Friday, October 31, 2008

Singapore Airlines Ranking As Worlds Best

Singapore Airlines has been ranked as the world's best airline for the 3rd time in a decade. The awards are given every year by the Skytrax, which conducts a world airline survey. Singapore Airlines also bagged the award for offering the 'Best Business Class'.

Singapore Airlines took off with three flights per week in the beginning. Today, their network spans across 103 destinations in 41 countries. Singapore Airlines was ranked 17th in 'Fortune's World's Most Admired Companies' rankings in 2007. The airline is known the world over for its innovation, safety and service excellence and profitability.

The airline boasts of excellent inflight telecommunication, entertainment services and luxurious amenities that make flying a memorable experience.

The airline started its services on 1 May 1947. Singapore Airlines is also the first airline to fly the world's largest aircraft, the A380. The average age of the passenger fleet is about 6 years. Chew Choon Sen is the company's CEO.

The World Airline Awards are based on the annual World Airline Survey by Skytrax - carried out between August 2007 and June 2008.

Asian airlines made up the majority of the top 10. The other airlines included in the top 10 in the world are:

2. Cathay Pacific
3. Qantas
4. Thai Airways
5. Asiana Airlines
6. Malaysia Airlines
7. Qatar Airways
8. Air New Zealand
9. Emirates
10. Etihad Airlines

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Air Fares Being Cut For The Holidays

When it comes to holiday travel plans, good things may come to those who waited.

The major U.S. airlines have cut many fares for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.

The airlines, in the midst of their worst year since at least 2005, may see the price-cutting as necessary in the face of a slumping economy that could cut into both leisure and business travel. Airfare experts say they typically don't see this kind of price-cutting until the last couple of weeks before big holidays.

Northwest Airlines started the rush Tuesday night with a broad holiday fare sale, and most other major carriers matched the prices Wednesday, according to Rick Seaney, chief executive of the travel Web site

"It's by far the most broad-based fare sale we've tracked in at least 18 months," Seaney said Thursday, "and this is the earliest I've ever seen one."

Tom Parsons, chief executive of discount travel site, said in many cases travelers can still find better deals by shopping around and considering alternate airports.

"I've been looking for this sale for two or three weeks," Parsons said. "When I finally saw it, it was kind of a letdown."

Parsons said the cuts ranged up to 25 percent off the previous price for tickets that must be bought 21 or 30 days ahead of travel. He said travelers using secondary airports that typically have higher prices will get the biggest breaks.

But there are cheaper fares available on routes where the big airlines compete with low-cost carriers such as Southwest, JetBlue and AirTran, he said.

Some of the sale fares have blackout dates on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 — the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving — and Dec. 20. And there are only a handful of "super off-peak" days, as Northwest calls them.

Some of the cuts are dramatic. Delta shaved the cheapest price for an Atlanta-Nashville round trip around Thanksgiving from nearly $500 to $238, Seaney said. The cheapest Minneapolis-Seattle flight is $248.

In most cases, the prices are good until at least late November.

Airlines aggressively raised fares and fuel surcharges last year and early this year but stopped when the economy slowed noticeably. The last broad fare hike was in early July, Seaney said.

Carriers would rather not be cutting prices now, but demand may be slowing faster than airlines can reduce the supply of available seats.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said this month that because of the economic slowdown, "the world has changed" and there is no guarantee about future booking trends.

"We know that fares are higher compared to a year ago," Kelly told analysts. "We know the economy is in a complete recession ... we've got to be prepared for a weak economy and weaker demand, which I think is destined to happen."

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TSA To Ease Carry On Liquid Restrictions

Realizing that limiting the liquids the people could have in their carry on bag was mildly retarded, TSA, the organization in charge of mildly retarded, announced a plan to ease the restriction on your shampoo and shaving cream.

Airline passengers on both sides of the Atlantic could be free to carry larger bottles of liquids in carry-on luggage under a two-year plan to relax current security rules that sharply restrict the amount of shampoo, hand lotion, and other types of liquids that can be brought in a plane cabin.

Under an oft-criticized plan implemented a few years ago, liquids must be stored in containers no bigger than three ounces. Those containers, in turn, must be stowed in a clear, zip-locked bag no bigger than one quart, and each passenger is limited to bringing a single bag in carry-on luggage.

Critics have referred to the highly inconvenient restrictions as "security theater," saying they do little to actually prevent terrorists from smuggling explosives onto planes.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wants you to know it feels your pain and is taking steps to end it. Under a plan outlined here, an official said size restrictions will be removed by the end of 2009, although liquids will still have to placed in a separate bin when passing through security checkpoints. By the end of 2010, there will be no restrictions.

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American Airlines Cuts Frequent Flyer Milage Benefit

Airline passenger traffic is slowing down, airlines are going broke from fuel costs and fewer passengers, services are being cut and customer satisfaction is at an all time low....your the CEO of American Airlines....what do you do?

Well....being a half wit, you think to yourself "this is a great time to cut frequent flier benefits". Yes ladies and gentlemen, the CEO of American Airlines, showing all the business savvy of a fourth grader, decided the best thing he could do is piss off what remaining customers he has by cutting their frequent flier benefits.

U.S. carrier American Airlines said it would cut back on its frequent flier awards program in an effort to cut costs, a spokeswoman said.

The previous policy of granting a minimum of 500 miles to customers on short flights would be shifted to a system awarding only the amount of miles flown, the Fort Worth, Texas, Star-Telegram reported Tuesday.

"This was in response to market conditions," said Marcy Letourneau, a spokeswoman. "We're trying to implement some cost-cutting tools."

By awarding fliers only for actual miles flown, a standard round trip hop from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to Austin would credit passengers with 366 miles, rather than the previous 1,000-mile credit they formerly received, the newspaper said.

"There is no question that the value of a frequent-flier mile is no longer what it was," said Tim Winship, the editor of

"That dream vacation may not come from your frequent-flier miles," he said.

With jobs being cut everyday, you might find yourself out of work. If you are looking for a new job, say maybe CEO of an American air carrier, you might qualify. Clearly the qualifications seems to be a lobotomy and lack of any business sense at all. Come to think of it, that would qualify you for CEO of a financial institution in the US as well.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Phoenix Arizona Hotels Hit Hardest By Recession

The slow economy is hitting Valley hotels, but is also bringing good deals for travelers.

Phoenix area hotels recently posted the lowest occupancy levels of the top 25 markets, according to a travel survey.

Plus the city is tied for the most new hotel rooms anywhere in the country.

These factors coupled with the bad economy mean hotel managers are scrambling for ways to entice reluctant travelers through the end of the year.

At the newly opened W Hotel in Scottsdale, they're already offering deals.

Pay for one night and get the next night for half off.

The Camelback Inn in Scottsdale is offering spa and dinner deals.

Weekend rates at the Point Hilton Hotel are at $99 a night.

Visitors spend some 10 billion dollars a year in the Phoenix area and most of it comes from vacations and meetings during the winter months.

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Continental and US Airway To Downsize Carry On Bags

With many airlines charging to check bags, some customers are opting to go with only carry-on luggage. But with the holiday season approaching and carry-on space at a premium, airlines are cracking down on the size of those carry-ons.

Government regulations state that the length plus width plus depth — known as the dimensional size — of a carry-on bag cannot total more than 45 inches. But in its displays, United Airlines says it wants bags to be smaller than that. Frontier Airlines also asks for smaller bags.

Continental Airlines and US Airways previously allowed 51 dimensional inches in their overhead bins but have replaced that size in favor of the Federal Aviation Administration's 45 dimensional inches.

The airlines say they're simply following FAA rules that got a little bent along the way when overhead space wasn't so crucial.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Delta and Virgin Make Major Changes to Frequent Flyer Program

Delta and Virgin America recently instituted potential game-changers for frequent-flier programs. Delta’s new three-tier mileage award program is now officially online, and Virgin America’s new award schedule looks like one that the big airlines would do if they could start over. Virgin America also announced some changes in its fare structure that show its pricing policy is “It’s the business traveler, stupid.”

Delta is now up and running with the three-tier program I described as in the works several months ago. It replaces Delta’s previous two-tier program – a pattern that Delta’s big competitors still follow:

• The base award level gives access to a highly limited inventory of seats – the seats that range from difficult to impossible to obtain. Delta calls it the “low” level; in my earlier report, I called it “fat chance.” For the most part, “low” mileage requirements are the same as before; the difference, if any, will be still fewer seats available. Sample round-trip requirements in coach/economy are 25,000 miles for the United States, except Hawaii, and 60,000 miles to Europe (up 10,000 miles). Sample premium-class awards are 45,000 miles in the U.S. and 100,000 miles to Europe (also up 10,000 miles).

