Woman calls in fake bomb threat to keep boyfriend from leaving

In a time when everyone’s on heightened alert against terrorist attacks, a woman in Chile called in a fake bomb threat to keep her boyfriend from flying off to a new job. MSNBC has reported that Grace Guajardo phoned in the threat to keep Rodrigo Gomez from departing on his Iberia flight bound for Madrid.

The couple, who’ve been in a relationship for over eight years and have three children together, were to be separated for several months while Gomez worked as a cruise ship waiter. Guajardo first tried to get authorities to tell Gomez his father was gravely ill. When that ploy failed, she did what any other reasonable and distraught girlfriend would do — she phoned in a bomb threat.

Ironically, Gomez stayed behind in Santiago, but Guajardo now faces up to 61 days in jail if convicted of making the false bomb threat. Had she pulled this stunt in the U.S., she’d likely be facing terrorism charges and they’d be separated for years — not a few months.

MSNBC currently has a poll going — love story or crazy girlfriend? An overwhelming majority have declared her “the crazy girlfriend”. What’s your vote — is this a story of true love or is she just plain crazy?

British Airways, American Airlines, and Iberia in transatlantic tie-up

British Airways has signed a “tie-up” deal with American Airlines to share passengers and costs between the European Union and North America. Two non-EU nations, Switzerland and Norway, are also covered in the agreement.

BA says the deal will be worth $7 billion a year and will give passengers greater access to discounted fares. They’ll also get better connections and access to the airlines’ global network.

The deal, which has been in the works since 2008, only received regulatory approval this summer after rival carriers complained that it would create a near-monopoly. BA and Iberia merged last year. The current tie-in deal with AA is not a merger, but instead a close cooperation agreement to integrate ground operations and other aspects of the airlines. This will reduce costs by getting rid of overlapping services, and if these savings are passed on to the customers then there could indeed be a reduction in fares. With competition as fierce as ever, BA, Iberia, and AA will want to make this deal as marketable as possible.

The joint venture will being in October. Stay tuned to see how it turns out.

[Photo courtesy Fly For Fun via Gadling’s flickr pool]

British Airways and Iberia agree on a “merger of equals”

If you ever needed any more evidence that the aviation industry is changing, look no further than the big announcement from British Airways and Spanish flagship carrier Iberia this afternoon.

The two have announced that they reached an agreement on a “memorandum of understanding” to proceed with a full merger of equals. The combination will create one of the largest airlines in Europe, carrying 62 million passengers yearly. The joint revenues will be around 15 billion Euros and they’ll fly a fleet of 419 aircraft.

According to the press release, the new airline will be called TopCo, and will be based in Spain, with its headquarters in the UK. BA will own 55% of the combination and Iberia will hold the rest. The merger is expected to be completed in late 2010. Willie Walsh, the current CEO of British Airways will lead the new company.

Both airlines will keep their own names, and branding, very much like KLM and Air France did when they merged.

The full press release can be found here.

Hundreds of flights cancelled as Iberia workers go on strike

Thousands of passengers were left stranded today as workers at Iberia Airlines walked off the job for the first day of a two-day strike.

Iberia was forced to cancel more than 400 of its 2,000 flights for this Monday and Tuesday as cabin crews protested the fact that they haven’t received a pay increase in four years. This is a tough situation for Spanish workers, who live in a country with one of Europe’s highest inflation rates, between 3.6 and 4 percent annually in the past few years. And that’s just the official rate. Living in Madrid I can say that here at least it seems to be much higher.

Spain’s national airline has been hit hard by the recession and this new blow will only worsen its situation. It couldn’t be helping Iberia’s chances of clinching a proposed merger with British Airways either.

Information on the affected flights is available here.

Fare Alert! Fall Barcelona fares from New York for under $250!

It’s that time of the year when fare sales start to come in heavy and the frugal traveler with wanderlust is fraught with options. This one, however, was too outstanding to not pass to Gadlingers:

Iberia, Spain’s national carrier, just put half of Europe on sale, starting with Barcelona and Madrid for about $250 from New York City. You can’t get to Los Angeles for that price half of the time!

But it gets better. Other destinations throughout the continent are sale, from Istanbul for $300 to Paris for a shade more.

Fares appear to be good for March and November of this year with a few fares bleeding out on either side of those dates. The key is to be flexible and patient in your search. Start at Kayak.com and search “weekends” from NYC to XXX (BCN, MAD, IST) etc, or use the “flexible dates” function to expand your search. Then, bounce over to Iberia.com and lock in tickets.

You can even get through the booking process and save your ticket for 48 hours if you want to ask your significant other for permission.

These tickets book into the Q fare class, so if you’re planning on earning American Airlines (OneWorld) miles, you’ll only get 30%. But for $244, who cares?

Search and book as soon as you can, fares this hot won’t last more than a few hours!