spreadsheets and suitcases

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Bits & Pieces: new HI routes on United, Virgin America partnerships, Disney media

My posts have slowed down some- work has gotten much busier lately, and so my usual routine of getting started with the main text of a post while at the office, then adding the finishing touches/pictures at home for posting has been disrupted. Boo.  Still, as the days go by I add items to my Post List so as not to forget them when I do have the time.  Here’s what I added to my Clipboard of Fun over the past few weeks: Read the rest of this entry »

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Bits & Pieces: Laptop ban update, Alaska CC, Southwest to HI, Referral links

    • Here’s a long article from Bloomberg News about the possible laptop ban from Europe into US airports.  They….didn’t make a final decision, and are still fighting it out.  The prediction is that they will try to implement it, get a lot of ire over it, and  retract it.  Sounds good to me.

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Flights and Mice- Part 3

This is our last installment, where my sis boldly (ha!) details her adventures on the flight home from Honolulu.  My comments in RED.  I’ll be back soon with a regular post, lots of Disney news lately 🙂

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Flights and Mice- Part 1

Hello, there! Something exciting: my sister has graciously agreed to share the details of her experience traveling with my favorite niece.  It’ll be her report of the travel TO Hawaii, then I’ll interject an Aulani Report and some reviews of other local activities, and then it’ll end with her travel FROM Hawaii.  These are her words- any comments I add will be in RED.

and away we go

And away we go…

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Travel Guide Update: Hawaii Interisland Travel

As promised, I have updated the Interisland Travel Guide.  Much has stayed the same, which I verified manually.  I did make some small additions on new nonstop flights: Read the rest of this entry »

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Unaccompanied Minor Services- a comparison

Buckle up, everybody- your captain has turned on the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign.  This here is a crazy ride through the huge variety of services, policies, and practices of the rules for Unaccompanied Minors (UMs) on 6 US-based airlines.  Each airline name is a link directly to the Unaccompanied Minor policy of that airline- some pages were difficult to find navigating from the home page, so I figured I’d save you the work 🙂  Also, I would have torn my hair out trying to decipher what is recommended versus what is required for international travel, given that they all advise you to call in for that info AND it can vary per country, so I limited this chart to domestic travel policies, unless noted otherwise.  Some basics that apply to most major airlines: Read the rest of this entry »

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Bits & Pieces: Alaska/Virgin America surprise and Daily Getaways

  • Wow- in a surprise move, this week Alaska Air Group (which is the holding company for Alaska Airlines) announced that it was acquiring Virgin America, with the deal announced now, the purchase (hopefully) officially approved by Jan 2017, and the 2 airlines flying under a single operating certificate by 1st quarter 2018.  See the combined route map below.  Of course, there might be some consolidation to the map over time.  What does this mean for us in Hawaii?  On first glance- not much.  Adding Virgin America to Alaska’s route network doesn’t open up any new routes/cities to/from the islands directly.  But I do see some new connection cities, like Fort Lauderdale (where JetBlue announced directs flights to Quito from last year).  Here’s the full press release, and some handy FAQs.

Alaska Virgin America combined route

  • Virgin America currently has a referral bonus for joining their frequent flyer program, called Elevate.  If you are already a member and want to get some points for referring others, start at flightswithbennies.com.  Both the referrer and the referred get 500 points.  You can also leave your referral link in the comments for any reader to use.  I’m currently assuming that any Elevate points you currently have will be converted into Alaska Airlines miles by 2018, so it’s a good idea to stock up where you can.
  • Finally, the U.S. Travel Association is currently offering their yearly month of travel-related offers, called Daily Getaways.  I didn’t see anything that would work for me this year, but last year I was able to take good advantage of the $50 Alamo gift card for $25 offer that will be up for grabs soon- I wound up purchasing 3 certificates and paid very little for my rental from Pittsburgh to Newark.  I was intrigued by the Busch Gardens ticket offer, for a trip to Washington DC/colonial Williamsburg/Busch Gardens Williamsburg I hope to piece together for 2017.  $45 + tax per person.  Pretty good deal, considering rack rate prices are $77 + tax per adult, a bit less for kids.  But when reading the fine print, <dead horse> I learned that the tickets would expire before the projected date of our trip, so it was a no-go.  Also, the Busch Gardens site has various vacation packages available, which have nice value-added options like free parking or even free food.  So I’ll look into those once I can lock some more dates/details in place.
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Bits & Pieces: Virgin America, American Airlines, Fantasmic!

  • Virgin America announced daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL) beginning in May, with an introductory rate of $169 (one way, plus taxes/fees).  Also on offer, LAX-Kahului (OGG), beginning in June, same introductory rate.  Details here, press release here.
  • American Airlines is bringing back free snacks in Economy on transcontinental flights in February, and will expand that to all domestic flights by April.  Of particular interest to us:

Starting in May, complimentary meal service will be available in the Main Cabin on all flights between Hawaii and Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

  • The Disney Parks Blog is live-streaming Fantasmic! from Disney’s Hollywood Studios in WDW today at 6:50p EST, that’s 1:50p HST.  Go the blog for the link, and enjoy!

