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LAN Airlines

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Why you need to subscribe to airline fare deals

Most of the time, pretty much worthless. No cheaper than what you get directly at your airline website, or at one of the online travel agencies.

Once in a while, holy cow! My brother-in-law found a $352 USD all-in from New York City to Buenos Aires (EZE, their International Airport). I love living in Uruguay but it’s one of the most expensive ex-US airfares for the actual flight distance. Likewise, Buenos Aires, Argentina, where many Uruguay visitors arrive and then take the Buquebus ferry across the Rio de la Plata. Continue reading »

United giving up in South America?

Wow, this is a shock. According to various reports, including Flyertalk.com member “JOSECONLSCREW28”, a United (sCO, the “Continental” internal subsidiary that is still a separate operating division) flight attendant, UA is killing off the East Coast US-to-Argentina flight, leaving only a Texas-Argentina flight. They are just bailing out and giving up.

United Fleet Site banner

If you’re a serious flight geek, you can find more details of United cutbacks, including this one, on the United Fleet Site, an unofficial website that I believe he (and others) maintain. Continue reading »

Is the Dreamliner the new DC-10?

Is it over for Boeing’s Dreamliner barely before it began?

United Airlines 787, one of the grounded aircraft and part of the UA 787 fleet where one had to make an emergency landing – Engadget photo and article.

In the last 48 hours, airlines or regulatory authorities worldwide have banned the Boeing 787 from the skies, until there is a full understanding of its many problems and a resolution. Fuel is leaking. Fires are starting in the very controversial lithium-ion battery-powered APU – traditional aircraft use a hot-air bleed system for that, and Li-on batteries are capable of ignition, which is why you and I are banned from packing them in our checked luggage according to international airline safety regulations!

Two days ago, Japan’s largest airlines, JAL (a significant partner of American Airlines in both a revenue sharing deal and in the broader oneworld alliance, and ANA (a significant partner of United in both a revenue sharing deal and the broader Star Alliance), voluntarily grounded their 787 fleets.

Dreamliner with evacuation shoots deployed and emergency response vehicles

Evacuated ANA 787 in Japan after electrical malfunctions and smoke. From The Guardian

Yesterday, the US Federal Aviation Administration grounded the US-registered 787 fleet, which is solely flown by United Airlines. United did not choose to follow its partner ANA’s lead, so the FAA made the decision for them. Today, more airlines around the world and more governmental aviation authorities have grounded 787 Dreamliners based on the information shared by Japan and the USA to the worldwide aviation community. And in no small measure, because of customer trepidation about the aircraft’s safety and reliability. “If Japan and the US say it is unsafe, why is my country or my airline still allowing it?” is a rational response by the public. (Update: LAN Airlines of South America, whom I wrote about getting the first 787 in the Americas, also has grounded their fleet of 3 Dreamliners.)

My opinion? Continue reading »

The Americas Get Their First 787 – in South America

As a new resident of South America, and a semi-regular on LAN, I’m excited by the news that today (31 Aug 2012 US West Coast date), LAN Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Though not the first Dreamliner to reach the Americas, it is the first by an American Airline, LAN Airlines, of Chile, South America. “American” referring to the single supercontinent of The Americas, taken together, as it is commonly considered by most of the non-North American world.

The "dome" upon entry to the LAN 787 - photo credit USA TodayThe Everett, Washington (main Boeing assembly location) Weekly Herald reports on the delivery. United will be the second Americas airline, getting a 787 later this North American fall, and running a new Denver to Tokyo route and other “long and narrow” routes, after some US-domestic familiarization flights. United’s partner in Star Alliance and in its deeper bilateral Trans-Pacific joint-venture revenue share deal, is already flying 787s to the USA, as is their competitor JAL.

But nobody from the Western Hemisphere is yet flying them. LAN starts the onboard party. Just look at the photo (credit USA Today) with the high-ceiling, bright mood lighting, open airy feel as you board. This isn’t an artist’s rendering or a mock-up, it’s what LAN actually got from Boeing. Sadly, United cheapened out Continue reading »

Latin Star (Alliances that is)

Well I blew it.

AviancaTaca Group and their subsidiary airlines Taca, LACSA (the Costa Rica branch of Taca), Taca Perú, and Avianca all joined Star Alliance today 21 June. Along with their competitor in Central and northern South America, Copa Airlines, whose accession was never in question.  With AviancaTaca even jumping the gun by a day on its websites yesterday.

Which makes me just about as prescient about airlines as most airline CEOs, who continue to lose money and go in and out of bankruptcy.

I still stand by the logic in my earlier posts about why LAN would want to find a way out of oneworld into Star. But not happening now.

Keep an eye on the Stars, however. I do not expect this to remain static. Logically Star still is a better global partner for LAN than is the weak oneworld, and Star needs a continent-wide South American partner. Which neither Copa nor AviancaTaca provides.

But for now… mea culpa. I stand in good company with the Bloomberg London reporter who said 2 days ago (at 00:39 into the video) that LAN is leaving their alliance,  and with the Copa agent in DC who had come to the same conclusion as me about AviancaTaca not joining (or at least not staying) in Star Alliance.

Until then, however, AviancaTaca LifeMiles is now going to be my primary Star Alliance frequent flyer program, totally replacing the devalued United Mileage Plus with its ridiculous fees. LifeMiles has great earnings on its own fares, and now has an excellent Star Alliance online booking engine, along with a flexible cash-vs-miles sliding scale. I just was able to find an LAX-to-Montevideo award in August for only 19,000 1-way miles. And because I only have 10,801 LifeMiles right now (all earned from just one cheap Uruguay-USA flight a week ago with booking/fare bonuses), I can use 10,500 + $131 USD as a dirt-cheap way to get that ticket. Not sure if I will, because I’ve got an AAwful Airlines AAward for that timeframe already, but it is a super value.

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