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We Need an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights

We have more consumer protection if we buy a loaf of bread or a car than if we buy an airline ticket.

The current situation allows the airlines to profit from poor customer service.  We need to change the model so they profit from good customer service and are penalized for bad customer service.  We need an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights. More

Airline Competition 1980 - 2010 : RIP

Little by little, our airlines have transitioned from too much regulation (prior to 1980) to too little regulation now.  They've exploited their anti-trust immunity rights and have ended up, internationally, with 50+ international carriers individually competing across the Atlantic now being replaced with three mega-monolithic monsters.

It is claimed this benefits the public.  There's no evidence to support this claim, which on the face of it is economic nonsense.  Read our six part series for more. More

Is Airline Competition Always Fair?

Should established carriers be allowed to sell tickets below cost, and below startup carriers' fares, so as to starve the startup carrier into bankruptcy?

Does this benefit us, the traveling public?  To see new carriers promising lower priced travel, then failing after predatory tactics by established airlines? More

US Airline Regulation 1911 - 1979

Should the US have deregulated the airlines in 1979?  Are we better off or worse off?  In this new series, we look at the history of airline regulation in the US, why and how it evolved, and why it was eventually abandoned in 1979. More

The Overcapacity Excuse

If a dinosaur airline executive claims the sun is shining, you better bring an umbrella.

Whether it be due to stupidity or dishonesty, the latest excuse for the dinosaur airlines' financial disaster fails to stand up to a factual examination. More

United's Undisclosed $15 billion Asset

United has been in bankruptcy since December 2002 and keeps delaying its exit from Chapter 11, seemingly unable to bring itself back to financial health.

It has laid off staff and reduced salaries of those that remain.  It has taken a $6.6 billion taxpayer bailout.  And still it is in bankruptcy.

But read here about a $15 billion asset which you won't find the airline admitting to - indeed, on its balance sheet, this asset is valued as a $840 million liability!

What gives? More

How and Why Airfares Change When You Go to Book Them

How frustrating is it when you go to buy an airfare that you've just found online, but in the few minutes between finding the fare and making a booking, it has disappeared.

Is this just bad luck?  Or is there something more sinister at play here?  More

Are the Airlines Seeking to Create Unique Fares Custom Priced for Every Passenger?

The recent purchase of ITA by Google might open the door to allow airlines to uniquely customize the fares they offer every different potential passenger.

This is currently illegal, but if it were allowed, would it be good or bad for us and why?  More

Is the DoT Trying to Embarrass the Airlines?

The Dept of Transportation includes 165 pages of comments and submission excerpts in its new notice of final rulemaking.

The airline comments excerpted range from outrageous to ridiculous - is this really the level of intellectual honesty and discussion the airlines offer in their submissions?  More

How to Avoid Trapping Passengers on Planes

Although the airlines have lots of excuses, this article shows how easy it would be to ensure that passengers never get stranded on planes for many hours at a time, while the plane is still on the ground at an airport.  More

Southwest merges with AirTran - but Why?

Southwest Airlines announced a plan to buy AirTran, paying 69% above the present value of AirTran to do so.

Why is Southwest paying so much over the odds for this airline?  Will the changes Southwest brings to AirTran enhance or detract from AirTran's value.

Oh - and how about us?  Will we, the traveling public, be better off or not? More

Can and Will Qantas Survive?

The world's longest continually operating airline - and for many years, perhaps the world's finest airline - is within ten years of marking its centenary.  But will it survive to celebrate this event?

This question, once unthinkable, is now being increasingly asked.  Read our analysis, and our suggestions, for Qantas. More

AA Puts on the Squeeze

After putting the squeeze on its employees and its suppliers, it was perhaps inevitable that financially struggling AA would next put the squeeze on its customers.

But in a mindlessly gratuitous insult to its customers, AA chooses to squeeze more seats into its 757s and A300s, even though it is suffering the lowest percentages of filled planes of any of the big six carriers.

How stupid is that - adding more seats when you can't even fill the seats you already have? More

The Airlines' Unique Approach to Customer Satisfaction

Have you ever encountered any other industry that cares so little about its customers?  Truly the airlines set a universal low that no other competitive industries come close to reaching.

