First-Class Lounge For Pets Opens At Chicago O’Hare

dog carrier airport
Tom Check, Flickr

Luxury pet hotels, pet portraiture, pet birthday parties and even pet facials – these are just some of the ways the travel industry has bent over backwards to make our furry friends feel like they’re on vacation too.

Now, our four-legged besties are getting the first-class treatment at airport lounges, thanks to the opening of a lounge designed especially for pets at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

The on-site kennel is located in United Airline’s new cargo facility and has 28 separate enclosures designed to hold different types of animals comfortably until it’s time for them to fly. The kennel is temperature-controlled, as are the purpose-built vans that shuttle the pampered pooches from the lounge to their flights come boarding time.The lounge, which opened at the end of last month, is the third such pet facility that United is operating in airports across the U.S., with similar services available at Houston and Newark airports.

United says the lounge staff is trained to provide first-class care for the animals, which includes walking, bathing and grooming them. After all, even pets like to stretch their legs, take a hot shower and freshen up their look when they’re in transit, right?

United’s New Mileage Program Cuts Out Budget Travelers

Luis Argerich, Wikimedia Commons

United Airlines’ new mileage program is set to include a minimum annual spending level, essentially cutting budget travelers out of the perk-earning picture. The new plan forces travelers to spend a set amount of money to get benefits, meaning those who smartly snag deals and rack up miles will no longer garner elite status.

Starting January 2014, those enrolled in United MileagePlus will need to earn a combination of either miles or segments, plus dollars, to get rewards. For example, to reach the first tier, a frequent flier must earn either 25,000 miles or 30 qualifying segments, plus a minimum of $2,500 qualifying dollars. So now, two round-trip flights from the United States to Europe that could have otherwise landed a traveler an upgrade might not qualify any longer, especially if a traveler found a great deal on airfare before booking.

As outlined above, travelers who only hit the road when they find a can’t-miss deal will be hurt most by the new qualifications, leading us to believe that the airline might want to reconsider the MileagePlus program tagline: “the world’s most rewarding loyalty program.”

Man Says He Poisoned All Passengers Aboard Hong Kong To New Jersey Flight

United Plane
Franco Folini, Flickr

A man is being questioned by authorities after he claimed to have poisoned everyone traveling on United Flight 116. The flight, which was making its way from Hong Kong to Newark’s Liberty Airport, landed at 1:34 p.m. today, several hours after a male passenger made the frightening declaration.

According to news reports, the passenger was in an emotionally disturbed state. He made the announcement about having poisoned everyone on board several hours before the flight was due to arrive in New Jersey.Despite this, the FBI said the decision was made not to divert the plane to a closer airport. Instead, flight attendants surrounded the man along with a number of other passengers who volunteered to help restrain him for the duration of the flight.

Both local police and FBI agents were notified and were ready to meet the plane as soon as it landed. According to an FBI spokesman, there is no evidence that any passengers were actually poisoned.

Bundling, Unbundling Travel Services For Convenience, Savings

travel services
stevendepolo/Flickr

Bundling travel services can often be the best value when compared to buying individual services in an a la carte sort of way. Buying airfare then adding on a rental car and/or hotel package is a good example of saving travel funds via bundling.

Unbundling, on the other hand, is where fees for everything from checked luggage to exit row seats on airlines came from, generating millions in non-fare income. In a bit of a turn in a different direction, some travel service providers are introducing new bundles that can add up to savings for frequent travelers.

This week United Airlines announced a $499 offer that gives air travelers annual subscriptions that guarantee more legroom and no-charge checked bags. Exclusive to those booking through United.com:

  • The Economy Plus subscription starts at $499 and includes seats typically paid for as an upgrade for flights in the continental United States. Make that $599 to include all North and Central America flights and $699 is the price for Global access.
  • The Baggage subscription starts at $349.00 giving you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation up to two bags checked per flight for free. The program does not waive oversize/overweight bag charges.
  • The United Club subscription gives access to more than 45 United Club locations complete with complimentary snacks, beverages and Wi-Fi. The cost: 65,000 miles or $500 per person.

The world of cruise travel saw an unbundling of sorts with the advent of specialty restaurants, charging passengers an extra fee for a fine dining experience. The nature of a cruise vacation still swings towards more inclusive travel than, say, a land vacation. But optional extra charges can add up fast, even doubling the total price of a cruise vacation

In a similar move to United’s subscription plans, Royal Caribbean International has a variety of dining packages on various cruise ships. On Allure of the Seas, for example, passengers can choose from the following packages:

  • Central Park Dining Package, at $70 per guest (regularly priced at $90), includes Giovanni’s Table Italian Trattoria, 150 Central Park fine-dining restaurant and Chops Grille steakhouse.
  • Chef’s Dining Package, at $130 per guest, includes the five-course, gourmet Chef’s Table and wine pairing, 150 Central Park and Chops Grille
  • Choice Dining Package, at $80 per guest, includes Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Izumi and Samba Grill Brazilian steakhouse

Bundled dining packages are also offered by sister-line Celebrity Cruises in a Specialty Dining package with three, four or five dinners.

How to Travel on a Budget

On The Runway: United Airlines New Uniforms Revealed

pagedooley/flickr

Yesterday, United Airlines revealed new uniforms. United crew walked the runway as part of their 25th anniversary celebration at Newark-Liberty’s Terminal C. The new United style rolls out on June 25.

“We are pleased to celebrate United’s long history at our Newark hub – a premier global gateway and a powerful economic engine,” said Jeff Smisek, United’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a press release. “We continue to make investments in our terminal facilities, our services and our people to ensure United’s Terminal C remains a great place for our customers and co-workers.”

Yesterday, travelers arriving and departing at Newark Liberty joined United employees in an anniversary celebration where customers had opportunities to earn prizes, travel discounts and bonus MileagePlus miles. The airline also had a temporary exhibit all about how air travel has evolved since 1988.