This week’s round-up brings the latest airline & travel news — from best U.S. rewards program, frequent fliers have potential case against airlines, and iPad glitch caused delays, to new bill to stop travel to Cuba, Canada introduces language bill for airlines, airport employee arrested for stealing liquor, and United reunites lost dog with family. Enjoy!

Best U.S. Airline Rewards Program

If you’re in the market to switch over to a new mileage program, a new Consumer Reports study has come up with the answer to the age-old question of which one is the best. The answer … Southwest Airlines. The study analyzed 70 million passenger trips taken over the past two years for the top 25 U.S. award routes on the five biggest airlines. Southwest had the most award tickets, 11.9 million, and the highest percentage of award tickets, 11.5% of 103.1 million total seats. Southwest spokesperson Thais Conway Hanson told CNN, “The high number of award tickets is directly related to Southwest’s unique combination of ‘Every Seat is an Award Seat,’ no blackout dates, points that don’t expire, and a route map that reaches more than 90 different destinations in the U.S. and beyond.” Delta Air Lines came in second with 5.6 million award seats, United Airlines is third with 5 million seats, American had 3.5 million seats, and JetBlue was last with 892,000 seats.

Can Frequent Fliers Sue Airlines?

While we’re on the subject of frequent flier miles, the University of Miami School of Business Administration came out with a new study that was published in the American Business Law journal, that believes that frequent flier members can sue airlines as “many airlines do not deliver on the promise of their frequent flier programs.” The study also states “that frequent flier mile contracts are viewed as contracts of ‘adhesion’ in court, meaning consumers could successfully sue the airlines for failing to deliver on their reasonable expectations about contract terms.” Whether this study creates any changes to the airlines’ policy of making it somewhat difficult to redeem award tickets remain to be seen.

iPad Glitch Delays on American

On Tuesday, several American Airlines flights were delayed after a software glitch cause the pilots’ iPad to go blank, requiring some flights to return to the gate to fix the malfunction. The culprit turned out to be a duplicate map of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and the app wasn’t able to handle two copies of the same map. The fix won’t happen until May 8, so pilots will have to rely on the old fashion PDF printouts or use a different app on the iPad to access said, PDFs. American was the first airline back in 2012 to replace their pilots’ flight bag with iPads, and now several other airlines have done the same. However, the glitch was limited only to American because the app they use is unique to them.

New Proposed Bill to Stop Travel to Cuba

For those of you excited by the prospect of being able to visit Cuba, here comes a party pooper: Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart introduced a bill this week “that would block new flights and cruise ship travel to Cuba.” The bill is attached to a transportations spending bill that the House of Representatives will review in May. Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American said “Congress cannot look away as the president implements policies that channel dollars to an anti-American dictatorship.”

Canada Introduces Language Bill After Passengers Sue Over Wrong Drink

Back in 2009, Michel Thibodeau and his wife Lynda were on an Air Canada flight from Charlotte to Toronto when they ordered a 7UP in French, and were instead served Sprite by the flight attendant who only spoke English. That was apparently the second to last straw for the couple because they weren’t able to get service in French at any point from checking-in all the way to the baggage claim announcement. The couple eventually sued Air Canada for the “systematic failure on Air Canada’s part to provide French language services to its passengers,” and won a settlement of $12,000 CAD. The verdict was overturned by the Federal Court because “language laws only apply to flights operating to and from destinations within Canada.” The Thibodeaus then took their case to the Supreme Court of Canada, and still lost. Sort of. Now Stephane Dion, a current member of Canada’s Parliament has introduced a bill that would require at least one French-speaking crew member on all international flights operating to and from Canada.

Random Story of the Week: NYC airplane cleaner pocketed 1,429 liquor bottles

Guess if you’re going to steal stuff, don’t leave them in your home. An airplane cleaner out of New York’s JFK Airport was arrested and charged for grand larceny and criminal possession this week for allegedly stealing 1,429 bottles of liquor. After searching the cleaners home, detectives found, in addition to all that booze, seven iPads, two laptops, 19 Kindle tablets and toiletries.

United Flies Lost Dog Home to Family

If you’re a dog lover, this story’s for you. Four years ago, the Lambert family’s Yorkshire terrier, Sam, disappeared through a hole in their backyard, and had given up hope of ever seeing him again when all efforts to find him failed. Fast forward to last April when animal control in Cedar Rapids, IA, (almost 1,000 miles from the Lamberts’ home in Louisiana) found Sam and took him to a local shelter, and was able to contact the Lamberts through Sam’s microchip. The family set up a fundraising page to fly Sam home and had raised $250 when United Airlines caught wind of the story and flew Sam to New Orleans in first class to reunite with his long lost family.

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Kim has been hunting flight deals and writing travel articles for over 13 years. His articles have appeared in the Boston Herald, Chicago Daily Herald, and Frommer’s Budget Travel, among other publications. Amsterdam, Bangkok, Rome, and Sydney are some of his favorite destinations and he aspires to one day live in Italy. La dolce vita!

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