Virgin America launches real-time deals with Loopt

Virgin America, the airline that always seems to be on the cutting edge with in-flight entertainment and passenger satisfaction, is launching a new initiative to keep customers happy before they even board their flight. Virgin America’s new program “VX Deals on the Fly” has it teaming up with the mobile check-in company Loopt to offer deals at the airline’s hub at San Francisco International (SFO).

To unlock real-time deals, passengers at SFO must use Loopt to check in at T2, the spanking new Terminal 2 where San Francisco-based Virgin America is an anchor tenant, then watch a short video about the terminal’s modern and sustainable design. “A Day in the Life of SFO’s T2” does an excellent job of making the airport almost as inviting as the onward destination. [Watch it here.]

VX Deals on the Fly range from discounts at restaurants and shops within T2 to deals on Virgin America flights. Here’s a full list of VX Deals on the Fly available through December 22, 2011:

  • Cat Cora’s Kitchen: a complimentary dessert when you order two tapas.
  • Kiehl’s: Two complimentary product samples.
  • Natalie’s Candy Jar: 15 percent off discounts on bulk candy.
  • Napa Farms Market: $1.00 off TCHO chocolate bars or Napa Farmhouse marmalades.
  • Hotel escape offers from $315 through the Elevate® loyalty program’s partner Morgans Hotel Group’s Boutique and Lifestyle Hotels, including Clift in San Francisco and Mondrian in Los Angeles.
  • Car rental: $15 off your next green car rental at SFO.
  • Virgin America: 10-20 percent off last minute travel discounts as well as random two-for-one and free flight offers for future trips.

Yes, that’s right. Checking in at T2 with Loopt could possibly land you a two-for-one flight deal or a free flight from Virgin America. To learn more about VX Deals on the Fly, visit the Virgin America and Loopt websites.

Hotel Madness: Vote for your biggest hotel pet peeves

We launched our Hotel Madness tournament on Monday and the entire first round is now live. If you don’t know what Hotel Madness is or you just need a refresher, check out our introductory post. First round voting is open until 11:59pm EDT this Sunday, March 20. Be sure to vote in each and every match-up listed below. Simply choose the hotel pet peeves that bother you the most. The winners will advance to the second round, which you’ll be able to vote on next week.

Make your voices heard. Vote, leave comments and let us know what you hate most about hotels.

First round voting ends at 11:59EDT on Sunday, March 20.

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.

Hotel Madness: Room not ready on time vs. Early checkout times

Our final Hotel Madness first round match-up is about coming and going. It’s a battle of two evenly-matched peeves as #8 seed Room not ready on time takes on #9 seed Early checkout times. Hotels make a point of telling you that check-in is at 3pm, yet we often find ourselves killing time in the later afternoon after a day of travel waiting for housekeeping to have our room ready for us. Why can’t we just shower, lay down and relax? Meanwhile, for all the money that we paid for the room, you’d think that we could checkout later than 10am. We gave you money, why are you shooing us away like an unwanted houseguest?

Read more about this two sides of the same coin below. Then vote for the one that you just can’t stand. The winner moves on to the second round.

(8) Room Not Ready On Time
You’ve been on a combination of planes, trains, buses and camels for the last 32 hours. You’re tired, long overdue for a shower and haven’t eaten since you departed because you don’t pay for airline food on principle. It’s 4pm local time and you just want to check into your hotel room, clean off and get this trip started in earnest. Your room, however, is still filthy from the last weary traveler who made themselves at home there. Check-in time is 3pm but no one seems to care. The hotel will be happy to hold your bags for you, though. Isn’t that sweet?

(9) Early Checkout Times
Thanks for staying with us, now get the hell out. It’s 10am and even though we told the next guest that check-in time is 3pm and we will most likely not have the room ready for them by then, we need you to get out of our hotel so that we can, well, we’re not sure what we’ll do with it for the next few hours. We just need you out of it.

Are you ticked off by having to wait for your room to be ready or incensed by being kicked out early? Vote now!


First round voting ends at 11:59EDT on Sunday, March 20.

More Hotel Madness action:
#1 No free Wi-Fi vs. #16 Annoying hotel TV channel
#2 Bad front desk service vs. #15 Everything about TV remotes
#3 Expensive parking vs. #14 Tightly tucked-in sheets
#4 Resort fees vs. #13 Early housekeeping visits
#5 No airport shuttle vs. #12 One-ply toilet paper
#6 No free breakfast vs. #11 Expensive minibars
#7 Bad water pressure vs. #10 Small towels

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.

Frustrated passenger beats up airline “employee” – breaks its screen

A passenger at Bismarck airport was apparently having some issues getting a Delta Airlines check-in kiosk to accept his information.

So, instead of yelling at it, like any normal frustrated passenger would do, he beat the poor thing up.

His anger caused $15,000 in damage to the kiosk, and in addition to being taken into custody and being charged with a felony, both the airport terminal authority and Delta Airlines have barred him from any contact with them.

So, let this be a lesson to anyone that thinks the check-in kiosk does not have feelings that can be hurt – that may very well be true, but beating it up will still land you in the slammer.




Save time at checkin with elite status

At 6PM on a Friday afternoon, New York‘s JFK airport is hopping. Part of it is, rather, just the check-in counter. The everyday, economy check-in counter, to be specific. Scores of passengers-to-be swarm the kiosks, some swiping credit cards, some punching buttions, some pulling their hair in distress. Those that successfully navigate the digital mayhem are funnelled into the luggage line, a mess of carts, passengers and boarding passes waiting to be processed by the half dozen, red jacketed agents at the far end of the hall.

Contrast. Thirty meters away from the economy check-in, the business/first/elite station is a sea of tranquility. Three rows of details, the first, a line of leather chairs where waiting travelers pick at their newspapers and wait for God knows what to happen. The second, a sea of poles and cords, a maze of manmade rows designed to channel customers into specific lines. Three passengers wait for their turn. The third: a long row of ticket agents and customer service representatives, silently working, waving new customers out of line. It’s nearly relaxing.

And it’s a good illustration of the massive gap between the everyday customer and the revered “elite” or business passenger that the airlines so desire. My trip through the elite line? Six minutes, four of which I spent repacking my bag.

Do yourself a favor this year and hit that elite status tier with your favorite airline — usually you need to fly 25k miles to reach that point, but there are tons of specials out there right now that will save you time and money. Hit that threshold and you’re on easy street through 2011, as you enjoy faster checkin, upgrades to first class and a hefty baggage allowance. You’ll love it — we promise.