Delta Air Lines regional partner Pinnacle Air files for bankruptcy protection / restructuring

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Airline bankruptcies seem to have become part of the norm of doing business and now Pinnacle Air has as well. All the majors seem to be either doing it or have done it in the past. No one today is afraid of flying an airline in bankruptcy or in fear that their frequent flyer miles are going away or not earning them before, during or after the exit from the financial event.

Not just Delta, but all the major airlines need healthy regional partners to feed us into the HUB systemPinnacle Air flies a ton of routes for Delta and owes Delta million’s and now has a credit line, notably after the filing, for many millions more.

Pinnacles services to United and US Air will end / wind down and that means Delta will be the only big customer for Pinnacle going forward according to these SEC filings. Overall I see this as a good thing for us as Delta flyers. This will give Pinnacle a chance to rework many long term contracts with Delta and others. For Delta, they will undoubtedly have more control and “say so” going forward and long term as THE customer for the regional airline.

As a side note Delta has joined other airlines using this new interactive map system to see where you can fly from point A to point B. Try it and see what you think. – Rene

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A wake-up call for modern travel

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Knowing tech as I do, and using tech as I do, I take steps to try to mitigate the chance of information I want kept private from going public. I am still dumbfounded by the number of times people click on things they get from a “friend” either via facebook or an e-mail that ends up being a virus or malware.

But I digress. Today’s blog is about security when you travel. Most of us fly Delta with a cell phone, laptop and or a tablet of some kind. I use passwords for all of them on the startup page. A dedicated hacker who did get hold of my laptop could pull the drive and get to some data, but that is what it would take. Do you have passwords on all your stuff? Do you always put these items back in the same place or absentmindedly lay them on a chair or table or plug them in to charge somewhere? According to this article you should password protect them as millions of cell phones are lost each year and people who find them TRY to open data you wish they would NOT!

Delta Points readers are a select group. We “get” travel. We know the routine. We plan for what often times happens so we are not shell-shocked and frightened when travel goes awry, but just spring into action our next option to get where we want to go. And as I blogged about in my personal experience on a KLM regional flight we should be pro-active and aware of what goes on around us in our modern age.

A lost cell phone could cost you plenty in inconvenience and lost productivity, but if you cause a ruckus or delay a flight it may cost you thousands of dollars if you end up impacting other travelers according to the NYC port authority. Recently we were on an already delayed flight and had a now somewhat tight connection. Every minute counts at this point and a business traveler walked back up the asile to the boarding door and said he “left his cell phone somewhere near the window at the gate” and wanted the ground staff to look for his lost phone before they closed the door. He was ready to deplane to find his phone. What about his luggage? Would it have to be pulled? Plane side checked bags too? The list goes on and all our connections looking down the tubes due to one person’s lost phone. In this case it worked out and ground staff found it and we were only delayed 5-10 minutes all-in but you get my point!

Much of what we do is intended to improve our travel experience and avoid causing our own delays and frustrations. Please add this to your list of thing to think about each time you travel – Rene

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Be alert for new opportunities with NYC dual Delta hub

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The growing trend for Delta has been to downsize over the past years. Fewer routes and more packed planes. However they are expanding many routes into NYC due to the new dual hub strategy. Here is one example in Buffalo. So keep on the lookout for these as well as other seasonal routes that you can find on the Delta web site HERE.

Not only are these avenues to search when looking for somewhat hard to find low level seats where you may want to go, but there may also be great chances for fare sales (be sure and let me know if you find good ones to share with other blog readers please btw) for mileage runs or to pad our MQM totals for the year.

Another fun thing is the new restaurants on the way to LGA as you can see at the Delta Blog.

One of my absolute favorite chefs in the world is Chef Anne Burrell. One of the new restaurants planned will feature burgers and milkshakes created by Chef Anne. If you’ve never seen her show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef on Food Network, you should definitely add it to your DVR! My wife and I love watching and learning and then trying a lot of her recipes so we can’t wait to check out the new LGA restaurant choices, including Chef Anne’s! We’ve learned over the years to follow the crew to the better restaurant choices at the various hubs (the Chinese place in concourse B in ATL for example) so hopefully these new restaurant additions at LGA will be a great start to more improved airport food choices!

So, what are your favorite spots when you want more than fake cheese from the lounge? Share please with your fellow readers so we know what to try next time at a Delta HUB! – Rene

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NO Air France SKYMILES business seats at ANY points + EOS – Evolution of SKYMILES

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I am not sure if you have had the chance to notice this but Air France has gone au revoir when it comes to SKYMILES seats to Europe from anywhere in the USA for any amount of points in business class! I was hoping this was a quick bug that was part of the new booking bug that also would quickly be fixed. But as of last night at 10:30PM EST it is still broken.

