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Archive: Cindy Loose

Insta-CoGo: American Airlines' $15 Stunner

Who among us saw this coming: A charge to check even one bag? When the first airline announced it would charge to check a second bag, CoGo knew it was a matter of seconds before other airlines took the idea and ran, but this?? Right out of left field. In...

By Cindy Loose | May 22, 2008; 11:13 AM ET | Comments (24)

Insta-CoGo: Baby on Board at Sea

Pregnant woman and new parents alert: New rules from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. state that women must be less than 24 weeks' pregnant before the first day of a cruise for sailings on the company's three brands -- Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara. Additionally, infants must be at least 6...

By Cindy Loose | May 20, 2008; 08:28 AM ET | Comments (15)

World Heritage Sites: Tasty?

When the World Heritage committee designates a man-made structure like the Taj Mahal or a natural creation like the Grand Canyon as a World Heritage site, the place draws tourists and creates national pride, among other things. Currently, the list has 851 sites natural and cultural worldwide that have "universal...

By Cindy Loose | May 15, 2008; 06:19 AM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-CoGo: Is It Fair?

As CoGo reported in the Travel section's Coming and Going column Sunday, travelers can start signing up this week for a new, $100-a-year program that will allow them access to a special lane to get through U.S. customs quickly. It's similar to the already existing "registered traveler" program. For $128,...

By Cindy Loose | May 13, 2008; 06:08 AM ET | Comments (14)

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: Skycaps, Tipping and You

The income of skycaps who check bags at curbside is said to have dropped drastically when many airlines began charging $2 a bag for checking at curbside. The workers depend on tips, with salaries generally at minimum wage or less. According to testimony in a recent lawsuit, many passengers stopped...

By Cindy Loose | May 6, 2008; 06:36 AM ET | Comments (14)

Travel Alert: Heading to Reagan National?

Garage construction at Reagan National will likely cause traffic backups, especially during peak times, as of Monday. The left lane of the airport entrance road will be closed for the duration of the two-year, $54 million project. Motorists coming from Washington on the southbound George Washington Parkway are advised to...

By Cindy Loose | May 2, 2008; 12:12 PM 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)

Insta-CoGo: Teens and Car Crashes

While no one can calculate the sorrow caused by teen crashes, a first-ever analysis released last week by AAA finds that crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 17 cost American society more than $34 billion annually in medical expenses, lost work, property damage loss and other related costs in 2006....

By Cindy Loose | April 15, 2008; 06:24 AM ET | Comments (11)

Insta-CoGo: Flight Cancellation Rights

If you're one of the tens of thousands of passengers whose plans are being disrupted because of American Airlines' flight cancellations, you're probably wondering exactly what the airline owes you -- since, after all, the disruptions were caused by the airline as it scrambled to make sure its planes met...

By K.C. Summers | April 10, 2008; 12:14 PM ET | Comments (6)

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: Heathrow's New Terminal Woes

Last summer, when CoGo was inundated with complaints from travelers whose bags had been lost during transfers at Heathrow, British Airways said: Never fear, just wait until the new Terminal 5 opens and all will be well. Well, Terminal 5 at Heathrow opened last Thursday, and all hell broke loose....

By Cindy Loose | April 1, 2008; 06:51 AM ET | Comments (2)

The Monday Rant: You Pierced What?!?

Should you have to remove body piercings to pass through security? Well, now you apparently don't, but not before an ugly incident in Texas. According to an Associated Press story, Mandi Hamlin, 37, of Texas says she wasn't given a patdown option when her nipple piercings set off alarms last...

By Cindy Loose | March 31, 2008; 06:31 AM ET | Comments (17)

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)

Insta-CoGo: China, Tibet and the Olympics

Hotels and restaurants closed and tourists were ordered out of Lhasa Saturday after protests to China's repression in Tibet spilled into the streets. Protesters, in the largest display of force in 20 years, burned some buildings and stoned Chinese, who they feel have been sent en masse to Tibet to...

By Cindy Loose | March 17, 2008; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (1)

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: Where Have All the Tourists Gone?

The dollar is so depressed compared with the euro and most other currencies in the developed world that you'd think overseas travelers would be flocking to the United States to scoop up bargains. Yet they are staying away in droves. There were 2 million fewer overseas travelers to the States...

By Cindy Loose | March 11, 2008; 07:08 AM 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: All Eyes on the NY Passenger Bill of Rights

New York's Passenger Bill of Rights seems pretty mild to CoGo: It says that commercial planes flying out of New York must provide passengers food, water, fresh air, power and working restrooms if the flight has left the gate and sat on the tarmac for more than three hours....

By Cindy Loose | March 4, 2008; 04:03 PM ET | Comments (2)

Insta-CoGo: TSA's Intriguing Test . . . Will It Work?

