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Archive: Airline Industry

Bird Strikes, Cell Phones on Planes, Refunds and More

Here are some of the latest flying-related stories, big and small: It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's... Avian Radar! The Seattle-Tacoma Airport is the first airport in the world to install avian radar. The goal is to detect bird movements to avoid avian collisions like the kind that caused...

By Christina Talcott | February 19, 2009; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (0)

Pilot Strike Looms for Air France

Pilots at Air France have called for a four-day strike, scheduled to begin at 12:01 a.m. Friday and to end at midnight Monday, Nov. 17. Air France, in a statement issued Thursday, said it is expecting "very significant disruptions to its operations." Cancelled flights for tomorrow (Friday) include Flight 39...

By Carol Sottili | November 13, 2008; 04:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

AirTran Joins the Bag Fee Movement

Say it ain't so! Low-cost airline AirTran has joined the legacy carriers in charging for the first checked bag. Starting Dec. 5, the first checked bag will cost $15 to check; the second one will remain $25. I'm saddened by the news, because I really like no-frills AirTran. It's partly...

By Christina Talcott | November 13, 2008; 10:28 AM ET | Comments (4)

Virgin America Gets Creative: Coffee, Tea, Energy Drink?

Airlines need to make money, and selling seats on the plane is no longer the only way to raise a buck. Many now charge extra for bags, snacks, drinks and assigned seats. But Virgin America is getting even more creative, partnering with a company called Vitalize Labs to sell its...

By Carol Sottili | October 20, 2008; 01:28 PM ET | Comments (3)

Southwest Security Line Changes

Southwest is apparently trying to make itself even more attractive to business travelers by offering priority security lines for its best customers. Travelers holding business select tickets, or those with "A-List" designations (must fly at least 18 round-trip flights per year) will get access to the fast lanes, which will...

By Carol Sottili | October 3, 2008; 06:58 AM ET | Comments (4)

Forbes Rates the Airlines

On Wednesday, Forbes.com published the results of a study it conducted to determine which American airlines are the most reliable -- and unreliable. Ten major airlines were judged in six categories based on five years' worth of stats provided by the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Transportation....

By Christina Talcott | October 2, 2008; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (9)

Turbulence: Alitalia's Future in Trouble

UPDATE: 1:30 p.m. Monday...The last of the airline's nine labor unions today signed on to a rescue plan, which means that the airline will continue flying for now. An investor group has made an offer, but it must find a foreign airline partner to make the plan work. Negotiations with...

By Carol Sottili | September 24, 2008; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (4)

Monday Rant: Can't I Carry-On in Peace?

As we all know, there's a huge debate going on about airlines now charging for checked bags, and I know which way I stand: Against. However, I can understand the dissenters (that is, supporters of the fee), who argue that people who use the checked-bag service should pay for it,...

By Andrea Sachs | September 22, 2008; 07:14 AM ET | Comments (37)

Spirit Airlines Uses Ads to Cut Fares

Why didn't someone think of this earlier? Spirit Airlines will be the first airline to sell advertising space inside its planes, the company announced yesterday. Michael Pewther, Sales Director of the program dubbed Mile High Media, is quoted as saying that inviting companies to use cabin space to advertise will...

By Christina Talcott | September 18, 2008; 01:39 PM ET | Comments (4)

United's Food Service Changes . . . Again

United Airlines has just announced that it's dropping its experiment to charge customers for food on transatlantic flights. The airline was planning to stop serving free food on flights from Dulles to Europe beginning Oct. 1, testing out customers' reactions before it started charging for meals on all transatlantic flights....

By Christina Talcott | September 3, 2008; 07:28 AM ET | Comments (12)

Stay Longer or Pay Higher Airfares

Once upon a time, before discount airlines became major players, the legacy airlines typically required Saturday-night stays to discourage business travelers from scooping up the cheaper leisure fares. That changed when airlines such as Southwest and Airtran started gaining market share with cheap fares, and far fewer restrictions. The legacy...

By Carol Sottili | September 2, 2008; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

No (Airline) Food For You

Starting Oct. 1, there will be no such thing as a free meal on United Airline's flights between Washington Dulles and Europe. The airline will become the first major carrier to start charging economy seat passengers for food on transatlantic flights (first and business-class passengers will continue to receive free...

