Category Archives: Opinion

Virgin America Suffers its First Major PR Issue

Virgin America Flight 404 circled JFK till it was diverted to Stewart Airport in Newburgh, which is also run by the Port Authority of NY & NJ, as is JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia, to refuel and wait out the weather. This is hardly out of the ordinary. But as the hours passed, supplies grew slim, tempers frayed, and things started to come to a boil.

Flight Wisdom Briefing 3

Image by Dave Sizer via Flickr As we continue to perfect the Brief, we offer a new opener, as well as a tribute to this Day in Aviation History. Tune in. Notes: American Eagle’s New Service to Augusta WestJet Launches New Frequent Flier Program 787 Begins First Flight Tests outside of Washington United orders 25…

WestJet May Have the Right Idea with its New Loyalty Program

WestJet has launched a new frequent flier program, called the Frequent Guest program. Now, the way that they are organizing this program is unique. It seems to be a program for the average flier, rather than the frequent flier. We recently bemoaned the fact that airlines have effectively devalued their miles by allowing people to accumulate them on every credit card purchase. We know this is a good deal for them, and for many consumers, but it devalues the definition of the term frequent flier. These companies keep devaluing their miles and limiting the number of award seats.

Bereavement Fares and Flying in an Emergency

We’ve spoken on the issue of Bereavement Fares before. Bereavement Fares are discounts offered by the airline to those traveling in a death situation.They were usually flat-rate discounts off the unrestricted(highest) fares. In the old days, that could be a significant savings. Now, with such a wide gap between lowest and highest…not so much. You might as well pay the normal fare.

Kevin Smith and the Customers of Size

We hate the debate over large customers, be they big, tall, or both. It never ends. And it invariably gets into an argument about the obesity issue in America. We’ve often said the only fair thing to do is size the seats to the statistically average American and accept that some people, many through no fault of their own, don’t fit the average. Airline seats, as we’ve mentioned before, are narrower than a standard office chair, for example.

One Year Later: The Colgan Crash in Buffalo

A year ago today, on Thursday, February 12, 2009, Continental Connection flight 3407 crashed into a house in Clarence Center, NY. The flight, a Q400 turboprop operated by Colgan Air, killed 45 passengers, 4 crewmembers, and 1 man on the ground. The plane was on approach into Buffalo-Niagara international Airport from Newark’s Liberty Airport.

Farewell Northwest Airlines

In time for the New Year, the Federal Aviation Administration approved the single operating certificate for the new Delta Air Lines. What this means is that Northwest Airlines as an entity ceases to exist. With this change, the only lingering reminders of Northwest is its separate reservations system, which will be integrated in the first part of this new year, and Philadelphia, the only station still branded as Northwest.

The Firestorm Continues – Security Screening in the US

We’ve maintained consistently that the most effective anti-terrorist tool in intelligence. Good intelligence can stop a potential terror suspect before he gets anywhere near the airport. Beyond that, we have screenings. The New York Times reports that the U.S. Government’s response to a warning from the man’s father that he developed radical views, had disappeared and might have traveled to Yemen, was not to revoke the young man’s visa to enter the United States, which was good until June 2010. Now, on some level, that makes sense. But their response was to flag him for an investigation should he ever apply for another visa and to add him to a list of over half a million other individuals with possible terrorist connections.

The High Cost of (In)Security- When Will Sanity Come to The TSA?

As my name(the Infrequent Flier) suggests, I don’t often have a chance to get up in the air. As a result, my trips form a time-lapse portrait of the flying experience as it has changed. Each time I fly, I am amazed at the new rules, regulations and procedures that have been put in place. It has become common to refer to this group of measures as “Security Theater”- a group of actions for show which have no real impact on security.

Come Fly the Unfriendly Skies

On Friday, a passenger on a Northwest flight set off a small explosive device shortly before landing in Detroit. The man, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, was subdued. He had connected in Amsterdam to the flight from a KLM flight inbound from Lagos, Nigeria. He had been rescreened in Amsterdam, as is standard procedure there. The device failed to fully detonate, and has been described as a mixture of liquid and powder, and were described as more incendiary than explosive.

As the Year Comes to a Close: Well Wishes From the Editor

In only another week, 2009 will be over. So much has happened this year. Sitting warmly here, thinking of Decembers past, and the holiday travel season, I think to my formative years. When school let out, my family and I would be on a flight out of town till New Years.

The DOT Orders Airlines to Adopt a Customer Service Plan

As part of regulations unveiled today that were advertised as groundbreaking rules to protect passengers in the event of tarmac delays, a second, in our opinion, more significant portion of regulation has been unveiled. Airlines will now be required to adopt a Customer Service Plan. Airlines have been required to submit plans to the DOT before, but not quite at this level. These plans, which will apply to all airlines, must be audited by each airline for compliance.

Interview: CheapOair

CheapOair is, as we define it, an online travel agency. To be precise, CheapOair is the brandname, Fareportal, Inc. is a Technology Company and Travelong, Inc. is an accredited ARC/ Travel Agency. As they put it, Fareportal, Inc. is the operating fulfillment company for CheapOair, and Travelong, Inc. is the travel agency.

The End of the Balloon Boy Ballad Ballot

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="100" caption="David Parker Brown of"][/caption] Our first attempt at a contest has ended. The Balloon Boy Ballad Ballot, not counting our editor, had one entry. Thus, we are proud to announce the winner of the Balloon Boy Ballad Ballot is…David Parker Brown(pictured left), of Congratulations, and we hope our next…

Southwest to Add New Saturday-Only LaGuardia Service – But For How Long?

Southwest announced today it would add Saturday only service from New York-LaGuardia Airport to Denver International Airport. The rest of the week the service will be offered on a one-stop basis. Saturday-only service is the only option as Southwest is not securing any additional slots at LaGuardia, but Saturday service is not slot or perimeter…

Is Letting Bag-Free Passengers Board First a Good Idea?

[caption id="attachment_1704" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Leather seats with Headrests"][/caption] Virgin America is testing the idea of letting passengers who are traveling without carry-on luggage board the plane first. Now, we aren’t sure of the exact details. We assume personal items wouldn’t count, and this would be limited to actual luggage. Few people travel with only the…