Flight by Flight Upgrade Auctions

Posted on Sep 9, 2013 | Comments Off on Flight by Flight Upgrade Auctions

How much would you pay for the lie-flat bed and quilted duvet?

The good news is that getting bumped up to Business Class just got more affordable. Last month, Iberia became the latest carrier to roll out an online auction scheme that allows customers to bid for seating upgrades.

“Everyone knows that if no one is sitting in seat 2a when the plane takes off from London to New York, it’s a loss for the airline. But everyone in economy wants that seat,” explains Ken Harris, the founder and CEO of Plusgrade, the software company that developed the system. “The idea was to help correct that, and do it intelligently.”

The setup works differently for each airline, depending on their specifications. Some carriers offer upgrades to First Class as well.

Who is allowed to participate in the bidding process also varies. Often, the selection process is determined by the route and the number of leftover premium seats. On occasion, a customer’s frequent flyer status might also come into play.

Auctioning off flight upgrades

Furthermore, bidding is blind; customers enter how much they’re willing to pay, and if that number exceeds other bids (and the airlines keep that information top secret), they win. The cost of an upgrade is extremely variable, depending on the airline, season and route.

Carriers are shy to reveal how much is necessary in securing a winning bid, though it’s fair to say the price is less than a full-fare, Business Class ticket.

The idea that you can simply smile at a ticket agent and get gifted a free upgrade is a romantic notion that simply doesn’t happen.
Ken Harris, Plusgrade

The concept has gained traction with the airline community. A dozen carriers have already introduced upgrade auctions to their websites with the help of Plusgrade and he expects to double that number before the year is out.

Still, one can’t help but wonder if the airlines risk eating into their premium revenues.

Jamie Baker, an airline analyst at JP Morgan, says it’s a possibility.


“If airlines make it too easy to pay for an upgrade, it might dilute what the traveler would initially be willing to pay for that ticket,” he notes. “As a result, airlines tend to control the capacity of award seats. There’s a certain amount of experimentation in the process that is required.”

Harris, however, seems confident the bidding system will not impact premium-seating sales.

“There’s no guarantee that simply because you’ve requested an upgrade, you’ll receive it,” he says.

“If you want to sit in Business Class and your budget allows you to do so, you should buy that seat. It’s the only guarantee you won’t be sitting in the back of the plane on your next trip across the ocean.”

This service is for the passenger that just wants to treat himself for a little extra, and can live with the uncertainty.
Stephanie Kunath, Austrian Airlines

Austrian Airlines has one of the more democratic approaches to the process. Everyone, regardless of frequent flyer status, can bid on an upgrade, assuming any are available on the flight in question.

The airline isn’t worried about hurting their profits, because they view the full-fare seats and auction upgrades as two different products, even though passengers who win an upgrade receive the exact same benefits as someone who paid up front, including access to premium lounges and extra baggage allowances.


“This product is for a completely different type of group,” explains Stephanie Kunath, Austrian’s director of revenue management and business development.

“It’s not for the business traveler who really wants to fly Business Class and needs a 100% guarantee that he can. It’s for the passenger that just wants to treat himself for a little extra, and can live with the uncertainty.”

While bidding for seats might not hurt an airline’s bottom line, the advent of these auctions will likely eat away at the number of free upgrades awarded passengers.

“It probably will erode the complimentary upgrade process to a certain degree, and airlines do run the risk of offending their elite traveler, who has become accustomed to complimentary upgrades,” says Baker.

Harris, however, argues that free bump-ups are the stuff of fantasy.

“Free upgrades are really only given by necessity in operational situations or given to frequent flyers,” he says. “The idea that you can simply smile at a ticket agent and get gifted a free upgrade is a romantic notion. It simply doesn’t happen.”

From CNN

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You Light Up My Life

Posted on Sep 4, 2013 | Comments Off on You Light Up My Life

Neon Museum
Neon Museum 11/12/13 Weddings
LAS VEGAS (September 2013) – When that special “Magic Day” hits on 11/12/13, brides-to-be and their grooms can say “I do” in one of the most remarkable and picturesque locations in Las Vegas: The Neon Museum. Only available on 11/12/13, The Neon Museum is now offering the “Magic Day” wedding package. For this special day, there will only be four slots available for couples.
Considered one of most colorful and sought-after attractions in Las Vegas, the Neon Museum is home to the Neon Boneyard – a collection of more than 150 classic signs from the city’s most celebrated properties—including the Moulin Rouge, the Desert Inn, the Flamingo and the Stardust—which are displayed alongside those from various other bygone hotels, restaurants and businesses. The Boneyard’s two-acre outdoor area encompasses nearly 3,600 square feet and features a partial canopy.
The package includes:
  • 30 minute wedding ceremony for the couple and up to four guests.
  • 30 minute photo opportunity in the Neon Boneyard.
  • One bottle of chilled champagne or sparkling wine, paired with cupcakes that are packaged to go.
  • An exclusive pair of his-and-her Neon Museum-wedding themed shirts.
For more information, go to To book a wedding, reception or other event, contact Events Manager Joel Castillo at or call (702) 387-6366.
*Pricing does not include ceremony officiant, catering, floral or photography. All ceremonies are performed by Elegant Vegas Weddings. A list of exclusive vendors for photography, catering, décor and equipment will be provided. A list of recommended florists is available by request. 
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Recent Bali Visitor Survey Results

