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Entries in Air Travel (18)

Friday
Mar012013

Airport Travel Won't Be Affected Right Away by Sequester

ICHIRO/Digital Vision(NEW YORK) -- You're not an employee with a federal agency but you're worried anyway about the sequester because you've booked a flight and have been hearing all kinds of nightmare scenarios about air travel.

If this description fits you, you can rest at ease -- at least for now.

FareCompare.com's Rick Seaney contends that folks who've made travel plans during this month won't have much to worry about because airport worker layoffs or furloughs won't occur for at least 30 days.

If Washington gets their act together and resolves the issue of automatic spending cuts by sometime in March, then things ought to be okay for flyers.

Otherwise, according to Seaney, "there's going to be a lot of pain and agony in air travel starting in April."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb272013

More Americans Are Flying and Complaining About Air Travel

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More Americans are planning to take a domestic flight this year, a new air travel survey finds.

TripAdvisor surveyed more than 2,000 respondents and found that 91 percent intend to take a domestic flight in 2013, up from 86 percent who said they flew domestically last year.

The survey also found 67 percent of respondents making international travel plans this year, compared to 56 percent in 2012.

The TripAdvisor survey also reveals flyer preferences and annoyances.

The top five biggest complaints about air travel:

  • Uncomfortable seats/limited leg room
  • Costly airline fees and ticket prices
  • Unpredictable flight delays
  • Long security lines
  • Other passengers (e.g. loud children)

The five most annoying airline fees, according to respondents:

  • Checked baggage
  • Carry-on baggage
  • Seat selection
  • Printed boarding pass at airport
  • In-flight amenities

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec052012

'Dead Week' Travel Brings Huge Savings

John Foxx/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For travelers on the hunt for bargains, dead week is one of the best -- that is, cheapest -- weeks of the year.  And it's coming up: mark Jan. 4 to Jan. 16 on your calendar.

Coming on the heels of the Christmas-New Year's Eve travel period, the dead week brings incredible savings on airfare, hotels and cruises.

"A lucky handful of flexible travelers can scoop up the cheapest prices of the year -- slashed by more than 60 percent compared to the holidays -- with the added bonus of an empty middle seat," said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.

The bargains are due to a dramatic drop in the number of people traveling.

In December 2011, the number of domestic air travelers was about 37 million, according to industry group Airlines for America.  The following month (January 2012), that number dropped to 34 million.

Think of it as a holiday travel hangover.  Many people have traveled for Thanksgiving or Christmas or both, and perhaps even New Year's.  Wallets are light from holiday shopping, and kids are going back to school.  All this leads to the perfect recipe for people staying home, which is exactly when the budget-conscious should strike.  

But beware -- the dead time comes and goes quickly.  Once Martin Luther King weekend comes around (Jan. 21) and many are celebrating a three-day weekend, prices start to creep back up.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug202012

Airlines Cut Leg Room in Effort to Boost Profits

John Foxx/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- If you’re on the tall side, the view from the cheap seats may be blocked by your knees on your next airline flight.

In an effort to generate more revenue, some airlines are cutting even further into available leg room to cram more seats onto their planes, and to create extra legroom for premium seats that come at an extra cost.

The Boston Globe reported Southwest Airlines has lost an inch of room between seats by adding six more seats to its planes, and that the Canadian airline WestJet will create a section of higher-fare seats by cutting inches of existing legroom from non-premium seats.

JetBlue has also cut an inch of legroom from seats in the rear rows of its Embraer E190 to provide more legroom for premium seats at the front of the plane. The airline expects to bring in $150 million on extra-legroom seats, the paper reported.

The industry standard for legroom is considered to be 31 inches, but that standard may change. Airlines continue to cut space as passengers become conditioned to paying for every amenity.  Spirit Airlines, known for having some of the cheapest flights around, has as little as 28 inches of legroom between its seats. It’s the airline the traveling public loves to hate, but charging for every “extra” has proved profitable for Spirit: Its 2012 second-quarter profits were double what they were a year prior, largely due to a la carte fees.

