Archive: September, 2008
Speaking of plans of British Airways, American's pilots' union has filed a grievance with management over its proposal to enter a code-sharing alliance with BA in which the carriers would coordinate their service and pricing. Read a little more on what the pilots say here.
British Airways opened its new Terminal 5 at its London Heathrow Airport last spring with great fanfare. Unfortunately, the terminal really wasn't functioning fully, with major snafus in baggage-handling equipment and other problems giving an ugly shiner to the airline's service reputation. Slowly but surely, BA has worked out the problems and as of this morning, opened Terminal 5 to another 30 long-haul flights, including the daily roundtrips it makes between PHL and LHR. Also using the terminal for the first time today are flights to other U.S. cities and destinations in Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America.
As it does with all its international operations, BA it touting the facilities for business- and first-class passengers. Last fall, the airline opened a new lounge for those customers at PHL, in Terminal A-West, across a wide corridor from its gate. BA officials say the PHL lounge is similar in decor and amenities -- although smaller -- to what the business traveler will find at the other end of the trip, in Terminal 5. As we've written about before, competition for premium passengers on all airlines serving Heattrow is about as keen as it gets in the airline business. Travelers who can afford to sit up front prefer LHR to other London airports, helping explain why US Airways added a PHL-LHR flight last year while still serving the PHL-London Gatwick route. And Continental recently decided to give up serving Gatwick from its Newark hub in favor of flying just to LHR.
Th Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the hometown paper in American's headquarters, has a good roundup on Tuesday on airline baggage fees, prompted by United raising its second-bag fee to $50 each way. Find the details here.
The Wall Street Journal's Middle Seat columnist, Scott McCartney, comes to similar conclusions in a story you can find at this link.
Here's yet another trend to watch as a result of airlines cutting their flight schedules: It makes it tougher to get to conventions and meetings, hurting attendance. The problem is especially pronounced for smaller cities, which are taking the biggest hits from the curbacks. The challenges for meeting planners are coming at the same time that Philadelphia is in the midst of a slow period for big conventions as the planners wait for expansion of the Convention Center. Read more about national trends in the convention business here.
The challenges facing small airports in the PHL region because of airline cutbacks were detailed yesterday by Inquirer staff writer Linda Loyd. Read it here if you missed it.
Hurricane Ike continues to disrupt air travel, moving into the Midwest with strong winds and rain. Continental resumed service from its Houston Intercontinental Airport today but Southwest won't reopen at Houston Hobby until Tuesday. American's operations in both Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago were affected. All the airlines are showing flexibility if you need to change plans. Read more detail here.
Another story reports on oil prices falling because of less damage to offshore production from Ike than expected. The decline follows sharp increases in retail gasoline prices the last week or two as speculators anticipated more disurption than there was. AAA reports that in the Philadelphia region, pump prices went up 11 cents a gallon in PA and 15 cents a gallon in NJ over the weekend. Now, we should expect gas prices to come down again, shouldn't we?