I'm taking a short break for the Thanksgiving holiday.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for reading. When I started this enterprise in August, I wasn't sure anyone would find the site. But you have found it, and I am grateful that you have stuck with me.
If you do like the site, I hope you'll consider joining me on social media. And please contact me if you have any questions or you'd like to suggest content you'd like to see.
I know that not everyone has been with me since the beginning. So here is some content you may have missed:
United Airlines will refresh and renovate several of its United Clubs, including three at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, according to a note that went out to employees this week.
The new clubs will have improved wi-fi, more power outlets and more comfortable seating, United told employees. "Each club will reflect a new, modern style with upgraded amenities," United said in the note.
I hear there's a new phrase in Canada: "I've been Rouged."
That's what happens when an Air Canada passenger hops on a special Airbus A319 or Boeing 767 and discovers it doesn't look like a regular Air Canada plane. Instead, it belongs to Air Canada Rouge, a relatively new sub-brand of Air Canada. By design, Rouge has a low budget vibe.
On a typical A319, Air Canada offers 31 inches of seat pitch in economy class. But on the Rouge flights I took recently between Los Angeles to Calgary, seat pitch was 29 inches. And yes, that loss of two inches is definitely noticeable. Rouge also has no first or business class, though its planes have small premium economy sections.
Why did Air Canada create Rouge?
Simple economics. More seats means Air Canada can sell more tickets. In theory, it also means Air Canada sometimes can charge lower fares, since costs will be spread over more seats.
Air Canada usually uses Rouge on leisure routes popular among price sensitive customers. Though I consider Los Angeles a business destination, Air Canada obviously thinks otherwise. I suppose the airline believes Los Angeles-Calgary flights are more popular with Canadians seeking to escape the cold than with business travelers. We also have Disneyland near L.A.
Most of Air Canada's competitors in Canada, include WestJet, CanJet and Sunwing are flying single-class airplanes packed with lots of seats to warm-weather destinations. So Air Canada believed it needed a similar product to compete.
"The Rouge model itself is really an internal tool that is cost competitive with some of the biggest leisure airlines in Canada," Ben Smith, Air Canada's president, told me in December. "Our mainline model was not in a position to effectively compete in some of our markets."
What's Rouge like? Here's my report:
Do you think airline seats are too uncomfortable?
A group called the "National Association of Airline Passengers" has filed a petition for rulemaking with the Federal Aviation Administration asking the government entity to regulate airline seats. They should be more comfortable, the group argues.
"Recent news reports indicate that many airlines are reducing seat pitch and seat width in order to increase the number of passengers that may be carried on aircraft," the group writes in the petition. "Some airlines are installing more seats than the manufacturer’s original design or recommended configuration."
What does the association want the government to do? It wants the FAA to create a rule that looks like this:
American Airlines has been slowly teasing customers and journalists with little pieces of information about what is inside its new Boeing 787s.
We learned earlier this week that American will install 28 flatbed seats in business class, 48 in "main cabin extra" and 150 in regular coach on its Boeing 787-8 airplanes. We also know American will begin flying the 787 on May 7 between Dallas and Chicago. International flights will start on June 2, with Dallas-Beijing, followed by Dallas-Buenos Aires.
On Thursday, in an employee newsletter, American shared what I consider to be an unusual seat feature in business class.
What's it like to fly ANA First Class from Tokyo Narita to Los Angeles?
I'd call it amusing. As business class improves industrywide -- ANA's business product on the Boeing 777 features flat beds and direct-aisle access, just like first class - it becomes harder for carriers to sell first class. So to make first class passengers feel they're getting value above business class, airlines like ANA offer over-the-top service.
ANA's shtick is lovely. Does anyone need caviar service on a nine-hour flight? Or turn-down service? Or ridiculous pajamas? Of course not. But business class doesn't get that stuff.
I flew ANA in late January on an award ticket using a strategy developed by Ben Schlappig, who runs the blog One Mile At a Time. I bought 75,000 frequent flier miles from South American carrier Avianca, which, like ANA is a Star Alliance member. Avianca, perhaps short on cash, periodically sells its miles for cheap rates, and they're redeemable on most Star Alliance airlines. The strategy is a bit convoluted, and the Avianca program is not as generous as it once was, so you'll want to read Ben's site for details.
My first class journey was not as cheap as coach but was considerably less expensive than business class.
Here are some of my impressions of the flight.