• A new intermediate “medium” level provides access to a larger but still limited inventory of seats. Sample requirements are 40,000 miles for the U.S. and 90,000 miles for Europe in economy, 80,000 miles for the U.S. and 200,000 miles for Europe in premium. Those mileages are only slightly below the previous any-seat requirements.

• Delta reinstates availability to the last open seat; Delta calls it the “high” level. Samples in coach/economy are 60,000 miles for the U.S. and 125,000 miles to Europe; in premium, they’re 100,000 miles for the U.S. and a punitive 350,000 miles for Europe. Delta obviously doesn’t want its frequent fliers scoring many trans-Atlantic seats up front.

It’s not clear how Delta’s new system will interact with partner airlines or whether any other lines will follow. Delta says its new award chart also applies to awards on SkyMiles partners, but presumed merger partner Northwest hasn’t altered its award schedule yet. My guess is that if the merger succeeds, the merged company will adopt Delta’s formula. Also, other lines are likely to take a close look.

Whether a three-tier system will be “good” for frequent fliers depends entirely on how many seats the lines allocate to the “low” level. I suspect most travelers will find the only way to score a seat is to go up to the “medium” level.

Virgin America’s program is unique among American carriers:

• You earn points based on how much you pay for your ticket rather than how many miles you fly.

• You use points to “pay” for award trips based on point prices that vary with demand, just as fares do.

• You can use points for any available seat – instead of limited seat allocations, inventory is managed by the “price” you have to pay.

Overall, Virgin’s system is generous to travelers who buy expensive tickets, stingy with those who buy cheap tickets. I suspect that’s exactly what Virgin wants – a bias in favor of business travelers – and what the other airlines would do, as well, if they could start over again from scratch.

Virgin’s revised fare policy for its new premium economy level, “Main Cabin Select,” shows the same bias. It provides for coach seating in bulkhead and exit rows, with extra legroom, plus refundability, “free” meals and beverages, preferential screening and boarding, dedicated overhead bin space and a few other amenities.

Who will buy into Main Cabin Select? The pricing tells the story: For a flight from New York to San Francisco, Main Cabin Select is $464. That’s more than three times the regular coach fare starting at $134. Obviously, Virgin wants to limit the extra room to the expense account set: Leisure travelers looking for an escape from cattle-car crowding can find extra legroom for far less extra fare with either United’s “Economy Plus” or JetBlue.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

The EU Corporate Travel Policy, No More Hookers

The EU is putting a new twist on corporate travel policies. Determined that its members were having way to much fun traveling they have imposed a new restriction on travel.

European Parliament members from Denmark, Norway and Sweden are pushing for parliamentary staff to be put up only in hotels that ban prostitutes.

The 37 members of the European Parliament sent a letter to the body's president, Hans-Gert Pottering, asking that "the EU Parliament only use hotels which issue a guarantee that they are not involved in the sex-trade, and that all staff have written guidelines on the issue," Radio Netherlands reported Friday.

Charlotte Cederschiold, a Swedish member of the European Parliament from the Christian Democrat party, said she has witnessed some parliamentary staffers paying for sex.

"I have seen it happen myself and it is completely unacceptable," she said. "We should not tolerate this behavior, it damages our moral reputation, especially when we are here to work."

Pottering said he has referred the issue to a special panel.

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Airline Passenger Traffic Drops Worldwide

Passenger and cargo traffic on the world's airlines suffered an alarming decline in September amid the world's financial crisis, and airline losses may be even higher than $5.2 billion this year, an industry association said Friday.

Passenger traffic declined 2.9 percent over September 2007, "the first time since the SARS crisis in 2003 that global passenger traffic has shrunk," said the International Air Transport Association, referring to Asia's outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

"The deterioration in traffic is alarmingly fast-paced and widespread," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general. "Even the good news that the oil price has fallen to half its July peak is not enough to offset the impact of the drop in demand."

At the current rate, airline industry losses may be even deeper than IATA's earlier forecast of $5.2 billion for this year, Bisignani said. IATA said airlines reduced capacity but were unable to keep pace with the fall in demand.

Cargo traffic dropped 7.7 percent over the year-earlier figure, it said. The statement gave only the percentage changes, but not the actual numbers for this year and last.

The association said all major regions except Latin America reported a decline in passenger traffic. Latin American carriers had an increase of 1.7 percent, but that was "shockingly down from the 11.9 percent growth of the previous month," IATA said.

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Airplanes Aren't The Only Things American Airlines Cant Keep Up

For the second straight day, the American Airlines Web site went down on Friday, inconveniencing customers trying to book flights or check reservations.

American spokesman Billy Sanez said Friday's interruption started shortly after 3 p.m. EDT. The Web site was unavailable for more than 90 minutes before returning shortly before 5 p.m.

Sanez said the problem appeared to be a network issue, but an IT team was still examining the system.

During the outage, a placeholder page at directed visitors to call the airline's reservations centers.

Sanez said customers who did so would not be charged the customary fee for using the centers.

American, the nation's largest airline and a unit of AMR Corp., has been trying like other carriers to push more customers to its Web site rather than reservations centers to save money.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TSA To Improve and Stop Screening Your Grandmother and Baby

A long-delayed government program designed to more accurately prescreen the names of airline passengers against terror watch lists is expected to begin early next year. Hopefully soon you wont have to worry about granny or your infant daughter being cavity searched by TSA because their name was Jane Smith who is also on the watch list.

On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the final rule for the program, called Secure Flight, which would validate air travelers' information so there's less chance a person could be mistaken for someone else on a watch list. The program has been delayed several times because of privacy concerns.

Misidentification of passengers has been one of the biggest inconveniences in post-Sept. 11 air travel, and widely known for putting thousands of innocent U.S. residents and well-known figures like Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., through extensive searching and questioning before they were allowed to fly. It has also raised questions about infants traveling with their families.

Currently, passenger prescreening for domestic flights is handled by the individual airlines. But airlines do not always tap into the most up-to-date watch lists, which contain names of people whom intelligence agencies have determined should not be on planes. Under the new program, the airlines will be responsible for collecting a passenger's full name, gender and birth date, as opposed to the current practice of only collecting the passenger's name.

"We know that threats to our aviation system persist," Chertoff said. "Secure Flight will help us better protect the traveling public while creating a more consistent passenger prescreening process, ultimately reducing the number of misidentification issues."

The program will be phased in during the first half of next year.

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Continental Airlines Has The Most Stable Employment

Continental Airlines has about the most stable employment among the major U.S. carriers, according to numbers out Tuesday that show the industry eliminating jobs as fuel costs bite into earnings.

Staffing at the Cleveland-hubbed airline fell half a percent in August compared with a year earlier, the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported.

Among the seven biggest airlines, only Alaska Airlines had real employment growth -- of 1.9 percent, year to year. US Airways was up almost 58 percent, but the expansion came from its merger with American West Airlines. The rest of the network carriers cut payroll over the 12 months by 0.8 percent (American) to 2.8 percent (Delta).

Continental also was the only major carrier with the exception of the newly merged US Airways that increased employment between 2004 and 2008, gaining 1.9 percent. US Airways was up 24.8 percent.

Northwest Airlines employment plunged 24.7 percent, a reduction of 9,446 full-time workers, and Delta cut 18.4 percent. Other decreases came at United, down 14.9 percent; American, down 9.2 percent; and Alaska, down 1.7 percent.

AirTran Airways, flying out of Akron-Canton Airport, also reduced its work force for the year ending in August, by 2.2 percent. Two other low-cost carriers had gains -- Southwest, up 5 percent, and JetBlue, up 7.6 percent.

Continental, the world's fifth biggest airline, has a younger, more fuel-efficient fleet than most of its competitors. That provides a "natural hedge" against rising fuel costs, the company said in an investor call last week.

But the sputtering economy and the struggle to tame fuel expenses are taking a toll. Chairman and Chief Executive Larry Kellner said the airline was prepared to make more cuts if needed. Already, Continental has postponed delivery of two Boeing 777s and 16 Boeing narrow-body aircraft to 2010 and beyond.

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Going Overseas, Consider International Travel Insurance

I travel overseas quite a bit, some for work and some for business. It is important to remember that your health insurance that you have in the U.S. rarely covers you if you need medical treatment outside the country.

