Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If Your Looking To File Suit Against The Airline

If your looking to file suit against your airline for, well, getting punched in the head during your flight, a court in Australia has ruled that it's your destination that has jurisdiction in your case.

Ahmed Bader Eddin Fattouh, allegedly punched in the head during an air-rage incident, yesterday lost his bid to sue the airline, Gulf Air, in the NSW District Court.

The key issue was whether the court had jurisdiction to hear his case -- and that depended on whether Sydney or Beirut was his final destination.

Mr Fattouh was seeking damages for injuries suffered when he was allegedly punched in the head by a fellow passenger in February 2005. He was flying from Beirut to Sydney to visit his son when the altercation took place in an aisle.

Last year, Gulf Air sought to have the case thrown out, arguing the District Court did not have jurisdiction to determine the claim. When the judge refused, they took their argument to the Court of Appeal

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Two Year Old On Terrorist Watch List

Another shining example on how the TSA is making the skies safe comes from an article about a two year old held at the security checkpoint because his name was on the terrorist watch list.

A RESPONSE to last week’s column about the chronic troubles of air travelers came from Christine Anderson, who says she was with her son Jack both times he was told that he was on the terrorist watch list.

The first time was in 2004, when Jack; his mother; his brothers Joey, then 8, and Joshua, then 5; and their grandmother, Susan, arrived at the airport in Minneapolis for a trip to Disney World.

“The woman at the ticket counter demanded, ‘Who is John Anderson?’ ” Ms. Anderson recalled. She pointed at the baby stroller and said, “He’s right here.” The suspect, then 2 years old, blinked his big blue eyes and happily gummed his pacifier.

“That baby’s on the no-fly watch list,” the agent said.

His brothers became agitated. “We’re not going to Disney World!” one of them wailed, according to Ms. Anderson.

After about an hour, the airline ascertained that the Jack in the stroller was not the Jack on the terrorist list, and the family made its flight.

Her concern, she told me, goes beyond a mere hour’s delay at the airport while Jack’s name is cleared. It’s more about the effect such a stigma has on people like Jack, she said.

Jack’s brothers, of course, made a big deal about their baby brother being a terrorist suspect — especially when it happened again two years later on another family trip when Jack, then 4, was taken aside.

“I understand a delay at the airport is a small price to pay for security,” Ms. Anderson said, adding: “But it’s more than just a delay. Jack’s a sweet, sensitive boy. What will the ramifications be for him, years later? Kids don’t rationalize like adults. His take on this is, ‘I don’t do bad things, but they say I do.’ And you can’t tell him differently.”

Since the last airport incident, the family has driven on vacations to avoid airport trouble for Jack.

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Ivana Trump Acts Up On Continental Flight

THE dad whose family was berated by Ivana Trump on a recent Continental flight has filed a complaint with the airline.

Andrew Frank told Page Six he was sitting next to Trump in coach when she called his children - ages 3 years and 18 months - "barbarians" and told him to "shut them up." Frank said, "As soon as Ivana sat down, she started to look at me and tell my kids to shut up and that they were barbarians.

I was so upset, I told the flight attendant that I wanted to speak to the captain. I thought this would happen when the plane landed."

As we reported, the attendant then persuaded a first-class passenger to change seats with Trump.

"My kids weren't yelling or crying," Frank said. "My 3-year-old just asked a few questions about the plane." He said he called in a complaint to Continental and was told it was being looked into. A rep for Trump said, "Ivana believes there was no problem on this flight."

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Monday, September 29, 2008

United Airlines Lays Off Asian Staff and Replaces With American Crews

Because United Airlines has managed to piss off everyone in America, it is now expanding internationally to touch those in an United Airline way.

All 120 Thai cabin crew on United Airlines (UA) flights through Bangkok have been replaced by US-recruited staff as part of major cutbacks due to continuing high fuel prices and a slump in demand.

Another 100 crew recruited in Singapore have also been laid off as the US airline moves to close its flight attendant bases in Bangkok and Singapore at the end of next month.

The redundancies may reflect a contractual obligation that UA made to its powerful union in the US that foreign nationals based in Asia would be discharged before the airline thins the ranks of its US-based workers, according to airline sources.

Major American airlines are cutting capacity as they cope with high fuel costs and a slowing economy that has prompted companies and families to cut back on air travel.

On Aug 27, UA said it would furlough about 11% of its 14,700 flight attendants in proportion to the flights it had pared from its schedule.

But earlier this week, the Chicago-based carrier scrapped plans to lay off 1,550 US-recruited flight attendants as it shrinks operations and grounds 100 mainly US-operating aircraft. The company said the job cuts were no longer required after enough flight attendants volunteered for unpaid leave that allows them to retain seniority as well as health-care coverage, travel and other benefits.

UA's laid-off Thai staff, some of whom have worked for the airline for more than 20 years and are in their late forties, seem to have accepted redundancy with regret but no complaints.

The airline gave them two years of free UA flights on top of the legally required severance payments.

Thai staff had been informed about the possible lay-off about six months in advance as the airline's management negotiated with the UA union.

UA flight attendants recruited in Bangkok and Singapore were reportedly paid much less and enjoyed fewer benefits than their US-recruited colleagues.

Thai attendants will now be replaced by US-recruited UA staff - a mix of nationalities including Americans, Japanese and a few Thais - on flights to Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Seoul.

UA currently operates Boeing 777 jetliners, which can carry about 270 passengers, on its daily flights between Bangkok and Tokyo. By the end of next month it will replace the jetliners on this route with bigger Boeing 747-400s, with about 340 seats, as a result of revised aircraft utilisation plans and stronger winter-season travel demand.

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Emirates Airlines Offer Deals to Business Class Passengers

Emirates Airlines passengers flying first or business clas through Dubai will get a free stay at newly opened water park resort, Atlantis, the airline said.

A business class passenger will get a one-night stay and first class passengers a two-night stay.

The offer includes unlimited access to water playground Aquaventure, as well as The Lost Chambers, a maze of underground tunnels with underwater views.

This offer is available on flights booked between October 4 to December 24, Emirates said.

The airlines also said its Skywards frequent flyer program is now giving a chance for members to upgrade online through Emirates.com.

Using the 'manage a booking' facility on Emirates.com members could upgrade themselves or friends and family using passenger miles.

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Im Back

Sorry for the delay in posting, we just got done moving into our new house in Seattle and the work is close to done.

Everything has been quiet over the past couple of days but I am back and ready to blog !

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Friday, September 26, 2008

My Bank Goes Bankrupt

A little break from travel related news to spread some of my love to the U.S. banking system, which I have the utmost disdain for.

Before moving to the west coast I had to change banks because the one I used on the east coast wasn't here. Well I first tried Bank of America, but anyone who reads my blog and the post entitled "Bank of America Sucks" knows how that one ended.

After my Bank of America fiasco I went with WaMu. The black cloud of banks follows me around, I have to absolute worst luck with banks no matter where I am. Personally I am convinced every bank in the country sucks but I keep trying.

