Sunday, March 29, 2009

Internet Airline News Links #4

Expedia and Travelocity Drop Booking Fees (Temporarily)

There’s good news out there for those of you who like to book your travel using online travel agents. Expedia and Travelocity have both followed in Priceline’s footsteps and dropped all booking fees for flights. There don’t appear to be any catches, but this is a temporary move. Flights must be booked by May 31.

Upgrade & Standby List on delta.com

When I came across this thread on FlyerTalk entitled,”When is Delta going to add the upgrade list to their online system?”, the functionality to view the upgrade standby list on delta.com was already moving into our pre-production environment for final testing.

FLTAdvisor Tells You If Your Flight is Really On Time

FLTAdvisor’s goal is to find out if a flight is really going to be on time, despite what the airline says. The idea is great, but can they pull it off? So far, so good, but keep in mind that you will have to pay for it. (More that later.)

Your Airline Wants to Get to Know You

An airline loses your bag or cancels your flight because of a mechanical problem. The next time you show up at the airport, an agent personally apologizes and offers a free pass to an airport lounge for your troubles. [Steve Jarvis gets mentioned. –Ed]

Use Twitter to Stay Updated on Alaska Airlines/Volcano

This is one of the better uses of Twitter that I’ve seen.  Alaska Airlines is inviting you to sign up for Twitter updates regarding volcano activity.

Virgin America’s Smart E-Mail Marketing

E-mail marketing can be very effective. Generic fare sales can certainly be nice, but I also like it when companies reach out to individual groups. I joined Virgin America’s frequent flyer program Elevate when it first came out to become a “founding member,” to see if that would bring about any perks.

Virgin America Adds New Bag Fee ($15 for first checked-bag)

And another one bites the dust…Yes, no more free checked-bags on Virgin America. Like most of the other U.S. carriers, Virgin will now charge $15 for a first piece of checked luggage.

Answer of Virgin America to Motion of Alaska Airlines

Alaska has raised nothing new in its Motion, and just like in its initial Petition, no reason to institute a public proceeding exists. Nothing unforeseen to the Department has occurred, and Virgin America has met and continues to meet all of its notification requirements.

Icelandair Announces Seattle

Yesterday, Icelandair announced that it will be launching flights to Seattle in Jully, with four flights a week.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Internet Airline News Links #3

 

Southwest Air Considering Food Sales to Boost Revenue
March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Southwest Airlines Co., the discount carrier that made free peanuts a symbol of no-frills flying, may start selling food to boost revenue as travel demand dwindles.

JetBlue, Southwest Among Top Twitterers
Brand-management company Electric Artists came up with a Twitter tracker that ranks accounts by followers--that is, how many users have clicked on a specific account to follow its Tweets. Here's their blog. JetBlue's ranks in third place, with 161,000+, and Southwest is in seventh with 15,600+.  For context note that the top brand is Whole Foods, with 218,000.  A separate Media tracker has CNN breaking news (one that I follow) on top with around 464,000 followers. (My new Things With Wings account has 68. So, less).8550d

Airline Twitter List
My colleague and digital ace Benet Wilson tweeted earlier today this list at itravelnet.com of airlines with Twitter accounts, put together last summer. Kudos to the site that compiled it. A lot of them are  dormant accounts, including the American Airlines page with a grand total of three posts, all on Aug. 21 last year.

U.S. Investors Sell Virgin America Stakes (subscr reqd)
The U.S.-based investors in Virgin America, the discount airline founded by Sir Richard Branson, recently cashed in their stakes in the startup carrier, according to people familiar with the situation -- raising new questions about whether the airline can continue to comply with U.S. airline "citizenship" rules.

Virgin UnAmerica(n)
Today the Wall Street Journal ran a story which seems to confirm what we had assumed was going to happen, as we had discussed in PlaneBusiness Banter a number of times over the last several months.
The two "U.S." firms that invested in Richard Branson's Virgin America operation have apparently taken advantage of the fine print in their investing agreement with the airline and headed for the hills.

