How to Land A Pair of Group A Boarding Passes on Southwest

 Joel Shprentz Photo
Photo by Joel Shprentz

Here’s a tiny hack that might help you get a better seat on your return trip when flying Southwest Airlines roundtrip in a single day.

Southwest Airlines does not assign seats, and follows an open seating model.

Customers board in order of the group (A, B, or C) and number (one to sixty) on their boarding pass.  The earlier you check in, up to 24 hours prior to your flight, the earlier your assigned spot in line.

Group A boarding passes put you at the front of the line, increasing the likelihood that you can sit with your travel companions, and giving you the best chance for a window or aisle seat.

Cool Tools has a neat trick to up your chances of getting Group A boarding passes  for both legs of your trip when flying out and back on the same day.

As Cool Tools notes,

If you book a one-day round trip on Southwest, you won’t be allowed to check in for the return flight until after you complete the first flight.

However, if you book two one-way trips instead of a round trip, you can check in for both flights exactly 24 hours before the scheduled departure.

Two one-way tickets are priced identically to a round-trip ticket, so there is no extra cost to pursuing this strategy.

Aviation Fans: View Aer Lingus Airbus Inaugural Flight into Dulles

Aer Lingus Inaugural Airbus Flight into IAD
Discover Dulles: Watch this A330 land on May 1, 2015

The Aer Lingus Airbus A330  is making its inaugural flight from flight from Dublin, Ireland into Dulles International Airport (IAD) on May 1, 2015.  

45 lucky people will be invited to view the landing and get a behind the scenes tour of the Ramp Control Towers and Operations at IAD.

I attended one of these “Discover Dulles” events last summer and it was a blast!

Click here to enter the contest for a chance to be a part of this historical event.

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$1167 RT Newark to Paris — Biz Bed on OpenSkies

New York to Parks on Open Skies $1167 in Business Class
New York to Paris on Open Skies:  $1167 RT in Business Class

I took the bait!  Yesterday I saw a flash sale advertised on Dan’s Deals for a $1167 round trip flight from Newark (EWR) to Paris Orly (ORY) in lie-flat seats.

I booked the deal on Open Skies — a “luxury, boutique” offshoot of British Air.

$1167 is the price of a discounted economy fare ticket to Europe during high season!

Having missed the previous day’s hot deal of just $981 RT, I knew I had to act quickly to get in on possibly the second best bargain of the summer.

If this deal interests you jump on it quickly!

Hack this fare down to $1167
Hack this fare down to $1167

 

How to Hack Your Way to Paris in Lie Flat Seats for $1167 Roundtrip

Open Skies is running a promotion on their nonstop flights to Paris from New York’s JFK or Newark airports.  They are advertising a sale price of $1698 round trip for business class, which they call Biz Bed service.

To discount the fare further, you need to join AARP (membership is $16,) which offers a $400 discount per passenger on Business Class flights on British Air.

To lower the price by an additional ten percent, apply the promo code CARDOFFERU, which is available to holders of the Chase British Airways credit card, and possibly others.

This brings the roundtrip fare for lie flat seats in business class down to $1167, just about the same as the OpenSkies price for economy seats.

Book Now, Ask Questions Later 

Please, don’t!  These are nonrefundable tickets so you need to know what you’re doing.

I had never heard of OpenSkies airline before.

But the time was right for me, so I booked the tickets first, and asked questions later.

What is a Luxury Boutique Airline?

OpenSkies has some slick marketing copy on their website — contrasting New York City to Paris, and touting their Biz Bed product.

With tickets in hand, I did some research, and found decidedly mixed reviews.

There are numerous reports on the web about delayed and cancelled flights, tired seats, and subpar service.  I may need to temper my expectations to avoid possible disappointment.

Our flight leaves from the Newark airport, which is pretty convenient for us because we can take the train up from Washington, DC.  

OpenSkies flies nonstop to Paris Orly, which I understand is a bit closer to the city than CDG.

We will take our chances.

What is OpenSkies’ Biz Bed Service?

OpenSkies touts their Biz Bed class as a “uniquely premium” direct service between New York and Paris.