Anyhow, after switching to WaMu I turn on the news and of course my bank is now bankrupt, closed down by the U.S. Government. Fortunately after some bad experiences with WaMu over the past couple of weeks I switched to Wells Fargo and moved my direct deposit to that bank. Hopefully Wells Fargo will work out.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

For Sale .... One Used Italian Airline

Alitalia has hung out a “For Sale” sign — again.

The bankrupt airline published a notice in four newspapers on Tuesday soliciting offers to buy any or all the company's assets.

The move comes after a group of Italian investors made official on Monday its decision to withdraw an offer to take over the profitable assets of Alitalia. It was the third failed attempt to sell off the long-troubled airline in less than two years as two successive governments have moved to keep a four-year-old pledge to the EU to privatize the flagship carrier.

Alitalia is seeking “whoever might be able to guarantee the continuity, in the medium term, of the transportation service ... to submit its expression of interest,” read the notice published in the Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera, il Sole-24 Ore and la Repubblica, as well as the London-based Financial Times.

The notice, initially posted Monday evening on the airline's Web site, urges potential buyers to take into account the need for a speedy transaction.

With Alitalia's future still unclear, Premier Silvio Berlusconi delayed his departure to New York for the U.S. General Assembly, where is he scheduled to speak on Thursday. Mr. Berlusconi was to leave midday Tuesday, but was delaying his departure for a Cabinet meeting. It was unclear when he would leave.

Barring a valid offer, Alitalia's extraordinary administrator, appointed after the airline declared bankruptcy Aug. 29, said Alitalia's clock would stop ticking Oct. 1. Italian civil aviation authorities have indicated the end might come even sooner.

“I would say that we have until the end of the week,” administrator Augusto Fantozzi told reporters in Rome on Monday. “Probably we will have time until next Tuesday, which means in effect that, as of today, Sept. 30th is the last day possible” of operation.

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With Rising Airline Fares More People Burning Their Miles

Passengers at U.S. carriers including American Airlines and United Airlines are burning through record numbers of frequent-flier points to avoid paying higher fares, and the companies couldn't be happier.

Not only are the airlines adding surcharges of as much as $100 on frequent-flier tickets, but getting rid of unused awards — sometimes by raising the number of points required for flights — eliminates millions of dollars in liabilities for them.

Other payoffs include deeper customer loyalty and more money from credit-card companies including JPMorgan Chase.

"More points and higher fees are an easier way of essentially charging more for the reward ticket," said Jay Sorensen, who helped run Midwest Airlines' awards program and is now president of consulting firm IdeaWorks.

"Credit-card companies are happy when people earn more points, and the airlines are happy when people use them."

Redemptions are running ahead of last year's pace, when airlines distributed a record 10.9 million free trips.

The free seats have become more attractive because domestic ticket prices are up 20 to 40 percent at the major airlines this year, according to FareCompare.com.

The higher fares are a reaction to surging fuel costs that contributed to $17.1 billion in losses at the country's five largest full-fare airlines in the first and second quarters.

"It makes no sense to sit on these miles anymore," said Dan Berman, 46, of Atlanta, who has redeemed 350,000 points from Delta Air Lines in 2008.

Buying a one-way coach ticket for a 6,400-mile flight to Tel Aviv would have cost $3,000 in cash, so turning in 80,000 points — worth about $800, by Berman's calculation — "was a bargain," he said, even if it cost 50,000 points for round-trip overseas flights two years ago.

American Airlines said it granted 10 to 15 percent more award tickets in the first half of 2008, while redemptions rose 12 percent at United Airlines, 3 percent at Delta and 15 percent at Northwest Airlines.

Continental Airlines said its cheapest awards rose 34 percent but didn't give a total.

"We certainly do encourage customers to utilize their miles," said Rob Friedman, president of marketing for American's AAdvantage program. "It's a great way to engender loyalty and hopefully more return trips."

Airlines want customers to use up awards because they are accounted for on their books as "deferred," "unrecognized" or "unearned" revenue.

American recorded unrecognized revenue of $1.6 billion last year for future awards, up 33 percent since 2003.

Delta passengers earned 25 percent more points over the past three years, and the airline's balance sheet shows $3.3 billion in deferred revenue for future awards.

Banks spend an estimated $4 billion a year on airline miles for credit-card rewards. United said last week it will get $1.2 billion in additional liquidity from JPMorgan's Chase Card Services under an extended frequent-flier agreement and the advance purchase of miles.

Continental said in June it would receive $413 million from Chase for miles and other marketing commitments.

"Our best and most satisfied customers are those who earn and redeem their rewards often," Chase spokesman Paul Hartwick said in an e-mail.

Should oil prices decline and carriers reduce fares, passengers may revert to hoarding frequent-flier points, said Bob Soukup, managing director of marketing for Northwest's WorldPerks program.

"If the ticket prices are low, people aren't willing to spend even 25,000 for an award ticket," he said. "When fares are up, especially to the more popular destinations, people are more willing to part with some more miles."

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Airlines Are Cutting Corporate Travel Deals

Cash-strapped airlines are more aggressively cutting corporate discounts or pulling contracts entirely if businesses fall short of their air travel commitments, business travel executives said Tuesday.

The disclosure involving mainly U.S. airlines came as corporate travel organizations assessed the impact of the Wall Street meltdown on the global economy and, with it, the 2009 forecast for business travel.

A poll by the global Association of Corporate Travel Executives projected less travel from a majority of 131 members surveyed due to economic factors, high energy costs, or internal changes at their companies.

The business travel unit at American Express delayed release of its annual outlook on Tuesday in order to get a clearer picture of the most recent economic turmoil that includes the prospect of a U.S. bailout of financial institutions.

Executives said the environment, which includes cutbacks in air service and higher fares and new fees for bags and other extras once covered by the cost of a ticket, will be tougher. But they said there are opportunities for companies to save money and do business on the road even in cautious times.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Seven Things Airlines Should Get Rid Of

Airlines are throwing all kinds of things overboard lately in an effort to save gas or money. Everything from magazines to life vests to beverages have been deplaned but here are a few things that they overlooked which they really should get rid of:

Federal air marshals
Airlines must carry as many air marshals as the TSA tells them — for free. Yet the program is a failure, at least by some measures. A recent study of the Federal Air Marshal Service suggests that it spends $180 million per life saved. “As such, the air marshal program would seem to fail a cost-benefit analysis,” it concludes. Besides, pilots are now packing heat. Isn’t it time to think about grounding the marshals?

Duty-free carts
“They’re totally useless,” says Ed Kummel, an engineer from Sterling, Va. “If the airlines really want to conserve fuel, dump them.” Well, maybe not totally useless — they make airlines a tidy profit, according to one study. But in the sense that they weigh half a ton and are more of an inconvenience to passengers than an amenity, yes — ditch ’em.

In-flight magazines
No offense to my colleagues who work for these publications, but the heavy product they churn out has no place on an aircraft at a time like this. Some airlines are trying to put these magazines on a diet, but why not just get rid of them entirely? I know you’ll miss all those stories about Las Vegas, the unfunny humor columns and the ads for dating services. I certainly will. But think of all the fuel the airline will save.

