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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.

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