An interesting test is taking place at security lines in Denver and Salt Lake City airports: Separate security lines are marked for families, for casual travelers and for "experts." No one is forced to go into one line or another, but the hope is that frequent travelers who know all...

By Cindy Loose | March 4, 2008; 07:02 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)

Insta-CoGo: Delwest, or Is it Northta?

The airline industry has been abuzz for months about a possible Delta merger with Northwest. The airline boards reportedly would have voted this week on the merger, but pilots from the two airlines apparently can't agree on how their seniority lists will be integrated. CoGo assumes that with billions at...

By Cindy Loose | February 26, 2008; 02:24 PM ET | Comments (9)

Insta-CoGo: Death on a Flight From Haiti

The Internet is abuzz with an accusation that airline personnel initially refused to help a dying woman, then agreed to give her oxygen only to find that two oxygen tanks on board were empty. Instant news, true or untrue, is both the greatness and the curse of modern communications. In...

By Cindy Loose | February 25, 2008; 02:47 PM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-CoGo: Will Amtrak Be More Secure?

The plan to increase security on Amtrak gets no argument from me, in theory at least. But don't you have to wonder about the effectiveness of various aspects of the plan? First off, both uniformed and plain clothes officers will be riding the trains and be present in stations. The...

By Cindy Loose | February 19, 2008; 12:58 PM ET | Comments (9)

Insta-CoGo: Who Are You?

Americans would have to submit fingerprints and in some cases facial scans before being allowed to enter Europe under a proposal that will likely be considered this week by the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union. The rule would also apply to citizens of other countries who...

By Cindy Loose | February 14, 2008; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (0)

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)

Insta-CoGo: You're Bumped, and Out of Luck

This just in: Not only was 2007 the second worst year ever for flights being late, but airlines bumped passengers at the highest rate in 11 years. The 18 largest airlines last year found 621,717 people willing to switch to other flights voluntarily; they typically offer incentives like a voucher...

By Cindy Loose | February 7, 2008; 09:51 AM ET | Comments (17)

Insta-CoGo: Secure Your Shoes

Knowing my shoes and my sandals have no metal in them, I'm irritated every time I have to take them off to go through security. What is the point? Yeah, I know about that nutcase Richard Reid, who put plastic explosives in his shoes and tried to set them off....

By Cindy Loose | February 5, 2008; 07:42 AM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-CoGo: Direct Flights vs. Nonstop

CoGo recently received a letter from a reader apoplectic about US Airways. When calling the airline three times about a ticket from Phoenix to BWI, she wrote, she was distinctly told three times that the flight from Phoenix to BWI was "direct" -- which she assumed meant, well, direct, as...

By Cindy Loose | January 31, 2008; 01:06 PM ET | Comments (19)

Insta-CoGo: Amtrak to Keep on Rolling

A possible strike that could have shut down passenger travel on Amtrak as of the end of this month seems to have been averted. Although a new contract proposal has yet to be ratified, company and union leaders came to a tentative agreement Friday. Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said the...

By Cindy Loose | January 22, 2008; 01:27 PM ET | Comments (0)

Valentine's Splurge

Hotels all over the country have been pitching special deals for Valentine's Day. But really, how far are you going to go for a Hallmark holiday? Still, given these gloomy winter days, your romantic impulse might need a jolt. Here's some ideas not far from home: * If you have...

By Cindy Loose | January 16, 2008; 07:58 AM ET | Comments (0)

And Now This: Mice on a Plane!

Advice you never thought you'd need: Shake out those little pillows they give you on planes. Why? Because of a story I spotted courtesy of eTurbo News , which covers the travel industry. According to the report, mice were found on Sunday on a United Airways flight from Washington to...

By Cindy Loose | January 11, 2008; 07:08 AM ET | Comments (4)

Insta-CoGo: Ready for Passport Cards?

The U.S. State Department has just issued the initial rule that will lead to the creation of passport cards, as opposed to the existing passport books. A passport or the new passport cards will be needed when crossing the U.S. border into Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean at some...

By Cindy Loose | January 10, 2008; 07:28 AM ET | Comments (11)

Tell Us: Your Kid Went Where?

Remember when college students shouldered backpacks and went off for a European adventure, alone or with a few friends? We've been hearing more and more about high school students heading off alone -- not on the proverbial school trip, but fancy free, with a friend or two. And many aren't...

By Cindy Loose | January 3, 2008; 07:24 AM ET | Comments (14)

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)

Holiday Air Travel

The special attention given to air travel by top officials, including President Bush, seems to have paid off. The big question: Will the same measures be instituted over the Christmas holidays? It looks like YES. First, Thanksgiving travel. Major measures included the opening of military air space for commercial flights,...

