Monday, December 17, 2007

104th Anniversary of Flight

The Charlotte Observer notes that today is the 104th anniversary of flight!!!!!!!!!

NC celebrates 104th anniversary of Wright brothers' flight

It took less than a minute for Orville and Wilbur Wright to make history.

Monday is the 104th anniversary of the brothers' historic flight in eastern North Carolina. Historians credit the brothers with the world's first sustained powered flight by a heavier-than-air craft.

Up to 1,000 people are expected to gather at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills to remember the humble yet world-changing achievement.

The brothers piloted two successful flights on December 17, 2003, in Kitty Hawk. Orville Wright piloted the first flight, traveling 120 feet in 12 seconds. Later that day, Wilbur Wright flew 852 feet in 59 seconds.

North Carolina uses an image of Orville Wright's historic flight as its license plate logo.

Friday, December 14, 2007

You Definatly Won't Be Flying Alone Over The Holidays

In fact, there's going to be over 47 million people in the air over the holiday break. As always, busy hubs like Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Denver will be the busiest with New York topping the list. Airlines are going to have to be prepared for delays at these big hubs and accomodate passengers who have to endure them. Given the weather in the Midwest and Northeast over the past week, airlines are going to really be expecting delays at some point in the system and not fall back on their patterns of overscheduling, unless they want to further compound the problem.

Check out this BusinessWeek article about how the airlines plan to handle air travelers and which days will be the worst to fly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

For Those Traveling This Holiday Season

The Washington Post has a great article offering tips for all those traveling this holiday season.

'Twas the Flight Before Christmas
Airport delays are all but inevitable over the holiday. Nine must-have tips for beating lines, stress, and holdups.

By Joe Brancatelli Business Travel
Tuesday, December 11, 2007; 12:00 AM

The airlines ran about 75 percent on time over the recent Thanksgiving holiday, so the major carriers declared victory and claimed they had done a great service for the American traveling public. And since they didn't find too many wailing families spending Thanksgiving sleeping in chairs at the airport, the major media ran a spate of things-went-better-than-expected stories.

But here's a better way to look at things: Would you be satisfied if FedEx or U.P.S. delivered one out of every four of your parcels late? How eager would you be to eat at a restaurant that delivered one of your entrées late and cold when your party of four arrived for a meal? What if your dry cleaner returned only 75 percent of your clothes?

The brutal reality of holiday travel is that you run a good chance of being late, missing a connection, and otherwise being inconvenienced by the nation's air-travel system. So if you're planning to hit the road during the next month, when inexperienced leisure travelers will far outnumber grizzled business fliers, you need to plan tactically and do everything you can to control your destiny.

Fly Early in the Day

Government statistics show that flights scheduled to depart and arrive early in the day have the best on-time performance. But relative timeliness isn't the only reason to fly early: If your selected flight is canceled, there are more flights remaining for you to get rebooked on. Conversely, book an evening flight and you're subject to longer delays, and then you may not get another flight that day if your original one is canceled.

Do More Online

Airlines offer online seat selection and check-in up to 24 hours before departure. Use it. Having your seat assignment and boarding pass before you leave for the airport eliminates two of the major stress factors of holiday travel. It will also allow you to bypass a third stress point-the checked-luggage line-because most carriers now offer fast-bag-drop stations for travelers who've used online check-in.

Carry On Less

The government imposes a two-item limit for carry-on bags. But airlines reserve the right to force you to check one of the carry-ons on full flights. There's a good chance holiday flights will be full, so consider traveling with just one carry-on bag.

Check Fewer Bags

The major carriers are now cracking down on excess-weight bags and charging up to $100 for luggage above the 50 pounds you get for free. Try shipping your belongings instead. U.P.S., FedEx, and specialty bag-handling firms offer cost-effective options. They'll pick up your bag at your home or office and ship it directly to your hotel or final destination.

