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Arriverderci, Air Italy!

The Daily Flyer

Welcome to the inaugural edition of “The Daily Flyer,” The Higher Flyer‘s newsletter gathering up and summarizing some of the day’s most important happenings in the world of airlines, hotels, award points, and other travel-related things.  Today’s feature — for February 11, 2020 — covers the fall of Air Italy, as well as coronavirus flight cancellations, a hot take regarding the Global Entry ban in New York, and a surprise announcement from Uber.

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What’s the difference between Basic Economy and regular Economy?

Bargain-hunting higher flyers might, while planning their next adventures, come across airfares that are so good that they’re too good.  Budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier (in)famously offer such cheap prices, but they also inundate their customers with fees in order to generate additional revenue.  That’s to be expected, but sometimes you’ll see legacy carriers like American, Delta, and United selling flights at prices comparable to those low-cost rivals.  While such deals might look particularly enticing — especially when you consider that these three have better reputations than Spirit — you have to be wary of the catch(es).  These discounted tickets, known as basic economy fares, are heavily restricted and can seriously hurt your ability to fly higher.  But but but!  If you know what you’re getting in to, they can also represent outstanding values.

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What’s the difference between Economy Plus and Premium Economy?

The most common question I get from THF Consulting clients is:  “what’s the difference between economy plus and premium economy?  There is none, right?”  While the names are quite similar, they’re not interchangeable; in terms of quality, the latter is miles ahead when it comes to the hard product… and in theory, the soft product too.  The two nevertheless are better than regular economy, but that’s not always clear on paper.  In order to maximize your purchasing power as a traveler/your higher flyer potential, it’s important to be aware of those differences so that you always know what kind of airfare you’re buying.

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American Airlines “StrAAnds” Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia

American Airlines’s pathetic operational reliability record isn’t exactly a new development, and complaints have long been streaming in from major media outlets, “higher flyer” bloggers, and angry mobs in the Twittisphere.  Now the Dallas Cowboys, as of the evening of December 22, have every right to complain as well.  In addition to the delays that it has subjected its many millions of passengers to, AA has now failed one of the most famous (or rather infamous?) sports teams in the world.

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AAnother dAAy AAt the AAirport

Photo of the Week!

F 6.4; 1/100; ISO 400; 48mm.

Shot at Los Angeles International Airport.

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Should you buy trip insurance? No!

When you go to book a flight, it’s not uncommon to be prompted to purchase trip insurance on top of your fare.  If you decline the option, you might get a warning:  “You may be responsible for cancellation fees and delay expenses” or, if that doesn’t scare you enough, “The average out-of-pocket costs of medical emergency transportation outside the United States can be as high as $25,000.”  Those are potentially frightful consequences, but you should think twice before handing over the extra money.  It’s probably not in your best interest as a higher flyer, and believe it or not, getting it might cost you more than it’s worth.

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Norwegian Air 787 Economy Class Review

A proud symbol of the era of affordable air travel

The 787s that Norwegian Air uses for its longhaul operations are far from glamorous — expect slimline seats clad in grey “leather” for as far as the eye can see — but they are representative of an undeniably positive development in the commercial airline industry:  more people can afford to travel.  Norwegian occupies an interesting position in the market; it was one of the first carriers to take the low-cost/LCC model and successfully apply it to intercontinental travel.  Its fares are so consistently low (it’s not unusual to see oneway transatlantic tickets go for around $100), but correspondingly, it’s natural to wonder if there’s any sort of catch involved.  Is flying Norwegian an absurdly miserable experience or is it a viable option for higher flyers?

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Cathay at the Gate

Photo of the Week!

F 6.3; 1/125; ISO 100; 53mm.

Shot from Cathay Pacific’s The Pier lounge at Hong Kong International 

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How To: Navigate Norwegian Air’s fees to get exactly what you want

Norwegian Air’s strong reputation is due in part to the relatively comfortable accommodations it features on its sleek new planes, but its affordable airfares are equally as important in bolstering the airline’s status.  There are some downright incredible deals to be had!  That said, Norwegian shares a business model with an infamous counterpart in the United States:  Spirit.  The former has been praised as an innovative disruptor in the long haul transit market, whereas the latter is reviled for its many layers of (perceived) awfulness… even though they both run pretty similar operations.  Don’t be deceived by Norwegian’s cheery Scandinavian/Ikea-esque branding; crafty bargain hunters must pay careful attention when they’re booking flights.  Otherwise they risk getting trapped in a fee-laden hell all in the name of getting a “cheap” fare… and that’s definitely not higher flyer!

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