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Photo: JetBlue

Now that the surprise of JetBlue's announcement of an interline agreement with American has worn off, the question becomes: Is something bigger in the works? American, after all, is a flagship member of the oneworld alliance. Is this initial partnership the first step toward JetBlue joining oneworld?

The answer is probably "no," or at least "not for a while." But the respective airlines' CEOs seemed to fan the speculative flames a bit on a conference call today. Terry Maxon at the Airline Biz blog reports that when "asked if today's deal could lead to JetBlue joining oneworld, [JetBlue CEO David Barger] said that 'our teams are real open to the path forward.'" American CEO Gerald Arpey said, "We'll see where things lead."...read more»

Photo: JetBlue

Big news from JetBlue this morning. The airline has signed an agreement with American that will allow customers to book seamless connections to a number of American's international routes. In an announcement, JetBlue said the collaboration "will offer JetBlue customers simple connections to American's international flights from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Boston's Logan International Airport, where JetBlue is the largest domestic airline, and offer American's customers convenient nonstop domestic flight options on JetBlue from those markets."

This means JetBlue customers flying from Burlington, Vermont, for example, can connect to a Paris-bound American flight in JFK, all on one ticket. JetBlue says its customers "will be able to effortlessly connect on flights to 12 of American's international destinations from JFK and Boston including Barcelona, Spain; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Tokyo, Japan." American customers will be able to connect to 18 domestic markets served by JetBlue.

Coinciding with this deal is a slot swap between the two airlines, the result of which is new JetBlue service at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. ...read more»

US Airways aircraft front 1 (Photo: Airbus S.A.S. )

It seems like such a minor thing, putting an ad on an airline ticket. In some ways, it's a pretty obvious choice: Airlines have a highly targeted market (travelers) carrying a crucial document (their tickets) they will continually examine, check, and confirm is still in their possession. Stick an ad on there, airlines, it's a match made in heaven!

US Airways is the latest carrier to put ads on its tickets, with promos from Starbucks and REI, among others. Delta, Southwest, and Spirit also include ads on their tickets.

The catch, though, is that only US Airways passengers who check in online will receive tickets with ads on them, meaning US Airways is effectively passing along the cost of printing its ads. ...read more»

Southwest 737 jet approaching runway (Photo: iStockPhoto/Lowell Sannes)

It appears WestJet, an emerging Canadian low-cost carrier, might pull out of a proposed codeshare deal with Southwest in favor of a similar deal with Delta. Ben Mutzabaugh at Today in the Sky writes that it's mostly about reach: Delta has more, and Southwest has less. "Delta has a sizeable presence at LaGuardia, and—if WestJet is able to restore its Toronto-LaGuardia service—Delta could connect arriving WestJet passengers to its own flights to destinations such as Atlanta, Memphis, New Orleans, Washington and others."

Adding to the problems for Southwest is the rather fundamental problem of its reservations system, which currently cannot handle codeshares. "We like the Southwest partnership,'" WestJet chief executive Gregg Saretsky tells the Financial Post, "but they've signaled to us that they're not going to be ready."

For U.S. travelers, particularly fans of Southwest, this has to be a bit of a letdown. WestJet is seen as Canada's version of Southwest, and the partnership was to be Southwest's first foray into international travel....read more»

Air: Baggage: Racing through Airport (Photo: iStockphoto/Chad McDermott)

Situation: You have thirty minutes to make a connection. You're on a crowded plane, you have carry-on bags, and it's an airport you've never been to. What do you do?

As travelers, we all need to have a little MacGyver in us, that uncanny ability to handle nearly impossible situations with clever solutions. And while that doesn't usually mean fashioning a grappling hook out of paper clips and bendable straws, it does mean adapting on the fly to stay on schedule when the entire world seems to be conspiring to make us miss our flight.

