Travel: Netflix Offers Its Streaming Tech to Airlines

If you’ve ever tried to get any work done or stream video on your own device during a flight, you know just how terrible and unreliable in-flight wi-fi can be. Thankfully, however, internet connections on airlines may soon see vast improvements across the board as Netflix has announced that its partnering with airlines to upgrade their internet bandwidth. Rather than bring its own platform to flights’ on-board entertainment systems (as its done with the likes of Virgin America), the move will instead see Netflix providing airlines with its own bandwidth technology — the same tech it uses to stream video on the likes of your laptops, tablets, and smartphones. According to Netflix, it believes it can save airlines around 75% of the cost of their bandwidth while offering even better performance. Naturally, Netflix hopes passengers will take advantage of the improved costs and speeds to stream more movies and shows, making it a win-win for airlines and the video platform alike.

Though it remains unclear when exactly the technology will begin rolling out, the partnership will also likely see an increase in Netflix’s subscriber base: Netflix plans to offer subscribers free access via their devices while non-subscribers will be offered a free 30-day trial.

Here’s Which Airlines Are Maintaining Fares, Adding Flights For Travelers Leaving Due To Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria continues to gain momentum as it churns through the Caribbean, strengthening to a Category 5 storm after making landfall on the island of Dominica on Monday. Forecasters and safety officials are advising everyone in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to get to safety, and so some airlines are capping fares for travelers trying to get out of the storm’s path.

On Monday, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida sent letters to 10 U.S. airlines asking them to limit prices on airfare for anyone fleeing Hurricane Maria, citing skyrocketing prices many travelers faced ahead of Hurricane Irma, which led some airlines to cap fares for evacuees as a result.

“As you know, Hurricane Maria is a major hurricane and is threatening Puerto Rico and the Caribbean now and may be a threat to the U.S. coast by next week,” Nelson wrote.

“Individuals and families should not be forced to delay or cancel their evacuation efforts because of confusion over the cost of airfare,” he added in his letter to executives at United, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Alaska, Hawaiian, Frontier, and Allegiant.

In response, some airlines have announced their plans for capping airfare, as well as adding additional flights, and offering travel waivers for those who need to change their travel.

United

United says it has capped fares at $384 plus tax for nonstop flights in economy class.

United also says it’s adding more seats on departures out of Puerto Rico beginning with an early morning departure today from Aguadilla (BQN) to Newark.

Additional seats have also been added on the airline’s three scheduled departures out of San Juan (SJU) on Sept. 19. United also added an extra flight departing San Juan at 3:30 p.m., bringing the total number of seats leaving the island today to 500.

“We will suspend operations at SJU and BQN on Wednesday with a tentative plan to resume operations on Thursday pending infrastructure assessments,” the airline says. “Our Emergency Response teams are engaged to coordinate any needs. As the storm tracks northwest, we will also develop plans for Punta Cana/PUJ and Santo Domingo/SDQ for Thursday operations.”

United is also waiving change fees and any difference in fare for flights departing through Sept. 30.

American

American says it will also cap nonstop fares at $99 one-way for Main Cabin, and $199 for premium cabins (though connecting fares may be higher) through Sept. 24 in the following markets:

• Antigua, Antigua (ANU)
• Cap Haitien, Haiti (CAP)
• Port Au Prince, Haiti (PAP)
• Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (PLS)
• Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (POP)
• Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)
• San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
• Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI)
• Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ)
• St. Croix Island, U.S. Virgin Islands (STX)
• St. Kitts, Saint Kitts and Nevis (SKB)
• St. Thomas Island, U.S. Virgin Islands (STT)

“Our team of meteorologists continues to coordinate closely with the National Weather Service; we are also monitoring developing storms offshore,” American notes.

Check here for more information on American’s Hurricane Maria-related travel waivers.

Delta

Delta is capping main cabin, one-way nonstop fares at $199 for flights departing the following airports through Sept. 21:

• San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
• Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)
• Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI)
• Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ)

The airline says it’s also added two extra flights to and from San Juan to Atlanta to help customers leave ahead of the hurricane, and is temporarily waiving fees for baggage and pets in cabin for customers traveling to and from San Juan and several other airports.

A travel waiver has also been issued for passengers flying out of San Juan from Sept. 19-26. The waiver, which allows customers to change plans without incurring a fee, also covers customers from St. Maarten, Saint Thomas, and Turks and Caicos with tickets issued from Sept. 5 to Dec. 31.

For more information, check out Delta’s travel advisory here.