By Carol Sottili | August 22, 2008; 11:07 AM ET | Comments (33)

Class Action Suit Brings Refunds

It's not every day the airlines give money back to their passengers. But that's what British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will be doing as part of a class action lawsuit settlement (the airlines were accused of conspiring to fix fuel surcharges imposed on long-haul fares). On July 25, I received...

By Carol Sottili | August 12, 2008; 07:03 AM ET | Comments (1)

Airline Schedule Changes

Seems not a day goes by without airlines announcing schedule cuts, mergers or bankruptcies. In recent weeks, Delta said it would reduce domestic capacity by 13 percent in the second half of 2008. United will cut service by 14 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. US Airways is going...

By Carol Sottili | July 7, 2008; 01:45 PM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-CoGo: Drowsy Pilots in the Cockpit?

Let's file this one under "things you'd probably rather not know." According to a report in USA Today, "Two airline pilots fell asleep while cruising over Hawaii last February, flying past their destination toward open ocean for 18 minutes before waking up and returning for a safe landing." The incident...

By John Deiner | June 11, 2008; 10:24 AM ET | Comments (5)

What's the Deal?: Putting Spirit's $19 Fares to the Test

Spirit Airlines is an upstart discount carrier that often offers crazy fares. "Can you believe it?" says its current fare sale. "Spirit has (fares) from only $19 each way." So can we believe it? Is it possible to get a $19 fare? And where do these fares get you? From...

By Carol Sottili | May 9, 2008; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (11)

Insta-CoGo: Congress Bickers, Travelers Lose

Don't hold your breath for improvements in the air traffic control system -- or for a time when business jets will pay their fair share of the cost of the air traffic control system. Legislation including those provisions -- to say nothing of reauthorizing the FAA for another five years...

By Cindy Loose | May 8, 2008; 03:05 PM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-CoGo: Even Higher Airfares?!?

Shopping for summer airfares, shocked at the prices, and wondering if you should wait for a sale? You could do that, and maybe you'd get lucky, but the experts aren't betting on it. Big reason: jet fuel prices. You may be thinking, "But they've already added some hefty fuel surcharges,...

By Cindy Loose | May 8, 2008; 06:18 AM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-CoGo: Funding the FAA

America's air traffic control system might finally get a much-needed update. A bill expected to pass the Senate as early as tonight would -- in its current incarnation -- devote $400 million to modernizing the air traffic control system. The bill in question reauthorizes spending for the FAA and has...

By Cindy Loose | May 1, 2008; 06:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-Cogo: Bag Fees, Mergers and Belly-Ups

These three bits of airline news might seem all unrelated, but in fact they share a common theme: Jet fuel prices are shaking the industry, so tighten your seatbelts, lighten your luggage and open your wallets. * First up: American Airlines announced yesterday that as of May 12, passengers with...

By Cindy Loose | April 29, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Delta/Northwest Marriage: What Does It Mean?

Should the Delta/Northwest merger go through, the jury is still out on what type of effects it will have on the regular schmoe trying to make his way back home. Will frequent-flier mile programs change? Will more fees be charged? Will there be less competiton and higher fares out of...

By Carol Sottili | April 15, 2008; 11:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Monday Rant: Air Wars, Part II

Let me see if I've got this straight. Airport security lines are longer than ever, flights are more expensive than ever, planes are more crowded than ever and more often delayed than ever. Meanwhile, a second checked bag costs more, food costs more, legroom costs more. And best of all,...

By Scott Vogel | April 14, 2008; 06:45 AM ET | Comments (15)

Insta-Cogo: Where Have All the Airlines Gone?

Has there ever been a time when three U.S. airlines suddenly ceased operations in a matter of a few days? Before last week, I mean. They fell like dominoes: Aloha, ATA, Skybus. First, a quick roundup for passengers who happen to be holding tickets: All three recommend that passengers seek...

By Cindy Loose | April 9, 2008; 06:16 AM ET | Comments (2)

Insta-CoGo: The Downright Ugly Skies

The annual Airline Quality Rating report [PDF] is out, and the news is not good. The study, conducted since 1991 by the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Aviation Institute and by Wichita State University, concludes that the top 16 domestic airlines are bumping more passengers, losing more luggage, arriving later...

