Until yesterday, there was just one employee group at American Airlines that was not represented by a union: customer-service workers, including reservations and airport agents.
On September 16, in what the union calls "the largest labor organizing victory in the South in decades," 86 percent of American's 14,500 agents voted to be represented by the Communications Workers of America-Teamsters Association. Negotiations between the union and management on a new contract will begin shortly.
The pro-union result reverses a previous vote, in January 2013, when workers narrowly rejected the CWA's bid to represent them. What's changed? ... read more»
The European press reports that the Department of Homeland Security has approached several European countries about opening pre-clearance facilities for flights to the U.S. This would be great news for U.S. residents returning from European trips.
In case you haven't experienced it, preclearance means that you pass through U.S. Customs, Immigra-tion, and TSA security screening in the country where your flight originates rather than upon arrival in the U.S. The big advantage is that the preclearance happens at your departure airport, where you have to arrive hours before your flight, anyway. Your arrival back in the U.S. is like a domestic arrival: No lines, no hassles; just grab your baggage and go. As a secondary advantage, travelers not welcome in the U.S. learn about that before they're flown for many hours, rather than on arrival—where they are forced to wait for a return flight. ... read more»
Is there a season for airline rebranding? With new logos and aircraft paint schemes introduced by three U.S. carriers just this month, you might think so. First, there was Southwest, closely followed by Frontier. And this week, it's Spirit's turn.
The new paint scheme for Spirit's planes can best be described as eye-popping (although "flamboyant" and "blinding" also come to mind). The planes will be sprayed all yellow -- think taxi-yellow -- except for "Spirit" and "Bare Fare" printed in bold black. ... read more»
Among the larger U.S. airlines, arguably no carrier has done more to reinvent itself than Southwest. In just the past few years, Southwest has designed and rolled out a new frequent flyer program; introduced a new fare structure; launched international flights; and most recently, rebranded itself with new logos and aircraft liveries.
Even as the company has made the changes, it has repeatedly sworn allegiance to its roots as an airline by and for the people, distinguished by its friendly service, low fares, and relative freedom from nuisance fees.
All of which has raised the question: Can Southwest have it both ways, pleasing both its shareholders (as a lean, mean profit machine) and its traditional customers (as a homey no-frills value-leader)? ... read more»
You don't have to be German to enjoy hot sausages and cold beer, do you? And what's more German than Oktoberfest? Because some 20 percent of the American population can claim some sort of roots to Germany, you can find Oktoberfests happening from late September through October in dozens of U.S. cities and towns. And if you're a stickler for authenticity, you can still catch a flight to the genuine article in Munich.
This column was suggested by a press release from the good folks at Kayak proclaiming its 10 top Oktoberfest picks in the United States: New Braunfels, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Helen, Georgia; Leavenworth, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Las Vegas, Nevada; Cincinnati, Ohio; La Crosse, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; and San Francisco, California. That's certainly a good list—an eclectic mix of giant diversified destinations that celebrate practically everything and small towns with a special Oktoberfest focus. ... read more»
Children traveling alone: an uncomfortable consequence of today's split families, remote retirement centers, and extended off-site job assignments. And that means you sometimes need to arrange flights for kids traveling by themselves. Most airlines have "unaccompanied minor" provisions to take care of the problem; they're included in contracts of carriage, as augmented by various rules. But they're not free. And the recent announcement from American that it upped its charge presents an opportunity to revisit a question I last covered more than a year ago.
Overall, unaccompanied-minor procedures are fairly common among all lines. Unaccompanied minors require reservations and adult-priced tickets. Adults involved must make ironclad arrangements to get them to their departure airport and retrieve them at their destination, with all the required documentation. Airlines typically hang a pouch containing all relevant documents—tickets, meeting instructions, and cash for incidental expenses—around the child's neck. Flight attendants provide onboard assistance; where connecting flights are allowed, ground attendants escort the child from arrival gate to departure gate. ... read more»