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Southwest partnership means more routes to Canada

Southwest's deal with Canadian discounter WestJet could beef up service to Canada from Tampa. The airlines last year announced a deal allowing them to sell seats on each other's flights starting later this year.

In a filing with the government last month, Southwest identified Tampa, Las Vegas and Orlando as likely cities where the carriers would transfer customers flying between the United States and Canada, according to Dallas Morning News' Airline Biz Blog. A Southwest spokesman said Tuesday the filing didn't name cities.

Southwest has said it will leave the cross-border flying to WestJet. If the blog is right, Canadian travelers might buy a ticket from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale, fly WestJet to Tampa, then take Southwest to South Florida.

Now, WestJet has just one daily nonstop between Tampa and Toronto, plus a seasonal nonstop to Ottawa. As the deal develops, Tampa Bay could get nonstop flights to more Canadian cities.

New Bundle: Fees for checked bags. Fees for soft drinks. Fees for reserving a seat. The parade of extra charges for stuff that used to be free was the most lasting memory of 2008 for many fliers.

Before the year was out, Frontier Airlines became the first big U.S. carrier to put a new twist on the pay-for-what-you-use ticket. The airline introduced a new fare structure with different levels of amenities and travel flexibility.

Classic Plus provides full-fare coach — two free checked bags, a snack and an assigned seat when you book — plus a drink and early boarding. Economy gets you a seat, assigned no more than 24 hours in advance. Classic gives you some services and lower fees for flight changes.

Fares for the same Tampa-Denver round-trip itinerary: $289 for Economy, $328 for Classic and $429 for Classic Plus.

A Kinder Cabin: Newbie airline Virgin America may be on to something in this age of air rage. The carrier got a writeup in Travel + Leisure magazine this month for its training aimed at nipping bad behavior in the bud.

Flight attendants and customer service employees receive training on theories of "empathy and stress management." They're asked to consider how they act under stress and "identify hot-button issues that set them off," according to the article.

Managers even suggest distractions like water-bottle bowling for angry travelers delayed at the gate. Think I'd keep the plastic flex cuffs nearby just in case.

Southwest partnership means more routes to Canada 01/06/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 6:38pm]
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