Friday, December 31, 2010


.....and to all a safe flight...

"The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are."
Samuel Johnson

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No Slack in Air Travel

One thing that became painfully clear in the latest weather disruption in the eastern seaboard is the complete lack of wiggle room and flexibility to counter such events as storms, volcanoes, strikes or other disruptions.

Airlines have continuously cut capacity to the bare bones and that almost all flights are operating at full capacity. So when flights get cancelled or delayed, displaced passengers are for all intents and purposes out of luck. Later flights are already fully booked and those passengers missing their connections or did not make their original flights have nowhere to go.

As this blog is being published, thousands of unlucky passengers are stranded, sometimes for days at airports unable to make flights going from gate to gate, standing by for the next flight and the next, and they are all full.

The tarmac horror continues as thousands of passengers arriving at JFK yesterday were stranded on the tarmac between Monday and Wednesday due to lack of gate facilities. Delays on a British Airways arriving from London was 7 hours. There were more than twenty flights with severe delays.

These situations need to be addressed through a stronger and updated "passenger rights bill" that requires airlines to do more to accommodate stranded passengers, offer them food, lodging and other necessary amenities and get them to their desired destination as soon as possible.

It is time that airlines treat passengers as valued customers, and not like pieces of luggage.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post Christmas Travel Mess-Update

December 27, 800AM Update
All three airport in the Washington Metro area are open. However, significant cancellations and delays are abound.
Depending on the origin and destination, flights may be cancelled or delayed.

Travel to/from the northeast is significantly curtailed. LaGuardia is scheduled to re-open at 2:00 pm today, Newark at 4 pm, and JFK at 4pm. Aircraft re-positioning will be a big factor in delays and cancellations. (Open times subject to change)

Amtrak is struggling with trying to resume service and delays are to be expected in the northeast corridor.

Before you head out, please check your flight status at

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mid Atlantic Storm Disrupts Travel

A slow moving snow front is hitting the mid atlantic region, moving north.
Before travelers head to airports, please check your flight status at, or your airline website.

Some airlines have issued waivers for travelers impacted by the weather conditions.
Amtrak has cancelled late train service between Boston and New york.

Friday, December 24, 2010

White Christmas Visits South

A rare Christmas day snowfall is expected to affect travel in the south. Southern airports such as Nashville and Atlanta may be impacted by conditions that will affect air travel.

Airports in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee are not equipped for de-icing, so any snowfall/icing may cause severe disruptions.

Meanwhile, Europe continues to dig itself out of last week's storm. Under blue skies this morning, Heathrow was trying to unclog the bottleneck of flights that have been delayed or cancelled the past few days, and more travelers will finally make it home for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Connecting in London Heathrow, A Relic from the Past

London Heathrow, known by its acronym LHR, is one of the world's busiest airports. It operates at or near capacity. 2010 has not been a good year for Heathrow.

First there was the painfully protracted "industrial action" by the unions against British Airways, then who can forget the volcanic disruptions that seemed to zero in on Heathrow and all of England. The final straw is the latest snow storm of the past weekend, resulting in tens of thousands of travelers sleeping on the floors of all terminals as hundreds of flights were cancelled.

When an airport like Heathrow is operating at over 90% capacity, the smallest weather event can wreak major havoc and can disrupt travel all over Western Europe and beyond.

Owned and operated by the British Airport Authority (BAA), a privately held Spanish company that went into major debt to acquire Heathrow and other British Airports, facilities to accommodate arriving and departing aircraft and passengers are insufficient by western standards. Aircraft that seemingly should arrive on time are asked to loop around for half an hour or more over London, spewing unnecessary pollution because there are not enough gates, or due to congestion of arriving aircraft. De-icing equipment and other logistical vehicles that can clear snow are also in short supply.

The focus of BAA has been to expand the "Duty Free" shops and other for profit items. Ironically, this is good strategy for making profit as the captive audience of stranded and delayed passengers have to eat, drink and shop to kill time. May be the next thing should be cot rentals so that passengers who miss their flights can nap a little more comfortably...

Avoiding Heathrow for connecting flights might be the wisest choice.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

American Airlines Pulls the Plug on Orbitz

American flights no longer display on Orbitz as the dispute between the travel website and the airline crossed a new threshold.

In a trend that will likely develop further in 2011, some airlines claim that they want to "enhance customer experience" by having a direct connect link to airline inventory bypassing the need for Global Distribution System model.

Airlines already have their own websites to sell seats, but now the squeeze is being applied on service providers such as GDS systems and online agencies.

While airlines are free to sell their products the way they determine, such move would fragment the choices available to the traveler by making comparison shopping difficult or impossible.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Travel Waivers Issued for Europe

Most major airlines are issuing waivers and relaxing restrictions due the significant weather disruptions wreaking havoc in Western Europe.

