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Fliers Still Not Thrilled with Some Airlines (or their Flight Crews)

June 30, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Flight Attendants,List,Pilots | 1 comment

J.D. Power and Associates has come out with their latest “North American Airline Satisfaction Study” – but you can call it a report card.

The “A” student among “traditional network” carriers was – Alaska Airlines. The tops in the “low cost airline” category was – JetBlue.

Both did well in things having to do with customer service, including the “flight crew experience” – but apparently the best-liked crews can be found at WestJet – and Alaska. Also scoring high in crew-attitude was Delta. See all the results here.

I’m curious. Which airline crews do you like best? And if there are some you don’t like – how come?

REMINDER: Bag Fee Increases

June 30, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Delta,United,US Airways | 0 comments

Ah, yes – more bag fees…

Some of these fees have previously been announced, but since they’re being instituted this week, I thought it was time for a reminder.

My advice: whenever possible, use a carryon bag – and save.

Yemenia Airways Jet Crashes, Child Survives

June 30, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News | 1 comment

Sad story…except for a seemingly miraculous rescue.

A Yemenia Airways flight was nearing Comoros, an island nation in the Indian Ocean (off the coast of Mozambique) when it crashed into the sea yesterday — there had been 153 passengers and crew members aboard the Airbus A310-300 — and no signs of survivors.

Then someone spotted a child – described as a toddler — who was then rescued. No immediate word on the youngster’s medical condition other than the child has been hospitalized.

Our thoughts are with the families of those on board.

UPDATE: The surviving child was 13-years old (as opposed to the toddler of the initial reports) — none the less miraculous, though…

If You’ve Been Waiting to Ride the Dreamliner – Wait a Little Longer

June 29, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Delays | 0 comments

Dreamliner Progress Report: more delays…

The Dreamliner, which has already overshot its delivery date by about two years – is now likely to be pushed back perhaps a few more months, due to a “structural flaw” discovered during ground testing.

Some of Boeing’s customers are getting frustrated: according to the Wall St. Journal, Australia’s Qantas “scratched” orders for 15 of the planes, and will delay taking 15 others (but they also have more Dreamliners on order).

In case you were thinking of getting in line – and many airlines still very much want this huge plane – the list price is $178 million.

VIDEO: Air New Zealand Bares All in New “Nothing to Hide” Ad

This is pretty funny.

Air New Zealand has a new commercial out, touting the fact that they (unlike the competition) don’t add extra charges and fees to their fares. How best to illustrate this?

With an ad called, “Nothing to Hide”. At first glance, you may notice nothing unusual – but look closely – the airline crew and bag handlers in the ad are wearing uniforms, yes, but these uniforms are painted on. You could say they’re barely there.

Anyway, check it out below – and in the meantime, I’ve been finding some good deals to New Zealand, including this cheap flight from Los Angeles to Auckland for just $782 roundtrip total.

Thanks to the New York Times for the heads-up.

More Air Travelers this Holiday Weekend – Bad Omen for Prices

June 29, 2009 | Posted in: Holiday Travel,Pricing Activity | 1 comment

Yes, the number of air travelers is expected to rise this coming Fourth of July holiday weekend, according to the venerable American Automobile Association (AAA) – which is especially interesting since car travel is expected to take a dip.

But as far as the air travel numbers are concerned, it’s a no brainer – the price of airfare has been so cheap for so long, as airlines desperately try to lure travelers into their planes.

Apparently, it’s working. And this, along with the two recent airfare price hikes we’ve seen, is just one more sign that the bottom is near, at least for U.S. domestic flights.

ADVICE: If you’re making vacation plans to fly in the U.S. this summer, BUY NOW. If you plan to go to Europe or have other international flight times, you still have some wiggle-room, but don’t delay for long.

Yes, You Really Do Save Money with Twitter and Email Alerts

June 26, 2009 | Posted in: Airfare News,Deals,Tips and Tricks,Twitter | 2 comments

Yes, our alerts – in email and on Twitter really do work. So get going! Here’s why:

You may recall that I spotted that “second airfare hike of the year” just this week and a lot of publications have been talking about it. I think my “money quote” on airfare prices bears repeating:

“I think for the consumer, it’s as good as we’re going to get right now.” -Rick Seaney in the Wall St. Journal, 6-25-09

And as I’ve been telling you, there are a couple of ways to get great deals first – by following FareCompare deals from your airport on Twitter – or by signing up for FareCompare’s real-time email alerts.

Does it really work? Yes, it does. I just now got this nice note from a very satisfied customer:

“Rick, I have been watching flights to Hawaii out of Dallas all year. I had given up all hope to go when I received an email update on Wednesday for the “fire sale.” Thanks to your service my family of four, and the in-laws will be enjoying a week in Hawaii to see my brother-in-law. You offer an unbelievable service!!” - FareCompare email alert user, 6-26-09

TIPS for Children Flying Alone (Let’s Not Lose Anymore)

June 26, 2009 | Posted in: Tips and Tricks,Travel Safety,Travel Tips | 3 comments

You’ve seen the recent stories: airlines “misplacing” children traveling solo (I mentioned this horror myself, in my latest column for ABCNews.com).

Clearly, it’s past time for some tips.

Most important tip? If you or a family member can’t travel with a child under 12 – maybe the child shouldn’t fly. Overly cautious? Perhaps – but I’m a parent – and I get very disturbed when I hear about children as young as five flying all by themselves.

However, sometimes it can’t be helped – so here are some safety tips:

1. Cell Phone: Make sure your child has a charged up cell phone (and charger in luggage) and make sure the child knows how to use it (go ahead and practice with him). Preprogram all important numbers in the phone.

2. Write a Note: Make sure your child has a note from you – on his person – stating your child’s name and your phone numbers, the airline being flown along with flight numbers and times, and his confirmation number. Teach the child to hand it to any airline/airport employee if he (or she) is confused about anything. Often children are too shy to question authority; handing over a note could be much less traumatic.

With little ones, you might want to pin a note to their shirt that says, “Hi, I’m flying to Hartford” or wherever (and if the child rips this off, you know they were too old for this).

3. Ask THE Question: Train your child to memorize a question: “Is this the flight to Hartford?” or whatever city the child is heading to – and have the child ask this of his airline escort before boarding the plane. Once onboard, have him repeat it to the flight attendant or whoever greets the passengers. Then ask his seatmates. Overkill? Not if it’s your child.

4. Don’t Wander: When you take your child to the gate (where presumably you’ll meet up with a sharp, on-the-ball airline escort) point out the gate agents at their podiums, and tell the child to go to one of those in case Grandma isn’t waiting for him at his destination. Explain in no uncertain terms, he is not to wander.

Readers, I’m sure you have many more ideas out there – and I’d love to hear them.

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