So, what do you do when you see a short connection on your itinerary? What about when your schedule gets thrown off, and you have an unexpectedly tight timeframe to catch your next flight? Share your tips and stories below. Thanks!...read more»

Cable car at sunset (Photo: San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Back in February, I rounded up great reader tips for making the most of layovers. One of the ideas that came up for extra long layovers was getting out of the airport in cities like Atlanta and Tokyo. A bunch of you wrote in with more ideas about how to spend long layovers in more cities, including Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

At their best, long layovers—generally more than five hours—can be an extra mini-vacation, a chance to explore a new city or revisit an old favorite.

Here are a few airports that offer good city access and interesting ways to spend a few hours. ...read more»

Photo: US Airways

US Airways is the latest airline to jump into the in-flight wireless fray. Albeit fashionably late to the party, the carrier announced it will have its entire fleet of 51 Airbus A321 aircraft outfitted with Aircell's Gogo service by June 1. Airplanes with wireless will be identified by a Wi-Fi logo on the exterior, and in late June the airline will begin identifying wireless-equipped planes during the booking process.

Access to in-flight Wi-Fi will be free until June 1, and then will follow the standard Gogo pricing scheme.

So with US Airways in on the Wi-Fi game, the question becomes: Who doesn't have wireless, or at least serious plans to add it? I'm looking at you, JetBlue! ...read more»

Airport: Woman in Security Check Line (Photo: iStockphoto/james steidl)

According to USA Today, President Obama's choice to lead the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Maj. Gen. Robert Harding, has withdrawn his nomination, citing distractions following questions about military contracts with a security company he founded.

This is the second nominee to forfeit his nomination following only marginally relevant concerns about his suitability. Erroll Southers, the administration's first nominee, withdrew after questions about his apparent misuse of police background checks when he was chief of police in Los Angeles.

According to the New York Times, questions about Harding center on contracts his company signed with the Defense Department. "His company, Harding Security Associates, provided intelligence debriefers in Iraq, but after the government ended a $49.2 million contract early in 2004, an audit found that the company had received an overpayment and collected more money for termination costs than it should have."

Harding admitted that he hadn't paid close enough attention to his company's accounting, but also said much of the overpayment has been refunded.

The real story here, though, is that two qualified individuals have come and gone, leaving the TSA without a clear leader for well over a year. ...read more»

The Capitol, Washington, D.C.

The Senate recently passed the Federal Aviation Authorization Act, a massive piece of legislation that, among other things, gives funding for a new air traffic control system and mandates tarmac delay provisions. But tucked away in the bill is a set of new consumer protections that could drastically improve the airfare booking process: The Clear Airfares Act. Introduced by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, the Clear Airfares Act would require airlines and online travel agents to display taxes and fees—even bag fees—early on in the booking process, meaning you'll know the full price up front and won't get hit with surprise fees at the airport.

I chatted with the senator to find out what's in the bill, what sort of changes consumers can expect, and when the new rules might take effect....read more»

Airport: Woman in Security Check Line (Photo: iStockphoto/james steidl)

With so much focus on how to make flights safer, one thing I've heard a lot about recently (from experts as well as in comments from readers) is the idea that the U.S. should use security strategies similar to those at Israeli airports, specifically spending more time talking to passengers and asking questions to assess threats. Now that idea is gaining more traction as President Obama's nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has floated the idea in the ongoing Senate confirmation hearings.

Robert Harding, a retired Army major general, points out that TSA airport screener training is already headed in that direction. CNN reports that Harding said that screeners now take a one-week course in engaging passengers in conversations, learning to ask questions and determine whether passengers are a threat to flights. In Tuesday's session, Harding said, "I would look forward to working with my 48,000 (screeners) and ensuring that their training goes even further than where we are presently in 'engage' and move toward the Israeli model of training and drilling. And I think you would see a change very fast."

Effective is good, but one thing that strikes me is that U.S. passenger culture would have to adapt to this style of security. I'm not even particularly surly, but I'm pretty sure my kneejerk response would be annoyance to a barrage of personal questions from a stranger while standing in my socks trying to keep an eye on my purse on the conveyor belt. ...read more»

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