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December 15, 2006

Christmas Tree Follow Up

A follow-up to the removal of the Christmas trees at Seattle's airport:

The folks running Seattle's airport decided the hell with it, we're putting the Christmas trees back.  The group that started the brouhaha by asking for a menorah to placed in the airport denies that it ever asked for the trees to be taken down, so the trees were put back up.  They're still annoyed that a menorah wasn't put up, though.

But the same group had a better experience with Hawaii's airport, which announced that they will, in fact, be displaying menorahs in December.  All is right with the world. 

December 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

United's Innovative Fare Plan (Maybe)

A United executive outlined plans for a new "base fare" scheme where customers would pay a lower "base" fare for a flight that did not include many elements now bundled into the price.  For example, you would now have the option to pay a bit extra for frequent flyer miles, seat assignment, or checking bags.  The plan, which echoes similar moves by Air Canada and other European carriers, has not yet been formalized, but (as I've written here before) this is the future of airline pricing.  I think that in the end consumers will grow to like it -- your fare now includes the price of checking a bag whether you check a bag or not.  I'm sure we'll hear griping soon enough, though...

December 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

December 14, 2006

Camel Sacrificed for Aircraft Parts (Basically)

A Turkish mechanic was fired after he sacrificed a camel on the tarmac of Istanbul's international airport to celebrate getting through a backlog of aircraft repairs.  Really.  There are photos.

December 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

JetBlue and American to Improve Cabin Interiors

JetBlue and American Airlines have (separately, of course) announced that they are updating some of the interiors of their aircraft.  American will spend $20 million to update the business and first class cabins on their 767-200s (the planes they use for transcon flights), to put in new seats and video-on-demand.  Good stuff.

JetBlue, meanwhile, will add a whopping 4 inches of pitch to the first 11 rows of their A320s, giving you 36 inches of legroom (more than United Economy Plus) in those rows (and 34 inches in the other rows).  They're taking out a row of seats, which you think would be a financial issue, except that with fewer seats they can use 1 less flight attendant, saving a signficiant amount.  You'll now have 5 more inches of legroom on JetBlue than you will on Continental.  And, even more ridiculous, Continental's first class on their transcon 737s only has 2 more inches than that.  Makes me re-think my choice of carrier to the west coast...

December 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Midwest and AirTran: Huh?

The more I think about the AirTran/Midwest merger, the more confused I am.  Why exactly is AirTran buying them?  Because putting new aircraft on Midwest's routes will save money?  If Midwest's Kansas City and Milwaukee-based routes were so prime, why wouldn't AirTran just open routes from those cities, rather than paying a 30something percent premium over the current value of the stock for those routes?  I'm obviously missing something...I welcome your thoughts...

December 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6)

December 13, 2006

No Toothpaste, No Heisman, No Water

Yet another solid story about airport security:  Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith shipped his trophy home to Columbus because airport security would not allow him to bring it into the airport.  I don't know specifically why they wouldn't allow it, but I'm guessing it's because several airplanes have been hijacked with the Stanley Cup.

December 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Continental and United in Merger Talks (and So Are Midwest & AirTran)

A long, long rumored merger between Continental and United is in the early stages, according to the NY Times.  Don't expect an announcement tomorrow, but talks are under way to jam together Continental's Eastern US, Latin and European routes with United's Western US and Asian routes to form a massive carrier you'll never get upgraded on.  When you look at the route maps, it certainly makes sense (though didn't Continental just dump its Denver hub a few years ago?). 

AirTran has also proposed a buyout of Midwest Airlines (formerly Midwest Express -- the airline with the warm cookies).  Midwest's board has already turned down an offer, but AirTran's execs say they're willing to negotiate.  Their routemaps don't really overlap at all, though their service is different (Midwest, on many of its routes, features all-business-class cabins.  I'm pretty sure you can kiss those goodbye.)

It seems like just yesterday that everyone swore airline mergers were a terrible idea (that was before US Airways and America West); now airline mergers are wonderful idea.  Whew - that changed quickly! 

December 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 12, 2006

China's Airports to Scan for Liquid Explosives

US airports tend to portray themselves as the pinnacle of security, but you may be surprised to hear the China has taken a giant leap over most other countries.  China will gradually install 147 state-of-the-art machines that can scan for liquid explosives.  I know all of you prefer not being able to bring your water through security, but these machines will (likely) eliminate the ridiculous situation we now have where you can bring 3 ounces of liquids blah blah blah.  The scanners cost about $200,000 a piece, and I have no idea why the Chinese can invest in these and the US cannot.

December 12, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

December 11, 2006

Sea-Tac Airport Removes Christmas Trees

Bill O'Reilly is going to a have a field day with this one:

Sea-Tac Airport has removed the 9 Christmas trees it had up after a local rabbi complained that there were no Jewish symbols in the airport.  Rather than put up menorahs for the upcoming Chanukah (Hannukah?) holiday, the airport decided to just take down the Christmas trees.  Interestingly (and I'll give him a bit of credit), the attorney for the group who asked for the Menorah to be put up said he was disappointed that the trees were taken down.  For its part, the airport says it does not have time to play "cultural anthropologists" and decide the right course of action.  Now nobody's happy.  Well done!  (Just to be clear:  I actually think the airport should've made the rabbi's group sue them to take down the trees.  I'm Jewish, and I think it's sad that other Jews would think that they're threatened because there's a Christmas tree in an airport.  Don't we have more important things to worry about?  Like Mel Gibson hating us?  I thought we ran Hollywood?)

December 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)