February 2005

Most cargo still not screened

by Jon Surmacz on February 28, 2005

Two years after federal officials described a “gaping loophole” in air cargo security, little has changed in the way packages are handled by shippers who transport goods in the cargo holds of passenger planes. Air travelers still sit a few feet away from cargo holds with contents that haven’t undergone anywhere close to the same level of scrutiny.

The European Union (EU) has adopted new rules that guarantee compensation for airline passengers who are bumped from flights or whose flights are delayed or cancelled. These revised regulations apply to all airlines – scheduled and chartered – flying within the EU as well as all EU airlines flying from non-EU countries to the EU.

A dire turn for airlines

by Jon Surmacz on February 25, 2005

bankrupt1.jpgThe risk of multiple, simultaneous bankruptcies in the U.S. airline industry is growing, according to credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, and could be triggered by renewed terrorism, a spike in fuel prices or pension liabilities. Credit analyst Philip Baggaley Thursday warned that “the breadth of credit deterioration” in the airline sector indicates that credit profiles won’t rebound as they did in the 1990s after a similar downturn.

How to survive spring break

by Jon Surmacz on February 25, 2005

After years of planning, Brian Mayers was finally able to escape the pressures of his job with the Anne Arundel County, Md., Fire Department to take a well-deserved break from his three kids. He had arranged for the pet, house, and baby sitters. He and his wife were finally headed to the paradise called Cancun to celebrate an anniversary. But when Mayers landed in the tropical paradise on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, he found he wasn’t alone.

Three weeks before she leaves for vacation, Julie McCarthy’s airline calls her to reschedule her flight to Las Vegas. But when she arrives at the airport, they tell her the flight is oversold and she can’t travel for two more days. She’s promised a refund and a free ticket. But now Spirit Airlines won’t follow through.

Amtrak faces bankruptcy

by Jon Surmacz on February 24, 2005

America’s rail network will be forced into bankruptcy under Bush administration proposals that have infuriated many congressmen and passengers. The plan to abolish the $1.2 billion annual federal subsidy for Amtrak, the country’s nationalized rail operator, would kill many of America’s most famous rail routes.

4 passenger disorders

by Terry Riley on February 23, 2005

As a psychologist, travel provides me the opportunity to watch – and wonder at – the behavior of people who are often out of their elements, sometimes out of their time zones and occasionally out of their minds.
A rich and varied assortment of human behavior can be found on display while transiting by air.

Suit: SFO security cheated

by Jon Surmacz on February 23, 2005

The private firm in charge of security at San Francisco International Airport cheated to pass tests aimed at ensuring it could stop terrorists from smuggling weapons onto flights, a former employee contends. The allegations have prompted a federal probe into security at SFO, according to the government.

Bereavement fares are dying

by Jon Surmacz on February 22, 2005

As the airline industry revamps its pricing strategy, carriers are scaling back on discounted last-minute fares to close relatives of the dead and dying. No. 3 Delta Air Lines last month dropped so-called bereavement fares for travel in the 48 contiguous states.

The only survey that matters

by James Wysong on February 22, 2005

What’s the best way to get your airline’s attention? Write a letter? Call? Send an e-mail? No, believe it or not, there’s one effective way to gripe: the in-flight survey. Everything else is just hot air. What you don’t know about these polls might surprise you.