JetBlue

For those looking to evacuate areas in the hurricane’s path, JetBlue is offering any remaining seats on its flights to and from the below destinations for travel through Sept. 25 at reduced fares:

• San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
• Aguadilla, Puerto Rico (BQN)
• Ponce, Puerto Rico (PSE)
• St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (STX)
• Antigua, Antigua (ANU)

JetBlue also says it has added five additional flights to its regular schedule from San Juan to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and New York JFK on Sept. 19 “in order to help customers and crewmembers evacuate ahead of Hurricane Maria.”

The airline is also waiving waiving cancellation fees, change fees, and differences in air fare customers traveling today through Thursday, Sept. 21.

Southwest Airlines

A spokeswoman for Southwest tells Consumerist that the airline has removed advance purchase requirements to allow customers to have access to fares that were lower than what they would normally have had access to.

The airline has also added five extra flights out of San Juan today, one additional flight out of Punta Cana, and “had all inventory set at the lowest fare.” Southwest says it has “also matched all competitor pricing actions if lower than ours.”

Travelers can check the Southwest site for travel advisories and flexible accommodations.

Other airlines

As for the rest of the airlines, we’ve reached out to each to ask if they’ll be capping fares in regions affected by Hurricane Maria, and will update this post as we receive new information. As always, you should check with your airline before you head to the airport to confirm your scheduled flight.

In the meantime, you can check out travel advisories for the carriers below for more information on waivers and change fees related to Hurricane Maria (not all airlines have issued alerts or advisories, depending on which markets they serve):

• Frontier Airlines
• Spirit Airlines

Airlines Dropping Cuba Routes Amid Lower Than Expected Demand

When U.S. airlines were fighting it out last year to win approval for flights to Cuba, they were no doubt expecting Americans would be rushing to airports under recently-loosened rules for personal travel to the island nation. But that demand hasn’t been as robust as expected, prompting two domestic carriers to drop a few routes to Cuba.

Silver Airways has made “the difficult but necessary” decision to halt all its Cuba service on April 22, reports the Miami Herald, giving up its dream to eventually fly routes to all nine Cuban cities (not including Havana) that the U.S. has authorized for commercial flights. The airline will continue to monitor the situation, however, and “will consider resuming service in the future if the commercial environment changes.”

Frontier Airlines will be dropping its Miami to Havana flight on June 4 because costs have been higher than expected while demand has been lower.

“Market conditions have failed to materialize there, and excess capacity has been allocated to the Florida-Cuba market,” the airline said in a statement.

So where are all the travelers? One factor could be that tourist travel is still not allowed: If you’re planning on traveling to Cuba, you must qualify for one of 12 categories, including visiting family, working as a journalist, official government business, or others.

Some of the shine may also be off the idea of visiting Cuba now that it’s no longer banned by the government.

“This lack of demand coupled with overcapacity by the larger airlines has made the Cuban routes unprofitable for all carriers,” Silver said in statement.

Other airlines are adjusting as well: JetBlue has put smaller planes on its Cuba routes, notes the Herald, and in February, American Airlines dropped three of its 10 daily flights from the country.

This Is the Best Week to Book Your Thanksgiving Airfare

If you’re flying home for Thanksgiving, now’s probably the best time to buy your ticket.

According to a report by Skyscanner, the cheapest flights for the Thanksgiving holiday can be
found this week, from October 31 to November 4. The study found that flights during the week of Halloween were 7.73 percent cheaper than those at any other time before Thanksgiving weekend.

To gather the data, Skyscanner analyzed flight rates from last year’s Thanksgiving to help project the dates at which airfare will be at its lowest. The result: Four weeks before the holiday seems to be the sweet spot.

Those booking should know that there’s no such thing as truly cheap days to fly over Thanksgiving, but thanks to information from FareCompare, these itineraries can save some
money.

– $367 – Thursday to Friday (Nov. 24-25)
– $395 – Thursday to Tuesday (Nov. 24-29)
– $406 – Tuesday to Friday (Nov. 22-25)
– $420 – Monday to Friday (Nov. 21-25)
– $425 – Tuesday to Tuesday (Nov. 22-29)

Florida Airports Closing, More Than 1,300 Flights Cancelled As Hurricane Approaches

Things are about to get very, very nasty in Florida and the southeast, with Hurricane Matthew — one of the strongest seen in the U.S. in many years — bearing down rapidly on the coast. And that means if you’ve got travel plans in the coming days that are supposed to take you through or through many big, busy airports… think again.

Hurricane Matthew is forecast to make landfall in southeast Florida on Friday morning, but rain and strong winds come well ahead of a hurricane’s actuall formal landfall. To get prepared, Florida airports — and the airlines that fly to them — are winding down now.

