Backscatter Machine Information

This is pretty incredible.  Mashable.com took on “The Science Behind Airport Body Scanners” and did a pretty good job at explaining them.  It’s a pretty damned good article, and you should read it.  But if you only read one sentence, it’s this:

No conclusive studies have been conducted that confirm that backscatter X-ray security scanners are safe for commercial use.

That right there is reason enough for the traveling public to demand that these dangerous machines be shut down and removed from use.  Never mind the privacy concerns.  Never mind anything else.  These X-ray backscatter systems have not been proven to be safe for the traveling public, and put us all at risk!  The group EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) has sued the TSA to stop these machines from being used.  Maybe we should all get behind them – forcefully!

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Well, American’s decision is made

They’re going with a mixture of both Airbus and Boeing.  Stupid, really, from a purely single-fleet standpoint.  I mean Alaska and Southwest, both all Boeing 737, have basically been able to streamline maintenance and training.  Now that there’s a mixture, train half the staff one way, train the other half the other way.

I can see why they did it.  In the largest order in aircraft history, they are trying to get rid of their gas guzzling MD80s and modernize their fleet, to maximize fuel efficiency.  But still.  They’re minimizing training opportunities.  ::sigh::

Here’s the video they’ve already produced as notice to the world about the announcement.


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Filed under WTF?

Okay, so we all know that the airlines went fee-happy.  They’ve collected $5.7 billion in fees, which is “keeping the industry afloat”.  So you give them a bag to go in the cargo?  Fork over $25 or so, please!

But when they lose that bag?  They apparently AREN’T automatically refunding those fees.  I had no idea, whatsoever.  It’s just common sense that they would.  But they’re not.  At least not until new rules go into effect in August.  But Senator Schumer (D-NY) wants to go even further – if the bag is delayed, do it, too.

Alaska Airlines is pretty damn good about it, with their $20 credit or 2,000 frequent flyer miles for bags delayed more than 20 minutes after touchdown.  How about the big boys?  Wanna match it?

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Well THIS isn’t totally unexpected

The list of winners from the World Airline Awards was announced recently – and nobody in North America was even CLOSE to being at the top of the list.  Then again, I’ve flown almost every single US based airlines, and can tell you there’s really nothing to compare to an overseas airline and their service.  Hell, the 7 hours I spent on an overnight flight from Abu Dhabi to Geneva in coach beats any amount of time I’ve spent in first class for a bunch of US airlines.  ::cough:: US Airways… United…  ::cough::

The top five airlines are:

  1. Qatar Airlines
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. Asiana Airlines
  4. Cathay Pacific
  5. Thai Airways
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Hey American Air – How about you buy your namesake?

I had an interaction with user47 on Twitter a couple of weeks ago over this tweet:

As you can tell, I wholeheartedly agreed with @user47 – a company like American Airlines (the name alone just screams American unity) looking to buy foreign planes is really disingenuous.  We have a fine aircraft maker here, and the Boeing 737 is the best selling airplane ever.  But it looks like American wants to go with Airbus.  And that sucks.

I partially choose airlines based on their aircraft.  Alaska Airlines, “Proudly All Boeing” isn’t just a slogan.  They were the launch customer for the 737-900, and are all Boeing 737 in their mainline service.  While I liked Frontier, who started out with a fleet of 737s, they’re an all Airbus airline now.  And honestly, I tend to avoid them.  Same thing with United, though now that they’re merged with Continental, and are considering replacing original UAL Airbus flights with Boeing, I may go back to them.  They just have to get their customer service straight.

So American?  Do the right thing.  Don’t order Airbus; order Boeing.  But who am I?  Just an aviation geek that plans their flights around aircraft and service…

UPDATE 07192011 @ 15:31: Apparently Boeing is doing a big-old reacharound to American to try and get the business, and not let Airbus walk away with the whole order.  Woohoo!

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Hey Delta – want to make us happy?

I understand the Middle East is a hotbed of religion and stuff nolvadex tablets online.  But religion and business should never mix.  Ever.  That’s why I think Delta should tell Saudi Arabian Airlines to FOAD, then not enter the joint partnership.  Let me explain.

Delta is the main carrier for Skyteam in the US.  It’s a huge global network.  And Delta’s new partner in Skyteam is Saudi Arabian Airlines.  But what’s coming out now is that, while the article states “Jews” can’t fly to Saudi Arabia on Delta nor bring in any Jewish items, it should really say that any religious symbology isn’t allowed.  Other than Islamic.

Delta agreed to this.  And that’s wrong.

I know that I would never go to Saudi Arabia, though I’ve A) been to the Middle East many times and B) been requested to go to Saudi Arabia.  (Instead of traveling there, I made my Saudi Arabian customers come to me in Abu Dhabi).  But still; it’s the principal of the thing.  And companies still have principals besides the all mighty dollar, don’t they?

So Delta?  Dissolve your relationship with Saudi Arabian Airlines.  For the good of us all.  It’s the right thing to do.

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There’s a reason they’re called “You Suck Airways”

Jesus Christ on toast.  So US Airways gets their panties in a bunch because one of their PAYING passengers boards one of their planes with his pants saggy.  He wasn’t uncovered; he just had the stupid-ass style of having baggy pants hanging off his hips so you could see his underwear.  No skin showing – just his underwear.  So he gets pulled off the plane and arrested.

Days before, however, US Airways had welcomed aboard a guy who flew wearing little more than women’s underwear.  No problems.  This man, like the man before, wasn’t showing any inappropriate skin.  Actually, he was showing more skin than the baggy-pants guy.  But no problems with him.

