Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Canadian charter airline SkyService shuts down

From the Globe and Mail:

"Skyservice Airlines has abruptly shut down, leaving tour operators that hired the charter carrier scrambling to find other planes for travellers.

Toronto-based Skyservice confirmed Wednesday that a receiver has been appointed to oversee the winding down of the debt-laden company.

The closing of Skyservice comes after Sunwing Travel Group, which has its own planes, merged recently with Signature Vacations. Industry insiders say Sunwing had held talks with Skyservice for an early cancellation of the charter airline's deal to continue flying on behalf of Signature until 2013."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Porter increases flights on Eastern Triangle

" Porter Airlines takes leading position with Toronto-Ottawa, Toronto-Montreal routes

Up to 46 Montreal, 38 Ottawa daily flights

TORONTO/March 18, 2010 – Porter Airlines is significantly expanding its service on the key Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa Eastern Triangle routes, offering up to 84 combined daily flights.

Flights between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Montreal Trudeau Airport will grow to 46 daily trips from the current peak of 28. On the Toronto City Airport-Ottawa route, flight frequency increases to 38 daily trips from 34. The majority of flights will operate every 40 minutes on the Montreal route and every hour on the Ottawa route. These changes take full effect May 5.

“Porter now has more weekday flights on these two important routes than any other carrier,” said Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines. “Business people enjoy travelling when the flight is convenient for their schedule and Porter gives them extensive choices with high frequency and flexibility.”

Source: Porter Press Release

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Air Canada moving to Credit Card only cabins

Effective May 1, Air Canada (excluding Jazz) will be moving to credit card only cabins for all flights that offer On-Board Cafe or Duty-Free Boutique. Jazz will remain as Cash and meal voucher cabins.

Full details can be found on Air Canada' s website.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Porter Airlines set to launch service to Moncton

Starting on June 25, 2010, Porter Airlines will offer two flights per day for the summer season between Moncton and Ottawa with same plane service continuing to Toronto Island Airport. At the end of the summer season the flights will be reduced to once per day on Thursday and Fridays, plus two flights per day on Sundays.

Source: Porter

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Virgin America plans to serve Toronto by June

If approved, Virgin America will start serving Toronto as early as June 2010 from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Subject to receipt of authority from the U.S. DOT, Virgin America would offer one flight per day from Toronto to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Toronto would be Virgin America's first International destination.

Should these routes be approved it gives Canadian's another frequent flyer option as Virgin America does have its own program called Elevate.

Source: Yahoo Finance

Friday, March 12, 2010

Marriott changing reward night levels at 20% of their hotels

As of this past Sunday (March 8) Marriott changed the points requirements for free nights at 20% of its Worldwide hotels. 300 of the hotels (roughly 9%) will increase by being moved up to a higher category level while 350 (11%) will decrease by being moved down to lower categories. Approximately 95% of the 650 hotels affected fall into the first 5 redemption categories.
Visit this thread on to see a compiled list of the individual hotel changes

Source: Hotel Check-In

AIR MILES adds new airline partners

AIR MILES has added three new airlines for which you can redeem your AIR MILES Rewards Miles on.

The first is United Airlines, a Star Alliance carrier, US based United serves over 300 destinations in the U.S. and Hawaii. To celebrate the partnership, all AIR MILES bookings for United are 10% if booked by the end of March for travel until the end of the year
See here for more details

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have also joined AIR MILES and offer flights out of Alberta and B.C. to cities in the U.S., Hawaii and Mexico. It also looks like there is an introductory offer of 10% off reward flights for the rest of the year if booked by March 31

US Airways to launch Halifax-Philadelphia service

Beginning on June 1, US Airways will serve Halifax from their Philadelphia hub with 50 seat CRJ200's. The year round service will operate three times per day.

