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Shame on Virgin Atlantic, Shame on Bradley International

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File this under "What the Hell Were They Thinking?" Just weeks after the new DOT airline rule went into effect limiting tarmac delays to three hours comes word that passengers on a Virgin Atlantic flight diverted to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut yesterday were held on the ground as virtual hostages in intense heat and darkness for four hours. Apparently there were insufficient immigration officers to handle the unexpected arrival. The fact that Virgin and Bradley officials could not figure out a way to treat the passengers humanely does not speak well for either of them.

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Flash Sale: Southwest Flights Starting at $39

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This year it was named the least-complained-about airline by consumers; last year the Bureau of Transportation Statistics declared it the third best airline, with an 83% on-time takeoff record. But now Southwest has something else to celebrate: its 39th anniversary! Okay, okay, so 39 is maybe, shall we say, an odd year to celebrate an anniversary, but we don't really care. Why? Because they're using this as an opportunity to offer a flash sale on flights, with rates starting as low as—you guessed it—$39!

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Spirit Airlines Resumes Partial Schedule

Chicago Tribune (AP) Spirit Airlines will operate about 20 flights on Thursday after its pilots made a deal to end their strike.

Flights will begin at 4 p.m. EDT, and Spirit expects to resume full service on Friday.

Spirit pilots had been negotiating for more than three years before the strike started Saturday morning. The union said first officers in particular lagged their counterparts at other low-cost airlines like JetBlue Airways Corp. and AirTran Airways.

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Spirit Airlines Cancels Flights

USA TodaySpirit Airlines is canceling all of its flights through Tuesday, stranding thousands more passengers as a pilot's strike continues into its second day.

The discount carrier said on its website Sunday that all Spirit Airlines flights have been cancelled through June 15. Spirit pilots walked off the job Saturday amid an ongoing contract dispute with the airline that has lasted for more than three years. Spirit pilots have said their pay lags behind competitors such as AirTran Airways and JetBlue.

"None of the planes are moving and none of our pilots have crossed the picket line," Paul Hopkins, strike committee chairman of Spirit's unit of The Air Line Pilots Association, said Sunday.

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God of Death Arrives at Denver Airport

Remember that Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck ‘90s film Armageddon?  About heroic and crusty oil rig workers charged with blowing up an asteroid before it crashed to earth?  Cruelly, it was shown on a particularly turbulent flight I took across the Atlantic.  As my stomach lurched with every sudden drop in altitude and I watched actors struggle to land on a Texas-sized asteroid hurtling through space, I wondered just who had thought that film was a good fit with air travel.

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Such thoughts occurred again today as I read that the Denver Airport (DIA) has erected a 26-foot statue of Anubis, the jackal-headed god of death and the afterlife, outside the terminal.  The sculpture was erected last Wednesday to promote an exhibit on Egypt’s King Tut, Tutankhamun: The Golden King & the Great Pharaohs, which opens June 29 at the Denver Art Museum.

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Cute Overload: Hello Kitty Airport Gate

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On my way home from a recent trip to Taiwan, I found myself with a little bit of time to kill before boarding my plane at Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport. Knowing I had more than 14 hours to sit in a cramped airplane seat ahead of me, I did some exploring.

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easyJet Unveils Infrared Ash Detectors

Chicago Tribune (AP) |  Low-cost airline easyJet PLC unveiled plans Friday to test infrared technology's ability to detect volcanic ash clouds and urged other airlines to help map the ash risk across Europe's skies.

The company said the devices—which are placed on an aircraft's tail fin and can detect ash clouds within 60 miles (100 kilometers)—are the first of their kind, calling them "essentially a weather radar for ash."

The airline is spending 1 million pounds ($1.46 million) developing and testing the technology with aircraft manufacturer Airbus and hopes to roll out the devices in a dozen planes by the end of the year. The devices aim to prevent a repeat of the five-day shutdown of European airspace in April caused by an erupting Icelandic volcano that affected 10 million passengers worldwide.

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Airlines to Cough Up More to Bumped Passengers

CBS/AP | Giving up your airline seat may become a little less painful.

Federal officials are expected to announce this week a plan to raise the maximum amount that airlines must pay passengers who get bumped off an oversold flight, currently at $400 or $800 depending on how long a trip is delayed.

Bumpings rose in three of the past four years and jumped 10 percent to 762,422 in 2009, the highest total since 2002. They soared 17 percent in this year's first quarter.

The potential inconvenience is greater now, too. Airlines have cut back on flights and planes are more crowded, so bumped passengers could wait hours or even days to find alternate arrangements.

"It might not be hours, but days before you get to where you're going," Pauline Frommer, creator of Pauline Frommer Guidebooks, told CBS News correspondent White Johnson. "There simply aren't enough airplane seats out there for the number of people who want to fly."

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Just in Time for Father’s Day: A Private Jet With Viewing Platform

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The latest mod con in luxury private jets? An open-air viewing platform, perfect for watching wildlife, engaging in full-contact Parcheesi, or simply lounging with a postprandial sherry while the aircraft is parked overnight. (You didn’t really think you could stand on it while the plane was in flight, did you?!)

Here’s how it works: While the aircraft is on the ground, a massive side door opens up and serves as an awning. The platform, hidden in the fuselage, extends out to create a balcony for the deluxe living space within the plane.

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When Two Airlines Tie the Knot

New York Times |  As soon as Continental and United announced their proposed merger, news media outlets began reporting on how the union might affect travelers—less competition and higher fares being the primary concerns.

But some airline experts see those worries as overblown. First, the two airlines had effectively moved in together before deciding to get married, aligning their flights through a code-share partnership and linking their frequent-flier programs, so they were more partners than rivals even before the merger was announced. More important, most analysts believe that airfares are likely to increase regardless of whether these carriers tie the knot.

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