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Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 1:12 PM

Two articles today, both from the International Air Transport Association annual meeting in Beijing, tell a tale of how Europe's financial woes are affecting airlines. The full story of how European airlines are expected to lose more than $1 billion this year can be found here. The second article, about airlines from around the world warning Europe that a trade war is in the offing if it presses ahead with its carbon-tax plan on carriers, can be found at this link.

POSTED: Saturday, June 9, 2012, 11:33 AM

This AP story, offering travelers tips on how find the lowest air fares, has gotten a lot of mileage in the media because of its useful nature. Read on for good advice about snagging the increasingly infrequent bargains from airlines.  

POSTED: Friday, June 8, 2012, 12:48 PM

The airline industry and the Obama administration are in rare agreement on the wisdom and economic benefits of a Eurpean Union program designed to curb aircraft emissions that imposes extra charges on airlines and potentially passengers. Both oppose the policy. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined airline reps at a Senate hearing on the issue. Read more about it here ...

POSTED: Tuesday, June 5, 2012, 12:08 PM

United Airlines had a hissy fit last week when the Houston City Council voted verwhelmingly to allow Southwest Airlines to spend $100 million of its own money to build international flight facilities at its Hobby Airport base, which competes with United at Houston's other airport, Bush Intercontinental. United immediately punished its local employees and perhaps its customers and shareholders by promising to cut hundreds of jobs and flights at IAH -- even though Southwest won't be flying internationally from Hobby for at least three years.   It takes a lot of gall to make threats against a city's airline service after you've moved the corporate headquarters out of the same city, with a big loss of jobs of its own. But no one ever accused airlines of shyness when it comes to hypocricsy. Read a good story with background on the battle here ....

POSTED: Monday, June 4, 2012, 2:12 PM

Some airlines are behaving like cranky children, throwing families off flights if parents can't get the kids to behave, while also throwing tantrums (the airine is doing the throwing here)  if they don't get their way from local political leaders. You are likely to have more sympathy with what Alaska did than the complaints of Continental but read on and decide for yourself. 

POSTED: Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 3:20 PM

United, now the operator of a big (ex-Continental) hub at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport, and Southwest, which has a hub at the older Hobby Airport, are fighting over whether city officials will allow Southwest to invest $100 million at Hobby to set it up for international service to Mexico and the Caribbean. United is threatening to hold off on making improvements at Intercontinental if Southwest gets its way.The two airlines each say their service will do great things for the city and region, and utter chaos and grave financial harm will ensue if the other side wins. The Houston Chronicle has a good story with background on the dispute found here ...

POSTED: Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 10:24 AM

We found two excellent works of good travel journalism this morning, both on the NY Times Itineraries page. In his column, Joe Sharkey (who happens to be an NRA member) notes that more "knuckleheads" than ever are trying to board airplanes with loaded guns, according to statistics on the TSA's Web site.  In case we had forgotten in our rush to arm ourselves, that's still against the law and can result in an arrest, depending on the local police policy. 

The other story is about an aspect of business travel (although not by air) that we first started harping on in blog posts more than three years ago: talking on a cell phone while driving. The National Safety Council first urged companies to prohibit their employees from talking while operating a vehicle in early 2009 and now is reporting progress in businesses adopting rules, especially in the last year, after the Transportation Safety Board called for the same ban. Read more about it here ...

POSTED: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 11:21 AM

The airlines' love of fees for services that used to be baked into a ticket price, such as reserving an aisle or window seat when a ticket is purchased, is hurting the chances of familes sitting together without paying extra for the "privilege." This issue was first raised in a Winging It blog post last Dec. 21 when we posted a Chris Elliott travel column about it as a growing problem.Now other media are discovering the same thing, and looking at what the fee-for-service trend is doing to current summer vacation travel planning for families. Read the latest report, by an AP reporter, on the issue here ... 

As pointed out in the December blog post, one way to avoid paying extra to avoid a middle seat is to fly on an airline without reserved seats. Southwest is the only one we know of in that category, and if that's your choice, make sure you know how to work the SW boarding system, as outlined in the post.

Have a nice flight! 

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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