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April 23, 2004

Aero Continente

If you had a ticket on an Aero Continente flight from Miami to Lima, you don't anymore. The US has banned the carrier from flying to the US. The airline, which has 60% of Peru's domestic market, gave no reason for the banishment, but if I had to guess, you'll want to give LanPeru a call and stay away from Aero Continente. The US doesn't ban all that many airlines from flying here, so typically there's a good reason. Except when there isn't, of course, and this may very well be one of those cases. As I said, no reason was given. So, to sum up:

No more flights, for now, from Miami to Lima on Aero Continente.

I don't know the reason.

You may or may not want to fly them in the future.

I'm glad I could be helpful.

April 23, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (4)

The Fighting Irish

Before today's first news story, I wanted to post a quick follow-up to yesterday's blurb about how evil passengers are. Two things:

1) I often refer to "seat pitch," which refers to the space between the two headrests on airplane seats. But it's basically a proxy for legroom. There isn't a measurement for legroom (that I'm aware of), so airlines use seat pitch instead. In short, small seat pitch (30 or 31 inches) means terrible legroom, larger seat pitch (32-33 inches) means good legroom, JetBlue seat pitch (34 inches) is great.

2) My father's suggestion for when someone reclines in your lap is to have your air blower thingy aim at the guy's head. A fine suggestion, indeed.

So, today's first story: Irish police arrested two Canadian men in Shannon, Ireland, after a an American Airlines flight was diverted there following a disturbance by these two passengers. I've searched and searched and found no additional information, other than the even being described as an "air rage" incident. Perhaps someone reclined too far.

April 23, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 22, 2004

Continental and the GOP

I'm not saying what you should do with this information, if anything. But I thought I'd let you know that Continental Airlines is the official airline of the Republican National Convention. Maybe that'll make you fly them more. Maybe that'll make you fly them less. Maybe you'll ask why they'd get into bed with a political party and then advertise that fact. Maybe you're proud of that association. I have no idea. I do know that my pathetic desire for Elite status will trump whatever feelings I may have on the matter, though.

Speaking of Continental, I flew out to Phoenix yesterday on Continental and was reminded of one of the bigger problems facing the industry. I love to fly, and I have an unhealthy interest in the industry (hence this blog), so I'm not someone who complains constantly about airlines. In fact, my gripe today is about the traveling public.

Continental has shrunk the size of their planes flying cross country, as I was flying on a 737 for 4 hours and 45 minutes yesterday (in coach, sadly), on a full flight. Seat pitch on these planes is only 31 inches (meaning 31 inches from seatback to seatback), which is, frankly, uncomfortable after 2 hours. So imagine my disappointment when the jackass in front of me reclined his seat fully into my lap after we took off. I was quite nice when I asked him to move the seat up a bit, as his head was now in my nose. He replied, "I'll move it now, but when the person in front of me reclines, I'm coming back." I replied, "thank you," though I meant, "thanks for nothing, schmuck." He remained fully reclined for 4 hours. It was most awful because that required me to kick his seat on purpose for 4 hours, a tiring endeavor.

My larger point is this: Flying is frustrating, I know. Planes have shrunk, on many airlines (though not Continental) staff is surly. Other passengers are frustrated and snippy. All I ask is this: Let's have a little understanding. On a full flight on an aircraft with 31 inches of pitch, please don't recline all the way. When you see someone struggling putting a bag into the overhead bin, please help them. Please allow the row ahead of you to disembark before you. Please say "please" and "thank you" to the flight attendants when they offer you food. Please do not freak out if you find somebody in your assigned seat---it may be the person's mix up, it may be the airline's. I don't know. But I do know that yelling at the flight attendant will not help matters. And finally, if you see a family that is split up, please offer to move so a child can sit next to his parent.

Improving the flying experience rests as much with us, the passengers, as it does with the airline. Let's stop acting like class bullies when we fly.

And finally, an open letter to the baby in 11D on yesterday's flight:

Dear Baby,

I'm begging you. Stop crying. Seriously. I'm on my hands and knees right now. Please. Begging. Stop. The. Crying.


April 22, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (3)

JetBlue's Earnings

JetBlue's earnings declined for the first time in the airline's history. Though still profitable, the airline faced strong competition, sagging demand, and higher fuel costs. JetBlue noted that the American and Delta promotions offering 2-for-1 definitely hurt them. Keep in mind, though, the carrier still made 14 cents per share.

April 22, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Less Congestion at O'Hare?

Three months ago, American & United reduced their schedules by 5% at O'Hare Airport. Now, the FAA has asked them to further reduce their schedules by 2.5% during peak hours. This move will affect 29 departures and 17 arrivals between noon and 8 pm. Both airlines say that they'll simply shift the bulk of the flights to less crowded periods of the day.

April 22, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 21, 2004

America West and a US Congressman

Incredibly, America West showed a profit last quarter and said that they would have a profit for the full year. I've spoken highly of America West in the past, and I will continue to speak highly of them now. They took actions that many suggested were necessary (but few airlines bothered to do), eliminating the unprofitable Columbus hub and completely rejiggering their fare structure, encouraging business travel by eliminating Saturday night restrictions. You can also thank America West for those $1000 r/t first class transcon flights.

Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary says that the fare war in Europe shows no sign of slowing. He predicts that Ryanair's already low average fare could fall another 20% this year.

And finally, in case you were wondering which geniuses were running Congress, Indiana Representative John Hostettler was briefly detained at the Louisville Airport after he, uh, mistakenly tried to board a flight with a 9 mm gun in his bag. He said that he brought the wrong bag with him (have you ever done this? is that the biggest load of crap you've ever heard? I've never heard of somebody grabbing the wrong bag. How many bags did this guy have packed and ready to go? A dozen?). He was interviewed and released.

April 21, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

US Airways and British Charters

In a move that shouldn't be particularly surprising to anyone, US Airways CEO David Siegel stepped down from his post after a tumultuous couple of years. Board members Bruce Lakefield has been named the new Union Punching Bag/CEO. In case you were worried that Mr. Siegel, like so many unemployed Americans, may have to cut back on his daily expenses, fret not---he will keep his $5 million bonus. Well played.

And finally...good news for British holidaymakers (LOVE that word). Travelers from the UK seeking to sunburn their pale bodies have long been used to cramming in charter flights to Malaga with 30 inch pitches, leaving their knees jammed up into their noses. That will be changing soon. Charter company First Choice is taking a cue from JetBlue and removing seats to create 33 inches of pitch, while adding widescreen TVs in seatbacks on its long-haul flights from the UK to the Caribbean.

April 20, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 19, 2004

Qantas is Too Cheap, and Qatar Airways Threat

A couple of bizarre ones this fine Monday morning:

Tourism chiefs in Australia's Gold Coast are annoyed that Qantas' low cost division, Jetstar, charges too little to get to the resort area. Says one, “We are Australia’s five-star resort capital, not your no-frills Hicksville.” Folks in Hicksville, Long Island, had no comment.

A Kuwaiti man flying on a Qatar Airways flight over the weekend caused a disturbance, trying to take control of the public address system. The pilot made an emergency landing in Cairo on its way from Tripoli, Libya, to Doha, Qatar, but the man was released after it was determined that he was mentally ill, not a terrorist.

And finally, I just thought I'd let you know that fare sales to Europe are going on longer than they used to this spring. Consolidator 1-800-FlyEurope (http://www.1800flyeurope.com) has round trip flights from NYC to London through May for $235 (plus tax). Amazing deal for anyone looking for a quick vacation.

April 19, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)