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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: April, 2011

POSTED: Thursday, April 21, 2011, 1:20 PM

As expected, the major airlines' first quarter financial results were assaulted by high fuel costs. A traffic slowdown across the Pacific because of Japan's disaster also contributed to less-than-stellar results. Here is a roundup of results from United-Continental Holidings, Southwest and American (reported yesterday). Read all about it here ....

POSTED: Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 11:04 AM

Remember the campaign last fall called "Mad As Hell About Hidden Fees?" Some of what that effort sought was included today in the release by federal regulators of new rules that reqjuire airlines to tell customers what it's really going to cost to make a trip, in addition to the air fare, before they buy a ticket. Full disclosure of all fees in all of the channels used to sell airline tickets is still  under consideration but wasn't included in today's release of the proposed rules.

DOT also will make international airlines follow the same general rule on long ground delays. Read more about all of it in two articles,  one by the AP that emphasizes the tarmac-delay rule, and another in the New York Times that covers the other rules in more depth.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 10:21 AM

This story makes lots of folks wonder how widespread a problem airlines, not just Delta, may have with mice and rats wandering around airplanes looking for dinner. The Food and Drug Administration has told Delta about what it found on one of its jets, in areas where foord is prepared and served. The type of plane isn't identified but this has to be a larger, long-haul jet, one would think, since those are the only ones on which food is actually "prepared" these days. Of course, the little critters may have a taste for packaged pretzels as well. Read the details of what FDA told Delta at this link....

POSTED: Monday, April 18, 2011, 10:34 AM

UPDATE: This post will be updated Wednesday morning with DOT's unveiling, as expected, of the new customer-protection rules. And I erred earlier when I said the photo accompanying the AP story below did not say how old the photo was it. It does indicate the photo was from 2007.

THE ORIGINAL POST: This sounds like a very reasonable thing to ask airlines to do: If one of them loses your bag before it can  be returned to you after a flight, you should at least get a refund of the $15 to $40 or more you paid to check the bag in the first place. That's the gist of a proposd Department of Transporation rule that's explained in more detail in this AP story. The proposed rule is part of the big push DOT has made the last two years in air-consumer protection, including the tough new tarmac-delay penalties and another set of rules, about to be adopted we think, that would require airlines to disclose the estimated cost of all fees, in addition to the fare,  before a customer pays for a ticket. That sounds reasonable, too, don't you think?

POSTED: Friday, April 15, 2011, 12:42 PM

One of the real dangers of this thing called the 'Net and its related "blogs" is that it lets all sorts of people anonymously express opinions. The TSA is the one of the more frequent targets of the opinionated, and for good reason, since it continues to show all the sensitivity of a gang of bulls at a maximum-security prison in the name of keeping flying safe. For more background see the post on this blog below on the patdown of a 6-year-old. I give TSA credit for not censoring more of the comments posted on its blog about this. As you can see, parents in particular are outraged about the TSA's lack of sensitivity, to put it politely, about frisking small children. (I only read the first third of the blog posts, but I doubt if the tone changes.)   

POSTED: Thursday, April 14, 2011, 3:22 PM

Although it may seem like so much inside baseball, I believe there is value in reporting as much as possible on the ongoing dispute between American Airlines and some of the online travel agencies and the computer systems the agents use to sell tickets. American is trying to gain more control over the cost of using online agencies such as Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity.  The most recent twist in the tale can be found in a news story about American suing Orbitz in an effort to get its flights listed again on the online agency's site, and an opinion piece by the Consumer Traveler on the irony of AA suing Orbitz after having pulled its ticket inventory from Orbitz in late 2010. 

POSTED: Thursday, April 14, 2011, 3:04 PM

The story of a 6-year-old girl being subjected to a patdown at the New Orleans airport security checkpoint is getting wide circulation since her parents have made a cause of it by posting video on YouTube. TSA says it's reviewed the situation and its agent was following procedures and did nothing wrong. Well, you decide, after reading a full story about it here. ...

POSTED: Thursday, April 14, 2011, 2:59 PM

The Federal Aviation Administration has had a few embarrassing moments lately, what with air-traffic controllers found sleeping on the job at airports where there was no backup working. Does the agency have enough people and does it schedule them in a way that they are fatigued on overnight shifts? Read more about what FAA says it's doing about the problem 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.

Tom Belden
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