American Airlines aircraft front (Photo: American Airlines)

Acceptance of American Airlines' latest contract offer by members of American's Association of Professional Flight Attendants union leaves only one union without a new contract. That union, however, is an important one: The Allied Pilots Association rejected the airline's latest offer. American will probably ask the bankruptcy court to allow it to impose a new contract, but it will still keep negotiating for agreement.

Getting its own labor contracts settled before it emerges from bankruptcy would be a big plus for American if the airline is hoping either to operate independently or to merge on more favorable terms than it could get while still in bankruptcy. Even with new contracts, however, American's unions still generally favor a merger with US Airways. Nevertheless, American's progress in settling labor issues before the end of the year decreases the odds of an immediate merger with US Airways—or at least of a shotgun merger....read more»

Man with laptop (Photo: IndexOpen)

A reader recently asked if we could update our 2008 list of agencies that sell discounted business-class tickets. The answer is yes. ...read more»

Woman Waiting, Holding Head in Hands at Airport (Photo: Patryk Kosmider/Shutterstock)

A couple from Little Rock, Arkansas, suffered a trip that could serve as a demonstration program for Murphy's Law. They're out some $8,000; although not one of the several contributing problems was my readers' fault, the net result is that they missed an expensive Alaskan cruise. And the worst part is that it looks like all they can recover is a small fraction of what they spent.

The couple bought an 11-day Alaska cruise, departing from Vancouver. The air transport from Little Rock to Vancouver was on United Airlines, with a connection in Houston. They even bought travel insurance that was "more comprehensive" than the cruise line's regular policy.

On the scheduled departure day, they arrived at the Little Rock airport 95 minutes before scheduled departure—less than the "recommended" two hours but more than United's official minimum time requirement of 30 minutes. Upon arrival, due to the "luck of the draw," they were in a check-in line staffed by an agent they describe as "not proficient in the check-in process." Although only one person was in line in front of them, United took up a full 45 minutes, even calling in a supervisor, to issue their boarding passes and checked baggage. Next came TSA screening and because one of the couple showed some medical devices, he was diverted for a full pat-down search, despite his claim that the X-ray clearly showed what the devices in question were. As a result of the cumulative delays, the couple arrived at the gate only five minutes before departure, instead of the required 15 minutes, and although the plane was still at the gate, the door was already closed and the gate agent would not board them. That agent attempted to rebook them on flights that would arrive in Vancouver in time to make the cruise departure, but seats were not available. The end result: no flight, no cruise....read more»

Sleep Mask (Photo: iStockPhoto/Jacus)

My round-the-world trip earlier this year took me through a few of the world's busiest "hub" airports (the ones where lots of travelers have to make connections). Typically, connecting times are relatively short ... and occasionally too short to account for delayed inbound flights. But on other occasions, you face extended waits, especially if you're trying to arrange connections using frequent-flyer awards. In those trips, you can either camp out in a lobby or lounge club, if you have access. But if the wait is as much as six or seven hours, you might like a place where you can stretch out on a bed or maybe catch a quick shower.

Unfortunately, although you find lots of hotels clustered around most big airports, almost all of them are "landside," which means outside security. To arrange a room you have to leave security, claim your baggage, schlep to the hotel, then go through the whole security and immigration process again for your connecting flight. I suspect most folks just give up and hang around the airport. Even if you're not connecting, you might want to get the check-in rigmarole out of the way before an early-morning flight....read more»

Air: Cockpit and Two Pilots (Photo: Shutterstock/Xavier MARCHANT)

It must really stink to hate your co-worker—and have your shared "office" be a tiny cockpit that you can't leave. The Daily Mail reports that two Qantas pilots allegedly got in a fight over take-off calculations, and their argument caused the flight to be delayed until the next day. Two replacement pilots had to be called in to fly, and the flight ended up arriving 18 hours late. ...read more»

Woman: On Bed with Laptop (Photo: Thinkstock/Wavebreak Media)

This week, Hilton rolled out its new Shop-to-Earn Mall, a network of more than 1,500 online retailers that award HHonors points for purchases.

The list of participating merchants is extensive, covering just about every category of goods and services, from jewelry to consumer electronics to books to clothing. Many of the best-known, most popular retailers are represented....read more»

Allegiant Air aircraft (Photo: Allegiant Air)

Allegiant continued its expansion binge by announcing three new routes:

  • Three weekly flights from Mesa (Phoenix) to Honolulu starting February 7, with introductory fares starting at $199 each way, available for purchase through August 28 for flights through April 16.
  • Two flights weekly from Eugene Oregon to Palm Springs starting November 15, with introductory fares starting at $89 each way, available for purchase through August 28 for flights through January 13.
  • Two weekly flights from Oakland to Palm Springs, also starting November 15, with introductory fares starting at $39 each way, available for purchase through August 28 for flights through January 13....read more»
Just because your money's tight doesn't mean you can't afford a beach vacation to the far-flung hideaway of your dreams. Make an exotic escape a reality with these seven super-affordable resorts in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.

<h2>Fiji: Mango Bay Resort</h2>

It isn't necessary to shell out hundreds of dollars a night for an upscale South Pacific getaway. <a href="http://www.mangobayresortfiji.com/" target="_blank">Mango Bay Resort</a> in <a href="http://www.fijime.com/" target="_blank">Fiji</a> has a fresh take on resorts: It's the island nation's first "flashpacker," an upmarket backbackers' resort located on an enclosed sandy bay on Fiji's main island. You can choose from accommodations ranging from dorm beds (starting at $21 per night) and private safari-style walk-in tents ($109 per night) to a beachfront <em>bure</em> (a Fijian-style bungalow; from $156 per night) and make use of the resort's pool, restaurant, bar, nightclub, and outdoor cinema. In addition, there are plenty of free activities offered, including snorkeling, kayaking, cooking classes, introductory diving classes, and more.

(Photo: Mango Bay Resort)

Enter Carlson's Global Giveaway sweepstakes by September 24 for a chance to win one of five weekly grand prizes: trips for two to destinations including Fiji, Amsterdam, Paris, and St. Martin. All trips include five nights' hotel, business-class air, and $5,000 cash.

Register on the landing page to receive one entry. Additional entries can be had by viewing the Vacation Look Book and by completing stays at Radisson, Country Inns & Suites, Park Inn by Radisson, Radisson Blu, or Park Plaza hotels.
Time required to enter: under 30 seconds....read more»

Photo: JetBlue

The Department of Transportation (DOT) fined JetBlue $90,000 for not telling passengers that they could deplane (if they wanted to) as they sat on the tarmac for about three hours.

The Star-Ledger reports that the JetBlue flight sat at the gate at JFK for several hours with the door open on March 3. During the delay, passengers were not given the option to get up and leave the plane, which is in violation of air passenger protection rules that the DOT introduced in 2011. According to the DOT, these rules require "notification of opportunity to deplane from an aircraft that is at the gate or another disembarkation area with door open if the opportunity to deplane actually exists."...read more»

Man: Shocked at Computer (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

Effective September 1, Delta SkyMiles members will earn fewer award and elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) for some tickets.

The tickets in question are those booked using "unpublished fares," defined by Delta: "Unpublished fares are normally purchased through a specialized agent, third party, or to a group. Examples of Unpublished fares include: student fares, consolidator fares, flights included as part of a cruise package, discounted tour packages, group fares."...read more»

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