Here’s this week’s retro American Airlines commercial.  It features the Boeing 747SP that they used to fly to between DFW and Tokyo.   Anyway, it’s Friday and time for another roundup of news items that you may have missed.

American Airlines and AAdvantage News

Redeem AAdvantage miles on Etihad
You are probably already aware, but AAdvantage members can now redeem miles on Etihad Airways.  From One Mile at a Time:

Back in June I wrote about Etihad Airways being added as an American AAdvantage partner, with limited reciprocal benefits at the time. Well, the relationship was just taken to the next level, as American miles can now be redeemed on all Etihad Airways flights, even those between the US and Abu Dhabi.

Go here to read more and for an excellent guide from Lucky on how to search for award seats.

Curbside Check-In for International Flights
You don’t have to visit the ticket counter to drop off your bags for an international flight.

American Airlines is expanding its Curbside Check-In service to give customers traveling internationally the opportunity to check their bags with the skycap — making their trip through the airport as smooth as possible. Curbside Check-in is available to all customers traveling to an international location, including countries that require a visa, making American the only airline to provide a convenient service of this kind.

Go here to read more.

Expanded access for Admirals Club members
Admirals Club members can now access the Cathay Pacific Lounge in Shanghai:

Cathay Pacific and DRAGONAIR invite American Airlines Admirals Club members, as well as American Airlines First and Business Class, AAdvantage Executive Platinum and AAdvantage Platinum members, and oneworld Emerald and Sapphire customers who are departing on an American Airlines flight to enjoy the Cathay Pacific Lounge located at Terminal 2 at Pudong International Airport (PVG).

Read about it here.

New Benefits for AAdvantage Gold Members
British Airways just introduced a new Bronze elite status tier that’s the equivilant of AAdvantage Gold, that provides an elite status mileage bonus on transatlantic flights even when their traveling on American. American has harmonized their Elite status benefits so that AAdvantage Gold customers can now earn a 25% bonus on British Airways flights:

Advantage members can earn and redeem AAdvantage miles on all American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia flights and the miles earned for flights on all three airlines count toward elite status qualification. Plus, AAdvantage Executive Platinum and AAdvantage Platinum members earn their elite status bonus miles for all of their travel on British Airways. And, effective November 1, 2011, AAdvantage Gold members will also receive elite status bonus miles for travel on British Airways.

Go here to read more.

Exit Row Seats for Sale
American used to reserve exit row seats exclusively for their AAdvantage members with elite status. Now anyone can buy those seats. From JonNYC at Traveling Better:

Exit Row Preferred Seats are now for sale to non-elite passengers within 24 hours of departure for a Preferred Seat charge.

This is good news for customers without elite status, though it sort of sucks for AAdvantage Gold customers. Twenty-four hours before departure, exit row seats often become available as AAdvantage Platinum travelers get upgraded to the front of the plane.  AAdvantage Gold customers wishing to move to one of those seats have (till now) only had to compete with each other; now they’ll have to compete with everyone else on the plane.  When I say “they’ll have to compete”, I really mean me (for the second year in a row I’m probably not going to make it to Platinum, whine, whine, whine, whine, whine).

Go here to read more.

Contract Negotiations Continue with Pilots Union
From Andrea Ahles at the Fr. Worth Star-Telegram’s Sky Talk blog:

American Airlines and its pilots union, the Allied Pilots Association, continued contract negotiations on Thursday but will recess talks during the weekend.

The two sides will resume its meetings on Monday, the APA told its members in a hotline message Thursday evening.

Go here for more details.

Some oneworld News

Japan Airlines updates 787 Seat Maps
JAL has updated the seatmap for the Boeing 787 that they’ll be using on the Boston to Tokyo Narita route. From Pak’s JAL Blog:

Japan Airlines (JAL) has updated their 787 longhaul seat map. Until recently, JAL has been using the A43 configuration on 767-300ER as the place holder (well A43 minus the lavatories and galleys). The newly updated seat map reflects a bigger business class cabin and a 2-4-2 configuration in economy class instead of 2-3-2.

Go here to view it.

British Airways offering Crash Survival Training
One of my prized possessions is a book that’s been out of print for years: The Airline Passengers’ Guerrilla Handbook by George Albert Brown.

This book was published back in 1989, back before FlyerTalk even exisited, and it was my first exposure to how the air travel system worked: fare classes, reservation systems, frequent flyer programs, ticketing rules, and all the other (till then) mysteries of the airline industry were revealed to me.  I probably read it a hundred times.

The reason why is because it included everything an airline geek wanted to know.  From how to find the cheapest flights, how to preorder a meal, loopholes in the domestic checked baggage rules, the secret sleeping compartment on a 747, even which seats offer the most safety on a plane (from the book):

There are no “safe” seats on a plane.

(a) To avoid being squashed on impact: sit anywhere further back than the wing
(b) To avoid having your neck broken in turbulance: sit anywhere but in the back of the plane, since the back of the plane is furthest form the center of gravity. While only one out of twenty crashes occur while the plane is at crusing altitude, eight out of 20 injuries occur during that period – primarily from turbulance.
(c) To avoid being burned to a crisp in a fire: sit away from the engines, since fire is usually caused by fuel lines breaking. This means sitting at the front if the engines are at the rear and the middle, or at the front and rear if the engines are in the middle. Ideally you should be next to an exit door.
(d) To avoid being sucked out of the plane when the exit doors open in midflight: sit as far away from the exit doors as possible.
(c) To avoid being suffocated in poisonous smoke: sit as close to the exit doors as possible.

In other words, when you get in the plane, first decide which way you want to die and then choose your seat accordingly.

Much of the content is a little dated now, but George Albert Brown’s writing is still enjoyable and fun to read. However, if his advice doesn’t make you feel any better about surviving an airplane crash, then you might be intersted to know that oneworld member British Airways will will be offering their frequent flyers saftey training next year. Form the Telegraph of London:

Members of the airline’s Executive Club will be able to benefit from a four-hour session on air safety, when the scheme begins next year.

For around £125 – roughly the same cost as a return trip from London Gatwick to Rome – those who sign up to the courses can learn techniques to increase their chances of surviving a crash.

Go here to read more.

In Other News

Genealogy of US Airlines
Check out this cool graphic by designer and artist, Larry Gormley.  From History Shots:

The purpose of this graphic is to uncover and explain how the industry was created and how it arrived at its present form. At the core is a full genealogy of over 100 US airlines from the major airlines to the small local service carriers. Folded into the genealogy is the relative market share of passenger traffic for each airline. This allows the viewer to understand how the industry was controlled for many decades by the Big Four and how this dominance was quickly replaced by a number of other airlines.

Go here to see and explore it.

Customs and Immigration Form Submitted Astronauts
Not sure if this will apply to Virgin Galactic customers, but when Apollo 11 astronauts returned to earth from the moon, they had to clear customs.  From Geek O System:

Despite their (entirely deserved) hero status, astronauts are just everyday people like you and me. They put their pants space suits on one leg at a time, and have to fill out U.S. Customs and Immigration forms when returning from the moon. In what is perhaps the best application of bureaucracy to date, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins declared all their moon rocks and moon dust when they arrived in Hawaii after splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

Go here to see it for yourself.

Have a great weekend!

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