I have reached out to Delta but have not received a response back. So, I reached out to my “other” contact within Delta Air Lines and have my reply. For about a week AF has been unbookable and even if you can see inventory on AF or other sites, there is no way to book those seats as they show ZERO inventory in the Delta system. This again is internally confirmed information.

What can you do from my experience to get it done anyway? There may be a work around via Twitter @DeltaAssist or phone with Delta if you ASK them to liaison with their AF colleagues 9-4 Europe time. Now you must get a nice rep or two at this end, then hope to get a nice rep at the AF side (I do not think they exist), and then maybe you will get the seat that you know is there. If I do get more information from Delta about this I will be sure to update the blog.

The next hot topic is the EOS or Evolution of SKYMILES. Again here I have repeatedly reached out to Delta for a comment on this and my “other” source had some information to share but only on a basic level.

So what does it look like is on the way? Well right now we get full credit MQM’s for low cost seats. How much longer? At the first of the year I blogged about some of the changes that may be on the way this year for our Delta Air Lines.

It looks more and more like the monetarization of SKYMILES is on the way for September of THIS YEAR. If you look at this now removed job post from maxhire.net you will see some interesting information.

Now could it possibly be part of the expansion of the Pay with Miles? Or work on the new / old PerkChoice program to be called something like “miles and money award” where in the old NWA days you could split a ticket, pay for one way, get points and MQM’s and the other way fly free on points! Basically you had one way redemption’s this way!

I hate to say it, but I think that is grasping at straws. I will be sure to update as I get more information but Delta’s CEO has stated in the past that the current SKYMILES program is unsustainable in its current form.

So what do we get next? My frustration with my beloved airline is the same as yours. Like with the 72 hr rule, that was first attempted to apply to tickets already purchased and then backtracked, will the same bulldozer approach be attempted here?

What do you think? For me, I get EOS. I hate it, but I get it. I also get the argument that someone who spends say $50,000 or $100,000 in LUT class is just as good as someone who spends the same amount in Y or business class! The bottom line is the bottom line. It is hard to make money in this business. If Delta can not make money we get ZERO perks. I just do not know how many more hits the elite flyers can take and stay with Delta. The 72 rule is in place and we all can see how easy it now is to find low level seats to Europe on Air France as you can see from the beginning of this post! – Rene

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What are your “go to” sites for Delta travel and more?

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There are so many things we just “do” after a while. For example, if I want to pick a seat for a flight, I never ever use the Delta seat maps, even though they are all listed on Delta.com HERE, I immediately go to SeatGuru HERE and look at what is best.

So what are some of my favorites that you may like too and would be good to save? Here is my list:

MQM’s. I must know how many I am getting as well as RDM’s. This site CWSI.net HERE does that EZ. Also it has my other favorite that look at upgrade chances etc HERE and fare chart HERE.

When on the go or wanting flight info Flightaware HERE is just tops in my book. I do like to log in to the free GoGo tracking when on a Delta flight as it is free.

Another great one from the people behind BoardingArea is Webflyer HERE. So much information you need as a frequent or even for you as a not so frequent traveler!

Thanks to the many bugs currently with Delta.com and just because it is such a good site. The ITAsoftware search site HERE for finding tickets is just so good!

Naturally I love my AwardWallet HERE and many readers love Tripit HERE.

And several times a week I check my credit score HERE and HERE both free!

So there are just a few I find very useful as a Delta flyer. I want your help to build my “LINKS” list at the top of the blog I want to help out your fellow Delta Points readers. So how about this, comment what your favorite or most useful site / link is for a chance to win this TSA approved luggage lock! – René

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Farther away is often cheaper with Delta.com

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drive to another airport delta points blog

We play a fun game with our dear airline. They try to get as much of our money out of us to move us from A-B and we try to pay as little as we can and get as many perks as we can along the way. This should not really shock us. Who has ever in their life paid sticker price for a new car?

So if you are going to buy a ticket with Delta, you need to know how to play the low price game. Delta will help you “win” most of the time if you know where to start.

Let’s say you want to buy a ticket for Detroit to Paris non-stop. If you search direct you come up with this price below:

But, if you use the search airports up to 100 miles away this way:

from Google maps

 

Look at the price you get:

 

We are talking over $300 less! Now the part that makes my head hurt is you are burning more gas to drive to an airport farther away, burning more jet fuel for Delta, Delta has to pay Sky West the regional carrier some of the fare price, and you are flying back to the airport you would rather depart from to begin with! But this is market driven pricing where out of Flint the competition is more than out of Detroit. If you happen to book a tight connection and there is a schedule change, more than likely you can, for free, drop the extra leg if you want to fly direct so keep that in mind as well.

