Monday, December 29, 2014

Archive: November, 2011

POSTED: Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 10:10 AM

Today's thorough Inquirer story by Linda Loyd on the Chapter 11 filing by AMR, American's parent, includes substantial analysts' thoughts on what role US Airways could play if AA needs a merger partner.

This idea has been around for awhile: Last month, I mentioned in a post (which included a very good summary of AA's problems) an idea posited by another analyst earlier this year that American's service to Europe could get a boost from US Airways' well-established PHL hub. Other analysts I've talked to, however, point out that the local market to Europe from Philly is drawfed by that of New York, meaning AA still has to maintain a big New York presence to compete with other alliances. (Look for thoughts on that in today's Inquirer story also.)  Obviously,  the idea of how to fit AA and US together -- and what role PHL may play -- is being studied again as part of the bankruptcy process.

POSTED: Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 5:23 PM

As predicted in this space on July 25, air fares for nonstop PHL-Pittsburgh flights on US Airways are headed up, waaaaaay up, with Southwest dropping service on the route. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette checked and found the jump for a roundtrip was from $118 to $698. Read more about it at this link ..

UPDATE: Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) has weighed in on US Airways' fare increase. Read more here, including detail about restrictions on the lower fare cited above, in an Inquirer story online Wednesday. 

POSTED: Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 11:52 AM

AMR Corp., parent of American Airlines, today did as has been expected for weeks (maybe months or years) and began the process of lowering its labor and other costs, using the way that has been most popular with U.S. carriers for more than a decade. AMR filed a petition for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. American was the last major carrier to retreat to Chapter 11 to solve issues it hasn't been able to through normal labor negotiations and  business practices. Look for cuts in service, employees and aircraft, and much speculation about the possibility of merging with another major carrier (that would be US Airways, as the only real candidate left). Read more about the petititon filing here ....

POSTED: Monday, November 28, 2011, 5:28 PM

This is a trend that's been reported on this blog and elsewhere for several years, and now is a good time for an update: Airlines are increasingly phasing out the use of the hundreds of small jets, with 50 or fewer seats, and ending or cutting service to many smaller cities because of the cost of fuel. Read more in a good AP story here ...

POSTED: Monday, November 28, 2011, 5:23 PM

Some travelers will immediately oppose this idea on poltiical-philosophical grounds. But if you've just retiurned from a weekend of flying on crowded planes, or you fly regularly on crowded planes, then you will find some appeal in a proposal by a U.S. senator: Require airlines to carry one piece of checked baggage for free. It's one of those ideas that may not go anywhere legislatively, but it is a powerful indicator of just how frustrated fliers are these days with paying fees and still finding a mess on the plane with with too many bags in the overhead bins.

Along the same lines, USA Today's editorial page took on the issue of carry-on and checked bags and endorsed the idea of airlines voluntarily allowing customers to check one bag for free. (Don't be mislead by the headline on the piece: the ideas presented are just that.) An opposing viewpoint penned by the airline trade group Air Transport Association can be found at a link high in the editorial.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 11:05 AM

Spirit, the bad boy of the airline business when it comes to violating consumer-protection rules, has been fined $50,000 by the US Department of Transportation for, you guessed it, violating rules for disclosing the full cost, including all fees and other trickery, of a trip on the airline. Read more about it here ....

POSTED: Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 12:41 PM

A perfect followup appeared in the New York Times today to the Times's story posted here yesterday about what lots of money for first class tickets will buy in airline travel these days. Read columnist Joe Sharkey's recounting of a trip from New York to Arizona that will resonate with any frequent flier these days. It's about what it's really like for airline customers in the coach cabin -- last to board, jammed into a seat, no place for a carry-on bag. Happy trails folks!    

POSTED: Monday, November 21, 2011, 1:21 PM

Those of you who fly first class or business class on international airlines know this, of course: Your life in the wide chairs up front keeps getting better, with more amenities, better entertainment options and seats that turn into fully flat beds. Pay enough and you even get an on-board shower on a few carriers. For those of us who only fly coach, it's another story. Here's a good New York Times roundup of what some of the world's major airlines are doing for those who can afford the premium cabins. Also available out there in cyberspace is a recent, longish article from a business-travel consumer magazine, Business Traveler, looking at what various airlines are doing in the premium realm.

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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