Travel Tidbits: e-cigs, Cuba & mascots

Lucky Stirke smoking

The U.S. Department of Transportation has finalized a rule related to smoking on airplanes and now the use of electronic cigarettes on commercial flights is officially forbidden.

According to DOT: “The final rule applies to all scheduled flights of U.S. and foreign carriers involving transportation in, to, and from the U.S.”


Many U.S. airlines – including Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest and United – filed applications this week for regularly scheduled flights to Havana and other airports in Cuba. 110 daily flights will be approved, so stay tuned and start planning your trip now.

Frontier mascot

And, Frontier Airlines is running a contest to pick a school mascot to be featured on one of its new Airbus 320 airplanes.

The winning mascot’s organization will win 20 roundtrip tickets and every time you vote you get entered in a contest to win a free flight.

iBeacons in Cathay Pacific’s SFO lounge

Cathay pacific

Curious about what iBeacons – those small Bluetooth transmitters that can ping you with information when your phone comes into range – can do for you at an airport?

At SFO Airport, Cathay Pacific and Lounge Buddy are using the technology to give guests using the airline’s Business and First Class lounge some bonus features – and a chance to win prizes.

The promotion is linked to the kick-off of Cathay Pacific’s three new weekly flights between SFO and Hong Kong.

Starting June 29 and running for 60 days, passengers with the LoungeBuddy App activated on their iPhone will instantly receive information about the day’s food and beverage menu and an overview of the lounge amenities when they enter the Cathay Pacific lounge at SFO.

They’ll also be gently urged to check in on social media and share a note on Twitter about the experience for a chance to win a daily prizes of a Cathay Pacific plush goat commemorating the Chinese Zodiac year of the goat.

Cathay Pacific goat

Any lounge user who shares a comment on Twitter or Facebook will be entered to win the grand prize of 60,000 Asia Miles and one round-trip Premium Economy Class ticket to Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific is well-known for its classy and creative airport lounges. The one at SFO (which opened in International Terminal A in 2011) is the carrier’s first and only branded lounge in the U.S. and features the airline’s much-talked-about Noodle Bar.

Who gets to use Cathay Pacific’s SFO lounge?

First and Business Class passengers departing on Cathay Pacific and oneworld carriers, and members of the Marco Polo Club with Silver Card status and above and oneworld Sapphire or above members.

Big day for Dallas Love Field


It’s a big day for Dallas Love Field.

The Wright Amendment – which since 1980 has imposed restrictions on air service and operations at Love Field – lifts today, October 13, 2014.

To mark the day, Southwest Airlines Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly will be taking boarding passes and sending off the airline’s first non-restricted flight of the day: Flight #1013 to Denver.

Southwest, which currently operates 16 of Love Field’s 20 gates, begins nonstop flights today from Love Field to Denver, Chicago, Baltimore/Washington, Washington, D.C. (Reagan National), Orlando, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles (LAX). On November 2, eight additional nonstop flights will start to New York (LaGuardia), Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa Bay, Phoenix, Orange County, and San Diego, Nashville, and Atlanta.


Virgin America, which is launching service at Love Field today from two gates, is kicking off the day with a very short “Downtown Express” flight that will travel from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Dallas Love field with Sir Richard Branson on board and an inflight performance by Grammy award-winning country star Kacey Musgraves.

I’m going along for the ride and will share details from the day here.

World’s largest airplane now flies world’s longest route

A-list celebrity and Qantas Airways Ambassador John Travolta was on hand Monday afternoon to welcome some lucky arriving passengers (including me!) on the first Qantas A380 jumbo airplane to fly direct from Sydney Airport to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Qantas - John Travolta was on hand to greet some of the arriving A380 passengers from Sydney

The new service -which will operate six times a week (daily except Tuesday) between Sydney and DFW means that Qantas is now flying the world’s largest airplane on the world’s longest flight.

The flight from Sydney to DFW is scheduled to take around 14 hours 50 minutes; the flight from DFW to Sydney will take a bit longer: 15 hours and 30 minutes.

Here are few snaps from the flight:

Cupcakes celebrating Qantas’s inaugural A380 flight between Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth were offered to invited guests:

Qantas - celebratory cupcakes helped kick off the first Qantas A380 flight from Sydney to Dallas

To celebrate the milestone, Qantas painted the A380 being used on the route with a special livery. The kangaroo on the tail is wearing a Stetson hat with a blue neckerchief:

The Qantas kangaroo got a makeover for flight from Sydney to Dallas

Qantas is also celebrating the new service with some special in-flight menu items between Sydney and DFW, including steak for First Class passengers, Chipotle pork tortillas for Business class passengers, Texas hot dogs for Premium Economy passengers and a variety of snacks and beverages for Economy passengers, including A&W sodas, pulled beef sliders and Route 66 Root Beer.

Special menu for new service through Oct 5 includes Root Beer, Dr. Pepper,  steak,  Texas hot dogs and other Texas specialties.

(I flew as a guest of Qantas. All opinions, photos are my own.)