I found this out on a trip to the Philippines where I woke up with a bad stomach ache. Fortunately the hotel clinic was able to handle it because I knew the hospitals require payment before you can check out and if it were serious it could have been quite expensive. It would have been so much easier to check with before I went on my trip to ensure I was covered.

Before you travel overseas, check with your health insurance provider and if they don't cover you, which most don't, Click here for a FREE international health insurance quote.

It is better to make sure you are covered when you travel overseas and it will give you some piece of mind.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Largest Commercial Plane Lands At LAX

The world's largest airliner landed at Los Angeles International Airport this morning, with about 450 people aboard, kicking off Southern California's first A380 passenger service and providing a welcome economic boost for the slumping airport.

Qantas Flight 93 from Melbourne touched down at 7:30 a.m. and was greeted by public officials and Hollywood celebrities including actor John Travolta and singer Olivia Newton John. The jetliner is scheduled to begin its return flight to Australia late tonight.

Passengers, most of them Australians, described the flight as very quiet and smooth. They also said they had little problem getting through customs and retrieving their bags.

"I'm surprised. I'm stunned actually," said Phillip Prendergast, who flew from Melbourne with his wife Carmen. "The custom agents were reassuring and friendly, too."

Today marked the start of the first scheduled passenger service of the new A380 at Los Angeles International, which by 2012 is expected to serve more super-jumbo jets than anywhere else in the world.

The double-decked Airbus A380 is expected to alter the skies over Southern California much the way Boeing Co.'s 747 awed spectators and travelers when it began flying out of LAX nearly 40 years ago.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, on hand for the event, noted that the A380 was "finally here" after a two-year delay and touted how the start of the service would be an economic engine that could pump more than $600 million annually into the region and create 3,000 jobs.

The Qantas flights also provide a much-needed boost to LAX, which is seeing flights dwindle as airlines slash service amid high fuel costs and low demand.

Although the A380 is about third larger than a typical long-haul aircraft, passengers said they had few problems getting through U.S. customs and retrieving their bags. Some observers have criticized the plane as being too large and raised concerns that it would clog airport operations.

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Drunk United Pilot Arrested at Heathrow Airport

Once again lets take a second and thank the brits for not allowing a United Captain who was still circling the airport, to fly a plane.
A United Airlines pilot was arrested at London's Heathrow Airport on suspicion of being over the legal alcohol limit, police confirmed on Monday.

The airline said the pilot, 44, was removed from service, adding that it would co-operate with police inquiries and was conducting its own investigation of the incident.

"At approximately 9:00 am on Sunday, officers attended an aircraft at Heathrow Terminal One and arrested a 44-year-old man," a Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said, without stating the nationality of the pilot.

She said the man, who was not identified, had been bailed to return to Heathrow police station on January 16.

"United's alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry and we have no tolerance for abuse of violation of this well-established policy," United Airlines said in a statement.

"Safety is our No. 1 priority and the pilot has been removed from service while we are co-operating with authorities and conducting a full investigation."

According to The Sun tabloid, the man was a first officer and was due to fly to San Francisco before he was arrested.

The legal limit of alcohol for pilots is nine micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, compared to the British drink-drive limit, which is 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Homeland Security Lost Track of TSA Badges

The government has not been able to keep track of all the airport security uniforms and badges it issues, which makes secure areas in airports vulnerable to terrorists posing as authorized officials, according to an internal review released Friday.

The Homeland Security Department's inspector general looked at five airports across the country from October 2006 through June 2007. The IG found major deficiencies in the Transportation Security Administration's ability to keep track of uniforms, particularly after an employee leaves the job.

Many details in the report were redacted for security reasons, such as which five airports the inspector general audited. The IG found there were four instances where TSA did not report to the badge office that a screener had been fired from the agency. These former screeners had active badges for up to 212 days until the inspector general notified officials about the problem.

Five other screeners had active badges from 97 to 827 days after they no longer needed to access secure areas, the report found. In 63 other instances reviewed by the inspector general, TSA had not immediately told badge offices to deactivate the badges when the employees left the agency.

Responding to the report, TSA spokesman Christopher White said the agency made changes to increase oversight of uniforms, badges and identification in April, particularly with the badges allowing access to the most secure parts of an airport. Currently an employee with access to these secure areas must relinquish his badge as part of his exit clearance, White said. If the employee does not comply, the employee could face civil penalties.

More than 420 uniforms and identification cards issued to security screeners at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport were lost or stolen between 2001 and 2007, according to Transportation Security Administration records. The number peaked in 2003, when 128 uniforms and 31 identity badges disappeared.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

One Airline That Isn't Loosing Passengers....ICE Air

While U.S. airlines downsize and scrimp on amenities, one carrier is offering its passengers leather seats, ample legroom and free food. But frequent fliers probably don't want a ticket on what may be the fastest growing "airline" serving Central America.

This carrier is run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency responsible for finding and deporting undocumented immigrants. A crackdown on illegal immigration has led to a spike in deportations and the creation of a de facto airline to send the deportees home.

The air service, called Repatriate by air-traffic controllers, is known simply as ICE Air to agency employees. Its planes have headrests emblazoned with ICE's name and seal. In-flight service is polite.

In all, the U.S. government deports people to more than 190 countries. Besides Mexico, ICE flew home 76,102 illegal immigrants in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, up from 72,187 last year and 50,222 two years ago.

At 8 a.m. two buses and two vans packed with immigrants pulled up alongside the plane. ICE agent Roland Pastramo boarded each vehicle, clutching a clipboard with passenger names. "Good morning," he said loudly in Spanish, and the deportees returned the greeting. "Your flying time to Guatemala City will be 2.5 hours ... . Watch your step. Good luck."

Each passenger is entitled to 40 pounds of luggage, which is carefully labeled. The tag on a big, black duffel bag loaded onto the flight to Guatemala listed the following contents: microwave, toys, VCR and an electric saw. "We don't charge them for bringing more because many passengers have only a couple of pounds to their name," said Pat Reilly, an ICE spokeswoman. Most people trying to sneak into the U.S. carry only a backpack.

While security agents loaded the plane with the immigrants' belongings, others frisked the passengers, who descended, one by one, from the bus with their hands behind their heads. After a body pat, the agents inspected the passengers' shoes, checked their mouths, released their arms and sent them on to the plane.

It was the maiden flight for many of the deportees. Safety procedures appeared on a video in Spanish; there was no movie.

Security agent Victoria Taylor, who is learning Spanish, encouraged passengers to lean their seats back "for more comfort." A flight nurse (there is always one on board) distributed medication to those who required it, in accordance with directives from detention centers.

Halfway through the flight, security agents handed out box lunches: a bologna sandwich, potato chips, orange juice and a bag of carrots. When asked about the food quality, passenger Veronica Garcia grimaced and shook her head. Another passenger, Judy Novoa, nibbled at the edges of the sandwich and decided, "It's OK."

The passengers, who sat quietly or napped, said they had come to the U.S. hoping to work in Maryland, Massachusetts and Mississippi, among other places.

Homecomings can still be sweet, despite the circumstances. When the plane touched down in Guatemala, many passengers applauded. Exiting the airplane, some made the sign of the cross or kissed the ground.

A Guatemalan foreign-ministry official declared, "Welcome home," and informed the arrivals that they had free access to a phone, a money-changing service and vans to the central bus station. "If you used a different name in the U.S., please give us your real name," the official told the crowd. "There is no problem."

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Top 10 UK Pet Hotels

Trip Advisor recently ranked the top 10 hotels in the UK if you are traveling with your four legged family member.

1. Stone House Hotel, Hawes. North Yorkshire, England
2. Millbrook Cottages, Umberleigh, Devon, England
3. Can-y-Bae, Llandudno, NorthWales, Wales
4. Elvey Farm, Pluckley, Kent, England
5. Long Shadows B&B, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Scotland
6. Trigony House Hotel, Dumfries, Scotland
7. Tomich Hotel, Beauly, Scottish Highlands, Scotland
8. Craig-y-Nos Castle, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales
9. Ferintosh Guest House, Dumfries, Scotland
10. Kilcamb Lodge Hotel, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

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European Hotel Ranking By JD Powers

European travelers picked Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Dorint Hotels & Resorts and Premiere Inn as their top brands in the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 European Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study released today.

Overall, the study—in its fourth year and based on the responses of more than 13,200 travelers who stayed at a European hotel between July and September—found satisfaction levels rising in the economy and midprice tiers while remaining the same in the upscale and upper upscale tiers. "Economic concerns are leading cost-conscious travelers to increasingly select economy and midscale full-service hotels, which have performed well in fulfilling customer expectations," Jim Gaz, senior director of the travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a statement.