Also, if you are talking about 2 or 3 or more in a family all flying together, you can quickly see how big the cost savings can be when you are willing to put up with a drive before you fly. Not just this, but many times I have found parking can be cheaper away from your home airport. Sometimes hotels offer deals or free parking if you are willing to stay just one night even with a mattress run, that is you only go up to the room, ruffle the sheets, and leave never actually staying in the room, to get the deal.

The lesson from this is: it is up to us to find the best deals. To understand the “logic” behind pricing and why routes are the way they are, and buy the best deal we can find! – René

 

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Delta expands its “Free” GoGo WiFi but is it a good thing?

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As a blogger and slightly over the top plugged in geek (both my job and hobby require constant web access) I have to say I love the fact that I can be live on the ground and up in the air with Delta. But with Ebay and Google promotions last year the speed got very slow. From what I have been told paying customers will have access to greater bandwidth than free users going forward. We will see.

The latest update from Delta is that Amazon shopping will also be free on-board. So you can now access Delta, in-flight info, some magazines and shopping with Amazon. Now I do love my Delta but how are they making money at this? Aviation Week had an interesting piece about it here you can review.

Airlines have become adept at utilizing every opportunity to add to its revenue stream. After all, once in the “system” it is much like Disney world. Everything you touch, reach for or interact with can add to the bottom line.

My big fear is the pay-per-view stuff coming online more and more. I would think (OK I know) this will require a high usage of bandwidth. They are after all a paying customer. But so am I who is NOT streaming a video. Who wins out? Guess! Even a 50-50 split will hurt performance.

I bet we will see more and more of this going forward as everyone now fly’s with their laptop or tablet or phone with WiFi just a click or tap away. – Rene

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Tomorrow is “Passport Day in the USA” no appointment necessary

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If you have been waiting to get a passport, tomorrow could be the day to make time. Most of the time you must get an appointment, but not tomorrow click here to find out more:

“On Saturday, March 10 only, apply for your U.S. passport at a Regional Passport Agency without an appointment. You will be able to apply for standard processing (4-6 weeks) or pay an additional $60 for expedited processing (2-3 weeks, door-to-door). Passport Day in the USA events are being held at Regional Passport Agencies and many Passport Acceptance Facilities across the country in communities like yours. If you’ve been waiting to get your passport, this is the time!” – from  Travel.state.gov

You do need a photo and it is good to review the forms needed here and there are the fees to get it found here.  The other standard way is to go down to your local Post Office and get it done and the link for what you need is found at their web site here.

Now I know most Delta Points readers already have their own passports but if you do not or need to renew one, now you have something fun to do tomorrow! – René

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A question to readers on features of “your” Delta blog should I add this?

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The point of the blog is to help you the reader learn and get the best deals you can with your Delta points. One of the biggest complaints by most who do not know how to use our beloved program is the challenge to get low level seats to Europe.

So I have been kicking around and idea of a helping hand to make things even more easy for us all. Sunday eve I ran some searches and found somewhat good availability with the addition of so many more flights from Atlanta to London due to the Olympics.

My idea is this. I could twice a month on say Saturdays have a recurring post (put in the categories list on top) called say “low level Saturday” and find 10 dates over the next few months that are available with seats in business class from different cities to Europe. Some do not know all the cities to look for so I have been told seeing the list would help. Maybe this way we could all start to get used to where to look to find a route that could work for you for your trip. You could also later go back to the category called “low level seats” to review old posts in one place.

Now before I start this, understand the limited value of this. Seat availability changes all the time. Some of the seats I find will be bookable for weeks and others gone by the time you look. So is this a feature you would like in the blog? Would this be a feature you would use and check on a regular basis to make the effort worthwhile? Do you want coach seats too so do 5 and 5? You tell me and I will give it serious consideration. – Rene

PS – one more giveaway question. I earn a few cents when anyone uses my Amazon.com link to buy stuff (get Amazon buying credit). You can also earn Hawaiian points if you want them. But I now have about $35 saved up to buy something as a giveaway for the blog. My question, what do you want me to buy to giveaway? A computer bag? Something else travel related? Should I let it roll a few more months until it reaches say $100 and buy an e-Reader to giveaway? Comment and let me know.

 

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Comedy time – just what will get you kicked off a Delta Air Lines flight?

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Every time I’m getting ready to fly I have decided to follow this new & improved 7-Point-Plan :

1. Don’t bathe for at least a week (or more)

2. Go barefoot

  1. Bring cans of spray paint to tag the jet bridge & the outside of the aircraft with DeltaPoints.com

  1. Drink too much

 

  1. Put on sufficient weight so as to not fit in the seat & fasten seatbelt

  1. New slant on infant in arms – Require incubation

  1. Get sick with a raging fever

 

OK, I’ll do none of these things and that’s is a much wiser choice for us all so we don’t end up as one of the 50 or so people kicked off a plane EACH DAY! But we’ve all endured sitting next to someone who recently consumed large quantities of garlic, onions, or worse, beans! But did you know that having a malodorous condition is grounds for removal from a Delta flight? It might surprise you to see what else can get you removed or denied boarding on page 11 of the official contract of carriage!

