Tag: aviation

What are air miles and how do they work?

What are air miles and how do they work?

Travel for free with your everyday purchases and get great benefits being a frequent traveler. We’ll take a look at what an air miles plan is, who can participate and how you can start earning points for your next trip.

What is an air miles plan?

Air miles are a program created by major airlines, which allows travelers to earn points -by miles or kilometers, according to each company’s policies- every time they buy an airline ticket or make a purchase with their credit cards.

The miles or points you accumulate are themselves worth something. Once you’ve accumulated enough miles, you can redeem them for airline tickets and other benefits such as upgrades on your flights, hotel stays, car rentals, among others.

How to participate in an air miles plan?

Each airline has a different plan, but they all agree on one thing: To earn as many miles as possible, you must make purchases with your credit card. The two modalities that exist are:

  1. Directly with the airline: You accumulate miles in a frequent flyer account every time you use the services of the airline. It is the most convenient option for people who travel frequently.
  2. Through the bank: You get points with your credit card every time you make a purchase or payment. Then you can exchange points for miles in the airline associated with the plan. It is the most convenient mode if you are not a frequent traveler.

If you’re not a frequent traveler

After air travel, one of the main sources for miles are credit cards. If you are not a frequent flyer, you can earn miles with your credit card’s loyalty program without becoming a member of the frequent flyer program. Most banks have an agreement with an airline or a group of partner airlines. Almost all airlines have a frequent flyer program.

For this you must make sure that your bank has an agreement with an airline or group of airlines, and that this agreement will be convenient for you.

Each card and airline has a different mile earning system. In addition, even if your bank offers this plan, it is possible that your credit card doesn’t have it activated right away and all you have to do is request it. You can do so through the internet or through the phone, by contacting your bank. If you are not a member of any airline, you will get a frequent flyer account instantly so you can earn miles every time you make a purchase with your credit card. The amount of miles is calculated differently depending on each bank.

You can earn miles with your everyday expenses, each time you make a purchase or pay for a service. Credit cards are one of the most practical and useful ways to accumulate miles in the frequent flyer programs of airlines, because you can do it without even getting on a plane while taking advantage of the payments you make in your everyday life.

We also recommend you to keep an eye on the special promotions that often vary according to the partnership the bank has with the company at any given time. Some banks only provide such benefits to their select clients.

Tips to earn miles with your credit card

  1. Before acquiring a credit card, find out what are the current promotions regarding air miles plans, and how long do those promotions last.
  2. Check if they award points with any type of purchase or if there are any restrictions. And if you have multiple credit cards, make sure to do most of your purchases with the credit card associated with your miles plan.
  3. Check the expiry date of your miles. The accumulated miles will expire after certain period of time if your account is inactive. Don’t forget to read the terms and conditions of your miles plan.

If you are a frequent traveler

If you are a frequent traveler, you’ll be able to take advantage of all those hours of flight, and you’ll earn miles with each purchase of airline tickets. Within frequent flyer plans, you can also earn miles with the purchase of goods and services in any of the companies associated with your airline, by staying in certain hotels or renting cars in certain companies.

But for this to work, you must first become a member of a frequent flyer program of any airline. Most airlines have a frequent flyer program. Choosing the best program depends on each person and their customs when traveling. However, it is advisable to choose an airline that, from your place of residence, offers flights to a wide variety of destinations. Please note that miles can not be transferred from one frequent flyer program to another, so to earn miles it’s important to always travel with the same airline or group of partner airlines, in order to centralize in a single account all of the miles you earn.

You can sign up by entering the website of your preferred airline. Most frequent flyer programs allow you to register on their websites and the registration is usually free. Remember that enrollment in such programs is per passenger; therefore, if all of your family is traveling, you must register each person separately. There’s no need to be a citizen of the country to which the airline belongs.

Once you have entered your data, you will receive a membership number and password. You are now ready to start accumulating miles!

As a member of a frequent flyer plan, remember that you can earn miles with the expenses that you make with your credit card. Your credit card must have an agreement with the airline or group of airlines of which you are a member.