Sigh: American AAdvantage program changes

Following in the ignominious footsteps of Delta and United, American Airlines has announced that they are changing their frequent flyer program to be revenue-based versus distance-based.  Plus they updated their Award mileage Chart, and it’s a mixed bag for travelers beginning their journeys in Hawaii.

aa logo

Here’s the full press release, and the page explaining the details.  Blahblahblahinnovationcakes.  They are simply following the other legacy carriers in this, and pretending they are doing something new.  This seems meant to reward only business travelers, who don’t pay for their own tickets and tend to book more last-minute travel, so those fares are usually the expensive, fully-refundable kind.

Here’s their example of how the earning would work (let’s ignore this example person’s crazy decision to choose a fare that includes $458 in fees on top of their fare):

AAdvantage member flying round-trip on an American marketed flight from Dallas (DFW) to London-Heathrow (LHR):

Elite status Base fare (USD) Carrier imposed fees (USD) Miles/USD Award miles earned
AAdvantage member $1,436 $458 5 9,470
Gold $1,436 $458 7 13,258
Platinum $1,436 $458 8 15,152
Executive Platinum $1,436 $458 11 20,834

Here’s mine:

AAdvantage member flying round-trip on an American marketed flight from Dallas (DFW) to London-Heathrow (LHR):

Elite status Base fare(USD) Carrier imposed fees (USD) Award miles earned today Award miles earned as of 3/22/16
AAdvantage member $1,436 $458 (why??? LHR airport, that’s why) 8,256 9,470

With their chart, they are hoping to show that you get more miles using the revenue-based program. But today, you would get the 8,256 miles whether you overpaid for this ticket like the sample person, or whether you were smart and bought your tickets during a sale.  Pay $1900 or $900, you still get 8,256 miles as a general member, more if you have some sort of status.

What does this have to do with the price of macadamia nuts? Let’s get down to the Hawaii-specific stuff. Currently, the MileSAAver Off-Peak price for one-way mileage to the mainland, including Canada and Alaska, is 17.5k.  Sure, it’s hard to find availability, and it’s capacity-controlled.  But it exists, so for a family of 4 to get to the mainland during an Off-Peak time, you only need 70k miles.  Reminder on the Off-Peak dates as they stand now…Hawaii: January 12 – March 13, August 22 – December 15

Here’s the updated award chart (edited to concentrate on travel to regions I talk about in this blog):

Main Cabin

To: MileSAAver
Off Peak
MileSAAver AAnytime
Level 1
Level 2
Contiguous 48 U.S. states 20,000 22,500 40,000 50,000
Canada & Alaska 25,000 40,000 50,000
Central America 25,000 40,000 50,000
South America Region 1 30,000 40,000 50,000
South America Region 2 40,000 55,000 75,000
Europe 40,000 47,500 65,000

So now the family of 4 needs 80k miles just to get to the mainland.  One-way.  This is easily achieved with the various credit card sign-up bonuses the adults can take advantage of, but it sets the goal line further back.  Interestingly, they are also now changing the Off-Peak dates to be different whether you are traveling FROM Hawaii or TO Hawaii. Check it out:

Hawaii Off-Peak Dates:
TO Hawaii: December 29 – March 12, August 11 – November 18, November 24 – December 10
FROM Hawaii: January 7 – March 19, August 18 – November 27, December 3 – December 25

Seems to me that they are recognizing that more people are coming here for the winter holidays than going out, and they can squeeze more miles out of them, but not us.  I’d call this a net win.

now what

So, overall, I think my strategy is going to be doing the math on every ticket purchase with AA.  If I’ll get the same mileage as the distance flown, I’ll credit the flight to AAdvantage.  If it’s lower, I’ll credit to Alaska Airlines, whose mileage program is still distance-based, and who allows redemptions on American Airlines flights.

<muttering> Change is good, change is good…

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Island Air College Student Standby Program- $35 one-way!

This new pilot program by Island Air is a pretty good deal if:

  • you are a college student at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, University of Hawaiʻi West Oahu, and five community colleges (Honolulu Community College, Kapiolani Community College, Leeward Community College, Maui College and Windward Community College, and
  • are traveling between Oahu, Maui, and Lanai, and
  • have a flexible enough schedule to be able to buy your ticket at the airport (no online purchase since it is a Standby fare), and of course, be able to stand by for several hours if necessary, and
  • are traveling between now and Dec. 31st, 2015 (I think…there is a countdown timer of 61 days, 4 hours, and 30 minutes on the offer page right now…so, by my math, that’s 3:45 am on 12/31/15).

island college1

This seems like a great thing for the holidays!  There is no maximum # of times you can use the fare, you must present your University/student ID AND with your federal or state ID, the $35 includes (1) federal transportation segment tax and one (1) security fee (other taxes, fees, and restrictions may apply).  Subject to seat availability, duh.

Read the full press release here.  Check their flight schedule on IslandAir.com, or consult my Inter-Island Chart. Happy flying!

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