Ship Your Presents

Reduce your load further by sending your gifts by mail, an overnight courier, or a package service. It may cost a few dollars, but the stuff will get there, and you won't have to carry it. And abandon all hope of taking gifts as carry-ons. First of all, they will count against your carry-on limit. Second, wrapped presents will be unwrapped and examined if their contents can't be verified by the X-ray machines at security.

Win the Ground War

Don't risk missing your flight because of a ground delay. Roads to, from, and inside the airport and airport parking lots are clogged with traffic during the holidays, so allow more time than usual. And remember: In-airport lots will be filled to overflowing, so use an off-airport private lot instead. All offer shuttle service directly to departure terminals; many offer perks like car washes and oil changes. Alternatively, take a car service or taxi to the airport. And trust me on this: Do not rely on friends or family for transportation. The holiday season is stressful enough. Why dump the extra grief of an airport run on anyone-especially people you care about?

Prepare for the Inevitable Delays

The long lines-and all the extra time you'll have if everything goes swiftly-are less annoying if you're prepared. Bring plenty to read and lots of music and videos. If you're traveling with kids, make sure you've got a supply of games, toys, and snacks. If you're traveling with infants, have more than enough diapers and food. You won't find this kind of stuff at most airport shops. And accept the fact that there may be unexpected security delays and diversions: Abrupt closures of terminals or entire airports for real or imagined security breaches have been a regular occurrence during the past several Christmas seasons.

Pack Rations

No one likes airline food, so why complain about the carriers' not giving it away anymore? Instead, pack a sandwich, fruit, and several bags of nuts, or a supply of energy or protein bars. And don't scrimp on water. Airline travel is dehydrating, and you should drink at least eight ounces of water for every hour of flying. You can't carry water through security, so pick up several bottles from the shops inside the "sterile" area beyond the screening checkpoints. Do not assume you'll get all the beverages you need in-flight. Flight attendants won't come down the aisles often enough to suit your needs.

Hide Out in the Club

If you've got a long layover between flights or are faced with an unexpected delay, consider joining an airline's club network. The clubs are relatively quiet oases in the maelstrom of airports during the holiday season, and most airlines sell day passes for about $50. Your sanity is worth the relatively small investment.

The Fine Print

Take a psychic tip from a 30-year veteran of the road: Leave your emotional baggage behind. It won't clear security anyway. It may sound silly, but if you come to a flight with a positive mind-set, your chances of having a good experience improve. Come to the airport stressed and strung out and you're almost sure to have a bad flight.

* * *

Monday, December 10, 2007

AAAA Applauds Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson

The Alliance for Aviation Across America released this statement regarding Kay Bailey Hutchinson's appointment as the Ranking Member of the Aviation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Alliance for Aviation Across America Applauds Senator Hutchison’s Appointment to be the Ranking Member of the Aviation Subcommittee

Washington , DC – Today the Alliance for Aviation Across America issued the following statement in response to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s appointment to be the Ranking Member of the Aviation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee.

“We are pleased with Senator Hutchison’s return to the leadership of the Aviation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee. Senator Hutchison has been an effective leader on aviation issues, and we look forward to working with her on the important and impending issue of modernization of our air traffic control system, as well as other issues impacting small business owners and rural communities across the country that depend on general aviation.” Hutchison has been appointed to the position following the retirement of the Subcommittee's current ranking member, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MI), who has announced that he will resign from the Senate by year's end.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Stick To Your Guns!!!!

The DOT needs to do what it said it was going to do, be aggressive in its enforcement and fine chronically late airlines.

According to the Seattle Times:

"The department should have fined American Airlines as much as $50,000 for operating two flights that were chronically delayed throughout the first nine months of this year, according to data analyzed by The Associated Press.

"That's what the agency said it would do when it began investigating late flights in May. It identified 25 chronically delayed flights through the first six months of 2007, and said carriers that did not improve in the third quarter would face fines of up to $25,000 per violation."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Don't Let the Airlines Fool You!

Despite airline delays falling in October, 2007 has still been the second-worse year for delays.

Airline Delays Fall in October


WASHINGTON — The airline industry's on-time performance through the first 10 months of this year was the second worst on record, but delays in October fell compared with a year ago, according to the Transportation Department.

Additionally, some carriers avoided fines for chronically delayed flights by improving their performance in the third quarter, the department said.

The nation's 20 largest carriers reported an on-time arrival rate of 78.2 percent in October, up from 72.9 percent in the same month a year ago, but down from 81.7 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

In October, 39.8 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, down from 40.4 percent in the same month last year, but up from 34.2 percent in September.

Despite the improved October results, about 24 percent of flights arrived late in the first 10 months of the year. The industry's on-time performance this year was the second worst since comparable data began being collected in 1995, coming in one-tenth of 1 percent better than the first 10 months of 2000.

Nearly 64 percent of flights on Atlantic Southeast Airlines were delayed in October. The Delta Connection carrier, which is owned by SkyWest Inc., had the lowest on-time arrival rate, followed by Alaska Airlines at 70.1 percent and Comair at 74.4 percent. Comair had three flights that were delayed by at least 15 minutes more than 90 percent of the time.

Still, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters on Monday said six airlines that operated chronically delayed flights in the first half of the year improved their performance in the third quarter and avoided fines of up to $25,000 per violation. The department in May began investigating flights that were at least 15 minutes late more than 70 percent of the time and identified 26 that met those criteria through the first six months of 2007.

"Tough scrutiny and a willingness to impose serious penalties have caused the airlines to correct these chronically delayed flights," Peters said in a release.

The airline data come on the heels of a storm system that delayed hundreds of flights into the New York City area's three main airports _ John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia _ for as long as two hours Sunday because of wind and ice. When the storm hit the Midwest on Saturday, airlines at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport canceled hundreds of flights, a scene mirrored at airports in Des Moines and Milwaukee.

Federal aviation regulators in October held a two-day summit aimed at fixing "epidemic" delays at JFK, which had the third-worst on-time arrival record of any major U.S. airport through October, behind LaGuardia and Newark.

The government has proposed alleviating delays by reducing JFK's hourly flight limit by 20 percent. But the airline industry's trade group and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs JFK, both prefer flight-path changes and improvements aimed at increasing the airport's capacity.

Customer complaints rose to 1,096 in October compared with 629 in the same month last year, according to the government data. But the rates of mishandled baggage fell to about 5.4 reports per 1,000 passengers from 7.5 reports a year ago.

Not all airlines performed poorly in October. Hawaiian Holdings Inc.'s Hawaiian Airlines had the highest on-time arrival rate at 94.6 percent, followed by Aloha Airlines at 91.5 percent and Frontier Airlines at 84.4 percent, according to government data.

The Bush administration and the Federal Aviation Administration last month announced a number of initiatives, including temporary use of military airspace off the Atlantic coast, to try and help with the Thanksgiving rush. But delays were up during the holiday week compared with last year due mainly to bad weather.

The airlines and the FAA are pressing for a new, satellite-based air traffic control system that will cost about $15 billion and take nearly 20 years to complete to help improve operations. The FAA in late August awarded ITT Corp. a contract worth up to $1.8 billion to build the first portion the system.

Monday, December 3, 2007

NY Comptroller Addresses Economic Impact of NYC Delays

A recent report by the New York Comptroller William Thompson details the economic impact of the delays and cancellations that plague the three major New York airports.

Among the key findings from Thompson’s report:

- On time performance for New York Airports is 13 percentage points below the national average at just 60%.

- The average taxi-out time is between 28 and 36 minutes at the three major airports.

- New York’s airports have among the highest flight cancellation rates.

Yet Thompson also takes time to address general aviation in the NYC area. Andrew on does a great job of addressing the concerns Comptroller Thompson has about general aviation in the area. Read his post HERE.