Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Air Canada Lounge Access Wiki

An Air Canada flyer off FlyerTalk.com has set up an Air Canada Lounge wiki whereby elite flyers can post when and where they are 'lounging' to see if they can offer lounge access to others. Since most Elite and Super Elite members can take one guest into the lounge, those traveling alone can offer up their guest spot to someone who just happens to be traveling around the same time. The thread covering this on FlyerTalk shows how some people like this idea and how other Top Tier members do not as they prefer the lounges to be less crowded. I will remain neutral on this one.

From what I can figure out is that you must be a FlyerTalk user to be able to communicate with whomever is offering up a guest spot as there is nothing on the wiki that allows you contact them directly.

You can visit the Wiki here, and as you can see there is quite a bit already listed for YYC.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WestJet expands service on several routes out of YYC

WestJet announced their summer 2010 schedule today with the addition of new routes and the expansion of others from various cities in Canada. While no new routes were announced from Calgary, three popular sun routes out of YYC will become year round from seasonal service. WestJet flights from Calgary to Palm Springs, Phoenix and Cancun have all been expanded to year round service. Flights will be offered 3x weekly to Phoenix, 2x weekly to Palm Spring and Cancun for summer 2010.

Although not Calgary originating, the new routes annouced by WestJet today are between Vancouver and Kitchener-Waterloo, Vancouver and San Francisco, Edmonton and Kamloops, Edmonton and San Francisco, and Toronto and Puerto Vallarta.

Full details can be found here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

YYC opens new airport parkade

From the YYC press release:


More stalls and lower weekly rates make parking easy at YYC

CALGARY, ALBERTA -The Calgary Airport Authority (the Authority) has opened a new on-site seven-level covered parkade, adding 1,930 more stalls to its parkade facilities, and bringing the total number of available parkade spaces to 7,480. This is the final phase of its Parking Made Easy program, a multi-phase initiative aimed at enhancing the guest experience at YYC.

The Authority is also excited to announce that weekly parking rates in the covered parkades have been reduced to $99. Parking rates in the airport's surface Economy lot have decreased to $49.95.

"Parking on-site at the airport is by far the most convenient option for travellers," said Bob Schmitt, Senior Vice President, Planning and Engineering for The Calgary Airport Authority. "With the addition of our new covered parkade and lower weekly rates, we are proud to offer close to 2,000 more covered stalls at a reduced price, just in time for the cold, winter season."

YYC offers covered short and long-term parking in two parkades, as well as a discounted surface Economy lot located adjacent to the Air Terminal Building. YYC also offers complimentary parking for the first 30 minutes in its short-term stalls, and a no-charge 'park and wait' cell phone lot.

"With a wide variety of parking options for travellers and visitors, we have a spot for everyone," added Schmitt.

As part of the Parking Made Easy program, the Authority recently installed 24 automated Express Pay Stations, allowing guests to pay for their parking prior to returning to their vehicle, then quickly exiting the parkade through a designated express lane.

The Calgary Airport Authority is a not-for-profit, non-share capital corporation, responsible for the management, maintenance and development of Calgary International Airport and Springbank Airport under long-term lease from the Government of Canada.

Please visit www.yyc.com for more information.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'll be on Newstalk 1010 tonight

I know we have some visitors to IFlyCalgary from Ontario and Quebec so if you live in the Toronto or Montreal areas or anywhere where you can listen online I am scheduled to be on Ryan Doyle's show tonight on Newstalk 1010 around 8:35EST. Be sure to listen if you can. No specific topic of yet just a general overview of Rewards Canada and what we do (if I can I'll mention Iflycalgary as well)

Oct 2009 Passenger Stats....Just in the black

The October 2009 passenger stats are now posted on the YYC website and the month just barely eclipsed the same month in 2008. A total of 1,000,908 people passed through Calgary this October, a whopping 0.4% more then last October. The largest gain was seen on the International side with growth of 7.8%, domestically the numbers were almost even with only a 0.2% growth while Transborder saw a decline of 1.5%.

Here are the numbers
Domestic: 724,378 (+0.2%)
Transborder: 199,901 (-1.5%)
International: 76,629 (+7.8%)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Air Canada 10% off flights to the U.S. when using a Visa card

Travel from January 6 to March 31, 2010! To get your exclusive discount, simply enter this promotion code when booking and pay with your VISA card: 4N6JQRV1

Offer ends December 31, 2009. Valid on published Tango Plus, Latitude, Executive Class fares

View the complete offer on Aircanada.com

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First details of WestJet RBC MasterCard revealed

A bit off topic but since WestJet is from our hometown and their reward program will become a major player in the travel rewards industry in Canada, I felt that I should put my post from the Rewards Canada blog on Iflycalgary:

The first few details of the new WestJet RBC MasterCards have been revealed on the RBC website. Without knowing all the details yet it is hard to give a full judgement on the cards but from the earning standpoint on the cards they seem to be about average.