Flight attendants
Federal rules require a minimum number of flight attendants for every plane — for example, an aircraft with up to 50 seats has to have one attendant, and between 51 and 101 seats, it must have two. On my last flight on a 137-seat plane I counted four flight attendants. Come on. How much money could an airline save by eliminating a crewmember? I mean, they’ve stopped serving food and now we have to pay for drinks. Why not install a vending machine at the back of the plane?

Not all of them. But considering that on most flights I’ve been on lately, at least one of the restrooms was out of order, I have an idea: Why not just uninstall that nonworking loo? Passengers will wait in the same long line as before. They’ll never miss it. As a matter of fact, there are no rules that say an airline must fly with a certain number of restrooms. There’s no federally mandated passenger-to-toilet ratio, and some smaller aircraft aren’t even required to have a bathroom.

XL passengers
Most airlines look the other way when an oversize passengers boards (though not all — Southwest makes “customers of size” buy an extra seat). If the airlines don’t start charging by weight — which, though disturbing on some levels, is a logical next step — then why not send these big passengers packing? Now before you flame me for being insensitive, let me confess that I am one of these XL passengers. I’m taller than average and I have long arms that tend to sprawl. But airlines already force our carry-on luggage to fit into a template. Why not us, too?

I’m only half kidding. But still, it’s worth noting that today’s planes practically fly themselves, or can be piloted remotely as this British test showed. Pilots take up extra space and weigh the plane down. Do we really need them onboard?

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American Airlines Keeps the Emergency Landings Coming

Not wanting to break their four month emergency landing streak, American Airlines rolled one off the end of the runway in Chicago today. Yes just when you thought it was safe to go flying with American, they broke the boredom for the month, so no worries.

An American Airlines plane rolled off the end of a runway as it landed in Chicago on Monday after it diverted from its planned destination due to electrical problems, the airline said.

The plane, a Boeing Co. 757 headed for New York from Seattle, stopped just off the end of a runway at O'Hare International Airport, a spokesman for American's parent company AMR Corp said. The aircraft's landing gear came to rest in the grass.

No injuries were reported.

"After the Chicago Fire Department checks the airplane, the passengers will deplane using air stairs and be taken by buses to the terminal for reaccommodation," the spokesman said.

AMR did not give a reason for the reported electrical problem that led to the flight diversion or the rocky landing that occurred in Chicago.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft had tire damage that may have occurred on landing.

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American Airlines Adds Perks for Frequent Flyers

American Airlines is being dragged out of the 90's kicking and screaming by adding benefits for frequent flyers that other airlines discovered about a decade ago.

For those of you who are unfortunate enough to be frequent flyers on American Airlines you are going some perks when checking in which should help you save time so you can wait longer at the gate for your delayed plane.

American Airlines, under fire for poor customer-satisfaction ratings, said Monday it will add check-in and boarding services for top customers including those traveling in first- or business-class.

American, the nation's largest carrier, said it will give priority check-in and, at several large airports, priority security screening to top customers. Beginning Sept. 30, it will also offer one boarding lane at gates just for priority customers.

The benefits, called PriorityAAccess, will be offered to customers in first- and business-class, those paying full-fare for coach seats and top members of its AAdvantage frequent-flier and oneworld alliance programs.

Mark Mitchell, the airline's managing director of customer experience, said American was trying to provide services that customers want.

"PriorityAAccess benefits provide a differentiated experience for our top customers at the ticket counter, at security checkpoints, and at the gate," he said.

The rollout of the new services is expected to be complete by the end of October.

In a recent survey by consumer research firm J.D. Power and Associates, American ranked fifth among eight traditional North American network carriers for customer satisfaction. It ranked behind Alaska and Continental, which tied for first, Delta and Air Canada but ahead of US Airways, Northwest and United. The latter two tied for last place.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

American Airlines Wakes Up From Decade Long Nap And Decides There Is A Problem

American Airlines has finally figured out there is a problem. After waking up from a nap that started somewhere back in the 1980's, the staff of American Airlines has figured out that they need to do something about customer service and flight performance or people might actually decide to quit flying their airlines.

Some of the clues that prompted American's staff to wake up and smell the coffee include:

•It finished last among 19 U.S. carriers in on-time arrivals for four straight months between March and June, before improving to 16th in July – its highest finish in nine months.

•Its on-time marks have been beneath the industry average every month since December 2006.

•For the 12 months ending July 31, American was last among all carriers in on-time flights, with only 67.5 percent arriving within 14 minutes of schedule. That was 6.7 percentage points worse than the industry average of 74.2 percent.

•Among the 10 largest carriers, American ranked second-worst in the rate of lost-bag complaints for the year ending July 31, ahead of only Delta Air Lines Inc.

•It has had the third-highest rate of flight cancellations through the first seven months of 2008, ahead of only two regional carriers, Mesa Air Group Inc. and American's own partner, American Eagle. Even excluding about 3,300 flights canceled in a maintenance inspection in April, American still ranked near the bottom.

So what is the big master plan to turn this around, well they haven't quite gotten to that yet, right now they are in the process of figuring out which faction within the airline is to blame.

American Airlines operations department says that the weather is to blame. Apparently since the 80's there has been bad weather which has caused all of it's flight delays.

"I think it went back to a sense of operational optimism," he said. " 'Oh,' we just thought, 'the weather will get better. The storms will go away.' "

When 2007 turned out to be bad, planners thought 2008 would be better. Until July, it hasn't been.

Since the start of 2007, American has recorded four of its top 10 days for flight diversions, when weather has forced the airline to land planes at airports other than their intended destination.

"It sounds like rationalization," Mr. Cordes said. "But the fact of the matter is we've been dealing with these weird weather events for a year and a half."

Now rings in the Flight Attendants Union which blames management for all the customer service problems.

Whether coincidence or not, the airline's on-time problems have grown as it has entered negotiations with its three major unions: the Allied Pilots Association in summer 2006, the Transport Workers Union in fall 2007 and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants this summer.

Mr. Cordes and Mr. Mitchell said they don't think morale issues or employee problems have contributed much – if at all – to operational problems for American. Mr. Mitchell noted that the number of teams working to improve the airline's customer service has grown over the past year.

Laura Glading, president of the flight attendants' union, said there is a link between employee morale and customer service, particularly as the airline has cut staffing and onboard amenities.

So apparently providing customer service was not what flight attendants thought they were going to be doing on their job, individual job satisfaction doesnt help, in order for flight attendants to be nice to people the airline has to be nice to them everyday.

So in comes the last group in the blame game, the pilots union, which says cutting jobs and pay for pilots is the reason they can't get a plane off the ground on time, because you know it's not really the pilots flying the planes.

The Allied Pilots Association has been increasingly critical of the airline's management, blaming it for the delays, cancellations and other problems.

Bill Haug, secretary-treasurer of the pilots' union, noted that the airline's performance has declined since employees took big concessions in pay, benefits and working conditions in 2003.

