August 21, 2007

United: We're Going to Clean Our Planes

Good news if you're a United flyer and you've had enough of filthy planes:  The airline said that it's going to use part of its capital improvement budget to "deep clean" their aircraft more frequently.  They can spin that how they want, but that must mean their planes get extremely dirty.  And that means you've been sitting on an extremely dirty plane.  Ew.

On the plus side, they're also going to upgrade their domestic in-flight entertainment systems over the course of 2008.

August 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 24, 2007

United Introduces Flat Seats in International Business Class

I forgot to mention this yesterday, but United Airlines has announced that it will begin introducing lie-flat seats in their international business class cabins beginning this fall.  The seats will be available on its 747s, 767s, and 777s (though it will take 2 1/2 years to fully outfit the fleet).  These will be the best seats available on a US carrier (as if that matters).  The downside is that the new configurations will drop the number of business class seats available significantly (21 fewer on the 747s) -- so, bye bye upgrades.

July 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

January 22, 2007

United Changes Its Frequent Flyer Plan So Miles Expire in 18 Months

United Airlines revised its frequent flyer program policies over the weekend so miles now expire after 18 months.  Worse, this is retroactive to July 1, 2006.  It's almost worth reading the press release I linked to because somehow they make it sound like this is a benefit to consumers.  Impressive.  Remember, though, you can keep the account active by making a small purchase through the United Airlines shopping site.

January 22, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 10, 2007

United Airlines Is Given China Route

If you're a frequent flyer, you've probably received some sort of communication from your favorite airline asking you to beg congress to grant them a new route to China.  Unless your favorite airline is United, you're out of luck.  The DOT granted United the right to fly from Washington, DC, to Beijing, beginning in March.

January 10, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 15, 2006

United's Innovative Fare Plan (Maybe)

A United executive outlined plans for a new "base fare" scheme where customers would pay a lower "base" fare for a flight that did not include many elements now bundled into the price.  For example, you would now have the option to pay a bit extra for frequent flyer miles, seat assignment, or checking bags.  The plan, which echoes similar moves by Air Canada and other European carriers, has not yet been formalized, but (as I've written here before) this is the future of airline pricing.  I think that in the end consumers will grow to like it -- your fare now includes the price of checking a bag whether you check a bag or not.  I'm sure we'll hear griping soon enough, though...

December 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

December 05, 2006

Use of a Real Flight Simulator: 300,000 Miles (so far)

(Thanks to reader Gloomy Joe for the heads up):

You have 300,000 or so Mileage Plus miles?  You want to spend 2 hours in one of United Airlines' flight simulators?  Yes?  Good.  You can bid on that experience here.

December 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 31, 2006

United Sells Delta Its Route from New York to London...Sort Of

Delta purchased the rights to serve London from New York's JFK airport for $21 million.  United had served the route to Heathrow (after it purchased the route from Pan Am years ago), but Delta will have to fly into the less-desirable Gatwick.  United noted that the route had not been profitable for them, but that won't stop Delta, which called the route the "crown jewel" of its JFK operation.  Crown jewels are usually flashy and cost too much.  Delta's assuming, though, that the large feeder service it's built at the airport will make it possible from them to make the route profitable when United couldn't do it.  They face tough competition from British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Continental, American, Air India and an assortment of others.  BA and Virgin have 19 daily flights between them.  Good luck!

July 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 26, 2006

Mo'Nique Kicked Off United Flight

Hm.  This is an odd one.  "TV Star" Mo'Nique was kicked off a United Airlines flight after a confrontation with flight attendants over a hair dryer.  I can't be bothered to share the details.  Ms. Nique later told a radio station that United's employees were racist, saying, "I felt like I was being treated like an animal...This happens to black people all the time, and they don't have a voice. I have a voice."

Doesn't she know that EVERYONE who flies is treated like an animal?  Sheesh!

July 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4)

July 25, 2006

United Posts First Profit in Six Years

In a day many thought would never come, United Airlines will post its first profit in six years when it releases its earnings on July 31.  Oh the turmoil! Oh the bankruptcy! Oh the layoffs!  I don't usually bother talking about finanical news here, but you gotta give credit where it's due.  The company will have a $119 million profit for the 2nd quarter, compared to a $1.43 billion loss for the same quarter last year.  Sure, it wasn't pretty, what with the layoffs and pensions issues and whatnot.  But a profit is a profit.  Well done.

July 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 23, 2006

Airlines Investigated for Price Fixing

British and US authorities have launched an investigation into possible price fixing for flights across the Atlantic.  British Airways seems to be the main target of the probe, but American Airlines has received a subpoena, while United and Virgin both said they're cooperating with authorities.  These 4 airlines all fly from the US into London Heathrow.  The investigation is looking into whether airlines colluded on fuel surcharges, which have now reached GBP35 ($65).  If you've ever wondered how it happened that airlines were charging the exact same amount for fuel surcharges at the exact same time, this may help answer that question.

