Asia on sale + PreCheck newbies + United wi-fi + Free airport parking + Nancy Pelosi

The stunning interior courtyard of the Capella Singapore hotel (Chris McGinnis)

The stunning interior courtyard of the Capella Singapore hotel (Chris McGinnis)

SINGAPORE AIR PUTS ASIA ON SALE. Singapore Airlines offered up some remarkable deals to warm winter destinations throughout Asia this week, but you need to act by Dec 2, or before they sell out. From SFO, fly to Seoul, Hong Kong or Singapore, then connect to over 30 cities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia or Korea. All inclusive economy fares start as low as $694 (Seoul)… but most are in the $1000 range. That’s a great deal! The window of opportunity for travel is quite large, too, extending from January 15 through May 15. Details/booking here.

(Photo: Jaxworld)

(Photo: Jaxworld)

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Have you ever been in the PreCheck line along with someone who has no idea why they are there? Ive noticed is a lot lately. And I’ve heard from TravelSkills reader who wonder the same thing. How could someone in the PreCheck line NOT know what it is, or that they don’t have to remove shoes, belts or laptops when they go through? Turns out it’s because the TSA has vetted them, allowing them to use the PreCheck lane to relieve the pressure on the regular lanes. Here’s what TSA spokesperson Nico Melendez told TravelSkills: “Currently, TSA’s Secure Flight system uses information provided when making a flight reservation – such as name, date of birth, and gender – to identify and prevent known or suspected terrorists or other individuals from gaining access to airplanes or secure areas of airports. TSA will now use that information to identify passengers who present a lower risk to aviation security and offer those passengers expedited screening. This initiative will occur on a flight-by-flight basis and will not require passengers to enroll in a DHS Trusted Traveler program. If a passenger is eligible for expedited screening for a particular flight, a TSA Pre✓™ indicator will be embedded in the barcode of the boarding pass so that when scanned at the checkpoint, the passenger may be referred to a TSA Pre✓™ lane….This process will allow TSA to maintain its high security standards and create greater efficiency while offering more travelers the benefit of expedited screening through TSA PreCheck lanes.”

Eva Air's Hello Kitty themed plane landed at SFO today! (SFO Facebook page)

Eva Air’s Hello Kitty themed plane landed at SFO today! (SFO Facebook page)

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iPad rentals on Southwest Airlines (Photo: Dave Zatz)

iPad rentals on Southwest Airlines (Photo: Dave Zatz)

SOUTHWEST RENTS IPADS ON THREE ROUTES…Southwest is taking a page from the legacy airlines exploring new ways of offering inflight entertainment. Now it allows travelers to borrow iPad2 devices on flights between Chicago Midway, Denver, and Oakland. Checkout stations in the terminals of these airports will allow travelers to swipe a credit card to borrow a device and return it at their destination. Once on board, Southwest’s partnership with DishTV allows iPad users to stream live TV free of charge to the iPad (or any personal device if you already have one of your own). This unique promotion is available aboard all of Southwest’s wi-fi-equipped aircraft, which by the way, can now offer true gate-to-gate connectivity using its satellite-based Row 44 wi-fi system. Gogo, used by Virgin, Delta and many other carriers does not operate below 10,ooo feet.

FLY BA MUCH? Get the new British Airways Visa Signature® Card and earn a tidy 50,000 Avios points.

UNITED BEATS DELTA TO INTERNATIONAL WIFI CONTEST…United now offers more international, long-haul flights with wi-fi capability than any other North American carrier. Delta had announced its intention to outfit aircraft beginning this year, but snags with certification have caused a slight delay. United, however, already offers the capability aboard 13 of its Boeing 747-400 aircraft flying long-haul routes, mostly from SFO and LAX. More than half of United’s Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft operating domestically feature the same satellite wi-fi system. United still uses the Gogo air-to-ground system on the Boeing 757 transcontinental p.s.  aircraft, flying between JFK and Los Angeles and San Francisco. Overall, there are 100 United aircraft with wifi currently and the number is growing. Have you tried it? How speedy is it?

Oakland's new 236-ft , $33 million control tower is officially dedicated this week (Oakland Int'l Airport)

Oakland’s new 236-ft , $33 million control tower is officially dedicated this week (Oakland Int’l Airport)

FREE HOLIDAY PARKING PROMO AT OAKLAND RETURNS…Between Nov. 28 and Dec. 19, flyers can park free for up to three days in the daily lot at Oakland airport. The only stipulation is that their flight must depart midweek on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. To get a free parking coupon, if you qualify, visit: http://t.co/SayyNzzk81.

