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Air: Boarding Pass (Photo: iStockphoto/Richard Cano)

A reader recently asked, "What do those letters on my airline ticket mean?"

Generally speaking, they refer to the type of fare you paid—first class, business class, and so forth. But since this is the airline industry we're talking about, no explanation can be that simple. Within each fare class are numerous subclasses the airlines use to track exactly what sort of ticket you purchased....read more»

Air: jet airplane landing in motion blur sky (Photo: iStokcphoto/Stephen Strathdee)

Imagine it: You spot Southwest CEO Gary Kelly walking through the airport. You realize this is your chance to ask him something that's been on your mind. So you walk up cautiously, tap him on the shoulder ... what would you say?

Readers, I want to know what you would ask an airline executive if you had the chance. Would you ask for new routes? Would you ask about fees?...read more»

Photo: Zak Patten

Thinking about Halloween yet? Discussions of corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and the best streets for trick or treating definitely has me in the Halloween mood. The year's spookiest holiday falls on a weekend, so travel is a real possibility.

I'm definitely not the only one thinking about Halloween adventures. Our sister site TripAdvisor just published a list of the top 10 ghost tours in the U.S. Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry in West Virginia, tops the list for being "good, creepy fun!" Other cities with good and spooky tours include Savannah (your tour bus is a Hearse), Seattle (explore a dilapidated graveyard), New Orleans (the ghosts come with a cocktail chaser), and even Catalina Island (glimpse the ghost of Zane Gray)....read more»

United New Plane (Photo: United Airlines)

United announced 19 new routes expected to launch in 2011, focusing on expansion from the airline's hubs. In a release, the airline says the new routes are the beginnings of its plan to "optimize the combined route networks of United Airlines and Continental Airlines." Some of the routes will initially be operated by Continental and will be incorporated by the merged brand over time....read more»

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

ABC News reports that a TSA supervisor at Newark International Airport has been arrested for repeatedly stealing cash from passengers. The supervisor, Michael Arato, ran the scheme with another TSA agent, who is cooperating with the investigation and has not been named.

The pair targeted non-English-speaking women, primarily Indian women leaving the country to head home, and selected them for secondary screening. In a statement, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said, "Arato literally made a game of stealing hundreds of dollars a day from individuals standing in the security lane. That he targeted them based on their inability to speak English is especially offensive." Allegedly Arato pocketed around $700 a day....read more»

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

An ExpressJet pilot is at risk of losing his job after refusing a full-body scan and subsequent pat-down at Memphis International Airport. The pilot, Michael Roberts, was denied passage through security and did not make his flight.

Here's the basic play-by-play: According to a post written by Roberts on an ExpressJet pilots forum, he has flown through Memphis weekly for over four years without incident. But on October 15, Roberts encountered Memphis airport's brand-new body scanner for the first time. He said he objected to the machine, which he equated to a "virtual strip search," and also to the pat-down screeners offered as an alternative.

At this point, he was hauled off by airport police and questioned by TSA investigators, released (though not permitted to proceed to his plane), and then brought in for more questioning before even leaving the airport.

This passage, in Roberts' own words, is particularly compelling:

The TSA investigator arrived and asked for my account of the situation. I explained that the agents weren’t allowing me to pass through the checkpoint. He told me he had been advised that I was refusing security screening, to which I replied that I had willingly walked through the metal detector with no alarms, the same way I always do when commuting to work. He then briefed me on the recent screening policy changes and, apparently confused, asked whether they would be a problem for me. I stated that I did indeed have a problem with the infringement of my civil rights and liberty.

His reply: “That’s irrelevant.”
...read more»

Photo: Southwest Airlines

Southwest announced it will launch flights to South Carolina starting this spring. The low-cost carrier will begin service to Charleston and Greenville-Spartanburg on March 13.

In Charleston, Southwest will operate seven daily nonstops to four destinations: Baltimore (three daily flights), Chicago Midway (two daily flights), and Nashville and Houston (one daily flight each).

Greenville-Spartanburg will get seven daily nonstop flights to five destinations: Baltimore (two daily flights), Chicago Midway (two daily flights), and Nashville, Houston, and Orlando (one daily flight each)....read more»

Kiss free airplane meals goodbye (Photo: iStockPhoto/Bill Grove)

Airline food is hardly the stuff of Michelin-starred restaurants. On the rare occasion passengers are served food, the offerings are typically bland, at best, and inedible at worst. But a new study says the dining environment—stuffy, noisy planes—may be the reason these meals are so unenjoyable.

ABC News' Scott Mayerowitz writes, "According to researchers at the consumer product manufacturer Unilever and the University of Manchester. ... airplane engines disturb our senses and make us enjoy our food that much less." Researcher Andy Woods tells ABC that cabin noise "has an impact on our enjoyment or dislike of food. If you can [find] any way reduce the noise, you will make the whole experience better."...read more»

JetBlue Airplane in Sunset (Photo: JetBlue Airlines)

Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who famously told off a plane full of passengers, grabbed a beer, and escaped via the emergency chute, pleaded guilty today in a New York City court.

Slater pleaded guilty to two charges of criminal mischief, one a felony and one a misdemeanor, according to the New York Times. He must attend regular counseling sessions for at least a year, but otherwise is a free man....read more»

Airport departure screen (Photo: Index Open)

Flight delays are an inconvenience, but according to a new study, they're also an astronomical expense. Researchers at UC Berkeley found that delays come with a price tag of roughly $32 billion, with passenger costs accounting for half—a whopping $16.7 billion.

According to a release, "The comprehensive new study analyzed data from 2007 to calculate the economic impact of flight delays on airlines and passengers, the cost of lost demand, and the collective impact of these costs on the U.S. economy. The study authors found that increased delays directly correlate with increased costs." 

Passenger costs were "calculated based on lost passenger time due to flight delays, cancellations and missed connections, plus expenses such as food and accommodations that are incurred from being away from home for additional time."...read more»

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