They claim:

  • spacious seat that converts to a fully flat bed
  • access to comfortable private lounges
  • dedicated check-in, fast track security, and priority boarding
  • if you’re travelling from New York, a gourmet meal in the lounge before your departure
  • an intimate and exclusive cabin with only 20 seats
  • soft under-mattresses, luxurious Egyptian cotton duvet, full-size pillow, and pajamas
  • exclusive and attentive service
  • the finest French cuisine with a 4-course menu cooked by master chefs
  • the finest wines French vineyards have to offer
  • the famous Ladurée macarons
  • a personal iPad, loaded with movies, music, games and entertainment
  • noise cancelling headphones
  • space for a handbag and small suitcase onboard, and three pieces of checked luggage included in the fare
Open Skies promises French champagne and macarons
OpenSkies promises French champagne and macarons

It all sounds a bit over the top.  Personally, it’s the Ladurée macarons that caught my attention!

Having never travelled in Business Class, I am sure I will be grateful just to stretch out.

I am not under any illusions about the “luxury” of air travel.

Suggestions for Paris, please!

I’ve been to Paris several times, but not in the last 25 years!

If you have any suggestions of the best places to stay (e.g. neighborhoods) and things to do, please share in the comments.

We hope to take some day trips by train so I welcome any ideas on destinations within striking distance of Paris.

New York to Palermo, Italy — $609 Roundtrip

Meridian Airlines has lots of availability to Naples/Palermo at $609 round trip
Meridiana Airlines has lots of availability to Naples/Palermo at $609 round trip

Winter got you down?  Plan a spring or fall vacation in southern Italy at the low cost of $609 roundtrip.

Meridiana Airlines, a European low cost carrier is promoting its routes from New York’s JFK airport to Naples or Palermo for $609.

These are round trip fares and include all taxes and fees.

Availability at this fare is good.

JFK to Naples $609
Meridiana’s $285 fare from New York to Naples in April 2015

These low fares are good April through early May, and late August through October.

Meals and checked bags entail extra fees.

JFK to Naples $609
Meridiana’s $319 fare from Naples to New York in April 2015

Flight frequency and fares increase for the summer holidays.

Tempted?

What’s Coming to Dulles Airport in 2015

IAD Flyers
Dulles Flyers: Expect Great Things in 2015

2014 was a great year for Dulles Flyers, with the opening of Metro’s Silver Line and the Silver Line Express Bus to the airport from the Reston station.

Construction has already begun on the extension of the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport (IAD) and beyond.  Completion is slated for 2019 but I’m not holding my breath.

2014 Service Expansions at Dulles International Airport (IAD)

The most exciting development for Washington, DC area budget travelers was the arrival of Frontier Airlines low cost service to Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Cancun, and these additional cities:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Chicago-O’Hare, IL
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Detroit, MI
  • Fort Myers, FL
  • Memphis, TN
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  • Orlando, FL
  • St. Augustine/Jacksonville, FL
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Tampa, FL

Another welcome service expansion is Southwest’s new daily, nonstop  service to Las Vegas and San Diego.

On December 20, 2014, United Airlines initiated seasonal weekly service to San Jose del Cabo in Mexico, and seasonal service to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

We also saw the inauguration of Air China’s nonstop service to Beijing, with four nonstop flights per week, and British Airways upgraded service to London on a new Airbus A380 aircraft.

What’s Coming to Dulles International Airport (IAD) in 2015

In 2015, we will continue to see expanded service from IAD.

Beginning March 11, 2015, you can look forward to daily nonstop service to Seattle on Alaska Air.

On May 1, 2015, Are Lingus will launch nonstop service to Dublin, Ireland four times a week.

Earn Frequent Flyer Miles Without Flying

Southwest, Frontier, and United often offer large bonuses of frequent flyer miles for opening a new credit card account — sometimes enough for two free round-trip tickets.

 

 

Foreign Visitors Can Fly Anywhere in Japan for $100

Experience Japan Fare
Experience Japan Fare: Fly Anywhere for $106

Japan is a nation of islands with great geographic diversity — from the snow capped peaks of Hokkaido to the tropical beaches of Okinawa.

While much of the country is connected via high speed rail, if you are short on time or want to visit more far-flung regions, you may be interested in one of the many discount airfares available to foreign visitors.

Increased competition by discount airlines in Japan have led to an array of discount offers on domestic routes:

  1. Experience Japan Fare
  2. One World Yokoso Visit Japan Fare
  3. Japan Airlines Welcome to Japan Fare
  4. Star Alliance Japan Airpass
  5. ANA Visit Japan Fare

The most flexible of these is the Experience Japan Fare.  You can purchase tickets while in Japan allowing for more spontaneity, and there are no blackout dates.