Iran Air A300-605R_fly_tickets_miles_shahram shirkhani
Image courtesy of Peter Russell at Flickr.com

Redeem your airline miles

Once you’ve accumulated enough miles, you’re ready to redeem them. The main objective of those who accumulate miles is to redeem them for free airline tickets. But the miles can also be used for upgrades or as part of payment of a ticket.

The vast majority of frequent flyer programs also allow you to redeem other products or services such as hotel accommodations, magazine subscriptions, car rentals and all kinds of objects. In this case you should evaluate what is best for you, if you spend your miles on certain products or services or whether it is preferable to continue to keep your miles for future trips.

8 Of The Best United States Air Shows For Aviation Enthusiasts

8 Of The Best United States Air Shows For Aviation Enthusiasts

Airshows are a common ground to see the passion we all have for flying being represented. You don’t even have to be an enthusiast to stand in awe and marvel at the flying skills displayed by pilots and the amazing capabilities showcased by aircrafts that take to the airs and delight spectators. Airshows started drawing hundreds of thousands of attendees since their early beginnings just a few short years after the Wright brothers first took to the skies. Airshows are often held as business and trade events where services, aircrafts or avionics are showed to potential customers, but also as wonderful places for families to gather and behold hits impressive machines. The military often organizes them for the public to participate in charities, promote military enlistment and to raise the profile of the organization. The United States normally enjoys of an air show season running from March to November while other countries may see shorter seasons.

The 2016 season of air shows in North America lists more than 300 events to enjoy all around the country; here we have some of the best ones for you to visit this season.

Florida International Air Show

Late March – Punta Gorda, Florida

Named one of the “10 Best Air Shows Around the World” by USAToday.com, the Florida International Air Show seeks to focus on wholesome family entertainment, educating the public on matters of aviation and showing special performances of civilian and military aircrafts alike. The organization is a Florida “not for profit” corporation, so all income from gate receipts, sponsors and other events goes to putting on the Air Show every year.

Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo

End of March or April – Lakeland, Florida

Every year since 1974 the skies over Lakeland are filled with planes from around the world, watched by thousands of attendees that have made this show a yearly tradition. This celebration has grown into the second largest event of its kind in the world and is Florida’s largest annual convention. The event offers: jet teams, aerospace related exhibits; educational forums, aircraft static displays, professional gatherings of aviation and economic development groups and of course daily and evening airshows that include amazing aerobatics.

Dayton Air Show

June – Dayton, Ohio

The history of this flight exhibition dates back to 1910 and the Wright Company. Being held at Dayton has a great significance amongst enthusiast as this place is the hometown of the Wright Brothers and is where Orville and Wilbur built their first powered plane. Vectren mainly sponsors the show and it is considered to be one of the country’s greatest aviation events.

MacDill Air Fest

April – Tampa, Central West Florida

One of the largest air shows in the United States, the MacDill Air Fest attracts more than 750,000 enthusiasts every year. The show mostly focuses on the military and the United States Air Force mission.

Alliance Air Show_aviation_air shows_shahram shirkhani
Image courtesy of Jerry and Pat Donaho at Flickr.com

Reno Air Races

September – Reno, Nevada

Bill Stead organized an air race near Reno, Nevada in 1964, thus giving birth to the Reno National Championship Air Races. This particular event carries on the tradition of the Cleveland Air Races of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. The desert north of Reno becomes home to hundreds of aircraft, their pilots and crews for one week every year. In the last decade, the event has attracted more than 150,000 fans of aviation and generated more than $66.5 million every year for the region’s economy.

Joint Base Andrews Air Show

September – Camp Springs, Maryland

Just east of Washington, DC, this air show displays just about every single flying piece of equipment that the US military has in operation, with a few oldies included as well. The Joint Base Andrews Air Show is the culmination of the weeklong activities in the National Capital Region, which includes the Air Force’s Birthday Week celebration in the second week of September.

Oshkosh EAA AirVenture Show

July – Oshkosh, Wisconsin

For one week each summer, 500,000 of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) members and aviation enthusiasts totaling more than 500,000 coming from more than 60 countries attend EAA AirVenture at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Here they tell stories, remember old friendships and celebrate the past, present, and future in the world of flight. The EAA AirVenture has evolved from a small congregation of aircraft and aviators into a striking, weeklong celebration considered The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.

