About Travis

Travis has been playing in the world of miles and points for over a decade. At one time or another he has held status on just about every major domestic airline and hotel program. He has visited all 50 US states and over 50 countries. Nowadays he travels almost exclusively with his wife and three young children.

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How I Scored The Best Seat On A Frontier Redeye For Free

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Frontier Airlines is a whole different kind of animal. Or so claimed their marketing campaign way back in 2003. That was back when they were sort of a quirky regional airline that managed to attract a loyal following among the anti-corporate crowd common to the mountain west. They went to head-to-head with United in Denver for years, becoming equally famous for the lovable animals on the tails of their planes and the chocolate chip cookies baked in their onboard ovens.

Nowadays, Frontier is still an animal. But instead of that cuddly koala, they are now more like a raccoon or opossum that skitters around the edges of civilization, tipping over trash cans in search of a meal made of someone else’s leftovers. Frontier’s current strategy is to dart in and out of juicy markets that were once dominated by the legacies. If a route works after a few months, they keep it. If not, they pack up shop and head elsewhere. For sure, they offer some incredible fares, but then try to sell you everything and the kitchen sink along the way.

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Another Perspective On The American Airlines Strollergate Incident

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There’s another first-hand account of the events that led to the altercation between the flight attendant and the mother of twins onboard an American Airlines flight recently.

Previously, we really only had video of the aftermath of the situation which mostly consisted of a woman sobbing in the front of the cabin and a first class passenger trying to aggressively defend her. We didn’t know much about what went on to cause all of that.

Well, this version provides a good bit of detail about what went on at the back of the plane. “Eric” was a passenger seated toward the back of the plane. He shared what he observed with Gailen Lee David who posted it on his Facebook page. I think before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that David is a former American Airlines flight attendant who was fired by the company. That may or may not influence what he posts, but it is worth noting.

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American Airlines Flight Attendant Grabs Stroller From Mother Boarding Plane

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It’s the weekend, and lately that means we get an incident of airline personnel behaving poorly that goes viral. This time it involved a mother and her baby who were boarding an American Airlines flight from San Francisco to Dallas.

We don’t know exactly what happened, but it seems that the mother tried to bring her baby stroller onboard the aircraft. That’s not normally allowed on flights within the US, so the flight attendant stopped her. But according to other passengers, he actually grabbed it from her, hitting her with it — presumably incidentally — in the process. And it almost hit the baby. That left the mother sobbing uncontrollably in the front galley, and that’s when someone decided to start recording.

The actual incident is mostly over by the time the video starts, and instead we see the aftermath which includes a male passenger getting up to defend the woman. He asks for the flight attendant’s name, probably so he can formally file a complaint. Then a bit later he gets back up and tells the flight attendant he better not do that to him or he’ll… well, you get the idea.

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Are A Lot More NFL Teams About To Lose Their Charter Flights?

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Yesterday I posted about how American would no longer be providing charter service to six NFL teams for the 2017 season. Those teams included the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

American cited a lack of resources for the reason why they can no longer offer this service. To me, that just means they think they can make more money with their regularly scheduled service than they can providing charters. In fact, I sort of expect that they simply raised the price for next year and only three teams were willing to pay it.

I didn’t really view this as too big of a deal since other airlines offer charter services to the sports teams as well and would probably be interested in picking up these contracts. But it turns out that a whole lot more teams might soon be affected.

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American Tells Six NFL Teams To Take Their Business Elsewhere

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The major US airlines aren’t just in the business of flying scheduled routes, as most also run a thriving charter service on the side. Sports teams have become one of the biggest customers for these services. That’s because the days when professional sports teams fly commercial are long gone. For that matter, many college teams now charter planes to travel to road games as well.

In the case of college and professional football teams, flying commercial really isn’t an option anyway given how many players, coaches, trainers, and other personnel travel with the team, not to mention the equipment needs.

Well, Forbes is reporting that American Airlines is terminating their relationships with six NFL teams, citing a lack of aircraft to service these teams.

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How Much Compensation Should Airlines Offer When Soliciting Volunteers?

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I’m mostly convinced that United’s debacle that ended with the good doctor being dragged off his flight could have been avoided if United hadn’t tried to be cheap. By the time the four deadheading crew members had been added, the flight had more confirmed passengers than seats.

So the gate agent started soliciting volunteers to take a later flight, first offering $400 and a hotel room, and then $800. But that’s where the offers stopped. At that point, the gate agent called the cops, and they eventually dragged Dr. Dao off the plane.

You know the story by now.

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United Revises Policy For Overbooking To Accommodate Crew

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Overbooked flights happen every day on all of the legacy airlines. The vast majority of the time they are dealt with smoothly and professionally by the ground staff without incident. Most of the time the gate agent is able to solicit volunteers who are willing to give up their seat in exchange for compensation and a booking on a later flight. Occasionally they are unsuccessful at getting volunteers, however, and end up involuntarily denying boarding to a passenger. Which sucks.

The issue with United’s flight from Chicago to Louisville last Sunday was that it wasn’t actually overbooked when boarding began — it only became so when four deadheading crew members showed up and needed to be on the flight. That caused the gate agent to have to work the oversale process after boarding had begun, or possibly even finished. As we all know, that eventually ended with Dr. Dao being forcibly removed from the plane.

Well, TMZ is reporting that United issued an internal memo yesterday that changes the policy regarding how crew can be forced onto oversold flights.

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The Root Cause Of United’s Denied Boarding Fiasco

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United’s situation involving the passenger who was forcibly removed from a plane this weekend was despicable. In short, United needed to accommodate four crew members on a flight from Chicago to Louisville that was already full. In these cases, there are fairly well established procedures to follow that usually result in passengers either being voluntarily or involuntarily denied boarding. Or in common parlance, they are bumped from the flight. It happens every day, on every legacy airline.

But getting bumped from a flight isn’t supposed to involve physical contact, let alone assault. Yet that’s exactly what happened when the gate agent working the flight was unsuccessful at soliciting enough volunteers and resorted to involuntarily denying boarding to several passengers, one of which wanted no part of it. That’s when the cops showed up and forcibly separated him from his seat.

It’s common in situations like this for us all to feel some remorse and wish there was something we could have done. Though I disagree, some have suggested that those on the plane should have intervened rather than recorded the event.

Well, I can say with 99% certainty that if I had been ticketed on this flight, none of this would have happened.

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United MileagePlus Shopping Portal Spring Bonus Offer

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One of the easier ways to earn a modest amount of miles is a via the shopping portals of various airlines. I figure if you’re going to buy something anyway, you might as well earn some extra miles. That said, I admit that my family isn’t always the best at keeping track of this stuff, but we do our best.

At any rate, there is a nice bonus offer available from the United MileagePlus shopping portal. From now until April 14, 2017, you can earn either 300 or 1,000 bonus miles depending on how much you spend. And that’s in addition to whatever miles you’d earn from the individual retailers.

United makes the offer easy to find, as you are accosted with it as soon as you visit the United shopping portal.

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Mini-Review: United Polaris In-Flight Dining With The New Spring Menu

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The new United Polaris soft product rolled out in December, and features improved dining and bedding options. The new United Polaris Lounge in Chicago opened at the same time, and added restaurant-style dining in mid-January. And the new all-aisle access seats have recently debuted, albeit on a very limited number of routes.

The new seats won’t be installed fleet-wide for years — and it seems that might even be optimistic — the in-flight Polaris experience is all about the bedding and the meal service. My family flew United Polaris in January and found the food to be a distinct improvement over the past, both with the selection and the quality.

Well, apparently United is planning on revising the menu on a quarterly basis. I recently had a chance to sample some of the new offerings which rolled out March 1st.

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Air Canada Will (Sort Of) Sell You A Day Pass To The United Polaris Lounge

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The Polaris Lounge in Chicago is the first of a new network of lounges that United is building exclusively for their premium cabin travelers. These lounges feature daybeds, showers, and order-off-the-menu food service. My family recently had the chanced to sample everything on the lunch and dinner menu and we were highly impressed.

These lounges are all about exclusivity, however, so you need to be flying in business or first on a Polaris-marketed United long-haul flight, or in business or first on a Star Alliance carrier. That means your Star Alliance Gold status or United Club membership won’t help you. You also can’t ride your buddy’s coattails because there are no guesting privileges.

And United won’t sell you a day pass. But that doesn’t mean you can’t buy one anyway.

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How Amex’s Plan To Reduce Lounge Crowding May Actually Make It Worse

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Earlier this month, American Express announced that the guest policy for their network of Centurion Lounges would be changing as of March 30th. Whereas Platinum members could previously bring in two guests or their immediate family, they’ll now only be allowed two guests, period. This is presumably being done to alleviate crowding, which can certainly be a problem at times.

Yet it’s hard for me to believe that restricting families is really going to fix the issue. And in fact, I’m going to argue this silly policy is actually going to make things worse.

I’ve had The Platinum Card® from American Express for a while now in part because my family gets pretty good value out of the lounges.

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Review: Sampling Every Dish At The United Polaris Lounge

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I’m not going to lie, traveling as a family with three kids five and under is a lot of work. Quite often it means not getting to use some of the airline or lounge amenities — like daybeds or even showers — that you otherwise would.

But once in a while there can also be real advantages to having five mouths to feed. Like being able to sample literally every dish on the United Polaris Lounge lunch and dinner menu.

As luck would have it, we had another opportunity to visit the United Polaris Lounge Chicago about a month after our Oslo trip. And this time, we got to experience the full sit-down dining experience.

So rather than doing a full review of the lounge, I’m going to focus exclusively on the a la carte dining experience.

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Limited Time: Earn Double Plastiq Referral Credits

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I’ve been using Plastiq for quite a while to occasionally pay bills with a credit card that I otherwise could not. I’ve used them to pay our mortgage, insurance, electric bill, and property taxes, all bills that I used to grumble about not being able to earn miles and points for.

There are fees involved, of course, so I don’t always use Plastiq, but there are plenty of times where it can really make sense. Like if you need to meet the minimum spend requirement on a newly acquired credit card, for example. At any rate, you need to make a conscious decision and crunch your own numbers to see if it’s a good deal.

Plastiq also has a nice referral program. And for a limited time, it’s even better. But first, let’s review how it works.

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