The survey also indicated that European travelers are less satisfied with hotels than their North American counterparts (BTNonline, Aug. 11). Metrics in the survey include costs and fees, rooms, facilities, food and beverage, checkin and checkout and reservations.

Frankfurt-based Steigenberger was the highest rated brand in the upper upscale segment, particularly for its fees, facilities, food, services and reservations. Other brands in the tier with above-average scores included Bad Salzuflen, Germany-based Maritim Hotels, Hilton, Radisson SAS and Sofitel.

In the upscale tier, travelers gave top marks to InterContinental Hotel Group's Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts. Spanish chains Iberostar and Hesperia as well as Accor's Mercure and Novotel brands also scored above the overall tier average.

Dorint Hotels & Resorts, which has properties predominantly in Germany and its surrounding countries, was the top-rated brand in the midprice segment. Several other brands scored above average in the tier, including Choice's Clarion brand, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, Scandic Hotels, Jolly Hotels, IHG's Holiday Inn brand, Wyndham's Ramada Hotels, Golden Tulip Hotels and Barcelo Hotels & Resorts.

The United Kingdom's largest hotel chain, Premier Inn, scored highest in the economy tier, followed by Tulip Inns.

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Big Apples Hotels Are Starting To Slow Down

The city’s hotels, whose 77,000 rooms have been packed with record-setting numbers of visitors from Germany, Hong Kong and Peoria, are starting to feel the slowing economy.

Until recently, tourism had been a bright spot in the city’s increasingly gloomy economic picture, fueled largely by foreign tourists taking advantage of a weak dollar.

But many hotel operators have begun reporting that bookings for the next few months, traditionally the strongest part of the year, are falling below last year’s levels. Cancellations are also on the rise, and corporate travel executives are negotiating for steeper discounts on room contracts for 2009.

“We’re already seeing cancellations,” said Vijay Dandapani, chief operating officer for Apple Core Hotels, which has five budget hotels in Manhattan with a total of almost 800 rooms. “There’s hesitancy in bookings. We hold our breath and fill up rooms at the last minute. Occupancy has been weaker in October, traditionally one of the strongest months.”

John Fitzpatrick, president of Fitzpatrick Hotels, an Irish chain, said that the three hotels he operates in Manhattan were nearly full Wednesday night, but that he was seeing a “slowdown in November bookings, with people canceling or holding back.” He said that he was redrawing his budget for next year in anticipation of a decline, and that he had postponed finishing a $4 million renovation of one hotel, the Fitzpatrick Grand Central.

For the first time since 2001, the effective cost of a New York hotel room for a European traveler is going up, because the dollar has gained strength against the euro in recent weeks, according to the Hotel Association of New York City. At the same time, a recessionary wave has started to move across Europe.

American companies under financial pressure are also placing greater restrictions on corporate travel.

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Beware Hijackers, On Russian Airlines The Passengers Take Care of Themselves

A drunken man claiming to have a bomb tried to hijack a Russian-bound Turkish Airlines plane on Wednesday but was quickly overpowered by fellow passengers, officials said.

Russian transport police detained him after the plane landed safely in St. Petersburg, prosecutor Alexander Bebenin told reporters at the city's Pulkovo airport.

No explosives were found on the passenger or the plane, he said.

Bebenin said the man had threatened to blow up the plane if his demands of diverting the flight to Strasbourg, France, were not met. Passengers overpowered him after he had handed a note to attendants with his demands, he said.

"The hijacker gave a note to the head steward saying he had a bomb," Turkish Airlines Chief Executive Temel Kotil told Reuters. "After that, the captain and crew acted in accordance with civil aviation procedure."

Nobody was injured, he added.

The man, whose identity has not been disclosed, is a native of Uzbekistan, Turkish and Russian officials have said. Bebenin said he was a Russian citizen but the head of Turkey's civil aviation authority, Ali Ariduru, said in remarks televised in Russia that he was an Uzbek citizen.

"It is said that he was drunk and that he had carried out this act under the influence of alcohol," Ariduru was quoted as saying.

The plane departed from Turkey's Mediterranean resort city of Antalya. Most of the 164 passengers aboard the flight — mostly Russian tourists — were unaware of the hijack attempt and only found out on emerging from the plane after a two-hour wait on the tarmac, Bebenin said.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

In England Low Cost Doesn't Bring Praise

In the U.S., low cost carriers Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines usually are on top of the customer service ratings. Not in England, low fare airlines Ryanair is the least popular/

Low cost airline Ryanair has been voted the least popular airline for the third year in a row, according to travel website TripAdvisor.

Of the 450 British travelers questioned, 30 per cent of them listed Ryanair as their least favourite airline, despite its low costs. Many travelers complained that Ryanair is inefficient, with long delays and rude staff.

Receiving top billing in the poll were Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Emirates. The poll saw that British travelers rated comfort during flying as being extremely important.

"This year, 52 million passengers will vote with their feet and travel with Ryanair, Europe's largest low fares airline, knowing it's number one for customer service, low fares and punctuality," was the response from a Ryanair spokesman.

Don't worry though Ryanair, you still can't beat the U.S. for the worlds worst airline. In the worldwide poll, Ryanair lost its bottom position only to American airline USAirways. USA is number one again!

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Southwest Has First Loss in 17 Years

Southwest Airlines Co. lost money for the first time in 17 years as falling oil prices forced the company to write down the value of its fabled fuel-hedging transactions in the third quarter.

Southwest said Thursday it lost $120 million in the three months ended Sept. 30 even as revenue jumped 11.7 percent.

The airline took $247 million in charges, mostly to write down fuel-hedging contracts that are less valuable now that oil prices have plunged by nearly half since July.

Without the charges, Southwest managed its 70th straight quarter of operating profit — $69 million, or 9 cents per share, which was 2 cents per share better than Wall Street expected, according to a survey of analysts by Thomson Reuters.

A year ago, Southwest earned $162 million, or 22 cents a share, in the third quarter.

Revenue rose to $2.89 billion from $2.59 billion, beating analysts' forecast of $2.83 billion.

Southwest is extremely proud of its string of profitable quarters, which began in spring 1991 and spanned a recession and the decline in travel after the 2001 terror attacks.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

American Airlines to Lay Off 415 Mechanics

American Airlines, following United Airlines, has decided that it has way to many mechanics. This decision was arrived at by the management at American after coming to realization they really don't do much maintenance on their planes anyhow.

In the past six months American has had to ground it's entire MD-80 fleet for failing to properly inspect their planes and has had several emergency landings each month so obviously maintenance isn't that important.

American Airlines will reduce its union employee count by 415 at its overhaul base at Kansas City International Airport.

About 260 union employees chose early retirement, and the airline will involuntarily lay off about 155 union workers, Gordon Clark, president of Local 530 of the Transport Workers Union, said Tuesday. Those who chose early retirement will leave by Dec. 31, and the layoffs will occur by Jan. 15, Clark said.

The plant has about 1,050 employees, he said.

Officials with American Airlines couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Clark said Aug. 13 that the airline would shut down all but two lines of work at its Kansas City aircraft overhaul plant, a move that called for cutting two-thirds of the plant’s 1,000 employees by Jan. 1.

The Dallas-based airline (NYSE: AMR) said July 18 that it would cut 1,500 maintenance division jobs, including 1,300 mechanics and 200 management and support positions.

In January 2004, the airline negotiated an escape hatch allowing it to cut its work force at the overhaul base near Kansas City International Airport to zero without repaying incentives offered by the city.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Forbes Best Hotel in the World

Forbes magazine recently released the Forbes Traveler 400 Hotels in the World. Coming in number one this year was the Alvear Palace Hotel in Argentina.

The Experience

During the Roaring 20s, several wealthy Argentines endeavored to create South America's finest hotel. No expense was to be spared, and everything from marble columns to delicate etched-glass windows were imported from Europe. Construction cost millions and took more than a decade, but the investors achieved their goal: a place fit for kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, as well as an instant symbol that Buenos Aires had "arrived" as one of the world's great cities. Eighty years later, the Alvear Palace still sparkles, a hotel of exquisite taste and exemplary service that makes every guest feel regal. The grandiloquent architecture is what blows most people away—the cathedral-like lobby and a dining room modeled after the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. The clientele is also precious: well-heeled Argentines, jet-setting Europeans and an increasing number of Americans who don't have to ask the price. And even the location can't be beat—the swish Recoleta district in the heart of BA and right up the road from the cemetery where Eva Perón (and many other Argentine luminaries) sleep for eternity.

