Tag: Budget Travel

American Airlines Ripe for a Merger with JetBlue?

Merge Ahead

With the recent flurry of airline mergers between Delta & Northwest, AirTran & Southwest, and United & Continental, airline industry analysts are now speculating that American Airlines may be the next to merge in order to compete with these mega-carriers.  But with who?

According to a Forbes blog post, analysts from Morningstar believe that American Airlines “needs to make a big splash” to remain a player in an increasingly competitive market.

“Once the industry’s largest carrier, [American Airlines] is now the third-largest…and any scale advantage it may have garnered is gone,” the Morningstar analysts write. “Ironically, AMR is at a substantial disadvantage, given that it steered clear of bankruptcy during the recession,” [Basili] Alukos and [Adam] Fleck say, pointing out that American’s labor rate is the industry’s highest on an equivalent basis.”

Given that it lags behind United-Continental and Delta, Morningstar figures American is ripe for consolidation and would make a solid fit for partner JetBlue.  The two cooperate on domestic and international flights at JFK and Boston’s Logan Airport, and JetBlue’s lighter cost structure would help American be more competitive while beefing up the combined company’s international business.

Late last month JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said his airline does not need to find a merger partner to remain competitive with rival Southwest.  Time will ultimately tell as Southwest’s pending merger with AirTran will certainly enable them to apply some competitive pressure in JetBlue’s key expansion markets like Boston and the Caribbean.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • The tarmac rule imposed earlier this year seems to have had the desired affect — with only one delay exceeding 3 hours in the entire month of August, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Last year, 66 flights sat on runways for at least 3 hours in the month of August, according to the DOT.  The department added that the new rule has had no impact on cancellation rates in August, with the rate of 1% unchanged compared to the prior year.  The tarmac rule has been broken eight times since it was imposed earlier this year on April 29 through the end of August, according to the DOT. That’s compared to 529 runway delays exceeding three hours, during the same time period in 2009.
  • Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic on Sunday completed its first manned free flight of a spaceship intended to eventually take customers on commercial space flights.  A seat on Branson’s spaceship will cost $200,000 per person, with refundable deposits starting at $20,000.  Thus far, Virgin Galactic has managed to sell 700 seats.  While you can’t yet track the price of these flights on Yapta, we don’t expect prices to drop anytime soon.
  • Budget Travel published a list of the “Weirdest Travel Gear” that included products like GasBGone, a flatulence filter that comes in a pillow or an undergarment form.

ABC News: “How Fat is Too Fat to Fly?”

Fat flyer

Earlier today, ABC News posed the question: “How Fat is Too Fat to Fly?“  The photo seen here – which is circulating on the Internet – has apparently rekindled this debate.  In the photo, allegedly taken by an American Airlines flight attendant, a very large man is spilling out over his armrest (he actually appears to be sitting on it) and filling half of the aisle.  Not only does it look really uncomfortable for the passenger — and the passenger next to him — but it also seems like a safety hazard.

“American, like most other airlines, has a policy for larger passengers.  Roughly speaking, most airlines try to make accommodations for passengers if the person’s body is large enough that it prevents the armrest between the seats from being fully lowered.

American tries not to charge passengers for an extra seat unless there are simply no other options.

If the flight is not full, American tries to seat the passenger in two adjacent seats.  Otherwise, the airline tries to book the person on another flight. If there is no other available flight or the passenger needs to be on that flight for scheduling reasons, the airline will sometimes book and charge the person for two seats.”

We addressed this particular topic back in June, noting that sometime in the future airlines may charge you for a seat based on your weight.  With airlines still wrestling with managing the cost of fuel – and attempting to cut other costs – it makes sense.  If you think about it, passengers are treated more and more like air freight anyway.  The only difference between you and the freight that’s transported on a plane is you get served a drink… sometimes.

What do you think?  If you have an opinion on this matter, sound off here.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has announced that it is introducing sleep rooms. The rooms, which will be operated by Minute Suites, are just 7 feet by 8 feet and are designed for travelers who want to relax, sleep or conduct business in between their flights.  The rooms come equipped with a daybed sofa, pillows, and fresh blankets.  There’s also a desk, phone, office chair and a Wi-Fi connection.  The rooms, which are in Concourse B, cost about $30 for the first hour and $7.50 for each additional 15 minutes.
  • The USA Today’s Hotel Check-In blog notes some current hotel points promotions from Doubletree, Hilton, Omni & Carlson Hotels.  If you’re interested in earning double loyalty points or obtaining hotel credit, check out these promotions before they expire.

  • Budget Travel spotlighted a “quickie deal to the Big Apple” that includes round-trip airfare on Southwest Airlines, 3-nights’ accomodations at the W New York, and hotel taxes, from $468 per person – plus about $35 in airport taxes.