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Mergers: United & US Airways, British Airways & Iberia

April 8, 2010 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News,United,US Airways | 0 comments

mergers united us airways british airways iberia

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

Airline On-Time Performance Feb. Report Card: “C-”

April 8, 2010 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News,Delays,DOT,List,Pets | 0 comments

airline on time performance

The latest figures are out on airline performance from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), and it wasn’t such a good month, but weather played a part.

Here’s the scoop:

On-Time Performance: Airlines reported an overall on-time arrival rate of slightly more than 74% – worse than January, and substantially worse than February 2009 (blame it on some pretty major snowstorms) – not great

Baggage: There were 4.01 reports of “mishandled” bags per 1,000 passengers in February, an improvement over January – not bad

Pets: There were 3 pet deaths in February – not good.

Keep reading to see the Best and Worst airports for on-time performances…

Airline On-Time Performance Feb. Report Card: “C-”

Flying Pets Quiz: Airline Travel Goes to the Dogs/Cats

April 8, 2010 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News,Ask Rick,Pets | 0 comments

flying pets quiz airline travel dogs cats

Ever take your dog or cat on a plane?

Many do – in fact, some folks wouldn’t consider it a vacation without their furry friends. It would be like leaving the kids at home. Well, kind of. 

But how much do you really know about traveling with pets?

Take our pop quiz (or would that be…pup quiz?). Answers at the end.

Flying Pets Quiz – True/False

1. My mutt will be just fine once I slip him a doggy downer. T/F

2. My hamster Weensy enjoys traveling with me in the United cabin. T/F

3. My 30 lb cat Chubs is too big, so he’ll travel in Southwest’s baggage hold. T/F

4. Delta says my big boxer Buster can’t travel with me in July. T/F

5. That flight attendant is just being a jerk, telling me Fifi can’t sit on my lap. T/F

6. My service dog Gallant is a 60 lb Lab, so he has to go in baggage. T/F

7. My puppy Beauty is better behaved than most of the kids on the plane. T/F

Keep reading for the answers…

Flying Pets Quiz: Airline Travel Goes to the Dogs/Cats

Man Allegedly Talks of Setting Shoes on Fire on Flight

April 7, 2010 | Posted in: Airfare News,Security,Travel Safety,United | 0 comments

shoes fire flight

UPDATE: Further reports indicate this was a “misunderstanding” and there was no real threat.

Was this a threat? Or a massive misunderstanding?

ABC is reporting that a diplomat from Qatar – who was on a United flight from Washington to Denver – allegedly said to federal air marshals, “I’m lighting my shoes on fire.”

The man was then wrestled to the ground, while two fighter jets escorted the plane the rest of the way to Denver. The aircraft landed safely.

What first appeared to be a potential threat – possibly a terrorist incident – may turn out to be nothing more than a big misunderstanding, according to ABC. This is from the news organization’s website:

“A US security official said, ‘it may have been a massive misunderstanding’ and the diplomat’s statement may have been a ‘sarcastic’ comment when he was confronted by two air marshals who had been told by flight attendants that smoke was coming from the lavatory.” - ABCNews.com, 4-7-10

 There is so much we don’t know about this incident that I hesitate to comment, but as a generality, it is never advisable to make any sort of joke about security procedures.

Six Travel Mini-Disasters and How to Fix Them

You’re heading for a well-deserved vacation – or you’re already basking on the beach, when… 

Disaster strikes!

Or  maybe, just a mini-disaster. You know, a stolen wallet, or a botched name on your airline tickets, or your suitcase arrives on the carousel with its only handle snapped off. What do you do?

I tackle those problems and more in my latest weekly column for ABCNews.com, called “Six Travel Mini-Disasters and How to Fix Them”.

For instance, if your wallet – or more to the point, your driver’s license or passport has been lost or stolen, get yourself to the nearest police station immediately. Making a report and leaving a paper trail can be vital to getting your goods back, or at least, proving that what you say happened, actually did.  Then you have to get yourself to the airport on departure day extra early – in case the TSA decides extra screening is needed for poor ID-less you.

Check out the column – it’s a fun read, and might save you some hassles down the road.

A Brief History of Airline Fees – Bags, Blankets, Food & Drink

April 7, 2010 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News,Ask Rick | 2 comments

history airline fees bags blankets food

I think most of us were blind-sided by Spirit Airlines’ decision to start charging for carryon bags, but I saw it coming. It wasn’t too difficult – after all, the air traveling public has been subjected to one unusual fee after another in the past few years.

So I thought I’d offer up a brief history of airline fees, so you have a sense of the past – and maybe, the future.

Let me note that in some instances, it’s not crystal clear which carrier was the very ”first” with a fee, but I’ve narrowed it down as best I could.

So keep reading to see Airline Fees through the years…

A Brief History of Airline Fees – Bags, Blankets, Food & Drink

Bathroom Buzz: Ryanair to Add Pay-Toilets on its Cheap Flights

April 7, 2010 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News | 24 comments

ryanair pay toilets cheap flights

Incredible: According to the Daily Mail, Europe’s big discount airline, Ryanair – as threatened earlier – will begin putting coin-operated pay-toilets (or pay-lavatories) on its aircraft.

The airline is said to be “working with Boeing to redesign the cabin and develop coin-operated toilets on 168 of its planes.” No date has been set.

To add insult to injury, Ryanair wants to reduce the number of its onboard lavatories – so there would just be one available to as many as 189 passengers (which means Ryanair could shoe-horn in another six seats or so).

What will it cost? One euro or one British pound, which works out to about $1.33 or $1.52 respectively.

One comment on the Daily Mail website: “The only answer if for everybody to refuse to buy any drinks!” Actually, that might hit Ryanair where it hurts, because according to the airline’s menu, they charge about $3.50 for water and about $2.70 for tea.

Other comments I’ve seen:

  • “What if somebody onboard has a nasty, upset stomach?!!!”
  • “I’ll be asking the stewardesses for an empty cup…”

It’s bad enough that Ryanair just raised bag fees – but this? I don’t even think Spirit would stoop this low

Add US Airways to “No Cash” Airlines List – Credit Cards Only

April 6, 2010 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News,US Airways | 2 comments

us airways cash airlines credit cards

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:

    1. AirTran
    2. Alaska
    3. American
    4. Continental
    5. Delta
    6. Frontier
    7. JetBlue
    8. Midwest
    9. Southwest
    10. United
    11. US Airways
    12. Virgin America
  • And remember, you don’t need credit cards or cash, if you bring a sandwich from home.