Nearly every domestic airline now has an option for purchasing a seat with additional legroom. For example, Delta Airlines Economy Comfort promises three to four inches of extra legroom and seats that recline up to 50 percent more. United’s Economy Plus offers up to five more inches of legroom.  Prices vary by route and airlines, but generally run between $40 – $100 per flight segment, though the price may be lower on very short flights.

Not all economy-class seats are created equal. Legroom, seat width and pitch vary by airline and by aircraft. Sites such as seatguru.com allow passengers to search by flight number and view seat details on their flights in order to choose the most desirable option.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul132012

Ten Scariest Airports in US

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ever grabbed that airplane armrest a little tighter during landing?  Ever felt as if you were taking off in a space shuttle instead of an Airbus?  Well, you may have been taking off or landing at one of the scariest airports in the country.

Just in time for summer, one of the busiest flying seasons of the year, Airfarewatchdog.com, part of the Smarter Travel Media Network, has released its picks for the scariest airports in the United States.

“We really don’t want to scare people from flying, so maybe we should call these the most “thrilling” airports to land at.  Air travel, mile for mile, is still the safest way to get from place to place, other than, perhaps, your own two feet,” George Hobica, travel journalist and founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, said in a statement.

Here are the site's picks for the country's scariest airports:

-- Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, Aspen, Colo.
Pilots must be certified to land in Aspen.  Airfarewatchdog.com suspects this is because the airport requires a swift descent at high altitude.

-- John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, Calif.
A unique takeoff is required at this sunny airport.  Because of strict noise restrictions, pilots must take off at maximum throttle and then abruptly pull back on their engines.  Some have compared taking off at this airport to a “ballistic missile” and a “space shuttle liftoff.”

-- Midway International Airport, Chicago
Although Midway isn’t quite as busy as its sister airport, O’Hare, that doesn’t make it any less scary.  The runways at Midway are close to 2,000 feet shorter than those at newer airports, causing many pilots to overshoot takeoff and landing.

-- Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport, Sitka, Alaska
This airport can get a little rocky.  It’s almost completely surrounded by water in the Sitka Sound and weather can get a little crazy, so pilots have to watch out for boulders and debris that often wash from the causeway onto the island’s only runway.  Large flocks of birds also live close to the airport and are frequently spotted in the skies.

-- Yeager Airport, Charleston, W. Va.
Yeager is another short runway, but what makes this airport a bit more thrilling is that it sits atop a flattened mountain. The runway sits between two cliffs so passengers better hope their pilot doesn’t overshoot this runway.

-- San Diego International Airport, San Diego
This downtown airport is considered one of the most dangerous, according to Airfarewatchdog.com.  With mountains to the north and east, Mexican airspace to the south and strong tailwinds blowing in from the west, pilots better watch out.  All of these factors combined sometimes force nose-to-nose takeoffs and landings.

-- LaGuardia Airport, New York
Although the views of the Empire State Building are breathtaking during takeoff and landing from LaGuardia, this airport sits a little too close to the Manhattan skyline.  It is also one of three airports in the country’s largest airport system so the skies around LaGuardia are packed with jets.  During landing, pilots are forced to make a series of tight, low altitude turns, including an 180-degree turn around Citi Field.

-- Catalina Airport, Avalon, Calif.
Get ready for a bumpy landing if you’re flying into this California airport. Catalina Airport has an altitude of 1,602 feet, dubbing it the Airport in the Sky, and is known to have downdrafts and turbulence on approach.  Additionally, the runway drops off so much on both sides that pilots at one end of it can’t see planes at the other.  And to add to that, the runway is also rough with potholes and soft spots caused by heavy rains.

-- Telluride Regional Airport, Telluride, Colo.
The highest commercial airport in the United States, its runway sits on a plateau above the San Miguel River and dips in the middle.  But pilots only have one shot at landing at this snowy airport because touch-and-go landings are prohibited.