By Carol Sottili | April 8, 2008; 06:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-CoGo: ATA Airlines Goes Belly-Up

ATA stopped flying today, leaving passengers stranded. The airline served about 10,000 passengers per day, operating flights from Chicago's Midway Airport to Dallas, Oakland and the Mexican cities of Cancun and Guadalajara, and from Hawaii to Oakland, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas. So what happened? The airline cited the...

By Carol Sottili | April 3, 2008; 01:33 PM ET | Comments (4)

Insta-CoGo: Fees, Fees and More Fees on Delta

You may have heard that Northwest has joined United, US Airways and Delta in assessing a fee for a second piece of checked luggage. It'll cost $25 each way for tickets issued March 29 or later for travel May 5 or later to destinations in the United States, Canada, Mexico...

By Carol Sottili | April 1, 2008; 12:23 PM ET | Comments (0)

In the News: What's Going on in the Skies?

It's turning out to be a particularly difficult week if you're an air traveler, though isn't every week particularly bad these days? In case you missed it, some developments: * Today, American Airlines has canceled about 200 flights, according to a report by the Associated Press, "so its crews can...

By John Deiner | March 26, 2008; 01:18 PM ET | Comments (4)

Insta-CoGo: Delta to Charge $25 for Second Checked Bag

Delta is the latest carrier to add a $25 fee for a second piece of checked luggage. The carrier hasn't made a formal announcement (and Delta's Web site still says that you're allowed two pieces of checked baggage), but Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott confirmed today that the fee will go...

By Cindy Loose | March 20, 2008; 02:25 PM ET | Comments (13)

Insta-CoGo: JetBlue to Offer Extra Leg Room -- for a Fee

JetBlue boasts of providing the most leg room in coach than any other airline -- 34 inches from the edge of a seat to the back of the seat in the next row. That won't change, but as of April 1, fliers will have the option of buying an extra...

By Cindy Loose | March 19, 2008; 12:21 PM ET | Comments (0)

Southwest Airlines: The Plot Thickens

The plot thickens at Southwest Airlines, which as we reported earlier is facing record FAA fines for failing to do mandatory safety checks on some of its older planes. At first Chief Executive Gary Kelly pooh-poohed the reports, saying the maintenance checks were redundant, and there was really no problem....

By Cindy Loose | March 12, 2008; 02:45 PM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-CoGo: Southwest Flying Cracked Planes?

Wow. While CoGo was checking into passenger complaints about lost bags and delayed flights, it seems Southwest Airlines might have been flying old planes with big cracks in them! CoGo feels so guilty. But wait, enforcing rules about required inspections of older planes isn't CoGo's job; its the job of...

By Cindy Loose | March 7, 2008; 12:17 PM ET | Comments (13)

Insta-CoGo: Delta vs. the Bag Hogs

Okay, so everyone was bent out of shape when United and US Airways recently announced they'd start charging extra money for most economy passengers who wanted to check a second bag. Now comes this news from Delta Air Lines: On international flights, the carrier will be strictly enforcing rules about...

By Cindy Loose | March 6, 2008; 07:37 AM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-CoGo: Frequent-Flier Changes at US Airways

In response to a recent post on the Travel Log, CoGo did a little research on changes in US Airways' frequent-flier program, and this is what we found. If you earn U.S. Airways Dividend Miles on short hops, you won't be earning as many miles as before on tickets purchased...

By Cindy Loose | February 29, 2008; 12:27 PM ET | Comments (2)

Baggage Check: US Airways Follows United With $25 Fee Per Extra Bag

We knew it was only a matter of time. US Airways became the second major domestic carrier to announce it will begin charging $25 for a second piece of checked luggage. United, which codeshares with US Airways, was the first when it announced earlier this month that it would start...

By Carol Sottili | February 27, 2008; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (0)

What's the Deal?: New Air Service, New Bargains

We don't know how long these fares will last, but AirTran has announced new nonstop service from BWI to Los Angeles, Seattle and Dallas beginning May 6, and, as of last night, was offering cheap introductory fares. To Los Angeles, fare started at $219 round trip, including taxes (United, the...

By Carol Sottili | February 15, 2008; 06:45 AM ET | Comments (3)

Insta-CoGo: Bend Travel Rules for Iraq Vets?

Should military families get a break on airline rules? Does it make a difference if the military personnel in question is returning from a war zone? CoGo just recieved a complaint about an airline and wonders how, or whether, to proceed. Here's the deal: A mom and dad and fiancee...

