Delta announces big change to its frequent flyer program

Things are changing at Delta Air Lines. The company announced that starting next year, it will reconfigure its frequent flyer program -- linking miles earned to ticket prices instead of distance. Spend more money on a ticket, and earn more miles, regardless of how far you are traveling.   "It appears that Delta is coming out and saying...the more money you spend, the more we are going to take care of you," said travel expert Tom Parsons of The program will be structured in a way that rewards elite travelers with added bonus miles, depending on their status -- more per dollar for platinum and "diamond" members, less for silver and gold. "Customers will be able to earn between five and 11 miles per dollar, based on their Skymiles status" a Delta statement said. Those who use a Delta Skymiles credit card will earn an additional two miles per dollar."The introduction of a new model for earning miles will increase rewards for those who spend more as well as differentiate the SkyMiles frequent flyer program for our premium travelers," said Jeff Robertson, Delta's vice president in charge of the Skymiles program, in a statement. Parsons said the move is an effort to woo business travelers, who spend significantly more per ticket than leisure travelers. "The airline is thinking, why not take care of the guys who give us $10,000 dollars a year and fly even less miles, than those who spend $5,000 dollars and fly more miles?"Keeping elite travelers happy and earning their loyalty makes good business sense for the airline, Parsons said. "If you look at (a ticket from) Dallas to New York," he said. "You can sometimes get it for $300, maybe $250. But a very last minute business traveler -- that airplane ticket can be up to $1,800 round trip. Who would you want to take care of?"While on its face, the program seems simple -- dollars to miles -- read the fine print, and it gets a little more complicated, as the entire ticket price will not count towards Continue Reading

Can your airline credit card keep you from getting bumped?

By Myles Ma/ Getting bumped from a flight can be a trying experience, as evidenced by the viral video of a passenger being violently removed from a United Airlines flight. (Thinking of ditching United? Here are four solid airline credit card alternatives.) While the situation almost never gets that extreme, many airlines overbook flights, and getting bumped is a very real possibility for air travelers. If passengers want to keep their seats, having an airline-branded credit card can help. Membership in a frequent-flyer program generally makes a passenger less likely to be bumped, said Cecilia Minges, a spokeswoman for AirHelp, a company that provides legal advice to passengers whose flights are delayed, canceled or overbooked. The federal Department of Transportation requires airlines to explain how they decide who gets bumped off oversold flights. While having a certain card won’t directly help keep you on a plane, having elite frequent flyer status often can, and many cards help holders attain that status. The big three U.S. airlines — United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta, (none returned’s requests for comment by press time) — have similar policies on bumping, which take frequent flyer status into account. But their branded airline cards vary in their ability to help you earn elite status. Here’s a closer look at the policies of America’s three biggest airlines. United Airlines United Airlines’ contract of carriage — a document outlining the rules it applies to passengers — says the status of a passenger’s frequent flyer program membership, along with the cost of their fare, their itinerary and when they showed up for check-in may determine whether they are bumped or not. Having a United Airlines credit card won’t confer a higher status in the United MileagePlus frequent flyer program. Only earning the requisite miles by flying with United and its Continue Reading

Frequent Flyer Programs: How to Make the Rules Work for You

Gregory Karp, NerdWallet Published 10:29 am, Wednesday, March 7, 2018 This article was first published on Frequent flyer programs can seem enticing for the thrill of earning free flights, but they can also be bewildering, given the intricate airline rules for collecting and redeeming miles. Is learning about frequent flyer programs worth your time and effort? The answer, of course, depends on you. Should you bother with airline rewards? All major U.S. airlines operate loyalty programs. The basic premise is that if you spend your money with one airline, it will give you miles or points to redeem for free flights, better seats and preferential treatment. The term “miles" doesn’t refer to a distance you’ve flown or can fly for free; it’s just what some airlines call the rewards currency. Answer two primary questions when deciding whether to bother with airline programs: SHOULD I SIGN UP? In short, yes. These programs are free, and despite the general term “frequent flyer," you don’t need to be one. You can sign up online while booking your first flight. Then, enter your frequent flyer number when you buy tickets so that you’ll earn reward miles or points. Maybe you’ll earn enough rewards to redeem; maybe not. You won’t get any better upfront ticket prices just because you’re a member, though. SHOULD I PUT EFFORT INTO THE PROGRAM? Your answer may come down to two factors: Where do you live? Do you have a choice of multiple airlines at your nearest airports? If so, some experts would argue that you should mostly disregard frequent flyer programs and simply book the airline that offers the best flights and prices. But if one airline dominates your only nearby airport, then racking up loyalty rewards with a single airline — and spending them — will be easier because you have little choice. How often do you fly? If you fly mostly one airline and fly often, Continue Reading

