USA Today | Lots of luck catching another flight if you've been bumped or miss a connection.
Commercial airlines in the USA have never been so full. Seven of them—Delta, American, United, Continental, US Airways, AirTran and Alaska—reported filling at least 87% of their seats in July. Even Southwest, always the industry's laggard in load factor, beat the industry's average over the previous six Julys of 84.6% by filling 84.9% of its seats.
That leaves precious few spots available if you've been bumped off a full flight or miss a connecting flight. And because airlines are scheduling fewer flights than five years ago, travelers could face long waits for a direct flight to their destinations or have to settle for circuitous reroutings to get there.
Travel fiends rejoice! JetBlue is bringing back its "All You Can Jet" promotion. Whereas last time, $599 bought you 30 days of unlimited flight anywhere JetBlue flies, this time they're offering passengers two options: for $699, you can purchase an unlimited pass that will allow travel any day of the week. But if you're looking to save a few—or, y'know, 200—dollars, you can opt for the $499 pass. You'll still be able to travel anywhere JetBlue goes, as often as you want, but you won't be allowed to fly on Fridays or Sundays.
Mashable.com | Delta Air Lines has launched The Delta Ticket Window, a Facebook (Facebook) application that lets members find, book and share flights via the “Book a Trip” tab on the airline’s Facebook Page.
Delta aims to reach travelers with Facebook-happy trigger fingers when it comes to travel booking. The application was built to keep the user on Delta’s Facebook Page for the duration of the booking process, as well as give them the opportunity to share their booked flight with friends.
How did three children manage to buy tickets and board a Southwest airliner from Jacksonville to Nashville last Tuesday without identification or parental permission? That’s the question on many parents’ minds as the incident begins to get the sort of publicity you might expect.
The three—ages 15, 13, and 11—apparently had $700 in babysitting earnings, took a taxi to the airport, and managed to buy the tickets and get through security without showing I.D. Their goal was to visit Dollywood, but when they arrived in Nashville and discovered that the amusement park was several hundred miles further away, they became disenchanted by their escapade and phoned a relative, who paid for their return airfare.
New York Times | Airlines should no longer allow children under the age of 2 to fly in the laps of adults, according to a recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board sent to the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday. The group urged the F.A.A. to require that every occupant of an airplane, regardless of age, have a seat on all flights—commercial, charter and private planes. Photo credit: iStock.
Poor Mexico. First its tourism industry takes a hit from the H1N1 virus outbreak. Then an escalation of drug-related crime scares other travelers off. Now, the national airline, Mexicana, has filed for Chapter 15. The airline, citing increased fuel and labor costs as well as the drop in tourism, has racked up $1 billion in debt. While the airline says that flights will continue as scheduled, 31 Mexicana flights in Mexico and the U.S. have been suspended since Monday and passengers rescheduled with other carriers. If you’re holding a Mexicana reservation, check the airline’s website, http://www.mexicana.com, or call (877) 801-2010, to confirm your flight’s status. Ay, caramba.
Ann Shields is a senior online editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City: MJ Photography/Alamy
In its latest salvo against the traveling public, Spirit Airlines said it is considering a new surcharge—a fee to speak with Spirit airport employees. Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza told ABC News that it is considering such a fee in light of its airport kiosks that allow customers to buy tickets, check-in, and select or change seats without any human interaction. Baldanza told ABC News that flyers won’t see this new surcharge “any time soon.” What customers are seeing this week, however, is Spirit’s newest surcharge—a fee of up to $45 for carry-on bags placed in an overhead bin. That new fee began on Sunday, August 1.
Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is also the international editor at Travel + Leisure.
MSNBC / Associated Press — The House voted Wednesday to toughen regulations on pilot training, qualifications and work schedules, a response to a fatal crash in upstate New York in February and other accidents involving regional airlines.
The bill, which was approved 409-11, would require all pilots that fly for a passenger-carrying airline to have an Air Transport Pilot certificate, effectively raising the number of flying hours an entry-level airline pilot must have from the current 250 hours to 1,500 hours.
The bill allows the FAA to credit course work at specific flight training schools toward the requirements for receiving an Air Transport certificate. The schools had expressed concern that would-be pilots would skip the schooling to concentrate on accumulating flying time.
USA Today / Associated Press | If you think airfares have been rising, it's not your imagination.
Figures just released from the government, while a bit dated, show that airline prices in the first three months of this year rose nearly 5% from a year earlier. And that doesn't include baggage fees and other extras that airlines charge.
But if you take a step back, air travel still looks like a bargain. Average fares are 25% lower than they were in 1999 after adjusting them for inflation, the government says.
The numbers were contained in a report issued Wednesday by the Transportation Department. The average domestic fare in the first quarter of 2010 rose to $328. Since 2001, the average price for the first quarter was higher only once — in 2008, when it hit $333.
USA Today | Boarding a plane without an agent to inspect or take your pass has arrived in the USA.
Continental Airlines has confirmed it's testing the procedure at a gate at its hub in Houston Intercontinental. It's the first experiment at what's called "self-boarding" in the U.S.
In self-boarding, passengers — much like customers of the New York City subway—swipe their boarding passes at a kiosk reader at the gate. That opens a turnstile or door to the jet-bridge. Although an agent isn't there to take the pass, one is typically present to handle problems and other customer service tasks.