So as you can see American Airlines is ready to address their industry leading worst customer service and on time record, just as soon as they can figure out who is responsible. In the meantime you can be sure that you, the passenger, will be the one who pays for it.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

As Passengers Stop Flying, Airlines Try and Ramp Up Service

It's hard to talk about airline customer service without laughing, but the self fulfilling prophecy of service reductions and fees from the airlines has finally resulted in declining passengers. Last month saw a double digit drop in passenger volume and even the amazingly retarded CEO's of the airlines have figured out they better start delivering something to passengers before everyone decides just to stay home.

Delta Air Lines Inc.'s regional subsidiary Comair had the worst on-time performance in July among airlines surveyed by the Department of Transportation. From January through July, American Airlines' on-time arrival rate was the lowest among U.S. carriers, while UAL Corp.'s United Airlines' was second-lowest. Comair had the highest mishandled baggage rate in July, while the highest number of consumer complaints received by the DOT that month were about Delta. Comair's on-time performance from January through July ranked 17th out of 19 airlines, while Delta's ranked eighth.

The fourth-highest number of consumer complaints received by the DOT in July were about Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways, which said in a September 3 memo to employees that they would not be receiving a $50 bonus for the month because the airline's on-time performance did not place in the top three among the 10 largest U.S. carriers.
Don't Miss

Executives blame weather, congestion in the Northeast and air traffic control issues for some of the problems, but they also acknowledge company specific problems. They say there have been improvements since the latest DOT figures were released.

American, a unit of Fort Worth-based AMR Corp., is keeping planes on the ground longer in some cities before turning them for their next flight so that if something goes wrong, there is extra time to board passengers and baggage. It plans to block a limited number of seats from being sold on flights in key markets this Thanksgiving to give it flexibility in re-accommodating customers on planes that would otherwise be full.

The carrier also is refurbishing the interiors of its Boeing 757s, upgrading business class seats on international flights, adding leather headrests to coach seats on MD-80s and testing Wi-Fi service on some aircraft.

"There are huge costs when you have inconvenienced your customers," said Dan Garton, American's executive vice president of marketing.

Dorothy Boydston, a 48-year-old electrician from Hawaii, knows what Garton means.

On a recent trip from Santa Barbara, California, to Denver to see her daughter, Boydston had to spend a night at a Phoenix hotel at her own expense because she missed her US Airways connecting flight after, she said, an airline employee wrote the wrong gate number on her ticket. That came after she had to pay $15 to check a bag she tried to carry on the plane to Phoenix, when the airline told her there was no room in the overhead bins.

The next morning, she was still at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, on standby for another flight to Denver.

"I could have rented a car for what it's costing me," she said.

Asked if passengers should get better customer service in light of the higher fares and fees they are paying compared to a year ago, Boydston said, "What customer service? There's no customer service anymore."

One up side to the customer service slaughter at the airlines is that travel on Amtrak has doubled, especially on the northeast corridor where people are traveling by train from D.C., New York, Philadelphia and Connecticut.

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Wyndham Hotels Roll Out New Uniforms

As part of its evolving “green” strategy, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts today announced the launch of a new ecologically-friendly uniform line for hotel staff using recycled polyester fibers spun from plastic beverage bottles.

Select Wyndham® hotels will introduce the new uniforms beginning this fall by job category. Front desk and other customer-facing employees are required to begin wearing the new uniforms by the end of 2009 and housekeeping and other back-of-house staff by 2010. All new properties are required to provide the new uniforms upon opening.

Employees were unclear about their feelings toward wearing someones old diet coke bottle.

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Minneapolis Gets New W Hotel

W Hotels Worldwide, the fastest growing luxury hotel brand in the world, unveils its latest insider escape with the grand opening of W Minneapolis-The Foshay.

Built within one of the country's most inspiring and iconic art deco buildings, W Minneapolis-The Foshay is situated at the point where pop culture meets classic architecture, indie music meets high fashion, and world-class theater meets urban art.

This sleek, film noir-inspired hotel, designed by Munge Leung: Design Associates in collaboration with W Hotels' award-winning design team, features 229 guest rooms, including 18 luxurious suites, a state-of-the-art gym, a full-service WIRED business center, 6,700 square feet of meeting and event space and the only observation deck in the city.

Owned by Foshay Hotel LLC, W Minneapolis-Foshay also features Prohibition, a speakeasy-inspired bar perched on the hotel's 27th floor and Manny's, a word-class steakhouse.

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As Airlines Cut Back on VIP Perks, Hotels Are Stepping Them Up

elissa Tomlinson, a 32-year-old director of sales for a San Diego-based videogame accessory company, says she hasn't paid for a vacation in eight years.

In that time, she has traveled to Europe and Hawaii repeatedly, and just returned from a jaunt to California wine country. Each of the trips was earned through frequent-traveler rewards programs.

But like many travelers, Tomlinson has become disenchanted with her frequent-flier benefits as carriers have begun tightening redemption rules, charging to book an award and cutting capacity. While she once felt like a valued customer with the airline, she now looks to her favored hotel chain to fill that role.

In Depth: Luxury Hotels' VIP Perks

"I accumulate these points and I can't use them [with the airlines]. It's virtually impossible, but [at the hotel] I still feel like I'm getting something out of it," says Tomlinson, who is a Hilton "Diamond VIP." "There are little things--bottles of water, free breakfast, and upgraded rooms. I still feel like I'm important to them."

Hotels in the U.S. saw their occupancy rates dip 2.5% in the first six months of the year, according to Smith Travel Research. They're hardly facing the same crunch as airlines--which have responded to higher than expected fuel prices by charging for checked baggage and eliminating basic perks like free beverages and pillows. In some cases, the hotel industry has compensated for the airlines' scaling back, offering credits for baggage fees and a free night with a minimum stay.

The benefits get even better for those, like Tomlinson, who belong to the hotels' rewards programs.

What Loyalty Gets You

At Hilton properties, Tomlinson is treated to a number of perks, including free upgrades, complimentary breakfast and Internet access, bonus points and a guaranteed reservation 48 hours prior to arriving. While Tomlinson has reached the highest level of membership--awarded to those who accumulate 100,000 points or stay 28 times or 60 nights throughout the year--lower-tier members get access to an on-site health club and free nights with a certain number of points.

Upgrades and free nights are the hallmarks of rewards programs, but many hotels have added dozens of options in recent years, including the ability to trade points for merchandise, travel packages and even unique experiences like skydiving.

Adam Burke, managing director of Hilton Honors Worldwide, says that broadening members' choices is a way of "letting people tell you their preferences." Among Hilton's offerings are a helicopter ride above New York City (80,000 points), a three-day cruise to the Bahamas (365,000 points) and a $100 gift card to retailers like Macy's and Best Buy (50,000 points).

InterContinental, Starwood and Marriott have also adopted this approach. InterContinental allows its Priority Club members to exchange points for DVDs, golf gear, airline tickets and activities like skydiving and sailing.

Laila Rach, divisional dean at New York University's Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management, says that the more personalized options reflect a more demanding customer.

