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Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 2:39 PM

This is an inside-the-industry (and Washington) kind of story that is important to take note of. The Air Transport Association, the major airlines' lobbying group, is suing the Export-Import Bank of the United States because loan guarantees were given to an American manufacturer, Boeing, so it could sell planes to Air India. Next time, perhaps Air India should buy from Airbus? Just asking. Read more about the legal issues here ..

POSTED: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 11:41 AM

The captain of a Chatauqua Airlines--Delta Connection flight from Asheville, NC to New York's LaGuardia Airport caused a bit of a mid-air scare when he left the cockpit to  use the lavatory and locked himself in, eventually prompting the co-pilot to declare an emergency when a passenger was asked to try to alert the nervous co-pilot to the situation. Sounds like a bit of a mid-air mess? It was. Read the full story here.

POSTED: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 11:25 AM

If you've ever wondered how PHL's retail shops and food and beverage offerings stack up against other U.S. airports, here's one measure: The airport's speciality-retail stores in the Terminals B-C connector just won first place in an annual competition held by the Airports Council International -- North America. Since MarketPlace Philadelphia Management and its predecessors took over operating and leasing all retail space at PHL in the mid-1990s, the airport has caught up to and surpassed many in this country and abroad in what it offers travelers. In 2002, the PHL retail program won the grand prize in this same Airports Council International's annual compeitiion.  

POSTED: Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 12:52 PM

United Airlines' unionized pilots have issued a detailed report questioning whether training as part of integration with Continental is adequate or should it be raising safety concerns. Read more about it here ...

POSTED: Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 4:29 PM

UPDATED this post with a very strong opinion piece from Spirit's home state of Florida, on the Sunshine State News Web site, calling the carrier  one of the nation's "suckiest" companies, a sentiment shared by quite a few travelers. I don't agree with the writer's criticism of Spirit for ordering a slew of new Airbus jets. Both US and foreign carriers fly both Airbus and Boeing planes these days; it's a fact of life in the airline business because they basically have no other choices. I do agree with the writer that customers of Spirit have a hard time knowing what it's really going to cost for a flight, given the carrier's penchant for fees. Read the column at this link ...

Here's the original post: Spirit Airlines is the most creative company in the industry -- some might also call it sneaky -- when it comes to adding to the true cost of a flight for its customers, while keeping its base fares as low as $9 one way. Spirit just raised the cost of booking a ticket online, which most customers do. To avoid the fee in these parts takes a trip to the Atlantic City airport, the only place it serves in the region. Read more here ... 

POSTED: Monday, November 14, 2011, 12:22 PM

The Department of Transportation has ordered American Eagle to pay $900,000 in fines for stranding passengers on numerous planes for hours at Chicago O'Hare Airport in May. The penalties are the first imposed by the federal regulators for violating rules that took effect 20 months ago, designed to inhibit airlines from leaving customers cooped up on planes at airports during bad weather. The airline agreed to the fine and apologized to customers for their treatment. The AP's Joan Lowy has a thorough story about the incident in Chicago and the rules, found here. 

POSTED: Thursday, November 10, 2011, 2:10 PM

The transportation security agency is trying, once again, to speed up the airport checkpoint process for some travelers with a program, being tested at a few major airports. If you're vetted ahead of time in the program, you can skip some steps, including taking off shoes and removing laptops from bags, Here is a story from the Los Angeles Times about implementation at LAX. 

Another look at how the new system is working was in the weekly On the Road column by Joe Sharkey, Tuesday in the New York Times. Sounds good, but as commenters have pointed out, the issue is whether the new "trusted travelers" will have to wait with everyone else to get the head of the line, where TSA agents check IDs. If so, maybe not much time, only a little dignity for some, may be saved. 

And we missed posting a good story by Inquirer beat reporter Linda Loyd a few days ago on the TSA's "kinder, gentler" screening methods at PHL. Find it here...

POSTED: Wednesday, November 9, 2011, 12:40 PM

We have posted stories and done columns in the past in this space about biofuels for use in airliner engines. Most of the stories have been speculative and point to a time in the future when fuel from algae and other sources can be made in sufficient quantities to make it commercially viable. Now airlines have begun using a mix of regular jet fuel and biofuel in flights with passengers on them. Read more about the trend 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.

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