The Airlines: Then and Now

The print edition of the today’s Washington Post has a great full page spread of infographics comparing  the airline industry of today to the days before deregulation in 1978.

© Goehrum Christian, Dreamstime Stock Photos

Frequent flyer programs emerging since deregulation generate customer loyalty among hundreds of millions of people, reports Dwuan D. June.

“There are trillions of miles out there — 85 percent of which have never been redeemed,” according to Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst cited in the article.

This statistic demonstrates the potentially large cost that airlines are carrying on their books, if consumers can figure out clever ways to leverage their miles.

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Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon Closed For Renovations

The Flamingo towers over Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon
The Flamingo towers over Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon
Joel Shprentz Photo

Looks like the owners of Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon in Las Vegas had bigger fish to fry.  Today, they pulled up their gangplank for a complete renovation of the property.

Bill’s, named for casino magnate Bill Harrah, sits smack in the center of the Strip, with great views of the Bellagio fountains.  There is no better location in Las Vegas.

This was our favorite place to stay in Vegas — what with their Victorian stained glass windows in the showers and genuine hospitality.  

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Hotwire’s Survey of February Price Drops: Hotels, Cars, and Airfare

If you are trolling for travel savings this month, have a look at this analysis from The analysis shows the destinations that have the largest price drops compared to February of last year in three categories:  hotels, car rentals, and airfares.  The so-called “Hotwire Travel Savings Indicator” reports results during the second week of each month.

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Angling for Last Minute Rental Cars on Priceline

In January, I found myself stranded in the Salt Lake City (SLC) airport.  My flight was massively delayed, and I had free time on a snowy day.    I wanted to get up to the mountains, so a four wheel drive rental car was in order.

I have often snagged great last-minute hotel deals bidding on Priceline, but had never tried for a car at the last minute.  With “name your own price” hotel rooms, you can bid up until 11:59 pm on the night you want to stay.  I have literally placed late night bids from the parking lot of a hotel and even from the business center in the lobby.

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National Pinball Museum in Baltimore to Pull up its Anchor

National Pinball Museum Joel Shprentz Photo
National Pinball Museum, Baltimore
Joel Shprentz Photo

One of my favorite quirky attractions of all time — the National Pinball Museum — has announced that it will be closing its doors on March 3, 2013.  This gem of a museum near the Inner Harbor in Baltimore traces the history of pinball over the last 100 years.  There are three floors packed with exhibits, and best of all, dozens of pinball machines set to free play.

There are just two weekends left to get in on the fun.

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The Bump: $1350 and a Free Afternoon in Las Vegas

McCarran Airport in Las Vegas Joel Shprentz photo
McCarran Airport in Las Vegas
Joel Shprentz photo

It was a Sunday morning and we were waiting in the Las Vegas Airport (LAS) to board our Southwest Airlines flight home.  Oh no.  The flight is delayed two hours.  There is an equipment change.

The gate agent makes an announcement.  The substitute aircraft has fewer seats.  Volunteers are needed to give up there seats.  They can offer compensation and booking on the next flight out for each passenger who gives up their seat.

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How to Stop Worrying and Start Enjoying Free Travel

Southwest AirlinesJoel Shprentz Photo
Southwest Airlines Wingtip
Joel Shprentz Photo

In November 2011, while changing planes in Denver, I was lured by a vendor offering to sign me up for a Southwest Airlines credit card.  Southwest was celebrating their expansion in the Denver market by offering 50,000 “Rapid Reward” miles as a sign-up bonus.  I had a few minutes to kill so I talked to the vendor about the offer.  He convinced me of the value of these Southwest frequent flyer miles by mentioning that the miles could be used on any flight — there are no blackout dates on Southwest.  The annual fee for the card, issued by Chase bank, was $69.

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