Another generous check-out for a Platinum member by Starwood! It’s 11pm here in Bangkok and I just checked out of the W Bangkok 2 1/2 hours ago at 8:30pm. When I first checked in they asked me whether I’d be flying out of Bangkok the day that I was checking out. I thought it was a strange question, but I provided them with my flight details. I was later told by the front desk that my check-out time had been extended to 8:30pm as I should leave for the airport by 9. Wow, pretty sweet and I didn’t even have to ask. I’ve had similar experiences at other SPG hotels lately….
- Trip Report – Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort – Dubai – 2 Nights, only 1 Redeemed!
- Trip Report – Sheraton Bratislava – Very Impressed!
- Trip Report Westin Excelsior Rome – Revisited…Any Improvements?
- Trip Report – New Sheraton Towers Tel Aviv – Hotel within a Hotel
- ALL STARWOOD TRIP REPORTS
Air Berlin is in talks with Air France-KLM on a code-sharing agreement as it seeks to offer its customers more routes via partnerships, its chief executive said. ”There are talks. Now we have to see what the outcome is,” Wolfgang Prock-Schauer told journalists on Tuesday. “I could certainly imagine that we agree a partnership,” he added.
A person close to the matter told Reuters news agency that Air Berlin and Air France aimed for a deal by the European summer. Such a deal would be unusual in the airline sector as Air Berlin, Germany’s second-biggest airline after Lufthansa, is part of the oneworld alliance, while Air France is part of rival group SkyTeam. Air Berlin has been looking to expand via partnerships such as code-shares to cope with deteriorating finances following a period of aggressive growth in the last decade. It announced in October 2012 that it had struck a code-share agreement with Air France and Etihad but in the end that deal went ahead without the German carrier.
Air Berlin currently has code-shares with oneworld members such as British Airways and Finnair but also with non-members such as Air Seychelles and Air Serbia. CEO Prock-Schauer downplayed the importance of airline groups saying alliances had “crossed their peak” and were no longer of great importance to airlines. ”There is a lot of cross-alliance cooperation going on,” he said.
A week ago, United updated its Q1 investor guidance, blaming revenue weakness on the severe weather experienced these last few months. They noted that unit revenue will be down 0.5%-2.5% this quarter compared to an initial expectation of a 0%-2% gain. Adam Levine-Weinberg at the Motley Fool thinks this is just the “latest in a long line of excuses that United’s management team has used to explain away weak results. As has often been the case, United’s excuses don’t quite hold up to scrutiny. United’s weak Q1 performance is merely one symptom of a much bigger problem: bad management.” Check out his interesting read here.
- United – Flight Attendants Can Keep Jobs…but at Continental Unit
- United to Increase Fees – “Just Scratching Surface”, Cuts SEA-NRT Flight
- Full Summary of United Devaluations & New Developments…plus my personal exposure
- What Does Lufthansa Think About United’s Devaluation & Member Redemptions?
The list is broken into general terms, nicknames, and the all-important words you definitely don’t want to hear. Business Insider sourced the phrases from Patrick Smith’s Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel, airodyssey.net, airliners.net and rd.com. Here’s the six I was allowed to republish, check out the full list here.
Cockpit queen: A flight attendant more interested in the front end of the aircraft than the cabin.
Blue room: The bathroom.
Tuff cuff: Plastic handcuffs for disruptive passengers.
Crotch watch: The required check to make sure all passengers have their seat belts fastened.
Crumb crunchers: Kids.
Gate lice: The people who gather around the gate right before boarding so they can be first on the plane.
We see a lot of these on the domestic side, but it’s a little bit more unique to see international on-time rankings. Here are the top 10 airlines for on-time international arrivals courtesy of FlightStats:
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Air New Zealand
Korean Air Lines
North America: Alaska Airlines
Europe Major Airline: KLM
Asia-Pacific Major Airline: Japan Airlines
Middle East and Africa Major Airline: Gulf Air
South America Major Airline: Copa Airlines (Panama)
Low-cost airline: Thai AirAsia
For the Major International Airlines category FlightStats analyzed the on-time arrival performance of the largest airlines in the world based on Available Seat Miles. In addition, each airline was required to have more than 1,000 scheduled flights to 3 or more geographical regions. A tracking coverage threshold of 90% was used to limit the analysis to carriers where FlightStats had comprehensive historical data in 2013. In all, 31 airlines representing approximately 7.6 million flights met the criteria and were included in the analysis. The top 10 performers are listed in the table below, ranked by on-time arrival performance.