Airlines add flights, hike fares to Super Bowl in Minnesota

$700-$2,900 roundtrip and rising fast Chris McGinnis, Tim Jue Updated 4:43 pm, Monday, January 22, 2018 Photo: Bill Montgomery, Houston Chronicle United is adding a Boeing 757 flight between SFO and Minneapolis for the Super Bowl  United is adding a Boeing 757 flight between SFO and Minneapolis... U.S. airlines are upping their game to get Bay Area football fans to Super Bowl 52 between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots in Minneapolis — but be ready to pay a premium for a seat on the plane...or at the game! United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines and Sun Country Airlines all fly non-stop between the Bay Area and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. United Airlines announced on Monday it will add an additional non-stop flight between its San Francisco hub and MSP Airport the day before and after the Super Bowl. TravelSkills with Chris McGinnis sponsored by The carrier will operate a 213-seat Boeing 757-300 that leaves at SFO at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, February 3. The flight arrives MSP at 1:45 p.m. CST. On Monday, February 5, United will operate the same type of plane on an extra flight that leaves MSP at 9:30 a.m. CST and arrives SFO at 11:30 a.m. Overall, United said it will add 16 additional round-trip flights to Minneapolis between its U.S. hubs and from Boston-Logan Airport, Philadelphia and Providence, R.I. Delta Air Lines operates several non-stop flights from MSP to SFO and a daily non-stop to Mineta San Jose Airport. As of Monday, Delta has not announced additional Super Bowl flights, but they've always had a robust schedule to the Bay Area because of MSP's status as a Delta hub. Regardless, if you need to buy airfare, get ready for sticker shock. VIDEO: Planning a boozy Super Bowl party? It might be costlier than you think Now Playing: Millennials also plan to spend almost twice as much on Super Bowl snacks than Continue Reading

Which airline frequent flyer program is best?

It's a tough question to answer, but... Chris McGinnis Updated 9:16 am, Monday, January 22, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-14', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 14', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Image 1of/14 CaptionClose Image 1 of 14 A new study rates Delta’s SkyMiles program the best among the 10 largest U.SA. airlines. (Image: Delta) A new study rates Delta’s SkyMiles program the best among the 10 largest U.SA. airlines. (Image: Delta) Image 2 of 14 These are the top ten rewards programs for people who travel frequently ($8000), an average amount ($4088/year), and light ($453) (January 2018)10) Frontier AirlinesRank in terms ofAverage flyer: 10Light flyer: 9 less These are the top ten rewards programs for people who travel frequently ($8000), an average amount ($4088/year), and light ($453) (January 2018) 10) Frontier Airlines Rank in terms of Average flyer: 10 Light flyer: ... more Photo: Bill Montgomery / Houston Chronicle Image 3 of 14 9) Spirit AirlinesRank in terms ofAverage flyer: 9Light flyer: 10 9) Spirit Airlines Rank in terms of Average flyer: 9 Light flyer: 10 Photo: Bill Montgomery, Houston Chronicle Image 4 of 14 8) Sun Country AirlinesRank in terms Continue Reading

SEE IT: Man claiming to be doctor bloodied, dragged off overbooked United Airlines flight

Video of cops forcibly dragging a United Airlines passenger from his seat on an overbooked flight went viral on Monday, sparking turbulence before the plane got off the ground. Some of the shocked passengers gasped in disbelief at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Others recorded the Sunday evening clash on their cell phones, as the passenger who refused to give up his seat was left bloodied. “Please, my God!” a passenger hollered. “What are you doing?” asked another. “This is wrong,” a passenger said. “Look at what you did to him.” The confrontation raised questions about the aggressive tactics and whether the airline or police had the right to boot a paying customer from the flight. The 5:40 p.m. flight to Louisville, Ky. was delayed two hours, according to airline officials. After passengers finally boarded the flight, United asked for volunteers to give up their seats to four United employees who needed to be in Louisville on Monday for a flight. When no one budged, it was announced that passengers would be randomly selected for removal. In the video, officers grab the screaming man from a window seat, pull him across the armrest and drag him down the aisle by his arms. The man is named David Dao, a source with direct knowledge of the passenger's identity told the Louisville Courier-Journal.  A spokesman for the company insisted that employees had no choice but to ask authorities to remove Dao. Officials claimed he was belligerent. Passenger Audra Bridges posted the video on Facebook. Her husband, Tyler Bridges, told the Associated Press that United offered $400 and then $800 vouchers and a hotel stay for volunteers to give up their seats. When no one accepted, a United manager came aboard and announced that passengers would be chosen at random. “We almost felt like we were being taken Continue Reading

Don’t leave your airline ticket lying around after you’ve landed

Even after your flight, the personal information on your boarding pass can keep traveling. The key for any tech-savvy attacker lies in the barcodes printed on each ticket, according to an investigation from the security blog KrebsonSecurity. While this flaw in airline ticketing security primarily affects frequent fliers, using accessible online tools to scan barcodes revealed one's name and record locator to access a passenger’s account information with a given airline. Associated phone numbers, names of those who booked any flight in one's history and any future trips on the frequent flyer's itinerary. Not only were future flights viewable, but anyone with access to the barcode could change seating arrangements on future flights and even cancel entire trips. CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK Using this personal information, an attacker could also have an easier time resetting the PIN associated with a passenger's account. Frequent flyer miles are a valued commodity to some, but accessing your identification number if you happen to lose it can be a hassle. "If you're looking for your United Mileage Plus number, and you don't have the original document or member card they mailed to you, good luck finding this information in your email correspondence with the company," wrote Brian Krebs. "When United does include this code in correspondence, all but the last three characters are replaced with asterisks. However, the full Mileage Plus number is available if you take the time to decode the barcode on a boarding pass." CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW US ON TWITTER Continue Reading