By Cindy Loose | February 12, 2008; 07:34 AM ET | Comments (54)

Baggage Check: More on United's New Rules

I've delved a bit deeper into United's domestic policy changes and have discovered some hidden items that may wind up costing inattentive travelers even more than the $25 the airline will charge for a second piece of checked luggage (and remember, that's $25 each way, so we're talking $50 round...

By Christian Pelusi | February 5, 2008; 02:04 PM ET | Comments (25)

Monday Rant, Part 2: United's New $25 Checked Bag Policy

Big announcement from United Airlines this morning: Domestic passengers will have to pony up $25 to check a second piece of luggage. The policy change applies to travel on or after May 5, and to tickets purchased today or later. The new policy appears targeted at the occasional leisure traveler:...

By Carol Sottili | February 4, 2008; 12:58 PM ET | Comments (90)

The Latest on JFK Int'l: Change Is Coming

It's a done deal: To improve the terrible delay problems, airlines will bring no more than 81 to 83 flights an hour into New York's JFK International, down from 100 or more at peak times, according to an announcement today by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Even if you never...

By Cindy Loose | December 19, 2007; 03:44 PM ET | Comments (0)

Unclogging New York Airports

What's the U.S. Department of Transportation going to do to solve the congestion problem at New York City airports -- a clog that backs up flights and causes delays nationwide? Although the official word hasn't been decreed yet, insiders say they know. First, the DOT won't carry out its threat...

By Cindy Loose | December 12, 2007; 10:33 AM ET | Comments (0)

Do the Airlines Provide Adequate Connection Times?

What better time than the busiest travel day of the year to talk about missed airline connections? At a briefing last week to expound on how to prepare for the busy skies during the Thanksgiving holidays, Jim May, head of the Air Transport Association, an airline trade group, urged that...

By Cindy Loose | November 21, 2007; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (12)

The TSA's New Video: Packing It In

Thanks to Brian Williams of NBC News, who gave props to USA Today last night for its story on the Transportation Security Administration's new video on packing for holiday travel. The TSA has spent $10,000 (not a huge sum by any stretch) on a video promoting ways to make holiday...

By John Deiner | November 20, 2007; 01:03 PM ET | Comments (0)

Boarding Card Scare on Southwest

This weekend, I thought my mother was going to disown me, and I was ready to blame Southwest for my being orphaned. But, alas, Southwest was completely innocent; I was the misinformed culprit. I arrived at BWI Friday at 12:27 p.m. for a 1:35 fllght, allowing myself what I thought...

By Andrea Sachs | November 20, 2007; 06:54 AM ET | Comments (0)

More Boarding Changes at Southwest

Southwest Airlines has taken more measures designed to attract the business traveler. But is the move going to negatively impact the average not-so-frequent traveler visiting Grandma for the weekend? Here's a rundown of the changes announced today: * A new Business Select fare, which costs $10 to $30 more per...

By Carol Sottili | November 7, 2007; 01:52 PM ET | Comments (0)

Air France Recovery

Air France plans to rebound quickly from a flight attendant strike that began last Thursday and ended at midnight last night (Monday). The airline said it would be operating all of its long-haul flights out of Paris today, and 90 percent of its short- and medium-haul flights. The airline kept...

By Cindy Loose | October 30, 2007; 02:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Strike Update for Air France

The Air France strike that began Thursday is scheduled to end tonight, but repercussions could continue as the airline recovers. Today the airline announced that it is making "preventative" cancellations by guessing how many flight attendants will and will not show up. Check the Air France Web sit for updates....

By Cindy Loose | October 29, 2007; 04:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

The A380: How Big Is Too Big?

Count me among those -- okay, are there others? -- who have no desire to fly on one jet with more than 800 other people. Anywhere. Anytime. Last week, I watched with interest all the coverage on the maiden commercial flight of the A380, the world's largest passenger plane. Singapore...

By John Deiner | October 29, 2007; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (3)

Watch Out: Air France Strike Underway

- The Air France strike which began Thursday is scheduled to end tonight, but repercussions could continue as the airline recovers. Today the airline announced that it is making "preventative" cancellations by guessing how many flight attendants will and will not show up. Check the Air France website for updates....