Philadelphia - Halifax               Halifax - Philadelphia
Flight Departure Arrival Flight Departure Arrival
3608 9:40 a.m. 12:45 p.m. 3657 7:40 a.m. 8:56 a.m.*
3706 1:35 p.m. 4:33 p.m. 3623 1:15 p.m. 2:31 p.m.
3652 8:25 p.m. 11:25 p.m. 3707 5:00 p.m. 6:16 p.m.
Source: CanFlyer

Thursday, March 11, 2010

US Airways to offer Ottawa-Charlotte service

US Airways will launch service between Ottawa and their hub at Charlotte on May 31, 10. The route will be flown with a CRJ200

Flight Timings:
Ottawa-Charlotte Dep 0750 Arr 1017
Charlotte-Ottawa Dep 2030 Arr 2253

Source: Airline Route Updates

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Marriott matches Starwood with Free Internet for Elite Members

Starting on May 7, Marriott Gold and Platinum Elite members will have free Internet access at nearly 450 locations across the U.S. and Canada. The benefit will be available at Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott's and Renaissance Hotels. All other brands will continue to offer free Internet to all guests.

The move comes after Starwood Hotels announced that their elite SPG members would be receiving free Internet access.

Continental to offer extra legroom in Economy, for a fee

Rather then rehashing it, this is what I got in my recent email from Continental:

"On March 17, 2010, we’ll be introducing a new option allowing you to purchase seat assignments for unreserved, Economy Class seats that feature extra legroom. Depending on the type of aircraft and row, seats with extra legroom offer a minimum of seven additional inches of legroom.

You will have the ability to purchase seat assignments when checking in at or at an airport kiosk during the normal check-in period, beginning 24 hours prior to flight departure. The price of these extra legroom seats will vary depending on a number of factors, including the length of the flight and market.

Consider this choice when you want extra legroom for more comfort on your flight.

We appreciate your business and thank you for choosing Continental."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Choice Privileges adds fourth tier to Preferred Hotel reward levels and reduces amounts on first three

Choice Privilege members have had an option for many years to redeem their points for select luxury/preferred hotels outside of the Choice Hotels brands. The redemption rates were set in three tiers depending on the property and those rates were increased not too long ago along with certain properties being excluded.

Now Choice has introduced a fourth tier to the redemption levels which has allowed them to bring back some of the properties that they took away from being able to redeem for. As well for the first three tiers they have dropped the points required value back to what they were before they inflated them.

The points requirements for the tiers are as follows:
Tier 1 - 30,000
Tier 2 - 40,000
Tier 3 - 50,000
Tier 4 - 60,000

For more details and to see all the participating hotels please visit Choice Hotels

Thursday, March 4, 2010

WestJet Frequent Guest Program Review

I have done a complete review of the WestJet program, it is quite long so I will not post all of it here, as well you can see in the previous post a quick overview. However please post your comments, good,bad or neutral below. WestJet does read our blog and they are known as a very proactive company when it comes to comments from their Guests.

The complete review is on our main Rewards Canada site, you can read it here

Here is an excerpt:
Key Features
The biggest feature with the WestJet Frequent Guest Program is no black out dates. As long as seats are available (ie for sale on the website) then you will be able to redeem for them. There are no black out dates and there is no limit to number of seats per flight or per route like legacy frequent flyer programs. Although most legacy programs have introduced access to all seats at all times it requires more miles, typically double the base requirement or more whereas with WestJet the value of your rewards remains the same regardless of the ticket value.

Jet-Away bonus rewards are an interesting way to reward members without giving away tons of dollars and relatively unique to the Frequent Flyer Program industry but again they are taking a page from the credit card industry where numerous cards offer complimentary companion tickets. With these rewards however WestJet is keeping revenue in mind as you have to buy a ticket to go along with the companion ticket.

The WestJet Frequent Guest Program allows for transfers between members for a flat $20 fee, compared to most frequent flyer programs that have a base fee plus a certain amount of cents per miles transferred.

Overall what is good about programs like the WestJet program is that you don't have to have a lot of points to redeem and get some sort of reward versus the set point programs like most frequent flyer programs where you need a minimum amount of points to redeem for a flight.

The $1500 annual spend level will keep the ultra-leisure traveller away unless they get the RBC MasterCard. The spending is also per person, so if you think, by booking your family of four a trip and spending $1600 in base fares reaches the first level, think again, each person will only have $400 towards the first level.