WATCH: Drunken passenger punches United Airlines pilot

That’s not how you earn frequent flyer miles. A Philadelphia man instead won a one-way ticket to jail after, police say, he assaulted his plane’s pilot following a drunken rant during a flight delay. The wild antics of Donald Gee, 53, were all caught on camera by a fellow passenger at the Washington, D.C., area’s Dulles International Airport who was waiting for a United Airlines flight to Philadelphia. His profane, slurred rant got him kicked off his flight and booked into the Loudoun County jail on assault and public intoxication charges. As the video begins, the large, clearly intoxicated Gee can be seen berating the pilot, complaining about a flight delay. The pilot eventually snaps after Gee threatens to punch him in the face. “You ain’t getting on an airplane tonight!” the pilot tells him. But Gee, slurring his words and swaying, can’t resist: “F--- you! Yeah, well you pay for my hotel!” The pilot can already tell where this confrontation is going, even before a punch is thrown: “You’re going to wind up in a cell, you fat a--!” he tells the unruly passenger, who continues to curse out the air captain. “Too bad TSA’s here cause I’d punch your f------ lights out,” the passenger bellows. The pilot is doubtful — until Gee gets out of his seat and stumbles towards the pilot, delivering an open-handed sucker punch to the surprised pilot’s head. The waiting passengers gasp, and the pilot’s colleague helps tackle the obnoxious drunk, who is restrained until police arrive. Gee continues to mumble incoherently until he’s dragged away. “What the hell are you arresting me for?” he says in disbelief. “I am drunk, but that pilot is a f------ c---.” Gee was held in lieu of a $2,500 bond after his June 18 arrest, WJLA-TV reported. The long-delayed flight was Continue Reading

Frequent-fliers wonder if new CEO will mean a new United Airlines

Tuesday's abrupt resignation of United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek comes amid a federal investigation that's raised the specter of political patronage and allegations of corruption in the state of New Jersey.But for United's customers, interest in the airline's executive shake-up is more basic: "What will it mean for us?"The ouster of Smisek and two other high-ranking company executives follows a series of IT breakdowns -- two alone this summer -- that have snarled flights and frayed passengers' nerves since United's merger with Continental in 2011. United's overall operations have also bogged down, with poor on-time arrival rates and above-average customer complaint rates, according to federal Department of Transportation data.In June – the latest month for which federal data is available – United had the second-worst on-time arrival rating of the 13 big carriers that report data to the Department of Transportation. More than 1 out of every 3 of United's "mainline" flights arrived behind schedule for the month.United also scored poorly for customer complaints, rating 10th out of the 13 airlines included in the DOT numbers for the first half of 2015. Of the four biggest U.S. airlines that combine to carry 80% of U.S. passengers, United fared better only than American – which is in the process of wrapping up its merger with US Airways.And from Wall Street's perspective, United's post-merger earnings remained relatively anemic compared to the bonanzas reported at Delta and American following their mergers with Northwest and US Airways, respectively. United's earnings results finally began to improve during the past year.Though United cited the ongoing federal investigation in revealing Smisek's departure, he had become the target for many of the airline's customers who had grown frustrated with its recent performance."The CEO of a company is always going to be a lightning rod for complaints when things go poorly or the hero when things go well," says Continue Reading

United Airlines to ditch JFK Airport, move cross-country flights to Newark

The skies over New York haven’t been all that friendly lately for United. Facing further losses and intense competition from its rivals, United Airlines on Tuesday said it plans to ground flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens and instead land at Newark Liberty International Airport, where United is already the top carrier. The airline will shift its premium cross-country flights, or p.s., to Newark starting Oct. 25, swapping its JFK takeoff and landing rights, called slots, to Delta for slots at Newark, pending regulators’ approval. The switch is expected to boost profits for United. As the fourth-largest domestic carrier out of JFK behind Delta, JetBlue and American, United has been jettisoning cash there for several years, according to the airline. The move to Newark will allow passengers flying from San Francisco and Los Angeles to make connections to Europe on United flights, an option that wasn’t available at JFK. “They have practically no presence at JFK given the improvements being made there and the (flights) available on Delta, American and JetBlue,” Jeff Straebler, airline analyst at John Hancock Financial Services, told the Daily News. “So it only made sense instead to focus out of one of their hubs at Newark where it can fly to from its hubs in San Francisco and L.A.” United’s p.s. flights are on special Boeing 757s with fewer seats and more room, and are targeted to big-spending business passengers who will pay extra for features such as lie-flat seats. United will also upgrade its terminal lobby and lounge at Newark. While the airline runs the risk of alienating loyal N.Y.-area frequent flyers, “Whatever the loss is in customers, United will more than make up for it on a net basis,” at Newark, Straebler said. “They wouldn’t be doing this unless it was profitable.” United, which currently has 270 employees at JFK, Continue Reading