Check out their methodology as well as their winner lists for domestic, low-cost, North American, and regional carriers here.
For those of you who entered the AA 10% Discount Certificates Contest, I have a few updates. There were originally 125 certificates, but I was able to obtain 75 more, bringing the total to 200 discount codes. The first 125 entries came in less than 30 minutes after the post went live. The remaining 75 winners sent their message within 45 minutes. If you did not receive an email this morning with your discount code, unfortunately you were not one of the winners. However, I’ll be having the same contest again on Friday March 14th and previous winners will be excluding from entering. Additionally, I normally receive a few of the codes back from genuinely wonderful readers who realize they cannot use the discount, but would like someone else to take advantage. I’ll be continuing down the list in order as these come in.
Congrats and safe travels to the winners!
Well, sometimes you get what you pay for! Though in the future I’ll be considering my safety just a bit more. This was by far my scariest flight yet! This is the third part of an eight part trip report from my travels to Rome and Siracusa, Sicily:
- Delta BusinessElite JFK – Rome (FCO) B767-300
- Revisiting the Westin Excelsior Rome, has anything changed? Original visit’s trip report here.
- Blu-express – Rome (FCO) – Catania (CTA) – Rome (FCO) – Scariest Flight Yet…
- Musciara Resort – Siracusa, Sicily
- Alitalia T1 Dolce Vita Lounge FCO Rome - The Nicest Alitalia Lounge? Flight Simulator & Eataly!
- Air France Business Rome (FCO) – Paris (CDG)
- Air France Lounge Charles De Gaulle Terminal E Boarding Gates M
- Delta BusinessElite Paris (CDG) – Newark (EWR) B767-300
I was working in Rome in early November and when I saw that the forecast for Siracusa, Sicily was going to be close to 80 for the weekend (it was in the upper 50s in Rome), I decided to book a last minute flight. Alitalia wanted over $500 for the flights, easyJet was a bit better at $426, but flying with blu-express I could snag a roundtrip flight for $132…sometimes price is more important than miles…especially on a short trip like this and even more so when those miles would be Delta SkyMiles.
The outbound flight was extremely quirky but the return was downright scary!
Outbound - Since the prices are so cheap, the airline tries to make their money back on baggage fees. I had only a carry-on duffle which could be folded up to fit the width requirements, though the weight was definitely over the limit (I had two of my colleagues belongings as well). I removed a few items placing them on the check-in counter and then weighed my bag. With an approving nod l I was given a sticker to place on the bag. Now, this was only the first of three bag checks. The gate area was completely roped off (the only airline doing so) and in order to enter I had to present my ticket as well as my bag for inspection (a scale was even present). Luckily, a rowdy crowd approached and the agent became distracted and only checked my ticket. I was in…yet there was a further bag check upon boarding the bus. For this one I just slipped through the crowd.
The plane itself was a very old 737-300, not only did it have that antique smell but the seats were literally coming apart. The light and reading lights reminded me of trips back in the 80s.
Boarding music was the best of the 80s with Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All blasting for the entire boarding process and as we taxied down the runway, three times in total! We were reminded twice that there was no smoking until we reached the gate in Sicily.
The 1 hour and 15 minute flight included snacks and drinks for purchase…
All told we got there safely, on-time, and the flight was quite unique. However, the return was a different story. There were major storms in Rome and while waiting at Catania airport (CTA) I watched two Alitalia flights back to Rome get canceled (both the one before and after our scheduled flight) as well as the easyJet flight scheduled to depart 15 minutes prior to our flight. However, our flight had only a one hour delay. I saw one of the flight attendants in the gate area and asked her if the flight would realistically be taking off as the other carriers had canceled their flights on the same route. She told me that the plane had to be in Rome in the morning and that she heard from the captain that we would be taking off two hours late to get it there regardless. Hmm…pretty strange, I figured it was just disgruntled employee gossip.
Sure enough though, at the 1 hour and 30 minute delay mark we began boarding the plane. Checking my phone I could see that there was still heavy rain and major thunderstorms in the Rome area, but perhaps the flight crew saw a few breaks on the radar.