Posted on Sep 3, 2013 | Comments Off on Recent Bali Visitor Survey Results

Bali News: Strangers in a Strange Land


A survey conducted by Bali Indonesia in May 2013 showed that 70.11% of the international tourists who visit Bali stay in the starred hotels.

As reported by, only 10.81% of foreign tourists chose to stay in non-starred hotel and 16.36% in villas.
The same report shows that foreign tourists in Bali stayed an average of 8.55 days, an increase from the 7.67 days spent on the Island in 2012.
Elaborating further on survey, Dwi Pranoto, who heads the Bali Bank Indonesia Office, said 60.27% of foreign tourists coming to Bali seek a destination linked with nature, while 30.15% percent prefer a destination with cultural and historical conections.
Pranoto said the study shows that the time has come for Bali tourism to be managed under a single roof. “I wish to underline that whenever Bali is managed under a ‘one island management’ system it will continue to advance via an integrated vision, free of egotism and other impediments,” said Pranoto.
Dwi Pranoto also revealed that the latest survey by Bank Indonesiashowed an increase in purchasing power from US$144.40 per day to US$150 per day.
Other interesting results from the Bank Indonesia study:
  • 88,74% of foreign tourists visiting Bali do not use an Indonesian-flagged air carrier.
  •  84.52% of foreign visitors to Bali do not purchase or use a packaged tour program.
  • 52% of all foreign visitors to Bali are women.
  • 55,26% of foreign visitors to Bali work as professions, 10.90% work in technical capacities and 10.20% were students.
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Cruising – “Port Lecture” shopping honesty – in Alaska, at least

Posted on Aug 28, 2013 | Comments Off on Cruising – “Port Lecture” shopping honesty – in Alaska, at least


Cruise ships in Alaska have had to change their ways when it comes to those ubiquitous port lectures about “the best places to shop.”

Following a court case that claimed the lectures mislead guests, who often believe they are sponsored by the cruise line, the guides now must make it clear that what they are offering is not professional advice but rather an advertisement for paying clients. The companies admitted no wrongdoing, but did agree that port lecturers would disclose they didn’t work for cruise lines and are engaged in advertising.

The Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN) reported last week that earlier this year three Florida-based companies, Onboard Media, Royal Media Partners, and the PPI Group, agreed to a $200,000 settlement with the state.

They  agreed from now on to be clear about whom they work for, to desist from making negative comments about stores not in their programs, and to stick to the truth about sale prices and return policies.

APRN quoted one anonymous shopkeeper who said he had in the past paid $25,000 plus 10% of sales to be part of the programs.

A million tourists visit Southeast Alaska every summer, and they are a key part of the economy of the 49th state.

Alaska is the first state to crack down on port lecturers.

Monday, August 26, 2013

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Airbnb vs Hotels: A Price Comparison

Posted on Jun 18, 2013 | Comments Off on Airbnb vs Hotels: A Price Comparison


Airbnb vs Hotels: A Price Comparison

June 17, 2013 | Permalink

At Priceonomics, we like to get more for our money. Typically, there is a trade-off between cost and quality; the higher the quality of a product or service, the more it costs. So when you find superior quality at a cheaper price than existing alternatives, that’s pretty great. In fact, figuring out whether something is a good deal is the whole point of Priceonomics.

Whenever we travel, our preference is to stay at an Airbnb instead of a hotel. For those of you unfamiliar with Airbnb, it’s a website that lets travelers stay at apartments they rent from hosts. Sometimes you rent the whole apartment, sometimes just a private room in the host’s home.

Arguably, the experience of staying at an Airbnb is better than staying at a hotel. (But really that’s a matter of personal preference.) At an Airbnb, you get access to a kitchen, you can stay in a neighborhood with character (hotels tend to congregate around touristy areas), and you can stay at some pretty unique places.

