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Photo: Southwest Airlines

Within 24 hours of JetBlue's announcement that it planned to impose fees for checked bags and reduce legroom in coach, the reactions of two of the airline's key stakeholder groups have been expressed loudly and clearly. Wall Street is elated (company shares were up almost 6 percent); and customers are bummed (typical comment from my Facebook feed: "Say it ain't so, JetBlue").

Predictably, the reaction of Southwest, a JetBlue competitor, focused on its own branding, as "America's low-fare airline."

Interviewed on CNBC, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly described JetBlue's moves as an opportunity to highlight his company's generally fee-free policies. "Now we have this incredible distinction which is a gift from our competitors to be different by not nickel and dimeing our customers."

Does Southwest stand to benefit from JetBlue's move?

"History would suggest that we will definitely gain some customers there." ... read more»

(Photo: Thinkstock/Stockbyte)

A Singapore Airlines flyer received what could possibly be the world's most expensive airplane Wi-Fi bill. Canadian passenger Jeremy Gutsche said he got a statement for $1,171.46 worth of Internet use shortly after stepping off a flight from London to Singapore earlier this month. Gutsche wrote about the bill on his website Trend Hunter. A copy of the bill is posted along with the blog.

Gutsche took a closer look at the in-flight Internet activity that ended up costing him well over a grand. He checked his browser history. He thought about what he did. Surprisingly, Gutsche didn't even accomplish that much surfing on his flight—well, at least not as much as one might expect given the excessive bill. He reports looking at 155 pages on the Web and uploading one four megabyte PowerPoint document, which took an hour to process. Gutsche also sent one email to his coworkers. ... read more»

JetBlue just broke my heart. The discount airline is putting its best flyer-friendly perks to death, one by one. JetBlue is crowding more seats onto its planes and taking away that one free checked bag we all know and love. With the announcement of a new tiered pricing system, JetBlue joins the majority of the cruel, cramped, and fee-hungry U.S. carriers that make up the unpleasant domestic airline industry. (Southwest remains an exception—I'll get to that in a minute.)

Bowing to pressure to increase revenue through ancillary fees and more tightly packed places, JetBlue introduces "Branded Fares." Branded Fares will happen in 2015. This is a tiered pricing system that forces passengers to choose from one of three bundled fare options: the cheapest ticket, which doesn't include free checked luggage; or two pricier options that feature one and two free checked bags, and extra TrueBlue points.

The more expensive ticket bundles will offer greater flexibility, but JetBlue hasn't offered any clear details on this. We don't know anything about the exact frequent-flyer points differences, either. JetBlue is releasing this information slowly and carefully, like the author of a very dull mystery novel. ... read more»

Planes taking off behind pink sky (Photo: Index Open)

United and Orbitz are unlikely allies. Nevertheless, the two companies are jointly suing Skiplagged.com, a website that facilitates hidden-city ticketing.

For those not in the know, hidden-city ticketing is the money-saving technique in which a traveler purchases a ticket to one destination with the intention of getting off the plane at an intermediary point.

For example, because competition on the transcon routes is particularly fierce, it might well be the case that a ticket between Los Angeles and New York with a stop in Chicago is cheaper than a ticket between Los Angeles and Chicago. A Chicago-bound hidden-city ticketer might then purchase the Los Angeles - New York ticket, but deplane in Chicago instead of his ticketed final destination.

Naturally, airlines take a dim view of the practice. Every dollar a traveler saves is a dollar the airlines lose. ... read more»

Flying dollars (Photo: Kativ, iStockPhoto.com)

The worst fears of JetBlue loyalists were confirmed today in a news release distributed in advance of the company's Wednesday investors conference.

The airline has been under pressure from Wall Street for months to boost its bottom line and, ultimately, its stock price. That, industry analysts have long contended, is easily accomplished with just two moves. First, increase so-called ancillary revenues by imposing fees for checked bags. And second, increase the revenue potential of every flight by adding more seats on every plane. ... read more»

(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

Need a vacation? With these awesome Cyber Monday travel deals, you can probably afford one. ... read more»

(Photo: Turkish Airlines)

What Is it: Turkish Airlines' Business Class service and newly revamped Istanbul airport lounge.

... read more»

(Photo: Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans)

Ever dreamed of actually stepping inside a work of art, Mary Poppins-style? A Dutch design lab, headed up by artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde, has just taken your fantasy one step (or one pedal) closer to reality.

On November 12, Studio Roosegaarde opened a magical, glowing bike path inspired by Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night in the city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The .6-mile path is lit by 50,000 twinkling solar-powered stones, which charge up during the day and glow in the dark by night, as well as thousands of LED lights. When darkness sets in, the swirling swaths of illuminated stones and lights mimic the starry sky in Van Gogh's famous painting. It's a dazzling, fairy-tale-like visual. ... read more»

Delta aircraft tail (Photo: Delta)

Airline mileage programs are famous for their devaluations and generally customer-unfriendly ways. But even in that context, Delta stands out for the number and severity of the negative changes its loyalists have been asked to endure.

The new-for-2015 spend-based program itself will be a downgrade for many Delta flyers. Add to that the increase in revenue requirements to earn elite status, the limitation on partner transfers to Delta, elimination of round-the-world awards, higher fees for airport lounge access, and a more restrictive same-day confirmation policy.

The bad-news list grew even longer this week, with two new restrictions on award travel published in the airline's terms and conditions page, both of which take effect on January 1, 2015:

  • "Stopovers will no longer be permitted for Award Travel booked on or after January 1, 2015."
  • "For Award Travel ticketed on or after January 1, 2015, all open jaw itineraries will be priced based on One-Way Award Travel pricing rules."

So, no more enroute stopovers. And open jaws will be priced according to the mileage requirements ... read more»

We made a list and we checked it twice: This printable packing list is the one thing you need for your upcoming holiday travels. ... read more»

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