The cheapest way to book Delta One, FAA grounds Alaska flights and is cruise ship internet a rip-off? (Saturday Selection)


The FAA grounds all Alaska Airlines flights for an hour, a “cheap” way to book Delta One and…is expensive cruise ship internet a rip-off? All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from around the interwebs (links to each article are embedded in the titles).

Technical glitch grounds all Alaska flights for an hour

Employment ad seen just after the FAA grounded all of Alaska’s flights

Boy, oh, boy, poor Alaska Airlines just can’t catch a break. Earlier this year, an Alaska plane lost a section of its cabin mid-air just a few weeks after a mushroom-influenced, off-duty pilot tried to shut off the engines on another flight. This sudden rush of notoriety led to one of the funniest Saturday Night Live skits that I’ve seen in ages and, along with that, a new motto: “You didn’t die and you got a cool story.” Last week Alaska was back in the news and, predictably, it was for all the wrong reasons. Early in the morning, the airline “experienced an issue while performing an upgrade to the system that calculates our weight and balance.” Evidently, the FAA felt like such an issue might be a teensy bit of a problem when trying to fly large aircraft without crashing. So, the federal agency made the call to ground all Alaska flights for over an hour until the “issue” was remedied. Luckily, the stoppage happened between 7:30am and 8:30am, so it only affected, um, a couple hundred flights. Yikes. As an aside, I fly Alaska a ton and have never (to my knowledge) experienced a hallucinating pilot, dire problems with an aircraft’s weight and balance or had a piece of the plane fall off mid-flight. As a result, I’m off to buy a lotto ticket.

The cheapest way to book Delta business class

a seat in a plane
A350 Delta One suite

Raise your hand if you’ve used Delta SkyMiles for an international business class flight within the last twelve months. Anyone? Delta has cultivated an excellent reputation for solid operations, low-value award currency and SkyHigh prices for the exact seats that most of us want to save our hard-earned SkyPennies for…transoceanic lie-flat. But instead of paying $3K+ or hundreds of thousands of miles, Thrifty Traveler has a better suggestion: buy an upgrade. Evidently, Delta One’s stratospheric pricing has created more and more empty seats up front, to the point that there’s multiple reports of folks paying only $500-$600 to upgrade non-stop flights from economy to business between the US and Europe or Asia. Obviously, that’s still a chunk of change, but given the cash or miles prices for confirmed seats in advance, it could also be a screaming deal.

Is cruise ship internet a rip-off?

These days, those of us who travel and work from our computers have come to expect reliable internet connection regardless of if we’re on planes, trains or automobiles. But, what about boats? Internet service onboard cruise ships has become better and better over the years (from what I understand), but in many cases the price has kept pace with the increasing quality. Our own Nick Reyes has spent so much time on various free cruises over the last year that he can now legally claim residence in international waters. As a result, we’ve had a fair amount of team meetings where Nick is “somewhere in the Atlantic.” To be sure, there are times where his face freezes awkwardly in mid-sentence or even mid-livestream. But overall, the quality seems relatively miraculous given the logistics involved. Even so, Sebastian over at Loyalty Lobby is frustrated at being asked to fork over hundreds of dollars just for the the privilege of logging onto his e-mail for a week. And if you think that’s bad, wait’ll you see the margarita prices.

Customs and Border Patrol loses entire day of Global Entry applications

Webcam image from CBP’s application processing department

11/17/23 will live in infamy…at least for folks who had the bad luck to submit a Global Entry application that day. A few months ago, a reddit post told the story of a person whose application for the international version of the United States’ Trusted Traveler Program mysteriously disappeared…and the same thing happened to both her husband’s and son’s applications as well. She called Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and was told that it was “a known issue and they don’t know what has happened but all applications from that date are gone.” As in, “no one can find them.” Her post led to a flurry of similar stories, including at least one person who had the same thing happen to their renewal. That unlucky soul was told that CBP, “can’t find my application, but they clearly see that I paid,” which sounds very reassuring.

Want to learn more about miles and points? Subscribe to email updates or check out our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Tim, you missed the biggest story!!! On VFTW, the travel blog traffic rankings are out. FM has seen y-o-y traffic growth of nearly 100 percent and is now ranked #9. Congratulations!!! FM is the only site that truly trains hobbyist. Other sites are informational. FM is educational.


Extremely deserved.