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Airline Fees Can Make Fare Jump 50%

CNN |  That airfare you booked because it looked like a great deal can actually end up costing you 50 percent more because of extra airline fees, a watchdog group has found.

The Consumer Travel Alliance analyzed the base fares and extra charges for nine major airlines on four popular domestic routes.

It found that a traveler requesting extra legroom and checking two bags would have to pay an average of 54 percent more than the base price of the ticket shown on a popular online travel site at time of purchase.

For a family trying to book a trip, the fees can mean hundreds of dollars in unanticipated expenses, said Charles Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance.

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Airline Complaints? The D.O.T. Wants to Hear from You

The Washington Post |  Tell the government what you think of its proposed new passenger rights rules. You can do it right now, thanks to a new project called Regulation Room.

There's a lot to comment about. The rules cover everything from tarmac delays to peanuts. If adopted, they could change the way Americans fly more than any single regulation since the airline industry was deregulated in 1978.

Administrative rulemaking, for those of you who snoozed through your civics class, is the process by which agencies adopt regulations that have the force of law. In this case, it's the Department of Transportation making the rules. The agency is at a critical step during which the traveling public vets these important regulations.

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Ryanair: A Stand-Up Airline—Run by A Bunch of Fruitcakes

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The British media are all atwitter about the supposed plans by Ryanair to install vertical seats—that is, standing-room-only seats—in the last 10 rows of its Boeing 737-800s. Price of airfare in one of those seats? Just 4 pounds sterling (about U.S.$6). And how, you ask, can they afford to do this? Why, by charging you to use the toilet.

Wait a minute… Didn’t they already float (and later flush) the idea of a loo fee only to be publicly remonstrated, humiliated, and pilloried? Yeah, kinda—except that Ryanair doesn’t know the meaning of the word humiliation. On the other hand, it seems not to know the meaning of a lot of words, like “safety,” “concern for our passengers,” and “common sense.”

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Solar Plane Completes Historic 24-Hour Flight

MSNBC (AP) |  PAYERNE, Switzerland — An experimental solar-powered plane landed safely Thursday after completing its first 24-hour test flight, proving that the aircraft can collect enough energy from the sun during the day to stay aloft all night.

Pilot Andre Borschberg eased the Solar Impulse onto the runway at Payerne airfield about 30 miles southwest of the Swiss capital Bern at exactly 9 a.m. (3 a.m. EDT) Thursday.

Helpers rushed to stabilize the pioneering plane as it touched down, ensuring that its massive 207-foot wingspan didn't scrape the ground and topple the craft.

The record feat completes seven years of planning and brings the Swiss-led project one step closer to its goal of circling the globe using only energy from the sun.


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FDA Report Reveals Airline Food Could Pose Health Threat

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USA Today
|  Many meals served to passengers on major airlines are prepared in unsanitary and unsafe conditions that could lead to illness, government documents examined by USA TODAY show.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors have cited numerous catering facilities that prepare airline food for suspected health and sanitation violations following inspections of their kitchens this year and last, according to inspection reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The inspections were at U.S. facilities of two of the world's biggest airline caterers, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, and another large caterer, Flying Food Group. The three caterers operate 91 kitchens that provide more than 100 million meals annually to U.S. and foreign airlines at U.S. airports. They provide meals for nearly all big airlines, including Delta, American, United, US Airways and Continental. (Photo credit: iStock)

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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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