Why is this?  Don't the usual competitive market pressures apply to airlines too?  Maybe - gasp - the airlines aren't actually competitive?  Aren't the airlines negatively impacted if/when we resolve to 'take our business elsewhere'? 

A New Business Model for the Airlines

After enjoying perhaps more profit than they deserved in the past, regional carriers are now suffering from less profit than they need to survive.

But perhaps there's an opportunity - indeed two opportunities - for the regional carriers to adapt and to change their business model to reflect the changing environment and relationship they have with their major carrier 'partners'. 

BA Bait and Switch?

How can one explain the situation where BA offers fares variously for $576, $626 or $702, but in reality, the lowest fare available is $868 - on the same web pages that promise a $626 fare?

This is either very bad web programming, or something more sinister and nefarious.

What do you think?

Concorde - An Untimely and Unnecessary Demise

Undoubtedly, Concorde is the most beautiful and best known passenger plane in the world.

Although the planes are no longer new, they have been lovingly maintained and upgraded. They have comparatively low flight hours and are certified as airworthy until 2009 (with further extensions possible).

But now, British Airways and Air France announce a double blow : They will both withdraw their planes from service in October 03, and they are refusing to sell them to any other airline to operate. Why?

All About Overbooking Flights

A six part series that tells you why airlines book flights, and why it is good for you, and what to do when you may be suffering the consequences of an overbooked flight yourself, plus specific details on airline obligations and your rights in such cases.

Ten Reasons Why People are Flying Less

After steady growth for decades, air passenger numbers have turned around and have registered an alarming decline for nine months in a row (April - December 2008).

The airlines claim it isn't their fault.  It is due to economic problems, they say.  We disagree.  Read this three part series to see the facts and figures about why people are flying less.

Where is Boeing Going?

In only a decade in the 1950s-60s, Boeing won itself unquestioned dominance as the world's best passenger aircraft manufacturer.

But after two decades of resting on its laurels, Boeing is now equally obviously losing the right to that title, while Airbus is winning on every front, with every airplane type.

In this five part series, we chronicle Boeing's rise to success, explain how it then lost its dominant position, and offer suggestions for its future.

Airbus Fires the First Shot in the New A320/737 War with Boeing

Stakes have never been higher in the airplane building industry than they are at present with Airbus' announcement of a new model A320, an essential response to the increasingly real presence of new competitors-to-be.

Boeing has yet to respond, and more to the point, has few easy options to select in response.

Read the full fascinating story of this very high stakes game and how it may be that Boeing has outsmarted itself.  A four part series.

Should We Allow Foreign Ownership of US Airlines?

One of the fundamental tenets of American capitalism is that competition is good for everyone, including even the competing companies.

Maybe part of the problem in the airline industry at present is due to its protected nature. Let's not continue to give them taxpayer handouts to perpetuate their loss making inefficiencies.

Instead, we should fully implement the American ideal and bring full free competition to our skies, by allowing international investors and airlines open access. This article rebuts every possible reason naysayers advance in an attempt to preserve the status quo.

Does Emirates enjoy an Unfair Advantage?

Emirates is an amazing airline.  It combines high rates of growth and high quality service with high levels of profitability.

This has caused some detractors to suggest that Emirates enjoys unfair advantages because it allegedly gets a break on its jet fuel purchases and gets unlimited capital for investment from its owner, the Dubai government.

Is there any truth in either of these two claims?  We run the numbers and come up with clear answers. 

Are Portable Electronics Safe to Use on a Plane?

You're probably used to be told the FAA requires us to turn our electronics off prior to a plane taking off, and prior to it descending to land again.

But, - why?  What is the risk?  And what are the official FAA rules?.  The answers to both questions will surprise you. 

The Dinosaurs Fight Back - Futilely?

The market dominance of the major traditional airlines is no longer guaranteed.

New low cost competitors not only offer lower fares, but also, in many cases, better service. And with massively lower operating costs, these new airlines can withstand the price slashing tactics the major airlines have used in the past to bully small airline startups out of business.

The traditional response of major airlines to new startups - to slash prices and increase flights on competitive routes - may, this time, do more harm than good to the dinosaur airlines. 

Another Airline Bailout?  Just Say No!

Should the airlines be treated as a special case and given still more cash (after the $5 billion in payments just over a year ago)?

