Travel

Flying S7 Airlines Through Novosibirsk…

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I’m having a bit of a crisis at the moment. There are simply so many airlines I want to try that it leads to indecision, and then I end up not booking anything.

While roaming around Hong Kong International Airport’s gorgeous midfield concourse a couple of weeks ago, I saw a lot of beautiful widebody planes.

However, there’s one plane that captivated me more than any other — an S7 Airlines Boeing 737.

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Open Skies Campaign Shifts Propaganda Focus Towards Presidential Flattery

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Within the past week the United States and United Arab Emirates have reached an agreement in their Open Skies battle that lasted for several years. The way I view it, the resolution is a victory for Emirates and Etihad, and a loss for the US carriers:

— Emirates and Etihad are agreeing to publish annual financial statements consistent with internationally recognized accounting standards
— Emirates and Etihad have stated that as of now they have no plans to add additional fifth freedom flights to the US; Emirates currently operates these flights from New York to Milan and Newark to Athens

In other words, it’s business as usual for Emirates and Etihad, and they must be thrilled about it, as they should be. The US is doing nothing to stop the “billions of dollars of government subsidies” (as the “big three” US carriers like to call it), and is doing nothing to limit the capacity these airlines can offer between the UAE and US. The “playing field” is no more or less level than it was before.

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How Long Should You Wait To Apply For A Chase Card After Product Changing?

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My single favorite credit card combination involves having several popular Chase cards that can be combined to earn an unbeatable number of Ultimate Rewards points. In this post I wanted to address one of the common questions I get regarding the best strategy for acquiring this combination of cards.

The following cards earn Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed as cash towards the cost of a travel purchase, or can be transferred to one of the Ultimate Rewards airline or hotel partners:

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Video: Alaska Airlines Flight Piloted By Two Female African Americans For The First Time

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For International Women’s Day we sometimes see airlines promote how they have female pilots, and specially staff certain flights exclusively with females. Some day we’ll hopefully live in an era where having an all female cockpit crew isn’t noteworthy, though for now only somewhere around 5% of airline pilots worldwide are female. One of my favorite such stories had to be from 2016, when Royal Brunei had a three-person female cockpit crew land a plane in Saudi Arabia of all places, where the women wouldn’t have been allowed to drive.

This past Sunday two Alaska Airlines pilots created a “first” for the company. Specifically, for the first time in the company’s history, Alaska Airlines had two female African American pilots in the cockpit. That’s pretty cool. The captain, Tara Dillon Wright, made an announcement informing people about the special flight they were on, which just happened to be on Mother’s Day, and also on her dad’s 80th birthday (though he was in Spain).

Here’s a video of her pre-departure announcement, which has over 800,000 views in the past few days as of the time of this posting:

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DFW Workers Arrested For Offering To Ship Drugs & Explosives On Commercial Flights

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This is quite disturbing, though I guess not surprising, since there will always be greedy people out there.

There are quite a few airline employees who use their security clearance to smuggle drugs. It’s only natural that some people would be willing to do this to make extra money. This seems to be especially common with flight attendants and ground agents, as we’ve seen plenty of stories of drugs being transported both domestically and internationally (like this former JetBlue flight attendant, who made a run for it after being caught with 70 pounds of cocaine in her bag at LAX).

To be clear, this still only represents a tiny percentage of the overall airline workforces, so I’m not suggesting most flight attendants and ground agents are smugglers. Hopefully that’s obvious.

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China Scaling Back Their “One Route, One Airline” Rule

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Since 2009, China has had a “one route, one airline” policy. Under this rule, only one Chinese airline can operate each longhaul route. There are a few markets where there are exceptions (like Shanghai to Frankfurt), but in a vast majority of longhaul markets that policy exists. This is one of the reasons we’re seeing so much expansion between the US and smaller (as a relative matter) cities in China.

For example, even though Hainan is based in Beijing, a couple of years back they started flights between Los Angeles and Changsha. Why? Because Air China already flies between Los Angeles and Beijing. This is true in so many markets, and it’s why there are now a dozen nonstop destinations in mainland China from LAX, for example.

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Signing Up For CLEAR – And Some (Minor) Program Updates

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For U.S.-based travelers, CLEAR can be a pretty easy (and slick) way to bypass some of the more heinous airport security lines. It’s still in (relatively) limited circulation and isn’t offered at my home airport, so up until recently, I never really gave the program much thought.

But after learning that I get a free membership with my Delta Diamond Medallion status (and let’s be honest, I’ll say yes to free anything) I decided to give it a whirl.

So, if you’re thinking of hopping onboard the CLEAR train, here are few things that you should know:

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WOW Air’s New Delhi Flights Are Now On Sale — How Good Of A Deal Are They?

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Several weeks ago, WOW Air’s CEO indicated that the airline was planning on announcing flights to Asia in May. The airline has historically offered service between the US and Europe via their hub in Reykjavik, and with this latest expansion they want to add up to 15 destinations in Asia, meaning it could become as big of a market for them as North America.

Then last week it became clear that Delhi would be WOW Air’s first city in Asia, based on the fact that they were planning on holding a press conference there.

That flight is now official. WOW Air will launch 3-5x weekly flights between Iceland and Delhi as of December 6, 2018, using A330-900neo aircraft.

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United’s Newark Polaris Lounge Opening June 4, 2018

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United opened their first Polaris Lounge in Chicago in December 2016, which coincided with when the Polaris concept was launched. I had the chance to check out this lounge last year, and was impressed by the quality of the lounge, as it was beautiful, featured a la carte dining, and had an excellent food and drink selection as well.

At first United’s implementation of Polaris was really slow, leaving many people disappointed. For 16 months they didn’t open a single other lounge, and the pace at which they were reconfiguring planes was slow.

However, clearly this became a focus for them recently, and the airline is now making really good progress. In late April, United opened their Polaris Lounge in San Francisco, which looks very nice. The lounge is huge, so I suspect this lounge is even better than their Chicago location. 

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Delta May Announce Flights To India Soon

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A few days ago I wrote about how the United States and United Arab Emirates reached an agreement in their Open Skies battle that lasted for several years. In reality it’s not much of a victory for US airlines at all, despite how they’re trying to spin it:

— Emirates and Etihad are agreeing to publish annual financial statements consistent with internationally recognized accounting standards
— Emirates and Etihad have stated that as of now they have no plans to add additional fifth freedom flights to the US; Emirates currently operates these flights from New York to Milan and Newark to Athens

Personally I view this as more of a victory for the Gulf carriers, as it’s business as usual for them. They’ve been decreasing their service to the US lately, not because of any political pressure from the US carriers, but rather because they’re responding to market conditions and trying to operate their route networks as profitably as possible.

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