Sunday, August 10, 2014

A National Park Roadtrip Around the Grand Canyon

The return of my blog takes a content turn. I’ll still be posting about technical topics that interest me, but I’ll also be updating this space with my Travelogue. Here is the first post pertaining to that topic.

In August of 2014, we took a road trip to get a taste of the National Parks in and around Utah and Arizona. The purpose was to scout out where we would want to return and spend more time on a future trip.

Flew into LAS on Alaska Airlines flight 616, Tuesday night. Stayed at the newly remodeled Tropicana. Nice rooms and really friendly hotel staff.

We hotfooted it out of Vegas and had lunch in Springdale, UT, just outside of Zion NP. A great place called Oscar's Cafe. Our waitress Rachel, took care of us recommending a couple of menu items, I had the shrimp tacos, while others in our party had an Avocado Chip Burger and a Turkey Bacon Avocado wrap. Next time, I'm ordering the Avocado Chip Burger, it has Fritos on the burger!

Since we would be visiting a bunch of NPs this trip we bought the $80 annual pass, good for all parks for the next year.

Once inside the park we took some time to drive around the park before heading out through the tunnel on the East side. Immediately after exiting the tunnel the is a parking lot that offers access to the canyon overlook trail on the opposite side of the street.

This was a fairly easy hike that rewarded us with great views of Zion's main canyon. The only challenge was the midday sun, although were had brought plenty of water along.


View from the top of the Canyon Overlook trail into the Zion National Park

It was few hours' drive from the exit at Zion to our accommodations for the night, and it was pretty uneventful. We managed a stop for some pie at the Thunderbird Restaurant, "Home of the Ho-made Pie". If your hankering for some good pie, move along, don't bother stopping here.

Our destination was the Quail Park Lodge ( in Kanab, UT. Originally built in 1963 as a roadside motel, it was recently remodeled in 2011. Billed as "Retro-Cool", the rooms were nice, clean and comfortable. There seems to be a trend in travel to bill motels (motor hotels) as lodges. The Quail Park Lodge is one of these, while there is no strict definition, I'd consider it a motel. I prefer my rooms to have interior not exterior doors, I worry about an axe murderer coming in the middle of the night. I didn't say it was logical, but there it is.

We didn't linger very long after checking in because we had a dinner reservation at the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim at 6:15pm and it was already 5pm with a 2 hour drive ahead of us.

Time in this part of the country can be a bit challenging. Kanab is in the mountain time zone, Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Savings Time, and the Grand Canyon National Park goes by Mountain Standard Time.

So… when we checked into our room at 5pm, with 2 hour drive ahead of us, to make a 6:15pm reservation we thought we were okay, but we weren't 100% sure.

The drive to the North Rim proved to be the high point of or trip, literally, we reached an elevation of 8840ft. We pulled into the parking lot about 5:25pm or was it 6:25pm, our phones were no help as they showed 7:25pm.

I was dropped off near the lodge entrance and ran to the restaurant to verify our reservation, preparing to grovel for the next available table if our time gymnastics proved out to be incorrect.

It turns out we were 45 minutes early, YES! With time on our side, we headed out to the back verandah to watch the waning rays of the sun paint the canyon in hues of red, amber, gold and purple.


View from the North Rim at the Grand Canyon Lodge

Dinner at the lodge was good, but it was the setting that made it fantastic, it reminded me of the time we had dinner at Crater Lake Lodge last summer. [Editor's Note: The GC and CL lodges are truly lodges in the classical sense, no motel wannabees here]. Our waiter, Scott, an Indiana native, kept us entertained with his stories of his grandfather's horseradish growing operation, while we played stump the bartender with an order of a Greyhounds. After a dessert trio consisting of creme brulée, chocolate fudge brownie, and bread pudding, it was time to head back to the QPL for a good night sleep.

The ride back was made more exciting than the ride in due to the numerous Mule deer sightings along the side of the road, often no more than 6 feet from the median. Luckily no deer in the headlights for us.