There are two offerings from RBC, the first is the WestJet RBC World MasterCard which offers 1.5% in WestJet dollars on everyday spending and assuming that WestJet dollars are 1 for 1 in redemption means this card offes a 1.5% return. This 1.5% falls below cards like the Capital One Miles Plus and Diners Club MasterCards but is equal to cards like the TD Travel Visas. Chances are this card will have an annual fee as it will have enhanced travel insurances and the higher earning rate of the 1.5%

The second offering is called the WestJet RBC MasterCard and it offers 1% back in WestJet dollars. We can assume this card will either have no annual fee or a low one like the CIBC AeroClassic Visa. Once again assuming a 1:1 redemption ratio this card falls in line with such cards at the ScotiaGold Passport Visa, Capital One Miles MasterCard and the majority of the credit union/small bank reward cards.

Since this card will be part of a significant rewards program in Canada you will soon see it on our comparison charts to see how it stacks up against other Canadian Travel Rewards credit cards.

As always you can find our main comparison chart here

To see the WestJet cards on RBC click here

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Calgary - Mexico City $272 all taxes in

Another good deal for flying out of Calgary is on Mexicana to Mexico City. Many dates are available January through March and runs around C$272 all in (base fare is US$173). The flight books into classes Q or O but still accrue 100% Mexicana Go Points or miles with any OneWorld partner like AAdvantage which gives 100% miles but only 50% Elite Qualifying points on this deep discounted fare. Book online at Mexicana

Friday, December 4, 2009

KLM 3 Day sale to Bucharest, Prague and Warsaw

KLM is offering some great fares out of Calgary for travel between January 12 and May 6, 2010. The booking deadline is Dec 7. And how great of fares are they? Well if you can find the right dates they all come in at just under $775 including all taxes and fees! That is a great fare for a scheduled airline flight to Eastern Europe. For example I tried YYC-Prague between Jan 13 and 18th and the total was $774.34 (base fare is $654).

Check it out today at KLM.com

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Do you fly Calgary? Want to let others know about your experiences?

I was wondering what I could do to add some 'oomph' and greater interactivity on IFlyCalgary and figured what better way then to have our readers post their trip reports on flying out of Calgary. With your reports you will let other readers know the good, the bad, the funny, the sad and whatever else on using our fine city's airport. You can see two of my examples of trip reports in these past posts:
- I Fly Calgary to Los Angeles: Fog, Smog, and a Snowstorm
- I Fly Calgary to Victoria: Clive Beddoe, Broken Luggage, Power Outage

If you would like to contribute an IflyCalgary trip report, simply put it in an email (and it can include pictures or video, preferably linked from a photo sharing or video sharing site) to
info@rewardscanada.ca with the subject heading of "IFlyCalgary Trip Report". Now your reports don't have to be like mine above, they can take on any format from a full story to just a photo report. If you want to see other examples of trip reports see this section on Airliners or this one on FlyerTalk.

I Fly Calgary to Los Angeles: Fog, Smog, and a Snowstorm

I have not had a chance to write a trip report for a while so here is a quick review of my travels to go to the FFP-ARAC conference in Huntington Beach.

I arrived to YYC fairly early for my 8am direct flight on Air Canada to Los Angeles. Having checked in the night before and travelling only with carry on luggage I went straight to U.S. customs which had a small line up with about a 20 minute wait. Glad I arrived when I did though as the just before being called up by the agent I looked back and the line had more then doubled from when I arrived into the line at about 6am. Once through customs and security it was now past 6:30 and I pondered pulling out my Priority Pass and using the Rocky Mountain Lounge but I figured the $28 or so dollars for one hour use was not really worth it especially since YYC has free wi-fi. Got myself my JugoJuice and sat down at the gate to check email etc. One look out the window and you couldn't even see from the B/C Concourse to the A Concourse due to thick fog that blanketed the ground, a little odd for Calgary especially since it did not dissipate until after noon sometime.

Our plane this day was an Embraer E-190 and it ended up being close to full, I only saw 2 or 3 empty seats. Once all the passengers were onboard the pilot announced a slight delay as we waited for one passenger's luggage to get to the plane. That delay ended up being close to half an hour and we ended up departing off runway 16 sometime after 8:30 (scheduled departure time was 8am). The flight itself was quite uneventful with only some little turbulence out of Calgary and cloud cover below us for most of the flight. The plane was not able to make up any time from the delay from Calgary and other then arriving late into smoggy LAX the arrival was painless.