Miramar Air Show

September, early October – San Diego, California

This air show takes place where the famous Hollywood movie “Top Gun” was filmed. The Miramar Air Show is the largest military air show in the United States and it displays some of the most amazing and modern US arsenal available. Every year, spectators are treated by a performance of the Blue Angels, the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron.

How to get a refund for a plane ticket -even if it’s nonrefundable

How to get a refund for a plane ticket -even if it’s nonrefundable

The policy of many major airlines allows you to change a plane ticket for any reason and use it for a maximum of one year from the date of the exchange. But if you happen to have booked a more expensive refundable rate, you will be, without a doubt, charged extra money. In most cases, you can exchange nonrefundable tickets without paying a fee, but only as long as certain special circumstances are met.

If you think you have to change your plane ticket, you should consider buying a refundable ticket or an unrestricted one when making your initial purchase. These can be exchanged or returned at any time before departing, without any penalty at all. However, refundable tickets often cost hundreds of dollars more than the non-refundable ones (or even thousands of dollars if you are flying internationally).

These tickets are generally acquired by business travelers who are flying in the short term. If you have a refundable ticket, call the airline or visit their website and follow the instructions to exchange it or get a refund. Most airlines allow you to change your ticket without a fee if you need to change your trip due to a family emergency, such as a death or serious illness. In most cases, the airline will require evidence of such an emergency, such as a death certificate or a medical certificate from affected family member. Call the airline and explain your situation if you have to make changes to a ticket due to these emergencies. If you are too ill to travel, you can change your ticket without paying a fee. Most airlines require proving that you are too sick to fly. It is more likely for you to avoid an exchange fee if you can prove that you will endanger other passengers if you were to stick to your original travel plan. If you have a confirmed diagnosis of a highly contagious disease, the airline will probably be allowed to change your plans at no cost. Call the airline and explain your situation.

In case of bad weather, like a winter storm or hurricane, usually airlines proactively offer travelers the option to change their plans at no cost. If you expect bad weather to ruin your plans, call the airline and discuss your options. Many airlines and other travel websites will offer travel insurance for a small fee before the actual booking. This insurance allows you to change or cancel your travel plans without a penalty in the case of covered circumstances. Be sure to read the fine print, as your reasons to change your plans may not be covered. If you purchased travel insurance and have to change your ticket, follow the instructions on the policy.

ticket_aviation_shahram shirkhani_travel
Image courtesy of Angela Sabas at Flickr.com

A step-by-step process

It is possible for you to obtain reimbursement of a nonrefundable airline ticket, but this completely depends on the airline, the representative who handles your application and the reasons why you are requesting a refund. Some airlines make exceptions like the ones we mentioned before -a death in the family or a serious illness- while others may offer credit on a ticket that can be used to fly in the future. Here’s a brief guide on how to achieve this:

  1. Contact the customer service department of the airline for which you have non-refundable airline tickets. You can usually find the customer service number on the airline’s website.
  1. Kindly ask for a refund of your non-refundable airline tickets and explain why you can not use them. If you are requesting a refund due to a death in the family or illness, be prepared to provide documentation such as a death certificate or a doctor’s note.
  1. Ask to speak to a customer service supervisor if your request is rejected. If a monetary reimbursement is out of the question, try to negotiate credit to be used on a future flight. However, you may have to pay a fine of $50 to $75 to get the credit.
  1. Understand the restrictions of your right to a ticket credit. In general, you should use the credit within a year and the tickets are nontransferable. Some airlines also the new tickets to have the same route as the unused ones. For example, if your original tickets were for a trip from New York to Chicago, you will have to fly from New York to Chicago with your credit.

Other tips and warnings

The only way to avoid losing money on non-refundable tickets is to purchase fully refundable tickets. If you are worried about not being able to take a flight, make sure that the tickets you buy are refundable. This will ensure that you will get a full refund for your unused airline tickets, regardless of the reason.

