Escape Artists offers up a global discourse ranging from great finds close to home to adventures far afield. You'll find weekly travel deals here, too. Share your road wisdom, rave about great finds and rant about roadblocks that get in the way of a great trip.

Contributor: Travel editor Kerri Westenberg.

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Posts about Airlines

A rare kudo for an airline

Posted by: Bill Ward Updated: May 28, 2014 - 3:40 PM

When it comes to airlines, I have never been able to follow my mother’s advice: “If you can’t say something nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all.” With escalating airfares capped by extra fees, serious space shrinkage and endless tarriances on the tarmac (“OK folks, now we have to de-ice the plane before we can take off”), it’s been open season to let ’er rip on these operations.

Until last Wednesday.

That morning, my way better half got a phone call we had been dreading: Her cancer-stricken brother was near death in Nashville. With bereavement fares having all but disappeared — American and United dropped their policies earlier this year — I feared the worst in finding an airfare, especially since this scenario begged for an open-ended return date.

To the rescue came Southwest. I found a one-way fare for that afternoon of $214. I don’t need to know the reason for such a reasonable rate. (Delta’s best fare, by the way, was $570.) I’m just glad we have an airline that still operates that way.

Thank you, Southwest.

Sun Country launches new deals

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg Updated: April 28, 2014 - 10:35 AM

Want to go to Chicago this summer? Or Washington, D.C. or Los Angeles or a handful of other cities? Don't book until you've checked the fares offered by Sun Country. For instance, you can get to Chicago for $84 one-way, a fare that nearly matches Amtrak rates. To get the "Sun Drop" rate, book by May 8 for flights May 12 through August 31. Travel is valid on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; 14 day advance purchase required.

Destinations with discounted fares also include Lansing, Mich., Boston, Mass., New York City, Seattle, Wash., and San Francisco. May 26 is a blackout date; fares may sell out quickly.

Delta's near H8 crime

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg Updated: December 17, 2013 - 3:45 PM

A confirmation code on an airline ticket usually doesn't raise an eyebrow, let alone ire. But when one man's code read "H8GAYS," he took his complaint to Delta, which apologized and promises to never do it again. One of the reasons the guy was so upset is that he works in IT and knows that companies can write code to avoid strings of letters and numbers that read as inappropriate words. H8 is a match-up that shouldn't appear, especially in the age of texting, where "hate" is often portrayed as H8. Inflamatory stuff, when followed by GAYS. Christopher Elliott, who write the Travel Troubleshooter column that appears in Star Tribune Travel, explores the issue in the Washington Post.

At MSP, chariots await (for some)

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg Updated: November 25, 2013 - 5:27 PM

A Delta Air Lines program that whisks “high-value customers” from gate-to-gate in a Porsche has expanded to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. For the service, which started as a trial in Atlanta, a “Delta Elite Services representative” surprises select customers at the aircraft door and escorts them via a Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid vehicle  to their connecting gate. Delta says it is looking for ways to “enhance the travel experience for our most valued customers.” In this case, that refers to Diamond Medallion members, most of whom  have flown at least 125,000 miles.  “We’ve found a unique opportunity to surprise and delight customers,” Delta says.  Let’s hope those Porsche’s have horns so they don’t surprise other unsuspecting fliers in the process. 

Three airlines now allow gate-to-gate electronics

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg Updated: November 6, 2013 - 10:52 AM


Three airlines have begun allowing passengers to use portable electronic devides throughout the flight in the past week. Delta and JetBlue implemented the change in policy on Friday; American followed suit yesterday.

Flyers with those airlines can now read e-books, listen to music, watch videos and work on documents (but not talk on the phone) from the time they get on the plane to after they land. Devices must be in airplane mode. The Federal Aviation Administration approved the policy changes. Before allowing any such change, the administration ensures planes can safety operate with devices turned on. Other airlines will likely make similar policy changes soon.

The FAA had long contended that the radio signals from electronic devices could interfere with an aircraft's navigation systems, a particular safety concern during takeoff and landing, but a panel convened by the FAA to study the issue found that most commercial planes can safely operate even with electronic gadgets up and running.

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