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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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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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!
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Virgin America will begin SFO-HNL and SFO-OGG later this year!

Today, Virgin America announced 2 new routes to Hawaii. On November 2nd, daily service will begin to and from San Francisco (SFO) and Honolulu (HNL). And on December 3rd, they will add daily service to and from San Francisco (SFO) and Kahului, Maui (OGG), with 2 different departure times depending on the day of the week. The schedule will look like this:

Virgin America's upcoming schedule

Virgin America’s upcoming schedule

They celebrated the announcement today by offering free Mai Tais to passengers at SFO.  They’re also celebrating with a fare sale: select flights will be $199 plus taxes each way.  Tickets at that price must be purchased by April 8 (yes, tomorrow), and are good for travel between November 2nd and February 28th, 2016 for the SFO-HNL route, and between December 3rd and February 28th, 2016 for the SFO-OGG route.  There are some blackout dates, pretty much the usual peak holiday travel days.

Virgin’s frequent flyer program is called Elevate.  It’s points-based versus region-based, meaning that the points cost is based on the cash price, so you have silly redemption numbers like 8559 points for the $199 fare.  I’ll update the post on Hawaiian Airlines, since Virgin America is a transfer partner.

My take?  I’ve never flown Virgin America, but it might be fun to try, what with the mood lighting and free food in Main Cabin Select.  Anything that fosters airfare competition to Hawaii is good for us!

This official photo of an official Virgin America plane is officially not set in Hawaii.  Yet.

This official photo of an official Virgin America plane is officially not on a runway in Hawaii. Yet.

For full details, see the full press release.  Note: Virgin America is a separate entity from Virgin Atlantic, though Sir Richard Branson (that silly prankster) does own some of it.

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