Orlando International Airport (MCO) has announced that all commercial service is expected to end by 8:00 p.m. tonight and recommends passengers check with their airlines.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) reports that staff have “already begun securing the airport,” and that today’s last commercial flight was Southwest flight 364 to Baltimore-Washington, which departed at 10:16.

Miami International Airport (MIA) says that flights in and out are expected to stop by noon today; technically speaking the airport remains “open and ready for when flights resume,” which is up to the airlines.

Tampa International Airport (TPA) is on Florida’s western, Gulf-facing coast and is not likely to face as significant an impact as the East coast will. However, TPA still reports that several flights have been delayed or cancelled, and that it will be continuing to update travelers as to its status through the day.

Hurricanes, unlike some other weather phenomena, are easy for meteorologists to spot and warn people about well in advance of their arrival. Airlines have been waiving rebooking and cancellation fees for folks scheduled to fly to or through Florida since Monday.

Hurricane Matthew is proving to be the most significant storm to approach the U.S. in many years. This morning it once again reached upward to category 4 status.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has flat-out told his state, “This is going to kill people,” and encouraged residents to prepare their food and water supplies and evacuate where possible.

Several areas have been subject to mandatory evacuation, and the National Weather Service says that severe damage to structures, trees, wires, power, communications, and roads will result.

Forecast models indicate it is also possible that the storm could do a full 360 degree loop and come back to Florida’s southeast coast after moving north, although it’s still too early to determine exactly what will happen so many days out.

U.S. Airlines Get The Go-Ahead To Start Scheduled Service To 9 Cuban Cities

After waiting for more than 50 years to carry passengers from the U.S. to Cuba, airlines stateside have gotten the final go-ahead from the Department of Transportation to begin scheduled service to nine cities on the island nation — not including Havana.

Last fall, the U.S. and Cuba decided to kiss and make up, a thawing of relations that led to the loosening up of travel between the two nations. Airlines were chomping at the bit back then to start flying, but had to wait until regulators could hash out exactly how things would work.

In the meantime, the airlines filed applications for one of the 20 new scheduled routes to Havana, as well as 90 routes to nine other Cuban destinations.

The U.S. DOT has now approved six domestic airlines to begin scheduled flights between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul, and nine Cuban cities as early as this fall: American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines.

The arrangement allows for 10 daily roundtrip flights, for a total of 90 daily roundtrips, between the U.S. and each of the following cities: Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba. That doesn’t mean per airline, that means the carriers are dividing the 90 daily roundtrips between them.

“A decision on the Havana routes will be announced later this summer,” the DOT says.

“Last year, President Obama announced that it was time to ‘begin a new journey’ with the Cuban people,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today, we are delivering on his promise by re-launching scheduled air service to Cuba after more than half a century.”

Traveling This Weekend? Here Are The Worst US Airports and Airlines for Flight Delays

Summer airport traffic will be especially hellacious this year, and some airports will be worse than others. While long lines mostly depend on TSA staffing, you should at least be aware of the airports where flight delays are already bad.

Based on data from the Department of Transportation, Time.com ranked the worst airports for flight delays. For all of these airports, the percentage of flights arriving on time was less than 80 percent. Here are the top five worst:

  1. San Francisco, CA (SFO)- 71.82% of on-time flights
  2. Miami, FL (MIA)-76.03%
  3. Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL)-76.60%
  4. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW)- 76.64%
  5. Denver, CO (DEN)-77.21%

The data tells you which airlines are often late, too. Here are the worst airlines for flight delays, along with their percentage of on-time arrivals at all airports:

  1. Spirit Airlines-64.6%
  2. Virgin America-73.8%
  3. JetBlue-76%
  4. Frontier-77.6%
  5. SkyWest-78.7%

Check out the links below for more info on flight delays. Time’s post list a few more airports with a higher rate of flight delays, too.

Do Your Holiday Flights Have Hidden Fees Attached? This Guide Will Tell You

‘Tis the season to charge extra for everything. This year, that includes baggage, at least if you’re flying discount. Earlier this week, word got out that discount airlines Frontier and Spirit are making the most of the holidays by adding a seasonal surcharge to already-elevated checked baggage fees.

The good news is, the additional fees aren’t bank-breaking. Spirit is charging an extra $2 per flight, while Frontier’s fees range from $5 to $10 extra. Definitely not enough to make people change their minds about going home for Thanksgiving.

Still, though, the increased prices are making many say “Bah, humbug,” including Florida senator Bill Nelson, who urged the airlines today to reconsider increasing the fees. “These increased surcharges fly in the face of declining fuel costs and appear focused on increasing profitability on the backs of American families,” Nelson wrote in a holiday letter he sent to all the CEOs of major US airlines. “If your company does plan to impose holiday surcharges, I request that you rescind those plans immediately.”

