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Air: Man Holding Back of Flying Airplane (Photo: iStockphoto/Shelly Perry)

It's almost Halloween, and that means it's time for the fourth annual installment of your reader travel horror stories. Last year's favorites include The Mystery of the Burnt Frito Smell and The Sad Tale of the Forgotten Mother. And who can forget 2008's epic 60-hour journey of a father and his toddler, a trip which included two continents, liquid charcoal, and a dinner at Denny's. 

What funny, frustrating, or over-the-top travel adventures have you had? Share your stories below!

To kick things off, here are a few tales of woe from the road:...read more»

Photo: Southwest Airlines

Southwest announced today that it will charge a flat $5 fee for wireless Internet regardless of device or flight length. This is a departure from most airlines' policies, which use multi-tiered pricing schemes.

So far, Southwest has installed in-flight wireless on only 32 planes, and plans to have 60 outfitted by the end of the year. Installation on all of the airline's 737-700 planes (346 aircraft) will be complete by the end of 2012, and the full fleet will be finished by June 2013....read more»

Photo: Southwest Airlines

Southwest announced today it will launch flights to Mexico with Volaris, Mexico's second-largest carrier. The agreement, called International Connect, has been in the works for quite some time. Bookings begin November 12, and flights launch December 1.

Southwest and Volaris will link Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Jose with Cancun, Guadalajara, Morelia, Toluca/Mexico City, and Zacatecas. Initially, Southwest will offer domestic connections from most of its West Coast destinations, and said it will evaluate the possibility of adding more destinations early next year....read more»

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

Southwest revealed its initial routes from Newark Liberty International Airport today, announcing eight daily nonstops starting March 27. The airline will fly six daily nonstops to Chicago (Midway) and two daily nonstops to St. Louis.

CEO Gary Kelly told reporters assembled at Southwest Headquarters in Dallas that more routes will be coming in the near future. He explained that the new routes account for less than half the take-off and landing slots it has at Newark, and said travelers "should expect to hear more service announcements from us on Newark before the end of the year."...read more»

Photo: IndexOpen

Earlier today, I looked at how airlines fared in this month's Air Travel Consumer Report, published by the Department of Transportation (DOT). This afternoon, I'd like to take a look at how U.S. airports performed over the last 12 months, according to departure and on-time arrival stats.

Looking at the hourly fluctuations in on-time departure and arrival percentages at major airports around the country suggests that flight scheduled departure and arrival times may be a good predictor of delays....read more»

Air: Side of commercial airplane (blue) (Photo: iStockophoto/narvikk)

Each month, the Department of Transportation (DOT) publishes its Air Travel Consumer Report, full of statistics about on-time arrivals, mishandled baggage, passenger bumping, and overall customer satisfaction. While some of the stats focused solely on August, the month detailed in the report, others pulled numbers from the last six or 12 months to give a broader picture of performance.

US News and World Report combed through the report and come up with a slideshow featuring the best and worst major U.S. airlines according to these measures.

Before you read on, take a moment to guess who you think comes out as best and worst.

Ready with your guesses? Here's the list (from best to worst):...read more»

Man working at computer (Photo: Index Open)

Google recently purchased Cambridge-based flight technology company ITA Software for $700 million in cash. Great, you may be saying, but why do I care?

ITA's software powers numerous online flight search engines, including Bing, Kayak, and Orbitz, and counts American, Continental, Southwest, United, and US Airways among its airline customers. It provides the interface these companies use to fetch and display fares, and powers around 65 percent of all online fare bookings. Google's exact intentions for ITA are not known, but it's generally assumed the company wants to utilize ITA's capabilities to build a flight search tool of its own, one that would likely exist within the traditional Google search field and, therefore, interrupt the user path from Google to competing sites....read more»

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

The Boston Herald reports Air Canada and American will launch similar pilot programs at Boston's Logan Airport in which passengers print out their own baggage tag and affix it to their bag. The pilots will begin next month.

But while the idea sounds initially like a no-brainer—consumers and airlines tend to prefer a do-it-yourself approach to basic services—the procedure is actually a bit of a head-scratcher. After printing the tag and putting it on the bag, passengers must then bring the luggage to an airline official who checks the passengers' ID and activates the tag.

So instead of bringing luggage to the check-in desk, where an airline employee prints out the tag and takes the bag, passengers print out the tag themselves and then bring it to an employee, who checks the tag and takes the bag. How, exactly, does this save time for the consumer, or streamline operations for the airline?...read more»

Photo: IndexOpen

Today, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is beginning a two-day forum to assess the safety of partnerships between large airlines and smaller regional carriers. According to the Associated Press (AP), the forum will examine the safety standards at large carriers and their regional counterparts.

As the AP points out, "The issue is an important one for anyone who flies in every part of the country. Regional airlines now account for half of domestic departures and a quarter of the seats filled with passengers. For more than 400 communities, they provide the only scheduled service."

The last six fatal crashes in the U.S. have involved regional airlines....read more»

Airplane taking off at dusk (Photo: iStockPhoto/Stephen Strathdee)

Want proof that fares are up? Look no further than the latest round of airline financial reports, for the third quarter of 2010. United? $387 million. Continental? $354 million. Delta? $363 million. That's over a billion dollars right there. Tack on US Airways' $240 million, American's $143 million, Southwest's $195 million, JetBlue's $59 million, and AirTran's $36.3 million and, well, you get the picture.

So what's behind all this cash? Higher fares are the main driver. Here's a telling snippet from Delta's financial release: "Passenger revenue increased 19 percent ... compared to the prior year period on 2 percent higher capacity." So that's a 19 percent jump in cash with only a 2 percent boost in people, all of which accounted for $1.3 billion in revenue compared to last year....read more»

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