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Delta aircraft on the ground and taking off (Photo: Delta)

Delta has jumped at an opportunity to add flights to London's Heathrow Airport, and plans to launch flights from Boston and Miami next year. The airline will fly twice daily between Boston and London, and once a day from Miami. Flights are expected to begin March 27, pending government approval.

The slots became available following approval of the alliance between British Airways/Iberia and American. Both British Airways and American dominate transatlantic service into Heathrow, especially on the Boston and Miami routes. The E.U. and U.S. required the airlines to give up slots on these routes....read more»

United New Plane (Photo: United Airlines)

The past few years have seen a rash of major airline mergers, notably Delta and Northwest and, more recently, United and Continental. Globally, large carriers are merging as well, from British Airways and Iberia (both of whom have an alliance with American) and Air France and KLM, to two of Latin America's biggest carriers, LAN and TAM. So, are more mergers on the way, or will things cool down?

Most airline executives will tell you one thing is certain: The industry needs a fair amount of consolidation....read more»

Photo: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines and its regional partner, Horizon, announced a revamped business agreement this week. Alaska will now control all of Horizon's flight planning, marketing, and sales, leaving Horizon to simply operate its flights and ground functions.

At the heart of the change is a switch in how the airlines do business. Previously, 45 percent of Horizon's business was operated under capacity purchase agreements (CPA), in which Alaska paid Horizon a preset fee for the flight and collected whatever revenue the flight produced. The remaining 55 percent of Horizon's flights were operated under a revenue sharing agreement....read more»

American plane taxiing down the runway (Photo:  Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport)

Members of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) at American have rejected a new contract offer from the airline. Two of the three segments of the union—the largest, its mechanics, along with the stores employees, who handle the aircraft parts inventories—voted in solid majorities to reject the deal. The smallest segment, representing roughly 100 "technical specialists," voted in favor of the deal.

According to The Dallas Morning-News' Terry Maxon, "The results throw the issue of American's labor dispute back to the National Mediation Board (NMB), which must decide whether to keep the two sides talking, put the talks on hold indefinitely or allow the union to go on strike."

So what will happen?...read more»

Airport: Security Screening Sign (Photo: iStockphoto/Lya Cattel)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing a new "enhanced patdown" technique at Boston's Logan Airport and Las Vegas' McCarran Airport. According to The Boston Herald, the new technique involves screeners sliding their hands over nearly every inch of a passenger's body and, unlike existing techniques that require screeners to use the backs of their hands on sensitive areas, screeners use their palms for the entire search. The new procedure, in general, is described as being more aggressive and invasive than the current one.

The TSA claims the new patdowns are necessary to maintain its "layers of security" approach. Spokeswoman Ann Davis told the Herald, "Patdowns are designed to address potentially dangerous items, like improvised explosive devices and their components, concealed on the body." The patdowns are conducted by screeners who are the same gender as the individual passenger, and passengers may request that the patdown be done in private. Patdowns would be used mainly when a passenger refuses a full-body scan or sets off a metal detector.

Still, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) calls the new procedures part of a "seemingly constant erosion of privacy."

Indeed, these patdowns are just the latest in a series of incursions into passenger privacy made by the TSA in the name of safety....read more»

Photo: PhotoDisc

The last few weeks have been, well, pretty horrible for Mexicana's customers. The airline has been teetering on the edge of financial insolvency, canceling flights and ceasing bookings amidst the uncertainty even as it continues operations. Worse, the airline is effectively holding current passengers' money hostage by refusing to cancel flights in advance, even though it clearly lacks the planes to fly them. In declaring Mexicana the Worst Airline Ever, Brett Snyder at the Cranky Flier explains:

Mexicana has already had some aircraft repossessed, expects to return 40% of its fleet to lessors, and hasn’t been running a full schedule. Originally, the affected flights were canceled through August, but now they are canceled "until new notice." ... This is where it gets absolutely insane. Though flights are canceled until new notice, they aren’t actually canceled yet. They’re sitting in limbo and that means passengers are in a terrible place.

... If you’re booked on Mexicana, this is like watching a train come at you in slow motion and you can’t move out of the way. You know your flight will be canceled, but there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it because the airline is holding your money hostage....read more»

Photo: JetBlue

Unless you were on Mars last week, you probably heard about the return of JetBlue's All-You-Can-Jet Pass, which provides nearly unlimited travel to most of JetBlue's destinations. The pass sold out, but stragglers or folks who missed the opportunity to buy have one more chance to get their hands on a pass.

JetBlue has put three passes up for bid on eBay, with the proceeds going to benefit the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer initiative. The auction ends Thursday, August 26, at 6 p.m. PDT.

Here are the pass details:...read more»

Money: Fingers with dollar caught in Mousetrap (Photo: iStockphoto/SpotX)

American recently announced it will charge a premium for seats located in the front of coach, thus providing customers an easy exit from the plane. The new perk is just the latest in a growing trend of airlines charging extra for ordinary or, in some cases, slightly upgraded coach seats.

Here's a rundown of who charges what, and what your money buys:...read more»

Hotel Safe (Photo: iStockPhoto.com/Jaap Hart)

Our recent story on how to avoid theft when you're on vacation garnered some helpful reader tips about keeping your valuables safe when you travel. In fact, smart vacationing begins before you even shut the door. Dinek writes, "Don't 'advertise' on Facebook and other sites that you're going to be away from home." Thieves can use this information to target your home while you're away, so if you do want to brag about your travails, be sure to check your security settings to make sure only close friends and family know you'll be away.

While on the road, there are many steps you can take to make yourself less suceptible to petty theft....read more»

American plane taxiing down the runway (Photo:  Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport)

**Update: The FAA has officially proposed a $24.2 million fine against American.**

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) appears set to slam American with a $25 million fine. According to The Wall Street Journal, "High-level FAA officials ... seem determined to seek a civil penalty against American that could be nearly three times as large as any ever levied against a U.S. airline. The penalty appears intended to send a signal about the FAA's demand for strict maintenance compliance by airlines." Sources tell the WSJ the fine could even reach $30 million.

The fine stems from violations in 2008 that affected nearly 300 planes and caused thousands of cancelled flights. Poorly fastened wiring was discovered on the landing gear of 290 MD-80 aircraft, leading to several instances of damaged wiring and electrical arcing, which could have caused fires. The FAA even speculated that the loose wiring could have ignited a fuel tank explosion. American's hasty repair of the loose wires resulted in several days of delays, and the airline has since ramped up maintenance procedures in the hopes of avoiding the FAA's ire. Still, according to the WSJ, the FAA seems determined to move forward with the penalty....read more»

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