By Cindy Loose | October 24, 2007; 10:16 AM ET | Comments (6)

The Gotbaum-US Airways Case, Cont'd

If you've been following the case of Carol Anne Gotbaum, the US Airways passenger who died while in police custody at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on Sept. 28, here's an update. First, the undisputed facts: Gotbaum became distraught after not getting on her connecting flight. The police were called. She...

By K.C. Summers | October 18, 2007; 02:45 PM ET | Comments (0)

72.2 Million Served

In high school, I could not stand statistics; I preferred to find the value of a and b if a=c, or even measure right angles. However, when the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics issues a report, I regret making a vodoo doll out of my math teacher,...

By Andrea Sachs | October 16, 2007; 06:46 AM ET | Comments (3)

The Reel Deal: You, Your Kids and In-Flight Movies

In case you missed it, there was an interesting piece in last Sunday's New York Times business section on in-flight movies. In a nutshell, photographer Jesse Kalisher is fed up with the flicks, contending that more violent scenes are creeping into overhead movie screens on airplanes. "I wouldn't think twice...

By John Deiner | October 12, 2007; 06:55 AM ET | Comments (23)

Southwest: Oops, It Did It AGAIN

Okay, this time even Southwest admits it went too far. If you didn't hear, airline employees once again criticized a passenger's wardrobe as being too risque and threatened to kick said passenger off the plane. The difference this time: It was a guy. According to a story filed by the...

By John Deiner | October 5, 2007; 04:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Columbus, Ohio, for $10?!

Got $10 to spare? If so, and you don't mind driving to Richmond, you can fly to Columbus, Ohio, on Skybus, a new low-fare carrier that recently started service between the Old Dominion and the Buckeye State. On every flight, the carrier sells 10 seats for $10 (not including taxes)...

By Andrea Sachs | September 28, 2007; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

New Seating Policy Coming for Southwest

Anyone who has flown Southwest Airlines knows the drill. No seat assignments. You check in online as soon as you can -- 24 hours before the flight leaves -- because you want to be in the coveted A group. But if you can't do that, and wind up in the...

By Carol Sottili | September 21, 2007; 09:31 AM ET | Comments (15)

Southwest and Revealing Outfits, Part Deux

Another one? She hasn't exactly seized the nation's attention like Kyla Ebbert, who was told by Southwest Airlines recently that she was dressed too skankily to fly (she adjusted her clothes and was permitted to take a seat), but a second flier targeted by the airline has surfaced. According to...

By John Deiner | September 12, 2007; 02:34 PM ET | Comments (17)

Nonrefundable Tickets: Does an Emergency Count?

A recent complaint is a common one: Guy buys a nonrefundable ticket. Something goes wrong and he can't make the flight. He's surprised he can't get his money back. But if his failure to show was no fault of his own -- say a flat tire, an accident, illness, whatever...

By Cindy Loose | August 29, 2007; 09:49 AM ET | Comments (27)

Aer Lingus Pilots Call Off Strike

Good news for travelers going to Ireland this week: The pilots for Aer Lingus have decided not to stage a two-day walkout. Nonstop flights from Washington to Dublin that had been canceled are now on again. Only four flights remain canceled: On Tuesday, Flight 104 from New York to Dublin...

By Carol Sottili | August 20, 2007; 03:39 PM ET | Comments (0)

Aer Lingus Fliers Beware

Attention everyone flying Aer Lingus next week. The pilots have announced a 48-hour strike, and the airline said it will cancel all of its flights on Tuesday (Aug. 21) and Wednesday (Aug. 22). Also, no flights will operate from Ireland to the United States on Thursday, Aug. 23, and there...

By Carol Sottili | August 16, 2007; 03:06 PM ET | Comments (1)

Air Traffic Control and You: Paying a Fair Share

No question, the air traffic control system is outdated and needs a major overhaul. But who's going to pay for it? The battle is on, with airlines pushing Congress to have the owners of private and corporate jets pony up a bigger share. Passengers of commercial airlines are responsible for...

By Cindy Loose | August 7, 2007; 10:12 AM ET | Comments (9)

Flight Delays: Only Bad When They Affect Me

I've been a very lucky flier lately -- haven't lost a bag in years and have been subjected to only the slightest in delays over the past year or so. Until last week. According to a recent story in The Post, travel delays are worse than ever. According to the...