What would happen to our ability to travel conveniently and affordably if several major airlines went bankrupt? Are there alternatives to simply giving more billions of dollars to the airlines to keep them alive?

Find the answers these questions in this article.

The Failing Airline Industry - Suffering from Self Inflicted Wounds?

Described as having 'made a number of mind-numbingly irresponsible financial decisions over the past year' by his own staff, United Airlines' Chairman James Goodwin is now predicting the once proud carrier may perish within a year.

But, in my opinion, the most mind-numbingly irresponsible action of all was Goodwin's semi-public letter, released just two days ago.

This, along with many other examples of strange actions by the airlines, makes me wonder if the airlines are suffering from a collective death wish.

There Are No Easy Solutions

I bounce some ideas to improve the current airline service problems off Aloha Airline's Senior VP of Business Development. The sad conclusion - it will never be as easy as pre-11 Sept, and those lines aren't getting any shorter any time soon.

Read an online transcript of our discussion.

Airline Zen :  Less is More

Read about how Europe's success story airline is proposing to give away, for free, up to 10% of its tickets, and often charges no more than $15 for roundtrip flights to destinations as far as 1000 miles away. Then wonder with me, why it is that our US carriers can't copy some of low fare carrier Ryanair's three part recipe for success?

Also, will your favorite airline go broke and this week's stupidest airfare sale.

Air Fares Aren't Fair

Even the airlines now agree that their present pricing no longer seems to work. But they don't seem able to come up with a better system!'

This article explains the challenges that airlines face, and also dispels the myth that 'discount' carriers make money from selling cheap tickets.

Fixing Fares :  A Do-It-Yourself Guide

Here are some suggestions from readers about what should be changed to restore fairness and encourage air travel. These suggestions are in response to the article 'Air Fares Aren't Fair'.

Send a copy of this article to your favorite airline CEO!

The Airlines' Fatal Mistake

With an ineptness that only airline executives can achieve, the airlines are adopting the totally wrong strategy to reverse their present death spiral. And, inevitably, the main victims of their errors are us, their long suffering customers.

Here, in simple language - intended to be understood even by airline executives - is an analysis of what went wrong and what needs to be corrected.

Is Delta Going to Buy an Oil Refinery - and Why?

Although close to 1 April, it is apparently not a joke that Delta is close to buying its own oil refinery.

At first glance, maybe this could be a good idea.  But read our analysis to appreciate the colossal foolishness of this.

Your Rights with Bankrupt Airlines

The last time there was an airline bankruptcy, some airlines failed to follow the obligations imposed on them by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001.

Here's an explanation of their obligations - and your rights - in such situations.

This Bird Won't Fly

Delta announced plans to create another low cost subsidiary airline. This will replace its already existing low cost subsidiary, Delta Express, which apparently is not a commercial success.

Is there any reason to expect that Delta's next attempt will be any more successful? I think not!

Six Steps to Success for United Airlines

Six Steps to Success for United Airlines : With a new CEO from outside the industry, and a Chapter 11 enabling them to start afresh, UA are at a major crossroads.

In a desperate search for solutions, they are paying $1.5 million monthly to a management consultancy for ideas and advice. I give them six action items for free.

Don't Do It, Delta!

It is one thing to preferentially reward one's 'best' frequent fliers, but it is an entirely different thing to penalize other frequent fliers.

Delta's recent changes to its frequent flier program have a major sting in their tail that we must not allow to continue. This column suggests what you should do in response.

Sir Richard Branson writes a letter - and sends a picture - to Qantas

Sir Richard Branson is a genius at scoring public relations coups.

His open letter to Geoff Dixon creates a spectacular 'win-win' for Branson (and perhaps a lose-lose for Dixon!).

Whatever now happens, the certain result is that Branson will earn substantial more publicity for himself and his airline, in the 'underdog' role that he portrays so well.

The Exciting Future of In Flight Entertainment Systems

Just as all other consumer electronics have massively evolved and improved (and continue to do so) the same is true of airline IFE systems too.

This article chronicles the evolution of IFE from its origins in 1921 and looks foward to the exciting but challenging future of this technology.

Airline Slogans

A fascinating collection of more than 560 different airline slogans from over 200 different airlines.  Some are clever, some are funny, some are ironic, and some are just plain stupid.

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