It seems to be the week for airlines on twitter. First there is the Dutch teenager who tweeted American with a threat, and now US Airways tweeted a picture of poor relevance and bad taste.

Although I’m on twitter, I’m not always paying attention to it which means I did not see the US Airways photo before it was removed, but apparently it was a 777 and a woman in a compromising position.

So, how should you behave on twitter?

  1. Well, obviously, think of every tweet as if it will go viral.  Do you use your real name and picture?  If so, would you like it if your parents, boss, or minister/rabbi/imam saw the post?  If not, don’t post it.  Too many people get fired over venting.  If you need to vent, don’t do it in a forum that is being archived by the Library of Congress.  You never know when you may run for office and of course this stuff will magically appear again.  You may have thought the person was a cheapskate and didn’t tip you well and thus warranted public blasting, but that person may end up being the very person you need later in life.
  2. Don’t post personally identifiable information on Twitter.  Airlines are great on Twitter and I prefer dealing with @DeltaAssist more than any other method with Delta, but never send information in a public tweet.  Don’t send confirmation numbers, reward program numbers, etc in a public tweet.  Direct message them.  You should usually be able to DM an airline without sending a normal tweet to them first so you can skip the “@DeltaAssist I’m SM# 2000000000 and I need some help getting from ATL-JNB on PNR AAA111.” and just send that as a DM.  With Delta you can associate your twitter handle with your profile so Delta knows who you are right away.
  3. Just remember, Tweets are not really deleted.  In the case of the US Airways tweet, although they removed it very quickly, people still managed to save it.  In the digital age, assume once it’s out there, it’s out there.
  4. Be careful with the “Please rob me” type posts.  Like “Hey, I’m going to be out of the country for May 1-15, can someone watch my dog?” because twitter is open.  Don’t post that on Facebook either unless your profile is pretty locked down, and some would say don’t even do it then.  I know I use Foursquare to check in and occasionally tweet where I am when I am there, but my house is guaranteed to not be empty.  If you need a dog sitter or want to brag about your vacation, make sure you do not make it obvious that your place will be unattended.  Don’t post dates publicly if this is the only way you can think to post.  Just say “I need a dog sitter this summer, PM me if you are able to help” and follow up through private message or take it offline and handle through the phone/text since I’m assuming you know these people.

So: Don’t put something you wouldn’t want to go viral.  I mentioned earlier that I no longer complain about airlines, etc on Twitter because I got the feeling that I was just whining all the time and if my twitter feed was taken out of context I would appear like a whiner.  That is not the first impression I wanted to make.

 

A few months ago I decided to switch to T-Mobile for their international data service, but also because their phones allow WiFi calling as long as the phone supports it.  I went from the iPhone 5S to the LG G2.  After I got over the size issue of the G2 (one-handed use of the phone was not entirely possible, even with the keyboard on the one hand setting.

Another thing I noticed was that it was a step back in time using the United app.  I was flying United a good bit earlier this year before US left Star Alliance and the United app was quickly becoming my favorite.  It presented the information in my face that I needed, when I needed it.  No fumbling around to find boarding passes if they didn’t make it to Passbook yet (the only thing I really miss from my iPhone is Passbook).u

I’m glad the Android version of the United app has changed to the modern look.  I don’t have any flights on United any time soon (my next few trips I have booked are all Delta) but hopefully it works the same.

The new mobile app also includes all-new features unique to the Android platform, including the ability to rotate the screen, stack multiple boarding passes and utilize a new home screen widget. Similar to the iOS 7 version, the new mobile app for Android enables customers to view seat maps more clearly, purchase Travel Options and book award tickets on multiple flights.
– See more at: http://www.traveldailynews.com/news/article/59993/united-airlines-launches-all-new-mobile#sthash.IVxrPOZD.dpuf

 

Screen shot of the app Upgrade information

Although I rarely ever flew out of Concourse E, it seems like most people from other cities who enjoy my lovely airport do.  There are Brioche Dorées at many other airports I’ve traversed through, but I’m not much of a coffee or pastry person.  Regardless, this is a welcome enhancement to Concourse E when it opens April 18th.

For additional questions about the Charlotte airport feel free to email me or consult the CLT Airport Guide

Previously, if you were in Canada heading back to the US you had 2 sets of kiosks to choose from: NEXUS and Global Entry.