  Get ready for LEAP DAY February 29th. We will giveaway THIS!
To a DeltaPoints.com e-Mail subscriber

 

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Have you asked why commercial jets don’t use GPS? Check this out!

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A fellow BoardingArea.com blogger Glenn, the Military Frequent Flyer, has an outstanding post today about the fact that soon, at long last, commercial jets will be able to use GPS technology to fly rather than the crazy 40+ year old point-to-point they use now.

Check it out here on his blog to find out more!

 

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More good news for LGA airport – no props & less small jets!

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As I talked about last month, this will be the year that Delta’s regional fleet will start to shrink (that is small jets). And it looks like it will be shrinking big time for the new LGA hub according to Bloomberg :

Delta is culling half the fleet of its Comair regional unit by year’s end, including 53 of its oldest planes such as 50-seat Bombardier CRJs. The carrier already got rid of the last of its 34-seat Saab 340 turboprops at the end of 2011.

This is good news for NYC flyers and all of us who long for a regional jet that has: 1) space for bags, 2) WiFi, 3) real catering & 4) a “real” business class product.

Now if the CRJ-1000 can come on line too this would be more good news! – Rene

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Will Delta order the CRJ-1000 and replace what aircraft with it?

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The CRJ series aircraft have become real workhorse ships for the regional industry. Bombardier has been growing and building bigger and bigger planes. The 1000 nextgen is a nice aircraft!

Will Delta use this plane? Bombardier’s CRJ program chief Jean-Guy Blondin seems to indicate in THIS VIDEO that he has already started talking to DELTA. It looks very very nice to me. Richard Anderson has said his focus for now has been to upgrade the inside of the current jets, and for more frequency of flights. But this is mainline not regional. Also, this ship would be enough and have the legs to start to replace some DC/MD series mainline jets like the 50 and 88! I find the below add from Bambardier very telling.

Air France already has the CRJ-1000 in service and you can look at the 104 seat arrangement at SeatGuru here.

The plane has some kool stats. It can have up to 150 seats, but that would be a very cramped environment. At around 100 seats it looks good. The 16″x10″ bag size is above the 14″x9″ “Size Check” requirement so there should be much less need for plane side checking of bags!

We will see but I could see this puppy becoming a big seller and mix in to the main line fleet over the years to come. – René

 

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Delta Air Lines 1.2 Billion profit in 2011. What stood out to me? Aircraft maintenance!

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Have you had a chance to read over the new press release from Delta Air Lines about earnings for 2011? Did anything stand out to you? One thing did for me. Look at the part highlighted below:

This one line does not tell the whole story of where the cost savings came from. But it made think back to this Frontline piece about outsourcing aircraft maintenance:

Delta aircraft are aging fast. The new seat improvements are great and it does bring “new life” to the older planes since the average age is now 15+ years according to the Delta web site. Some 767 & MD’s are over 20+ year old now.

But these kinds of improvements are not the same as new planes. With an older fleet maintenance should be a priority I would think. Can Delta make it a priority and also save money? As we see in the report Delta is saving money and the stock price was up over 6% yesterday. Time will tell if this is a good choice or not.

What do you all think?  Do you ever worry about maintenance? I would love to hear what you think about this! – René

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What will be the impact of the new dual NYC hub mean for Delta flyers going forward

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The C concourse at ye ol’ CVG is a veritable third world country nowadays, and being replaced by JFK as a Delta hub seems appropriate when considering that the 1960’s era Terminal 3 was described by a Delta executive the same way!

Hence, the already begun overhaul to expand Terminal 4 in order to accommodate all of Delta’s international gates under the same concourse. They’re also adding a 24,000sq. ft. SkyClub which will be the biggest Delta offers us. If you want to watch the animated model here.

When considering the also upcoming changes to the fleet including the gradual elimination of the CRJ100 & 200’s talked about here, this hub change seems to fit in well. It would seem to me that the JFK overhaul is designed primarily to appeal to the international business traveler. Having to connect through JFK as opposed to CVG, however, could result in more flight time and longer travel days for domestic business travelers. Of course there remain DTW, MEM and ATL as hub connection options as well, but some of these will likely shift to JFK with the completion of the expansion and will alter the duration of overall travel time for those affected. At least it will be a bit more comfortable in the CRJ700 & 900’s with business “type” seats and wifi onboard!

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