As we’ve always said about TICKET readers: you all are some of our BEST sources of news, commentary and information. You are our eyes and ears out there. Over the last few months we have been collecting some of your best tips and are pleased to provide them below. Please keep ‘em coming! You can leave your tips and observations on each post by clicking the COMMENTS button, or send them to us here: email@example.com.
And please! Help us help you by booking your next trip via links from THE TICKET! (See links at bottom of this page.)
Get ready for a great read!
THANKS, SOLDIER! NO FEE FOR YOU. While standing at the self-serve kiosk trying to figure out a ticketing issue, a young man came up to the station next to us with a very big bag to check. The attendant told him that it was 3 pounds overweight and would cost an extra $90 to check. She asked him if he wanted to see if he could lighten it up, which he did. When he opened the bag, my wife noticed his combat boots, uniform, etc. She mentioned it to the attendant, who immediately told him to put his stuff back in the bag and checked it at no extra fee. The attendant also told the solider to be sure and mention, when checking bags, if you are flying on military business or orders. That was one happy solider!! Another interesting note from this trip: On the way up from ATL, Delta CEO Richard Anderson was on our flight—in coach—which I hear is the way he flies most all the time. He was very gracious to the flight crew and passengers that recognized him, and was the last person off the plane. –T Olson
DO YOU KNOW A GOOD TRAVEL AGENT? (At THE TICKET we frequently are asked to refer readers to good travel agents. We recently suggested a new web site www.tripology.com that specializes in hooking up travelers with specialized agents. Here’s some feedback.) “I just wanted to let you know that I used Tripology with great success. I ended up receiving three quotes from travel representatives and decided on Sandi MacKenzie of Vacations & Cruises Honeymoon & Hawaii Destination Specialist www.getaways-travel.com. She was a pleasure working with and very patient with all of my questions and changes, she also ended up saving us $500-$600 off of the best rates at Little Dix Bay reservations and a few more internet sites. I handled all the flights with points on AMEX. Thanks again for this recommendation and look forward to talking with you soon. – E French
A GOOD TRAVEL AGENT RESPONDS. (See above) I just wanted to thank you as Mr. French shared that you recommended he use Tripology for his Caribbean quotes. I am pleased that I was able to get him a better rate than he could find online. People still think that using a travel agent costs more, when in reality, they can usually save them money and the traveler has a real person to talk to and receives one on one service. I have been affiliated with Tripology for almost 2 years now and it works for me. I am very highly rated on the site due to testimonials written by people I have helped. –S MacKenzie
DELTA BACKS OUT OF PRIORITY PASS. Advisory sent to Priority Pass card holders: “Delta/Northwest have unfortunately chosen to no longer participate in the Priority Pass lounge access program effective 1 September 2009. If traveling beyond that date, be sure to select another lounge as you’ll find other lounge partners who will continue to welcome Priority Pass members at most of the affected airports. We remain committed to finding alternative lounge partners in the US and around the world to provide the most comprehensive lounge access program.” –C Roberts
IN-FLIGHT TELEPHONE. I am writing this onboard an AirTran flight somewhere over Texas. I’m just wondering if the access to Wi-Fi inflight may end up an unintentional way around the cell phone ban on flights. I have Skype on both my laptop and iPhone and could easily dies up a call right now using the Gogo wi-fi. That’s not my style, but it’s only a matter of time before one of us ends up with a chatty seatmate exclaiming to everyone how he’s calling from his computer on the plane. Goodbye peace and quiet! — SW
JOB WELL DONE. Delta has brought back the cards you can hand to Delta employees that do a good job. This time it’s called “A Job Well Done” and they get points, which they can redeem, for merchandise. I’ve always liked this program the few times they have done it. It gives you a chance to recognize those Delta employees that go the extra mile (no pun intended). –-Tom
CHEAPER WIRELESS BROADBAND. I wanted to let you know about RovAir On-Demand. (www.rovair.com) We found that many people that have Wireless Mobile Broadband service find their data cards sitting in their brief case or desk drawer 60 percent of the month even though they are paying anywhere from $40 to $60 per month. With RovAir On-Demand, a customer with their own data card, can call us with the serial number on the back of their card and we can turn the card on and off. The customer is only paying for the days that they need the service. A huge money saver! It also eliminates the shipping costs associated with out regular RovAir service. – M Walsh
DL-NW INTEGRATION: I’m an Atlanta psychiatrist, but I need one myself. Money problems-no; Sexual problems-no; Marital issues-nope. Dealing with the new arrogance at Delta–you bet. In my line of work, I can often detect subtle trends before they become evident to the public. My road warrior patients are serving to confirm my early impressions: i.e. Delta is using this merger to deliver their worse customer service in history and palm off all snafus on Northwest. For example, I have an M class upgraded trip to Asia, which includes all but one segment on NWA. Needless to say, both refuse to deal with a segment, which did not “have U class seats available.” They ping-pong me back and forth incessantly. —E.T.