4 of the largest and most comfortable airplanes to travel the world

4 of the largest and most comfortable airplanes to travel the world

Most of the time, traveling means pleasure, especially when you travel to your own chosen locations. Traveling is ideal when looking for adventure, meeting new people or simply leaving things behind and clear one’s mind. Whether you travel on business or for leisure, moving about the world is liberating in its own and considered one of the greatest achievements of our modern society.

When it comes to traveling by airplane, everyone wishes they could do it inside some of the best and most comfortable aircrafts in the world. For those lucky enough, being on these ships may feel like being on a cruise, with large capacity for passengers are able to traverse long distances without any hiccups, these are some of the biggest and most powerful accomplishments of aeronautical engineering today. These flying giants have great hallways, windows, clean engines, large lavatories and private accommodations. They also use cutting edge technology to keep you connected while traveling, carry different types of menus for on-board meals and they are accented with luxury design anywhere you look. Years ago, people wouldn’t have imagined planes this size would exist today, here we have some of the largest and most comfortable models operating today in the air transportation industry.

Lufthansa A340-300 Business-Class_aviation_airplane_shahram shirkhani
Image courtesy of dtrzolek at Flickr.com

Airbus A380-800

The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by Airbus with a capacity of transporting 853 passengers. Built using mostly aluminum, carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, glass-fiber reinforced plastic and quartz-fiber reinforced plastic; thus making the plane lighter and more aerodynamic regardless of its size. Even though the plane is huge, its fuel management consumption is rather prudent and its engines produce half as much noise than a regular-size airplane. The Airbus A380 can reach a top speed of up to 945 km/h. The program to build it was presented in December of 2000 and it first flew on 27 April 2005 in Toulouse Blagnac International Airport. The first A380 was delivered to Singapore Airlines on 15 October 2007 and entered service on 25 October 2007 making its first trip ever between Singapore and Sydney. Some of the amenities added to this aircrafts by different airlines are: first class suites featuring leather seats and a separate bed, center suites with double bed, lounge couches, an electronic art gallery, hot water shower spas and self-serve snack bars.

Boeing 777-300

The Boeing 777 has a passenger capacity of 550; it can reach a top speed of up to 893 km/h. It has three engine options including the 4098 Pratt & Whitney with a trust of 98.000 lbs. the Trent 892 by Rolls Royce with a trust of 90.000 lbs. and the 90-94B by General Electric with a trust of 93.700 lbs.

Amongst the many features of these airplanes we can count on wide cabins with high ceilings, quiet operation and audio and video on demand to all seats. Its ample space allows passengers to move about the cabin easily to reach lavatories and common areas.

Boeing 747-8

Boeing 747_airplane_aviation_shahram shirkhani
Image courtesy of Kiefer at Flickr.com

The largest 747 version is the largest commercial aircraft built in the United States, and the longest passenger aircraft in the world measuring over 76 meters from head to tail. It has a 358-passenger capacity and it completed its first flight back in 2011. It has plenty of comfortable setting for all business and economy class passengers along its double-deck body. Amenities are quite adequate in the 747-8, and it offers private suits for beds included, dressing rooms, access to bars and ample hallways to move about amongst others. In January 2015, the Air Force announced the selection of the 747-8 to replace the aging VC-25A for presidential transport.

Airbus A340-500

The Airbus A340-500’s performance and comfort allow for a nice and enjoyable traveling experience. It has a capacity for 375 passengers and they are divided in a typical three-class configuration. The aircraft made its debut in 2003 with Emirates Airlines. The A340’s design was made thinking on passenger comfort, offering seats with sliding doors for complete privacy. The suite has a perfectly flat, 6 ft. 8 inch extra wide bed with in-built massage, a 23-inch cinematic widescreen, a personal mini-bar, and a personal wardrobe and even the Coral Economy Class offers a 31.5 to 33-inch seat pitch depending on where you sit on an individual aircraft. Passengers may move freely about the cabin without bothering others while leaving their seats. Seats are sorted by making even-numbered positions made for those traveling accompanied and odd-numbered seats made with dividers to provide passengers traveling alone with more privacy. Most airlines offer a wide variety of foods provided in diverse menus and wine lists as wells as snack bars and a comprehensive flight entertainment system with movies in 60 different languages and just about every genre you can imagine as well as games and music options.

