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.