Did A Worker Really Take Airport Stairs On Pizza Joint Joyride?

A La Guardia Airport worker was spotted cruising in a Southwest Airlines terminal stair car down a busy street in Queens around lunchtime on Saturday, and the New York Post reports he made a stop at a pizza joint along the way.

The Post quotes a DMV spokeswoman who says the stair car isn’t legal to drive on a public street. The story was a hot topic in the news this morning, including on NBC’s Today Show. However, a later report put out by USA Today says the Post’s story has spun a picture way out of proportion (and in the picture, there’s no evidence of pizza). Southwest tells the news outlet the Post’s report is “completely” untrue, and that the worker was just driving the stair car to a maintenance office close to the airport.

“He was simply taking the equipment to their office for their standard upkeep and standard maintenance,” Mainz tells USA Today. “So nothing out of the ordinary. It (the stair car) had all the proper plates and tags they need to do so. He certainly was not going to get pizza.”

The Best Airlines For Redeeming Frequent Flier Miles

If your frequent flier miles are languishing unused in your account because you keep coming up against blackout dates whenever you try to use them, then perhaps it’s time to switch airlines, or maybe even rethink your booking tactics.

A survey by IdeaWorksCompany looked at 25 of the biggest frequent flier programs to figure out which carriers were best when it came to redeeming frequent flier points. The study checked each of the airline’s primary routes to see what level of availability there was for travelers looking to book a flight using their miles.The results? Coming out on top were Southwest Airlines, Air Berlin and GOL, which all showed reward seat availability 100 percent of the time.

Among the big players, United Airlines took out eighth place on the list with 80 percent availability. Other large airlines did worse, with American Airlines making reward seats available about 49 percent of the time, while travelers trying to redeem miles on Delta or US Airways would have been successful only 36 percent of the time.

So why did budget airlines fare so well in the study? According to the company behind the survey, low cost airlines focus on offering short- and medium-haul flights that operate multiple times a day – meaning there are simply more seats to go around. The same principle applies if you’re trying to book a short-haul flight on a major airline, with reward availability hovering around 85 percent for flights under 2,500 miles. It’s the long-haul intercontinental flights with lower seat density that drag the big carriers down the rankings.

Some experts also believe the reason budget airlines keep topping the survey is that fewer business travelers (who tend to dominate frequent flier program enrollment) use them – meaning that when it comes time to claim your reward miles, you don’t have to compete with as many people for your seat.

Good Winter Travel Season Deals Still Available

Before, during or after winter travel season, the nation’s regions offering ski adventure travel options have something for everyone. The idea of climbing, hiking, camping or trekking through diverse areas had many travelers planning a 2013 winter vacation about this time last year. But those with no plans have options too.

“Put in now for end-of-January trips, but don’t expect deals around Presidents’ Day weekend,” says travel expert Pauline Frommer in a Reuters article.

President’s Day, like many other holidays, is a popular time for leisure travel and a peak booking of snow and cold-related adventures. The best hotel and resort rooms and money-saving packages, offered far in advance to jump-start bookings, are gone. Other discounted promotions will be few but some suggested sources can help.

“Check ski package deals from Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines,” says Frommer. “They both offer good lift ticket and lodging deals – especially if you’re willing to go mid-week instead of weekend.”

Looking to go away from the snow and cold? Land-based resorts, some all-inclusive, are a possible choice along with cruise vacations where unpacking once, we see several destinations on our floating hotel. The winter season brings cruise ships from Europe and around the world to luxuriate in the Caribbean sun. Still, the Caribbean is not the only warm place open for business over the next few months.

“I’ve found some of the best values to be in Central America,” suggests Frommer. “There are fairly decent air fares there. They’ve risen less than other parts of the world. Guatemala and Belize have some good hotel deals and there are some great adventures to be had there.”

Want to find specific ski adventure locations? This video may help:

Microsoft and Southwest Airlines team up for picture perfect holiday

For the second year in a row, Microsoft and Southwest Airlines have joined forces to offer free holiday themed photos and giveaway some great prizes as well. Between now and December 24th, you’ll be able to score a Windows 7 laptop each day and be entered to win free travel for a year on Southwest.

The two companies have set up photo booths in 21 airports and 3 malls across the U.S. Visitor to these locations will be able get free photos with Santa, which they can then share with friends and family. The booths are located in major airports that Southwest flies in and out of, such as Logan International in Boston, Dallas Love Field, and Denver International. Additionally, the malls that are hosting the photo experience are located in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. For a complete listing of the locations click here.

Microsoft and Southwest haven’t forgotten about those of us who won’t be visiting any of those locations this holiday season either. We can still enter their online sweepstakes, where they are giving away a Windows PC every day through Christmas Eve, ten Epson printers, and the grand prize of free flights for a year. What traveler wouldn’t want that prize? To enter, simply click here and fill out the online form.