"What the consumer is saying today is, 'Show me your loyalty first before you ask for mine,'" says Rach.

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Qantas Gets Shiny New Airbus Superjumbo

Qantas Airlines took delivery on it's brand new Airbus A380 today in France.

The A380, the world's largest passenger jet, can carry up to 853 people but Qantas will restrict seating to 450 passengers -- 14 in individual first class suites, 72 in business class, 32 in premium economy cabin and 332 in economy as a sign of mercy for those who had to fly in greyhound class at the back of the plane.

Qantas, which was the first airline to order the planes, will launch an A380 service on October 20 from Melbourne to Los Angeles, and on October 24 from Sydney to Los Angeles.

Later Qantas will also fly the superjumbo to Singapore and London. Currently the Qantas group, including low-cost subsidiary Jetstar, has ordered a total of 110 aircraft directly from Airbus.

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Alitalia Is Hanging On By A Thread

Alitalia's future was "hanging by a thread" on Thursday, Italy's labor minister said, as unions deliberated about whether to accept a last-ditch effort to relaunch the airline.

The unions faced a deadline of 3:50 p.m. (1350 GMT) to sign the plan backed by a group of Italian investors led by Roberto Colaninno, chairman of Piaggio, a scooter maker.

The investors were to meet 10 minutes later and said they would withdraw their offer, if the airline's nine unions have not supported it.

"It is difficult to say what will happen, but I believe that Alitalia's future is truly hanging by a thread," Labor Minister Maurizio Sacconi told Italy's private Canale 5 television.

With no other offers on the table, Alitalia's administrator, Augusto Fantozzi, has said that would mean the national carrier's failure. The airline would then take the account books to court to begin liquidation proceedings.

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Five Ways The Airline Seat Reductions Will Affect You

1. Flight options dwindle

According to a recent report by the Associated Press, low-cost and legacy carriers plan to cut capacity by anywhere from 5% (Alaska Airlines) to a whopping 16% (United) in the fourth quarter of this year. Even Southwest, the sole airline consistently making a profit, plans to cut 200 flights in 2009, a 6% capacity cut. Many of the other airlines' cuts will be in place by November, just in time for the busy holiday travel season.

The law of supply and demand teaches us that fewer seats will generate more demand among travelers, and more demand will mean less incentive for the airlines to offer cheap fares. Since many people will travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas no matter what the price, you can expect holiday flights to be priced higher than ever.

2. Packed planes

You can also thank capacity cuts for packed planes. Earlier this year, the major airlines' planes generally flew at more than 80% capacity. This fall, you can expect even fuller planes. As anyone who flies coach knows, full planes equal less comfort. Sadly, the days of stretching out with a whole row to yourself appear to be gone.

3. Schedule changes

One of the biggest hassles of capacity cuts is dealing with schedule changes. If you booked well in advance of your trip, you may have already received an e-mail from your airline notifying you about a change in your schedule. If not, an e-mail is probably headed your way soon.

Recently, a flight I booked changed three times after I booked and before I departed. Unfortunately, the airline (ahem, Delta) had changed my one-stop cross-country flight to a two-stop itinerary (yuck!). Worse, it stuck me with a too-short connection time at LAX, leaving me to miss the last flight of the night to my final destination.

Double-check to make sure your new itinerary includes ample time for connections. Oh, and take a look at your new seat assignment or you may wind up in the very last seat in the last row of the plane.

4. Kiss standby seats goodbye

As I noted in a recent column, flying standby can be a good way to switch to an earlier or later flight without paying a hefty change fee. However, capacity cuts may make flying standby significantly more difficult.

If flights continue to fly full this fall, free seats will be few and far between. Flying standby will be a riskier proposition, so don't rely on a seat opening up on your preferred flight. Better to change your flight in advance (and hope the schedule doesn't change) if you need to be somewhere at a specific time.

5. A scarcity of frequent flier tickets

Not surprisingly, frequent flier award tickets are another casualty of capacity cuts. As Tim Winship, SmarterTravel.com's frequent flier expert, commented in late 2007, "With domestic flights currently running 80% full ... seats for frequent flyers have never been harder to come by. If demand for domestic travel remains stable, or increases, the planned cutbacks in available seats will further exacerbate both problems." Today, it looks like these predictions are coming true.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Passengers Revolt to Get New Plane For Flight

Passengers worried by two failed attempts at take-off drafted a petition and forced Germany's second-biggest airline to use a different jet for their flight, Air Berlin confirmed Monday.

About 170 passengers were booked on the Sunday, Sept. 14, morning trip from Nuremberg in southern Germany to Faro, Portugal.

The pilot's electronic display in the near-new Boeing 737-800 jet had falsely reported a problem with a wing flap, and that there had been no danger to occupants, an Air Berlin spokeswoman said.

The pilot took the loaded plane out to the runway twice but abandoned take-off because of the indicator.

The flight eventually took off 15 hours late in another jet after passengers revolted, refusing to board the jet again, and rounded up signatures demanding a change of plane. They reached Faro without incident.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

United Airlines Doubles Second Bag Fee

United Airlines said on Monday it is doubling the fee to check a second bag on a domestic flight from $25 to $50 one-way, because...well because they can't help themselves.

United estimated the fee will apply to only one out of seven customers. Add that to the one our of three passengers they are going to piss off for other reasons, that makes one out of two who are going to be screwed by United during their flight.

The fee will not apply to customers in the United First or United Business programs, those with Premier status with United or Star Alliance, or active duty military personnel traveling on orders.

United said the potential revenue from its merchandising efforts, including checked bag fees, will be $700 million in 2009.

On June 12, United introduced a $15 fee to check a single bag. Amid high fuel prices and a slowing U.S. economy, airlines have been introducing fees, raising fares, and cutting routes, capacity and jobs in order to survive.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hotels Switching to Flat Screen and HDTV Costly

Many of the nation’s hotel chains are bowing to consumer pressure and replacing their old picture tube TVs with new L.C.D. and plasma flat screens, but most have failed to take that one last step: adding high-definition service.

As a result, the widescreen high-definition-capable flat panels in many hotels often show standard definition analog TV. To fill the screen, the old-style squarish images are stretched, resulting in wider-than-normal heads and bodies.

Stretching the image has another undesirable result: it reduces the image resolution, making the picture on the new flat-panel TV look worse than it would have on a standard picture tube set.

The industry is moving to flat-panel TVs because as more consumers buy them, they want the conveniences of their homes to be in their hotels. But hotels have been slow to install HDTV because of the cost.

At Hilton, all rooms will have flat-panel TVs and HDTV service by June 2009. In addition, any newly built hotels must make HDTV part of their offerings.

Among the other Hilton properties, Embassy Suites will have flat-panel TVs in all suites by April. Doubletree and Hilton Garden Inn rooms will have HDTV by the end of 2009, and Homewood Suites by the end of 2010.

At Hyatt, 25,000 rooms, or 40 percent of its total, now have flat-panel sets, with 15,000 on order. Hyatt has also increased the size of its sets from 32 to 37 inches, with 42-inch plasma TVs in its suites. All rooms will have flat-panel TVs by early 2011.

