Flight Attendant Humiliates Breast-Pumping Mom

Dawnella Brahos is claiming a flight attendant publicly humiliated her by not letting her use a breast pump aboard an American Airlines flight earlier this month. According to the mother, she was flying between Minneapolis and Chicago when the flight attendant denied usage, and the attendant even went so far as to claim Brahos was “making up” the fact that she had used the pump on previous legs of the trip on her way back from California.

“She was speaking in a loud voice, reading a page from a manual and adamant that because it was not pre-approved medical equipment I could not use the pump at my seat,” Brahos told NBC News.

The mother is particularly angry because she spent hours researching logistical issues, such as what planes had electrical outlets, and talking on the phone with airline representatives to ensure the device was allowed onboard. She and her husband even forked out extra money to make sure they’d be seated next to each other so a stranger wouldn’t have to be next to her when she used the device.

Brahos received a $100 voucher at the airport after she complained about her treatment, and is planning to file a formal complaint because she wants the airline “to let moms do what they need to do.”

[Photo credit: Pumpman2 / Wikimedia Commons]

Pricing Travel Takes Creative Turn On Airlines, Cruise Lines

pricing travel
When it comes to pricing travel, common complaints from air travelers concern fees charged for checked luggage and changes to tickets after buying. Cruise travelers are often surprised to find out that the advertised price they see is not the total price. Both want more options, flexibility and pricing that fits their needs. Several travel companies are making moves to give them just that.

American Airlines recently rolled out simple three-tier pricing aimed to take the unknown out of the equation, make comparing prices among airlines easier and perhaps adding value.

“This will eliminate the fear about what-ifs,” Rick Elieson, managing director of aa.com


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/12/3139557/american-airlines-rolls-out-new.html#storylink=cpy

said in a Miami Herald report. He said it will encourage customers to compare airlines by quality and reward those, “like American, that invest so much in its product.”

Now, American Airlines lowest and refundable fare brackets are divided into three options:

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/12/3139557/american-airlines-rolls-out-new.html#storylink=cpy

Choice fares are the same as how tickets are done now and will be the lowest fare. If someone wants to check a bag, they pay for it. This is the basic fare. This is no doubt the fare to compare with other airlines.

Choice Essential fares add $68 per round trip but include one checked bag, no change fees and early boarding.

Choice Plus fares add $88 per round trip, and include the Choice Essential benefits plus bonus miles for frequent fliers, standby privileges, a free drink and other perks.

Will other airlines follow American? Probably, as disclosure, transparency and a traveler-friendly system of pricing and booking seem to be the direction travel companies are headed.

This year, we saw a new U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) rule that requires airlines to include all taxes and fees in their advertised fares, among other consumer-friendly features. Cruise lines have no such rules and commonly do not include taxes and other fees in advertised pricing.

But in what we believe to be an unprecedented move, Princess Cruises began advertising the total price per person, including port charges, taxes and government fees, in advertising for their Season of Saving sale, running through December 21.

“These cruise fares include government fees and taxes so you can see what each voyage actually costs from the start,” says Princess Cruises on its website. “It makes planning your next vacation easier and saves the surprises for the pleasant ones you’ll discover on your cruise.”

Reaching further, Carnival Cruise Lines added new pricing options this month with what appears to be something for everyone.

Some time ago, Carnival came out with their Early Saver Fare, a restricted fare that was guaranteed to be the lowest price, no matter what. Throughout the life of a booking, if the price went down, the difference went to the buyer in one way or another via the Early Saver Fare’s price protection quality.

Like a discounted airline ticket, the Early Saver Fare came with some restrictions too. Topping the list was that the deposit was non-refundable and any changes incurred a $50 per person, per change administrative fee. It was the best price but not for everyone. A traveler with uncertain travel plans? This was not for them.

So Carnival increased the number of fare codes they offer from four to seven, adding additional fare codes that allow more flexibility, options and the ability to find a better fit for each individual traveler. As booking a cruise is more complicated than booking an airline ticket, more complicated are the Carnival fare codes as well.

Some Carnival fares are available far in advance of sailing. As time grows closer to sailing, other fares with different rules, aimed at those who are entering the booking arena are introduced then fall off as time marches on.

Winning at the new Carnival Cruise Lines fare code system seems to be a lot about timing and determination.

For example, those who need or prefer to book at the last minute might like Carnival’s new Instant Saver Fare, available 30 to 45 days prior to sailing.

Choosing this option, the cruise line requires that full payment is due at the time of booking and is 100% non refundable, among other restrictions. But someone booking further in advance will have a different selection of fare codes to choose from.

Available between five and three months prior to sailing, Carnival’s Super Saver Fare has a non-refundable deposit, no changes can be made for any reason, there is no price protection and the cruise line selects the passengers stateroom on the day of check-in at the pier.

Aimed at travelers who missed out on the Early Saver Fare because they waited too long to book, the Super Saver Fare is offered closer to sailing but with more restrictions.

Significantly new to booking procedures on some fares is that the cruise line (rather than the passenger) selects the cabin at the time of pier check-in. Now we’re into that “determination” comfort level and passengers who need or want to have their stateroom at a certain location on the ship will not like this qualifier. Those prone to suffering from motion discomfort commonly look for a stateroom location closer to the middle of the ship, where the laws of physics say the ride is smoother.

At the end of the day, those booking Carnival Cruise Lines may want to consider travel insurance more seriously in response new restrictions and use the services of a travel agent that works with this system daily to be sure they select the right pricing option.


