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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: May, 2012

POSTED: Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 3:20 PM

United, now the operator of a big (ex-Continental) hub at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport, and Southwest, which has a hub at the older Hobby Airport, are fighting over whether city officials will allow Southwest to invest $100 million at Hobby to set it up for international service to Mexico and the Caribbean. United is threatening to hold off on making improvements at Intercontinental if Southwest gets its way.The two airlines each say their service will do great things for the city and region, and utter chaos and grave financial harm will ensue if the other side wins. The Houston Chronicle has a good story with background on the dispute found here ...

POSTED: Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 10:24 AM

We found two excellent works of good travel journalism this morning, both on the NY Times Itineraries page. In his column, Joe Sharkey (who happens to be an NRA member) notes that more "knuckleheads" than ever are trying to board airplanes with loaded guns, according to statistics on the TSA's Web site.  In case we had forgotten in our rush to arm ourselves, that's still against the law and can result in an arrest, depending on the local police policy. 

The other story is about an aspect of business travel (although not by air) that we first started harping on in blog posts more than three years ago: talking on a cell phone while driving. The National Safety Council first urged companies to prohibit their employees from talking while operating a vehicle in early 2009 and now is reporting progress in businesses adopting rules, especially in the last year, after the Transportation Safety Board called for the same ban. Read more about it here ...

POSTED: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 11:21 AM

The airlines' love of fees for services that used to be baked into a ticket price, such as reserving an aisle or window seat when a ticket is purchased, is hurting the chances of familes sitting together without paying extra for the "privilege." This issue was first raised in a Winging It blog post last Dec. 21 when we posted a Chris Elliott travel column about it as a growing problem.Now other media are discovering the same thing, and looking at what the fee-for-service trend is doing to current summer vacation travel planning for families. Read the latest report, by an AP reporter, on the issue here ... 

As pointed out in the December blog post, one way to avoid paying extra to avoid a middle seat is to fly on an airline without reserved seats. Southwest is the only one we know of in that category, and if that's your choice, make sure you know how to work the SW boarding system, as outlined in the post.

Have a nice flight! 

POSTED: Monday, May 21, 2012, 4:52 PM

Ted Reed, a longtime observer of the airlines who has worked in Miami and Charlotte and a former newspaper reporter who now works for thestreet.com, has an enlightening take on US Airways effort to merge with American. More and more, he thinks, US has AMR in a position that will wind up with US achieving its goal. Read what he has to say at this link ... 

POSTED: Monday, May 21, 2012, 4:38 PM

The revenue airlines get from bag fees dropped last year for the first time since carriers started collecting them, signaling that travelers are learning to pack lighter, or more likely, carry on more stuff to jam into the overhead bins. Read more about the trend here ....

POSTED: Thursday, May 17, 2012, 11:57 AM

The falling price of oil could help the economy, the Obama administration and air travelers, among others, if the airlines follow suit and hold down more increases in fares or fees. Read more about it here ...

POSTED: Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 12:25 PM

You knew that eventually an airline serving the US would do it, allowing talking on cell phones while in flight.

Virgin Atlantic said yesterday its newest Airbus widebody will be equipped to allow talking while over the ocean, far away from land, and other planes so equipped will follow. This isn't the first airline to allow talking while cruising at 35,000 feet; some Middle East carriers started it a couple of years ago.

As you probably know, federal regulators in this country still restrict phone calls at altitude because of the chance it will interfere with aircraft equipment, and because of great concern that rude phone talking (ever hear of that ???) will result in fistfights or worse in airline cabins. Read here what some travel pros think of the idea, and see the comments to the writer's story from readers at the end.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 11:51 AM

This article goes into some depth on a topic that's been looked at repeatedly over the last several years: Do the airport security measures TSA uses in a widespread, public way really work to make flying safer? The most recent stories (yes they're old news -- they were first published and broadcast all of a week ago!) indicate that it was largely old-fashioned spy work that did the most to thwart another plot. Read the NY Times story on the topic 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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