Virgin America tail (Photo: Virgin America)

It appears Virgin America might be adding Chicago O'Hare to its list of destinations as soon as next year: The Chicago Tribune is reporting that O'Hare will indeed join Virgin America's route network in 2011.

But hold your horses—Virgin's Director of Corporate Communications, Abby Lunardini, told me there's no deal. more»

Photo: PhotoDisc

Last month, American announced it had found cracks near the pylons that attach the engine to the wing on three Boeing 767s from American's fleet. The FAA then ordered American to inspect several dozen aircraft, and has now expanded that inspection to cover 138 aircraft at multiple airlines operating in the U.S.

Affected airlines include American, Continental, Delta, United, and US more»

Photo: US Airways

Two more financial reports are out, including the quarter's first loss. But let's start with the upbeat news!

US Airways clocked in with a net profit of $265 million, up from a $95 million loss in the second quarter of 2009. This is the best quarterly report for US Airways since it merged with AmericaWest back in 2005.

In a release, CEO Doug Parker said he expects the good times to roll on, with a profit in the third quarter and likely for the entirety of 2010.

If you're wondering exactly how US Airways pulled off such solid numbers, it's really rather simple. In the second quarter of 2010, the airline logged virtually the exact same number revenue seat miles (RSMs) as it did during the same period in 2009. But in 2010, US Airways pulled in a whopping 18 percent more revenue from those RSMs than in 2009. That reflects higher fares, folks, and that'll help your profit picture.

On the other end of the spectrum, we find poor American, which posted this season's first financial more»

Airport - Departure screen full of canceled flights (Photo: iStockPhoto/Simon Smith)

The Department of Transportation's (DOT) tarmac delay rules are a mistake, according to a report issued yesterday by two aviation consultants. Using currently available data, the report extrapolates that the tarmac rules will result in more cancelled flights than the DOT estimated, and overall cause more harm than good. An overview of the lengthy report is here.

Let's look at some of the key points. The study observes that cancellations jumped 40 percent in May 2010 compared to May 2009, while diversions jumped 25 percent. The study mentions but doesn't dwell on the other obvious stat, which is that tarmac delays have been vanishing in recent months. In May, there were only five in total, four of which came on the same day. The study also attempts to prove that, contrary to the DOT's claims, tarmac delays are unpredictable; occur in clusters, rather than in isolation; paralyze airports, making gate returns difficult; and are regional, and therefore cannot reasonably be fixed through schedule changes. Finally, the report argues that tarmac delay rules actually have a negative impact on consumer welfare.

The cumulative effect of the study is that it gives credence to all the threats and warnings lobbed from the airline industry prior to the rule taking effect: Cancellations will spike, passengers will suffer, consumer advocates will regret demanding the rule, and so forth. As such, pro-airline folks are hailing the report as proof of their prophecy, while consumer watchdogs dismiss it as bunk. The latter group's conviction is further solidified by the authors' jobs as aviation more»

United New Plane (Photo: United Airlines)

There's still work to be done, but one of the major hurdles standing between United, Continental, and a completed merger is closer to being cleared.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that pilots from both airlines have agreed to the main points of a plan that will dictate how they will operate during the transition from two carriers to one. Each airline's pilot union is represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, but has different contracts that must be reconciled before a merger is more»

Ice Cream Cone (Photo: iStockphoto/howard Oates)

National Ice Cream Day has passed, but National Ice Cream month lasts through the end of July, and really, who needs an excuse to eat ice cream, anyway? Readers responded to our recent round-up of top ice cream spots around the U.S. with dozens more suggestions for fantastic ice cream. more»

Photo: Delta Air Lines

**Updated below: United reported a fairly solid profit of its own***

Delta kicked off second-quarter earnings season with a $467 million profit, up from a $257 million loss in the second quarter last year. That's a pretty big swing, and the airline's largest quarterly profit in a decade. So what happened?

How about a 17 percent spike in revenue, for starters? More specifically, passenger unit revenue (passenger revenue by available seat miles) increased by almost 20 percent, according to the Associated Press (AP), "driven largely by higher yields and occupancy." Basically, Delta is getting higher fares and flying packed planes. That's good for more»

Man on laptop and phone (Photo: Index Open)

A reader recently asked, "Do OTAs have reserved blocks of seats per flight that aren’t included as available seating on a given airline’s offerings?"

The short answer is, "No." Inventory is more»

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

Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods—heck, even strikes—are all events one could reasonably consider beyond an airline's control. Airlines classify these events as "force majeure," literally an "act of God," (Ed. note: "Force majeure" is atually French for "superior force"; "acts of God" are considered force majerue events.) and absolve themselves of any liability when flights are cancelled as a result. Passengers are issued a refund, but otherwise are left on their own.

It's significant, then, that Southwest has quietly added "mechanical difficulties" to its list of force majeure events, alongside wars, volcanic eruptions, and riots. In effect, Southwest is saying that if something breaks on a plane, and a flight cannot be completed as a result, Southwest is not responsible for anything beyond a refund and a "good luck." The potential implications as an industry precedent are clearly quite more»

Photo: PhotoDisc

In a time of online reservation systems, renting a car in another country is so simple that's it's easy to forget what awaits you upon arrival. Unfamiliar roads and inscrutable street signs are just a few of the challenges. But with a little preparation, you can take the challenges in stride and enjoy the freedom to explore only a car can provide. After all, how else are you going to get to that little farmhouse in Provence serving up Cavaillon melons filled with Port, or happen upon a handmade pottery shop in the Japanese countryside?

Here are five tips for driving in foreign countries. Have another? Share it more»