By John Deiner | August 6, 2007; 09:53 AM ET | Comments (11)

Victory for Disabled Air Passengers

I never knew airlines could turn away disabled passengers, but discovered they could in the U.K. prior to last week, when a new law went into effect making it illegal to turn away people with either a temporary disability, like a broken leg, or a permanent disability, like the sort...

By Cindy Loose | July 30, 2007; 08:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

MaxJet Feedback, Please

A local reader who bought a ticket to London's Stansted Airport for June says her flight was canceled on the way out, and MaxJet gave her the option of waiting until the next day or taking a Pace Airlines plane rented by MaxJet for this flight. Her return flight also...

By Cindy Loose | July 25, 2007; 11:41 AM ET | Comments (6)

"Bye, Bye, Plane" . . . Then Bye, Bye, Baby

My eyes always light up when I see a news story involving people behaving badly on an airplane. But even this story has me bewildered. Last week, the Associated Press reported that a mother and her 19-month-old son were flying from Atlanta to Oklahoma in June on a Continental Express...

By John Deiner | July 20, 2007; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

Mad Enough to Sue?

Has the cavalier attitude of an airline that's messed up days of your life made you angry enough to want to sue? Jane Waun of Michigan has maybe paved the way: In a very unusual case, she's just won $1,350 in a small claims court against Spirit Airlines. Last summer...

By Cindy Loose | July 18, 2007; 10:58 AM ET | Comments (0)

Sleep vs. Blood Clots

The controvery about the true risk of so-called "economy class syndrome" -- potentially fatal blood clots forming as people are seated in confined spaces for long periods -- is over. A study by the World Health Organization found that the risk of blood clots is 1 in 6,000 for the...

By Cindy Loose | July 5, 2007; 12:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Are Seat Assignments a Thing of the Past?

Our Travel section e-mailbox and weekly Internet chat are good barometers of all the latest outrages in the travel world -- if our readers are getting mistreated by the industry, believe me, we hear about it. And one thing we've been getting a ton of mail about recently is airline...

By K.C. Summers | May 22, 2007; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (52)

How Long Will You Sit?

How long can you endure sitting on a plane that's sitting on the tarmac without moving before you're tempted to risk a long prison sentence by storming the door and jumping out? This question comes as the U.S. Congress considers an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights that would allow passengers...

By Cindy Loose | May 11, 2007; 12:53 PM ET | Comments (15)

Northwest's Big Payout

Northwest flight attendants this week began voting on a tentative agreement that would lock in pay cuts through 2011. Just then they learned that under a Chapter 11 agreement, after Northwest exits bankruptcy, Northwest Chief Executive Doug Steenland will get $26.6 million in restricted shares and options. As one might...

By Cindy Loose | May 9, 2007; 10:01 AM ET | Comments (4)

Delta's Widget

Delta Airlines, which emerged from bankruptcy on April 30, yesterday unveiled its updated corporate logo. They didn't send me a picture, but describe it as "a striking three-dimensional, red 'Widget' icon flying across a blue background." The logo, they say, "reflects the company's successful transformation into a highly differentiated, customer-focused...

By Cindy Loose | May 2, 2007; 09:40 AM ET | Comments (3)

Is the Race to the Bottom Over?

Could a teensy, weensie uptick in airline hiring mean that the race to the bottom is over? Writing a month ago about travelers who were delayed at airports and unable to find anyone at their airline to help them, either on the phone or in person, I quoted airline experts...

By Cindy Loose | April 25, 2007; 09:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

Scary Pilots

Last week, there was a weird little report about a Northwest Airlines flight between Las Vegas and Detroit being canceled because the pilot was yelling obscenities into a cell phone while people were boarding. When confronted by passengers, he started screaming at them. Then this week, a Northwest pilot flew...

By Cindy Loose | April 18, 2007; 09:59 AM ET | Comments (4)

Who Pays for Private Jet Services?

The government has spent about $7 billion upgrading general aviation facilities -- those wee airports used by private planes, including corporate jets and charters, according to a new analysis by the Associated Press. Where does the money come from? Most comes from federal airport improvement grants, a fund that is...

By Cindy Loose | April 17, 2007; 10:10 AM ET | Comments (5)

Contrails Are Not Pretty

We all know we're polluting the environment when we get behind the wheel. Turns out we're also damaging the environment when we board a flight. And travel organizations are lining up with ideas to assuage our guilt. It started with small eco-conscious tour operators, but now such major players as...