After checking out of our room, it was back in the car for another full day of driving. Our destination for the night was Tuba City on the Navajo/Hopi Indian Reservation. The drive would take us along the Vermilion Cliffs , with a stop at the Vermillion Cliffs Condor Viewing Area, to view the local California Condor population. Unfortunately, the best time to view the condors is early spring, so had zero sightings.


No Condors, but a great view of the Vermillion Cliffs

We stopped at Lee's Ferry Lodge (another motel) for lunch. The best part of this place was the fact that they had over a 100 beers on the menu. They didn't have my first choice Fraoch in stock anymore, so I went with the suggested Xingu Black Beer. While the beer was excellent, even that couldn't save me from thinking that my other choice for lunch, Cliff Dwellers restaurant would have been better.

After lunch, we headed up Lee's Ferry Road, part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and leveraged our Annual Park Pass for admission. We stopped at Cathedral Wash, a slot canyon trail, that was semi-passable, but still interesting. Further up the road, we hiked through the historical buildings of Lee's Ferry and dipped our toes in the calm cool waters of the Colorado River, still crystal clear at this point.


At Lee’s Ferry, the Colorado River is still calm and clear

On the way back, I jumped out at the balanced rocks to get a picture with these amazing geological features.


On of the amazing balanced rocks along Lee’s Ferry Road in Glen Canyon

Immediately exiting the National Recreation Area, we cross the Colorado River and stop at the Navajo Bridge. While the Navajo Bridge Interpretive center was closed for repairs, we were able to walk out on the bridge and get some great views of where the Colorado starts cutting into the Grand Canyon.

From here, it's just over an hours' drive to Tuba City, and the Moenkopi Hotel, a fairly new hotel, with a nice pool for cooling off and washing away the dust from the day's outings. We had dinner at the Hogan Family restaurant. They served a variety of foods including some Navajo specialties such as Navajo Fry Bread and Mutton Stew. For those with appetites, I would suggest the Navajo Fried Chicken Dinner or the Ribs. For $12 you get 4 pieces of fried chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob, beans and jalepeno poppers. Pretty amazing. The reviews on Trip Advisor are pretty harsh, but all in all not a bad place to get some food. Incidentally, this is not owned by the Hogan family, as I learned from the nearby Navajo information center, a Hogan is a sacred home for the Navajo people to practice religious ceremonies.

After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast of Moons over My Hammy at the Denny's adjacent to the hotel, it was off to Petrified Forest National Park. The drive would take us through some of the most desolate land in the middle of nowhere. It prompted me to post as much to my Facebook page. About 15 minutes later, my Sister (who lives in Vegas), commented on my post that they were in the vicinity, traveling to roughly the same destination. We arranged for a meetup in Holbrook, AZ at the Winner's Circle for an impromptu family reunion. Who would have thought that we would be meeting up with each other hundreds of miles away from where we live. We hugged, chatted and said our goodbyes after 30 minutes, each back to their respective road trips.

Petrified Forest National Park was our third National Park on this trip alone, we stopped at the visitors center, and walked the Crystal Forest trail. The petrified logs were the remains of a tropical forest over 200 million years old, when the current area was located near the equator. Similar to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest in Washington State, this area contained lots of petrified wood and fossils. The park also houses the remains of the Puerco Pueblo settlement from around 1300 AD. One of the more interesting artifacts is a petroglyph that marks the occurrence of the Summer Solstice.


That’s petrified wood boys and girls

Retracing our steps back through Holbrook, AZ we passed the Wigwam Motel on historic Route 66, eventually ending up at the Doubletree hotel in Flagstaff, 90 minutes later. Moons over My Hammy can only satisfy ones hunger for so long, so we headed down to the Galaxy Diner for some historic Route 66 flair. This is a classic diner in every sense of the word. With so many of my favorites on the menu it was a tough choice, but I ended up ordering the Potsie Pot Roast with a Chocolate Malt, it was not a mistake. If you are ever in Flagstaff, and like the "diner scene", make sure you stop in at the Galaxy Diner.

