Monthly Archives: October 2004

Lizard Meal in First Class

A first class passenger on a Jet Airways flight in India was mistakenly served a cooked lizard. Lizard biryani, to be precise. He is now suing the airline.

Southwest Considers Assigned Seats

Southwest is considering ending its rather miserable policy of unassigned seats. Although it would take the airline a year to make the switch, the increase in long-haul flights makes assigned seating a bit more of a necessity. I’ve never had to sit facing backwards on one of their cross-country hauls, but I can’t imagine how miserable that is.

Also, Southwest says that they’d like to expand their presence at Midway in the wake of ATA’s bankruptcy, and they are mulling purchasing a bunch of 737s from ATA. This will certainly make AirTran’s prospective move into Midway a bit more difficult.

Delta’s Painful Plan

In case you were wondering how much the pilots gave up to offer Delta $1 billion in savings, the NY Times outlined the plan today: a 32.5% pay cut, a five year pay freeze, and a freeze on pension contributions. That’s harsh.

Delta Avoids Bankruptcy

After a late night watching the Sox win the World Series—an event I thought would never happen in my lifetime, and never happened in my grandfather’s lifetime—it’s hard for me to think about anything else. However, for my 12 loyal readers, I’ll pull together a few things for you.

In an amazing Sox-worthy comeback, Delta has struck a deal with its pilots, an accord that will allow the carrier to avoid bankruptcy. Delta was likely a day or two away from bankruptcy without the agreement.

Low Fare Carriers Struggling

Remember all of those stories last year and two years ago suggesting JetBlue can do no wrong? Well, those stories are gone for now. JetBlue’s earnings tumbled last quarter as it faced the same fuel pricing struggles as every other airline. Though still profitable, this was the second straight quarter where it missed analyst estimates.

JetBlue will recover, Independence Air likely will not. Fly-i had a miserable quarter, filling only about 44% of its seats (airlines usually fill 70-75% of their seats). The carrier is revamping their distribution system, allowing travel agents to book their flights, and revamping their schedule, reducing the number of daily departures to a number of cities. AirTran’s CEO said the airlines ridiculously (though ultimately unsuccesful) low fares cost AirTran $6 million last quarter. As he put it, “To be flying an RJ (regional jet) at $59 fares I think is one of the silliest things I think I’ve ever seen. An RJ is a very high-cost airplane.” High costs, insufficient distribution, and overcapacity—doesn’t bode well. I suspect we won’t see them around in 2006.

Santo Domingo for $125 Round Trip

US Airways is offering a fantastic sale fare of $125 round trip from NYC to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Other sale fares, though none as good as that, are also available to the Caribbean from other cities.

ATA Files for Bankruptcy

As expected, ATA filed for bankruptcy yesterday, amid speculation that America West wants to buy all of its assets. Despite that, ATA announced that it will sell its gates at Chicago-Midway, as well as landing slots at LaGuardia and Reagan National to AirTran. If that deal goes through, AirTran will be the big winner here, gaining difficult-to-get slots at 2 key airports.

Follow Ups on American and Delta

Two follow ups to stories from earlier this week:

Although American Airlines disagrees with the findings, the National Transportation Safety Board is blaming an AA co-pilot for the November 2001 crash of an A300 in Queens. The report claims the co-pilot made several incorrect rudder movements that snapped the tail fin off the plane.

And it looks like Delta may avoid bankruptcy after all. A $600 million cash infusion from American Express and rumors of a deal with pilots have Delta staff hopeful that a chapter 11 filing will be necessary. We’ll likely know by the end of today.

Low Fares to Budapest and Prague

Thanks to Travelzoo for letting me know that Austrian Airlines has great sale fares from New York. You can fly round trip to Austria for $259, Budapest for $275 or Prague for $275. Fares do not include taxes and are only good in November.

More Room in (United Express) Coach

For you American Airlines frequent flyers who are already missing their More Room in Coach, fret not…United Express has come to the rescue. As the regional carrier rolls out its new Embraer 170 regional jets, it will include first class seats and Economy Plus seating. Your next 40-minute flight will be much more comfortable.