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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: May, 2012

POSTED: Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 11:34 AM

Here's a tidbit for those snarky readers who whine about PHL getting new domestic routes operated by US Airways when it "should" be getting more international flights to parts of the world other than Europe. When the aircraft and demand are there, PHL will see more nonstops to Asia. The Inquirer's Paul Nussbaum assembled US Airways officials' thinking on the topic in this story ...

POSTED: Monday, May 14, 2012, 12:06 PM

The critics scoffed a few weeks ago when US Airways announced support from three American Airlines unions for US's efforts to merge the carriers. Now it seems there's less chortling from the crowd, especially at AMR headquarters, where executives bowed to pressure from its unsecured creditors in the Chapter 11 process and said it would "explore" merger options. All sorts of interesting possibilities could emerge for US Airways' PHL hub operations were the two airlines to combine. Read more about it all here ...

POSTED: Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 5:19 PM

Open Allies for Airfare Transparency,(www.faretransparency.org) an organization of travel agents, consumer groups and travel-reservations companies, is waging an uphill battle to give air travelers more information before they buy tickets about the full cost of their trips. Among other efforts, the allies want the U.S. Department of Transportation to adopt rules that make complete cost information -- all fees included -- transparent on all buying "channels," meaning from airline Web sites, online travel agents or regular service-for-fee agencies. The most recent statement from Open Allies, by Charlie Leocha of the Consumer Travel Alliance, makes a good argument that airlines have created a far less competitive travel landscape with the adoption of thousands of possible fee permutations. Read his statement here, and check the group's Web site link above for more information about the need for requiring airlines to do more to help customers before they buy.
      

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.      

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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