Tag: FAA

Humbug: Airlines Double Holiday Surcharges

dollar plane

In early October, we noted that American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways added $10 surcharges to airfare for flights on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and for Jan. 2nd and 3rd – the busiest days for holiday travel.  Well, let’s now make that $20 each way!  Delta, American, United, US Airways and Northwest Airlines all announced that they have boosted their surcharge on some routes.

This could have a real financial impact for those traveling with large families during the holidays.  For instance, a family of five would have to add $200 to their total cost of travel.  That’s not insignificant.  In fact, it may be enough to keep some people at home this year.

What do you think?  Are these surcharges enough to sink your travel plans?  Or will you be flexible around the holidays and travel on off-peak dates?

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Omni Hotels have launched a 72-hour sale for stays between Dec. 2 and Feb. 10, excluding New Year’s Eve.  If you book by Thursday (11/5), you can get up to 40% off a room in cities such as Austin, Chicago, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Diego, New Orleans, San Antonio, Houston & Tucson.  Of course, the offer is subject to availability and can not be combined with other special offers.
  • Another day, another bird strike that diverts a plane.  This time it was a Delta Air Lines flight from Phoenix bound for Salt Lake City that was forced to make an early landing after it was hit by a flock of birds.  Airport authorities reported that the windshield of the plane was cracked, but nobody was injured.  According to FAA records, there have been 600 bird strikes nationwide this year and bird strikes cause 600 million dollars in damage to aircraft every year.
  • The state of Florida is suing online travel reservation companies over hotel taxes, the latest in a string of lawsuits nationwide claiming the sites owe local authorities millions of dollars.  Attorney General Bill McCollum sued Expedia and Orbitz today, claiming they failed to pay Florida the full amount of taxes collected on hotel room rentals through their sites.  Consumers are charged a rate when they book a room online, and the company later reimburses the hotels a lesser amount, allowing them to pocket service fees. The taxes are paid on that less expensive rate, prompting legal action by cities and states that claim they’re being cheated out of millions of dollars in tax dollars.

Airfare War Emerges Among Popular Airlines

Ladies and gentlemen, we officially have an airfare war!  Earlier today, American Airlines countered the $25 airfare sale from Southwest Airlines (which we mentioned yesterday) by offering a $25 national 4th Quarter Sale of its own.  Jen Leo of The Los Angeles Times investigated both sales and has this comparison:airfare_wars_090203_mn

“The main difference I found when looking for flights on American is that it doesn’t spell out where you’ll find the savings. Southwest very clearly shows which destinations you could get for $25, $50, $75 or $100 each way. But when I got to the American Airlines website, I had to just type in destinations and guess.  That said, when I applied routes similar to the $25 sale on Southwest, I was able to find the same prices on American. For example, it was easy to find $25 fares between Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). American is offering the same dates for travel — Monday through Saturday. Prices are each way based on round-trip purchase, and pre tax.”

AirTran also has one-way sale prices of $39 on short routes in an offer that ends Nov. 10th.  Meanwhile, JetBlue and Frontier Airlines are matching sale prices on competitive routes.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • US Airways will trim 1,000 jobs, or about 3.1% of its total work force and cut flights, focusing on hub cities where it stands to make a profit.  The company said today it would concentrate on four hubs – Charlotte, N.C., Philadelphia, Phoenix and the District of Columbia, as well as its hourly shuttle service between New York’s LaGuardia Airport, Boston and Washington’s Ronald Reagan airport.
  • The New York Times’ “In Transit” blog notes that you should be watching for deals to Kingston, Jamaica from JetBlue later this week when the airline begins service there on Oct. 30.
  • The federal government has grounded the two pilots who overshot a Northwest Airlines plane by 150 miles into Wisconsin last week.  The FAA has revoked the licenses of flight captain Tim Cheney of Gig Harbor Wash., and first officer Richard Cole of Salem, Ore.  They have 10 days to ask the National Transportation Safety Board for their licenses back.  And if the board says no, they can try to get new licenses in a year.

FAA Pondering Fines for US Airways & United

Earlier today the FAA proposed levying multimillion-dollar fines against United Airlines and US Airways for safety violations, including flying a plane after mechanics stuffed shop towels into an engine.

The agency is proposing to slap US Airways with a $5.4 million fine for operating 8 planes that conducted 1,647 flights from October 2008 to January 2009 that were in violation of safety or maintenance rules.  United may get hit wshamwow-snuggie-slanketith a $3.8 million fine for operating a Boeing 737 on more than 200 flights with shop towels covering openings near where oil collects in the bottom of the engine instead of using protective caps required by the carrier’s maintenance procedures.

According to FAA rules, the airlines have 30 days to plead their case before the agency can impose the fines.  Perhaps United should it explain that it wasn’t actually a towel, but a Sham-wow.  I think they’ll see the genius in that.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Reuters is reporting that there’s been an industry-wide increase of domestic air fares.  The fare increase, initiated on Tuesday by American Airlines, represents a boost in round-trip ticket prices by as much as $16 for a large number of U.S. city pairs.  The increase saw matches from Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways.
  • The L.A. Times’ Daily Travel & Deal Blog notes that Southwest Airlines, Virgin America and JetBlue are all offering $44 fares on flights within California and to Las Vegas (from California).  Check out their blog for details on each of these sales.
  • The New York Times blog In Transit notes that, “When shopping for airfare, it’s easy to overlook smaller, unfamiliar carriers. But those so-called B airlines may offer the best deal.”  One such “B airline” is a new one from Richard Branson’s Virgin Blue Group called, V Australia.  They’re now competing with United and Qantas by offering non-stop flights to destinations down under.
  • Nashville International Airport Police had to shackle an unruly passenger by the wrists and ankles to get him off a Delta airliner after it made an unscheduled landing there on Tuesday.  According to witnesses, the man would not allow the person sitting next to him to leave her seat to use the restroom.  So, the next time you’re torn between choosing a window seat and an isle seat, think of this dude’s mug-shot and choose the isle.  I’d gladly take the beverage cart in the elbow a 1000 times  before asking this guy for permission to go to the john.