The major downsides of the Experience Japan Fare are that tickets must be purchased 3 days in advance and are non-changeable and nonrefundable.

The Experience Japan Fare:  Up to 75% off Domestic Airfares

All Nippon Airlines (ANA) offers the Experience Japan Fare to international visitors to Japan.  You can fly anywhere in Japan for 10,800 Japanese Yen, including taxes and fees.  At today’s exchange rate (June 24, 2014) that’s $106 US dollars.

This is a gigantic bargain!  For instance, the regular one-way fare between Tokyo and Okinawa is 46,000 Yen.  The Experience Japan Fare at 10,800 Yen is more than 75 percent off!

Eligibility for the Experience Japan Fare

Experience Japan Fare
Experience Japan Fare

The Experience Japan Fare   is meant for visitors to the country.  There are  three conditions to be eligible for the fare:  You must:

  • reside outside of Japan;
  • hold a passport issued by a country other than Japan; and
  • have an international ticket from any airline to and from Japan.

How to Fly Anywhere Within Japan for $100

The Experience Japan Fare of 10,800 JPY per flight (this includes the 800 JPY tax) is good for tickets issued from April 1, 2014 until October 25, 2014.

There are some rules to keep in mind:

  • Reservations must be made at least 3 days prior to the departure date.
  • Tickets can be purchased up to 14 days before departure.
  • There is no limit on the number of segments you may fly.
  • Seats are limited and may not be available on all days or on all flights.
  • You will accrual frequent flyer miles.
  • One checked bag is included in the fare.
  • No changes and no refunds allowed.

Please note this important caution:  There may be instances where it may cost less to include all Japan domestic flights within your international flight discount fare if you are connecting to/from an ANA international flight.

Further information on fare conditions is available online.

Other Airlines Offer Special Fares for Foreign Visitors to Japan

There are several other discount fares with comparable prices.

One World Yokoso Visit Japan Fare

To be eligible for the One World Yokoso Visit Japan Fare, travel to Japan must be a carrier in the One World Alliance and tickets must be purchased before arrival in Japan.

oneworld Yokoso/Visit Japan Fare.
One World Yokoso Visit Japan Fare

One World includes JAL, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Qantas and several other airlines.

Tickets cost 10,800 Yen and are valid for two months.

Blackout periods apply:

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Welcoming Air China to Washington, DC in Style

Welcoming Air China!
Welcoming Air China!

I was on hand yesterday for the arrival of Air China’s inaugural flight from Beijing into Dulles International Airport (IAD).

The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) invited some local people to participate in the gala welcoming ceremony as part of their “Discover Dulles” program.

The airport authority sure knows how to throw a party.

The 25 Discover Dulles participants, along with about 50 journalists, were transported to the airfield via IAD’s infamous mobile lounges for a close up view of landing.

It was an exciting moment when the plane touched down.

We were rushed back onto the mobile lounge and whisked closer to the terminal so we could view the aircraft run the gauntlet through the ceremonial water arch.

Air China Lands at IAD
Air China Lands at IAD

Two fire trucks were dispatched to pump a stream of water over the airplane to celebrate the arrival of the inaugural flight.  This is aviation’s equivalent of christening a new ship.

After the plane landed, the Ambassador of China and Virginia Governor McAuliffe were feted by Chinese lion dancers.

Several traditional Chinese musicians played at the reception.

Water Cannon Salute
Water Cannon Salute

 

The speeches heralded the 7,000 mile avionic bridge that had been established between Washington and Beijing, and the cultural, diplomatic, and economic exchanges that would ensue.

Oh, and the swag!  Each participant received a goodie bag with a propellor paperweight, a model of the airplane, and other “stuff.”

Traditional Chinese Musicians
Traditional Chinese Musicians

This was a fun event:   I got to meet some Chinese journalists, airport personnel, and aviation geeks.

Keep  your eyes peeled for other opportunities like this on the Discover Dulles webpage.

Earn More, Burn Less  

In honor of the new service, Air China’s frequent flyer program, Phoenix Miles, is running a promotion on travel between Beijing and Washington, DC.  

You can earn fifty percent more than the regular miles on flights, and award travel will be discounted.  

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Dulles Flyer: What is the #icelanDChase?

Icelandair Ticket Giveaway Washington DC to Europe
Icelandair Reps Will be Giving Away Freebies on the Streets of Washington, DC

Icelandair is celebrating its new year-round service from Washington D.C. by giving away round-trip tickets for two to any of Icelandair’s more than 20 destinations in Europe!