Airline companies are on the defensive about the hikes. As Frontier president Barry Biffle told Bloomberg in an interview, “This idea that Frontier is actually ripping people off at the holidays—nothing could be further from the truth. We encourage consumers to look at the total price—that’s all that matters.” Translation: our fares are still cheaper than the non-discount airlines, so suck it up.

So far, it appears that Spirit and Frontier are the only two airlines raising their baggage fees, but just because it’s always nice to have information organized in one place, here’s our holiday-flight-buying gift to you: a guide to the baggage fees of major U.S. airlines for the most general, economy-type travelers. (We’ve only included information for the first and second checked bags, in addition to the carry-on costs. If you’re traveling with three checked bags, you need to reconsider your travel strategy or something. Or ship those Christmas presents home.)

Spirit

Carry-on: Ranges in price from $26 to $100 depending on when you pay the fee and whether you’re a member of their $9 Fare Club. (Hint: Don’t try to be the person who sneaks an oversized bag through as carry-on, because that’s how you end up having to pay the $100.)
1st Checked Bag: $21-$100
2nd Checked Bag: $31-$100

Frontier

Carry-on: $35-$60, depending on when you pay the fee.
1st Checked Bag: $30-$60
2nd Checked Bag: $40-$45, keeping in mind that you’re not allowed to gate-check a second bag.

Southwest

Carry-on: Free!
1st Checked Bag: Free!
2nd Checked Bag: Free! (Never change, Southwest.)

United

Carry-on: Free!
1st Checked Bag: $25
2nd Checked Bag: $35

American Airlines

Carry-on: Free!
1st Checked Bag: $25
2nd Checked Bag: $35

JetBlue

Carry-on: Free!
1st Checked Bag: $20-$25
2nd Checked Bag: $35

Delta

Carry-on: Free!
1st Checked Bag: $25
2nd Checked Bag: $25

Allegiant

Carry-on: Free! (Or $50 if you wait until you get to the airport to let them know.)
1st Checked Bag: $35-$50
2nd Checked Bag: $35-$50

FINAL NOTE: If there’s a takeaway from this list, it’s that the earlier you pay for your bags, the better. Learn to be a light packer. Know what you’re going to bring in advance. Don’t try to overstuff a bag, or think it will sneak by the attendants at the gate. And please, please be kind to the flight attendants!

Travel: Your Next Flight Could be Fueled by Food

Get ready to feel a little less guilty about the carbon footprint of your air travel — at least if you’re flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco on United. The airline will be using fuel made from beef tallow (fat) for the 378-mile flight between California cities. NPR reports It has purchased 15 million gallons of the biofuel.

The purchase is part of United’s Eco-Skies commitment to the environment. In addition to purchasing biofuel to use in it jets, the airline has invested $30 million in the company Fulcrum BioEnergy, which “uses household garbage, including food waste, for its fuel feedstock.”

United isn’t the only airline adopting more environmentally friendly fuel sources. FedEx and Southwest Airlines have bought fuel from Red Rock Biofuels, which makes jet fuel from forest waste.

Tapping into waste for fuel is obviously not anything new, but The New York Times reports that airlines have been slow to use them. Now it looks like that is changing. The fuel is available in large quantities and the price makes it very attractive.

Fulcrum BioEnergy says it can produce biofuel “for a lot less than $1 a gallon.” During the first quarter of this year, United bought jet fuel at $2.11 a gallon.

This could be the beginning of a positive environmental change in the airline industry. As long as biofuel makers can continually increase supply (and we certainly create enough waste from foods and other trash to do so) and it will be cost-effective for the airlines, the skies may be a little cleaner.

But this makes me wonder: Will the airlines pass the fuel savings on to consumers?

JetSuite is Offering Flights for Only $4 This July 4th

Kanye once said, “Sorry I’m in pajamas, but I just got off the PJ.” No need to apologize, Ye, because now we normal folk can too descend from a private jet in our pajamas.

For just $4, you can book a private charter flight this July 4th.

Of course, there’s a catch. (There’s always a catch.)

Charter company JetSuite is posting its $4 “SuiteDeals” on Friday, July 3, for travel the next day.

The company is not releasing the destinations or times of the flights before then: Hopeful travelers have to sign up for an email list to receive a notification if JetSuite will be chartering a flight to their desired city.

The company charters four- and six-seater planes, so anyone who manages to snag one of the seriously cheap fares can take their friends along. It’s important to note the flights are only one-way, so return travel is likely to be much more expensive than $4. Regularly priced one-way flights with JetSuite start at $536.

JetSuite, one of a few charter companies trying to the Uber of private jets, ran a similar promotion last year.

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