United and Lufthansa, among others, have expanded and extended waivers for travel to/from/through the following airports at least through December 24:
Paris, London, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels and Amsterdam.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Deep Freeze hits European Travel Again

Premier League soccer games were canceled throughout Northern Europe. Naturally, flights in and out of Germany, Holland, England and other nearby airports were canceled dealing a fresh blow to pre-Christmas travel plans for tens of thousands of passengers.

With flights delayed, diverted and canceled, it will take several days to sort this one out.

Passengers are well advised to check with their airlines before heading to airports about the status of their flights.
Many carriers have issued waivers to deal with the latest disruptions.

Friday, December 17, 2010

American Airlines Leads a New Round of Fare Hikes

While some carriers announced "New Year's Sale" on limited routes and seats, American Airlines increased fares by an average of $10 per round trip to address "supply and demand" issues and recent increases in fuel costs.

The fare increase was immediately "matched" by other carriers, and will likely stick. Typically, when other carriers fail to match the lead carrier will abandon the fare hike for fear of losing market share.

While airlines may trumpet occasional "fare sales", fare hikes and fuel surcharges are done quietly.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ancillary Fees Windfall 2010: $3.4 Billion on Baggage

U.S. Airlines are on track to reap in excess of $3.4 billion in 2010 on baggage fees alone.

With the exception of Southwest, airlines have found the way to nickel and dime their way to profitability by passing on costs to the traveler such as "fuel surcharge", and keep dreaming up a variety of fees to charge. The baggage fee is the biggest money maker for airlines, followed by a sundry of items such as "aisle seats", "exit seats", "extra legroom seats", "economy plus seats", "upgrade fees and co-payments", "snack packs" and "blanket/pillow combo" fees.

The trend is expected to continue in 2011 and beyond as revenue management of most airlines keep "introducing" more fees...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fare Discounts by United for The New Year

United has kicked off a fare sale and promotion for January 2011...
The nationwide deals are excellent, but seats will be limited.
Sample Fare: Washington-Chicago $89 * one-way, based on RT plus fees
Valid for travel from January 4- March 9

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cold Snap in Europe Trips Travel

A snowy cold snap gripped most of Europe causing massive cancellations of flights that rippled through the continent.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris was closed, and roadways were treacherous. Two of London's airports were closed overnight.

Chaos reined all over as trains and other transportation modes were all impacted. Airlines had to scramble to adjust their schedules and most have issued travel waivers for travel to/from the affected airports.

The timing could not be worse as many travelers are beginning to make their way home for the holidays, and even couple of more days may cause big inconveniences to tens of thousands of travelers.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

U.S., Brazil Agree to Ramp Up Flights

The U.S. and Brazil have agreed to end the limits of flights between the two countries. The process will be gradual and will be entirely lifted by 2015.

28 additional flights will be added in 2011 and another 28 in 2012.

Overall, this is very positive news for travelers to/from the U.S. as more services will be introduced between several cities in both countries.

Monday, December 6, 2010

American Airlines Direct Connect- Another Threat to Travel Distribution

An Illinois court has stepped in to block American Airlines from pulling its listing of flights from Orbitz, an online ticketing website.

In the continuous battle between airlines and Global Distribution Systems (GDS) that aggregate travel information to suppliers such as online agencies and travel agents worldwide, American had earlier announced a termination of its display on Orbitz.

The rationale of American for going to "Direct Connect" has continued shifting since the announcement which was made, and travel providers from the U.S., Europe and Australia have logged their strong objections to what they deem is a move to fragment and control travel information.

If other carriers follow American's lead, the traveling public will not have access to comparative information about fares and/or ancillary fees. This is a blatant attempt to fragment travel content in a way that is contrary to the interest of the traveling public.

Kevin Mitchell, Chairman of the Business Travel Coalition added that " (American's) Direct Connect appears to be a solution in search of a problem..."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Spain Declares "State of Alarm"

Spain moved decisively today to end a strike by air traffic controllers that has effectively shut down civil aviation and left tens of thousands of travelers across the country stranded.

The government threatened striking workers with arrest and prison terms under military laws. Workers started returning to work late Saturday, but the situation remains chaotic.

Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said most Spanish airports were still not operating and apologized to irate travelers who spent Friday night sleeping at airports on what was supposed to be the start of a long holiday weekend.
He accused the air traffic controllers of trying to blackmail the country and warned that even if they go back to work soon it will take some time for Spanish airports to return to normal.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Is TSA Listening to Air Travelers?

TSA insists that it is listening to the wide barrage of criticism regarding the new body scanners and the "enhanced" pat-downs. At the same time TSA said it will not back down from subjecting the vast majority of travelers to the new procedure.

New surveys are showing that the ever changing and intensive procedures are adding to the already existing hassles of air travel and will likely dampen demand in 2011.

In fact, Amtrak has seen a surge in demand in the northeast corridor of Boston-New Yor-Washington, thanks to a combination of factors that include the new TSA requirements. Amtrak took notice and the train fares have been "modified".

While the majority of the traveling public fully supports TSA's mission of securing our air space and preventing terror, most feel that there has to be a better way...