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Archive: June, 2010

POSTED: Thursday, June 24, 2010, 10:03 AM

The U.S. Department of Transportation is looking closely at the way Virgin Atlantic mishandled a four-hour tarmac delay at the Hartford airport to see if the foreign carrier violated federal rules, even though it's not required to follow them strictly. Read more in a USAToday story.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 3:27 PM

Virgin Atlantic, an airline with a fairly good reputation for good service, blew it last night when one of its London-Newark flights diverted to Hartford/Springfield's Bradley International Airport because of weather. The loaded jet sat on the tarmac for four hours, much of it without air conditioning or lights and all of it without extra food and water. As a foreign carrier, the recently adopted harsh penalties for delays of three-plus hours don't apply. Read more about it here.

Interesting factoid: This happened at Bradley "International" where, Virgin said, they weren't prepared for international passengers and had to call immigration and customs officers to come to the airport.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 9:48 AM

Thursday brings an UPDATE on an article posted yesterday: American Airlines is checking for cracks in the pylons that connect engines to wings on its 767 widebodied jets, after finding them on two of the aircraft. Read more ...

The new part: Boeing said other airlines may be asked to do similar checks on 767 jets, shortening the number of takeoffs and landings between inspections that the FAA now requires. Read about that here.  

POSTED: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 9:43 AM

UPDATE: Spirit has canceled the "check out the oil" ad campaign. (No comment here).

Spirit Airlines has found another way to offend people, besides all of its customers who were stranded or shortchanged by refund policies during its six-day shutdown because of a pilots' strike. As soon as the strike was settled, the airline promoted "Strikingly low fares" using an image of bowling pins on its Web site. That was coupled with an offer of $50 savings on new bookings -- sorry, treasured customer, you can't use them to defray costs you incurred during the walkout.

This week, it's feminists and a few million others who are angry. Spirits is saying "Check out the oil on our beaches," in ads featuring bikini-clad women slathered in oily sunscreen, presumably promoting Florida destinations that take advantage of the closing of Gulf beaches because of the horrific BP spill. There's no point in asking when these people will acquire good taste, much less common sense, in marketing. That appears to be beyond them.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 11:24 AM

The Transportation Security Administration is making news all over the place. Read on to see what other columnists are saying about it, but first, let me report to you on a question I asked in yesterday's Winging It column (find it two posts below this one).

The column brought a lot of "spirited" comments, although only a few were on the main topic of Spirit Airlines treatment of passengers during its recent strike. Most of the e-mails -- about 30 e-mails and phone calls so far -- dealt with a separate question at the end of the column on travelers' experience recently with TSA enforcement of the rule that small bottles of liquids must be in a separate zip-top quart-size plastic bag at security checkpoints. The rule is still prominently featured on the www.tsa.gov Web site.

The tally so far: Everyone who commented has had some experience of TSA screeners not stopping them to enforce the rule. Several frequent travelers said they have gone through security multiple times without being stopped. The only variations are by airport. Some seem to be more vigilant than others. Please keep the comments coming, and I will tally them both here and in the print-online column next Monday.

POSTED: Monday, June 21, 2010, 8:13 AM

This is your late-night-comic-material story, which I'm posting here just for fun. A Southwest employee in Little Rock, Ark., found a box that was not properly labeled and packed for shipping. She opened it to find it full of human heads.  Here's the rest ..

POSTED: Monday, June 21, 2010, 7:57 AM

The Spirit Airlines strike did not cause many ripples at PHL, since the airline doesn't fly there, and the local news media didn't pay much attention. But it did affect the many in South Jersey who use Spirit from ACY. The column today is my take on how Spirit treated its customers during the strike, and treats them in general when it comes to straightforward pricing. Unlike some of my columns, which wander around and cover both sides of issues, I made this one more straightfoward: I'm not flying with these characters anymore. Read on here ....  

POSTED: Friday, June 18, 2010, 10:49 AM

U.S. senators asked tough questions of United and Continental executives about their merger plans in a hearing yesterday, with several lawmakers saying bluntly they don't like the idea. Read all about it 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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