By Cindy Loose | December 4, 2007; 07:04 AM ET | Comments (1)

Unclogging the Airways: A Modest Proposal

The three New York airports take the three bottom slots on the list of airports with the worst on-time arrivals and departures, and the delays there ripple throughout the country. In fact, an astounding 75 percent of delays nationwide originate in New York, according to a study by the Business...

By Cindy Loose | November 28, 2007; 11:07 AM ET | Comments (5)

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)

Staff Favorites: San Francisco

It's usually hard to compare apples and oranges, which is what you're basically doing when you compare cities. But to my mind, San Francisco is such a standout that I feel no compunction saying it's the best in the U.S. It's like you can't logically compare brussels sprouts to a...

By Cindy Loose | November 6, 2007; 06:35 AM ET | Comments (17)

Problems With Plastic?

When traveling recently in Ireland, reader Adrian Cargill found he couldn't use his U.S.-issued credit and debit cards in gas stations, some restaurants and ATM machines along major roads. His "swipe and sign" cards just weren't welcome at certain places because the U.K. and much of Europe have switched to...

By Cindy Loose | October 31, 2007; 11:08 AM ET | Comments (16)

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)

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)

Should There Be Mercy?

A recent email raises again the question: When there are rules, should airlines just stick with them, or should mercy ever be shown? The email was from a woman who took her family of four from Washington on British Airways to visit relatives in India. On past visits, all flights...

By Cindy Loose | October 17, 2007; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Driving Abroad: A Cautionary Tale

Readers of our Coming and Going column might remember an item from last month: A Fort Washington man was able to rent a EuroCar in Spain with just a Maryland driving license, but when Spanish police stopped him they said he couldn't drive another inch because he didn't have an...

By Cindy Loose | October 10, 2007; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (0)

Overbooked Flights: What's It Worth to You?

Airlines routinely overbook flights, figuring from experience and no doubt complicated computer programs that there will be a certain number of no-shows. But what happens when they guess wrong, and what do you think they should pay you if you're the guy who doesn't get a seat due to their...

By Cindy Loose | October 3, 2007; 10:26 AM ET | Comments (19)

Cutting in Line

Last time I checked, many months ago, authorities at Reagan National, Dulles and BWI airports were considering a Registered Travelers program -- the mechanism by which you pay about $100, agree to provide info like fingerprints or eye scans, then go through an expedited security line at the airport. Called...

By Cindy Loose | September 12, 2007; 07:04 AM ET | Comments (15)

Doing Good, But Not Continuously

Ever thought you'd like to do some voluntourism -- volunteering on your travel vacation -- but don't have a strong enough back to, say, build houses under a hot sun? Or maybe you'd like your vacation to be meaningful and you'd like to see something outside tourist areas, but still...

By Cindy Loose | September 5, 2007; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

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)

A Break for New York Fliers?

New York's legislature decided not to wait around to see if Congress does anything about that passenger bill of rights that advocates have been pushing. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer recently signed a bill that would require airlines to provide fresh air, lights, waste removal services, and "adequate" food and...

By Cindy Loose | August 14, 2007; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

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)

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)

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)

Turn It Down

Earlier this week I headed to a fabulous swimming pool with a faux sandy beach at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay with thoughts of relaxing with a book, with hopes of falling into a well-deserved nap after getting up in time to see the sun rise over the Grand Canyon....

By Cindy Loose | June 13, 2007; 09:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

Passport Reprieve

Inundated with complaints and angry would-be travelers afraid they'll have to stay home because their passports are so late in arriving, the U.S. State Department yesterday came up with a temporary solution for at least some Americans: From now until the end of September, American citizens who applied for passports...

By Cindy Loose | June 8, 2007; 03:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Passport Horror Stories

Pity the poor State Department -- or not? After Congress decreed that Americans would have to have a passport for all flights out of the country, the State Department added staff, expanded hours and pulled retirees into active duty. When it still couldn't keep up with demand, it hired more...

By Cindy Loose | June 6, 2007; 11:27 AM ET | Comments (37)

Snakes a Problem?

A friend whose brother lives in Thailand promised to contact him for advice on where, besides the obvious, well-known places, I should visit on an upcoming trip. Yesterday he came back with info on his favorite place, which he has visited repeatedly: Kao Yai National Park, and most particularly, a...

By Cindy Loose | May 30, 2007; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

This Summer's Crowded Skies

You thought air travel couldn't get any worse? Ha. Record crowds are expected this summer, the Air Transport Association predicts -- up 3 percent over even last summer's hordes. Frequent travelers will shudder to know that another study showed that 40 percent of Americans still don't know anything about the...

