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August 10, 2007

Airline: Don't Say 'Fair Dinkum'

I'm not even entirely sure what this story means, but an Australian woman flying on a Delta Connection flight to Pittsburgh was stopped by police when she stepped off the plane because crew members alerted the cops that the woman had sworn at them during the flight.  During snack service, when the woman was told that there were no more pretzels left, to which she replied, "fair dinkum."  That's it, or so she says.  Having not seen Crocodile Dundee, "fair dinkum" is an Australian expression of some sort.  It's too early for me to bother looking that up.  Crew members say that she was difficult on the entire flight, and that they did not alert the police because she said "fair dinkum."  Now I'm confused.

August 10, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (5)

August 09, 2007

How Alaska Airlines Is Changing Check-In

Alaska Airlines has completely revolutionized the airline industry, and it's gotten virtually no credit for it.  First to sell tickets online.  First to allow check-in online.  Now, the WSJ looks at how Alaska Airlines has changed the entire check-in process at Anchorage's airport.  In short, there are no check-in counters (they're also building a new terminal in Seattle with a similar layout).  Passengers either proceed to a kiosk to check in or to a bag drop area once they have a boarding pass.  At the bag drop area, they put their own bag on the conveyor, while a staff member handles two lines of people checking in at once.  In short -- the whole system is self service, though staff are around to help you if you have questions.  The airline says that costs have been cut by half from a traditional ticket counter, and that check in times have dropped significantly. 

The key piece of this is that customers don't feel abandoned (which is often the case when there's a huge line at a ticket counter or, as other airlines have done, hidden all staff members away when you have a question).  Self service does not mean no customer service -- nice job.

August 9, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3)

British Airlines Must List Full Fare Price on Website and in Ads

Say goodbye to Ryanair's so-called "free" fares:  The British government has told 13 airlines that their advertisements and websites must show the full price of a ticket, not the pre-tax fare they've been advertising.  These carriers have already complied, and you'll noticed on Ryanair's site that their claim of GBP 0.01 tickets has disappeared and has been replaced with GBP 10 fares that include all taxes.  The US government should step in and do the same here, where the difference between advertised fare and actual price can be more than $300 on many international tickets.

August 9, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Virgin America Launches...With Just a Slight Tornado-Related Delay

Virgin America launched its inaugural flight yesterday, which was delayed a bit because of an insane storm in New York that included a tornado touching down in Brooklyn.  The OTR wasn't invited to the party (sniff sniff) but those who were have posted some info about the first flight (see Jaunted's coverage here, and USA Today's here and, as of today, on their main page).

August 9, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

August 08, 2007

Ryanair Forces Students on 22 Hour Trek from London to Galway

47 teenagers were forced into a 22 hour journey from London to Galway (in Ireland, for those of us in the US) after Ryanair staff refused to let them board because they arrived at the departure gate for their flight 2 minutes late.  Oh, they were late because their connecting flight on Ryanair from Denmark was 5 hours late.

The airline offered to let the students fly standby for 50 Euro each, but (wisely) the parents with them on the trip didn't want to do that because it would've meant splitting up the group.  So, they took a bus to a ferry and 22 hours later arrived home.  Because they were 2 minutes late for a flight.  A delay caused by the airline.  Nice!

August 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Spirit Airlines: Please Do Not Hide Your Monkey in Your Ponytail

A passenger on a Spirit Airlines flight from Lima, Peru to LaGuardia (connecting in Fort Lauderdale) was caught hiding a monkey in ponytail (that's not a euphemism...he actually had a monkey under his ponytail).  During the flight to LaGuardia the monkey got loose from the ponytail (where he must have been hanging out for 7 or 8 hours) and the passenger was forced to hold the monkey on his lap.  Passengers and staff easily detected the monkey, as it was sitting in the guy's lap.  Health officials (that's what the story says) confiscated the monkey upon his arrival in New York.

August 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 07, 2007

New York Passes Airline Passenger Bill of Rights (Basically)

New York's governor signed into law a bill that requires airlines to provide food, water, working restrooms and fresh air (?) to passengers who have waited more than 3 hours on the tarmac for a plane to depart.  A spokesperson for an airline trade group says they are "disappointed" by the law (as if the airlines have not brought this upon themselves). 

To be fair, one reason airlines are against this is because forcing a plane that has been delayed 3 hours to return to the gate for food will simply cause further delays, including possibly causing the crew to time out, which could cancel the flight altogether.

But by taking such a harsh stance against any passenger rights laws, the airlines end up looking like uncaring nutcases (which is pretty much how they've acted).

August 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (5)

August 06, 2007

What's Going to Happen to Southwest Airlines?

The Dallas Morning News has an interesting look at the changes Southwest Airlines is considering making over the next 2 years or so.  Southwest has (obviously) been held up as a shining example of how to make an airline work in a miserable commercial environment.  But over the past 3 years or so, their consumer value has diminished a bit, as other airlines are offering free TV, assigned seating, more legroom, and, likely in the near future, wi-fi, at the same price (or lower) than Southwest.  They plan to roll out an assigned seating policy of some sort by the end of the year, they're testing wi-fi, they may introduce TV, as well as considering other changes. 

This hardly suggests that their model is broken, but other airlines offering similar value have surpassed them in nearly measure.  As one person in the article said, with JetBlue you get free TV, with Southwest you get a funny boarding announcement. 

August 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4)