Sunday, January 25, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 12:08 PM

American Airlines management believes it's going to continue running the company as it comes out of Chapter 11 protection, something US Airways management is trying to change. In the meantime, AA is outlining how its route planning strategy to employees, with emphasis on international routes that it says will boost revenue. Read more here ....

POSTED: Monday, May 7, 2012, 5:33 PM

US Airways is adding new routes in September from PHL to Austin and San Antonio, Texas, two cities Southwest tried serving nonstop a few years ago before abandoning the idea. US will use 90-seat EMB jets, perhaps more suited to the markets than the larger Boeing 737s Southwest was  using. Read more here ...

POSTED: Monday, May 7, 2012, 3:11 PM

Sometimes, even the most hard-headed, disrespectful boors see the error of their ways. Read on about Spirit's CEO using some of his own money to refund a ticket ...

UPDATE: Meant to post this great column on CBS Money Watch earlier today. The writer does a masterful job of skewering Spirit for its ticketing and service practices.

POSTED: Friday, May 4, 2012, 2:01 PM

Spirit Airlines, which serves Atlantic City, has been in the news recently for two reasons: First, it has declined to refund a non-refundable ticket to a 76-year-old Vietnam vet dying of cancer. Most airlines make exceptions to their ticket rules in such cases, but not Spirit, as you can see in this followup analysis on what the decision might do for the company's reputation.

Now, Spirit is raising its carry-on bag fee to as much as $100. For those of you who fly Spirit, tell us what you actually pay to travel on the airline, and whether you determined the total cost before or after the trip. And was it worth the money? Did you have enough legroom?

POSTED: Thursday, May 3, 2012, 1:11 PM

You may have noticed (although I doubt it) that this blog seldom links to rankings or surveys by various magazines or other groups about favorite airlines, hotels or airports. There's a good reason for that: trustworthiness. Consumer Reports surveys of readers on auto reliability are one thing, because they are very large samples of a diverse universe. But even the CR surveys have what many experts on scientific surveying see as a potentially fatal flaw: They are a self-selected group, not a true random sample of all travelers. And in the case of today's report that PHL is ranked third-worst airport in the country, consider who would be in the self-selected group: Readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, which represents the "1 percent" of travelers and everyone else, if any publication ever did.

That said, maybe the T+L readers are right. Some employees of airlines, other companies and the TSA at PHL ARE surly, just as they are all over town. If you've flown in and out of the other 25 airports in the survey in the last year, you're qualified to join the magazine's readers in saying which are best and worst. Perhaps other airports really have improved significantly over the years.

In the meantime, US Airways proudly reported in a news release today that almost 91 percent of its flights in April were on time, and that follows the airline's best first-quarter perfomance ever. US Airways' executives determined a few years ago, when it and PHL really were among the worst in their categories, that one key to profitability was running a good airline. The airline is making money now, and by objective standards running a good airline. Maybe T+L readers just haven't tried US recently.      

POSTED: Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 1:54 PM

Business travel writer Joe Brancatelli, who writes for www.portfolio.com and runs the www.joesentme.com paid Web site for frequent fliers, has been an outspoken critic of certain airlines for many years. His ire these days is directed at United for its multiple service and financial failures since its merger with Continental into the world's largest carrier. Read his latest "worst airline ever" screed at this link.

POSTED: Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 11:09 AM

We found an excellent Your Money column in the New York Times with a timely question: Should there be a customers' committee in airline bankruptcy cases, especially to protect the interests of frequent fliers and those who are highly dependent on one carrier for service? Think about that as a PHL flier in case its dominant airline got in financial trouble -- again. Here's the column, with a link to a blog where there's discussion from readers of whether customers deserve a voice in the American Chapter 11 proceedings.

POSTED: Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 11:02 AM

Could this be the start of a trend? Delta Air Lines announced it's buying the Trainer oil refinery from ConocoPhillips as a way to try to control what is an airline's largest and least-controllable expense. The Inquirer story is posted here for the record.

About this blog
Tom Belden has been reporting about Philadelphia International Airport and other air travel subjects for more than 20 years, writing columns for The Inquirer's Travel and Business sections. His reporting (with colleague Craig McCoy) on baggage handling problems in Philadelphia have been credited with helping to improve the system. His previous blog was called Road Warrior. He can reached at tbelden@phillynews.com. Reach Tom at tbelden@phillynews.com.

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