The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade federation of the world's main airlines, announced a forecast that should hardly be news to anybody: Its mavens predict that fuel prices will remain high for the foreseeable future and, as a result, airline profits will fall by some 60 percent this year.
What IATA didn't include is the clear corollary that airlines will hike fares and fees to the extent that the market will allow.
Given the high fuel prices, most airlines are caught in a classic squeeze: Their unavoidable costs are increasing, but the marketplace resists price increases. Market pressure comes from both customer resistance and competition from the few lines that are either managing to make a profit even in today's bad climate or so hard up for cash that they're willing to sell at a loss....read more»
So there you are on a plane, just minding your own business before takeoff, when all of a sudden you look out the window and notice a hole in the engine. (Either that or a freaked-out passenger in the back of the plane spots it and starts screaming.) What would you do?
Well, that exact thing happened on a Transaero flight from Moscow to Siberia when a passenger spied what seemed to be a hole in the engine and reported it to the crew, reports The Australian. The flight was delayed for two hours while the report was checked out; the hole was determined to be a missing inspection panel and the plane was cleared for takeoff.
That wasn't good enough for 27 panicked passengers on the plane, who opted to take themselves off the flight. The plane did go on without them, and landed safely.
It's bad enough that many airlines charge extra to sit in the emergency row seats in economy. But now Irish budget airline Ryanair is taking it one step further, charging 10 GBP (about $15; see XE.com for current conversion rates) to sit in the exit row ... and if no one shells out, then no one can sit there.
That's right: The emergency exits remain vacant.
In the event of an emergency, passengers sitting in the rows ahead and behind the exit will be asked to step in and open the door, potentially wasting precious time. Those same passengers won't have had time to study the door and instructions on how to open it. Furthermore, passengers who sit by the emergency exit row are required to be physically able and willing to assist in an emergency; no such rules apply to passengers sitting "near" the exits....read more»
Enter Choice Hotels' Caribbean Dreaming sweepstakes by April 30 for a chance to win the grand prize: 100,000 Choice Privileges points plus a check for $2,000. There are also instant-win prizes, ranging from Amazon Kindles to $25 gift cards.
Although this sweepstakes has a nominally Caribbean theme—the points are described as being redeemable for "hotel accommodations in the Caribbean" and the cash can be used "toward air transportation to the Caribbean"—there's no requirement that either be used for a Caribbean trip....read more»
J.D. Power and Associates, an outfit that specializes in naming "bests" in consumer satisfaction, just announced its latest "best" airlines and other travel suppliers. And by now you shouldn't be surprised to see JetBlue, Southwest, and Virgin America as the three top winners.
In a separate survey, another consumer satisfaction specialist, Satmetrix, also just named JetBlue and Virgin America as tops. These results are becoming routine, as are the placements of the big legacy lines—American, Delta, and United—in varying order but always near the bottom.
Top ratings for these three lines are fascinating because each line rates "best in the business" for a different reason:...read more»
Anguilla has everything you'd expect from a Caribbean island—white sand beaches, clear seas, luxury resorts, et cetera—but, surprisingly, none of the crowds. Take advantage of the lack of name recognition and enjoy sailing, snorkeling, and shopping in relative seclusion.
If you like undersea views, be sure to dive in at one of Anguilla's many cays. Spots like Prickly Pear or Scilly Cay are perfect for snorkelers. If you're seasick from swimming, sailing, and diving, be sure to go a few rounds on Temenos, the island's 18-hole golf course, take a turtle nesting tour (April through November), or visit the fully restored Wallblake plantation house.
The island also has an amazing dining and nightlife scene, so save some energy for the end of the day....read more»
Days after the TSA vowed to "move away from the one-size-fits-all approach" and test less-invasive screening for the elderly, a video hit the Internet of a three-year-old boy in a body cast and wheelchair being given a very intense screening at the airport.
Today.com reports that the boy and his family were stopped by a TSA officer at Chicago's O'Hare airport and given a pat-down while in his wheelchair. The TSA officer also allegedly requested that the parents lift the boy's T-shirt so that he could swab the child's back (along with his cast and wheelchair), and that the parents were not allowed to come near the child during the rest of the screening.
According to the YouTube video, the pat-down happened in the spring of 2010 at a Chicago-area airport, and the boy was traveling to a Disney vacation....read more»
At some point in the future, you may be able to continue skimming your Kindle or playing Words with Friends when jetting off the runway, The New York Times reports. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may be reconsidering its policy on use of electronic devices during take-off and landing.
Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the FAA, told the Times, "With the advent of new and evolving electronic technology, and because the airlines have not conducted the testing necessary to approve the use of new devices, the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cellphones, on aircraft."
Currently, the FAA prohibits use of electronic devices during taxi, take-off and landing; this means iPads, laptops, iPods, ereaders, and basically anything that has buttons and batteries must be powered down. Additionally, use of wireless devices like cell phones is banned on all flights....read more»
Belize has a budget-busting reputation for travelers, but Tobacco Caye is an island oasis that can accommodate most backpackers' budgets. A small island—and we mean small: you can walk around the entire island in just 10 minutes. Or, swim a few laps around it!
Tobacco Caye is perfect for relaxing—the small island just has hotels and a dive shop, so you really don't have anything else to do except lounge and explore. Be prepared to walk everywhere, as there are no roads,
Grab a snorkel and head out to the nearby reef, or hire a boat to take you even further out for manatee spotting. Toward the day's end, snag a hammock and watch the sunset....read more»