The Rooms

No two rooms are exactly alike. The Alvear's interior designers continually mix and match lamps, paintings and other decorative arts items including many rare antiques. The overall effect is best described as a 21st-century take on Louis XVI: glass-and-brass coffee tables, gilt-edged sofas and armchairs, Oriental carpets and crystal chandeliers that blend easily with wide-screen TVs and touch-screen phones. But what really sets the Alvear rooms apart are the little touches: custom-made sheets spun from Egyptian cotton, Hermes toiletries in the bathrooms and fresh roses next to your bed each day. Given the excess of the age in which they were originally crafted, even the standard (Palace) rooms seem spacious. And Alvear suites are some of the largest and most lavish you'll find in the city, equipped with separate living and sleeping quarters, as well as a Jacuzzi in the bathroom.

The Service

Much like the Bourbonesque chairs in the lobby, the Alvear's service can be rather stiff. Absolutely flawless—but wooden all the same. Those craving lively repartee and Argentine amistad will have to search elsewhere. Adding to the somewhat stuffy ambience is the Alvear dress code—no shorts or sleeveless shirts in lobby, bars or restaurants. But then again, this is the sort of place that makes you want to dress to the nines.

The Highlights

Looking over its shoulder at the modern luxury chain hotels popping up around Buenos Aires, the Alvear is always updating and adding to its already considerable repertoire. La Bourgogne, the only Relais Gourmand restaurant in Argentina, specializes (naturally) in classic cuisine under executive chef Jean Paul Bondoux. Afternoon tea in L'Orangerie has been a local tradition since the days when Evita was still a girl in the provinces, while the Lobby Bar prides itself in a world-class selection of cognacs and single malt whiskies. Other treats include a health club with massage and heated indoor pool and a wine cellar that can be transformed into a romantic dining area for two.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Economic Slow Down for U.S. Casino Towns

Lower airline capacity, tighter credit markets and the general economic downturn now gripping the U.S. have taken a deep toll on casino hotels. A sector that was enjoying positive times as recently as 2007 is now experiencing some daunting problems in two gaming capitals, Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Atlantic City is grappling with a “triple whammy” of bad news, said Mark Capasso, managing director at Cushman & Wakefield Inc. In addition to the economic slowdown, competitors are snapping at Atlantic City’s heels, Capasso notes, in the form of increased competition from slot machines at Philadelphia Park racetrack; the Empire City Casino in Yonkers, N.Y.; and expansion at both the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casinos in Connecticut. In addition, business at casinos may be curtailed by a smoking ban that is scheduled to go into effect at the city’s casinos this fall.

Las Vegas faces its own set of challenges, from economic problems on both a local and national scale. The market will be harmed by rising airfares and capacity cutbacks at the major airlines, Capasso said. In addition, steeply falling home prices and rising foreclosures in the Las Vegas metro area have had the effect of curbing discretionary spending by Vegas residents, including their gambling spend, said Carlton Geer, executive vice president of the Global Gaming Group at CB Richard Ellis Inc.

According to the Nevada Gaming Commission, wins by casinos on the Las Vegas Strip are down nearly 15 percent so far this fiscal year, as of July 31, compared to the same period in 2007. They are down just over 16 percent at Downtown casinos. This of course could be an indication of something we already know, you really aren't going to win in a casino.

But Geer said he is encouraged that, despite the challenges, “ADR (average daily rate) and occupancy has held up pretty well,” at Las Vegas hotels, he said. He noted that, according to Global Gaming figures, room occupancy was healthy at two of Vegas’ signature hotels, with occupancy at the Venetian just over 90 percent in this year’s second quarter, with the Bellagio even higher, at 97 percent, in the same period.

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Israel Rolls Out Shoe Scanner

Israel has introduced a step-on scanner that spares airline travelers the nuisance of having to remove their shoes so they can be X-rayed for hidden weapons, though the new device cannot yet sniff out explosives.

Only the shoes of passengers deemed suspicious by Ben-Gurion Airport staff are removed, X-rayed and swabbed for bomb residues. Most people can now keep their shoes on.

Installed next to the walk-through scanners at Ben-Gurion, "MagShoe" announces within two seconds whether the footwear of the passenger standing on it contains unusual metal that might be a knife for a hijacking or a bomb detonator part.

"This innovation brings enormous logistical value as it significantly cuts down the discomfort and delays associated with standard shoe searches," said Nissim Ben-Ezra, security technologies manager for Israel's Airports Authority.

But he said MagShoe must be used in conjunction with other precautions, especially as it would not spot hidden explosives -- a major concern after the botched 2001 "shoe bombing" by al Qaeda sympathizer Richard Reid aboard a Paris-Miami flight.

A bomb-sniffing version of the suitcase-sized MagShoe is in the works, an Israeli security source said. The current version, produced by Israeli firm Ido Security Ltd., costs about $5,000.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is assessing MagShoe's feasibility for American airports and several other countries have expressed an interest, the Israeli source said.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hawaii Hotels Has Lowest Occupany Rate Since 1998

The state's number one industry continues to take a hit.

According to a report released today, hotels across the state are on the average only three-quarters full.

Many industry experts say they haven't seen the numbers this bad in a really long time.

But many of the tourists who are coming are benefiting.

A gloomy outlook for Hawaii's tourism market.

"We've never seen the perfect storm of the loss in seats, increased fuel costs, the global economy. It seems like nothing else could go wrong," said Keith Vierra, Starwood Hotels Sr. Vice President.

According to Hospitality Advisors LLC, Hawaii's hotel room demand fell during August, with a statewide occupancy of 74.4%.

It hasn't been this bad since August of 1998.

The Big Island had the lowest occupancy with 63.5%, followed by Maui, Kauai, and Oahu with the highest at 80.4%.

"There is no view for bouncing back. We are planning for worst '09. I think there is going to be layoffs and other cuts across the state in the next couple of months. It's going to be as bad as we've ever seen anything," said Viera.

Viera says the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani's Japanese restaurant Momoyama will be closing next month because of the lack of customers.

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Sherton Hotels Roll Out Windows Surface in 5 Hotels

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and Microsoft Corporation today introduced an entirely new hotel guest experience with its debut of Microsoft Surface, Microsoft's first commercially available surface computer.

Featuring easy-to-use technology and a natural way of accessing information, Surface units will be placed in the lobbies of select Sheraton hotels in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Microsoft Surface breaks down the traditional barriers between people and technology, providing simple and instant access to information and entertainment.

Sheraton will be the first hotel to offer Microsoft Surface, creating a new Sheraton brand experience that will bring interaction, connectivity and a social setting to the lobby, providing guests with an entirely new way to explore local tourist highlights and enhance their hotel stay.

Microsoft Surface is a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that several guests can use simultaneously. The intuitive user interface works without a traditional mouse or keyboard, allowing people to interact with content and information in a more natural and familiar way, by using their hands and gestures. Sheraton will unveil Surface today at five hotels: Sheraton Boston Hotel, Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, Sheraton Gateway San Francisco Airport Hotel and Sheraton Seattle Hotel.

With each unit, Sheraton is offering a customized version of the Microsoft Surface developed suite of applications to provide entertainment and information about local attractions. Surface, and these unique applications, are designed to serve the needs of the brand's core guests who are social individuals seeking to share the travel experience with each other. The placement of the Surface units in Sheraton lobbies enables guests to leverage and experience the offerings in a social way.

Three highlighted applications are:

* CityTips(R) - At the guests' fingertips are the Surface 360-degree satellite maps and tools to search for local restaurants and bars, entertainment, recreation, shopping, transportation and services, such as banks and pharmacies. Guests can discover all a city has to offer by simply moving their hands across Surface.

* Sounds of Sheraton - Microsoft Surface also serves as a lobby-based digital jukebox, enabling guests to create personal music playlists by choosing selections from Sheraton's exclusive offering of Sony BMG artists, including John Legend, Kenny Chesney and Lauryn Hill.

* Sheraton Snapshots - Guests can explore Sheraton hotels and resorts throughout the world by simply browsing the Surface photo library of Sheraton resorts and hotel properties to help them plan for future business or leisure travel.

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Hyatt Hotels New Plug Panel is Geek Heaven

Geek heaven is this Plug Panel, being rolled out on the "media and entertainment center" at Hyatt Hotels. Basically, we're saying that this panel of connection possibilities is attached to the 42" HDTV and you can go wild plugging in whatever you want. You can plug in your laptop and use that massive screen to read your emails, or practice your PowerPoint presentation if you're so inclined.