The company’s moderately priced Hyatt Place and Hyatt Summerfield Suites brands use only flat-panel TVs and offer HDTV service in all rooms.

“The demand for HD is so great, it is exceeding our available capital,” said Scott Young, LodgeNet’s president and chief marketing officer. “We are looking for new funding options.” One possibility: the hotel would pay for the new equipment and LodgeNet would take a reduced fee to manage and support the service.

As hotels nationwide embrace the flat-panel TV, it brings an end to another part of hotel culture. “We will have no more TVs in an armoire,” a Ritz-Carlton spokeswoman said.

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Frequent Flying Shrinking Your Brain?

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Top 10 Most Aggrivating Airline Fees

1. Checked Baggage: $10-$100
American Airlines now charges $15 for the first checked bag. Ugh.

2. Talking to Real People: $10-$25
"It costs $20 to book through a representative at American Airlines, and US Airways charges $15—the same as discount airlines JetBlue and Southwest."

3. Seat Preference: $10-$20
"United Airlines' Economy Plus plan is unique: For a $349 annual fee, one member and his or her companion are seated at the front of economy section whenever possible."

4. Rewards Redemption: $75-$100
Expect to pay this fee if miles are redeemed without "sufficient notice," and because you can't redeem the miles through the website, get ready to "pay for the convenience of booking through a ticket agent."

5. Curbside Check-In: $2-$3+
Remember, this fee doesn't include tip.

6. Traveling with a Child or a Pet: $10-$100 and up
"Delta recently doubled its [unaccompanied minor] rate to $100 and Continental upped its charge to $75 on direct flights and $100 on trips with connections."

7. Changing a Reservation: $30-$200
"United Airlines has hiked its ticket-changing charge from $100 to $150. "

8. Paper Ticket: $50-$70
"Delta charges $50 to customers who still want a physical copy of their ticket."

9. Airport improvement: $4.50-$20+
"...the airport-improvement fee has one short-term impact: It makes your ticket more expensive."

10. Fuel Surcharge: $30-$300
"Fuel now accounts for 40 percent of a ticket's price, and surcharges are regularly $65 each way on most major carriers. "

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Real Men Of Genious / Mr Discount Airline Pilot Guy

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Year End Travel Summary

I recently relocated to Seattle Washington to take a job where I won't be traveling for business as much as I was in my previous job. Now that I have quit flying every week I went to my airline frequent flyer and hotel accounts to figure out just how much I had been gone in the past year and it's pretty stunning to recap how many days I was on the road in 2008:

United Airlines:

Membership level: Global Services 1K
Current redeemable miles balance: 1,127,232
Year to date Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) 477,662
Year to date Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS) 99.5
Lifetime United flight miles: 2,116,142
Redeemable miles expiration date: Mar 31, 2010

Hilton Hotels:

HHonors Diamond VIP


Qualifying Summary what's this?

Stays Completed: 112
Nights Completed: 189
Base Points: 390,953

I am definitely glad that I wont be spending 80% of my time on the road anymore, so is my wife. My new job will involve some travel, so there will be plenty of Air Sick travel stories for the blog.

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Another Airlines Bites the Dust as the UK Tries to Get Thousands Home

The UK aviation watchdog is coordinating a massive airlift with airlines and tour operators today after the XL collapse left at least 85,000 holidaymakers stranded abroad in the US, the Caribbean and Europe.

The Civil Aviation Authority is chartering planes from airlines, lease companies and tour companies after Britain's third-largest tour operator entered administration, leaving a further 200,000 people with holiday bookings that are now worthless.

The boss of Europe's largest tour operator, TUI Travel, urged the government to impose a £1 rescue levy on all airline tickets after it emerged that 10,000 of the stranded holidaymakers will not receive compensation or a replacement flight home because they are not covered by the tour industry compensation scheme.

Around 75,000 XL customers will be flown home by the CAA, airlines and tour operators because they are protected by ATOL, a fund that all UK holiday companies are required to pay into. However, the 10,000 people who booked flights through XL's charter subsidiary XL Airlines must pay for their flight home, as Virgin Atlantic warned that any customers stranded in Florida or the Caribbean who are not covered by ATOL face several days of delays because flights are fully booked.

"These customers probably thought they were protected and that is ridiculous. There will be more airline failures because they cannot cope with this pressure," said Peter Long, TUI Travel chief executive. Long added that the ATOL scheme was designed to cope with an XL-scale collapse but would be severely depleted. "It will have to be rebuilt," he said.

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Alaska Airlines Sends More Airline Employees Packing

Alaska Airlines is the latest U.S. air carrier to save money on fuel by throwing employees overboard.

Today, Alaska Airlines announced that it was 10% of it's workforce, 1,000 jobs or roughly 7,000 extra gallons of jet fuel a month. Until airlines figure out how to operate without any employees, Alaska will keep a couple of people around however the recent cuts are going to impact all areas at Alaska Air.

The job cuts will affect pilots, flight attendants, aircraft technicians, customer-service agents and ramp workers and will take effect through early 2009, said Seattle-based Alaska Air Group Inc., which owns Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air.

Last month, it announced other cutbacks, including ending service between Portland and Orlando, Fla., and between Vancouver, B.C., and San Francisco, both as of Aug. 24. It also is ending seasonal service on three routes between San Francisco and Mexico.

To save money, Alaska said it is trimming its flight schedule starting this winter by:

# Canceling unspecified lowdemand flights on Saturdays and holidays

# Reducing flights, typically by one round trip per day, in highfrequency markets, including Seattle to the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle to Southern California

# Operating some flights between Portland and the Bay Area with small regional jets operated by Horizon Air, rather than with Alaska's larger Boeing 737s

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Friday, September 12, 2008

What is Worrying American Airline Flight Attendants

American Airline flight attendants are worried !!! Are they worried about the poor service they give you...no, are they worried about how the airline has cut pretty much all amenities to it's passengers....no, if you guessed American Airline flight attendants were worried about anything service related you were wrong.

What has American Airline flight attendants worried is that passengers will surf for porn on the planes new wifi system which has yet to be installed on any of their planes. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the flight attendants at American Airlines have decided to focus their worries on your non-existent web surfing habits while you enjoying your virtual drink and receiving your virtual service from you marginally socially retarded flight crew.

Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents 19,000 American Airlines flight attendants, has talked with management about installing filtering software to keep inappropriate Web content grounded, union spokesman David Roscow said Wednesday.

"Some passengers and some of the flight attendants have had some concerns about them going to inappropriate sites like porn sites," he said, although he was unaware of any actual incidents.

So if you were wondering what American Airlines and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants does in it's spare time when it's not providing you any service or loosing your dead wife, its worrying about the web page you are looking at while you are stuck on the tarmac at JFK for 6 hours because another American Airline plane almost fell out of the sky.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Continental Loosing 300 + Pilots

In an effort to save on fuel, Continental Airlines decided it's pilots weighed too much so its getting rid of 363 of them.

