Archive: October, 2011
It's not only airlines today that are helping their bottom lines by adding fees for services that once were included in the ticket price. Hotels, especially upscale resorts, have been doing some of it for years, with such things as a charge for that wall safe in your room whether you use it or not. Now NYU professor Bjorn Hanson, a longtime hotel analyst, finds in a study that hotels are adding even more fees. Read more about it here ....
Qantas, Australia's flag carrier and a highly regarded international airline, got a black eye over the weekend with a shutdown of its entire worldwide operation in a labor dispute. The Australian government ordered Qantas to restart, which was underway today. Read more here ...
Oh my, just when we thought this sort of problem was over, the weekend's nasty snowstorm resulted in hundreds of airline customers being stranded on planes on the tarmac or in a terminal at Hartford-Springfield's Bradley International Airport. Yes, the feds are going to investigate, since regulations took effect last year levying heavy fines on airlines who can't adequately care for customers during long delays. The story has had a lot of traction and here's a good summary of it.
Amtrak has been steadily adding Wi-Fi service to its regional train routes along the East Coast. The railroad equipped its high-speed Acela trains that run from Boston to Washington through New York and Philadelphia more than a year ago and now travelers will find the service on the Keystone trains to Harrisburg, the Philly-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian, and routes in New England, New York state and Viginia and the Carolinas. More information about Wi-Fi service is available on this page at Amtrak's Web site.
You will find the occasional post about Amtrak on this blog simply because it offers a reasonable alternative, for both business and leisure travel, to the airlines on numerous short-and-medium-distance routes around the country. And it will continue to do that unless Congress adopts a budget for the railroad, along the lines of what a Republican-controlled House subcommittee approved recently, that cuts funding so severely that Amtrak would be forced to shut down. If you think that's a bad idea, let your elected representatives know.
Airlines are protesting from the rooftops these days about proposed federal tax increases on air travel. In the meantime, the industry's major players reported that they collected $1.5 billion in the third quarter in fees for just two categories of "ancillary revenue," bag charges and reservation-change fees. There's no requirement to report other fee income so that's not included in what the industry tells the government. Read more here in a Los Angeles Times story about fees and how they compare with Q3 earnings.
American Airlines, the only major legacy U.S. carrier that has not used bankruptcy to lower its labor costs, says that it has reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the Transport Worker's Union, representing its ground-service workers. This is an example of the kind of deal that money-losing AA needs in order to compete effectively with the others. Read more from the airline's hometown paper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, at this link.
As airlines have reported their quarterly financials over the last week or so, one theme keeps cropping up: Fuel was more expensive this summer. Both US Airways and United Continental Holdings get the same headline in separate stories that report their lower third-quarter earnings. According to the articles, both carriers' profits were "dented" in the quarter by higher fuel costs. Read about US Airways here, and about United Continental in this story.
UPDATE: And here is Friday's Inquirer roundup of the two airlines' earnings reports.
When PHL began to upgrade its retail stores in the mid-1990s, rolling carts with one type of merchandise for sale were seen by some as a temporary solution to the problem of limited selection. But they proved popular, and today the carts are an integral part of the broad array of products a traveler can buy at the airport. Beat reporter Linda Loyd has fun, readable feature story today about the merchant who has operated a cart the longest -- 16 years. He is thriving today selling watches, a product that people supposedly weren't buying anymore because they tell time with cell phones and other devices. Read it all at this link...