Southwest’s new seating plan
The experiments are over, and the San Antonio model has won out. Starting in November, the new system will be nationwide. Each boarding pass will have a letter (A, B, or C) and a number within that boarding group. Board in the order you checked in. The airline’s promo video (Windows Media) is here. Their “boarding school” is in session here. Bottom line: You won’t need to save your place in line within the A-group by putting your carry-on luggage into the corral. I guess that’s an improvement. But you’ll need to be even quicker to check in if you want your pick of the litter. Remember, check-in opens 24 hours before the flight. Do it online. See here for a list of services that provide automated web check-in. (Their business models might be slightly in flux now.)
Virgin Atlantic adds more premium seats
Virgin Atlantic must be selling its business class and premium economy seats pretty briskly. The airline is tearing out a quarter of its coach seats on Heathrow-based 747s and replacing them with the more spacious (and higher-yielding) premium seats.
Why can’t you use a foreign credit card on US booking sites?
Chris Elliott tackles this common complaint: You might get a better fare on a particular itinerary by booking via a website or agency outside your home country, but you can’t buy it, because the seller won’t accept your home country’s credit card. Why not? The travel companies are trying to slice and dice the market, so they can have greater control of fares, while minimizing the chance of fraud. Not every country has this problem. (I’ve used a Singaporean website or two to book US travel with my US card.) If you’ve ever been flummoxed by this, go read the whole post.
US Airways increases the cost of upgrades, but makes more fares upgradeable
Mileage upgrades on US Airways are more expensive, with each Lower-48/Canada/Alaska upgrade costing 15,000 instead of 10,000 miles as of October 3. On the flip side, they’re opening up ALL their domestic fares for upgradeability, so it’s no longer just the most expensive tickets that are eligible. That’s a plus. Similarly, on international flights, you’ll be able to use miles to upgrade any flight that cost you $600 or more each way. By my reading of the new rules, that $600 number includes taxes and fees. (via WebFlyer)