Ryanair jets lined up on the runway (Photo: Airbus S.A.S. )

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Ryanair announced it will add a €2 fee (about $2.85, see xe.com for current conversion) to all tickets sold on or after April 4. What is this fee for? I'll let Ryanair explain it.

Ryanair ... announced it would introduce a €2 levy per passenger for all bookings made from Monday 4th April 2011 in order to fund its costs of flight cancellations, delays and its EU261 costs in "force majeure" cases where the airline is not responsible for either the delays or cancellations.

EU261 refers to a European Union (EU) law requiring airlines to provide assistance and compensation for cancellations and delays, including those caused by force majeure events, such as weather and natural disaster. There have been quite a few such events in the past 12 months, including the volcano in Iceland, all of which, Ryanair says, tallied up a €100 million tab for the airline....read more»

Ryanair aircraft close up (Photo: Ryanair)

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Ryanair has a history of irking people with its harsh fees and generally sour disposition, but the Irish low-cost carrier has finally hit upon an idea (some) people might like: child-free flights.

According to TravelMole, the airline said it will introduce the option in October. It's not clear yet if specific routes or all routes will get child-free options, or how they will be scheduled. Ryanair has only said the option will be available on high-frequency routes, presumably including a mix of business and vacation destinations. And since this is Ryanair, customers will likely have to pay a premium for a kid-free flight.

Spokesperson Stephen McNamara discussed the idea in typical Ryanair fashion: "When it comes to children, we all love our own but would clearly prefer to avoid other people’s little monsters when travelling."...read more»

Millimeter Wave Passenger Imaging Machine Used by TSA (Photo: Transportation Security Administration)

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A new study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, says cancer risks from airport body scanners are "trivial," even for frequent flyers. "Based on what is known about the scanners," the study's authors conclude, "passengers should not fear going through the scans for health reasons, as the risks are truly trivial.

"If individuals feel vulnerable and are worried about the radiation emitted by the scans, they might reconsider flying altogether since most of the small, but real, radiation risk they will receive will come from the flight and not from the exceedingly small exposures from the scans."

Basically, no worries....read more»

Artist's rendering of Spirit airplane (Credit: Spirit Airlines)

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Spirit has added a surcharge to baggage fees purchased within 24 hours of departure: Customers will now pay an extra $5 online and $10 by phone. For context, this means a first checked bag, purchased online within 24 hours of departure, would cost $32 (less for members of Spirit's fare club).

The surcharge applies to both checked and carry-on bags....read more»

Spirit Airlines aircraft tail (Photo: Spirit Airlines)

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Spirit Airlines keeps finding new ways to suck its customers dry. The airline has bucked the industry standard, lowering its checked bag weight allowance from 50 to 40 pounds.

Passengers will now pay a $25 surcharge for bags between 41 and 50 pounds. Spirit's overweight bag policy remains otherwise unchanged, with bags between 51 and 75 pounds costing an extra $50, and bags between 71 and 100 pounds ringing up an extra $100....read more»

(Photo: Southwest)

"I have had two enormous delays in 2 weeks with you folks. Plus, your customer relations phone # is always busy. You folks are slipping fast in the customer service rankings, and I am no longer a fan."

"Piece of advice spend less on commercials and lower your fare's (sic) so your commercials are true and not false!"

"Site isn't working so I called my "special" A-list member hotline. Wait time = 20 minutes. Amazing customer service. I wonder how long the wait to make a reservation is for the people they don't 'value.'"

No, these posts aren't from the Facebook page of a major legacy airline, a Delta or United or American. They're from the Facebook page of  Southwest—that's right, the LUV airline. Even worse, they were all posted within hours of me writing this post.

That's the kind of month it's been for Southwest. The criticism began when the March 1 launch of its new Rapid Rewards program—itself a source of grumbling among Southwest loyalists—brought Southwest.com to a halt. The outcry has persisted during the intervening weeks amid lingering website issues and continued disappointment with the revamped mileage program.

All of it has left Southwest—typically seen as the master of airline customer service—in unfamiliar, uncomfortable territory: on the defensive, faced with an onslaught of grumpy customers, and fighting off a creeping sense that maybe, just maybe, the airline has lost its touch....read more»

Alaska Airlines 737 up close (Photo: Alaska Airlines)

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If you were flying Alaska Airlines this weekend, you likely ran into some headaches. The airline canceled some 150 flights Saturday and another 20 yesterday due to a systemwide outage in its central computer system. Operations are now back to normal.

The airline waived its change fees for flights departing March 26 through 28, so passengers may still move their trip for no penalty (though there may be a fare difference)....read more»

Woman at a coffee shop using a laptop (Photo: Index Open)

Sick of the same old places? Need help planning a vacation when you don't know where you want to go? Help us help you!...read more»

Air: Airplane at Sunset with Blue Sky

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A fire at Miami International Airport on Wednesday night could cause delays in the coming days as crews clean up and repair the damage. According to the Miami Herald, "Problems began late Wednesday night, when a fire sparked into a billowing blaze near six fuel tanks on the southeast side of the airport, away from tarmacs. The tanks—known collectively as a fuel farm—together hold 8 million gallons of fuel feeding 14 underground pumps that send 2,000 gallons of fuel each hour to trucks near terminals to refuel airplanes. The tanks hold more than half the airport’s fuel supplies."

The fire led to 179 flight cancellations and numerous other delays, but that may just be the beginning. The fire damaged the airport's fuel delivery system, meaning fuel that was previously delivered to planes via pipes and pumps must now be trucked around the tarmac. Some auxiliary pumps have been installed to provide partial relief to the system, but operations are nevertheless moving slowly....read more»

Photo: IndexOpen

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Two planes landed at Washington, D.C.'s, Reagan National Airport early Wednesday without clearance from air traffic control—because no one at Reagan's tower was around, or awake, to provide it.

USA Today's Alan Levin reports, "Federal aviation officials are investigating why an air-traffic supervisor at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport failed to answer the radio and phone for at least 20 minutes early Wednesday while controllers at a nearby facility repeatedly called the tower and juggled flights heading to the airport."...read more»

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