By Carol Sottili | April 13, 2007; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

Knee-to-Knee in the Air

Latest idea for packing people into airlines more efficiently: Save the room used by armrests by alternating the direction seats are pointed, with every other seat looking forward, and the others facing the back of the plane. This would allow airlines to get in some extra seats, at least on...

By Cindy Loose | April 12, 2007; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Cheap Can Flying Get?

It's often occurred to me that it's cheaper to fly now than it was 30 years ago. I remember paying $99 each way on People Express to fly from LA to NY in the late 1970s, about the same price you'll get with a good sale today. My mother swears...

By Carol Sottili | April 11, 2007; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Duty-Free Angst: Save That Scotch!

Already a bit confused about the rules governing liquids in airports and airlines, especially duty-free purchases in Europe and the U.S.? Hold on to your hats: Other nations are joining the fray. First, the older rules concerning Europe: If you buy specially packaged duty-free items you can take them as...

By Cindy Loose | April 10, 2007; 12:12 PM ET | Comments (0)

Will You Pay More to Get More?

Ailrine executives have cut services to the bare bone -- including things like customer service -- because they believe that passengers just want the cheapest possible fare, and they're doing what they have to do to keep fares down. That, according to travel guru Terry Trippler, is what execs tell...

By Cindy Loose | April 2, 2007; 02:21 PM ET | Comments (16)

Coming Soon: Dulles-to-Dublin Flights

Aer Lingus didn't waste any time in announcing that it will start new service between Dublin/Shannon and several U.S. cities, including Washington Dulles. On March 22, Europe's 27 transport ministers singed an "open skies" agreement in Brussels, which will open up flight routes between Europe and the United States, and...

By Carol Sottili | April 2, 2007; 12:40 PM ET | Comments (2)

Polite to a Fault

After spending 25 minutes waiting for a real live person to answer at United Reservations, I got an agent who promptly assigned me a seat, as I'd requested. Then, obviously speaking from a required script, he asked if he had met my expections for "exceptional service." In truth, I was...

By Cindy Loose | March 27, 2007; 09:38 AM ET | Comments (16)

Take a Flight, Save a Tree

Although it hasn't been publically announced yet, Orbitz will soon join Travelocity and Expedia in offering customers the option of paying to offset their share of the CO2 emissions that their plane will spew into the air during their trip. Skip this graph you're already clued in about carbon offset...

By Cindy Loose | March 22, 2007; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (12)

Pay Up -- or No Sales for You!

Wish I could be in the morning meetings where Spirit Airlines comes up with its revenue-enhancing ideas. Earlier this month the airline announced it was charging for checked luggage, as reported last week in our section. The other day the airline posted on its Web site an even more original...

By Cindy Loose | March 15, 2007; 02:32 PM ET | Comments (0)

Scary Airline Employees

What's the right time to get alarmed about airport and airline security? Maybe when security officials start patting down other security officials? That's part of what was going on yesterday at airports in Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and San Juan. The Transporation Security Administration was also searching airplanes and...

By Cindy Loose | March 14, 2007; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (0)

Customer Service -- Not

Is it just my perception or am I really hearing more outrage about airlines' customer service, or lack thereof? I'm also wondering if the trend toward locating call centers in India has anything to do with what appears to be ever growing frustration with reaching someone who can help when...

By Cindy Loose | March 12, 2007; 03:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Spirit Airline: No Free Bags (or Sodas)

Spirit Airlines deserves some sort of spin award for its latest press release, which notes, by the way, that it's going to start charging for checked luggage and beverages. The headline on the release reads, "GREAT NEWS! Spirit Airlines Lowers Fares, Many Up to 40%, and Now Gives Customers The...

By Carol Sottili | March 6, 2007; 03:22 PM ET | Comments (19)

Unsafe Airports and Near Misses

It's long been known that takeoffs and landings are the most dangerous part of flying, and now a new study by Forbes.com finds that hundreds of commercial jets have come within eight seconds of colliding on runways. The study details the eight most dangerous airports in the U.S., based on...

By Cindy Loose | February 27, 2007; 03:48 PM ET | Comments (6)

Update: The Latest From JetBlue

UPDATE: If you've been following the JetBlue saga, here's the latest. The airline's new customer bill of rights is out, and there's at least one whopping surprise: A customer involuntarily bumped is entitled to $1,000. As to the kind of delays that gave the usually well-regarded airline a black eye...

