Continental Airlines changes the rules on bag fees
It pays to carry a Chase debit or credit card, apparently.
Continental announced today that it is waiving its onerous $15 charge for checking a first bag on flights—but only for people who have a Continental Airlines Chase credit or debit card. Passengers traveling with a cardholder will also be eligible for the waiver if they are listed on the same reservation. The fee will still apply to all other passengers.
This is great news for people who have the cards, but this privilege comes at a cost: the annual fee that Chase charges to sign up for an account. Here's the breakdown of fees:
Continental Airlines Presidential Plus World MasterCard: $375 annual fee
Continental Airlines World MasterCard: $85 annual fee
Continental Airlines TravelBank World MasterCard: $29 annual fee (waived the first year)
Chase Continental Airlines Debit Card: $65 annual fee
Waiving the fee doesn't seem to make much of a difference if you're paying more than $60 a year for the card membership fee—unless you make more than two trips per year on Continental. On the other hand, it's at least a step in the right direction.
A few good links: who's the worst airline of all?
Some travel stories that caught my eye this past week: Worst. Airline. Ever. It's United's rich history of lousy decisions that convinced longtime biz-travel writer Joe Brancatelli to give this title to this article. [Portfolio] US Airways to keep a la carte pricing Charging for sodas and for checking an extra bag means less trash and fewer suitcases to lose. [AZ Central] Why go to Delaware? Beaches, shopping, du Ponts. [Chicago Tribune] With less money, try less-traveled roads "The glossy travel magazines…have brainwashed us into thinking that travel is a luxury we buy…rather than a deeply personal experience with the potential to change our lives." [SF Chron] 100+ Abandoned Buildings, Places, and Properties Guaranteed 100 percent creepy. [via CN Traveler]
Amtrak makes its best offer yet: Discounted rail passes
It seems like every country in the world offers discounted rail passes to foreign visitors that aren't available to local citizens. The point of these discounts is, of course, to encourage tourism. And here in the U.S., Amtrak has been doing the same trick for years: offering its best discounts on train travel to foreign visitors. But Amtrak has changed its mind and is now offering Americans the same discounted rail passes that only people living overseas could buy before. The USA Rail Pass is available for 15, 30, and 45 days of travel, but you can space out that travel over the span of six months. As the AP reports, "the 15-day pass offers eight segments of travel for $389." A "segment" is whenever you board a train. There are no restrictions or blackout dates, so you can travel during peak times—assuming a train hasn't sold out. There are a few exceptions, of course. For example, you can't redeem the passes for travel on Amtrak's high-end services, such as Auto Train and Acela Express. (800/872-7245, USA Rail Pass)
Deals: Fly L.A. to Sydney, $760 RT, plus taxes
The Australian airline Qantas has put about 10,000 seats on sale today at the price of $380 each way, in honor of their new A380 aircraft. Book now to fly on dates in November or next May from Los Angeles or San Francisco direct to Sydney or Brisbane. Add $100 for flights from New York City. Add a 3-night vacation package for $380. On the airfare, taxes add about $300. Competitor airline United has been offering some aggressive pricing on this route as well. With the current exchange rate as of today…$380 U.S. dollars gets you almost $550 dollars in Australia. Act fast: Offer will sell out quickly, I'm sure. Go to qantasvacations.com/a380. MORE For ideas on what to do in Australia, read our editor-in-chief's report from Down Under. Check out BT's Real Deals.
For travelers still going somewhere, deals are out there
Making for grim reading is this USA Today report that "travelers are postponing, scaling back or canceling trips of all kinds," with experts saying "it could be more than a year before travel rebounds." The only (very partial) upside to all this retreating is that those people actually willing and able to curtail their indefinite staycations and leave their house for a real trip may be able to get some deals. To help with that goal, USA Today also put together a roundup of 25 budget-oriented websites. It's a good selection—and we'd say that even if they hadn't included us (which they kindly did)…