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Airline Conspiracy Theories: “Miracle on Hudson” Myth?

February 18, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,News,Pilots,Travel Tips,US Airways | 4 comments

airline conspiracy theories miracle on hudson myth

I’ve done some myth-busting in the past, and will definitely do more in the future, but in the meantime…

Recently I noticed some conspiracy theories presented (and busted) by AOL Travel, and I have to admit, I’d never heard of some of them (maybe because they’re just so crazy?)

The number one conspiracy theory listed in the article was that the “Miracle on the Hudson” landing by US Airways Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger – never happened.


One argument is, “How could twenty survivors stand on the wing of a plane without collapsing it?” I don’t know the physics involved, but I know it’s possible because millions of people saw live video of it happening!

Whew – as you can tell, I’m getting a little worked up. Next thing you know, someone will try to tell me you can open the door of a large modern jet in midflight and everyone’ll get sucked out (sorry, won’t happen – the door cannot be opened).

Airline Safety News: Accidents Down 36% in Last Ten Years

February 18, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Travel Safety | 0 comments

airline safety accidents

The latest figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show that 2009 had the second lowest airline worldwide accident rate in aviation history (this rate includes Western-built aircraft only).

The 2009 rate of accidents was 0.71 which means one accident per every 1.4 million flights. 2006 had a slightly better rate – but the 2009 figures mean 36% fewer accidents since the year 2000.

Good, but not good enough according to Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General, who said, “The ultimate goal [is] zero accidents and zero fatalities.”

Note: the accident rates for both North America and Europe were substantially lower than the overall worldwide rate.

Is There an Airline Strike in Your Future?

February 18, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Delays,Europe,News,Travel Tips | 0 comments

airline strike

As I’ve already reported, Lufthansa pilots have voted to go on strike next week (Feb. 22 – Feb. 25). But that’s not the only labor action that could affect passengers:

  • British Airways cabin crew members have voted to strike over pay freezes and workplace conditions; it is unknown when a work stoppage would occur but a strike during Easter has been ruled out.
  • American Airlines flight attendants are still in negotiations but may strike if no deal is reached by early March

Why are they unhappy? Same reason many of us are: job cuts, layoffs, pay freezes. It barely makes news anymore when, for example, American announces plans to furlough 175 pilots, or when UPS furloughs 300 of them.

Fortunately for the airlines, February is considered a “slow month” – but that doesn’t mean the Lufthansa strike won’t inconvenience an awful lot of passengers (not to mention the airline, which has been pummeled of late by declining passenger numbers and increased competition from low-cost carriers like Ryanair).

So how many passengers could be affected? I’ve crunched some numbers – keep reading…

Is There an Airline Strike in Your Future?

J.D. Power: Best and Worst Airports for Customer Satisfaction

February 18, 2010 | Posted in: Ask Rick,List,Passengers | 2 comments

jd power best worst airports customer satisfaction

UPDATE: The proud winner for best “medium” size airport responds, after the jump.

Some surprises here, in the new J.D. Power and Associates “Airport Customer Satisfaction” rankings. Not so surprising though, is the lack of “giants” on the list – no O’Hare, no JFK.

Among the criteria considered for the rankings: prompt baggage delivery, airport comfort and ease of navigation – and not surprisingly, small airports fared the best in many categories.

Unfortunately, while “small is good” for ease and comfort, I’m guessing they’re mostly comfortable because they’re not anywhere near as crowded as the big airports – and the big airports are crowded because that’s where the deals are.

Top 3 “Large” Airports:

1. Detroit Metropolitan (DTW) – performed especially well in “baggage claim” category

2. TIE: Denver International (DEN) and Minneapolis/St. Paul International (MSP) finished in a dead heat; Denver performed especially well in “airport accessibility” category.

Keep reading to see the top three airports among “medium” and “small” facilities…

J.D. Power: Best and Worst Airports for Customer Satisfaction

Bookmark the New Fee Charts – Save Money on Bags and More

February 17, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Pets,Pricing Activity,Travel Tips | 2 comments

bookmark new fee charts save money bags

When you know all the various fees an airline charges, it makes it easier to save.

For example, you can choose to pack lighter and save a bag fee by toting a carryon; or maybe pack your own lunch to avoid the airline food charges.

We’ve made it simple for you to save this money, with two new charts:

1. The Domestic Bag Fee Chart: this one provides information about size and weight restrictions for carryon bags (and that includes pets), plus all fees for checked-bags.

2. The “Everything” Domestic Fee Chart: this one not only includes bag fees, but everything from the cost of making airline reservations by phone to food costs, even fees for better seats.

Take a look – I think you’ll find these useful.

Kim Kardashian Uses Twitter to ID Air Marshal During Flight

February 17, 2010 | Posted in: Favorites,Passengers,Security,Twitter | 6 comments


I’m sure Kim Kardashian is a very nice young lady (though apart from that reality show of hers, I’m a little mystified as to why she’s famous) – but she pulled a no-no on a plane this week.

She revealed that she was seated next to an Air Marshal! And his name was Jim! (Our thanks to the Huffington Post for this tidbit).

Okay, I doubt it’s the end of the world but these folks are supposed to be anonymous – yet Kim tweeted all about it to her 3,014,441 followers/fans – some of whom told her to knock it off.

Still, it’s good to know Jim wasn’t distracted by the glamour of being in close contact with a celebrity – he just did his job: “Jim the air marshall makes me feel safe,” cooed Kardashian via Twitter.

Canadian Airline Boots Passenger for Being “Too Smelly to Fly”

canadian airline boots passenger too smelly to fly

What a stink – first Southwest boots Hollywood’s Kevin Smith for being “too fat to fly” (without purchasing a second seat, anyway) – and now, Canada’s CBC News reports that a man was ejected from an Air Canada Jazz flight for being “too smelly to fly.”

Details are sketchy, as they say – but the incident occurred sometime earlier this month, just before take-off at Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) on a flight to Montreal.

We do know our friend with the bad odor was an American, and that he really exuded quite a stink because “efforts were made to isolate the man from other passengers” but apparently that wasn’t good enough – so, he got the boot.

The good news is the man apparently lost his stink overnight (or perhaps he took a shower), and was allowed to fly the next morning – which I suppose is the very definition of the “sweet smell of success”.

I wonder what flight attendants find more disagreeable – having to tell someone they’re too fat? Or too smelly?

Snow Storms: What the Airlines Need to Do for Passengers

February 17, 2010 | Posted in: ABC Column,Airline News,Storms,Weather | 2 comments

Yes, the airlines did a bang up job during the recent snowstorms – they were proactive, got the word out quickly on cancellations and delays – and I think that was just great.

On the other hand, they know that mishandling weather problems is the stuff of PR nightmares.

Just ask JetBlue whose admittedly dismal performance in Feb. of 2007, when folks were trapped in planes on the tarmac for as long as ten hours, cost them millions in rebooking and “we’re sorry” vouchers, not to mention a ton of good will (but thanks to a lot of hard work, JetBlue once again enjoys a sterling reputation).

However (there is always a “however” isn’t there?) – the airlines could have done more, as I point out in my latest weekly column for ABCNews.com.

To me, there should be a uniform “grace period” in which airlines allow customers to rebook without penalty – and I think it should be longer than many airlines now allow. And how about a dedicated “Twitter channel” for emergency information on flight cancellations and more?

Take a look at the column and share your views.

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