These 6 helpful tips will make your long flight better

These 6 helpful tips will make your long flight better

A couple of decades ago, air travel was a luxury and passengers enjoyed a first class service, with comfortable and spacious seating and of course, delicious food. Unless you travel in first or business class, today you’ll see yourself locked in a cabin with minimal space, while trying your best to get comfortable as you endure a long flight.

If you are about to get on a long plane ride, follow these tips in order to make the experience as comfortable as possible.

  1. Dress comfortably

Traveling might seem glamorous, but being comfortable is way better than being fashionable. Wear clothes that are not too tight, because during a long trip you can feel bloated. If you are a woman I would not recommend wearing a skirt or dress, since you won’t know what position you’ll have to adopt in order to sleep.

Use layers. Maybe the day is warm, but on an aircraft the air conditioning is always high; wear a blazer for cover as the blanket, if there even is one, might be very thin.

As for the shoes, you should consider two things: they should be easy to put on and take off, as they may ask you to take them off when going through security, and they must not be tight, because if you take them off during the flight, you will have to place them back on your swollen feet.

  1. Choose your seat well

Many airlines let you choose your seat while checking in or buying your ticket. If your flight is not very long, -less than 5 hours- and you want to rest, I recommend you going to the bathroom just before boarding, not drinking many liquids and choosing the window seat. Nobody will bother you so you’ll be able to sleep.

If you have a long flight, you will definitely have to stand up, either to go to the lavatory or stretch your legs. If you want the benefit of leaving your seat without disturbing anyone, and letting no one wake you up, choose a corridor seat in the middle column.

Almost all planes that make transcontinental flights have three types of columns: left, middle, right. The middle one has no window, but it has its benefits.

It is true that the emergency row seat has more legroom, but it is not easy to get. In addition, it cannot be reclined.

  1. Food

On a long trip, most airlines will offer several meals. If you have special dietary requirements, let them know in advance, either by phone or through the website of the airline. Those who need special meals get served first, but be warned: unless you ask for the children’s menu, it might not be the best.

In economy class, you get two choices: chicken, beef or some kind of pasta. Never choose the pasta, since when it is reheated it does not usually taste well. Something similar applies to breakfasts: never order the omelette, since reheated eggs are unpalatable and there is always a risk of contamination in foods containing egg.

When choosing what to drink, it is important to stay hydrated. Instead of choosing beers and soft drinks, water will be better and it will help you recover faster when descending. A coffee for breakfast is recommended, but don’t expect the best quality.

My recommendation is to take something with you; a snack that you like, because you don’t know when you’ll be hungry, it can be cereal bars. This is especially important in flights of 3 to 6 hours in length, when they can not offer you much to eat.

  1. Sleeping

Sleeping on a plane is quite an art. You must overcome the discomfort, noise and light: Before traveling, buy an inflatable neck pillow (they are cheap and simple to store), a good mask to avoid light, and earplugs. In many airlines you get these last two items, along with a light blanket (which will be insufficient, so take a jacket or sweatshirt) and a small pillow. I recommend using it for the middle part of your back, which is unsupported in the aircraft seat.

Stand up and walk every few hours, you’ll avoid potential problems and stretch your body. You will need it.

If you need to go to the bathroom, do it after eating, but before the trays are withdrawn. People usually go en masse once this happens, so use that moment.

plane_flying_aviation_shahram shirkhani
Image courtesy of Kevin Morris at Flickr.com
  1. Entertainment

Charge your electronic devices and carry in them enough entertainment for the flight: books on your tablet, movies and games, and the same goes for your smartphone. In most aircraft you’ll find USB ports for charging your gadgets.

If the plane has individual screens, it is a good idea to watch a movie before going to sleep.

  1. Before landing

Shortly before landing, people will again go en masse to the bathroom. Since you’re smarter, do it an hour and a half before landing. You can cool off with wet towels. Do not use the water from the plane’s lavatory.

Put on some deodorant, comb your hair a bit and if you want to brush your teeth, ask for a glass of water from the stewardess. Remember: never use water from the sink.

You have arrived at your destination, healthy, safe and, above all, rested, and not crazy after spending hours locked in an aircraft. You’ll thank me when you return from your next trip.