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People are crazy. That is the one thing to keep in mind as we start in on this week's tale of ridiculous behavior on an airplane.
Sunday's United flight 1462 from Newark to Denver was forced to divert to Chicago-O'Hare after a mid-air argument erupted over legroom. The two partiesa man and woman, both coincidentally aged 48 came to harsh words over the man's use of "Knee Defenders" to prevent the woman seated in front of him from reclining.
Knee Defenders (pictured in use, above), are a $21.95 pair of doohickies designed to fit between a meal try and the seat it's attached to, which inhibits the recline of said seat. They are unofficially prohibited by airlines, and Knee Defender itself recommends doing the decent thing of providing a "courtesy card" to explain the use of the devices to the effected parties. Alas, it is apparent that such common decency was absent on this United flight.
On the tail of the news from our sis HotelChatter that Hyatt has begun offering Uber's services from within its own app, United announced yesterday that it would also partner with Uber to help its customers get to and from the airport.
Uber's services will soon be embedded in United app's menu or in the "My Reservations" card on a current reservation. Here, still within United's app, information on Uber rides will be displayed, including types of available vehicles, estimated wait times, and prices. Once a customer selects a ride, they will automatically be transferred to the Uber app to complete the transaction. Or, if the person does not have the Uber app, to the Uber website to sign up for an account.
Mobile Apps / United / Airline News / Travel Tech / Passports / → All Tags
Two days ago, when checking in for a flight from Denver to Guatemala City on the United app, we were unable to obtain a mobile boarding pass and had to check in at the desk upon arriving at the airport.
The reason for this is that a passenger's passport must be verified before a boarding pass - regardless of whether it's paper or mobile - can be issued on international flights. Surely, you're familiar with the self check-in kiosk that makes you scan your passport, and that send you to the desk agent when it malfunctions.
We’ve seen our share of airline safety videos, and once again there’s another carrier releasing a refresh and upgrade of their pre-flight entertainment. This time it’s United, and we have to say we’re pleased with their latest presentation.
United / United Airlines / Animal Travel / Nature Travel / Travel Technology / Environment / → All Tags
Chances are we've all seen a David Attenborough documentary or two, and listened as he discussed how specific animals move, live and act in their natural habitat. The reason this information is known is mostly due to animal tagging and tracking. Basically, putting small GPS sensors onto animals to track their migration and possibly help prevent the endangerment of the species plays an important part in conservation and research.
Now, United will play a new role in this animal tracking with their installation of radio receiver antennas on their aircraft. They'll be able to pick up signals for animal tags while they fly around, which seems like a perfect idea since the airline criss-crosses any part of the planet 5,300 times per day.
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There’s another carrier adding a little craft beer to the beverage cart, and this week it’s United bringing a hometown favorite right into the cabin.
Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery has been tapped—ha—to send over plenty of 312 Urban Wheat Ale over to United Airlines. The sudsy stuff will be offered up on flights across the globe, and the ale will even be available in United Club locations across the United States. It sounds like things should be on the menu beginning on July 1.
It’ll be $8 for those in the back of the plane, and those up front in business and first class can score some free of charge. If you’re enjoying a little while awaiting your flight you can expect to hand over $3 for a drink in the United Club.
Best of all there’s going to be a little bit of an in-flight happy hour on Tuesday—we’re guessing July 1—to welcome the new beer to 35,000-feet. Passengers flying between Chicago and Houston on United Flight 312 will score a beer for free.
Travel Tech / United / EWR / Passports / → All Tags
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news to travelers who've shelled out for Global Entry, but a better option is quickly gaining popularity at major US airports...and it's free to use.
The automated passport kiosk allows travelers arriving from international lights to quickly enter their details, snap a photo, receive a stamp, and continue on their merry way into baggage claim; this is as opposed to waiting in a long line to see an agent for the usual passport review and stamp.
We first experienced the smooth and snappy process back in October, and fell in love with it. It seems that airports and fellow flyers echo our feelings, as over 10 airports have added the machines, with more to come:
New Routes / Airlines / Airline News / Ohana / Ohana By Hawaiian / United / United Airlines / American Airlines / Qatar Airways / Lufthansa / → All Tags
Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of all the new route announcements that come our way, so we’ve complied a little bit of a rundown below. As long as you can afford the fares, this should definitely help add to your passport stamp collection.
· American Airlines:
China is just a little bit closer this week thanks to the planes and people over at American Airlines. The carrier launched nonstop options to Hong Kong and Shanghai from their hub and home over at to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The flights leaving for Shanghai depart from Texas at just before 11am, and those headed to Hong Kong will depart at around 12:45pm. Best of all the flights to Hong Kong will use some of those snazzy new Boeing 777-300ERs to make the trip—the first time American will use these planes over to Asia.
· 'Ohana by Hawaiian:
Those new interisland flights from the offshoot of Hawaiian Airlines must be doing well, as ‘Ohana by Hawaiian is getting ready to offer up a few more options. It sounds like the carrier is planning to start turboprop service to spots over in Maui and the Big Island. The new options will link Kahului, Maui with Molokai, as well as between Kona and Hilo over on the Big Island. Things in and out of Molokai will start up on July 8, and those Kona and Hilo flights should start doing their thing a couple days later—on July 10.
Frequent Flyer Miles / Airline News / United / Airlines / Loyalty Programs / MileagePlus / → All Tags
United Airlines announced today that it will begin awarding frequent flyer miles based on ticket price rather than distant flown on March 1st, 2015. The idea behind this system rests in the desire to reward the travelers that spend the most and prevent customers who paid significantly less for a ticket from earning the same amount of miles.
You might remember a similar move was made by Delta earlier this year, one which we were very, very critical of for its impacts on the budget traveler. We don't have a problem with wanting to reward big spenders, but we do take offense to the industry's definition of a loyal traveler, punishing customers who book far in advance at a lower price.
It’s never been a better time to board with fully charged electronic doodads, as carriers have started to start streaming stuff like never before. United is the latest carrier to use WiFi to share much more than just the internet, as now they’re sending programming right to your device.
Things are limited at this point, but United just started testing things out on certain flights to and from Hawaii. They’re working with—or just paying—Panasonic to get things up and running, as the plan is to beam and stream around 150 shows and movies from servers aboard the plane to your tablet, phone, or other thing with a screen.
First Class Travel / Airlines / Airline News / United / Airports / IAH / Frequent Flyer Miles / LAX / → All Tags
Last summer, United launched a partnership with Mercedes-Benz at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and began picking up its elite flyers planeside and driving them to their connecting flights. It was not an industry first, but it was far from industry standard here in the States. Now, just a year later, United has expanded this service to its hubs in Chicago, Newark, San Francisco, and, most recently, Los Angeles, with no signs of stopping.
If you're not familiar with the service, what United and other airlines have now started doing is meeting its most favored flyers on the tarmac when they land and escorting them to their connecting flight. In United's case at LAX, it picks up its Global Services members and United Global First customers in a Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC SUV.
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We realize travel budgets may be limited, but it’s free to dream. This is where contests come into the picture, as there’s alway these current contests:
Enter between now and April 30th each and every day, as United Airlines is giving away some airfare over to Belize as part of the My Coke Rewards program. Apparently if Belize isn't your preferred destinations things can be changed, as options across the United States and Central America are also open to the winners. It's all part of Earth Day celebrations, as they want you to learn all about United and their commitment to the environment. The link above will fill you in on the rules and regulations, and you'll be one-step closer to scoring something with an a approximate retail value of $1,050.