NEW BIZ CLASS SEATS. I can attest to Delta’s new 767-400ER lie-flats. Good and bad. The Good: the seats on the 767 are comfortable and do lie completely flat. Aisle access from all seats is terrific and even in the middle row where the seats are side by side; there is a good bit of space between the two (unlike the old Business Elite recliners… ugh.) The Bad: if you are a large person, measure your waist and compare seat width before booking!! The seats are quite narrow and Delta gate agents at JFK told me they have had passengers re-book because they didn’t fit in them. –JK
AIRTRAN LEAVES NEWARK. I for one will truly miss the AirTran flights (and competitive fares) into Newark. Flying into Newark is MUCH more convenient for business travel to Manhattan than LaGuardia or, God forbid, Kennedy. Most business is conducted in Lower Manhattan, which is easier to reach than LaGuardia. It is easier to catch a cab at Newark and you are more likely to have an English-speaking driver who can find his/her way to your destination. I also seem to receive my bags more frequently and in better condition at Newark than at LGA, but perhaps I am damning with faint praise on that one. — F Crosby
KUDOS. Your THE TICKET material is some of the best I’ve ever seen online. Thank you. You present evenhanded and well thought out topic choice. Good work. –K White
MORE KUDOS. I moved to ATL in December and love reading your monthly note about what is going on. It gives such great insight of the Atlanta happenings, Thank you! –-D Oesterreich
SKYCLUB AT RALEIGH-DURHAM? Delta closed their lounge in Raleigh last year due to the opening of a new terminal; lounge employees told us that we’d get some kind of extension or credit, later denied by Delta because “lounges are still available at other airports”. The Delta lounge at the new terminal has not yet opened (it’s been nearly a year, and American opened their lounge upon opening of the terminal), but Delta claims it will open in September. I just got an email from Delta to reinstate my lounge membership at a 20% discount (not applicable with medallion discounts so it does no good). What is the status of the new lounge? What about us Raleigh-based customers? –TK [NOTE: Delta tells THE TICKET that the RDU SkyClub will open “before Thanksgiving” but cannot provide a firm opening date.]
VIRGIN AMERICA. I have been very impressed with Virgin America’s product and service offering. Have flown in both economy with comfy leather seats, AVOD (free for basic satellite TV and minimal charges for programs and movies) and in their luxurious First Class cabin. Food service in front was fresh and well presented. Little appetizer presented followed by the main course and then a dessert. Crews were smartly dressed, friendly and helpful and the seats are exactly what you should have for first class for a transcon sector. Coach seats are comfortable and the buy on board is well priced and nicely presented. The new approach with the lighting, the video options and fresh meals are a breath of fresh air. –K Pahkim
SILVER MEDALLION SADNESS. This is somewhat related to the plethora of higher-level medallion members oppressing us Silver Medallion holders. I was flying CVG-DCA recently on a full-fare Y ticket and asked at the gate whether I could get a boost into first, since the coach section was overbooked. The gate agent said, “Sir, there are a dozen full-fare Gold and Platinum members ahead of you who are asking for the same thing!” Either there are too many gold and platinum cardholders out there, or there are just too few available seats in the air!!! – R Wong
CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. I love the rollover of Delta SkyMiles to the next year. I am a lowly silver medallion but appreciate boarding early and having an opportunity to select exit row seats online. As far as special lines through security, I use the newly completed security section at the end of ATL’s north terminal where they distinguish between experienced and occasional travelers. Interestingly I rarely get upgraded on domestic flights but have been moved up to business class on my last two flights to Europe when coach was full. I really appreciate that upgrade more than on domestic flights. I guess all the business travelers are mostly traveling within the borders of the US. Thanks for alerting us to these changes. –T Sinnott
SILVER MEDALLION USAGE OF FAST LANES. I always use the elite line as a lifetime silver member, never been challenged! –J Griffin
RED COATS. Red coats are back at ATL. I had one try to fix in international flight issue and she did a pretty good job. Clearly, they are trying to return a certain level of service to the mix here. –P Bush
DELTA CHANGES TEL AVIV SKEDS. Although Delta has not made any announcement, beginning in October 2009, flights 152 and 153 between Atlanta and Tel Aviv will no longer be daily. Here is the new schedule and explanation from Delta: “Due to the global economic recession and rising oil prices Delta has been forced to reduce capacity in various markets. Our information on non-stop flights between ATL and TLV are as follows: at to TLV on Delta flight 152 operates Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sundays beginning October 23. TLV to ATL on Delta flight 153 operates on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday beginning October 24.” The JFK flights are still daily, but, of course, that means a change of plans in New York. –C Lowenstein.
SHOES IN TSA BINS, OH MY! At Minneapolis St Paul airport, TSA zombies are already obsessive about this. If they find shoes in a bin in the x-ray machine, they call out, “bag check” and make you wait while they separate the shoes from the bin and rescreen them and whatever else was in the bin. When asked, they refuse to provide any explanation. If you ask twice, they threaten to detain you.—A Selden
TRIPADVISOR. I love TripAdvisor and use them religiously to check on hotels I’m considering. I have cancelled and changed bookings on the basis of bad reviews and chosen hotels on the basis of good ones. And I haven’t been let down once. It’s usually easy to find the postings where someone has an ax to grind – I stayed at Hotel Indigo in London and there was one negative review and a slew of good ones, so I ignored the single negative comment and loved my stay. – D Woodruff
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Gene Maggard says
Regarding the blurb in The Ticket about shoes out of the bins, a TSA person told me last winter that the reason was the bins were getting wet and muddy from residue on the shoes. Not sure why it’s better to get the belt and rollers all wet and muddy but at least the things you put in the bins won’t get messed up.
Seems as though they might easily put a little sign up announcing that fact so people don’t just think it’s arbitrary.