Continental Airlines Inc., reducing its workforce to help counter high fuel costs, will lose 363 pilots, or 7.3 percent, through layoffs, early retirements and leaves, the Air Line Pilots Association said Tuesday.

Continental, the fourth-largest U.S. carrier, will furlough 148 pilots starting Tuesday, 151 will retire early and 64 will accept leaves, said Amy Flanagan, a union spokeswoman. An additional 136 jobs were saved when pilots at the carrier agreed to fly fewer hours each month.

The pilot furloughs complete job cuts in all employee groups at Continental to trim operating costs and stem losses from jet-fuel prices that reached a record $4.36 a gallon July 3. The airline last month said 2,800 hourly employees, managers and clerks had agreed to leaves or retirement, negating the need for involuntary layoffs in other groups.

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Airlines Usually Loose Baggage, How About a Body

The airlines that usually just looses your bag has upgraded to loosing dead bodies, because if you're going to arrive without your underwear and toothpaste, what do you need your dead wife for?

A man who tried to send his late wife's body to their native Ecuador for burial is suing American Airlines and a funeral home, claiming her remains were sent to the wrong country.

Miguel Olaya, 60, says he hired the DeRiso Funeral Home in New York City to ship his wife's body to Guayaquil, Ecuador, on April 1, but the coffin wasn't at the airport when he went to meet it. He also claims the body was badly decomposed because it wasn't properly embalmed.

Christopher Robles, Olaya's lawyer, said the airline gave his client conflicting stories.

"First, they didn't know where her body was. Then, they said maybe it was in Miami, and finally they said it was in Guatemala," the lawyer said Tuesday. "Instead of sending it on the flight to Guayaquil, American sent the body to Guatemala City."

The lawyer said Olaya could not collect his wife's remains until April 4. "The body was missing for four days," he said.

Funeral director Kathleen DeRiso said someone at American punched in the wrong airport code. She said they wrote GUA for Guatemala instead of GYE for Guayaquil.

"It was not our error," DeRiso said, adding that the body was properly embalmed and "there was no decomposition." She said it was the first time in her 18 years of dealing with American that such a mistake had happened.

American spokeswoman Jennifer Pemberton said her company was researching the situation but could not comment because of the pending litigation.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beggars in Abu Dhabi Stay in Style

Abu Dhabi, Sep 7 : Some of the beggars detained during a crackdown on begging in the emirate of Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates (UAE) were found to be staying at five-star hotels, WAM news agency reported Sunday.

The Abu Dhabi police have stepped up the campaign against begging since the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

"There are professional beggars who have made Ramadan an investment season," said Colonel Mohammed Saleh Badah, deputy director of the department of public relations and morale guidance at the ministry of interior.

He added that some of the detained beggars were found residing in furnished expensive hotel apartments and some were even staying at five-star hotels.

Interior Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan has instructed the detained beggars to be referred to social support centres.

Badah said that the initial investigations have attributed the increase in begging phenomenon during Ramadan to "wrong belief among beggars that security and governmental control is loose in Ramadan due to compassion and faith, as well as sympathy of people with beggars.”

Begging is banned in Abu Dhabi.

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Hotel Bosses Stole Tips From Staff

Banqueting managers at The Dorchester, one of the country's most prestigious hotels, have been deducting money from their staff's service charges and adding it to their own, a BBC London investigation has discovered.

A former employee says the deductions were supposedly for "poor performance" and were made without the knowledge of the workers concerned.

But a spokesman from The Dorchester, based in Park Lane, central London, said "all employees are made fully aware" of the service charge scheme rules, which comply with employment laws.

According to documents, seen by BBC London, thousands of pounds were docked from staff service charges using a "penalty points scheme" over a five-month period.

In one instance, the lowest paid worker had his service charge payment almost halved without discussion.

One hotel employee told BBC London: "I might as well have handed those managers my cash-point card and said: 'Here help yourself - here's my pin number."

Union chiefs described the practice of deducting staff bonuses for the benefit of managers, without informing employees, as "potentially illegal" and "immoral."

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Hyatt Hotels to Build Running Tracks at Hotels

Hyatt hotels will being to design running and jogging tracks at its hotel for it's guests. The hotel will provide it's guests with palm sized route cards allowing travelers to find the running routes surrounding the hotel.

Enhancing the dynamic selection of StayFit@Hyatt workout programs that cater to fitness-conscious business and leisure travelers, these easy-to-carry cards will provide runners and walkers of all levels with essential information to help them follow healthy pursuits while away from home. The Athletic-Minded Traveler maps offer detailed directions on one side (beginning at each property's front door) and a colorful map with mileage markers on the other (routes range from 2 to 8 miles). The unique tools encourage runners to head outdoors by answering the vital questions "Where?" and "How far?"

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Wrong Link Causes United Airlines Stock to Plummit

A writer for an investment newsletter hit the wrong link on a web search and reported that United Airlines was filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The only problem, it was an article from 2002 not 2008.

The airline, which probably will end up filing bankruptcy again considering their marginally retarded leadership making bizarre new rules regarding meals on international flight, the watering down of their frequent flyer program and slapping fees on anything that moves, really isn't filing Chapter 11 this week.

The story, although false, caused the airline stock to drop from $12 a share to around $4 after the buzz hit wall street. It really has to make you wonder what is more scary, a companies stock can plummet by a false statement in an obscure newsletter or the fact that people on wall street read this stuff and make decisions based on it.

Either way you can be sure of two things, United probably will go bankrupt one day and if you trust wall street with your money, consider they are getting their information from Internet news letters and just hide it under your mattress, no wonder the country is in bad shape.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dublin Irelands Best Hotel

Dublin Ireland is a beautiful place to visit and a favorite destination for me. One of the best hotels anywhere in Ireland is in Dublin, the Clontarf Castle Hotel. The hotel is in a 19th century castle which has undergone a 10 million pound renovation to offer modern amenities while keeping the history and feel of the castle the same.

The hotel was recently selected for the 2008 expedia insider award and has won numerous industry awards for design and service. The rooms are fantastic having all the modern touches like a flat screen LCD TV, wifi internet access, 24 hour room service and in-room safes while keeping it's 19th century feel for this historic building.

The lobby is awesome and they have wonderful restaurants and a great bar which is always important when in Ireland.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Continental Airlines Changing Elite Access Program and Charging for First Bag

Continental Airlines became the next to join the circus of U.S. air carriers charging for the first bag. Additionally the airlines will be changing its Elite Access program to be more in line with other U.S. carriers, or in other words, more useless.

The carrier joins American Airlines, United Airlines and U.S. Airways, which instituted similar baggage fees three months ago in an attempt to offset high oil costs.

Continental is exempting its First and Business Class flyers, members of Continental’s EliteAccess program. In addition, travelers who purchased a full-fare economy ticket and military personnel and their families will not have to pay the fee.

The airline is the largest carrier at Newark Liberty International Airport, handling nearly 70% of that airport’s passenger traffic. Of the 37 million passengers that have passed through the airport over the past year, about 25 million of them flew Continental or Continental Express, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Of the four largest carriers at area airports, Continental and American charge for the first bag, while JetBlue Airways and Delta Air Lines so far still allow passengers to check one bag at no cost.