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Diane Feinstein flying home from DCA with the Giants last winter (Twitter)

Diane Feinstein flying home from DCA with the Giants last winter (Twitter)

NANCY PELOSI LOVES VIRGIN?…We’ve heard from several TravelSkills reader that Bay Area US rep Nancy Pelosi is now a regular on Virgin America’s daily roundtrip between SFO and Washington-Reagan National Airport. Even more interesting: she flies in coach! Can anyone else verify? And apparently, Diane Feinstein fancies Virgin America, too, but from this photo, it appears the Senator sits up front.

NEW BUY ONBOARD MENU FOR UNITED…Economy travelers have new options on United now that a refreshed Choice menu has been unveiled. No one ever said airplane food is glamorous, but this is as good as it gets in coach these days. The “Bistro on Board” concept will be available on board flights of 3.5 hours or longer within North and Central America. Breakfast menu items include a ham and Swiss baguette; a sweet cheese pastry; and a morning energy selection of a hard-cooked egg, cheese, grapes, a wheat roll and almond butter. The lunch and dinner menu offers  a caprese baguette; a bacon, lettuce and tomato wrap; and a roast beef and cheddar baguette, as well as an Asian-style noodle salad and artisan cheese selection. (Menus change with the seasons) Have you tried it yet? Please leave your comments below. 

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Chris McGinnis 

And just in case you missed it, here’s what else you need to know about Bay Area Travel over the last month:

Virgin first class sale + Hilton HHonors downgrade + Chase Sapphire w chip + United dumps ExpertFlyer

More A380s + Cathay discounts biz class + SJC courts Asia + Double Elevate pts

>Southwest FINALLY joins PreCheck

>United to allow handhelds below 10K feet

>Travel advice fit for a Queen (Latifah!)

>New landing procedure at SFO should help w delays! Hallelujah!

>Big, bad United MileagePlus surprise 

>Virgin’s new Safety Dance

>Riding the Red Carpet Route to London! 

>Double Miles on United & Southwest

>$100 hotels in NYC 

>Two posh new lounges coming to SFO 

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  • JRSF

    I think Row 44 is a lot slower than Gogo.

  • MDR

    I haven’t seen Nancy Pelosi on a VX flight, but I did see her on an AA flight from SFO to LAX earlier this year — she was on her way down for a taping on one of the late-night talk shows. She was in coach.

  • Troutgirl

    I just flew out of SFO on Tuesday terminal 2 using the TSA pre-check lane and the couple in front of me and the woman behind me were not part the program. They were very confused as to what to do but the security lines weren’t long at all. Very odd to randomly let people into the pre-check lane who are not part of the program! Especially since the security lines were so short.

  • Ryan M

    Last Friday morning at Denver International, I was motioned to a touch screen and was told to touch it. It randomized the lane to take. It said to go right, and that happened to be the TSA PreCheck lane. I admit that I was rather gobsmacked and nearly didn’t trust the sign that said to keep everything in their bags, and to keep your belt and shoes on. A few “newbies” took their shoes off and actually complained that no one told them not to. They amazingly missed the big sign that said not to take off your shoes. I do not remember having a PreCheck tag on my ticket, though they did scan it. But I feel like there was only one way to go and that was to one of two lanes with the touch screen randomizer.

  • Blake

    The last couple of times I’ve flown out of SFO on Delta the PreCheck line was longer than the SkyPriority line. This was mainly due to the volume of people, but there were clearly some newer folks who hadn’t quite figured out the perqs and were making some unneeded efforts. What nobody seems to have figured out is what to do with SkyPriority+PreCheck passengers. Sometimes I get routed to the SkyPriority security line and the TSA agent won’t let me go through the PreCheck screening. Sometimes I get routed to the PreCheck security line and spend time watching the folks in the SkyPriority line get through security faster than I do. It’s kind of frustrating!

  • dcs154

    My mother was one of those people wondering how she wound up in pre check. It prints on her boarding passes. At least in did on sfo-atl & atl-sfo. Now we know why. Thanks.

  • Jim

    THAT’s why the TSA Pre-Check lane was a bit more packed than usual two Fridays ago. Or maybe that’s just de rigeur of Friday afternoon flights.

    For what it’s worth, buyer’s beware on “TSA Pre-Check” lanes elsewhere around the country. At JFK Terminal 7 (UA, BA), I was asked to take out my laptop since (they said) it was just a “quasi” Pre-Check lane. That was the only thing I have to take out. Interesting.

    Speaking of SFO-JFK on UA p.s., I found GoGo to be sufficiently speedy for checking email, getting iMessages on iPhone, etc. Speed is similar of a 3G aircard (not the 4G LTE aircard whose speed is getting stinking close to WiFi). Can’t wait to try Row 44.

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