Either way, US Airways should have STFU and stayed out of people’s business.  What’s unwritten?  The arrested guy was a young black male.  The women’s underwear guy was an older white male.

But there’s no prejudice there.  No.  None whatsoever.

Right.

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New rules for the airlines!

Okay, I know I’ve been under a rock lately, but this is something I’m actually glad to hear about!

Apparently there are five new rules that went into effect April 20th, 2011.  You can read about them at this link.  In a nutshell, they are

  • If they lose your luggage, they have to refund your fees
  • All fees MUST BE CONSPICUOUSLY DISCLOSED!
  • Denied boarding compensation bumped to almost $1,300 in some cases
  • 24 hour grace period on tickets you buy
  • Tarmac delay rules now apply to foreign carriers

Of all of these, I think I like the 24 hour grace period the best.  Why?  Because we’ve all done it.  I’ve made a reservation on a carrier I don’t normally use, then for whatever reason, realize I’ve made a mistake.  They’re all too happy to charge you $150 for that mistake.  Well they can’t do that anymore – as long as you catch it within 24 hours.  Buy a one-way ticket on United, then realize that American will get you there on your original ticket without a change fee?  Cancel United without fees, etc.  It’s pretty awesome – for the consumer.  For the airlines?  Not so much…

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So Alaska Air Wants To Stay Independent

At least according to something the CEO just said.  He wants Alaska Air Group to be independent while others consolidate themselves out of existence.

I think it’ll happen, but there’s a catch.  And that catch is, there isn’t an airline CEO with the gumption to try and out-size United Continental.  Let me explain.

Back when Delta and Northwest went to merge, that was huge.  Until then, American was the largest US airline, followed by United, then Delta and the rest.  Overnight, Delta became the largest, with American shrinking to number two.  Then came United and Continental; honestly it was just a matter of when, not if, once Continental jumped SkyTeam and went with Star Alliance.  See, United wants that old “feeling” back, but it couldn’t get there with a merger with US Airways.  Honestly, the government did United a favor, saving them from an arranged marriage with the ugly stepchild of the big-boys.  Say what you want, but US Airways is lowest in the consumer ratings.

So who’s left that’s independent of the big boys?  US Airways and American.  US Airways is global, but like I said – ugly stepchild.  American did the honest and respectable thing by staying OUT of bankruptcy and keeping promises to their people and the world by being obligated to the debts they have.  And how are they rewarded?  By having a stock price that is in the toilet, and being so unattractive to the market because they decided the honorable thing of not filing bankruptcy.  (Remember United did it like THREE TIMES in a very short period of time!).  The only investment/takeover that they can even get is from some guy who’s now under investigation by the SEC.

So here’s the thing.  American needs to make themselves over, and US Airways needs to get out of the gutter.  I don’t think that they’d ever merge; it’s just too different.  But I do think, if one of the CEOs gets enough gumption to want to compete with the big guys, they’re going to go for not one, but TWO takeover targets: Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Air.  Here’s why:

Alaska is big in the West; probably the biggest carrier up and down the West Coast.  They have 10% of their market in Hawaii; they went in to an already saturated market, established themselves, and are making a profit.  Who wouldn’t want to have those routes and that much liesure traffic that always seems to be there?

Hawaiian Airlines.  Sure, they’re up and down the West Coast to Hawaii, and they’re the dominant player there.  But they’re also making a major push into Asia.  And every airline CEO will tell you, if you want to grow, Asia is the market to tap into.  Hawaiian is doing just that.  But can they do it with a moniker of “Hawaiian”?  Not as successfully as if the name were “American”.  See where I’m going?

I would never see Hawaiian and Alaska hooking up.  But I could see them being taken over (Alaska probably through a hostile takeover, Hawaiian through some big wheel & deal).

So who knows…  The CEO of American has got to be itching to do something to compete with the big boys, and US Airways could do with a thorough identity makeover.  It could happen!

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In which I have NO compassion for airlines

There’s a headline out today that screams, “Airlines Say Fee Boost Considered by Obama Would Raise Fares, Hurt Demand“.  I went into it with a clear mind wondering what all this would entail.  So, reading the article, I thought the proposal must be ungodly.

It’s $2.50.

Yes, the airlines and the ATA are up in arms because there’s a proposal – that’s not even a proposal yet, because it’s not yet been proposed – to raise the fee from $4.50 per segment to $7.  Seriously?  You people are whacked.  Even a full 4 segment round-trip fare would only go up a maximum of $10.  Who in the hell looks at a $210 fare and goes, “I’d pay $200, but I won’t pay $210.”  Is that really such a problem?  The public isn’t going to scream, “I’m not paying that extra $5 or $10 for my vacation, because I want to spend it on a latte.”

As a business traveler that travels a MINIMUM of 40 weeks per year – usually around 50 – I wouldn’t even notice the extra $400 per year.  And honestly, your average family of four that gets one week a year to travel who regularly pays $1,000 for four round trip tickets isn’t going to balk at $1040, either.  They’ll probably balk at the extra $20, $25, $50 or $75 (per bag – each way) fee that the airlines have used to make absolute billions over the last couple of years.  But balk at $10?  Screw that.

And if airlines want to reduce their expenditures, how about starting with stopping the lobbying?  Go to Google and input “Airlines spend lobbying” and you’ll see figures like $660,000 or $1,470,000 for one airline alone.  For one quarter of one year.  Yeah, I have absolutely no compassion for the airlines balking at this.

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