Friday, November 2, 2001
Apologies to those of you that got a semi or fully garbled newsletter last week.  Email readers seem to vary wildly in how they handle formatted email, and regrettably what looked fine in my email program looked less than fine elsewhere.  Please let me know if this does not appear correctly (if you're not sure what the definition of 'correctly' is, you can see this page on the website as it should appear at

In among all the bad news for airlines last week there was at least one little heartwarming piece that shows it is possible for airlines to do a better job if they try hard enough.  In New Zealand, their national carrier, Air New Zealand, was rated that country's most trusted brand in a Reader's Digest survey (something which Qantas in Australia consistently wins every year, too).  Somehow the concept of rating an airline as the most trusted brandname in the US doesn't sound very likely, does it!

This week's lead storyThere Are No Easy Solutions :  It is very easy for me and other 'armchair experts' to make any number of sadly impractical suggestions for how the airlines can do their job better.  So this week we give 'equal time' to the Senior VP of Planning and Business Development at one of the US's best smaller airlines - Aloha.  You get to read a series of emails between Jim King and me, and his responses to some of my ideas; giving you an airline insider's view of the problems they face.

Good news for American fliers.  American Airlines now offers the ability to book their most popular award (the 25,000 mile domestic roundtrip award) online at their website, as well as various other hotel and vacation package awards at  Hopefully AA will extend this to other awards and other airlines will follow.  As even better news, the AA 25,000 mile award is currently available for only 15,000 miles, and, by booking the award travel online, you'll get a 1,000 mile booking bonus.

Bad news for Continental fliers.  While opinions vary, the 'smart money' generally seems to say that having a good old-fashioned paper ticket is slightly preferable to having an e-ticket - it gives you easier and quicker options in the event that your flight is delayed/cancelled and you want to change carriers.  Perhaps because of this increased ease in changing carriers, and because of some genuine cost savings, the airlines have been actively trying to discourage their passengers from traveling on traditional paper tickets.  As evidence of this, Continental announced on Thursday that it will start charging US$10 per paper ticket it issues.  Ouch.

Good news for AnglofilesVirgin have just announced a short sale to London with roundtrip fares from $199 out of Kennedy, Newark and Boston, $229 from Dulles and a not quite so spectacular $299 from Los Angeles, San Francisco or Miami.  Only on sale through 4 November, but my guess is we'll see lots more short duration specials at these types of prices in the months to come.

Finally, it seems that my newsletter wouldn't be complete without a reference to United.  To no-one's surprise, their Chairman resigned this past Sunday, to be immediately replaced by fellow board member John Creighton.  This caused an immediate lift in UA's share price on Monday, but on Tuesday the share price gave back all its Monday gains and on Wednesday dropped still further than the Amex Airline Index as a whole.  As I said above, there are no easy solutions!

Until next week, please enjoy safe travels.....

David M Rowell aka The Travel Insider
ps :  Don't forget to visit Joe Brancatelli's site for his weekly updates, too.

 If you ever wish to unsubscribe, simply reply to this email and set the subject line to say 'unsubscribe'.