As a Nexus cardholder today I received this email:

Dear NEXUS Member,

Please be advised that, in an effort to improve the NEXUS program, the kiosks currently available in the U.S. pre-clearance areas at Canadian airports are being replaced with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Global Entry (GE) kiosks. Global Entry is a U.S. domestic trusted traveller program that offers expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk members. NEXUS members receive Global Entry benefits automatically, at no additional cost, and have access to the GE automated kiosks for entry into the U.S. at participating airports.

Expedited passage at a GE kiosk requires the NEXUS member to have their 10 fingerprints on file. If you have not already submitted your 10 prints, please visit a NEXUS or Global Entry (GE) Enrollment Center to have your fingerprints taken. An appointment is not necessary. If your fingerprints are not on file, you may still use the GE kiosk; however you will be referred to a CBP officer for additional verification.

Members entering into the United States, from Canada, can use either their NEXUS card or their registered passport at any of the eight international airports that offer US pre-clearance. In order to use the GE kiosks located within the United States, NEXUS members must have a valid registered passport on file. To update your passport information on line, please log into your Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account at https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/goes.

When I signed up for Nexus they took my fingerprints for Global Entry as well, but if for some reason you have Nexus and did not get fingerprints taken, you will need to have that done to use the kiosk to go from Canada back to the US.

It is interesting that it says “If your fingerprints are not on file, you may still use the GE kiosk; however you will be referred to a CBP officer for additional verification.” because many times I have used Pre-Clearance in Canada it hasn’t mattered if I used Nexus or GE, the agent still wanted to see the card printed, my passport, and sometimes asked me a few questions.  I had not been chosen for secondary or anything.  At YEG I used the GE kiosk (since it was often faster anyway) and started walking to the gate and I was called back for not waiting at the line to talk to an agent.  I thought that defeated the purpose of Nexus/GE, but there was no line.  I handed him my papers, he asked the purpose of my trip and where I was headed, stamped the date stamp and let me go.  That has been the process every time at YEG, but in YYZ’s Pre-Clearance I did not need to talk to an officer.  I can’t remember YVR’s process.

Coming Soon to an airport near you: First checked bag FREE!
Dear Grace Alexander,
We’re pleased to announce that as a US Airways Dividend Miles® MasterCard® cardmember, you and up to four companions will now enjoy your first eligible checked bag FREE. This benefit will be available on all domestic US Airways operated flights on April 30th.
The new American Airlines, and Barclaycard
When the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs merge, your card will automatically become an American Airlines AAdvantage® MasterCard®, issued by Barclaycard.
Recently added frequent flyer program features:
Earn miles when flying on US Airways
or American Airlines when you use
your Dividend Miles number.
Redeem miles for flights on US Airways and
American Airlines through usairways.com
or call US Airways Reservations at
800-428-4322.

In an article where Brian Sumers uses the term “travel caste system” to refer to perks for elites he writes

Under the program, United will drive some of its most lucrative passengers to their gates using Mercedes-Benz cars. Chauffeurs will meet connecting travelers at their arrival gates and drive them to their second flight.

Delta has been using Porches to do something similar and United has rolled out the Mercedes-Benz service in Chicago, Houston, Newark, and San Francisco already for their Global Service members.

Lumia 1520

Last year Delta changed from the credit card processors they were using to the Lumia 820 Windows Phone devices for credit card processing and other features onboard.  Now Market Watch reports:

Delta Air Lines DAL -0.32% this fall will equip more than 20,000 flight attendants with handheld Nokia Lumia 1520 phablets, which will serve as their on-board manual and in-flight sales device as well as a platform for future, more personalized in-flight customer service. The Lumia 1520 features a larger format, 6-inch screen and will replace the smaller Lumia 820 already in the hands of Delta

This continues Delta’s use of Microsoft technology including the pilots using Surface 2 tablets while some other pilots use iPads.  Look for the Phablets to hit your Delta flights from October-December.

www.delta.com

A couple days ago the Wall Street Journal published an article by Scott McCartney about how Delta has the lowest cancellation rate in the industry.

Last year, Delta canceled just 0.3% of its flights, according to flight-tracking service FlightStats.com. That was twice as good as the next-best airlines, Southwest and Alaska, and five times better than the industry average of 1.7%.