The main downfall of the credit card type or WestJet type of program is that value is lost when you have to redeem for expensive/non-seat sale flights as you have to redeem more points versus the set point programs which require the same amount of points for a flight regardless of what it is selling for (of course this is the best case scenario not taking into account black out dates, availability etc)

As well the credit card is right in the middle of the pack as the 1.5% return on the World MasterCard version falls below cards like the Capital One Miles Plus and Diners Club MasterCards, but is equal to cards like the TD Travel Visas.

The 12 month annual spend levels will make it tough for the less frequent flyer to accrue WestJet Dollars. While Aeroplan has a 12 month inactivity rule, all you have to do is earn 1 or redeem 1 mile to keep your account and balance active and growing. With WestJet if you don't hit that $1500 in the 12 month period, say you spend $1350, you won't get anything.

The 5 Year expiry on your earned dollars is about average for the industry but only for programs that have life span regulations on earned miles/dollars. Many Asian frequent flyer programs have a 3 year life span and in Canada Aeroplan has a 7 year life span while others have no life span as long as you have activity in your account.

No online capabilites for redemption yet, that will come soon but in the meantime it means calling WestJet to take care of bookings when you want to redeem WestJet dollars.

Once again, you can read the complete review here

WestJet reveals Frequent Guest Program

It's officially posted, the long awaited much delayed WestJet Frequent Flyer program, called Frequent Guest has been revealed. I will have a more detailed review coming very soon but first impressions are mixed, I will need a little more time to digest this as there is lots involved here........

Basic overview:
You don't get anything back until you spend $1500 with WestJet per year, see the following:
- Spend $1500 with WJ get $50 in WestJet Dollars
- Spend $4500 get $165 WestJet Dollars + 1 Complimentary Companion Ticket within Canada, 4 advance seat selection vouchers and two lounge passes ($500 value)
- Spend $6000 get $230 WestJet Dollars + 1 Complimentary Companion Ticket anywhere WestJet flies, 4 advance seat selection vouchers and two lounge passes ($800 value)
- Spend $7500 get $300 WestJet Dollars

Basically once you reach the $1500 you then start earning 2.5% in WestJet Dollars back on every dollar you spend with WestJet and 1% back on WestJet Vacations. The key is that you have to hit that $1500 level.

The annual spending resets every 12 months based upon when you joined and your WestJet dollars earned have a 5 year life span (they expire at the end of the 5th year after you earned them)

You can use WestJet dollars towards any flight or towards a WestJet vacations (Max $500 for WJV)

WestJet Vacation's Packages do not count to any of the annual spend levels but will earn 1% in WestJet dollars once you reach the $1500 level.

You can also earn additional WestJet dollars with the WestJet RBC MasterCard and other bonus offers during the year.

Sign up before Dec 31, 10 and the $4500 award level is dropped to $3000 for the first year.

See all the details here and watch out for our complete and thorough review soon.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Best Western Offers Status Match to other Hotel's Elite Status

If you are an elite member of a hotel rewards program, Best Western will match that status with no catch (ie you don't have to stay once etc). This offer comes on the heels of Hilton HHonors devaluing their program earlier this year. With many disgruntled HHonors members looking to dump the HHonors program, many frequent guest programs have launched campaigns to lure those HHonors members to their hotel chains. Well without stating it out right this seems to be Best Western's move at attracting some of Hilton's customers.

For full details on how to complete Best Western's status match you can visit the Best Western website.

AA restricts standby, charges all customers for same-day changes

For all tickets purchased on and after Feb. 22, American Airlines will charge all customers, including those sitting in premium cabins, $50 for confirmed same-day changes on domestic and Canada flights.

Flyers with premium status previously were able to make same-day changes for free.

Premium customers (including those with elite frequent-flyer status), active U.S. military personnel and customers redeeming miles for AAnytime Awards travel can continue to standby for free. However, the standby option no longer will be available to most coach passengers.

The changes apply to American Eagle and AmericanConnection flights, too.

Source: CanFlyer

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

United cancels Ottawa-Denver service

According to Airline Route Updates, United has canceled their service between Ottawa and Denver and at the same time reduced service between Edmonton and Denver and Vancouver and Los Angeles.