By Cindy Loose | May 29, 2007; 08:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

Never-Ending Vegas

So you maybe figured Vegas was big enough? Developers don't seem to think so. In fact, Sin City is on growth hormones. Just for starters, "CityCenter" is a new, $7 billion project being built by MGM Mirage that's a mini-city all by itself: six buildings over 67 acres, including a...

By Cindy Loose | May 21, 2007; 09:58 AM ET | Comments (4)

Cuba Bound

For decades the U.S. has restricted travel to Cuba, and while any savvy traveler used to be able to legally circumvent the restrictions, the Bush administration has made it an almost total ban, unless you are a journalist going to do a story or you have relatives in Cuba. The...

By Cindy Loose | May 15, 2007; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (0)

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)

Dulles to Conduct Test

Don't be alarmed if you approach Washington Dulles International Airport on Saturday, May 5, and see smoke rising from the airport, and numerous emergency vehicles in the area. It's only a test. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will be conducting an emergency exercise from 9 a.m. to approximately noon. A...

By Cindy Loose | May 1, 2007; 04:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

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)

Wired in Flight

Southwest Airlines in the next nine months plans to add wireless technology to some cabins as a test of consumer reaction to being able to e-mail during a flight, among other things. Since it was mentioned as part of Southwest's plan to find ways to raise money through ancillary services,...

By Cindy Loose | April 23, 2007; 08:35 AM ET | Comments (4)

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)

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)

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)

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)

Alternative Uses for Barf Bags

Are there circumstances dire enough to justify discreet but public urination in the air? That is the question raised by a report in the Salt Lake Tribune. The pilot of a SkyWest Airlines flight had declared the restroom off-limits on a flight from Boise to Salt Lake City because a...

By Cindy Loose | March 26, 2007; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (52)

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)

Dulles Delay Alert

Dulles Airport officials warned that passengers should allow extra time when driving to the airport, due to intermittent delays and an overnight closure on the Route 28 North Ramp to Dulles. Delays are expected today and tomorrow (March 20 and 21) from 10 a.m. to noon, and on Friday the...

By Cindy Loose | March 20, 2007; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (2)

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)

Too Old for a Passport?

The Department of Homeland Security is learning what parents already know: There is truth in the old adage that if you give an inch, someone will want a mile. Last week the department said it would propose to exempt U.S. and Canadian children from the plan to require passports for...

By Cindy Loose | February 28, 2007; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (0)

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)

Porn Convention Riles Reykjavik

Either no one in Austria realized that online pornographers were holding a convention there last year, or no one cared. The citizens of Iceland are taking quite a different view. According to Travel Wire News, many Icelanders who read about this year's planned convention for early March in Reykjavik were...

By Cindy Loose | February 26, 2007; 04:10 PM ET | Comments (13)

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)

A Warning to Pet Owners

Given the ongoing frigid weather and continued airport delays in some parts of the country, the Humane Society of the United States is urging pet owners to keep their pets on the ground for the next several days. It's never a good idea to fly pets in cargo -- the...

By Cindy Loose | February 16, 2007; 09:35 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)

Different Strokes for Family Members

A recent chat question keeps running through my head: This one from a man whose wife wants their vacation to be about sightseeing, museums and theater, and two teens who want beaches and amusement parks. Initially I was thnking about where he could go where both sets of activities could...

By Cindy Loose | February 8, 2007; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (8)

Best of the Caribbean

I would never ask readers to do my work. Unless they want to. Here's the deal: We're constantly asked, "Where should I go in the Caribbean?" I'm trying to put together a definitive list of which islands are best for those looking for specific experiences. I plan this week to...

By Cindy Loose | February 7, 2007; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (19)

Travel to Eat

In its first ever study of wine and culinary travelers, the Travel Industry Association of America, a trade group, found that two out of five leisure travelers have participated in activities associated with culinary tourism. The full study won't be out until next month, but apparently "activities associated with culinary...

By Cindy Loose | January 31, 2007; 12:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

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)

Valentine's Day Trips, Cont'd

Think money can't buy love? Maybe so, but this Valentine's travel package might buy a little affection:...

By Cindy Loose | January 26, 2007; 03:37 PM ET | Comments (2)

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)

Dining in the Caribbean

Friends who've been to the French side of St. Martin 10 times want to know: Is there good food anywhere else in the Caribbean? They'd like to try a new island for a change, but every time they've done that on their yearly Caribbean vacation they've been disappointed in the...

By Cindy Loose | January 19, 2007; 12:38 PM ET | Comments (0)

Blogger Profile: Cindy Loose

As a child, travel writer Cindy Loose could have traveled by train anywhere in the U.S. and Canada for free because her father was a railroad engineer. But whenever she'd suggest a family trip he'd growl, "That's like asking a mailman to take a walk on his vacation." At age...

By | December 8, 2006; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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