You can plug in a video game system or an MP3 player or even a DVD player and you'll still have some spots left over. And it's all in easy reach so you don't have to fiddle about behind the TV in the dark ... been there, done that.

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This Has Been A Week For Turbulance

Paramedics at Miami International Airport are treating several passengers who complained of bumps and bruises due to turbulence on a flight from Argentina.

Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue spokesman Arnold Piedrahita says some patients were taken to the hospital Friday morning, at least one on a stretcher. He couldn't say how many passengers are being treated.

Airport spokesman Marc Henderson says 227 passengers and crew were on American Airlines Flight 908, which arrived from Buenos Aires before 7 a.m.

In a related story, traffic at Miami's airport was backed up due to congestion caused by thousands of personal injury lawyers waiting for passengers from the flight to disembark.

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Airline Passengers Hate A La Carte Pricing

This really shouldn't be much of a shocker, but a recent pole of airline passengers about airline carriers recent unbundeling of charges, or a la carte pricing, the majority hate it.

American Airlines recently announced that beginning in 2009, it would imitate the a la carte pricing plan of Air Canada by offering a basic fare and allowing travelers to select additional services for extra fees.

But when we asked readers what they thought of the "unbundling" of airline services, many were displeased. "This is absolutely ridiculous! Next they will charge us for oxygen on the airplane," wrote dcarey.

Some worry this is only the beginning of additional fees. "I will not be surprised if airlines begin selling magazines, or charging $20 for carry-on baggage, $5 to use the overhead bin, or $2 per restroom visit, and a few bucks for post-flight trash disposal and interior cleaning fee — regardless of whether you fly coach, business, or first class," said km-452746.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

TSA Proposes to Make Everyone Who Flies Miserable

Travelers who fly on private corporate jets would have to clear background checks before boarding under a new proposal made Thursday by the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA is seeking to impose the security requirements on roughly 15,000 corporate jets and 315 small airports that currently have none and we don't think it's fair that we only get to screw up the major ones.

A group of private-plane owners and pilots warned that the proposal could be costly and represent an unprecedented intrusion into private flying. Hundreds of thousands of people travel each year on such jets.

There is no specific threat to corporate jets, but the TSA said in its 260-page proposal that many are the same size and weight as commercial planes "and they could be used effectively to commit a terrorist act." Private jets, possibly packed with explosives, could fly into a building or could transport terrorists or dangerous materials, the TSA said. On top of that, we are despirately trying to justify our agency and the number of people we have working for us before a new president comes in and gets rid of all of us.

"This is an important milestone," said Michal Morgan, TSA head of general aviation security. "It's the evolution of security into a new operating environment." This way we can be sure that every single solitary person traveling today in the U.S. has the same and equal miserable experience with no measurable increase in safety.

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Food Poisoning Causes United Flight to Land at O'Hare

A United Airlines jet on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles made an unscheduled stop in Chicago when several passengers became ill on Wednesday night.

The illnesses aboard Flight 167 led the pilot to divert the aircraft to O'Hare International Airport, said United spokesman Jeff Kovick.

After the Airbus 320 at about 8:30 p.m. CST, complaining passengers were examined by Chicago Fire Department paramedics. Other passengers from the Airbus 320 were transferred to another plane, which arrived at Los Angeles International Airport shortly before 1 a.m. Some of the continuing passengers told an RMG camera crew that the ill passengers belonged to a tour group of around 40 people.

When paramedics boarded the plane in Chicago, the entire tour group was taken off the airliner to be examined, arriving passengers said at LAX.

Four people complaining of illness were taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., with flu-like symptoms, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The airline did not serve food aboard Flight 167, which carried 138 passengers, according to officials. Officials further said that no airline anywhere in the United States serves anything so it can't possibly be our fault.

"The safety of our passengers is our top priority and the captain made the right decision to land in Chicago so that our customers could receive appropriate medical attention," Kovick said.

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Lawyer To Sue Qantas Airline Over Turbulance

Before you think that fat assed, over indulged personal injury lawyers only exist in the U.S., one has popped his big fat head out down under to sue Qantas Airlines for turbulence.

Qantas Airlines could face lawsuits from passengers injured in an in-flight incident in which an airliner suddenly lost altitude, an Australian attorney says. The attorney has made that assumption because as everyone know, Qantas has omnipotent control over the atmosphere and ...oh

Airline officials said 46 passengers were hurt, 20 seriously, Tuesday when a Qantas flight from Singapore to Perth, Australia, plunged without warning. A lawyer says those passengers could win legal damages in addition to the ticket refunds and medical expense help offered by the airline, The Australian Broadcasting Company reported.

"If there's been any aberration in the normal functioning of the aircraft that has caused this and people have been injured as a result that would fall, on any common sense analysis, within the normal definition of the (law)," attorney Phil Gleeson told the broadcaster.

Seven passengers remained hospitalized Wednesday were being treated at the Royal Perth, Sir Charles Gardiner and Fremantle hospitals for such injuries as cuts, fractures and spinal damage, ABC said.

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American Airline Flight Attendants To Picket

Today in the news, American Airline's flight attendance plan to picket to protest poor working conditions. Since their work area is the place that 300 of us poor travelers have to sit in I can certainly understand their problem, although they should try having to sit in economy.

American Airlines flight attendants will protest poor working conditions by picketing at four airports on Friday, according to union officials.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said Wednesday that members face increasing challenges dealing with reduced flight schedules, crowded planes and collecting charges for food and beverages.

The union, which is seeking pay raises from labor negotiations with American, said attendants will picket at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, New York's LaGuardia Airport and Miami International Airport.

The flight attendants didn't know how they were going to handle the change of pace of actually lifting something over their head during the day but they said they were willing to give a try just once.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

United Airlines to Lay Off Mechanics

Since United Airlines isn't repairing any of their planes, they have decided to lay off a couple of hundred mechanics. Since replacement parts add weight to planes and cost more in fuel, the lack of maintenance will help United save on fuel, especially since a plane plummeting to the ground from 35,000 feet doesn't use any fuel at all.

United Airlines said on Wednesday it will lay off 414 mechanics at its San Francisco maintenance base.

The layoffs are part of 7,000 job eliminations announced previously by the Chicago-based carrier as it reduces its flying and eliminates the Boeing 737 from its fleet.

United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the notices went to the workers on Sept. 29, and the layoffs will take effect on Dec. 7.

"We feel it's reprehensible they're laying off people while work is being outsourced overseas where there are less-qualified mechanics working on the planes," said Paul Molenberg, a spokesman for Teamsters Local 856 in San Bruno, Calif., which represents the laid-off workers.

Every major work group at United is shrinking. Enough flight attendants volunteered for furloughs that it avoided involuntary layoffs, allowing it to reduce the cabin staff by 1,550 positions. McCarthy said efforts to reduce 950 pilot positions will continue into next year, and cuts of as many as 1,600 managers are continuing, too, she said.

That leaves the Teamsters-represented mechanics, as well as baggage handlers and customer service agents represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. McCarthy said totals for those groups have not been announced.

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Passengers Injured When Qantas Plane Dropped

Australia's transport safety watchdog is investigating an accident that sent a Qantas passenger jet plunging earthwards yesterday, injuring at least 40 passengers and crew, 15 seriously, and forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing.

Flight 72 was en route from Singapore to Perth carrying 303 passengers about 3pm local time when it suddenly lost altitude. The crew made a mayday call, and the A330 aircraft made an emergency landing at Learmonth airport, a former military airstrip, 1250 kilometres north of Perth.

Fifteen passengers and crew, who were predominantly at the rear of the aircraft, had suffered serious injuries, including broken bones and severe lacerations, during the drop in altitude.

Dozens of emergency service officers waiting beside the airstrip surrounded the aircraft after it stopped, and paramedics treated the injured, who were taken to Exmouth Hospital, 12 kilometres away.

The condition of all those who had been injured was listed as stable or better last night. Qantas sent two aircraft, a B767 and a B717, to the airstrip to take the remaining passengers to Perth.

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American Airlines Stops In-Flight Skin Flicks

American Airlines decided that the biggest problem on their flights isn't that they cant get one of the ground on time or customer service, no, American Airlines decided they need to stop porn in-flight.

American Airlines says it will filter an in-flight Internet service to block pornography sites, reversing course after complaints from flight attendants and passengers.

American said Tuesday it was working with technology provider Aircell to allow filtering of its nascent Internet service.