But what is better, a delay or a cancelled flight?

If there are no other options a cancelled flight is horrible and I experienced a one on Delta already this year, but a cancelled flight also opens up avenues that a delayed flight does not.  A delayed flight gives you a false sense of security that you will make it to your destination but may be an hour or 2 late.  Easy enough, right?  If you have a ride meeting you at the airport you tell them to follow the airline’s website so they don’t wait at the airport for hours.  But in my experience a delay was never that cut-and-dry and usually there would be rolling delays.  They would list their best estimate for your departure based on a plane that hasn’t even left it’s current location yet.  Until that plane is in the air they really have no clue when you will leave.  Now, some people can use an excessive delay to call their corporate travel agent to get rebooked onto something better, but not all travelers can do that and I had to wait for a cancellation to get a new plan of attack.

Case in point Atlanta-Charlotte.  It’s about a 4- hour drive and often the cost of a rental was the same or cheaper than a hotel (since usually it’s weather issues and airlines do not provide hotels for those).  If I knew when I landed at 8:30 pm that my 10 pm flight was not going to fly out until 1 am or not at all I’m better off driving right that second and I’ll get home while I’m still safe to drive.  Usually the flight would list on-time until right before it was scheduled (often some light turned on during the inbound that they needed to “troubleshoot”).  The 30 minute delay would turn into an hour delay and into a 3-hour delay or rarely a cancellation.  I’m not about to start a 4-hour drive at 1 am because that’s unsafe and I’ll be super tired the next day so instead I try to find a hotel that is not already full from other people who knew their fate earlier.

So my point is that a cancellation can often mean more options are open.  Either you still have options on other airlines or you may have other methods to get to your destination.  I think it was 2010 or 2011 where I drove home from Atlanta more than 3 times.  National had a $70 one-way rental with no drop fee so even after $30 in gas it was often cheaper than a hotel and at that time of the night I didn’t have any other options.  If I hadn’t made it to Atlanta yet I often had a non-stop on US Airways I could hop onto and in 2012 I did that many times from IND-CLT when the IND-ATL flight went mechanical twice.

Overall, I’d prefer a 30 minute delay over a cancellation, but when it comes to rolling delays I start to get frustrated.

The news (and I) loves to blast TSA employees when they are found out to have skeletons in the background or use the job to steal and commit other offenses so it only seems fair to highlight when a TSA employee does a good deed as well.

DNAinfo radio reporter Jon Hansen was on his way to work Wednesday when he saw the woman fall from the Blue Line platform at the Chicago Avenue station just as a train was approaching.

“Everyone just kind of let out a gasp. You could hear it audibly in Chicago station. And everyone starts waving their hands and screaming, ‘No,'” Hansen said.

That’s when Palacios, wearing a bright orange University of Illinois sweatshirt, jumped onto the track to get the attention of the train operator. The train stopped 20 feet in front of the woman.

So, although there are too frequently stories about TSA employees who are bad apples, there are a few good ones who do act selflessly to help others.  Jumping on the tracks to get a train to stop is way beyond anything I’d think to do in that situation.  Has my lack of a TSA patdown warped my opinion of them?  No.  This is just trying to be somewhat fair to the organization.  This guy may be the exception rather than the rule, but his act should not be discredited just because of who employs him.

Valley Forge Casino Resort (Southeastern PA) has announced a new program to allow gamblers to earn frequent flyer miles.

“Points for Miles allows Valley Forge Casino Resort to be the only casino in the world where you can use your player points for something meaningful outside of the resort. We’re not going to limit the use of your points to our property.”

The Points for Miles program, which will allow gamers to redeem their player points directly for US Airways dividend miles, has been in the works for months, Bowman noted.

[...]

To promote the new partnership, the casino is giving away a total of 1 million miles to 27 gamers in a slot and table game sweepstakes on April 26.

To qualify, guests can play any slot machine or table game between 6 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Winners will be announced every half hour from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

The final two drawings will be for 50,000 dividend miles.

(from: http://www.timesherald.com/business/20140402/valley-forge-casino-resort-partners-with-us-airways)

So, if you are in the Philadelphia area and were planning on taking a gambling weekend or frequent this casino already this could be a good deal, but I’m not about to start gambling just to earn some more US Airways Dividend Miles.