On the last day of March, US Airways formally joined its new partner, American Airlines, in the Oneworld Alliance. That meant it left behind its Star Alliance partners. But wait—if you have US Airways miles, there are still some Star Alliance options.
Even though US Airways is a Oneworld airline, your US Airways miles won’t become American miles until next year. But you can no longer cash in US Airways miles for award tickets on former partners including United, Lufthansa, SWISS, Air Canada and some others.
But true to the airline business that constantly confuses, you can still use your US Airways miles on some Star Alliance members such as Singapore, South African, Turkish, Air New Zealand, and eight others.
Why? I have no idea. Maybe the airlines had unbreakable contracts. But feel free to take advantage of the situation. Heck, you can even apply for a credit card affiliated with US Airways and pick up as many as 40,000 bonus miles. That’s what you get with the US Airways Premier World Mastercard. And, of course, even if you don’t use them right away, they’ll magically turn into American miles come next year. Nothing wrong with that.
Ryanair, Europe’s most notorious discount airline, is at it again. Well, its CEO is, anyway. He’s garnered more headlines, this time by predicting that someday he’ll be able to offer $10, trans-Atlantic fares. Right.
First of all, this is so far in the future, I can’t see it from here.
Secondly, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary is infamous for charging for everything from checking in to a fee if you buy a ticket with a credit card. And he’s going to have to amass a fleet of dozens of new planes. He wants to serve 12 to 14 European destinations and the same number of major US cities. Even if he could pay for those planes now—and he can’t—Boeing and Airbus have a backlog of orders, largely from Middle Eastern airlines, so it’ll be years before he could acquire the necessary metal.
Then there are taxes—just to land in London adds a couple of hundred dollars to a ticket. And Ryanair will heap fees onto the ticket price. Maybe you could keep your fare below $400 if you don’t check luggage or bring any carry on, but it’ll be difficult.
I’m not holding my breath.
If you’re self-employed, business travel outside your home town is deductible. If you’re trip does not involve an overnight stay, you may deduct your travel expenses—mileage or airfare—but you cannot deduct meals as you can if you’re staying overnight. And you can splash out—travel first class and stay in a five-star hotel if you can afford it; you don’t have to stay in a mid-priced hotel to make your hotel stay a deductible expense. But remember, you’re still going to pay for the bulk of that trip out of your pocket.
Keep careful track of your expenses and note the business purpose of a meal if you’re hosting someone else.
If you travel away from your home for the express purpose of looking for a new job, that’s deductible, too. Keep a record of interviews and other proof of intent. Professional publications or books are also deductible. So are business gifts up to $25.
If you’re in doubt, ask an accountant; I don’t accept collect calls from guys getting audited!
If you’ve shopped for business class award seats to Europe recently, you may have noticed that American Airlines offers some pretty good deals, with biz-class seats going for fewer miles than its rivals. There’s a reason.
Almost all international airlines offer lie-flat seats in business class. Except for American. When I say “lie-flat” I mean as flat as your own bed. The last generation of business class seats were angled, though they did recline much further than previous generations of seats.
Frankly, I considered those slanted seats a step backwards because I found myself sliding down them as I slept. While the seat was certainly roomier than a coach seat, it was sometimes hard not to wind up near the floor while dozing.
American is working to install lie-flat seats in all its long-range flights. Its 777-300s have been upgraded, and now the airline is working on its 777-200s and its 767-300s. The first international route to see the new, lie-flat seats will be the Dallas to Santiago flight on June 12th.
The lesson here is, not all airline award seats are equal. If you’re flying business, make sure your aircraft has the right seats. Ask the airline or check out SeatGuru.
According to CNBC, the airline has already been paid $110 million for the loss of its plane. That money comes from Allianz who was the insurer, presumably backed up by some smaller companies that took a piece of the risk.
Now comes the question of payouts to the families of victims. And it’s a good bet that if a Chinese citizen living in China bought his or her ticket in China, a family will receive much less than if the victim is an American who bought a ticket in the US. Three Americans were passengers on that flight.
Who knows if the cause of that plane’s crash will ever be known, but lawyers filed discovery requests just days after it disappeared. Targets of lawsuits will be Malaysia Airlines, Boeing, and the manufacturer of the engines.
Factors that determine where an airline can be sued include where the airline is based, where the ticket was purchased, where the passenger lived, and, of course, the age and earning history—and future—of the deceased. This one will be a tough one.
But US lawyers are already in Asia lining up clients.