Monthly Archives: July 2004

So-Called Terrorists, Part 3

Salon continues its attack on the woman who wrote the article suggesting that terrorists were practicing a so-called dry run on a flight from Detroit to LA. Turns out the “terrorists” were musicians. Anyway, the Ask The Pilot column in Salon further examines some of the fallacies in the original report.

25,000 Miles on Delta for $150

By way of the WebFlyer blog…Delta is offering 25,000 SkyMiles if you sign up for Ambassador Status with Intercontinental Hotels for $150. In other words, you get a “free” flight on Delta for $150. Not a bad deal.

Crickets in French Riviera

A plague-worthy number of crickets have invaded Nice Airport in southern France. While this poses no current threat, the crickets attract birds, which could interfere with P Diddy’s summer vacation.

Indian Airlines Shows There’s Good in the World

An Indian Airlines domestic flight made an emergency landing Wednesday to save the life of a sick Pakistani baby onboard. Nice to hear there’s still good in the world.

Air New Zealand’s New Frequent Flyer Program

First, a quick follow-up to yesterday’s story about Delta possibly charging extra to speak to a US-based agent: a Delta spokeswoman now says that the carrier will not charge a fee for speaking to a reservations agent in the US. Much ado about nothing.

So, I’m not sure if this is a sign of things to come in the US, but I wanted to pass along some frequent flyer changes Down Under: Air New Zealand has altering its frequent flyer program to reward passengers based on the dollars they spend, not the miles they fly. These dollars are then converted into cash they can use to purchase seats on any flight—no restrictions. There’s no indication that US airlines are moving in this direction, but when I step back and think about it, the cash-based plan makes more sense than a mileage-based reward structure. After all, the airline wants you to spend money with them; the current scheme actually rewards you for purchasing cheap long-haul flights rather than expensive (and profitable) full-fare short haul trips.

Delta Floats a Bad Idea

Delta Airlines has been using India-based reservations agents to answer US-originated phone calls for some time now. According to the St. Petersburg Times (by way of the USA Today Airline blog) Delta has floated the possibility that US travelers could pay extra to speak with a US-based agent. Perhaps sometime soon US travelers can pay extra not to have any Asians on-board their plane. Or perhaps you’ll be able to request that no Black women make reservations for you. Sheesh. Either your reservations agents can handle the booking or they can’t. As my friend Jim would say, Why you gotta get all racist on me now?

Ghana Airways Banned from US

If you had a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Ghana planned in the next few weeks, and that once-in-a-lifetime trip was to begin with a Ghana Airways flight from New York or Baltimore to Accra, you might be spending your once-in-a-lifetime trip at home. The US government has banned Ghana Airways from flying to the US after it twice ignored the government’s order not to fly a particular aircraft to the US for safety reasons. No timeline has been given for reinstatement of the service. Call British Airways or KLM and see if you can get on one of their flights.

Cheap Flights to Riga

Good news for Latvians in London (or for Americans willing to make the Heathrow-Stansted transfer, which is quite easy and quite expensive–$30 each way on the bus). Ryanair announced that they will begin flights from London Stansted to Riga beginning this October. The very reasonably priced tickets will begin at GBP 17.99 which, given the precipitously falling US dollar, is roughly $72,385.

US Airways Profitable, In Miserable Shape

I’ve never heard a company announce a profit and sound so sad as US Airways did when they said that they were actually in the black yesterday. The bad news, though, is that they will not be profitable for the rest of the year, and they have deferred some regional jet orders. In addition, they will further scale back their Pittsburgh operation (even more than I mentioned a couple of days ago), and concentrate on point-to-point service from New York, Boston and Philly. They also will enter the miserably crowded and vicious NYC-Florida market, where fares start at $98 round trip. Their costs per seat mile are still nearly double those of JetBlue, and management is saying that $800 million still needs to be cut from employee wages and benefits. My suggestion: If you’re flying US Airways, take the miles on United.

Fly Song, Get iPod

I’ll give credit where it’s due: I have no idea whether this promotion will help Song stay afloat, but it will certainly generate some buzz. Song, Delta’s lowfare arm, will give away music downloads, guitars or iPods to all travelers who purchase tickets between August 1 and 12, and fly September 7th and October 6th. Here’s how it works:

One person buying 1 round trip ticket will get 100 iTunes downloads.
Two people flying together will get a Gibson Les Paul Junior electric guitar.
Three people flying together will get a mini iPod.

Seriously. If you and your 2 kids (or whoever) will be flying to Florida in September, this is a helluva deal, considering you can’t even find a mini iPod anywhere. While one of the commentators in the Times article (above) notes that this has a whiff of desperation to it, what difference does it make, frankly?

The article also says how it is a bit odd that they’ll only be giving away one iPod for 3 tickets, wondering how a family is to divide the undividable iPod. As children, my two siblings and I were incapable of dividing a box of Froot Loops amongst the 3 of us, so I have no idea how we would’ve settled the iPod situation. I’m guessing my father would’ve told the airline not to give us the iPod, just so he wouldn’t have to listen to us fight. Along these lines, on the one flight my family took together while I was a teenager, my father, brilliantly, had the three kids sit in completely separate sections of the airplane, so we wouldn’t kill each other. Free iPod amongst the 3 of us? Ha!