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Bad Ideas / Airline Safety / Lasers / Crimes / Travel Politics / Politics Travel / Airline Industry / → All Tags
We did a full blog post about this issue in 2011, and even back then we felt a little torn about whether it was worth writing. There was a legitimate travel politics story at the time, since the FAA had just announced a dedicated system for reporting people who were aiming lasers at aircraft. But it didn't really seem like there was any there there. How stupid do you have to be to aim a laser at the eyes of a pilot who's trying to land a gigantic commercial jet? How many people could we really be talking about?
It turns out that there were almost 4,000 laser strikes reported in 2013, with the average being 11 reported incidents every day. The actual number is thought to be much higher because of under-reporting. Starting in September 2012 and going forward a year, which is how the relevant Justice Department records are kept, five people were convicted in federal court for aiming lasers at airplanes. Another 15 people have cases pending against them.
The FBI is getting very grumpy.
Aeroflot / Russia / Russia Travel / Airline Industry / Airlines / Travel News / → All Tags
You might know Russian airline Aeroflot as the super-tawdry airline that three years ago decided to take nude pictures of its flight attendants and put the photos in a VIP calendar. Or as the super-sketchy airline where the employees make their own bongs and smoke up in the galley. This is not a company known for its squeaky clean image, or its professionalism, or its squeaky clean professionalism.
So we were surprised to learn that the rest of Russia sees Aeroflot - and now we're quoting the New York Times - as "at the forefront of a broad and transformative trend in the Russian service industry." The idea is that the Russians have traditionally been staggeringly horrific at customer service. So Aeroflot began holding classes for its employees and reminding them, among other things, to say things out loud to customers. The classes worked, and other companies began to notice.
Social Media / Twitter / Airline Industry / British Airways / Lost Luggage / Bad Ideas / Travel Rants / → All Tags
The growth of Twitter has had an uneven effect on the airline industry and its relationship to travelers.
On one hand, it has enabled the development of a real-time concierge service that really does help customers. We've publicly tweeted about airline-driven mistakes, then gotten transfered to direct messages, and then gotten incoming mobile phone calls...and then gotten our problems resolved. There are articles and even studies about the effectiveness of airlines' Twitter war rooms.
On the other hand, there's something about Twitterand it's the same thing with Yelp and TripAdvisorthat transforms some people into gigantic douchebags. Or at the very least, it allows them to publicly highlight their douchebaggery in breathtaking ways. Let's take this gem of a userthe guy who paid $1,000 to promote a tweet attacking British Airways for temporarily misplacing his father's luggageas a case study.
Airline News / Airline Rebranding / Airline Industry / Air Serbia / Etihad / Rebranding / BEG / → All Tags
If you're traveling around Southeastern Europe soon, keep your eyes open for a new paint job taking the skies, thus saying "doviđenja" to Jat Airways and "zdravo" to Air Serbia. The name change not only comes with a refreshed paint job and corporate identity, but brand new owners with some deep, deep pockets.
The details go like this: Etihad has gone on an airline shopping spree lately and snatched up a portion of the formerly Yugoslavian carrier. In total, the Middle-Eastern behemoth now owns 49% of what we used to know as Jat Airways and, as part of the restructure, the 66-year old name will be no longer emblazon the side of planes. "Air Serbia" will.
Pilots / JetBlue / American Airlines / Aviation / Airline Industry / iPad / Apple / Travel Tech / Technology / → All Tags
From United to Alaska Airlines there’s been quite a few airlines that have received iPads in the cockpit, and it looks like the technology continues to flow into the front of the plane. Most recently it has been American Airlines making the most dramatic change, as they recently just completed getting rid of all the paper in the cabin—for the most part—as the carrier has completely switched over to electronic flight bags.
American Airlines has been quick to point out that they’re the first major carrier to completely ditch paper this and that in favor of documents that can be loaded onto an iPad, as they are now approved to use the electronics during all the different phases of the flight. Each and every one of their planes is good to go, as the entire fleet has been given the go ahead to move forward. They aren’t just stopping with the mainline fleet either, as July 10 will bring an electronic option to the American Eagle regional branch of the airline as well.
There are different ways of "making it" in the world of airline travel. You could gain lifetime elite status on your favorite airline. You could travel the world on miles you accumulated in all kinds of clever ways. Or you could write a complaint note about a miserable experience that's so damn elegant that no less than Richard Branson declares it to be "brilliant." So congratulations Arthur Hicks. We know nothing about you in terms of who you are or where you live, but you've made it.