Icelandair representatives will be hitting the streets of the nation’s capital to give away one pair of tickets each day from Thursday, June 12, 2014 through Saturday, June 14, 2014.

Additional prizes include thirty $100 gift certificates for travel, tee shirts, Icelandic music CDs, and cool merchandise.

How can Washingtonians join the #icelanDChase?

You can search for the location of each day’s tickets, by finding clues and a password on Icelandair’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

  • Follow #icelanDChase on Twitter for clues
  • Clues will be given at various times of the day until the tickets are found
  • The first person to arrive at the location and reveal the password to the Icelandair representatives will win tickets for two to any one of more than 20 destinations in Europe
  • For further information, see the Terms and Conditions

    Where can you Fly on Icelandair?
    Where can you Fly on Icelandair?

You can find Icelandair on Facebook (facebook.com/Icelandair) or Twitter (@Icelandair).

Note the blackout dates, which exclude travel during the summer, or over the Christmas holiday:  May 21, 2014 through September 5, 2014; and December 15, 2014 through January 6, 2015.  

If You Don’t Live in Washington, Here are Two  Other Contests to Iceland

1.  Icelandic Fourmula is giving away a trip for two to Iceland!  This online giveaway includes:

  • Roundtrip coach class airfare for two
  • room accommodations for three nights/ four days at a luxury hotel in Reykjavik
  • City of Reykjavik Welcome Card
  • VIP room for 2 at the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa.
Icelandair Launches Year Round Service from IAD
Icelandair Launches Year Round Service from IAD

Fill out the entry form online to enter for a chance to win this Iceland getaway!  Enter by December 31, 2014.

Click here for sweepstakes rules and conditions.

2.  X-Men X-Treme Adventure

This contest is for a trip to Iceland, or weekly packs of Flipz, X-Men memorabilia, Schick razors and cash.  Enter before October 31, 2014.  

The Grand Prize Winner will receive a trip for two to Iceland and $2,274 in cash for personal expenses.  The trip must be taken between October 31, 2014 and March 31, 2015, but cannot be taken over Christmas, New Years or public holidays in the U.S. or Iceland.  The official rules are here.  

Frontier Airlines to Link Washington Dulles with 14 Cities; $39 Intro Fares on Tap

Frontier Airlines Credit Card
Jim, Joe, Jay and Gary the Penguins

As a Reston, Virginia local, I was pretty psyched about the news this week that Frontier Airlines will be flying a regular schedule of flights to 14 popular destinations out of Dulles International Airport (IAD) near Washington, DC.

Grab Introductory Fares on Frontier Airlines Now!

Frontier is a low-cost airline and they capped their announcement with a 12 hour sale with fares as low as $15 one way!  I didn’t get in on the sale — I heard the website was pretty overwhelmed — but there is still a chance for introductory fares as low as $39 if you buy your tickets by May 17, 2014. 

Beginning August 19, 2014, Frontier will offer nonstop service to:

Frontier Airlines Credit Card
Foxy the Fox
  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Orlando, FL
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • Tampa, FL

Beginning September 8, 2014, Frontier will begin nonstop service to:

  • Chicago-O’Hare
  • Cincinnati
  • Detroit
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Las Vegas
  • Memphis, TN
  • Fort Myers, FL
  • St. Louis
  • St. Augustine/Jacksonville, FL
Frontier Airlines Credit Card
Buddy the Badger

Frontier’s  service from Washington-Dulles will operate on 168-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.

Cranky Flyer has a great analysis today about the tortured history of low cost airlines at Dulles Airport and it’s not a pretty story.  Hopefully, Frontier’s entry into this market will create some price competition.

Frontier Credit Card Sign Up Good for Two Free Round Trips

Frontier Airlines has a pretty generous standard award chart, with 20,000 miles required for a roundtrip for travel within the U.S., including Alaska.  The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard® offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $500 in the first 90 days.

So the current credit card offer is good for two round trips, and then some.  That’s because you can travel with a companion for just 15,000 per round trip.

That’s a pretty generous bonus for a very low spend requirement!

There is a $69 annual fee which is not waived in the first year.  Note that Barclay’s advertises this offer as a 50,000 mile bonus, but that includes the balance transfer provision, which is never a good deal because of the fees charged.

What’s more, look at all the cute animals that you can get on your credit card!

Frontier Airlines Credit Card Offer
Frontier Airlines Credit Card Offer

Here are the specifics:

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