Archive: November, 2008
This morning brings a good roundup from the Christian Science Monitor of what to expect this Thanksgiving holiday if you're flying, including several topics you can find more detail on in this blog. We're already hearing from travelers this morning of increased involuntary bumping because there may be fewer passengers traveling this weekend, but there also are fewer seats available. Read that story here.
In the yet-another-thing-we-may-have-to-worry-about category, newspapers in Phoenix and New York have done stories about airline luggage scales that weren't precisely accurate. No major problems were found, and some scales were actually underweighing bags in customers' favor. But with most airlines charging most customers for checked bags, an extra ounce of weight as measured by a faulty scale can mean paying a lot more to get your gang where they want to go. Read an Arizona Republic story here. Newsday did its story about scales at New York airports.
Tom BeldenUnited Airlines is straining under the weight of losses on contracts it struck earlier this year in an effort to control its fuel costs. One analyst figures United's current expenses at almost $1 billion, after it tried to lock in what it thought would be lower fuel costs, only to see oil prices plunge to just over a third of what they were in July. Add to that lower demand because of the recession, and the airline is facing tough financial times once again. Read more in a Washington Post story.
Tom BeldenYou may want to check out this AP story on airline baggage policies if you're traveling over the holidays.
Tom BeldenWhen I wrote Monday's column about what TSA is doing to improve its service, I didn't have time to research an announcement made last week of a new campaign the agency has underaken with the Ad Council. That's the group behind slogans that include "Only you can prevent forest fires," and "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." Details on the effort are on USA Today's travel blog this morning.
Tom BeldenAirlines are discounting tickets for their holiday inventory as a way to fill empty seats, but industry experts say not to expect too much relief next year from the fare increases put in while fuel costs were soaring. Here's a West Coast perspective on what's happening, with analysis that applies nationwide. Read more in this San Jose Mercury News story.
This morning's Winging It column gives TSA credit for doing a better job, and notes improvements, including family lanes at all airports, that should help ease checkpoint congestion during busy holiday periods. For those who come here first, here's a link to the column. Here is link to the PHL Web site for a news release on the airport's award-winning food-and-beverage program.
When you read through the column, you'll find an anecdote from my own experience that needs expansion. Here's what I'm talking about: In one instance, I found one of the "black diamond" security lanes for experienced travelers slower than a family lane next to it. A reader e-mailed me this morning, saying give a break and some understanding to the business traveler that needed five bins for all his carry-on stuff, now that most airlines are charging for checked bags. For the record, that experience happened to me in June, before fuel prices soared and most airlines except Southwest and JetBlue adopted fees for the first checked bag, and the traveler was a Southwest passenger.
Tell me more ... feedback always welcome.
An assortment of groups with an interest in Southwest has been making news day today. Some of its employees are unhappy at the pace of union contract negotiations and are doing informational picketing to send a message. Then Fitch Ratings says it's concerned about Southwest's debt and downgraded its credit rating to BBB-plus from A-minus (still better than most airlines). In the meantime, in Denver, Southwest seems to be flying high, It's grown since it started there in early 2006 at an even faster pace than in the city that it once called it's fastest-growing. That would be PHL.