Author Archive

New Retirement Site Online – Retire USA

Friday, June 8th, 2012

We interrupt our normal Airports Coverage to bring you a new retirement website by the maker of QuickAid.   It’s called “Retire USA” and offers retirement-focused information about individual cities all over the country.

Retire USA State by State Profiles – click on the cities for details, community listings, and more.  Our Retirement Blog is the most active in the country now with over a dozen active bloggers.

Here are links to our state pages, but be sure to check out the blog where posts are made almost daily from our merry band of retirement bloggers.

California Retirement | Colorado Retirement  | Florida Retirement | New York Retirement | Nevada Retirement | North Carolina Retirement | Oregon Retirement | South Carolina Retirement | Texas Retirement | Utah Retirement |  Virginia Retirement  | Arkansas Retirement

QuickAid Airport Blog MAINTENANCE ALERT!

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Due to problems from the “Pharma hack” on the QuickAid site we are working to restore the blog portion of our site ASAP.  Thanks for your patience unless you had something to do with the hack. In that case ….

Abandoned Airports List (USA Airports)

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Thanks to Paul Freeman for a great resource featuring abandoned and little known airports.  This list was recently updated on May 1, 2012 and it features over 1500 listings grouped by US State.

www.airfields-freeman.com/

TSA Transportation Security Administration Air Travel Review

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Although there are more flight travel rules than you could ever fully understand, the basics are fairly simple and boil down to the following notes from the TSA:

TSA’s  Prohibited Items  NOT all-inclusive but helpful.

3-1-1 Rule – CONSOLIDATE your liquids and gels into a single see-through bag.    Liquids and gels must be in containers smaller than 3.4 ounces (100 mililiters), and you can only have ONE bag that is ONE quart sized.    Zip lock freezer bags are a good way to go as they are sturdy, cheap, and easy to replace if spills or tears ruin them during travel.

For Travelers   General travel tips from the TSA

ID Requirements … Especially important for International travelers who can in some (rare) circumstances be denied entry if they don’t have the right papers/visas/passports/ID.

TSA Precheck Program = Sensible Security.

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

TSA’s new precheck program is in early stages and not available to everybody, but if you are asked to join it’s probably a good idea. Here’s David Pogue, the New York Time’s technology writer, favorably reviewing the process:

Although TSA’s PreCheck is free you will have to “opt in” and only certain flyers are offered this opportunity at this time.
Look for a popup when visiting your airline’s Web site.

Pogue reports that “you can also get in to eCheck by joining a similar program like Sentri, Global Entry or Nexus”.

Read more here from David Pogue about the TSA Precheck Program

TSA Precheck Program from TSA

TSA Pre™ is currently available for eligible passengers flying on participating airlines that have opted in at the following airport checkpoint locations:

  • Atlanta (ATL): T-South Checkpoint (Delta only)
  • Chicago (ORD): Terminal 3, Checkpoint 8 (American only)
  • Dallas (DFW): Terminal C, Checkpoint C30 (American only)
  • Detroit (DTW): Checkpoint 2 on the ticketing level (Delta only)
  • John F. Kennedy (JFK): Terminal 8 Main Checkpoint (American only)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA): Delta Main Checkpoint (Delta only)
  • Las Vegas (LAS): D Gates First Class Checkpoint (American and Delta)
  • Los Angeles (LAX): TSA Pre✓™ screening lane (American only)
  • Miami (MIA): D2 Checkpoint (American only)
  • Minneapolis (MSP): Lindbergh Terminal, Checkpoint 4 (American and Delta)
  • Seattle (SEA): Checkpoint 5 North (Alaska only)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC): Terminal 2 Checkpoint (Delta only)
  • Washington D.C. (DCA): Terminal B, South Checkpoint for gates 10-22 (Delta and Active Duty U.S. Military only)

In 2012, TSA plans to expand TSA Pre™ for eligible passengers flying on participating airlines at the following airport locations:

  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
  • Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL)
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
  • Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
  • Portland International Airport (PDX)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  • Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

TSA plans to continue expanding the TSA Pre™ concept to include additional airlines, as well as airports that participate in CBP’s Global Entry program, once operationally ready.

 

 

(Jan 2012) Airline Rules from US Department of Transportation

Friday, January 27th, 2012

The second phase of the new airline passenger protections are now in effect.   These rules are designed to solve problems consumers have faced for years regarding cancellations of tickets and flights and pricing problems.