American, the nation's largest carrier, said it hasn't gotten reports of passengers viewing "inappropriate content" on the Gogo in-flight service but said filtering was "an appropriate measure to take."

Thank goodness that American tackled this tough issue. On behalf of passengers, whos biggest complaint is that American Flight Attendants do little other then worry about what people are doing on their computers, we are so glad that has been taken care of.

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Man Throws Tantrum With Foot Powder on Flight

Boston police say a passenger who was angry because his flight was delayed tried to get back at the airline by throwing foot powder around the plane.

Arthur Nicolson, of Framingham, was arrested Monday after the US Airways flight from Las Vegas landed at Logan International Airport.

The plane's captain told state police that after the plane landed, Nicolson began throwing the white powder and said, "This is what your airline gets for treating me bad."

When state police arrested Nicolson, he allegedly had a 7-ounce container of Dr. Scholl's foot powder.

The 42-year-old Nicolson will be arraigned in East Boston District Court on Tuesday on charges of interfering with aircraft operation, disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct on a public conveyance.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Best Airports For a Layover

Changi International Airport

Rightly lauded in reverent tones by many of the 35 million travelers who have passed through it, Singapore’s Changi is what most airports strive to achieve in their services to the weary traveling classes—many of them unsuccessfully. The duty-free Shopping City offers everything from fashion and accessories to fine jewellery and fragrances. It also boasts a fitness center and shower facilities, complimentary Internet and charging facilities and a movie theater. But it’s the small touches that enable Changi to standout: a palm court with comfortable loungers and lily ponds that have massive goldfish.

Hong Kong International Airport

Having replaced the cramped and overtaxed Kai Tak, Hong Kong’s iconic former airport, the new International Airport—located on a man-made island and connected by a high-speed train and a speedy Ferry Transfer service—has become a favorite for travelers. In addition to two sprawling terminals with world-class shopping, it features a 2,000-square-foot lounge with eight shower rooms and nine semi-private rooms for napping. For those who want more time to themselves, there—s the Regal Airport Hotel Hong Kong, which features two swimming pools, a manicured courtyard garden and a fitness center with spa facilities, connected to the airport by an air-conditioned gangway.

Dallas Fort Worth

Sprawling over two million square feet and built at a cost of $1.4 billion, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport’s Terminal D brings a touch of European élan to the world’s third-busiest airport. The state-of-the-art, 28-gate terminal features a dozens of shops and upscale eateries, as well as a posh, 298-room Grand Hyatt Hotel. To help liven up its hangar-like spaces, travelers will encounter large sculptures, outsized landscape paintings, multimedia displays and colorful abstract mosaics.

Zurich Airport

Just 15 minutes from the city center by rail, Kloten is often lauded as Europe’s best. The airport features clean dayrooms, a bustling nursery, and (new this year) a slew of eateries and lounges, along with the more than 50 shops and concept stores that have been luring shoppers for years. There’s also a Swiss International Airlines lounge which supposedly features the “world’s longest bar.” Best of all, the airport provides seamless transport links from its basement-level train terminal to any destination in Switzerland, thanks to a rail network that is never, ever late.

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Lowes Hotels Offers Extras to Travelers

Realizing that the current economic climate is making it more difficult for consumers to travel and to dine out, Loews Hotels is announcing a fall "Harvest of Benefits" package which encourages business travelers to turn any fall trip into a vacation. The "Harvest of Benefits" package features an increasing food and beverage credit based on length of stay: $50 credit for a two-night stay; $75 for three nights and $100 for four or more nights. The food and beverage credit can be used at any onsite restaurant or for room service.

The "Harvest of Benefits" package, which is available October 2 through December 30, 2008, is based on Loews Best Rate available at 17 Loews Hotels in the U.S. and Canada, with prices starting at $119 - $239 a night, and up, depending on location.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Four Dulles Airport Baggage Handlers Arrested for Pilfering Luggage

Their job is to make sure luggage gets on and off the plane, but investigators say four former baggage handlers at Washington Dulles International Airport have been arrested and charged with stealing items from passengers' bags.

Investigators say 32-year-old Orlando Michael Allen, 38-year-old Otmaro Alberto Aguirre, 40-year-old Manuel Ulises Carballo, and 42-year-old Donald Mitchell Johnson packed their pockets with passengers' personal items, from jewelry to electronics to cash and credit cards.

According to airport authorities, the men got away with an estimated $40,000 to $50,000 in stolen goods from checked luggage.

Airport authorities say the six-week investigation led to the arrest of the four men.

"These are baggage handlers that work for a company that services United Express flights at Dulles," said Rob Yingling of the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority.

The suspects were contracted by United Express through Air Wisconsin. The company is a ground handler for United Airlines at Dulles and 20 other cities throughout the country as well as eight cities for Northwest Airlines.

All four Air Wisconsin workers face several charges including larceny and credit card theft. The company says the baggage workers have been fired and they are working to make sure all their passengers belongings are safe and secure in the future.

Airport authorities are advising other passengers too keep anything of value in their carry-on bag instead of checking it in their luggage.

Investigators say the stolen property has been recovered, and anyone who lost items or find that they are missing any thing after having flown on United Express at Dulles needs to file a claim with the airline as soon as possible.

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Southwest Hoping to Clean Up On Other Airline Fees

Southwest Airlines is counting on some angry customers in the coming months – passengers flying on other U.S. airlines.

The Dallas-based carrier is making a big deal about its no-fees policy so that customers remember the message the first time they get socked with fees on other airlines.

Southwest executive Dave Ridley says a lot of people, for example, may get a nasty surprise on their Thanksgiving trips when they find they'll have to pay $230 in baggage fees to get on another carrier's flight.

"Imagine the shock and awe," he said.

They'll pay the fees, Mr. Ridley said, but they'll book on Southwest for the next trip. At least, that's what Southwest is hoping.

"We don't think the bulk of the traveling public has been hit between the eyes with the new reality," said Mr. Ridley, senior vice president of marketing and revenue management.

Southwest has embarked on an aggressive advertising campaign to push its message of no fees compared with a lot of fees on other airlines.

"We used to talk about nickel-and-diming," Mr. Ridley said. "Now we're talking about some real money."

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

American Airline to Start A La Carte Pricing For Flights

In an effort to remain dead last in customer satisfaction ratings, American Airlines has decided that tacking on fees to everything that moves on its airline is the best way to go. The hope from American's CEO is drive what remaining passengers the customer still has to either another airline or to stop flying completely, according the recent passenger traffic statistics it seems to be working well.

The idea of paying a single, simple fare to fly on an airliner is becoming as quaint as stewardesses in short skirts.

American Airlines is about to accelerate the trend of breaking the cost of a trip into an airfare plus many smaller fees.

Starting next year, American, which led a stampede by U.S. carriers to charge customers for checking even a single suitcase, plans to imitate the a la carte pricing structure pioneered by Air Canada, airline officials say. There are likely to be a few basic fare plans, and travelers can pick additional services — for a fee.

Fans of "unbundling," as it's called, say it gives travelers lower base fares with the option of paying for extras that they really want, from beverages to blankets.

Some travelers are wary, however, and suspect the airlines are just trying to chisel them a few bucks at a time.

Phone and cable companies have been using this pricing approach for years to offer extras like premium channels and pay-per-view events. Now airlines see unbundling as a way to boost revenue and defray sky-high prices for jet fuel. In recent months they have added and enlarged charges for fuel, checked baggage, changing flights, upgrading from coach and other services.

There may be no going back to all-inclusive fares, even with the recent decline in fuel prices.

"We as an industry have opted to not just raise (ticket) prices but to raise prices and change the fee structure," said Daniel Garton, American Airlines' executive vice president of marketing. Without fees to offset rising costs, "you're not going to be talking about fees — you're going to be talking about lost service . . . being able to have a flight to San Diego," he said.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Russian Commercial Plane Lands Without Wheels

Russia, with one of the worst air safety records in the world is working hard to retain that title with a 737 belly landing.

A Russian-operated passenger plane crash-landed at a provincial airport late on Wednesday after its landing gear failed, national news agencies reported, raising fresh concerns about the country's chequered air safety record.

None of the 108 passengers or six crew onboard the KD-Avia Boeing 737-300 flying from Barcelona was injured when the plane was forced to land on its fuselage at Kaliningrad airport, the state-run Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Russia has one of the world's worst air safety records, with ageing Soviet-era planes, dated airport facilities, poor plane maintenance and lax standards contributing to a grim crash toll.