The next morning it was up an at’em for a drive to the Grand Canyon South Rim. We would be spending most of the day hiking along the South Rim trail. The park has a great bus system that cuts down on car congestion, this really enhances the feeling of remoteness. We hopped on the bus to be dropped of at “The Abyss” stop, and began our walk West along the rim trail.


Look ma, no rails to prevent you from going over the edge on the Rim trail

You can get right up to the edge on the Rim trail, there are no railings to prevent you from being stupid. It was good that we started our hike in the morning, the sun was not too hot, and foot traffic along the path was nonexistent. The destination of our three mile hike was Hermit’s Rest, it offered a snack bar, water refills and restrooms.


At the end of the line in Hermit’s Rest

At Hermit’s Rest, we were able to jump back on a bus to take us back to the visitor center. In the afternoon, the parking was full, and we were heading back on the road to return to Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so I’ll end the tale here. We did end up catching Alaska Airlines flight 617 back to Seattle.

So, where would we go back to? Definitely the Grand Canyon and Zion (particularly in the town of Springdale), all of the other sites are considered complete.


Monday, May 31, 2010

.Net Developer 2.0.2010.10.24 Workstation

Microsoft has released a slew of new tools in the past 3 months. I’ve captured a lot of what is needed to get going with VS2010. I’ve adopted the concept of adding products by Developer Role. For the initial post, I’m defining four roles:

  1. .Net Developer Role
  2. Silverlight Developer
  3. Windows Phone Developer Role
  4. Windows Azure Developer Role

As new technologies get updated, my goal is to update this post. My hope is that this will be the foundation of building the next generation workstation to meet the next generation of development. There are quite a few things missing from this list, but it’s late, and I’m supposed to be cooking dinner.

.Net Developer Role

The .Net Developer Role includes the basic tools and environment needed to design, develop and deploy .Net based applications in the Corona Ecosystem.

Visual Studio 2010

Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional is an integrated environment that simplifies the basic tasks of creating, debugging and deploying applications. Let Visual Studio 2010 Professional unleash your imagination and easily deliver your ideas. Download.

AccuRev Software Configuration Management

AccuRev SCM enables you to track, maintain and integrate your code changes. Download. Integrate with Windows, and the Visual Studio environment by downloading AccuBridge clients.

Build and Packaging Tools

The Build and Packaging tools install the necessary components to enable you to build, test and package your application.

Visual Studio AddOns

ADO.NET Entity Framework Feature CTP4

This CTP is a an early preview of the Code First Programming Model and Productivity Improvements for Entity Framework 4 (included in .NET Framework 4). download. Added 07/16/2010.

Training and Resources

Moving to Visual Studio 2010 e-Book - The book is not a language primer, a language reference, or a single technology book. It's a book that will help professional developers move from previous versions of Visual Studio (starting with 2003 and on up).

Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 Training Course - The Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 Training Course includes videos and hands-on-labs designed to help you learn how to utilize the Visual Studio 2010 features and a variety of framework technologies including: C# 4.0, Visual Basic 10, F#, Parallel Computing Platform, WCF, WF, WPF, ASP.NET AJAX 4.0, ASP.NET MVC Dynamic Data.

Visual Studio 2010 Resource Kit - The Visual Studio 2010 Resource Kit provides a deep offering of online and offline content.

Visual Studio 2010 Walkthroughs - Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 Release Candidate walkthroughs that include technical information and other learning resources.

Visual Studio 2010 Keybinding Reference Cards - Reference cards for the default keybindings in Visual Studio 2010 for Visual Basic, Visual C#, Visual C++ and Visual F#.

Silverlight Developer Role

The Silverlight Developer role contains all the necessary tools to design, develop and deploy Silverlight based applications.

Microsoft Silverlight 4 Tools for Visual Studio 2010

This package is an add-on for Visual Studio 2010 to provide tooling for Microsoft Silverlight 4 and RIA Services. It can be installed on top of either Visual Studio 2010 or Visual Web Developer 2010 Express. It extends existing Silverlight 3 features and multitargeting capabilities in Visual Studio 2010 to also create applications for Silverlight 4 using C# or Visual Basic. Download. Updated 10/24/2010

Microsoft Expression Blend 4

Expression Blend 4 enables you to create websites and applications based on Silverlight 3 and Silverlight 4, and desktop applications based on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) 3.5 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) and WPF 4. Expression Blend provides support for prototyping, interactivity through behaviors, special Silverlight functionality, and on-the-fly sample data generation. Expression Blend includes new behaviors that are quickly and easily configured. To support the development of line-of-business (LOB) applications, Expression Blend introduces support for the Model-View-ViewModel pattern. Download.

Silverlight Toolkit

The Silverlight Toolkit is a collection of Silverlight controls, components and utilities made available outside the normal Silverlight release cycle. A product of the Microsoft Silverlight product team, the Silverlight Toolkit adds new functionality quickly for designers and developers, and provides the community an efficient way to help shape product development by contributing ideas and bug reports. It includes full open source code, unit tests, samples and documentation for over 26 new controls covering charting, styling, layout, and user input. Download.

WCF RIA Services Toolkit

Microsoft WCF RIA Services simplifies the traditional n-tier application pattern by bringing together the ASP.NET and Silverlight platforms. RIA Services provides a pattern to write application logic that runs on the mid-tier and controls access to data for queries, changes and custom operations. It also provides end-to-end support for common tasks such as data validation, authentication and roles by integrating with Silverlight components on the client and ASP.NET on the mid-tier. Download.

Training and Resources

Silverlight Training Course - The Silverlight 4 Training Course includes a whitepaper explaining all of the new Silverlight 4 RC features, several hands-on-labs that explain the features, and a 8 unit course for building business applications with Silverlight 4. The business applications course includes 8 modules with extensive hands on labs as well as 25 accompanying videos that walk you through key aspects of building a business application with Silverlight. Key aspects in this course are working with numerous sandboxed and elevated out of browser features, the new RichTextBox control, implicit styling, webcam, drag and drop, multi touch, validation, authentication, MEF, WCF RIA Services, right mouse click, and much more! Download.

Silverlight Learn – The Microsoft Siliverlight site has hands on labs, videos and downloadable samples to get you started on learning all about Silverlight.

Expression Design Toolbox - Features two core learning paths: Design Scenarios and Design Principles. Both begin with teaching basic techniques and build skills and knowledge incrementally. In Design Scenarios, designers and developers learn to create dynamically-rich Silverlight applications using Expression Studio. You will learn to add code-free functionality to designs by following step-by-step tutorials that illustrate how to create interactive user experiences. In Design Principles, you will learn fundamental design concepts (e.g., choosing the right colors and the right fonts) along with tips and techniques in how to apply them to your creations.

Windows Phone Developer Role

Windows Phone Developer Tools

The Windows Phone Developer Tools CTP contains what you need to get started with Windows Phone 7 development. Specifically it contains the following:  CTP of Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, Windows Phone 7 Series Emulator, Silverlight, and XNA Game Studio. Download. Updated 10/24/2010

Application Bar Icons for Windows Phone 7 Series

A set of application bar icons for use when developing Windows Phone 7 Series applications using the Windows Phone Developer Tools CTP. Download.

Training and Resources

Windows Phone 7 Series Developer Training Kit - This Training Kit will give you a jumpstart into the new Windows Phone world by providing you with a step-by-step explanation of the tools to use and some key concepts for programming Windows Phones.

Windows Azure Developer Role

Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 1.2 (June 2010)

Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio extend Visual Studio 2008 and the upcoming Visual Studio 2010 RC to enable the creation, configuration, building, debugging, running and packaging of scalable web applications and services on Windows Azure. Installation includes the Windows Azure SDK. Download. Updated 10/24/2010

Training and Resources

Windows Azure Platform Training Kit – June Update - The Azure Services Training Kit includes a comprehensive set of technical content including hands-on labs, presentations, and demos that are designed to help you learn how to use the Windows Azure platform including: Windows Azure, SQL Azure and AppFabric. The December release includes new and updated labs in addition to information about Microsoft Codename “Dallas”.

Windows Azure platform AppFabric Labs SDK - The Windows Azure platform AppFabric Labs environment is an environment which the AppFabric team will use to showcase some early bits get the community's feedback.

Demystifying the Cloud - The first three chapters focus on the core concepts and terminologies while the rest of the chapters introduce the popular Cloud Computing stacks including Amazon Web Services, Google App Engine and Microsoft Windows Azure. This book is meant for developers who want to understand the fundamentals of Cloud Computing.

Security Best Practices For Developing Windows Azure Applications - In this document Microsoft describes some of the security technologies software developers should use, and the security design and development practices they should use to build more secure Windows Azure applications.  Added 07/05/2010

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Internet Airline News #15

New airline rules address tarmac delays, retroactive contract changes, disclosures

Our friends at the Transportation Department have unleashed a blizzard of airline rule changes on us this morning. They’re being characterized as an early Christmas present for air travelers — particularly those with lengthy tarmac delays. And the government is not done yet. But read the actual rule, and the DOT’s nuanced discussion of its final rulemaking (PDF), and a different picture emerges.

DOT Mandates Passenger Bill of Rights and I’m Not Happy

Yesterday, the DOT decided to issue a final ruling that will effectively require airlines to have a passenger bill of rights. This includes a 3 hour limit on the amount of time you spend on the ground on a domestic flight. While I’m sure that Kate Hanni and friends are thrilled, I am not.

Seattle startup gets 14 airlines to sign on to biofuel agreement

Moving to cut dependence on petroleum for jet fuel, 14 airlines, including Alaska, have signed an agreement for the potential purchase of plant-based fuel from a Seattle company that plans to build a production facility in Anacortes.

American Airlines and the OJ Incident PR Fail

It looks like American Airlines (AMR) hasn’t learned from the Mr X incident. A recent viral blog post about an orange juice-related incident gave American the opportunity to respond once again. It hasn’t, and instead continues to study the issue while opinions continue to form.

Delta Offers Gold Status To Victims Of Pyschotic American Airlines Stewardess

Delta has offered Gold status to anyone who was on the ill-fated American Airlines flight where a stewardess screamed at a first class passenger who had the gall to ask for orange juice, and had him given a written warning by the captain.

United, Continental and ANA apply for antitrust immunity

Star Alliance partners United Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Continental Airlines said Wednesday they've applied for antitrust immunity "to enable the three carriers to create a more efficient and comprehensive trans-Pacific network, generating substantial service and pricing benefits for consumers."

American, Southwest honored by Business Traveler magazine

Business Traveler magazine has handed out its "2009 Best in Business Travel Awards," and our two North Texas airlines fared well. American Airlines was named "Best North American Airline for First-Class Service" and "Best Airline for North American Travel," while Southwest Airlines was picked as "Best Low-Cost Airline in North America."

Peak Travel Day Surcharge Chart: Breakdown by Date & Airline

You may recall that the Peak Travel Day surcharge is no longer just about Christmas and New Year’s (although travel dates around those holidays will be affected). Multiple carriers have added surcharges of varying costs to peak travel dates all the way into October of 2010.

Virgin America’s CEO is “Cautiously Optimistic About 2010″

Virgin America began service when it was especially tough to be an airline start-up, first with high fuel, and now with a recession. So, many were surprised when the San Francisco-based airline recently announced that it had turned its first operating profit ($5.1 million) in the third quarter. That compares to a $54 million operating loss for the same quarter a year ago. The carrier did post a net loss of $5.9 million, however.

Three Reasons Why Delta Slashed First Class Fares Between New York and the West Coast

It looks like Delta (DAL) is sick of watching premium passengers between New York and both LA and San Francisco fly on other airlines. They’ve recently upgrade the aircraft on those routes to have their international BusinessElite product, and now, they’ve dramatically slashed fares for those comfy seats.

Southwest Loses Its Social Media Guru, All Eyes on the Transition

Anyone in the social media space who deals with the airline industry knows Paula Berg. For the last few years, Paula has been the social media guru (or, uh Manager of Emerging Media) for Southwest Airlines (LUV), an unqualified leader in the social media space. Paula has now left for greener pastures (literally - she’s trading the dusty brown Dallas landscape for the picturesque Rocky Mountains)

Flying Too High On Airline Fees

As airlines continue their enthusiastic embrace of fare unbundling and new fees as a revenue-raising savior, they had better heed some warning signs – or at least keep in mind some recent history.

The Big Business of Baggage Fees

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that airline fees topped $2 billion in the third quarter, up 36% from the same period of 2008. Baggage fees carried the load. Ancillary revenue, which includes baggage fees, reservation change fees, sales of frequent flier miles to business partners, pet fees and standby passenger fees, constituted 6.9% of total airline operating revenue, BTS said. Last year in the third quarter, ancillary revenue amounted to 4.1% of total operating revenue. BTS doesn’t count onboard sales of food or seating assignments in those numbers.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Internet Airline News #14

Think a Lot of People are Using Wifi In the Air? Think Again

In the past, airborne wireless usage numbers have been tough to come by. Wifi provider Row 44 has been more forthcoming than AirCell, but Row 44 has such a small footprint right now that it’s not necessarily indicative of broader numbers. Virgin America has said it’s seeing good usage, but you would expect that on an airline that targets the Silicon Valley crowd. Now, we’re getting some numbers from AirCell that indicate what most have thought - usage isn’t good.

The problem with free in-flight internet

For a while now I’ve been a rather strong proponent of the theory that paid in-flight internet isn’t going to attract enough business to survive, at least not with the current pricing scheme.  I just don’t think that there are enough people out there willing to pay $8 or more per flight for the access that is available. [Ed. – Theoretically Alaska Air WiFi should not have this problem]

United Airlines offers a free "try before you buy" Wi-Fi session on all p.s. flights

Passengers on the United Airlines p.s. premium transcontinental service can enjoy one free Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi session. The promotion is done as a "try before you buy", which is a great way to get introduced to the joy of inflight Internet access.

Four pieces of great inflight WiFi news from Gogo

Inflight Internet provider Aircell released not one, but four different pieces of good news yesterday afternoon. We've translated all the PR-speak into the stuff you need to know if you want to stay up to date on the latest developments of Internet in the skies.

Allegiant Fights AirTran, Enters Orlando

For years we’ve heard Allegiant proclaim that they don’t really like competition. They’ve often boasted about how few of their routes have competitors, and they’ve had no qualms about walking away from a route that suddenly performs poorly thanks to new entrants (Greensboro comes to mind).

US Airways Adds Cash for the Next Couple Winters, Defers Airplanes

I hope our US readers had a nice Thanksgiving yesterday. Certainly the financial whizzes at US Airways (LCC) must have had a particularly satisfying meal yesterday. First they bulked up their airline with cash on Tuesday, and then they bulked up themselves with turkey.

Airports want passenger fee charge increased

If U.S. airports get their wish, air travelers will pay a few more dollars per trip next year. Citing escalating construction costs, airports have been lobbying Congress to raise the cap on the "passenger facility charge" that fliers pay as part of their airline tickets.

Inside Virgin America's "Stay Golden" launch event (photos)

I looked around and tried to absorb what was unfolding before me.VIP's and Virgin employees mingled on the patio of the beachfront W Fort Lauderdale. Nearby, a reality TV crew set up a shot for a new series about the lives of Virgin America flight attendants. Lights and loud music infiltrated the senses. It was a perfect backdrop for television, even though it didn't quite feel like reality.
And in a sense, it wasn't reality; but merely a splash of Richard Branson's reality.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Internet Airline News #12

ROW 13: Why some airlines have it and others do not

Of course this makes sense. There are a lot of passengers who fear flying and the number "13″ doesn't have the most positive thoughts attached to it. This explains why airlines have their entire fleets with or without a 13th row, but I wondered, why did Alaska Airlines have a 13th row in all planes except their Boeing 737-800's?

Geoff Pettis, Manager of Interior Engineering with Alaska Airlines, cleared up my confusion…

British Airways and Iberia Agree to Merge

British Airways and Iberia have reached an agreement on a merger plan for the two carriers. If the

merger occurs, the combined carrier would serve 205 destinations with 419 aircraft.

American's Firing of Mr X Becoming a Social Media Black Eye

Thanks to the Mr. X incident, American Airlines is about to get a dose of what United recently experienced when it broke guitars - a wave of negative social media coverage. Not sure who Mr. X is? Read on, and see why I think they’re making a mistake in the way they’re handling this.

What Virgin America's doing right

USA TODAY'S David Grossman recently scored an interview with David Cush, Virgin America's CEO, and came away with some interesting details about how the airline sees itself. Mr Cush is a former American Airlines employee, but he says Virgin doesn't look at his former employer for inspiration…

Qantas plans 'Airport of the Future,' premium service upgrades

Qantas plans to introduce an Airport of the Future concept in major domestic markets next year that it said will reduce dramatically time spent at check-in and in security queues and speed baggage collection.

Domestic passengers will be issued new RFID cards that will replace both the standard boarding pass and baggage tags and give instant recognition to security agents.

Alaska Airlines Bucks Industry Trends To Build Profits From Operations And Cash Flow

When Alaska Air Group CEO Bill Ayer rang the New York Stock Exchange opening bell on Nov. 10, he might as well have rung it to celebrate the end of a fantastic quarter for the airline. Alaska reported a third-quarter profit of $87.6 million, in a period when most U.S. mainline carriers bled red ink.

Worried About Losing Tax Revenue, Congress to Investigate Airlines’ Fees

Congress has been furrowing its collective brow at the practice. An investigation is under way, and could lead to changes in this increasingly popular tactic that airlines use to bring in more revenue without raising fares.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Internet Airline News #11

Vengeance? Karma? Bad luck? United loses the luggage of the “United Breaks Guitars” guy

After famously breaking his guitar, United Airlines has managed to cause further trouble for David Carroll by losing his luggage — just as the Canadian singer-songwriter was en route to deliver a speech about customer service.

Ontario Airport's High Costs Showcase Missed Opportunity

Just last week I wrote about the anger increasingly being directed toward LA World Airports by Ontario Airport stakeholders. Now, it appears that Ontario is getting more serious as the city looks at potential alternatives for the airport, something that might involve taking management away from LAWA. Looking at some numbers, it seems incredibly clear that they should very seriously consider doing just that. Their costs could and should be dramatically lowered.

If You Want to Try Wifi Onboard, You’ll Have Plenty of Free Chances

It’s no surprise that when you make something completely free, people use it a lot more often than if you make them pay. Duh. And that’s why it’s not surprising to see airlines scrambling to find a way to offer wireless internet for free. Just in the last few days, we’ve seen three promotions that will let anyone log on from 30,000 feet without paying a dime.

Midwest and Frontier Start Swapping Airplanes in the Middle of the Day

We’ve talked about how Republic’s acquisition of Frontier and Midwest has given the carrier tremendous flexibility in moving its airplanes around between its different subsidiaries. We’ve already seen announcements that Frontier will operate aircraft under the Midwest name, and some of the Republic-operated Embraer aircraft will come to Denver to operate for Frontier. Now, we’re seeing something even more interesting. Republic will have a single airplane operate for both airlines on the same exact day.

Southwest Airlines web site has high load factors

"The popularity of our 72-hour fare sale is generating a lot of interest in," Southwest is putting on its web site. "The web experience might be slower than usual. Thanks for your patience."

Airplane Part Falls on Suburban Lawn

It was a rather large piece of metal (3′ X 4′) shaped like a cone - and, according to the cops, it came from a commercial airplane. At this point, nobody knows what airline it belonged to but if anyone’s missing anything, you can contact the Roosevelt P.D.

JetBlue's All-You-Can-Jet Pass Considered a Success

You likely could have figured out from the early press it got that JetBlue’s All-You-Can-Jet pass would be a success, but now we have JetBlue Senior VP Marketing & Commercial Marty St George talking about it in more detail. This was a rock star of a promotion.

Alaska's Profits Heat Up

Alaska Airlines continues to stand out as a bright spot in the struggling U.S. airline industry. The carrier had the highest profit margin of the nine largest U.S. airlines during the first nine months of 2009, notes airline analyst Michael Derchin of FTN Equity Capital. Alaska's pre-tax margin of 6% beat out AirTran Airways (5%), JetBlue Airways (3%), and Southwest Airlines (1%). United Airlines finished at the bottom of the pack, with a pre-tax margin of negative 8%.

Are the economics of Twitter airfares worth it?

More and more budget-travel tipsters are pointing towards Twitter, Facebook and social media outlets as the source for wild cheap airfares these days. And it's true, in a way. By subscribing to the pundit feeds online it's possible to get the inside scoop on a few good routes, often saving a few shekels on a future itinerary.

Internet Airline News #10

An Onboard Wifi Update

I’m at the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) conference this week, and I spent awhile chatting with the folks at AirCell (provider of wifi fun) yesterday. That made me think it was a good time for a wifi update, especially since there has been so much news lately.

The Safest Airlines to Fly On

There's no accounting for terrible fate and random events, but The Daily Beast wants you to see how major and regional airlines rank in accidents and incidents. It's worth a peek before booking your next flight.

Continental’s Overnight Excursion in Rochester, Minnesota

I haven’t commented on the ridiculousness that is Continental #2816 yet, and I’ve received plenty of emails asking me why that hasn’t happened. You know the flight; that’s the one where the passengers got stuck on their little regional jet all night long after diverting from Minneapolis/St Paul to Rochester, Minnesota because of bad weather. I decided to wait to write a post until I could get full information, and I simply couldn’t get it. But now that the initial report is out from the DOT, I’ve got enough to start talking. Surprisingly, it points to Delta Connection carrier Mesaba as the real problem here, though they are denying it.

One Airline Gets It: Sun Country to Limit “Time on Tarmac”

The CEO of the Minnesota-based Sun Country Airlines believes his airline is the first to do this: setting a limit on how much time passengers will spend sitting on a plane, when the plane isn’t going anywhere. The new limit is four hours maximum - then the plane and passengers have to return to the terminal (and of course, can do so sooner).

Alaska’s Monthly Investor Update

Alaska releases a monthly update with some traffic and financial data, and it’s always interesting to take a look. First, let’s look at revenue. PRASM was down 1.3% year-over-year and RASM was actually up 0.7%. That’s great, right? Well, not so fast.

Southwest’s Sweet E-Mail Marketing

I’m heading to San Diego in a little less than a month for the National Business Travel Association conference (which I’m really looking forward to), and I’m flying down on Southwest. Last week, I received this e-mail:

Summer Reading: Flying High In a Competitive Industry

First, I’d like to say that this is not a book for airplane geeks, or at least not all of them. The book reads like a business case study for students, which makes perfect sense since it’s published by McGraw-Hill Education.

Schedule Capacity Changes: Keep abreast of weekly schedule changes by airline brand and for the top 25 US airports.
Airport Top Ten O&D Markets: This snapshot will give you the top ten O&D markets for any airport for the latest reported quarter of data
Market O&D Traffic Data: This snapshot gives you the total O&D for any market you choose to enter, for the latest quarter
Nonstop Segment Financial Performance: This snapshot gives you the composition of passengers and prorated yields for a given segment, for the latest quarter

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just Fooling Around

Sometimes you just need to try things.