·        Requiring all taxes and fees to be included in advertised fares.
·        Banning post-purchase price increases.
·        Allowing passengers to hold a reservation without payment, or to cancel it without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if the reservation is made one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date.
·        Requiring disclosure of baggage fees when passengers book a flight.
·        Requiring that the same baggage allowances and fees apply throughout a passenger’s journey.
·       Requiring disclosure of baggage fee information on e-ticket confirmations.
·        Requiring prompt notification of delays of over 30 minutes, as well as cancellations and diversions.

Generally these seem to be a step forward where regulations will simply make the systems more transparent, although one can make a strong case that the new notifications and 24 hour purchase rule will increase costs for the airlines – costs that will need to be passed along to consumers.

Spirit Airlines has another objection to the new rules, which they assert require them to hide government taxes in their fares. For more about this challenge see their special website here:  keepmyfareslow.org

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“New Rules” full Press Release from the Department of Transportation:

DOT 111-11
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

U.S. Department of Transportation’s Expanded Airline Passenger Protections Take Effect

WASHINGTON – New consumer protections for airline passengers established by the U.S. Department of Transportation go into effect today, and will make flying more convenient and hassle-free for air travelers nationwide. The new consumer protections, finalized earlier this year, include requirements that airlines refund baggage fees if bags are lost, increase compensation provided to passengers bumped from oversold flights, and provide passengers greater protections from lengthy tarmac delays.

“The Obama Administration believes consumers have the right to be treated fairly when they fly,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.  “The Department of Transportation’s new passenger protections will help ensure that air travelers receive the respect they deserve before, during and after their flight.”

Effective today, airlines will be required to refund any fee for carrying a bag if the bag is lost.  Airlines are already required to compensate passengers for reasonable expenses for loss, damage or delay in the carriage of passenger baggage.  Under the new rules, airlines must now prominently disclose all optional fees on their websites, including but not limited to fees for baggage, meals, canceling or changing reservations, or advanced or upgraded seating.

The new rules also double the amount of money passengers are eligible to be compensated for in the event they are involuntarily bumped from an oversold flight.  Previously, bumped passengers were entitled to cash compensation equal to the one-way value of their tickets, up to $400, if the airline was able to get them to their destination within a short period of time (within 1 to 2 hours of their originally scheduled arrival time for domestic flights and 1 to 4 hours for international flights).  If they were delayed for a lengthy period of time (more than two hours after their originally scheduled arrival time for domestic flights and 4 hours for international flights), they were entitled to double the one-way price of their tickets, up to $800.  Under the new rule, bumped passengers subject to short delays will receive compensation equal to double the one-way price of their tickets, up to $650, while those subject to longer delays would receive payments of four times the one-way value of their tickets, up to $1,300.  Inflation adjustments will be made to those compensation limits every two years.

The Department of Transportation’s new rule also expands the existing ban on lengthy tarmac delays to cover the international flights of foreign airlines at U.S. airports, and establishes a hard four-hour time limit on tarmac delays for all international flights at U.S. airports.  It also extends the three-hour tarmac delay limit for domestic flights, currently in place only at large-hub and medium-hub airports, to flights at small-hub and non-hub airports as well. All carriers subject to the tarmac rule will be required to report lengthy tarmac delays to DOT.  In all cases, exceptions to the time limits are allowed only for safety, security or air traffic control-related reasons.   Carriers must also ensure that passengers stuck on the tarmac are provided adequate food and water after two hours, as well as working lavatories and any necessary medical treatment.  

Additional measures under the new rule will take effect January 24, 2012, including:

·        Requiring all taxes and fees to be included in advertised fares.
·        Banning post-purchase price increases.
·        Allowing passengers to hold a reservation without payment, or to cancel it without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if the reservation is made one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date.
·        Requiring disclosure of baggage fees when passengers book a flight.
·        Requiring that the same baggage allowances and fees apply throughout a passenger’s journey.
·       Requiring disclosure of baggage fee information on e-ticket confirmations.
·        Requiring prompt notification of delays of over 30 minutes, as well as cancellations and diversions.

The final rule, proposed rule and comments are available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2010-0140.

CES 2012 and LAS – Las Vegas McCarran Airport Express Bus

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

CES 2012 Las Vegas

Quickaid’s in Las Vegas for the International Consumer Electronics Show “CES 2012”.  Here, the gadget and computer world gathers every January to showcase technology and innovation in thousands of products from some 2700 companies exhibiting here.   This will be QuickAid’s only post from CES 2012 – most of the coverage is over at Technology Report.

