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August 17, 2007

I swear this is it: Midwest/AirTran Saga Finished

I don't even care about this anymore, but I feel like since I started mentioning it, I have to follow it through:  Midwest accepted TPG's buyout offer, and AirTran has said they're not going to raise their offer anymore.  Done and done.

August 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

First A380 Flight Is October 25th

If you're a complete airplane nut, you should know that the first A380 flight will take off on October 25th.  The Singapore Airlines flight will fly from Singapore to Sydney, and return the next day.  Regular service on the plane has not yet been announced.  The airline is auctioning all seats on the flight on eBay, with proceeds going to charity.  The auction begins August 27th.

August 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 16, 2007

Northwest Flight 255 Crash, 20 Years Later

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the crash of Northwest flight 255 outside of Detroit, an accident that killed all but 1 of the 155 people on board the flight to Phoenix.  You may remember that, miraculously, a 4 year old girl named Cecelia Cichan was the sole survivor of the flight.  The link to the story above offers a bit of a history of her remarkable life since that day.

She was adopted by an aunt and uncle who made it their mission to provide a normal childhood for their niece, who lost her parents and brother in the crash.  They changed her last name, moved her from her Arizona hometown, and had court records sealed so media could not track her.  Now, at 24, she has graduated from college and gotten married.  By all accounts she has held up extremely well, though until recently she did not interact with the surviving families from the crash.

I lived outside of Detroit for 7 years, and this crash was burned into the collective memory of the city; certainly every time I drove by the crash site near the airport I thought of how unthinkable it was that 1 little girl could've survived when 154 others did not.   It's such a testament to her relatives that she was able to thrive, anonymously, for the past 20 years, despite the horror she saw when she was a child. 

Check out the column in the link - I was pretty moved by it.

August 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

$799 Package to China

Via Frommers:

SmarTours has a great deal on a 10 day package to China.  $799 gets you a flight from San Francisco to Beijing, 5 nights hotel in Beijing, a flight to Shanghai, and 4 nights hotel in Shanghai.  You can fly from New York for an extra $100.  I'd say that's a bargain.  Prices are good for select trips November through February.  Given the price of airfare alone, you basically get 9 hotel nights and an internal flight for $100.  Nice.!

August 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Travelocity Fined for Selling Airfare to Cuba

It's a crazy world out there...Imus makes a racist comment and is paid $20 million NOT to go to work anymore.  It looks like Michael Vick will cut a deal so he can play football again, even though he was a dog fighting ring leader.  But Travelocity has been fined more than $180,000 because they sold airfare to Cuba for a 6 year period (the article doesn't say, but I think there was a time when you could book tickets to Cuba on Travelocity if you went to one of their non-US sites).  The Cuba embargo laws are completely (completely!) insane, though, let's be honest here, Travelocity should've known better.  But also let's be honest - there are plenty of ways to travel to Cuba, and the stupid travel embargo isn't accomplishing anything.

August 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 15, 2007

Stuff Keeps Falling Off Planes

Two odd incidents in the past week where stuff has fallen off a plane into people's yards:

A 2 foot piece of metal from a Northwest DC-9 fell into a family's yard in Wisconsin last week.  No one was injured.  Said the home's owner: "I was coming out with the laundry basket to hang my laundry, and I noticed ... a large, large piece of metal in my yard...I thought, 'Oh, my goodness. That looks like an airplane wing.' But I thought, 'How can that be?"' It can be.

In the other incident, a 25 pound landing gear door fell of a Mesa-operated United Express flight in Maryland, again injuring no one.  Said a spokesperson:
"the landing gear door is not necessary to land the plane, because it needs to retract. Customers on the flight were always safe."  Yes, but what about the people on the ground?  And how about acknowledging that crap dropping out of the sky is inherently unsafe?  Hello?

August 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

AirTran/Midwest Merger: It Ain't Over Yet!

I'm kinda sorry I ever brought up the AirTran/Midwest merger, as it's a long, long story that I'm guessing few of you care about (though if you live in Milwaukee you should care about it, because if TPG buys Midwest, you can expect Northwest, which is also part of that investor group, to make sure fares increase in that market).

Anyway, when we last checked in Midwest blew off AirTran and was ready to accept TPG's bid.  Then a major shareholder came in and said they weren't happy with the bid, and that they should've accepted AirTran's offer.  Given that, AirTran has come back with better bid than TPG.  Say that 5 times fast.  I'll keep you posted.

August 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 14, 2007

Passengers Revolt (a bit) on a Continental Flight

This really, really, really has been a terrible summer to fly.  A Continental Airlines flight from Caracas to Newark was re-routed to Baltimore because of bad weather.  Once there, it sat on the tarmac for 5 hours, where the plane (as we've heard in other cases) became disgusting.  The passengers started to get angry, then began drumming in unison on the overhead bins, leading the pilots to call the police.  The police arrived and got the passengers off the plane, which is exactly what they wanted.

Continental barely (if at all) apologized, instead insisting that they had "chips, pretzels and water" available (as if this was an acceptable response for keeping people in a tin can for 5 hours).  I have no idea why airlines repeatedly try to defend themselves in these situations -- it doesn't matter why it happened, passengers find it unacceptable to be essentially held hostage for hours on end.  Claiming there were pretzels available makes no one feel better.

August 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Flight Attendant Tries to Board Plane with Gun

A Pakistan International Airlines flight attendant was caught trying to take a gun aboard a domestic flight she was working.  No word on why a staff member would be bringing a gun on board a plane, but if you check out today's other story, it may make sense.

August 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 13, 2007

Computer Glitch at LAX Causes Massive Delays

Whew, it was a MESS at LAX on Saturday as a computer glitch in customs caused a backup of 20,000 passengers arriving on international flights.  Passengers waited for hours with no water or air conditioning (this is becoming a theme this summer) as officials tried to fix the system, which contains a list of people who require secondary searches upon entering the country.  The computers went down around 2pm, but the backlog did not clear out until after 3 am.  Water was gone after a couple of hours, and took took several hours to bring in more.

Someone (me?) will write a book about this summer's air travel disasters.  Everyone I know who flies for work has had at least one 5+ hour delay or other similar calamity.  Misery.

August 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

OTR in the News

Self Serving Post Alert:

The OTR has a couple of press appearances to pass on:

-- We're quoted in Conde Nast's Portfolio talking about Farecompare (one of my favorite airline geek websites).

-- The OTR's Southeast Asian following is in for a treat, as I'll be on Bloomberg's Asia Pacific television channel tonight at 6:30 eastern time (or Tuesday morning at 6:30am in Singapore) chatting about online travel agencies. 

August 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Delta Ups a Bunch of Fees

USA Today reports that Delta has increased a bunch of its fees without bothering to let people know (ah, sneaky).  Telephone reservations now cost $20, same day standby will cost you $50, and (most annoying of all) a $75 fee to book a "free" ticket within 20 days of departure.  We can assume others will match these increases.

August 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Midwest and AirTran Won't Merge After All

In case you've been following this whole Midwest/AirTran debacle, it came to an end over the weekend. Midwest rejected AirTran's takeover offer and accepted one from TPG Capital (formerly Texas Pacific Group) at $16 a share, $.25 a share more than AirTran had offered.

August 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)