By Cindy Loose | February 20, 2007; 12:16 PM ET | Comments (15)

Airport News . . . Get Your Airport News

Just in time for the Presidents' Day holiday, BWI started another parking promotion yesterday: Coupons available on the airport's site will get you parking for no more than $9 a day at the Express Parking lot. The promotion is set to last through May 15, but who knows-the airport's other...

By Anne McDonough | February 16, 2007; 12:05 PM ET | Comments (1)

Not Gonna Take it Anymore?

JetBlue apologized this morning for keeping hundreds of passengers stuck on planes for up to 11 hours during the Valentine's Day ice storm at New York's JFK, according to the AP. One arriving plane from Fort Myers landed at 10 a.m. but sat, within sight of its gate, until nearly...

By Steve Hendrix | February 15, 2007; 11:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

Snow Going

Pity today's travelers: Airport closings due to wintry weather will likely clog traffic at airports around the country, even long after airports reopen. Even the rich and famous get as stuck as the lowly discount coach passenger, if that's any consolation. What can you do, besides not much? First off,...

By Cindy Loose | February 14, 2007; 12:06 PM ET | Comments (0)

Plane Ticket Taxes

President Bush told Congress this week that he wants to fund the FAA in a new way, by killing taxes on passenger tickets and replacing them with user fees for commercial airlines. That actually could be a more fair way to do it, depending on the details. That's because corporate...

By Cindy Loose | February 12, 2007; 12:35 PM ET | Comments (17)

Beijing from Dulles: On Your Mark, Get Set . . .

Go. If you've been waiting with bated breath for information on United Airlines' new nonstop service from Dulles to Beijing, you can exhale now. According to a press release from United, the airline received final approval yesterday from the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin the flights. Here's what we...

By John Deiner | February 9, 2007; 01:13 PM ET | Comments (7)

Pecked to Death by a Duck

Will airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and the like ever run out of creative ways to squeeze another dollar out of us? The latest is Spirit Airlines: The discount carrier announced that, starting Feb. 10, each passenger will be allowed only one piece of checked luggage; a second bag will...

By Carol Sottili | February 6, 2007; 02:32 PM ET | Comments (7)

Southwest says: Charge!

Southwest Airlines this week announced it will test offering free power stations at Dallas Love Field so customers can charge electrical devices such as cell phones and laptops. The budget carrier also says it's thinking about expanding the service to other airports if this test is popular. I say: Why...

By Cindy Loose | January 30, 2007; 12:27 PM ET | Comments (0)

Strike, Out: British Airways Reinstates All Flights

Those booked on British Airways can breathe a sigh of relief: According to a press release issued this afternoon, all British Airways flights will be reinstated tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 30, as the threatened cabin crew strike was called off. But there's still some fine print you need to be aware...

By Anne McDonough | January 29, 2007; 03:44 PM ET | Comments (0)

Pre-Boarding Kids: A Thing of the Past?

A reader recently complained that American is no longer pre-boarding families with young children. They object not only because it delays their boarding, but they think everyone is delayed as families with car seats and DVDs and bags of Cheerios and diapers etc. struggle aboard with everyone else. Given my...

By Cindy Loose | January 25, 2007; 02:06 PM ET | Comments (44)

Wah, Wah . . . Get Off!

What is it about kids and air travel that makes the blood run cold? Oh, I know. It's when you're stuck on a flight with a screaming child. Most kids are great on flights, but when they're not, it can be unpleasant. Still, it surprised me to hear that AirTran...

By John Deiner | January 24, 2007; 05:00 PM ET | Comments (37)

New Kid on the Block

Two items to discuss today. First, Farecast.com, one of those beta sites that not only searches airline ticket prices, but also predicts whether price is going up, down or staying the same over the next week, launched a new product today called Fareguard. Basically, you search for your flight (not...

By Carol Sottili | January 22, 2007; 01:11 PM ET | Comments (5)

Site Inspection: Southwest's Revamp

If you haven't noticed it yet, Southwest Airlines rolled out a redesign of its Web site this week. Our snap decision: It's bold, brash and decidedly no-frills, much like the airline itself. The design is also uncrowded and clean -- exactly the opposite of how we find the budget carrier's...

By John Deiner | January 18, 2007; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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