Branson blogged Hicks's letter - which wasn't even sent to Virgin, but to LIAT - last Friday. We've blockquoted it below from what we think is the original online source so you can read it for yourself. It's among the more elegant, witty beat-downs we've read in a long time.
The experience itself sounds miserable but, very importantly, it happened to him, and not to us, and not to you. So no worries. The P.S. is what really makes it shine.
Today could be a rough day at the airport, so we recommend charging up those electronic doodads and maybe even grabbing a magazine. Lufthansa is having a little bit of a problem with their worker bees today, and as a result they’re canceling all kinds of flights.
In total it sounds like they are proactively canceling around 1,700 flights; however, most appear to be shorter flights in and around Europe, as well as domestic options. It’s all part of a one-day strike finalized late last week, as a group representing around 33,000 Lufthansa employees hopes to show the carrier that they need a little more cash in their paychecks.
Someone with a lot of money is getting into the airline business, as it looks like there’s going to be another carrier joining the marketplace over in Asia. The details are just coming in now, but if things go according to plan the first flights might hit the skies before the year is over.
Neak Oknha Kith Meng isn’t quite Sir Richard Branson yet, but the guy is loaded and ready to start an airline. He is teaming up Philippine Airlines for the new venture, and the new carrier will be called Cambodia Airlines. Just be sure not to confuse the new carrier with a current carrier, as Cambodia Angkor Air is already flying around the region.
Before you ask, we checked twice to make sure that this Economist story was published April 2 and not April 1. We can't vouch for when the actual webpage on which the story is based went up - maybe it went up April 1 and The Economist plus some other papers got nailed - but it's still alive today so that would be a really dumb way to do an April Fools' joke. Plus there's the video at the bottom.
So here you go from Samoa Air: they are going to start charging passengers by weight. The more you weigh, the more you pay (or as they're putting it, the less you weigh the less you pay; LCCs use the same obnoxious 'pay only for what you use' logic when they add fees). Listen - we, as much or more than any other site - know that debates over overweight passengers can get contentious. But there has to be a balance between preserving people's dignity on one side and forcing them to account for the space they're usingor the arm rests they're not putting downon the other.
Airline News / Armavia / Airlines / Airline Industry / Armenia / Armenia Travel / Airline Bankruptcy / Batavia Air / → All Tags
Rewind back to a couple of years ago and it seemed like an airline was cancelling flights, stranding passengers, and going out of business, like, once a month. Thankfully the global economy has kind of stabilized, and any bad bankruptcy news hasn't come down the pipeline for a while. Of course the good times must come to an end. The flag carrier over in Armenia is shutting things down.
Yesterday was the day in which Armavia officially ended its run and, just a few days earlier—March 29 to be specific—was when the carrier filed for bankruptcy and stopped flying. As this wasn't a well-planned exit from aviation, quite a few passengers were less than pleased with the news and some even decided to head to the airline’s office at Zvartnots International Airport to picket and demand answers.
Airline Industry / Europe / Europe Travel / Travel News / Airline News / Ryanair / Airline Fees / → All Tags
The European Union is considering changing the regulations that govern how airlines have to compensate/assist/not-screw-over passengers that they've stranded. Whether it's because they don't like their airline industry or because they do like their passengers is an open question, but changes they're nonetheless making.
The E.U. is already a relatively OK place to be a passenger. Under EU261, airlines have to refund ticket prices for cancellations and long delays, plus there are all kinds of rules about how geographically close airlines have to get their passengers when flights are diverted to alternate airports.
The implementation of those rules is admittedly imperfect. The refund rule sometimes ends with passengers taking airlines to court, and the geography regulation has its own loopholes (Ryanair once kind of hilariously met the rule by dropping passengers off on a nearby island rather than the one they were bound for. Close enough!) But at a minimum, the E.U. has been trying.
Very quickly: an Air India pilot dressed himself up in his uniform, and then filmed himself rapping about how Air India sucks, and then put the video up on YouTube. How do you think that went for him? No cheating.
If you answered "obviously he was forced to write an apology and now will face disciplinary action, because employees don't get to post themselves trashing their employers on YouTube," congratulations, you're a more astute observer of organizational dynamics than is this guy. Who has flown airplanes. Filled with people inside of them. For a living.