One of the challenges in Las Vegas is getting to and from the airport.  Taxi service can be slow and is fairly expensive given the short distances, where the shuttles are reasonably priced at about $5-7 per trip but can take up to an hour depending on traffic and where you are heading.   The airport shuttles generally wait until they are full to go, and then must stop at each venue to drop off the passengers and unload their luggage.

However there’s a fairly new option in LAS service from both the strip and downtown and it’s the “Express Bus” or SDX.   These new speedy double deckers appear to go directly to and from the airport, although I’m still having some trouble confirming exactly how this works.  The signs suggest the bus goes right into McCarran but some of the online info says you’ll need to transfer at the SSTT or “south side transfer terminal”.    I’ll figure this out when I leave town on Friday and post more here.

 

Google buys ITA Flight Search Software.

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Google’s aquisition of ITA software, a powerful flight price comparison engine, may eventually add a huge new twist to the flight search space although Google’s current position is that they won’t enter this market as a competitor, rather as a more helpful and user friendly search routine for flights.   It remains to be seen how Google will implement this tool over time, but it’s probably bad news for what in QuickAid’s view is the best current player in this market, Kayak.com.    We’re not sure but believe that  ITA already powers Kayak’s search.

This from Google:

On July 1, 2010, Google announced an agreement to acquire ITA Software, a Cambridge, Massachusetts flight information software company, for $700 million, subject to adjustments.

  • Google’s acquisition of ITA Software will create a new, easier way for users to find better flight information online, which should encourage more users to make their flight purchases online.
  • The acquisition will benefit passengers, airlines and online travel agencies by making it easier for users to comparison shop for flights and airfares and by driving more potential customers to airlines’ and online travel agencies’ websites. Google won’t be setting airfare prices and has no plans to sell airline tickets to consumers.
  • Because Google doesn’t currently compete against ITA Software, the deal will not change existing market shares. We are very excited about ITA Software’s QPX business, and we’re looking forward to working with current and future customers. Google will honor all existing agreements, and we’re also enthusiastic about adding new partners.

 

Google Press Release and Video on the ITA Aquistion: http://www.google.com/press/ita/

Bureau of Transportation Statistics – a great online resource

Friday, November 18th, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am often amazed at the resources that pop up online without much fanfare.  One for Transportation is the Research and Innovation Technology Administration, thankfully shortened to  “RITA” , which is part of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics at BTS.gov .     Here you’ll find flight, airline, and airport statistics provided by the US Government that include everything from flight delays to jobs in the industry.   If you are a researcher this is an essential resource, and even travelers will find the information very interesting.   Did you know, for example, that extra baggage fees were $887 million – almost a billion dollars –  in the second quarter of 2011.  This is a lot of extra revenue for the airlines and also suggests an obvious budget cutting travel tip – travel light and use a carry on rather than checked baggage!     You won’t save $887 million, but one of the reasons that number is so high is that the extra baggage fees have become exceptionally high over the last few years as many flights do NOT provide any free checked bags.   My personal experience has been that travelling light has many, many advantages.    For example on our 2010 family trip to Venice, Italy we decided to walk to our hotel from the train station rather than hire a water taxi.   This was a charming walk because we only had one bag each to roll along, with more it would not have been possible.

 

British Airways Miles tips from “The Points Guy”

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Brian Kelley is “The Points Guy“, a frequent flyer who helps others get the best from their credit card frequent flyer deals and other travel offers out there.

In an excellent and detailed series of articles linked below, Kelley offers a lot of advice on the British Airways points system, which based on my limited experience offers some challenges in terms of fuel surcharges and other added on fees.   After signing up for new cards my wife and I now have over 200,000 miles to use, but I’m concerned that the “free trips” to London I thought we’d score from this are fading away fast, though it appears BA may allow us to combine several segments – a promising development.   I’ll be reading Kelley’s advice carefully to try to maximize the benefits of the British Airways Frequent Flyer Program.

 

British Airways Frequent Flyer Travel Tips from “The Points Guy” Brian Kelley:

General tipsPost 1 – Booking BA Awards, Post 2 – Booking Partner Awards, Post 3 – Oneworld Alliance, Post 4 – Taxes and Fees, Post 5 – Household Accounts, Post 6 – Companion Ticket, Post 7 – Using ExpertFlyer for Partner Award Availability, Post 8 – The Art of the Stopover, Post 9 – Leveraging Miles and Cash Redemptions, and Post 10– Using Qantas.com to Find Oneworld Award Availability. Also, be sure to check out my post on the credit card deal itself and the lengthy Q&A in the comments section.