Last month, all 88 passengers and crew aboard an Aeroflot Boeing plane died when the plane crashed in a ball of fire near the Ural mountains. In August 2006, 170 people were killed when a TU-154 plane crashed in Ukraine on a flight to St Petersburg.

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Airline On Time Performance Improves in August

One of the byproducts of a drastic slowdown in people taking flights is that airline can take the opportunity of no passengers to improve on-time performance.

Flights operated by the nation’s largest airlines arrived on time at a higher rate this past August than in both the previous month and August 2007, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), the 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 78.4 percent in August, higher than both August 2007’s 71.7 percent and July 2008’s 75.7 percent.

A few airlines flip-flopped in stats in August. Jet Blue which usually is on the top of the on-time list dropped to the bottom in August while Comair which is always worst in on-time performance, lost baggage, cancellations and every other measurement....stayed on the bottom again ( I guess you were expecting something else but please, unless the airline went to one plane and duck taped it to a Southwest flight, Comair isn't leaving the bottom)

Here are the stats for the month of August


78.4 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 92.3 percent
2. Pinnacle Airlines – 89.6 percent
3. SkyWest Airlines – 85.7 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. JetBlue Airways – 64.7 percent
2. Comair – 67.4 percent
3. American Airlines – 70.6 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

1. Comair flight 5610 from Baltimore/Washington International Airport to New York JFK – late 100 percent of the time

1. Comair flight 5109 from Cleveland to New York JFK – late 100 percent of the time

3. Comair flight 5292 from Minneapolis/St. Paul to New York JFK – late 96.77 percent of the time

3. Comair flight 5588 from Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Williamsburg, VA to New York JFK – late 96.77 percent of the time

3. JetBlue Airways flight 74 from Orlando, FL to New York JFK – late 96.77 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Comair – 4.6 percent
2. ExpressJet Airlines – 3.3 percent
3. JetBlue Airways – 3.2 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Frontier Airlines – 0.3 percent
2. Northwest Airlines – 0.5 percent
3. Southwest Airlines – 0.6 percent

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jet Blue Crew Member Stalks Woman In Flight

A New Jersey woman described her terrifying encounter in the sky. She said it happened on a JetBlue flight, and what was supposed to be a trip home from a fun visit with family instead turned into an ordeal.

She said it all started shortly after she boarded the plane. She said she has yet to recover.

Gina Rousett is still traumatized eight months after she says a JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to Newark turned into a nightmare.

It started with what she thought was a friendly conversation with a flight attendant, but looking back now, she says she should have been wary.

"He literally told me he was going to have nobody sit next to me because I was all his," Rousett said. "I was definitely trapped."

And after takeoff it got much worse. Rousett said Dayne Arokium's behavior was lewd and outrageous.

"He kept telling me that he wanted me," Rousset said. "At one point he said, 'You know you want me,' and [he was] always grabbing himself, all the time."

And she said twice he tossed his cell phone, showing naked pictures of himself, onto her tray table.

"I told him, 'You're disgusting. You know I'm married and I don't want any part of you,' but he kept going and going and going," Rousset said.

Frantic, she escaped to the bathroom. Rousset said he followed, making vulgar comments through the door. On her way back to her seat, she said Arokium grabbed her buttocks.

But incredibly, she did nothing and told no one.

"I was scared. I was really, really scared," Rousset said. "Why I didn't get up and say something to somebody I don't know."

Seven months later, flight attendant Arokium was arrested on charges of "obscene and indecent exposure" and for making a "lewd, obscene and indecent sexual proposal."

According to charging documents, Arokium "admitted to showing the full body naked picture on his cell phone" and "to making sexual advances." But he denied "grabbing" Rousett or "acting in a harassing manner."

In a statement to CBS 2 HD, JetBlue said Arokium no longer works for the airline and that "JetBlue has and will continue to cooperate in the investigation."

Rousett said she wishes she had spoken up on the plane and hopes by coming forward now other women will learn from her.

"I don't think I will ever get over it," she said. "I think it will always be there in my mind."

When reached at home, Arokium said that on the advice of his attorney, he had no comment. His attorney did not return our call for comment.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Of

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Top Ten Most Reliable U.S. Airlines

Recently Forbes Magazine ranked the top 10 most reliable airlines in the U.S. Here is the rankings:

9. U.S. Airways

On-Time Flights Score: 7
Canceled Flights Score: 10
Reports of Mishandled Baggage per 1,000 Passengers Score: 6
Complaints per 100,000 Enplanements Score: 6
J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Ranking Score: 8
Asset-to-Liability Ratio Score: 3
Overall Score: 57

9. (Tie) United Airlines

On-Time Flights Score: 10
Canceled Flights Score: 7
Reports of Mishandled Baggage per 1,000 Passengers Score: 7
Complaints per 100,000 Enplanements Score: 8
J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Ranking Score: 7
Asset-to-Liability Ratio Score: 1
Overall Score: 57

8. American Airlines

On-Time Flights Score: 9
Canceled Flights Score: 5
Reports of Mishandled Baggage per 1,000 Passengers Score: 11
Complaints per 100,000 Enplanements Score: 10
J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Ranking Score: 8
Asset-to-Liability Ratio Score: 1
Overall Score: 58

7. Northwest Airlines

On-Time Flights Score: 9
Canceled Flights Score: 10
Reports of Mishandled Baggage per 1,000 Passengers Score: 10
Complaints per 100,000 Enplanements Score: 10
J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Ranking Score: 6
Asset-to-Liability Ratio Score: 2
Overall Score: 66

6. Alaska Airlines

On-Time Flights Score: 8
Canceled Flights Score: 10
Reports of Mishandled Baggage per 1,000 Passengers Score: 12
Complaints per 100,000 Enplanements Score: 11
J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Ranking Score: 8
Asset-to-Liability Ratio Score: 2
Overall Score: 69

5. Delta Airlines

On-Time Flights Score: 11
Canceled Flights Score: 10
Reports of Mishandled Baggage per 1,000 Passengers Score: 10
Complaints per 100,000 Enplanements Score: 10
J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Ranking Score: 8
Asset-to-Liability Ratio Score: 2
Overall Score: 72

4. Airtran Airlines

On-Time Flights Score: 9
Canceled Flights Score: 11
Reports of Mishandled Baggage per 1,000 Passengers Score: 13
Complaints per 100,000 Enplanements Score: 11
J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Ranking Score: 8
Asset-to-Liability Ratio Score: 2
Overall Score: 74

3. Jet Blue Airlines

On-Time Flights Score: 9
Canceled Flights Score: 10
Reports of Mishandled Baggage per 1,000 Passengers Score: 10
Complaints per 100,000 Enplanements Score: 15
J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Ranking Score: 12
Asset-to-Liability Ratio Score: 2
Overall Score: 77

2. Continental Airlines

On-Time Flights Score: 10
Canceled Flights Score: 14
Reports of Mishandled Baggage per 1,000 Passengers Score: 10
Complaints per 100,000 Enplanements Score: 10
J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Ranking Score: 8
Asset-to-Liability Ratio Score: 2
Overall Score: 78

1. Southwest Airlines

On-Time Flights Score: 14
Canceled Flights Score: 15
Reports of Mishandled Baggage per 1,000 Passengers Score: 9
Complaints per 100,000 Enplanements Score: 15
J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Ranking Score: 9
Asset-to-Liability Ratio Score: 2
Overall Score: 93

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Passenger Rights Is Put On Hold For Awhile

For those keeping score at home: Last week, Congress extended funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Extending the rights of airline passengers, not so much.

The split decision came down to stripping out previously proposed language that would have established a passengers’ bill of rights. Proponents were understandably upset; industry members were presumably pleased, and the issue is probably off the Congressional agenda until next spring.

All of which serves as a telling backdrop for passenger-protection proposals currently being considered by the Department of Transportation (DOT). With new reporting rules on tarmac delays going into effect this week and winter weather around the corner, inquiring minds want to know: Will DOT do what Congress could not?

The latest rule, effective October 1, requires airlines to report additional information on tarmac delays and closes a loophole that skewed the existing data on canceled and diverted flights. It was conceived in the wake of the serial meltdowns that subjected thousands of passengers to onboard delays of four or more hours in December 2006 and February 2007.

Amazingly enough, under current rules, those flights weren’t considered delayed at all. (Those stuck on board may beg to differ.) As soon as a flight was canceled or diverted, the airlines were no longer required to record it as delayed. At that point, says Sam Podberesky, DOT’s assistant general counsel for aviation enforcement, “All the information regarding tarmac delays disappeared into the system.”

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