The first twenty minutes of the 1 hour and 20 minute flight were fine, but the last hour was a nightmare. We were getting slammed and the plane was being thrown up, down, left, and right. Of all the flights I’ve ever taken, I had never experienced turbulence of this caliber, it was just so strong. I have never felt a plane be smacked so hard before and certainly not for this long. The last 30 minutes however were by far the worst, the turbulence was constant and the majority of passengers were screaming and holding hands. The man across from me was holding his cross necklace. There were several occurrences when we dropped hard and fast (not sure if those were intentional or not) and during the landing we were blown from side to side. We came in real fast and hard but landed safely – thanks to the pilots and a little help from up above…
At no time during the almost one hour of constant and extremely strong and scary turbulence (I’m not using the moderate and severe terms as I’m not qualified) did the pilots or flight crew make any announcements…zero…radio silence. I thought this was horrible, though of course if they were busy up-front I’d rather them be 100% focused. However, without a reassuring message, things seemed even more severe . That coupled with the knowledge that the other carriers had canceled their flights on the exact same routes at similar times and the flight attendant comment that the plane had to be back in Rome regardless definitely made this my scariest ever (not to mention the shabby state of the plane). I was extremely grateful to be back on the ground and I won’t be flying blu-express again anytime soon. I still would love to understand how we were cleared to fly while all the other flights that night back to Rome were canceled.
Have you flown blu-express?
I’ve met a lot of BoardingArea readers who travel thanks to their audit jobs and so this may be of some interest – the new American has selected KPMG over E&Y for audit services.
Pre merger AA had used Ernst & Young since the firm was formed in 1989 after the merger of Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young. Even prior to that, Arthur Young had been American’s auditor for years. US Airways has been a KPMG client for over 10 years
The SEC filing:
Item 4.01. Changes in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant.
On December 9, 2013 (the “Effective Date”), US Airways Group, Inc. (“USG”) became a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group Inc. (formerly known as AMR Corporation (referred to as “AMR” prior to December 9, 2013) and referred to herein as “AAG”) as a result of the merger (the “Merger”) of AMR Merger Sub, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of AAG, with and into USG. Also on the Effective Date, AMR, its principal subsidiary, American Airlines, Inc. (“American”), and certain of AMR’s other direct and indirect domestic subsidiaries (collectively, the “Debtors”) consummated their reorganization pursuant to the Debtors’ fourth amended joint plan of reorganization (as amended, the “Plan”) under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Prior to the Effective Date and continuing through the completion of audit services for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2013 and the filing of the 2013 Annual Reports on Form 10-K for AAG, American, USG and US Airways, Inc. on February 28, 2014, Ernst & Young LLP (“E&Y”) was engaged as the principal accountant to audit the financial statements of AAG and American (AAG and American are referred to herein together as the “American Entities”), and KPMG LLP (“KPMG”) was engaged as the principal accountant to audit the financial statements of USG and US Airways, Inc.
Subsequent to the Effective Date, the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors of AAG (the “Audit Committee”) conducted a process to select a single registered accounting firm to conduct the audit of AAG and its subsidiaries, including USG and US Airways, Inc., commencing with the fiscal year ending December 31, 2014. On February 25, 2014, the Audit Committee approved the appointment of KPMG to act as the registered accounting firm of AAG and its subsidiaries commencing with the fiscal year ending December 31, 2014. On February 28, 2014, AAG advised E&Y of its determination and that it would be terminating its engagement with E&Y effective as of the date of E&Y’s completion of audit services for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2013 and the filing of the 2013 Annual Report on Form 10-K of AAG. Also promptly after the Audit Committee made its determination, AAG engaged KPMG as its new independent registered public accounting firm to perform audit services beginning with the fiscal year ending December 31, 2014.
I posted a few weeks ago that Etihad was starting a second daily JFK flight. At that time the award availability was great and as of this morning..it’s not as good but still pretty fantastic. The second flight kicked off just this Saturday and today I see multiple flights with availability all the way to Male! Here’s the new schedule:
Interestingly enough, the new flights are being operated by two three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft leased from Etihad strategic partner Jet Airways and on May 1 Jet Airways will take over the additional service. If you’re redeeming for First Class, you’ll still get a suite product with Jet.
Etihad is partners with both American AAdvantage (90k in First and 67.5k in Business) and ANA Mileage Club. However, the best way to check availability is via the Etihad Guest website.