Continental’s announcement today also included a change to its miles bonus program. Starting next year, the airline will knock down the percentage of miles earned for Platinum and Silver Elite members. It will no longer award a minimum number of bonus miles on flights in which the actual distance traveled is less than 500 miles.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Airline Statistics for July 2008, They Got a Little Better

The Department of Transportation released the airline statistics for July 2008 and U.S. carriers did manage to do a bit of a better job in July then the previous month, but that is setting the bar pretty low.

For on-time performance here are the big winners and losers for July 2008:


75.7 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Pinnacle Airlines – 85.6 percent

2. Hawaiian Airlines – 83.6 percent

3. Southwest Airlines – 83.1 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Comair – 63.3 percent

2. JetBlue Airways – 64.6 percent

3. United Airlines – 68.2 percent

Somebody needs to seriously put Comair out of it's misery, anyone who would take a flight with them has to be half crazy.

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Comair – 4.5 percent

2. United Airlines – 3.2 percent

3. JetBlue Airways – 3.2 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Frontier Airlines – 0.2 percent

2. Northwest Airlines – 0.6 percent

3. Southwest Airlines – 0.6 percent

As for who is going to be loosing your luggage in July the top three airlines that you have the best chance of arriving with your things are:

1. Airtran
2. Northwest
3. Jet Blue

And for the bottom airlines where if you check your suitcase you have a 1 in 10 shot of it not making the trip with you is:

17. Comair
18. Mesa (United and U.S. Air regional carrier)
19. American Eagle that managed to lose 13,522 bags in July or 10% of all their checked luggage.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

New Orleans Hotels Saved From Storm

New Orleans hotels, for the most part, were spared major damage by Hurricane Gustav and plan to re-open soon.

General Manager for the Marriott hotels in the city said he expected most of the hotels to reopen by Friday or Saturday. All of the hotels had power and the only damage were some fallen trees.

The Intercontinental also plans to reopen on Saturday with only some minor damage caused by water leaks and wind. Same thing for the Ritz-Carlton which was spared any major damage.

Drury Hotels regional manager Brian Collins spent Saturday boarding up the New Orleans property, leaving its key with the police-officer husband of its general manager, because no one else could be found to guard it after the city was evacuated.

Then Houston-based Collins moved northwest to the Lafayette (La.) Drury Inn & Suites, which was jammed with evacuees and employees. The team traveling with him boarded up windows, brought in bottled water, tuna and other non-perishable eats and an extra generator.

When Gustav hit Lafayette on Monday, Collins says, "It was nerve-racking. A couple of windows in the atrium popped out. There was slight wind and water damage." But by Tuesday, all 100 rooms were expected to be functional.

Casino's in the Mississippi Gulf were closed on Tuesday awaiting approval from the gambling commission to reopen, but were likewise spared any major damage.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Continental Airlines Named Best in U.S. for 2008

Continental Airlines today announced that it was named "Best Airline: North America," in the Skytrax 2008 World Airline Awards. The carrier was also named "Best Cabin Staff: North America".

The award winners were selected in an independent passenger survey that included more than 15 million eligible survey interviews conducted worldwide between August 2007 and June 2008.

Continental Airlines is the world's fifth largest airline. Continental, together with Continental Express and Continental Connection, has more than 3,000 daily departures throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, serving 140 domestic and 139 international destinations. More than 550 additional points are served via SkyTeam alliance airlines. With more than 46,000 employees, Continental has hubs serving New York, Houston, Cleveland and Guam, and together with Continental Express, carries approximately 69 million passengers per year.

Continental consistently earns awards and critical acclaim for both its operation and its corporate culture. For the fifth consecutive year, FORTUNE magazine named Continental the No. 1 World's Most Admired Airline on its 2008 list of World's Most Admired Companies. For more company information, visit continental.com.

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Southwest Airlines to Stop Taking Cash for Drinks

Put away those dollar bills if you're flying on Southwest Airlines Co. -- beginning Sept. 9, the airline won't take cash for in-flight items such as beer and wine.

Southwest says on its Web site that it will accept credit and debit cards and Rapid Rewards drink coupons for items that carry a fee, which also includes cocktails and energy drinks.

The Dallas-based carrier says it will still offer free snacks and soft drinks.

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Air Canada's Newest Fuel Saving Plan

Air Canada announced today that it has come up with a new fuel saving item to remove from it's planes, the life vests.

Yes you read it right, Air Canada is removing life vests from it's Jazz flights which it claims really never goes over water because of course Canada is a barren desert wasteland with no lakes or oceans.

The safety cards will instruct people to use the seat cushion for floatation should it become absolutely necessary to crash land the plane into water, which they claim there is none.

Airline passengers have questioned the lack of Jazz flights over water, stating that Jazz flights fly over the great lakes to get into the U.S. A spokesman for Air Canada responded by saying, "great lakes, what great lakes, that's silly".

Apparently Jazz flights only fly within 50 miles of water on their flights making life vests unneeded extra weight, because when the plane is plummeting to the ground due to a malfunction, the pilot has pinpoint precision of where it's going to land.

Don't worry though, you have the seat cushion if you do happen to land in the water that Canada has none of, and isn't that reassuring. As you are bobbing around in Lake Superior, you can cling to the cushion that 1,000 over sized business travelers have beer farted into as you slowly slip into hypothermia.

On a side note, airlines have also been considering removing the seat cushions on flights to save on weight thus having to eliminate the safety card or flights that also weigh too much. The airline industry has said, "seat cushions can serve as floatation devices in the event of a water landing....until the sharks come.....then they only serve as bobbers."

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Air Sick Has Moved to Seattle

Hello Everyone,

Well the family has now officially relocated to Seattle Washington as of this Friday. We loaded up the dog, drove to the airport at 4 am and hopped our final flight to Seattle after the moving truck left on Thursday.

We are in temporary housing until I things arrive in about three weeks. I am now in the process of getting caught up on the blog and writing people back, thanks for your patients.

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Continental Airlines to Lay Off Pilots

Continental Airlines says it will be able to avoid furloughing any front-line employees other than pilots.

The Houston-based airline said it has eliminated more than 2,500 full-time positions without resorting to involuntary separations, other than workers fired because of poor performance or because the airline stopped flying to some destinations or reduced routes.

But Continental says it didn't get enough of its 5,000 pilots to take leaves or an early retirement that included a cash incentive.

So it plans to lay off between 140 and 180 pilots. That will begin Sept. 9.

Front-line employees are those who have contact with the public, such as flight attendants and pilots.

Continental also is reducing its management and back-office employment by 300, through retirements and layoffs. A spokeswoman said the carrier was not releasing more information on how much of that downsizing was involuntary.

Continental announced in June that it expected to cut domestic capacity on its mainline jets by 11 percent beginning in September and to eliminate about 3,000 positions because of record-high fuel prices, the weak dollar and the weakening economy.

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