Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A380 Super Jumbo Coming to Washington

Air France is the first carrier to announce that it will begin operating A380 service to/from Dulles Airport starting June 6, 2011.

The aircraft configuration includes 9 Premiere Class, 80 Business and 449 main cabin seats.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Portugal Strike Paralyses Travel

A crippling nationwide strike resulted in the total cancellation of all flights into and out of Portugal. Train and bus service has also come to a complete halt.

The strike has been organised by two of Portugal's biggest unions in protest at the Government's austerity measures.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Coming Soon: Prepayment of Ancillary Fees

Corporate travelers and managers may finally get their wish of a more streamlined travel service that incorporates the purchase of ancillary fees through their travel management companies.

USAirways is developing options to distribute ancillary services through travel intermediaries' Global Distribution Systems (GDS) bypassing the need to purchase these services separately at the airport.

GDS providers, airlines and IATA will cooperate to offer solutions for corporate travelers and managers who have complained about the ambiguity of these fees and the additional difficulties in accounting for them. A likely outcome will be a "Miscellaneous Charge Order" (MCO) that would enable agents to issue and report these sales through traditional clearing house methods electronically.


Qantas to Resume A380 Service

Qantas is set to resume it's A380 Airbus services on Saturday November 27, but no flights on the super jumbo will be scheduled from/to the U.S. at least for the foreseeable future. Two flights scheduled this weekend will operate between Australia and London at a reduced thrust setting.

Reduced thrust, limited destinations and a reduced load (150 below capacity) is indicative of on-going issues that continue to dog the Trident Roll-Royce engines.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Extreme Reactions To TSA Screening Continue

Organizers campaigning through the internet are calling for opt-out protests over thanksgiving holiday, one of the busiest weeks of travel of the year.

Business Travel Coalition (BTC) has called such contemplated actions "irresponsible", while at the same time squarely putting the blame on TSA. BTC urged the groups planning the opt-out event to cancel those campaigns and instead refocus the effort to the "highest levels in Washington" by conducting a complete review of TSA.

“The deployment of full-body scanners without a formal public comment process and sufficient medical and scientific vetting is one of the worst TSA abuses of authority since its creation,” stated BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell. “The overly aggressive pat downs represent citizen-mistreatment in the extreme, especially if used as “punishment” when passengers opt out of full-body scans.

Passengers have complied with layer upon layer of new and changing airport security measures and protocols since 2001. However, an inflection point would appear to have been reached with the body scanner and offensive pat down issues where increasingly forceful push back from the traveling public should lead to an overall review of U.S. aviation system security. The current security screening process, and the inherent opportunity for abuse, is so over-the-top as to even invite mockery from former President George W. Bush on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

While layers of security represent a global best practice, a risk is that all manner of new security measures can be justified and independent scrutiny circumvented simply by hiding behind the “security layers” mantra. Importantly, treating all passengers transiting the aviation system as if they are equal threats to national security represents worst practice because it is ineffective, costly and distractive of better practices. The return on every dollar of investment in intelligence gathering, analysis and sharing within and across borders is orders-of-magnitude greater than dollars spent screening passengers at airports. The intent of Congress should be acted upon by TSA with respect to a true risk and security-based trusted traveler program that streamlines airport security and frees up funds to find the terrorists where they sleep, and before they arrive at our airports.

Premiere Travel supports the BTC mission of empowering corporate travel managers to influence issues of strategic importance to travel related matters.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Congressman Call To Ditch TSA

The furor over the intrusive full body scanners and the aggressive pat-downs implemented by TSA has grown into a feverish pitch with angry travelers nationwide organizing and campaigning against the security crackdown.

Congressman John Mica (R-Florida 7th) is suggesting getting rid of the TSA altogether. He is calling the nation's top airports to exercise their rights to install private security that would supplant TSA. It's very explicit, it's like doing a nude photo shoot," Congressman Mica said. "I think we could use half the personnel and streamline the system," Mica said Wednesday, calling the TSA a bloated bureaucracy.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Qantas A380 Fleet Remains Grounded

Qantas is likely to keep its Airbus A380 fleet grounded until at least early December as it works on problems with its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, one of which recently broke apart in flight.

Qantas is scrambling to find replacement airplanes to make up for the loss of the super jumbos that will be out of commission until at least early December.

Should the problem prove to be a design flaw or issue with the Rolls-Royce engines, the grounding might be extended well beyond December.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Coming To An Airport Near You-Very Intrusive Body Scanners

Ever increasingly annoying, inconsistent, and intrusive procedures continue to be rolled out at U.S. Airports.

The latest is the full body-scan radiation and x-ray technology that TSA has started implementing. Some scientists and two major airline pilots unions contend not enough is known about the effects of the small doses of X-ray radiation emitted by one of the two types of airport scanning machines.

Anything that emits radiation and has x-ray features should be well researched before the traveling public is subjected to it.