But is it actually less expensive to stay at an Airbnb than a hotel? Can you rent an entire apartment for less than the cost of a hotel? We suspected that Airbnb rentals are less expensive than hotels, but are they really?

So, we decide to find out. We looked at every major city in America and compared the cost of a hotel to the cost of renting an apartment on Airbnb. We discovered that Airbnb apartment rentals cost 21.2% less than staying at a hotel. And if you’re on a budget, you can save 49.5% if you decide to stay in a private room at a host’s house instead of staying in a hotel.

Cost Savings of Staying at an AirBnB vs. Hotel

Renting an entire apartment on AirBnB.
Renting just a private room on AirBnB.

Let’s dive into the details.

The Cost of Staying at a Hotel

Staying at a hotel can be expensive in America, but not all cities are equally pricey. The first thing we wanted to figure out is how much hotels cost in the most popular cities in America. By looking at the median price of a hotel room for two people (a one night stay, booked a month in advance) by city, we built an index of the most expensive cities in America to stay at a hotel this summer.

Not surprisingly, New York City handily beat out San Francisco and Boston as the most expensive city in America to stay at a hotel.

Most Expensive Cities for Hotels

Median Hotel Rate by City

1 New York, NY 245
2 San Francisco, CA 229
3 Boston, MA 229
4 Seattle, WA 224
5 Cambridge, MA 222
6 Honolulu, HI 204
7 Chicago, IL 199
8 Charleston, SC 197
9 Providence, RI 183
10 Santa Rosa, CA 180

See Full Ranking >


The Cost of Renting an Apartment on Airbnb

Next, we calculated the median cost to stay at an Airbnb for all cities with enough data available. We looked at the option of “whole apartment” since it’s most comparable to staying at a hotel. We also only considered “active” listings that met our minimum number of reviews threshold.
Here Boston takes the top spot, narrowly beating New York City. Notably, it’s not always cheaper to stay at an Airbnb apartment than a hotel, especially in smaller cities with less Airbnb inventory. However, it’s almost always much cheaper to stay in a private room than a hotel. For a frugal traveler, this is a great way to extend your travel budget.

Airbnb Price Index

Most Expensive Cities in America to Rent an Apartment

1 Boston, MA 185
2 New York, NY 180
3 San Francisco, CA 165
4 Cambridge, MA 155
5 Scottsdale, AZ 143
6 Charlotte, NC 140
7 Charleston, SC 140
8 Las Vegas, NV 135
9 Miami, FL 135
10 Chicago, IL 130

See Full Ranking >

Where in America is Collaborative Consumption Most Embraced?

Collaborate consumption refers to the trend where people rent out their under-utilized assets to others. This include assets such as your home (Airbnb), car (RelayRides, Uber), and time (TaskRabbit, etc). So where in America are citizens most embracing this trend of collaborative consumption? We can use this dataset to measure which cities have embraced collaborative consumption, at least as indicated by how many people rent out space in their homes.

Bigger cities have more Airbnb listings, but we wanted to know which cities in America are into sharing, even if they’re not that large. So we looked at how many Airbnb units are available for rent per 100,000 people who live in the city (per capita Airbnb listings).

Collaborative Consumption Index

Airbnb Listings per Capita by City (LPC)

1 San Francisco, CA 213
2 Cambridge, MA 135
3 Berkeley, CA 123
4 Boulder, CO 90
5 Washington, DC 89
6 New Orleans, LA 88
7 Austin, TX 83
8 Portland, OR 77
9 Seattle, WA 67
10 Honolulu, HI 53

See Full Ranking >

Here you see some smaller cities like Berkeley, Cambridge, Portland and Austin are really embracing this trend. This chart could be a roadmap for other collaborative consumption startups to plot where they launch next.

Let’s Drill Down Into Neighborhoods

Finally, we were curious which neighborhoods are most popular when people want to “travel like a local.” So we investigated the most popular neighborhoods for Airbnb in San Francisco and New York.

San Francisco: Most Popular Airbnb Neighborhoods

Active Airbnb Listings

San Francisco: Most Expensive Neighborhoods

Median Price of Airbnb Apartment

1 Fisherman’s Wharf 299
2 South Beach 265
3 North Beach 220
4 Cole Valley 218
5 Alamo Square 200
6 Glen Park 199
7 The Castro 197
8 Marina 195
9 Lower Haight 190
10 Telegraph Hill 190
11 Union Square 186
12 Cow Hollow 185
13 Pacific Heights 185
14 SoMa 183
15 Presidio Heights 178
16 Duboce Triangle 175
17 Haight-Ashbury 175
18 Chinatown 175
19 Russian Hill 171
20 Potrero Hill 168

The Mission has the greatest supply of Airbnb units. Perhaps it’s related to the delicious burritos? As for cost, Fisherman’s Wharf, a neighborhood catering more to tourists than locals, is the most expensive neighborhood for Airbnb.
Next, turning our attention to New York City, you can see the most popular and expensive neighbhorhoods to stay. Holy moly Tribeca!