How to Pack Your Carry-On for Holiday Travel

[Photo Credit- Flickr user Simon_sees]

Loyalty Programs Change, Evolve With Mergers

Loyalty programsLoyalty programs keep travelers coming back, granting more perks and benefits the more they use a service provider. But what happens as the world of travel evolves and companies merge to gain efficiency and price advantage or just to stay in business? In some cases, the customer comes out ahead.

Southwest Airlines’ merger with the AirTran Airways subsidiary is well underway. Though not yet complete, the company is bringing the benefits of each carrier’s frequent flier program to the members of both.

Air travelers who are members of both Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program and AirTran’s A+ Rewards plan can shift program credits between the two in order to redeem award travel on either airline.

The move gives Southwest Rapid Rewards members some new vacation options. AirTran flies to destinations Southwest doesn’t serve in Mexico and the Caribbean. Still, only credit transfers between accounts are allowed, as the two loyalty programs remain separate.

“Rapid Rewards members can transfer 1,200 program points or one Rapids Rewards credit into one A+ Rewards credit. AirTran frequent flyers can switch one A+ credit into one Rapid Rewards credit. The A+ program requires 16 credits for one round-trip coach ticket on AirTran, and Southwest’s program requires 16 credits for one Standard Award ticket. Thirty-two A+ Rewards credits are worth one Freedom Award in the Southwest program,” said an article in Executive Travel Magazine.

Thinking of other frequent flier programs, a common question is raised: What might happen to accumulated points if a proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways occurs?

Experts agree: probably not much.

“All things being equal, I would expect a merged American-US Airways frequent flier program to be somewhat less generous than the two airlines’ programs today,” said Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly in a Reuters report. “Maybe you’ll need more miles for free tickets to certain regions, or maybe award seats will be more scarce, or maybe it’ll be harder for elite fliers to get first-class upgrades.”

Kaplan offers the following advice:

  • Start using up your miles, particularly if you’re interested in flying on a carrier in an alliance that might not be available to you when the deal is done.
  • Shop around to see whether another airline would meet your needs. But make sure the carrier flies the routes you most travel. This way when one of them starts dangling offers to lure you, you’ll know if it’s a smart move to shift your loyalties.
  • Take advantage of deals still being offered in the current programs, such as free upgrades.

The notion that travelers are “married to their frequent traveler programs” may not be a stretch. In a survey conducted in January by Starwood Preferred Guest, 73 percent of participants chose their loyalty program benefits over a spouse if they could take just one on the road.

Frequent Flyer Diet



[Flickr photo by Thomas Hawk]

Airlines to add more seating options, room and perks

airlinesLooking for more legroom on airlines? American Airlines hears the call and has plans to equip its entire mainline fleet with “Main Cabin Extra,” a new seating arrangement which will provide more leg room as well as priority boarding.

“Customers travelling in Main Cabin Extra seats will enjoy four to six inches of extra leg room compared to a standard Main Cabin seat as well as priority boarding privileges,” said Virasb Vahidi, American’s chief commercial officer.

American will begin installation on existing aircraft soon. New Boeing 737-800 aircraft delivered this fall will already be equipped with Main Cabin Extra seating.

Anticipated future aircraft, including Airbus A321s, and A319s, and Boeing 777-300ERs and 787s, will also offer Main Cabin Extra.

“We continue to provide our customers with choices that enable them to customize their travel on American to be the experience they desire and value,” said Vahidi.

Main Cabin Extra seats, located in the front portion of the main cabin, will allow for easier boarding and deplaning. AAdvantage Executive Platinum and Platinum members, along with customers who purchase a full-fare economy class ticket, will receive complimentary access to Main Cabin Extra, subject to availability.

Also, AAdvantage Gold members will receive complimentary access to the new seating product through December 31st, 2013.

Other airlines have extra space for a fee, too. United Airlines Economy Plus features up to five extra inches of legroom on all United flights worldwide as well as many United Express flights. Jet Blue’s Even More program allows first access to overhead bins and early boarding, too. US Airways Choice Seats program gives flyers the right to be first on and first off the plane, in addition to priority seat reservations using mostly window and aisle seats toward the front of Coach.

The Points Guy on Frequent Flyer Programs

Flickr photo by bamueller

American workers protest, say company is blaming labor AgAAin

AmericanJust a couple weeks ago, American Airlines revealed its restructuring plan, proposing to lay off 13,000 employees, terminating pensions and shutting down its Alliance base in Dallas-Fort Worth. Worried about losing their jobs, American employees are protesting.

“I understand it somewhat,” 24-year mechanic Greg Cooke, one of 300 American workers protesting at DFW this week told Star-Telegram. “But I don’t want to have to move again just to put another four years in before I retire. I’m tired of them taking and asking off of the backs of the employees.”

Protesters including pilots and members of other unions, showing their support, marched in front the DFW terminal holding signs saying “Blaming Labor AgAAin.”

Workers believe the airline needs to pay its pensions and called for an end to the “corporate greed” of executive bonuses in previous years.

American, meeting now with union leaders, said that the restructuring process is difficult but necessary and will affect all employee groups, union and nonunion alike.

“We are meeting with representatives from each union to negotiate the changes needed to make us successful, and are focused on reaching consensual agreements in the next few weeks,” spokesman Bruce Hicks said. “Our goal is to exit as a growing, profitable company that preserves tens of thousands of jobs.”



Bankruptcy for American Airlines

Flickr photo by wbaiv