Man checking watch at the ticket counter (Photo: Index Open)

Mention the Delta Shuttle, and the natural thought is of the hourly flights between New York and Boston, and between New York and Washington, D.C. The flights, and a competing shuttle service flown by US Airways, are a staple of business travelers, connecting three of the east coast's largest metro areas.

(As an historical note, East Coast shuttle services began in 1961, when Eastern launched hourly Lockheed Constellation and Electra flights linking New York with Boston and Washington, D.C. Eastern sold the operation to Donald Trump in 1989, and it was later sold to US Airways.)

Delta's shuttle traces its roots back to 1987, when Pan Am started its own shuttle service to compete with Eastern's. Pan Am sold the shuttle operation to Delta in 1991, in the early stages of the asset sale that culminated in its bankruptcy and liquidation.

Beginning on June 14, after almost 50 years, the definition of "shuttle" will change as Delta adds a new leg to its Shuttle service, between New York and Chicago O'Hare....read more»

Travelers packing up convertible

For hotel customers, this has shaped up as The Summer of Free Nights.

Among the major hotel chains offering free nights for stays this summer:

  • Carlson - One free night after two stays between June 1 and August 31.
  • Hilton - One free night after either four qualifying stays or 10 nights through June 30.
  • Marriott - One free night after three stays through August 31.
  • Omni - One free night in conjunction with a paid weekend night through September 6.
  • Starwood - One free weekend night after every three stays through July 31.
...read more»

Woman shopping online (Photo: Image DJ/Index Open)

Has US Airways gone bonus-crazy?

They're currently offering a 100 percent bonus on purchased miles, double miles on all flights, and a 50 percent bonus for car rentals and hotel stays.

That's a whole lotta bonuses. And it's not all....read more»

Man clinging to airplane seat (Photo: Index Open)

Comfort and the availability of frequent flyer award seats have something in common. They both rise and fall according to how full the airlines' planes are.

The industry measure of aircraft occupancy rates is the load factor, the percentage of seats occupied over an airline's entire route network.

When load factors are high, planes are chock-a-block with passengers, which means boarding and deplaning are prolonged, overhead bins are full to overflowing, and seating is uncomfortably cramped.

High load factors also mean fewer seats for frequent flyers trying to redeem their miles for free trips, as the airlines try to squeeze as many paying passengers as possible onto every flight.

What can flyers expect this summer?...read more»

<h2>June: Hiking Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge </h2>

 Caribou, grizzly bears, moose, fox, and approximately 180 species of birds await visitors to Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the nation's largest nature preserves. Many tour operators plan hiking-and-camping trips for June, when conditions are hospitable for exploring on foot, caribou are calving, and migratory birds are nesting. Be prepared to rough it&mdash;this truly is rugged territory, offering adventurers an off-the-grid experience in the wild. To help plan your vacation, the U.S. Fish &amp; Wildlife Service has put together a list of <a href="http://arctic.fws.gov/recguide.htm"target="_blank">recommended tour operators</a>.  
 
(Photo: iStockphoto/Dawn Nichols)

If you can book by the end of the day today, Monday, June 7, you can save 5,000 miles on the price of an award trip from the Lower 48 to Alaska.

Offer Details

Mileage Plus members can book a round-trip, coach-class United award flight between the continental U.S. and Anchorage for 20,000 miles, a 5,000-mile discount from the 25,000 miles normally required.

Travel must be completed between June 14 and August 22, but reservations at the discounted rate must be made on united.com by end-of-day today, June 7....read more»

Man getting poked in the eye by paper plane.

Let's begin at the beginning, by quoting the lede in yesterday's official news release from Delta:

Delta Air Lines is eliminating award ticket redemption fees for SkyMiles frequent flyer members. Effective immediately, members will no longer pay fees of up to $150 for award tickets redeemed within 20 days of departure.

That's a significant move on Delta's part. The airline didn't disclose the amount of revenue generated by those so-called close-in fees, but it's considerable. My own best guess is that the fees account for tens of millions of dollars annually.

Which raises the question: Why? Why are they taking the revenue hit? And why are they taking it now?...read more»

Credit card on keyboard (Photo: Index Open)

New rewards credit cards are nothing new. But when I heard that Continental planned to unveil a new OnePass-affiliated card, I was intrigued and perplexed in equal parts. With Continental's merger with United all but certain, this seemed like quixotic timing for a significant new product launch.

More on the timing later. But first, what's new here?

In brief, Continental is replacing its previous entry-level World MasterCard with the new OnePass Plus card, and adding new benefits to its higher-priced Presidential Plus card.

Both cards feature special perks at more than 650 hotels, including "daily complimentary breakfast for two, early check-in and late check-out, complimentary room upgrades, and a special amenity such as a spa treatment, green fees, or welcome gift."

Also common to the two cards is the ability of cardholders to redeem Continental miles for hotel stays and car rentals....read more»

Travel brochures (Photo: IndexOpen)

The last time US Airways offered a 100 percent bonus on purchased frequent flyer miles, I gave the promotion a thumbs-up and urged interested travelers to take advantage of it while they could because the chances of a repeat performance were slim.

Proving my warning wrong, US Airways has reprised the offer, giving consumers another two-month window in which to effectively buy miles at half price.

Offer Details

Between June 1 and July 31, Dividend Miles members will receive a 100 percent bonus on miles purchased on US Airways' website, either for their own accounts or as gifts for other Dividend Miles members....read more»

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