Wildly inconsistent procedures from one airport to another also remains an issue and a some of those TSA procedures have become arbitrary and subjective. For instance, a TSA employee insisted on removing "anything metallic" regardless of how small it is. This requirement was not mentioned on the return flight a day later.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Spamcation" Nightmare Cruise Finally Ends

November 11, 2010: The Carnival "Splendor", with 4500 on board limped in this morning towards San Diego Bay where passengers broke into applause upon disembarking.

The nightmare cruise finally ended after 3 nights of backed up toilets, dark cabins, limited power and spam food, and no HVAC. An engine room fire knocked out the vital systems of the modern vessel and she was unable to steer or cruise without help from tugboats.

Carnival will issue vouchers to passengers good for a free future "fun" cruise.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fuel Surcharges Make a Comeback

Airlines are beginning to assess new fuel surcharges as jet fuel prices surges up to the highest level of the year.
Lufthansa on Monday increased its fuel surcharges, and similar moves by other airlines could be on their way after oil prices on Tuesday hit a two-year high in New York at $87.63 a barrel.

Airlines don't waste any time when fuel prices go up. Despite some hedging, they are quick to implement the surcharges and very slow to remove them when prices decline.


Monday, November 8, 2010

A Tiff Worth Keeping Track Of...

American Airlines announced last week that it would end an agreement with Orbitz Worldwide in displaying American's inventory in search results of the online booking company. Orbitz will not be able to display or sell seats on American Airlines.

This move could be the beginning of a long anticipated move by airlines to redefine the diplays of availability and selling that travel companies have through their Global Distribution Systems (GDS).

American Airlines wants travelers and travel providers to book American's seats through a "Direct Connect" system bypassing the general display of showing all flights. If implemented, this opening salvo will have a profound change on the way air travel is distributed. American wants to have more control over its content and wants to cut their distribution costs even further.

But is this practical?

If all carriers adopt the same strategy, it will eliminate the platform of being able to compare availability and pricing throughout the system, and travelers will not be able to receive efficient information that would allow them to make the best decisions.

American is choosing to pick on Orbitz, one of the smaller online players. But nothing precludes American or other airlines to apply the same strategy towards larger or smaller travel management companies.

Clearly, this step would be a setback for the traveling public if adopted widely.

The cost of airline ticket distribution is at an all time low of less than 2 percent of the fare, among the very lowest in any industry.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Indonesia Volcano forces Flight Cancellations

Several airlines have temporarily suspended flights between Singapore and Jakarta because of volcanic ash spewing from Mount Merapi in central Java, Indonesia.

The Merapi, one of the world's most active volcanoes, began erupting two weeks ago. Carriers affected included Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A380 Engine May Have a Design Flaw

The midair incident involving a Qantas Airbus A380 is being investigated.

Qantas said faulty engine design or material failure were the most likely causes of an engine blowout on one of its Airbus A380 superjumbos, and confirmed Friday that pieces from the engine had pierced the plane's wing.

The focus is on Rolls-Royce engines that Qantas A380 fleet is equipped with. Other carriers such as Lufthansa and Emirates that also fly the same aircraft have conducted inspections and have not decided to ground their aircraft.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Qantas Grounds A380 Fleet After Mid Air Engine Problem

Qantas grounded its new fleet of six Airbus A380 super jumbos after an engine blew out in midair Thursday November 4. The plane, with 459 aboard made a safe landing in Singapore.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

United Airlines Mileage Plus seats on Sale Through November 12!

United Economy Plus seating offers you up to five extra inches of legroom on all domestic and international United flights and explusSM from United Express®.

Economy Plus purchase reserves a seat within the Economy Plus seating area. Specific seat assignments are not guaranteed.

United offers complimentary Economy Plus seating to its premium customers and one companion, including:
Mileage Plus® elite members
United Global Services® members
Member must have elite status at the time of travel to retain complimentary reserved Economy Plus seats. For multiple companions, members can purchase Economy Plus seats for each additional companion when viewing an itinerary via My Itineraries on united.com.

Take advantage of more legroom all year by purchasing an Economy Plus annual option. As a member, you can reserve seats for yourself and a companion in Economy Plus whenever available-for an entire year.

This product is also available to international travelers.
For more information:
Call Premiere Travel at 703-893-2288

IATA Warns Against Unilateral Actions to Terror Threats

Officials at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned governments around the world not to act unilaterally, as the aviation industry seeks to minimize the fall out from the Yemeni bomb plot.

Both passenger and cargo carriers are concerned governments around the world will tighten security to such an extent that measures will be detrimental to business.

In turn the IATA has called for a measured response.

“Effective solutions are not developed unilaterally or in haste,” said IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani at the opening of AVSEC World in Frankfurt.

“We have seen many cases where these have unintended consequences. It is still early days. Industry is cooperating with government directives on targeted actions for Yemen-origin cargo."