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Showing posts from August, 2014

Cape Air trip report

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This summer I flew from one P-Town to the other — Provincetown, MA (PVC) to Portland, Oregon (PDX). Given Provincetown's location at the end of Cape Cod, your options to get to Boston's Logan Airport are ferry, car, or Cape Air. The pictures really tell the story of our 28 minute adventure. Make sure you check out the movie clip of landing!

PROS Ridiculously scenicFast (28 minutes)Land inside the security area at Boston's JetBlue terminal for easy transfersPartners with JetBlue so you can book connecting service easilyNo line at security in PVCCONS Expensive (round-trip ≈ $290 versus $90 on the ferry)Very weather sensitiveCramped seating was only tolerable for about 20 minutes (If you're tall, try to get the co-pilot's seat for extra legroom)Extra hard on motion sick people (but so's the ferry...) Alternatively, JetBlue has started seasonal service from JFK to Haynnis (HYA) if you still want to fly but really don't like tiny planes. You can also take Cape Air …

Car rentals for car-free people

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One of the things that makes car-free living in the city bearable is the occasional long weekend out in the country. Carsharing services like Zipcar and Hertz 24/7 have made trips like these vastly easier and more convenient but I still find myself needing to do a traditional car rental a couple of times a year – especially when I'm traveling. What astounds and irritates me is how there's almost no information out there about how do handle liability insurance when you don't already own a car. 
BOTTOM LINE (for Americans renting cars in the USA):
If you don't own a car (and ergo have no insurance), you should probably take the Liability Insurance Supplement insurance from your rental car company. Most credit cards offer coverage for the vehicle itself, but none offer liability.If you rent cars more than 30 days a year, call an insurance broker and get a "non-owners auto policy" for when you rent cars.
When I've talked with other car-free folks about this I&#…

United PS lounge access

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I've been a big fan of United PS and its competitors for nearly a decade. Considering the flight from New York to London is only about an hour longer than the flight from New York to San Francisco/LA, it makes sense that someone would offer international-style amenities to people flying this route.

Originally, United PS had a traditional 3-class configuration and ONLY the people flying in First were entitled to use the United lounge at JFK (Business Class customers were out of luck...) Well, when they reconfigured their cabins a couple of years ago to only have Economy and lie-flat BusinessFirst classes, they also granted lounge access to everyone in the BusinessFirst cabin!
Somehow we missed that fact and we've been sitting in the often-very crowded JFK Terminal when we were entitled to be in the lounge (ahem... drinking for free). We'd just assumed since First Class was gone so was all lounge access. Given the airlines' tendency these days to always choose the most c…

United ranks dead last in customer satisfaction

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Full story is here



What's shocking is the Delta came in first — even above JetBlue and Virgin! United came in dead-last:


United’s abysmal ranking may be due to the fact that it had the highest number of boarding denials (nearly 246 per one million passengers, compared with just 3.58 per one million for JetBlue, which ranked highest in this category) of all the airlines examined as well as the lowest overall customer satisfaction score (it ranked 60 out of 100 compared with 79 out of 100 for JetBlue, which had the best customer satisfaction score).
I knew united was bad about overbooking flights but 246 versus 3.58? Wow. Full breakdown on the numbers is here.


Finally a major US credit card with Chip + PIN!

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Credit and debit cards with a chip in them have been the norm in Europe for years. In various travel situations (most notably automatic ticket machines) it can be downright maddening to have a wallet full of cards and none of them work. A few US card issuers started including the chips, but they opted for a slightly different standard called "Chip + Signature", whereby your card is authenticated with the chip, but a traditional signed paper receipt is required to complete the transaction. (NOTE: all of these cards include a traditional magnetic stripe so they can be easily used in the USA). While this helps out quite a bit, it still leaves you stranded at the ticket machines (which work ONLY with Chip + PIN cards).


Given that the USA is supposed to completely switch over by October of 2015, it's surprising to me that no major US credit card company has issued a Chip + PIN card until now. When the big commercial travel bloggers got wind of it, they knew EXACTLY what the &…

Baggage Fees, Economy Plus, and Fedex

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Airlines have started "un-bundling" services — ostensibly making base ticket prices cheaper and then allowing people to pay to add things like checked bags, early boarding, seats with more legroom, etc. Many of these little perks are free to people with some kind of Elite status, but if you don't have status you're going to have to cough up some money (or spend more miles to sit in First, where most of these perks are included).

If flying First isn't an option, you might want to consider FedEx (or the US Postal Service) as an alternative to paying to check a bag. Maybe someday Japan's amazing Takkyubin delivery service will launch in the US, but until then FedEx will have to do. Depending on the size and weight of your bags, it can be as cheap (or cheaper) than paying the airlines' fees. Plus it gets dropped at your destination versus waiting around the airport and then schlepping it home. Shipping can be especially cost-effective if NOT having a big bag …

JetBlue's new "Mint" service

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Last updated August 2017

When JetBlue announced their new lie-flet First Class "Mint" service, I was lucky enough to snag a seat at the special introductory fare of $499 (one way).
I've updated this page over the ensuing months to keep the review current. 
PROS: 
Best transcon seat hands-downHalf the price of any competitorFree, fast WiFi and live TVDelicious, innovative food
CONS: 
No lounge (unless you have Priority Pass and use Virgin's)JetBlue's rewards program has limited redemption options
Conclusionif you're paying for your own ticket, this is unquestionably the best way between NYC and LAX or SFO (or their new cities) in style and comfort.
Background First, a quick primer: for years Delta, American, and United have flown special planes on the NYC-Los Angeles and the NYC-San Francisco routes. (Delta also flies their fancy planes on the NYC-Seattle route). They're configured like international planes and feature lie-flat first/business class and fancy fo…