« September 9, 2007 - September 15, 2007 | Main | September 23, 2007 - September 29, 2007 »

September 21, 2007

A Word about Older Airplanes

A quick follow-up on the One-Two-Go! crash in Phuket last week.  A number of stories I've read pointed to the age of the airplane possibly being a factor (as does nearly every story about any plane crash).  It is important to note here that planes do not crash because they are old.  Northwest is flying some very old planes right now and they are exactly as safe as a new plane.  Well-maintained planes are like a Honda Accord - they'll go forever if taken care of properly.  Of course, shoddy maintenance is a legitimate cause of concern, and (obviously) older planes have more opportunities to be maintained.  That said, when you read articles about plane crashes, please ignore the parts where they talk about how the plane is 17 years old, as if that's some sort of indictment.

September 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Midwest to Offer Both Good and Bad Seats on All Planes

Midwest Airlines was (at one time) known for its all-business-class seating and great food.  Then came the post-9/11 airline industry meltdown (that actually started back in 2000), and Midwest went to a conventional seating layout on many of its flights (called "Saver" service) and left regular seating (called "Signature" service) on other flights.

The airline is now putting both types of seats on every plane, which is good if you had previously been stuck on a plane without the good seats and bad if you were flying on aircraft with only good seats.  Access to the 12 good seats will cost $60 per segment.

September 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 20, 2007

Air Travelers Rights

If you're in the mood to get rather pissed off, check out this NY Times article about Kate Hanni, who founded an air traveler's rights group after being stranded on the tarmac for a whole bunch of hours last year.  The part that will get you really annoyed is the video in the story (also on Youtube here) that a passenger took on a Delta flight that sat on the runway at JFK for 7 hours.  They were not permitted to leave the plane, and the airline refused to give them food (headquarters said that the flight wasn't supposed to have food, so no food was provided).  Please, if you're ever in that position, demand to be let off the plane.  Or get yourself arrested, a tactic that has worked in the past. 

September 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

British Airways Cancels Flights to Zimbabwe

British Airways, the only non-Zimbabwean carrier to still flying to the country, has announced that it will cancel its flights to Harare in October, after flying to the country since the 1930s.  The country is obviously (and sadly) a complete disaster, with inflation at around 8000%, and BA simply couldn't make money flying there.  Travelers needing to go to Zimbabwe will now need to transfer to an Air Zimbabwe flight in Johannesburg or Lusaka, Zambia.  Or fly to Livingstone, Zambia.  (I suppose the details aren't important -- just know that if you were flying from London to Harare, it's time to make other arrangements).

September 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Southwest to Keep Open Seating

For some reason there's been lots of Southwest news lately:

The airline announced that it will keep its much-loved and much-hated open seating policy after tests showed that customers preferred (huh?) the open seating.  They're tweaking the current system a bit, further subdividing the boarding groups and giving you a specific number in line (ie, you'll be given A37, and you'll stand behind A36.  10 points for guessing who you stand in front of.  Correct answer:  woman with too-short miniskirt who is trying to milk every ounce of publicity she can.  Wait, I wasn't talking about that.  I was talking about boarding processes.  Sorry.)

The new boarding will be introduced everywhere by early November.

September 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 19, 2007

Southwest Airlines: Kids Can't Board First

After hearing complaints from business travelers who whined about families pre-boarding, grabbing all the best seats before the first boarding group, Southwest Airlines has decided to have families board between groups A and B.  This is a strangely family-unfriendly move from an airline that has always treated kids well.  I appreciate that business travelers (like myself) have it hard and paid more for tickets and boo hoo.  If you've ever traveled with kids, you know it sucks and having a bit of extra time on the plane is useful.  No mini-skirts?  No pre-boarding for kids?  Not a great PR week for Southwest...

September 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Air Asia X Takes Delivery of First Airplane

A post I made about Air Asia X launching has become the OTR's most popular, with more than 30 comments attached to it.  Who woulda guessed it?

Anyway, I mention that because Air Asia X took delivery of its first A330 today and hopes to launch low-cost service to London (Stansted) and Melbourne at the end of this month.  They have a pretty aggressive schedule for new cities, though they've already pushed back flights to Australia's Gold Coast until late October.

September 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 18, 2007

Southwest Launches "Mini-Skirt" Sale

Southwest Airlines sure knows how to capitalize on some bad publicity:

The airline has launched a "mini-skirt sale" poking fun at the recent news that a flight attendant asked a woman wearing a mini skirt (miniskirt? mini-skirt?) to cover herself with a blanket or change clothes.  The press release from the carrier says, "The publicity caught us with our pants down, quite frankly. The story has such great legs, but we have an even better sense of humor, so we're going to jump out there and lower our fares to match the mini skirts we've all been hearing so much about...." Har.

The woman whose miniskirt caused this whole thing is reportedly not too happy about it, saying that Southwest is exploiting her as a marketing ploy.  Sounds about right.

September 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Alaska Airlines to Test Inflight Wireless

Big news week for in-flight internet:  Alaska Airlines announced yesterday that it will launch in-flight wireless internet access beginning in the spring of 2008. 

September 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 17, 2007

One-Two-Go Website

A little hint about airline crisis management:

If you are a foreign carrier, and you choose to put up a message in English on your website after an accident, please have a native English speaker look it over first. 

The One-Two-Go website includes a blurb that includes info on "how to pick up passenger’s relatives to the point of accident including responsibility of corpse transportation."  Typically an airline does not want the words "corpse transportation" on their website after an accident.

September 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Want to Visit Senator Craig's Favorite Bathroom?

In case you were wondering, the bathroom in Minneapolis' airport where Senator Larry Craig was arrested is "by the Lottery shop, right next to the shoeshine shop."  You know you want to look.

September 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Phuket Plane Crash Kills 88

You've probably seen by now that a One-Two-Go MD-82 (which you may know as a variant of the DC-9) crashed in Phuket, Thailand, over the weekend, killing 88 of the 130 people on board.  I only mention it here because I've seen a number of articles that question the safety record of low cost airlines in Southeast Asia.  This is a ridiculous statement.  Each of these airlines is different, and the questionable safety records of one airline have nothing to do with the safety of another. 

September 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)