-- Reagan National Airport, Washington, D.C.
Pilots have to be especially skilled to fly into this difficult airport.  Reagan National sits between two overlapping no-fly zones, so pilots have to watch out for the Pentagon and CIA headquarters. And on takeoff, pilots must ascend quickly and sharply turn left so they don’t fly over the White House.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul122012

Lawmaker Proposes Keeping Families Together In-Flight

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A New York congressman and member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has introduced legislation to help keep families seated together on commercial flights.

The Families Flying Together Act of 2012 would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to direct each carrier to “establish a policy to ensure, to the extent practicable, that a family that purchases tickets for a flight with that air carrier is seated together during that flight; and (2) make the policy... available to the public on an appropriate Internet Web site of the air carrier.”

Two airlines – Allegiant Air and Spirit Airways – charge for advance seat assignments, which means families who want to guarantee they’re going to be seated together will have to pay extra.  And while other airlines might not charge for an advance seat assignment, they might charge more for window or aisle seats, making it difficult to find seats together for free.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s legislation would help to ensure that children are not separated from their families and seated alone on flights.

“Air travel is complicated and expensive enough for families without adding new stresses,” Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a news release.  “Families should not be stuck paying hidden fees, or buying ‘premium’ seats, simply because they wish to be seated together on crowded flights.  It is positively absurd to expect a 2 or 3-year-old to sit unattended, next to strangers, on an airplane.  It is up to air carriers to make their seating policies clear and easily accessible to the public.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun152012

Low-Cost Carriers Flying High in Customer Satisfaction

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It’s no secret that low-cost carriers have won over the hearts of travelers everywhere.  But it may not be for the reason you think: When it comes to price, there’s typically not a whole lot of difference on routes where low-cost carriers compete with the legacy carriers.  Sometimes, the low-cost carriers actually cost more.

But a new survey from J.D. Power and Associates found that cost, as well as fees, are just two of the factors that led to higher customer satisfaction.  More than 70 percent of passenger satisfaction was driven by other parts of the overall experience, namely, a carrier’s policies and people.

The study measures overall customer satisfaction based on performance in seven categories (in order of importance): cost and fees; in-flight services; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; aircraft; check-in; and reservations.

Two low-cost airlines, JetBlue and Southwest, ranked highest and performed well in many categories that had nothing to do with price and fees.  JetBlue scored well for in-flight services and aircraft; Southwest for boarding/deplaning/baggage, check-in and reservations.

The absence of fees, however, does make a difference.  Satisfaction for airlines that charge for bags was 85 points lower, on average, than those that don’t.  Among traditional carriers, Air Canada, which also allows one free checked bag, performed well.  The two airlines that scored highest -- JetBlue at number one and Southwest at number two -- don’t charge for a first checked bag.  Southwest doesn’t even charge for a second checked bag.

Alaska Airlines came in first among traditional carriers for the fifth consecutive year.

Overall, satisfaction with low-cost carriers rose for the third consecutive year, while satisfaction with traditional carriers fell.  Among the traditional carriers, the only one that increased its satisfaction ranking was Delta.

“Despite the need for some carriers to charge unpopular fees, they can gain a competitive advantage by focusing their efforts on efficiency and positive interactions with the staff and crew,” said Jessica McGregor, senior manager of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

Here are the rankings for traditional carriers:

1. Alaska Airlines
2. Air Canada
3. Delta Airlines
4. Continental Airlines
5. American Airlines
6. United Airlines
7. US Airways

And those for low-cost carriers:

1. JetBlue Airways
2. Southwest Airlines
3. West Jet
4. AirTran Airways
5. Frontier

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

The Best Time to Book July 4 Airfare

John Foxx/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you’d like to get away for July 4, but haven’t yet booked airfare, it’s time.

According to data compiled by online travel booking site Travelocity, the best time to book to get the cheapest airfare for the holiday is three weeks prior.  Which, if you don’t have a calendar handy, is Wednesday, June 13.

Travelocity said the average price of round-trip domestic airfare this Fourth of July is $391, up 6 percent from a year ago.  However, based on historical data, a person who books three weeks in advance can expect to pay roughly $342.  Waiting until one week before the holiday will increase the average price 20 percent to $412.