Virgin America halves fourth-quarter operating loss
Virgin America reported limited 2008 fourth-quarter financial figures yesterday and said it posted a $27 million operating loss, narrowed from the $59.9 million deficit in the year-ago period, its first full operating quarter. Revenue more than tripled to $109.7 million and expenses rose 42.5% to $136.7 million. Load factor soared 19.1 points to 81.2%, unit revenue was up 86.7% to 9.28 cents and operating CASM fell 12.7% to 11.57 cents. VX released limited nine-month figures last month (ATWOnline, Feb. 3). It now operates 28 A320s.

Alaska Airlines challenges Virgin America's Americaness, Part II
Armed with fresh press clippings, Alaska Airlines again urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigation Virgin America and whether its foreign ownership exceeds the 25 percent legal limit.

Alaska Sees Rising Costs on Capacity Cuts
At the JP Morgan Aviation & Transportation Conference, Alaska gave us some numbers on the rising unit costs that we knew would result from capacity cuts. The cost increase shows why you only cut capacity if it’s absolutely necessary. Clearly, it’s absolutely necessary right now.

Airlines May Suffer From Increasing Danger in Mexico
Most Americans have now heard about the increasing drug violence occurring along the Mexican border towns. While it hasn’t spread to resort towns, the negative publicity is already starting to hurt Mexican tourism. Airlines are bound to suffer from this, and some will suffer more than others. [Ed. Note: I just booked my PVR timeshare for July.]

News and Notes From United's 10-K
The hit parade just keeps coming. Today I’m taking a slightly deeper look at United’s annual report. Here are some interesting bits for you.

Why Exactly Did United End E-fare Emails?
According to Today in the Sky, United is no longer going to send E-fare emails to its customers. E-fares, the ones that are for last minute weekend travel, will still be around on the United website, but they just won’t proactively tell you about them anymore. So what’s up with the customer unfriendly policy? I’m guessing it’s related to United’s new corporate motto, “If it’s broke, don’t fix it.”

American Pulls Out of Dallas/Love Field, Turns on the Spin Machine
Why would they bother to renew a lease on the terminal if they clearly don’t want to be there for the next four years? Well it all goes back to the whole Love Field fight. When DFW opened, traffic restrictions were put in place at Love Field (by the Wright Amendment) to force airlines to move to DFW. Southwest refused to move, and the battle was born.

Deciphering Hawaiian’s February Traffic
I think I’ve discussed why Hawaiian’s results can look kind of weird in the past, but I wanted to re-visit the topic since the February traffic numbers were just released. Passengers carried in February 2009 were up 15.1% compared to the same month in 2009, but RPMs are only up 0.9%, and ASMs were up 2.4%, bringing load factor down 1.2 points to 83%. What gives? It’s because of the way load factor is calculated.

Spring Break in Moscow - $200 Roundtrip
At 1:00am this morning American added another 100 cities (all the smaller ones in their route system) to the list with these once in a lifetime prices — maybe it isn’t a mistake …Recently Hillary was handing out “Reset” buttons to thaw relations with Russia
, but this is ridiculous.

TSA to Require More Info from Travelers Soon
I know, I know - it already feels like we’re under a microscope.
But starting soon (no dates have been announced), the Transportation Security Administration, better known as the TSA, will be taking over the responsibility of the “Watch List” from the airlines.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Internet Airline News Links #2

WiFi Is Working on Alaska Airlines But How Much Would You Pay?
http://www.jaunted.com/story/2009/3/6/101642/5132/travel/WiFi+Is+Working+on+Alaska+Airlines+But+How+Much+Would+You+Pay%3F+
While we have no idea what the heck is up with Air Canada's WiFi, we do know that Alaska Airline's internet service is real and it is mostly spectacular. Harriet Baskas, who writes Stuck at the Airport tipped us off to her in-flight WiFi experience yesterday as she rode Alaska Airlines from Seattle to Orange County and back.

Conficker targeting of Southwest Airlines a red herring
http://vista.blorge.com/2009/03/06/conficker-targeting-of-southwest-airlines-a-red-herring/
The Conficker virus threatened to overload Southwest Airline’s website next Friday according to security experts. The reports appear on the surface to answer the long-running question of what damage the virus will actually do, but that may not be the case.

TripAdvisor Creates Metasearch Site That Includes Fees in Comparison
http://crankyflier.com/2009/03/02/tripadvisor-creates-metasearch-site-that-includes-fees-in-comparison/
Well, hello TripAdvisor. A couple of weeks ago, Fly.com showed us a travel search site that looked a lot like Kayak and didn’t add any real functionality. When I saw that TripAdvisor was also launching a metasearch site, I rolled my eyes and figured, “here we go again.” Boy was I wrong. This could be my new favorite site since it actually includes fees in the comparison, if you ask it to do so.

World's Most Admired Companies (Airline Category)
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/mostadmired/2009/industries/2.html
Which companies have the best reputations? With admiration in such short supply these days, it's more valuable than ever. Apple tops the list for the second year in a row. Who else made the top 50 this year?

Lasers vs. Seattle Planes - And Yes, They CAN Do Damage
http://rickseaney.com/2009/03/02/lasers-vs-seattle-planes-and-yes-they-can-do-damage/
You’ve probably heard by now that Seattle police are investigating an incident in which a green laser was aimed at a Horizon flight this past Sunday - fortunately, the plane landed without incident.

Alaska’s “Say for Pay” Idea
http://boardingarea.com/blogs/thingsinthesky/2009/03/04/alaskas-say-for-pay-idea/
Quite often executives are criticized for how much money they make, and the airline industry is no different. Now, shareholders of Alaska will be allowed to vote on the pay of the five highest-paid executives beginning with this year’s proxy statement, which was a resolution on last year’s proxy statement.

Virgin America trusts in US investors, impending profitability
http://www.atwonline.com/news/story.html?storyID=15784
Virgin America is denying adamantly that it is in danger of losing the financial support of its US-based investors and claims that it may be profitable by year end.

Wired's Take On Airspace Redesign
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/commercial_aviation/ThingsWithWings/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog%3a7a78f54e-b3dd-4fa6-ae6e-dff2ffd7bdbbPost%3a4683cbd4-40d6-465a-b477-f6eb498f90cd
Wired ran an in-depth story last week about the benefits of re-designing airspace around the New York metro region as a way to improve life while we all wait for NextGen to kick in (and be paid for).

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Need for an Enterprise Social Platform

Introduction

I’ve had a twitter account for more than a year now. In that short amount of time, I’ve had conversations with people who are working on some pretty cool things. These usually trigger some wild ideas. If I need to know more about something, there is usually a person to follow who keeps me updated.

Below is a picture of my social computing universe, or at least that is what I’m calling it.

image

Site Type What It’s Used For How I Use It
twitter
micro-blog To communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? Let people know what I’m up to, as well as find out what other people are up to, or what interesting things they have found
facebook social networking service Helps you connect and share with the people in your life. To stay in touch with family, friends
linkedin social networking service Serious professional business network To research job candidates, communicate with outside people in a business context
blogger blog publishing Share your thoughts, photos, and more with your friends and the world. I use it for writing posts like this.
flickr photo content sharing Share your photos and watch the world Put up photos I want to share with people, and look at other people’s content
delicious social bookmarking Save your bookmarks and see what others are saving To bookmark blog posts or other interesting websites
bloglines rss feed reader Track your favorite news, blogs, weather, and classifieds so that you don't have to To subscribe to rss feeds
gmail mail provider A new kind of web-based email email
msn messenger instant messaging makes it easier than ever to stay connected to the people you care about instant messaging and online presence
friendfeed content aggregator helps you discover and discuss interesting stuff that your friends and family find on the web Aggregate most of my content to a single feed and setup rooms to monitor friends, trends and other interesting things.

 

The Enterprise Today

Now, think about the company you work for…How do you meet people? How do you find out about new projects? How do you get your ideas heard? If your company is like mine, you rely on email, networking, attending meetings and hallway conversations. Even using these limited tools you still may not; meet the right people, find out what is really going on, or get your great ideas to the right person. There are always barriers to break down or silos to bridge.

We’ve always heard the same chant, “Breaking Down Silos”. In fact Google Suggest offers 459,000 search results on that phrase alone. We hear it everywhere. Why? Because it’s a common problem.

What’s the solution? Create an Internal Social Networking Platform.

Use Social Networking, Open Conversations and Transparency to blow up the limited communication paths that have been entrenched in corporate life. Bridge the silos between the cube dwellers and the front line staff, cross the chasm of Marketing and Operations.

I’ve known people who have worked in the same building for years and have never met or conversed once. This isn’t necessarily their fault, throughout the day, you don’t  get much of an opportunity to get up and out of your area to meet other people.

Social Computing makes this possible, there is a common meeting place where ideas, thoughts, problems and aspirations both mundane and strategic can be shared.  Where we can hear from our co-workers, leaders and teammates and open up the opaque world of traditional meetings to transparent conversations. And best of all the meeting place is right in front of you, on your computer or phone. The method of entry is just a click away.

There is a problem with this however. The  mainstream social networking tools; Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn etc, are all public. If I wanted to share something about what I’m working on within my company, whether it be an idea, a problem or a frustration, I really don’t want to share it with people outside the company. What is needed is an internal Social Computing Platform.

Components of a Enterprise Social Platform

I’ve drawn up what I think are the basic components of an Enterprise Social Platform. Some of these are more traditional, such as Email and an Intranet. The rest are more Enterprisey 2.0 components.

image

Next Time

In my next post, I’ll talk about what some candidate implementations for each of these components.

Internet Airline News Links #1

I’ve been posting these internally, but no reason not to just post them here.

Alaska Files an 8-K; Tests Wi-Fi; Joins Twitter
http://boardingarea.com/blogs/thingsinthesky/2009/02/27/alaska-fileses-an-8-k-tests-wi-fi-joins-twitter/
On Wednesday, Alaska filed an 8-K, and I was just going to post about that, but some other interesting news came from Alaska this week so I figured I might as well lump everything together. :D

Ryanair Hints at Charging for Toilets
http://industry.bnet.com/travel/1000969/ryanair-hints-at-charging-for-toilets/
It’s not clear whether he was serious. O’Leary’s fond of making outrageous statements designed to drum up publicity and reinforce the airline’s image as a bargain-basement transport option, a strategy that’s worked in the past. And later on Friday, Ryanair issued a statement saying “Michael makes a lot of this stuff up as he goes along and while this has been discussed internally there are no immediate plans to introduce it.”

[Hmm...reminds me of this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYspsgIjb4U -Ed]

Downadup worm may hammer Southwest Airlines URL March 13
http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9128778&intsrc=news_ts_head
Computers infected by the Downadup worm will "phone home" to several legitimate URLs this month, including one owned by Southwest Airlines, potentially disrupting those sites, a security researcher said Sunday.

Here's Official Ammunition: Airline Hubs Have Lost Their Cost Advantage In Terms of Airline Profitability
http://www.planebuzz.com/2009/02/heres_official_ammunition_regi.html
In a new working paper the two have published entitled, "Tracing the Woes: An Empirical Analysis of the Airline Industry, " they confirm that it used to be cheaper for an airline to place a passenger on a connecting flight -- rather than a direct one. But by 2006, that advantage had gone away. Why? One simple answer: the increasing cost of fuel.

Open Skies negotiations resume, but European airlines won’t be flying US domestic routes anytime soon
http://www.upgradetravelbetter.com/2009/02/24/open-skies-negotiations-resume-but-european-airlines-wont-be-flying-us-domestic-routes-anytime-soon/
When the “Open Skies” treaty was signed between the United States and the European Union, the most immediate change was that airlines from both sides of the pond could fly internationally into many more airports. A French airline could fly from London to Los Angeles. A British airline could fly from New York to Amsterdam. And a number of American airlines could fly into London-Heathrow, which had previously been tightly limited to a small oligopoly.

A Look at US Airline CEO Compensation Through a Different Lens
http://www.swelblog.com/articles/a-look-at-us-airline-ceo-compensation-through-a-different-le.html
Last week, Andrew Compart writing on Aviation Week’s blog, Things With Wings, posted a piece entitled Executive Pay And U.S. Airlines.  After reading Mr. Compart’s piece, I was left wanting more – a deeper look at airline CEO compensation.