After a quick 50 or so hours in Huntington Beach I was back at LAX for my flight home via Vancouver . I get to LAX around 4pm and the Flight Information Display System (FIDS) shows that the my flight to YVR is scheduled to depart on time. After getting through security I go to the gate area for our flight and decide to check if the flight is still on time even though it says so on the screen. Low and behold I am told the incoming flight from Vancouver went mechanical so it is 2 hours late. Darn! That means I would miss my connection in YVR to Calgary which happened to be the last flight of the day between YVR and YYC. The direct flight to Calgary is long gone so I whip out my laptop and the signal strength from the Air France KLM lounge is just strong enough that I can get online to look up alternatives. I call up Air Canada IROPS to see if they can get me to SFO or DEN on United or PHX on US Airways where connections to Calgary were available that evening. Unfortunatly no dice even though all the connecting flights are fine, the flights out of LAX are all full. So AC IROPS protects me on the 6am YVR-YYC flight as I needed to get into Calgary early as I promised my girls I would be at their ballet. I hang out at LAX for a few more hours and our E-190 shows up and the LAX crew did a great job of turning the plane around super quick and soon we were in the air to YVR. Due to the delay AC offered the first alcoholic beverage for free, which I did not partake in this time. We get into YVR around 11pm and an AC agent is waiting for those who missed their connections right at the gate. I am handed my boarding pass for the morning and a voucher for a room at the Fairmont YVR along with $10 for breakfast. As I am walking to Canada customs I look at my boarding pass and it shows the 7am YVR-YYC flight not the 6am that I thought I would be on, another call to IROPS lets me know that the 6am flight has now been canceled. Great! Not sure if I will make it to Calgary in time now for my girls ballet on Saturday morning. A quick 5 hour sleep in the Fairmont hotel and I am back in the terminal clearing security for my 7am flight.

The flight on a CRJ-700 was uneventful and practically empty, no wonder they canceled the 6am, it probably had even less people then the 7am flight. I get into Calgary around 9:20 or so and am out of the airport at my car in Park n Jet by 9:35. The big problem though is we are getting dumped on with snow! So normally what would be a 20-25 minute drive to the far Northwest now took 45 mins of driving through snow, slush and ice (and my car wasn't going into the shop for another 5 days to get my winter tires put on). But in the end I made it to see my girls do their ballet routine and they were really excited to see me as they thought I would not make it in time.

All in all I have no complaints as everything turned out fine with the trip, Air Canada provided good flights, service and took great care of me when things went awry with the delayed and canceled flights.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Air Canada adds second bag fee to U.S. and European flights

Wow I am little surprised by this move, I understand the need nowadays for ancillary revenue but one thing that has kept me and I am sure others on Air Canada and WestJet was the lack of baggage fees. Now Air Canada says they are matching U.S. and International Carriers with a second bag fee on flights to the U.S., Europe and Israel. Most U.S. airlines have first and second bag fees for U.S./Canada travel and along with most European carriers a second bag fee for transatlantic flights but this is were Air Canada had a chance to stay ahead of the game and not be a follower. Chances are WestJet will not add a second bag fee and will feed off this in their marketing campaigns as they did nearly two years ago when Air Canada added baggage fees for a short time period. Luckily when I travel alone I don't usually have checked luggage and with my family we keep to one bag a piece, so at this time we should be OK when we fly Air Canada, I'm sure though many travelers will be caught off guard at the airport on their trips to the U.S. or Europe.

The fees for second checked bags are
- For flights to/from the United States (including Hawaii, excluding Puerto Rico): CAD/USD $30.
- For flights to/from Europe and Israel: CAD/USD $50.

The only good thing is that Air Canada flights within Canada, to Sun Destinations outside the U.S., Asia and Australia will remain with no baggage fees. As well the fee for a second checked bag to/from the United States, Europe and Israel will not apply to Air Canada Prestige, Elite, Super Elite members or Star Alliance Silver and Gold members.

Source: Air Canada Press Release

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alaska Airlines Seat Sale from Calgary

Alaska Airlines has dropped fares from Western Canada to the U.S. for the first quarter of 2010. Book by Dec 7 for travel Mon-Thu and Sat between Jan 5 - Mar 10
Book online atAlaskaair.com
Sample one way fares:
Calgary - Seattle $75
Calgary - Los Angeles $90
Calgary - Palm Springs $90
Calgary - Phoenix $93
Calgary - San Diego $93
Calgary - Las Vegas $98