June 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 24, 2006

United Airlines to Fly Nonstop to Kuwait

United Airlines is introducing 3-times-a-week nonstop service from Washington (Dulles) to Kuwait City beginning in October.  This is significant because it's the only nonstop service between the US and Kuwait City (Kuwait Airlines flies to the US, but through a stop in London), and because they're banking on cargo and mail traffic to make it profitable.  While the latter often helps with profitability, I thought it was interesting that United was talking it up in a press release.  US airlines have made a massive push internationally and they're getting smarter about cherry-picking routes with little-to-no competition (such as Delta's US-to-Kiev flight).

May 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 19, 2006

Double Miles on All United Flights

United Airlines is offering double miles on all flights booked between today and May 31st for flights through November 15th.  Unlike most deals of this sort, this is good for all flights around the world in any fare class. 

May 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 14, 2006

United Hires NASCAR Crew Members

United Airlines plans to add 125 flights to its schedule without increasing the number of aircraft.  How?  They're going to make their turnaround times more efficient.  How are they doing that?  They're hiring NASCAR pit crews to train their baggage handlers.  I think this falls under the category of an Idea So Crazy It May Just Work.  Should it worry me that NASCAR, which is known for its horrible crashes, is working with an airline?

April 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 24, 2006

Delta Will Serve All 50 States

Delta Air Lines announced that with the addition of Wilmington, Delaware, to its route network it will be the only carrier to serve all 50 states since United did it in the mid-1980s.  Of course, Delta is losing money at a rapid clip, so hell, you can set up an airline and have it lose money serving all 50 states.  Even so there's something pretty cool about that.  Delta will serve the route with an Atlantic Southeast Airlines regional jet with 3 flights a day to Atlanta.  Fares start at $129 each way to Atlanta.

Fares start at only $79 each way for flights to Orlando THROUGH Atlanta, which is yet another of the reasons why people hate airlines and their supposed SimpliFares pricing schemes.

Somewhat related to this, United had a promotion in 1985 called the United Airlines 50 State Marathon, where anyone who flew United to all 50 states in 50 days won free first class travel for a year.  77 people managed to do this.  Without the help of the Internet.  Impressive.

March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 15, 2006

United to Upgrade International Seats

Good news for United Airlines' international customers:  The carrier announced that it will spend about $165 million to upgrade its business class and first class international cabins over the next couple of years.  This should bring it more in line with the service provided by international airlines on similar routes.  Expect to see the first improvements in 2007.

March 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 27, 2006

Airlines Try to Make Fare Advertisements More Confusing

Legacy airlines are pushing a proposal that would make it more difficult to compare fares.  I know you'll be shocked by this, but a number of airlines (United, American, Delta, Continental and Northwest) want to be able to exclude fuel surcharges from the fares that they advertise.  Currently, the fares they advertise must include all of the revenue that they get to keep (and excludes certain taxes and other fees)  Why is that a big deal?  Because airlines could then publish $3 fares from New York to London, and tack on a so-called $275 "fuel surcharge."  This is nonsense.  Let the Department of Transportation know that you won't stand for this crap.  (Or more likely that you will stand for it because let's be honest, they're not going to listen to you).

February 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 08, 2006

United's Frequent Flyer Bonanza in Denver

United Airlines is fighting back against Southwest's entry into Denver using the only real weapon they have: frequent flyer miles.  The deal they're offering is kinda detailed, but in short, if you fly 2 round trips to or from Denver in 2006, you get 4000 bonus miles or a $100 certificate for a Hyatt stay.  4 round trips gets 8,000 miles.  The awards increase up to 16 round trips earning you a free international business class round trip (or 90,000 miles).

Plus, if you fly to a bunch of cities that Southwest flies to (listed in the link above), you get DOUBLE credits through July 3rd.  So, 8 round trip flights and, say, Phoenix would earn you a free business class ticket to Sydney, Australia, and only cost you about $900.  Just a thought.

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February 8, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 03, 2006

United Mileage Sale to Australia

United Airlines is offering a fantastic sale on reward travel from the US to Australia:  45,000 miles gets you a roundtrip ticket in coach (if you do this, beg for an Economy Plus seat---it'll be a wonderfully comfortable coach experience).  As the View from the Wing blog points out, although United says this is available for online booking, it isn't.

February 3, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 01, 2006

United to Exit Bankruptcy Today

After a record 1,150 days, United Airlines will exit bankruptcy today.  While passengers will likely not notice much difference, the company has definitely changed, with 20% fewer aircraft, 30 percent fewer employees, and 20% lower operating costs.  The carrier has a $3 billion financing package that should keep it up and running for a while.  And if you feel strongly that these guys are really going to make it, feel free to invest in the stock offering on the NASDAQ on Thursday.  Good luck.

February 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 30, 2006

Ben Stein Rips Into United Management

NY Times columnist (and actor of "Bueller.  Bueller.  Bueller." fame) Ben Stein eviscerated United Airlines' management in a column yesterday, basically accusing them of screwing over employees for their own financial gain.  Discussing the employee ownership fiasco at the airline, he says:

So here it is in a nutshell: employees are goaded into investing a big chunk of their wages and benefits in UAL stock. They lose that. Then they lose big parts of their pay and pensions. They become peons of UAL. Management gets $480 million, more or less. "Creative destruction?" Or looting?

...Management is using competition, higher fuel costs and every other cost complaint to cut the pay and pensions of its own employees while enriching itself.

Nothing you haven't heard before, but it's well worth a read.

January 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5)