Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Archive: May, 2011

POSTED: Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 11:34 AM

Airlines  have become much more likely in recent years to recover their rising cost for fuel by passing it on to customers in the form of fuel surcharges. Other transportation services, including truckers and railroads, have been doing the same for years, with surcharge clauses routinely written into pricing contracts.

But what about that "free" ticket you've been awarded by an airline for being a loyal customer? As this New York Times Business Travel page feature notes, foreign carriers are much more likely than U.S. airlines these days to tack on a hefty fuel surcharge to a "free" award ticket. Free, of course, was always a misleading term -- an award ticket often amounts to no more than a 1 percent rebate on money you already spent for tickets.

POSTED: Saturday, May 28, 2011, 3:31 PM

The most recent developments into the probe of the crash of an Air France widebodied jet into the Atlantic two years ago now focuses on action the plane's crew took that apparently contributed to the loss of control. Read a good thorough AP report from France on the investigation at this link.

 And find an interesting commentary from a retired 747 captain on how pilots today may be too dependent on autopilot systems, and lack training on  how to fly their planes in an emergency at this link.

POSTED: Saturday, May 28, 2011, 3:19 PM

Spirit Airlines went public with an IPO last week and the results were underwhelming. As one prominent industry analyst used to say, "Trading airline stocks can be hazardous to your wealth."  Read what an investment advice columnist had to say about the Spirit IPO.

POSTED: Saturday, May 28, 2011, 3:12 PM

This ABC News report, on a survey of which frequent-flier programs make it easier to redeem points or miles for free flights, includes a good chart detailing all airline programs. Southwest, which was found to make more seats available than any other airline, recently changed its program from one geared to less-frequent fliers and more toward business travelers who pay more for tickets. The program makes it tougher for leisure travelers to redeem points, but this story, based on the survey, points out that Southwest did live up to its promise of making seats very widely available and with no blackout dates. Read more about it all here ....

POSTED: Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 10:51 AM

UPDATE: The impact of the volcanic ash cloud that disrupted air travel in northern Europe is lessening, as the cloud moves on. Airlines are returning to normal flight schdules. Read the latest here.

FROM TUESDAY: For anyone planning a trip to northern Europe, what could happen to air travel in the region as a result of another big Icelandic volcanic eruption is a wide-open question today. Read the latest here .... and check with your airline if you're planning to fly in the coming days.

POSTED: Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 10:45 AM

This story, about US Airways and Delta swapping some of their slots at Washington Reagan National and New York LaGuardia airports, was a brief in print today. This short article from the trade paper Business Travel News has some additional information. Read te BTN story at this link ...  

The gist of all the plans and proposals: The big carriers want to retain as much frequency and thus market clout as they can, by controlling most of the slots, at the respective airports, DCA for US Airways and LGA for Delta. The more slots they have, the harder it is for AirTran-Southwest, JetBlue, Frontier and the occasional other carrier to have the frequency to seriously challenge the bigger guys for business travelers, or to lower fares as much as some of the other carriers would like.

POSTED: Monday, May 23, 2011, 5:51 PM

The most recent twist in the ongoing story of "How are you going to buy airline tickets in the future," through online and traditional travel agencies if you wish, or directly from the airlines online only (which is what they usually wish) is that federal antitrust regulators at the Justice Department want to know more. They're investigating the whole business, as you can read in this good AP story that includes useful background information.

POSTED: Monday, May 23, 2011, 5:41 PM

When volcanic ash from Iceland disrupted airline service to and within Europe last year, there were predictions it would only be the first of several eruptions that could cause havoc for air travel over the next several years. Now, the future is here and another eruption in Iceland is starting to affect travel. Read the latest 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 Reach Tom at

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