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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: December, 2011

POSTED: Monday, December 19, 2011, 4:49 PM

Here's a story that has long legs, meaning it keeps getting play around the world since it first debuted last week: KLM the Dutch airline says it will be offering customers the chance to choose a seatmate on a flight using Facebook or other social media tools. Read more about how it will work ... and a worry or two about it.

POSTED: Friday, December 16, 2011, 4:32 PM

There are all sorts of ways to rank airlines -- by on-time performance, complants, cancellations. Now the Bloomberg News service has come up with yet another one, measuring the hassle factor. Guess which major PHL player scored high (or low is it?)  Read on at this link ...

POSTED: Friday, December 16, 2011, 4:28 PM

The major network airlines tried this week to raise base fares again, for abot the 12th time this year, but the increase may not hold. Read more here ...

POSTED: Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 5:18 PM

There was a spike in long delays on airport tarmacs of airline flights in October, caused primarily by that freak snowstorm at the end of the month. Read more about it here ... 

POSTED: Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 10:57 AM

We're coming up on three years since I posted the first news article on this blog (Jan. 12, 2009) on a topic that has become dear to my heart: Calling for a ban on ALL use of a phone or other electronic device while driving a car. Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board joined the chorus and recommended a ban.

Three years ago, it was the National Safety Council, a private-sector group that mostly concerns itself with workplace safety, that cited its own research and that of the AAA motor club and called for making it illegal to text, e-mail or talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel. Not just with a hands-free phone but with any phone, the council said. The reason: Talking on the phone while driving winds up being just as distracting as beng drunk, and it has lead to thousands of traffic fatalities over the years. Argue about it, and add comments here if you wish, but the facts are what they are. While outlawing texting while driving makes sense to most people, we're still arguing about all phone usage.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood joined the crusade against distracted driving within a few months of the safety council, calling first for banning use of hand-held devices and starting an education campaign about the dangers. I'm surprised he and DOT haven't gotten a little more credit for that in today's news stories. The real significance of the NTSB action is that the agency is one of the more thoughtful, careful research groups you can find. When it makes a call, it's based on solid evidence. It's time to stop debating this issue and do the right thing. 

POSTED: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 4:59 PM

Those who care have already seen and  heard enough about actor Alec Baldwin getting thrown off an American flight for not turning off his cell phone just before takeoff. But here's a good followup: Another explanation, after many others in this space over the years, that should help travelers understand why there are rules about no cell phone usage in flight. Look at the comments to see mention of the other reason for banning talking on a phone in flight: It's just plain annoying!

POSTED: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 4:53 PM

Hello again ... back for a few more postings of airline news. Southwest Airlines is all over the news today, with a report that it has placed the largest firm order Boeing has ever received, for a new generation of the venerable 737 that is the only model of plane SW has ever flown.

Another look at Southwest, from an investor's viewpoint, notes that the airline's stock price is likely to lag other majors in part because it doesn't have as much revenue per passenger mile flown. Why? You know why, because it doesn't charge bag fees or change fees -- i.e. it suffers on the bottom line and those who own its stock suffer because it gives its customers a break on the cost of flying. What a novel idea! Investing in airline stocks, as one analyst used to say, can be  hazardous to your wealth anyway, so maybe you want to stay away from them.

POSTED: Monday, December 5, 2011, 5:48 PM

The hard work of sorting out who gets what and who takes the biggest haircuts in American Airlines' bankruptcy case is taking shape. Here's a story about the parties named today to the Bankruptcy Court's creditors' committee. Unions, banks and your government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. are among them.

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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