Airline chaos continues

by Jon Surmacz on December 29, 2004

More airline chaos in store next year — The nation’s airlines are going through the most wrenching transition in their 80-year history, and this holiday season travelers are getting a taste of what the future may be like. Besides the cold, snow, and ice which often foul up Christmas travel, this year’s record number of fliers have had to contend with fewer available flights, mountains of misplaced luggage, and, in some cases, overworked and less than helpful airline staff – all symptoms of an industry in the midst of a historic downsizing.

US Airways: volunteers needed — Trying to avert another round of flight disruptions, US Airways yesterday sought volunteers from its nonunion workforce to work without pay at its troubled Philadelphia operations over the New Year’s weekend. The airline canceled nearly 400 flights last week, leaving thousands of passengers stranded or separated from their luggage, after an unusually high number of flight attendants and baggage handlers based at the Philadelphia airport called in sick.

Hundreds of tourists die in tsunami — Anxious families across the world are seeking news of loved ones after a tsunami crashed into beaches and bars in some of Asia’s most popular tourist resorts, killing more than 20,000 people and stranding many more. While the vast majority of victims were locals from India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and the Maldives, hundreds were foreigners, enjoying Christmas in the sun at the busiest time of the year for the region’s tourist trade.

TSA looking for pat-down alternatives — Female travelers have been complaining about being subjected to pat-downs by airport security. Now, government officials say 16 airports around the nation will be testing some new explosive-detecting equipment that may limit the need for these intrusive searches.

Horror at Sofitel: 800 bodies reportedly found — Thailand’s unofficial death toll soared last night after 800 bodies were reported to be found in a hotel. Rescue workers found the bodies in a Sofitel hotel near Khao Lak, a town in northern Phuket, where hundreds of French tourists were staying, French radio reported.

Yemen sues US embassy over advisory — A five-star hotel in Yemen will sue the U.S. Embassy for advising Americans not to spend New Year’s Eve there for security reasons, reports said Wednesday. The ruling Yemeni Congress Party’s Web site said the administration of Aden Hotel in the southern city of Aden “will file a lawsuit against the embassy for discouraging US citizens to spend the festive season at the hotel and for making bad propaganda.”

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