“The good news is many of the top U.S. destinations are below the average ticket price,” said Courtney Scott, Travelocity’s senior editor.  She suggested booking vacation packages and opaque hotels as ways to offset rising airfare.

Here are the average airfares to the nation’s top 10 destinations for Fourth of July:

-- New York City: $337
-- Las Vegas: $365
-- Orlando: $316
-- Los Angeles: $364
-- Denver: $314
-- South Florida: $322
-- Washington, D.C.: $340
-- Seattle: $412
-- Boston: $343
-- San Francisco: $393

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun062012

Latvian Airline to Seat Passengers Based on ‘Mood’

Courtesy airBaltic(NEW YORK) -- Should you find yourself on airBaltic, Latvia’s national airline, you may want to relax, work, or network for business opportunities. Whatever kind of mood you’re in, airBaltic will find the perfect seat mate for you.

The airline announced a new service called SeatBuddy, which “enables customers to sit next to passengers with similar interests or travel mood.”  Test flights that feature SeatBuddy are scheduled to begin in late June 2012.

“We are delighted to introduce this new service, as our customers can be seated next to like-minded travellers,” Michael Grimme, senior vice president for sales and marketing at airBaltic, said in a press release. “We are launching this as a free-of-charge additional service, and at the same time exploring its future commercial potential.”

The airline seats people next to the best possible neighbor by asking passengers to indicate their preferred “flight mood.” For example, a person who wishes to network will choose “Business Talk.”  The airline will, it said, automatically assign a seat next to the closest match, without disclosing any personal information.

AirBaltic is the latest, but not the first, airline to experiment with social seating. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Meet & Seat launched in January. Malaysia Airlines’ MHbuddy began last year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May252012

Airline Fees: Charges for Carry-Ons, Pillows, Water, Once Included, Now New Revenue

ICHIRO/Digital Vision(NEW YORK) -- The doors to a Boeing 777 used to be the gateway to adventure.  Now, when you get on a plane, it's more like the moment of truth -- for your wallet.

Airlines are adding on fees for almost everything, including amenities that were once complimentary.  So just how much is that flight you thought you paid for already really going to cost you?  By the end of your trip, you could spend hundreds more than you expected to.

Delta and other airlines are now charging around $6 to watch an in-flight movie.  Spirit Airways charges $3 for a bottle of water.  Allegiant Air charges between $4.99 and $24.99 for passengers to choose their own seat and between $17 and $25 for a pillow and a blanket.  And just last month, Allegiant announced it will start charging between $10 and $30 for passengers to have the privilege of storing carry-on bags in the overhead compartments.

But that cost is not quite as high as Spirit's carry-on price of $20 to $40.  The carrier has been charging for carry-on bags since 2010.  So which airline is going to be next?

"We're probably a few years away from other airlines following what Allegiant has done, but honestly, we're probably not that far off," said Sean Williams of Motley Fool, a financial services company.  "I think a lot of the airlines aren't going to have much of a choice to do this.  Many of them are losing money hand-over-fist if these fees aren't there."

A key reason people started to switch to carry-on was to avoid baggage charges that have also crept up in price in recent years.  On United, passengers will pay $100 for a third checked bag on an overseas flight, while Delta is charging $135 and American Airlines is charging $150.

Lately there is even the "book your seat" fee, an extra per seat charge at the time of booking on some section of some airlines to avoid the middle seat, or just to make sure you and your spouse are sitting next to each other.

In total, the airline industry brought in $2.6 billion in revenue during the first three-quarters of 2011 through these add-on fees.  Williams said Delta has brought in $656 million in just baggage fee revenue alone.

"They also are the leading airline when it comes to change-ticket fees," he said.

This seems bad for business, so why do the airlines do it?

"[The airlines] have no choice but to put out all these extra fees because they'd be losing money otherwise," Williams said.  "Between the added cost of planes, which just continue to be more expensive... they really have no choice."

One of the greatest costs to the airlines is the price of fuel.  Delta has considered buying their own refinery so that the airline can make its own fuel.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio