May 2005

Is the airplane the proper place for religion? Before you answer, consider how many times have you been forced to listen to a flight attendant’s or pilot’s announcement with some religious reference included? I have even seen flight attendants walk down the aisles handing out illustrated religious pamphlets, and know of a pilot who starts every flight off with a short prayer over the intercom system.

The US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a government-sponsored safety net for corporate pension benefits, yesterday urged Congress to change the rules that govern its funding as it announced losses that “dwarf anything in its history”.

In an airplane hangar north of Fort Worth, technicians are preparing to mount a fire-hydrant-shaped device onto the belly of an American Airlines Boeing 767. It is an effort that could soon turn into a more than $10 billion project to install a high-tech missile defense system on the nation’s commercial planes.

U.S. airlines plan to fly planes full this summer and wait out delays caused by weather and congestion rather than cancel flights, the nation’s top aviation regulator said Thursday.

The Blue Angels have just completed their last flyover. The presidential motorcade is heading back to a waiting Marine One, and all of the Midshipman have picked up their hats. Now that all the hustle and bustle of Commissioning Week — better known to us civilians as graduation — is over, Annapolis, Md., will calm down. The locals will have their town and harbor back for a little while until the summer tourists begin their annual migration.

How long should it take to get a refund? A few weeks? A few months? How about half a year? That’s how long Donna Passentino’s son has been waiting to get his money back on a vacation he booked through Expedia. The online travel agency is playing “pass the buck” with an airline, but that hasn’t helped him get any closer to the promised refund. How can you prevent your refund request from being delayed? And what responsibility, if any, does a travel agency bear?

Even as tourism officials prepared for an uncertain summer travel season following a bruising hurricane season last summer, law enforcement and AAA officials were bracing for record numbers of travelers this Memorial Day weekend.

The U.S. government’s no-fly list has shortcomings that could allow suspected terrorists and people with ties to terrorism to board U.S.-bound airplanes from overseas, U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials said.

Death takes a holiday

by James Wysong on May 24, 2005

An announcement of a three-hour mechanical delay rang throughout the aircraft and 300 people grumbled simultaneously. Except for the middle-aged man sitting next to me. He merely chuckled and sat back in his chair. “What made this guy so jolly?” I pondered as he stared straight ahead with a peaceful but goofy grin affixed to his face.

Summer vacationers heading near and far have a 600-pound traveling companion to tote this year: The gas price gorilla. It’ll take considerably more bananas to go the distance for summer R&R. Will $2.30-a-gallon slow us? Yes. No. Depends on who you talk to.