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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: December, 2011

POSTED: Thursday, December 29, 2011, 4:23 PM

Hello there after a long Christmas break. The last few days have produced one air-travel safety story worth reprinting here ... the followup by the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee on a scary incident: Two tires blew out on a Southwest 737 as it started to take off from Sacramento, forcing the plane to make an emergency stop. It would seem this is better than having tires blow out on landing but the incident was still frightening for passengers. Read about the incident and efforts to determine the cause here ....

POSTED: Thursday, December 22, 2011, 12:17 PM

The European Court of Justice has upheld a plan to collect carbon-emissions taxes on airlines from elsewhere flying into the EU, a levy carriers will probably pass on to customers. Airlines in the US, Canada, China and elsewhere are unhappy. Read more about it here, and look for a link at the end of this story to one written last summer that has more detail on the airlines' objections.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 21, 2011, 12:17 PM

We found a detailed article on the Web site of a Louisiana TV station by Chris Elliott, a regular contributor to the Inquirer's Sunday travel section, about the ways airlines may wind up charging families extra so they all have seats together. US Airways and its policies are just the lead of the story since most airlines now charge extra for certain seats. Read all about it froim Elliott's perspective here. This is just one of many "unintended consequences" of the airlines' love of ancillary revenue from fees for services, prodcts or privileges once included in your air fare.

One aspect of this topic that gets short shrift in the article is to call Southwest "iffy" in terms of being able to seat all members of a family together because the airline has no assigned seats. Seems to us that most families have a very good chance of finding seats together on Southwest if at least one person checks in online early, or pays an extra $10 to get priority boarding (a true "convenience fee" that  has proved well worth it in my experience). The one checking in early is in the "A" boarding group, the first allowed on a flight, and can then hold seats for other family members. If the family members are on separate tickets, each could check in early. Even a family that needs to stick together and is put at the head of the line of the "B" boarding group can probably find seats together, since each group holds only 60 people, and the airplanes hold almost three times that many. 

Let us know what your experience has been with finding seats together for all family members. 

POSTED: Wednesday, December 21, 2011, 11:16 AM

Almost three years after the deadly Colgan/Continental Express crash near Buffalo, caused by the actions of a fatigued pilot crew, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued final rules for how much rest pilots must have between flights. Airlines fought hard against the new standards while families of victims of the Colgan crash (50 killed on the plane and the ground) lobbied Congress and the FAA relentlessly for their adoption. Read more about the new rules here .... 

POSTED: Wednesday, December 21, 2011, 10:37 AM

The New York Times today has a good story on a recurring theme that is on many travelers' minds this time of year: Airport security and what the future holds for making the experience less of a hassle while still being effective. Read all about it here ....

POSTED: Tuesday, December 20, 2011, 4:47 PM

Here is today's Inquirer story on what's expected in holiday travel over the next few weeks. Airlines for America (that's the new name for the Air Transport Association) estimates 43 million will travel by air over the holiday period. Among the reasons the trade group does NOT cite for a slight reduction in traffic from last year: Higher air fares, in some cases much higher. 

POSTED: Monday, December 19, 2011, 5:41 PM

Apple Vacations, a company I and many others in the region followed for decades, is getting out of the airline business, planning to shut down its USA3000 affiliate company next year. The airline served its purpose, providing the air service needed for years to support Apple's vacation package business to Cancun and other sun-and-fun destinations. But as Apple founder John Mullen recounted to the trade paper Travel Weekly, times have changed and it makes more sense now to use aircraft chartered from established scheduled airlines. Apple hasn't shared much of this information with the Philadelphia-area media but has told the story to the trade press.

POSTED: Monday, December 19, 2011, 5:20 PM

Remember when global climate change was a big issue? Today, we read so much less about it, and so many people have been led to believe it's not a problem, you wonder if the world has started getting colder again. Hmmmm .... Here's a place to start the debate again: What effect does air travel have on the climate? It isn't surprising that there is sharp disagreement between European regulators and others, includuing U.S. and Chinese airlines, over a carbon-emissions trading system (or scheme in European English) that the EU plans to implement in 2012. Read what the dispute is about here ....

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.

Tom Belden
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