Did you hear the story about the dog with “jet rage”? It kind of reminded me of that angry JetBlue flight attendant who cursed out passengers and eventually left the aircraft via the emergency slide. But at least he didn’t bite anyone.
Mandy, a 12 pound Manchester terrier did bite. She bit a passenger and crew member and ran up and down the aisle of a US Airway Newark to Phoenix flight, barking all the way. The plane had to make an emergency landing in Pittsburgh (a precautionary measure – no one was badly hurt).
What happened? Mandy’s owner – an 89-year old woman from New Jersey – let Mandy out of her cage.
Big mistake. You are not allowed to let an animal out of its cage on a plane. Little Mandy showed us why!
That’s just one of things you’ll learn in my new article called “Pet Travel Tips for the Holidays“. It’s handy if you’re bringing Sparky home for Christmas, and it’s handy anytime you want to travel with your best friend. There’s a fun video in the article too featuring yours truly and a Basset hound named Clementine.
A note of caution: as I point out in the article, not all animals are good travelers, and some cats and dogs might be better left at home. Like Mandy.
United CEO Glenn Tilton and Continental CEO Jeff Smisek – the latter will run the new “world’s largest airline” which will go by the name “United” – told analysts and media this morning that this is “a merger of equals” and went on the paint a rosy scenario that will conclude with an okay from Dept. of Justice.
As for equality, the execs said, United is strong where Continental is weak, and Continental is strong where United is weak.
As for airfare prices, both men called the merger “profoundly pro-competitive” and said airfare increases were not built into their estimates of the benefits of synergies; Smisek added, “When I lie awake at night worrying about the competition, I don’t worry about United” because of the lack of route overlap.
The execs however also noted that the new United will be responsive to market demand as always, and will price their product “appropriately”. Smisek noted, “This is a brutally competitive industry” but told his audience that airlines don’t set airfares – the market place does.
Smisek admitted the merger will create some pain: although Houston (Continental’s headquarters) will be “the largest hub of the world’s largest airline” and there won’t be widespread layoffs, some people will lose their jobs in both Houston and Chicago (United’s headquarters) as they eliminate duplicative functions but they said they will try to manage the process at least partly through attrition and voluntary severance.
There was some banter with reporters about an earlier United suitor; yes, said UA’s Tilton, talks with US Airways were “very serious”, though at one point Continental’s Smisek joked that his carrier ultimately had an edge because, “I’m prettier.” A reporter later suggested, when a movie version of the merger is made, Smisek’s role could be played by Jennifer Aniston.
We are starting to hear more about the new Arizona immigration law and how it may (or may not) impact travel – for some anyway.
Municipal governments including San Francisco and St. Paul have moved to ban official travel to Arizona – though it’s not clear how much “official travel” these cities actually conduct in “The Grand Canyon State”.
We also spoke with a spokesmn for Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways, and s James Olson told us this issue is “not impacting us and we don’t expect any impact.” He added that no flights have been canceled, and while the airline has heard of concerns from a few individuals by email (concerns that he did not characterize), the number of these emails “is less than the fingers on your hands”.
However, there are calls to yank baseball’s 2011 All Star Game out of Phoenix – not unlike the NFL’s decision to pull Super Bowl XXVII out of Arizona in favor of Pasadena’s Rose Bowl during the Martin Luther King Day holiday boycott back in 1993.
Meanwhile, protests are expected in more than three dozen cities this weekend, including New York and Los Angeles.
So tell me – is this law impacting your travel plans in any way – either for business or leisure?
From the New York Times: US Airways has ended its merger talks with United Airlines; in the meantime, United’s conversations with Continental continue.
Apparently, US Airways decided to withdraw once Continental entered the picture.
The Times quotes one analyst as saying that playing the Continental card was probably a calculated move on UA’s part: “It is highly likely that United engaged in talks with US Airways in order to prompt Continental” to negotiate, said Jeff Straebler, a strategist at RBS Securities. Now, “United will do all they can to close a deal.”
You know that United Airlines has been having talks with US Airways and Continental, and most have figured UA wants to merge with one or the other.
But what if all three got together to create a Colossus of Airlines – a gargantuan three-way type deal that would create a world’s super power of the air?
USA Today reports that, some think it could happen – that United might be trying to put together a “complex three-way deal”. Says one analyst quoted in the story, “United’s ‘Plan A’ all along has been to do a merger with US Airways and keep Continental as their alliance partner with antitrust immunity.”
Could it happen? The government could say no. As the newspaper put it, the carriers “would have to convince antitrust regulators and Congress that such a large and unprecedented combination of carriers wouldn’t reduce flight options and lead to higher fares.” That wouldn’t be easy because mergers often do lead to higher prices for passengers.
And labor would scream over the potential loss of jobs.
Could be very interesting to watch how this all plays out, though. We shall see.
Well, this is interesting.
Just last week, the talk around the water-cooler was merger talks between United and US Airways.
Now, according to the Houston Chronicle, it seems Continental is also holding merger conversations with United.
Well, it certainly isn’t the first time – United had similar and multiple conversations with each of those airlines in the past, but nothing ever came of them.
But times change - and so do CEO’s – and Continental’s Jeff Smisek, who is new to his job since the last go-round of talks, has said he’s open to a merger. So who knows what will happen now. No one at the airlines is saying anything for the record at the moment, but if I hear anything, I will pass it on.
Lots of water cooler talk about mergers this week; let’s start with the U.S. airlines
The New York Times, it seems, broke this story – but it’s no real surprise that United Airlines and US Airways are talking – they’ve had consolidation conversations in the past few years and one failed attempt to merge back in May of 2000.
Mergers, as you probably know, are usually good for the airlines/investors (assuming things go smoothly which is rarely the case), less so for airline employees and passenger ticket prices due to “synergies” and decreased competition.
Mergers are not necessarily a bad thing (if the alternative is having two struggling airlines fail instead) as carrier have been hurting and we passengers need as many airlines as are willing to give it a go. As the Times points out – among the major airlines, only Southwest turned a profit last year.
So they look for ways to make more money – by doing little things (like Spirit’s new $20 – $45 carryon bag fee) – and by doing big things, like mergers. When could it happen? Keep reading…
Mergers: United & US Airways, British Airways & Iberia
Your cash is no good on US Airways anymore - the airline has joined an ever-increasing list of airlines that are going “credit cards, only” for food and drink purchases.
NOTE: If you have a child traveling solo (without a credit card), please mention this when making reservations – or when you escort the child to the gate.
I took some flak the last time I brought this up (“There isn’t a flight attendant in the sky who would deny a child food or water because he couldn’t pay”) – but some children may be too shy to ask for free food or drink, and that would be a shame.
Here is the updated list of “credit card only” airlines for in-flight food and beverage:
- US Airways
- Virgin America
And remember, you don’t need credit cards or cash, if you bring a sandwich from home.