New York: Most Popular Neighborhoods

Active Airbnb Listings

New York: Most Expensive Neighborhoods

Median Price of Airbnb Apartment

1 Tribeca 279
2 Noho 240
3 Union Square 233
4 Soho 223
5 Times Square 215
6 Flatiron District 210
7 West Village 200
8 Hell’s Kitchen 200
9 Greenwich Village 200
10 Midtown 200
11 Little Italy 199
12 Meatpacking District 199
13 Murray Hill 198
14 Chelsea 195
15 Hudson Square 195
16 Midtown East 190
17 Nolita 187
18 Gramercy Park 185
19 Kips Bay 183
20 Upper West Side 181


Go forth and travel! You can tool around with this tool below to compare Airbnb versus hotel pricing by US city. May you roam the world seeing interesting things and not spending very much money.

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Airbnb ruled ‘illegal’ in New York

Posted on May 23, 2013 | Comments Off on Airbnb ruled ‘illegal’ in New York

Airbnb ruled 'illegal' in New York

New Yorkers hoping to rent their apartments to visiting tourists may face hefty fines after a judge effectively ruled the popular rental website Airbnb illegal.

Airbnb offers visitors to New York, and other cities, an alternative to a hotel stay Photo: AP

By Oliver Smith

9:06AM BST 22 May 2013

CNET, a technology news website, reported that Nigel Warren, a New York resident, had been fined $2,400 for violating the city’s hotel laws, after he rented out part of his apartment to a woman for three days in September.

A 2010 law – originally introduced to prevent landlords from purchased numerous apartments and turning them into de facto hotels – forbids property owners from renting out their homes for less than 30 days. Administrative Law Judge Clive Morrick ruled that Mr Warren had violated the law, despite Airbnb stepping in to defend his case.

The city said the apartment “may only be used as a private residence and may not be rented for transient, hotel, or motel purposes”, and issued the reduced fine of $2,400. He had orginally been told to pay $7,000.

It has been suggested that the law will only be enforced in the event of a complaint, but Airbnb urged authorities for clarification over the issue.

“This decision runs contrary to the stated intention and the plain text of New York law, so obviously we are disappointed,” it said in a statement. “But more importantly, this decision makes it even more critical that New York law be clarified to make sure regular New Yorkers can occasionally rent out their own homes.

“There is universal agreement that occasional hosts like Nigel Warren were not the target of the 2010 law, but that agreement provides little comfort to the handful of people, like Nigel, who find themselves targeted by overzealous enforcement officials. It is time to fix this law and protect hosts who occasionally rent out their own homes.

“Eighty-seven percent of Airbnb hosts in New York list just a home they live in — they are average New Yorkers trying to make ends meet, not illegal hotels that should be subject to the 2010 law.”

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Flight Insights app to help finding best value flight

Posted on May 22, 2013 | Comments Off on Flight Insights app to help finding best value flight

Timely help for booking your flight

Flight path

How screen would look in a search for an LAX-to-New York fare. (

By Terry Gardner
May 21, 2013, 7:45 a.m.
A new tool from Danish travel site may help take away some of the stress of flight shopping by advising us when to buy an airline ticket. More than a simple price calendar, Momondo’s Flight Insights tool considers six essential factors that determine the price of a ticket for a particular flight search: number of days in advance, time of day, day of the week, seasonality, airport and airline.

Even if you are booking a last-minute ticket, this tool can help determine which airline normally has the lowest price fares for a particular route.

Momondo says more than 400 searches currently offer Flight Insights, including most flights from/to New York, London and Copenhagen. The tool is offered on routes between LAX and Chicago, New York, Honolulu, Las Vegas, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Cophenhagen, Stockholm and Tehran. Although flights from San Francisco and Chicago aren’t yet in the mix, Momondo is working hard to add more Flight Insights daily with the goal of eventually providing insights for every search.

Tested: On a roundtrip flight search from LAX to New York City roundtrip from July 3-7, Flight Insights showed Tuesday was the cheapest day to fly, and it was cheaper to land at La Guardia than at JFK. Although Sun Country Airlines had the cheapest average price, when I clicked the link for the airline graph, I discovered Delta had the second-lowest fares; Spirit had the most expensive. Flight Insights recommended purchasing this flight itinerary 55 days in advance.



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