A heatwave in the Pacific Northwest and some other parts of the country is adding another challenge to air travel as we head into a holiday weekend.
As a result, some airlines, including American Airlines and United Airlines, are offering fee-free travel waivers. And Alaska Airlines has put a ban on pets traveling as cargo to and from more than a dozen cities until at least after the July 4th weekend.
Here are some of the details, and useful links to policies as of Monday evening, June 28:
And while Alaska Airlines isn’t offering change fee waivers as of Monday evening, it is pre-canceling some flights.
“While we never want to let our guests down, only a small fraction of our flights have been pre-canceled and we are doing our best to re-accommodate those guests,” the airline said on its website, “
And, because of the heat, through July 7, Alaska Airlines is not accepting animals for travel in the baggage departments to or from most of the affected airports listed above. Ticketed pets are still permitted to travel in the cabin with their owners.
Waivers offered by American and United Airlines
American Airlines’ change fee waiver offer is in effect for ticketed travelers through June 29 for trips to, through, or from the cities below. The airlines’ website notes that this information was current as of June 25, 2021, so if record-breaking heat continues in these areas, the waiver could be updated or extended. Check the website for details.
Not wanting to contract, transmit, or die of COVID-19 is a darn good reason to get vaccinated.
But some people may need a bit more encouragement and the promise of rewards.
That’s why we’re reading about bars offering free drinks, donut shops offering free donuts, and employers offering time off and cash bonuses to people who roll up their sleeves for a jab.
Fine. Whatever it takes.
Now United Airlines is upping the ante.
In support of the national effort to encourage more people to get their COVID-19 vaccination, the airline is offering its loyalty program members the chance to win free flights for a year’s worth of travel.
Under the terms of the “Your Shot to Fly” sweepstakes, any new or existing MileagePlus member who uploads their vaccination records to the airline’s mobile app or website before June 22 will be entered to win a roundtrip flight for two, in any class of service, to anywhere in the world United flies.
The sweepstakes is open to any resident of the United States who is at least 18 years old and a MileagePlus member.
United will give away 30 pairs of tickets throughout the month of June. In addition – on July 1 United will announce which five randomly selected MileagePlus members who have entered the sweepstakes will win a grand prize of travel for a year for themselves and a companion – also in any class of service, anywhere in the world that United flies.
We’re all for finding the odd in the world. So we’re pleased to see United Airlines adding a new “America, Who Knew?” filter to its Map Search program. Some of the tidbits you can learn from the map:
Zzyzx: Pronounced “Zye-Zacks” is a scenic desert oasis in the Mojave National Preserve with self-guided trails
Whynot: Situated on Highway 75, or the North Carolina Pottery Highway, this town is world-renowned for its ceramics. The town’s name comes from a debate with settlers where a frustrated farmer said, ‘Why not name it ‘Why Not’ and then we can go home?”
Devil’s Kettle: Minnesota’s Devil’s Kettle Falls has one side that tumbles down a two-step stone embankment and continues on like a normal waterfall. The other side vanishes into a deep hole and disappears — apparently forever.
Mooselookmeguntic Lake: Tied for being the longest place name in the United States with 17 letters. This Maine lake is framed by mountains and has great deep water trout and salmon fishing.
Save the earth? Alaska Airlines offering water in boxes
To reduce plastic waste on airplanes, Alaska Airlines is replacing e single-use plastic bottles with Boxed Water’s 92% plant-based cartons. This will help remove 7.2 million plastic bottles a year, the equivalent of approximately 98,000 lbs of plastic.
Boxed Water is already served on Alaska’s Horizon Air-operated flights and is expanding to all Alaska flights throughout the summer, beginning this week with First Class.
The airline is also resuming its program of recycling cans, bottles, and water bottles starting May 19. The program has been on hold for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline’s employees first started a recycling program more than 15 years ago.
MIA Airport rolls out wheelchair charging stations
Just in time for Mobility Awareness Month, Miami International Airport (MIA) is celebrating the installation of 10 new wheelchair charging stations. If you use a wheelchair or travel with someone who does, you will be pleased to know there are now 10 charging spots at MIA: eight post-security and two pre-security.
Starting May 10, MIA will also have an on-site COVID-19 vaccination site that will be accessible to travelers who live and work in Florida, as well as to airport employees and family and friends of airport employees.
Here are some of the travel tidbits we’ve gathered so far this week.
Delta extends middle seat block
Most other airlines have stopped blocking the middle seats. But Delta Air Lines says it is extending its policy of blocking middle seats on all flights through April 30, 2021. Perhaps others will do the same.
“We want our customers to have complete confidence when traveling with Delta, and they continue to tell us that more space provides more peace of mind,” said Bill Lentsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer, in a statement. He added that the airline will “continue to reassess seat blocking in relation to case transmission and vaccination rates.”
SkySquad partners with At Your Gate
As Valentine’s Day approaches, here’s a nice match-up of airport services.
SkySquad, a service that provides airport assistance services from the curbside to the plane door, and from the gate to the curb, is partnering with airport food delivery company At Your Gate.
SkySquad’s customers include families with young children, seniors, pet owners, and anyone who needs a helping hand through the airport.
The company currently operates at Washington’s Reagan National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). The partnership with At Your Gate extends the SkySquad services to JFK, Newark, Boston, and Philadelphia airports. At those airports At Your Gate staff will step in to escort SkysSquad customers through the terminals.
Bonus United Miles for donations during Black History Month
In honor of Black History Month, United Airlines, Chase and Visa are giving bonus miles for donations made to select non-profits that provide educational opportunities to Black students and which support human and civil rights policies.
Now through March 15, 2020, United Explorer and United Club cardmembers will receive five miles for every dollar up to $1,000 donated to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, The Leadership Conference Education Fund, The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and The United Negro College Fund. More details here.
New Centurion Lounge at Denver Int’l Airport
American Express has opened its 14th Centurion Lounge. This one is at Denver International Airport (DEN) on the Concourse C Mezzanine, near Gate C46.
The new lounge is 14,000-square-feet (the second-largest Centurion Lounge location to-date) and has some enticing amenities, including Italian-inspired cuisine, a live-action cooking station, a Craft Beer Bar with seasonal selections from Colorado breweries. The lounge also includes a new feature: a game room with pool and shuffleboard tables, and other activities.