Monthly Archives: October 2008

Danish Lowfare Airline Sterling Goes Bankrupt

(Thanks so OTR Swedish correspondent Marcus for the heads up)

Iceland-owned Danish airline Sterling has gone bankrupt, stranding thousands of passengers across Europe (I feel like it’s actually been a couple of weeks since we’ve seen a bankruptcy.  Well done.)  The carrier had flown to 40 destinations across Europe but struggled with higher costs, etc.  The financial meltdown in Iceland certainly didn’t help, as it had been trying to raise additional capital over the past couple of months.

Unfortunately, if you’ve purchased tickets with them, they’re not refunding the cash – call your credit card company.  SAS says they’ll help get travelers who are stranded back home.

OpenSkies and L’Avion: Beginning of the End?

Someone over at Airliners has posted the copy of an internal memo from the head OpenSkies that sounds very, very, very much like the type of memos we used to see at Eos right when it was getting bad:  They’re not taking delivery of their 5th airplane thereby cutting out any expansion in the near future, they’re eliminating flights on slow days through the holiday season, they’re moving their headquarters to Paris, and they’ll have full codeshare on both the OpenSkies and L’Avion flights (even though the products are pretty different).

Much like Eos, it’s a great product at a fantastic price.  Unfortunately, given the cost structure and economic environment, that’s not nearly enough to succeed.

Flight Attendant Falls Out of 737 While Trying to Close Door

This is not something you hear every day:  A Jet Airways flight attendant fell out of a 737 at Delhi’s airport while she was trying to close the door to the plane.  She suffered only minor injuries when she fell and landed on her head after she slipped while closing the door.  The airline claims she did not follow correct procedures for closing the door.

$35 Each Way to Belize from Newark

American is in some sort of pissing match with Continental, because they have a $35 each way fare from Newark to Belize (not good during X-Mas).  Round trip comes to about $145 including taxes.  Crazy!

A Modest Request for Help, or, How Can I Save Tripmela

A bit of a departure today for the OTR…

As some of you know, most of my time is spent running Tripmela.com, India’s only publisher of travel deals (if you know Travelzoo, we are Travelzoo for India – we publish a weekly email newsletter and website with airfare, hotel and package deals for India).  We also run Searchmela.com, which is basically Bookingbuddy for India (airfare and hotel comparison).  We’ve been running for nearly 3 years, but it’s been a fulltime endeavor for about a year since we raised a bit of cash.

Long story short:  we need some help in three areas, and I’m using Online Travel Review to hit my readers up for ideas with the following (I thank you in advance for indulging me):

– We have not seen the growth in Tripmela newsletter subscribers that we had hoped.  We can acquire customers cheaply, but we’ve struggled to drive free traffic to the website.  If anyone has any thoughts about how we can do a better job driving traffic, I’d love to hear them.

– Searchmela actually works pretty well – we’ve launched paid search campaigns driving cheap traffic to the site.  Our issue is getting more people to do searches (which is how we get paid).  Feel free to check out Searchmela.com and any suggestions you have about how to increase the number of people actually doing searches on us would be very helpful.

– Last, and most importantly, we have been trying to raise about $700,000 to take the business to the next level.  We feel we have all the pieces in place (nearly 100,000 newsletter subscribers; paying clients, etc), but we have, as yet, been unable to find an angel investor (or investors) for the business.  If you know anyone who might be interested in hearing a bit more about Tripmela, I’d be extremely thrilled to chat.  We’ve found that people who understand the travel business and people in the Indian American community are the most receptive, as they understand the potential.  We think there’s a great opportunity here, and we know that the right investor will help make it possible.  We just need some help meeting that person.

I can be reached at jared (at) tripmela.com

Thanks for your indulgence, and I promise I’ll be back on Monday with the usual ridiculousness.

How to Crash Your Plane’s Entertainment System (I have no idea why you’d want to do this)

(Thanks to Upgrade Travel Better)

I’m basically including this info solely for my friend Doug, who would be interested (for some reason) in learning how to crash your plane’s in-flight entertainment system.  You can read the geek-heavy answer here.

The Other Side of Fuel Hedging: Huge Losses

Just a few months ago there appeared to be a large number of newspaper articles discussing how brilliant Southwest was for hedging fuel prices and then suggesting (at least hinting) that every other airline were fools for not hedging their fuel prices.  Well, it turns out we now know why other carriers didn’t hedge:  because it can be risky.

Northwest, United and Southwest have all announced large non-cash charges related to a decrease in the value of the hedges because of the price of fuel.  (Gary from View from the Wing explains it all far better than I can here).

It’s just amazing how quickly fuel prices have turned around and how airlines get burned when fuel prices go up and burned when they come back down.

Woman Sues Air Canada for $85,000 for Spilled Drink

An Edmonton woman has filed an $85,000 lawsuit against Air Canada after a flight attendant spilled an unspecified hot beverage on her (by accident) during a flight from Vancouver to London.  The plaintiff claims that her “inner thighs and pubic area” were burned when the flight attendant spilled the aforementioned drink.  She also says her vacation was ruined because of the emotional stress she suffered after spilling her drink.

I believe this speaks for itself.

Kayak and American Kiss and Make Up

(Thanks, TB)

A little bit of online travel industry breaking news (I believe you heard it here first):

You may remember that American got into a bit of a pissing match with Kayak which led to them pulling their fares from the website. As with just about every other time this has happened over the past 8 years (Expedia/Northwest; Expedia/US Airways), everyone has put aside their differences and AA is back up (though Kayak appears to have pulled the Orbitz link that it used to display with American flights). Just thought you’d like to know.

How Does Tiny Cape Air Turn a Profit?

(Thanks, USA Today Blog…)

The Boston Globe has an interesting profile of Cape Air, which serves small cities in the northeast by flying 9-seater Cessnas.  The tiny carrier, which expects to earn a profit on its $70 million operation, has weathered the fuel storm because they have used aviation gas instead of jet fuel – aviation gas has always been expensive, and they didn’t face a huge spike in their fuel costs.  There’s plenty of detail in the article – it’s a good read…