Vacationing This Summer,” and “Americans Scale Back Vacation Plans.”

Really? You know you can spin a poll number any way you’d like, so here’s another way of looking at the AP-Gfk Poll of 1000 U.S. adults taken April 16-20:

>Despite the gloom and doom, two-thirds of Americans HAVE NOT canceled at least one trip this year because of financial concerns.

>Given the state of the economy, a startling 42% of Americans plan to take a leisure trip this summer, down only seven points since 2005 (from 49%) when the economy was in significantly better shape.

>Two-thirds of those who make more than $100,000 per year will take a vacation this summer. Half of those earning $50,000 to $100,000 will do the same.

>The “staycation” is dead: The poll found that 80 percent of those planning a trip this summer WILL NOT stay closer to home this summer due to economic worries, while 77 percent plan to stay at a hotel and NOT in the guest room or on the sofa of friends and families.

(click here to read the alternate version/analysis of the AP-Gfk Poll numbers)

What do YOU think? How would YOU translate the poll number? How have your summer travel plans changed? Have they? Please leave your comments below! Or, shoot me an email: chris@travelskills.com

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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

April 30, 2009

VIDEO– The BAT Covers Virgin America Party at SFO

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 12:20 am

Hey Folks: THE BAT was invited to Virgin America’s inaugural party for its new Orange County-SFO flights today. (OC is the SF-based carrier’s ninth destination.) If you’ve ever wondered how Richard Branson likes to kick off new flights, take a look at this video and you’ll see free lunches, beautiful people, a groovy band, surfboards, organic cocktails— all at gate A-12 at SFO!

Key observation: In his speech, Branson refers to Virgin America as “them” and “they” (not “us” or “we”) which is smart considering the carrier’s thorny ownership issues.

This is our first foray into video reporting on THE BAT. We are just learning how to use our new FLIP camera and the new editing software on the new MAC. So please chime in with your thoughts and constructive criticism!

Here’s the link to the 3 minute video. Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq_DWGX87ik

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