Posted December 24, 2008 by Zak Patten
'Tis the season for delays, storm-caused cancelations, capacity cuts, and a poor economy that makes "normal" airfares feel like extravagances. But Instead of being a griping Grinch, I'm thinking Christmas Eve is the perfect day to spread some good cheer about travel. So read on for some of this year's best gifts, from U.S. airlines to passengers like you and me.
First off is everyone's favorite carrier from the frozen north (maybe they have an in with Santa?). Alaska Airlines is full of charitable goodwill, donating more than 80,000 lbs. of food to food banks in Seattle and Portland (Oregon) this year.
Further south, American and Continental are doing something nice for their tech-loving passengers by offering paperless boarding passes. What's a paperless boarding pass, you ask? It's a bar code sent to your mobile phone or PDA that is simply scanned at check-in. Just don't lose that phone!
Those among you who actually want to go somewhere on one of these airlines may appreciate Delta's gift of new routes. The Atlanta-based airline will be flying to Australia and Brazil, as well as the island of Tobago in 2009. Happy New Year!
JetBlue is paying special attention to the good little boys and girls of Boston (where I'm writing this entry) in the form of lots of new daily flights. With American also in the giving spirit, Beantown will soon have more connections to domestic cities including Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, and St. Louis. New flights to London and Paris are also on order.
Last, but certainly not least, Southwest is giving perhaps the greatest gift of all: nothing. This past year may one day be known as the "Year of the Airline Fee," but it won't be because of Southwest, which has still not instituted any new baggage fees in 2008. If you happen to be flying the LUV airline this Christmas, that means you can pack all those presents in your suitcase … for free.
And so the weather outside may be frightful, but that's no reason to say "Bah, humbug!" this holiday season. You've read my list of U.S. airlines' top holiday gifts. What have I missed? Please leave a comment below and let me know. And to all a good night!
(Photo: Cow's Life)
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