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  • Qantas signed a contract to order from Airbus 110 new aircraft. It is the largest single commercial jet order in Australian aviation history

  • The Air France-KLM Group board approved the purchase of 50 new commercial jets to replace older planes

  • Wouldn't it be smarter for the FAA to set tough regulatory parameters to ensure safety, noise levels, controller training and the like and then get out of the way?

  • Airlines earn lousy grades for customer service. If that surprises you, you must have just arrived from another planet. Airlines are near the top of just about everybody's 'hate' list, and for good reason. That fact, in itself, doesn't help you much in deciding which airline to take on your next trip. But it may provide some useful clues about the future

  • Boeing's Dreamliner finally flew after three years of delay. Flight NH7871 left Tokyo's Narita Airport with passengers and more than 40 journalists and arrived in Hong Kong after 4 hours and 30 minutes

  • Let's face it. The airlines have slowly, systematically, created a tinderbox environment for their customers, one that gets more and more heated as time goes on.

  • If you'd like travel to be part of your work, consider trying to snag a job at Southwest Airlines or Virgin America. Those companies rank at the top of a new list of best travel-related employers compiled by career website Glassdoor. The ranking is based on evaluations by employees who work at those companies. Here's Glassdoor's full list of top travel companies to work for

  • If you're heading for Europe this summer -- which many of you will do despite high airfares -- you should know that you have quite a few 'rights,' including some that are better than those you enjoy here at home.

  • You don't have to fly frequently to know the airline industry has some of the most ridiculous rules in the travel business. But if you fly enough, you may not have to follow all of them

  • Just how hidden are the travel industry's so-called hidden fees? Fair question, given that the Transportation Department just weighed in on the topic

  • Police state. It's being thrown about a lot more since November's pat-down/opt-out fiasco, as public anger over the TSA's new security measures remains high. Which makes the question of whether we're traveling in a police state, or something like it, worth taking seriously

  • At the beginning of the month, US Airways quietly added a new fee: Passengers who book a ticket through a travel agent but call the airline directly to make a change to their itinerary will now have to pay another $25 to speak with a phone agent. They were exempt from the fee before. What was US Airways up to?

  • The travel industry doesn't exactly have a sterling reputation for keeping its promises. That's true not just of the low-price guarantees. It also applies to something as seemingly straightforward as an airline sticking to its published schedule. So travelers might be forgiven for having been a little skeptical last year. So, will things improve this year? Here's Christopher's take

  • Delta Airlines announced that miles accrued in its SkyMiles frequent flyer program will not expire, regardless of account activity. As far as I know, Delta's is the only big U.S. airline's program where miles do not expire

  • Delta Airlines is adding a semi-premium economy section in planes it uses for international flights. The new Economy Comfort section will provide up to four additional inches of legroom and greater recline than regular economy. Delta will complete the installation of the new configuration in the first few rows of the economy cabins

  • United says finding its 'all-new Saver Award page' makes it 'easier than ever' to find Saver Awards. Yes, it's easier to see what's available. But no, it's not any easier to get the seats you want. American also posts an online page that highlight routes where you're likely to find seats, with the same inherent problem

  • Maybe you've heard about the little dust-up between American Airlines and several online travel agencies, including Orbitz and Expedia. Maybe you've noticed that when you go fare-shopping on those travel sites, you aren't offered any American flights. Here's what happened

  • Small discrepancies between the name on a ticket and a passenger's driver's license or passport used to be shrugged off by airlines and airport screeners. But under the Transportation Security Administration's Secure Flight program, the name on a ticket and on an ID must match exactly. If they don't, you could be delayed or prevented from flying

  • 'Great for business travelers,' seems to be the trade's reaction to Southwest's new frequent flyer program, but it's not bad for consumers, either. Here's my take on the new program that will come into effect

  • To get a gauge on how close we really are to commercial gridlock in the Milky Way, check out Branson's Virgin Galactic, which plans to start launching tourists into space beginning next year! The first vessel, SpaceShipTwo, will take off and land at Spaceport America, his recently constructed 2-mile-runway in the New Mexico desert -- the world's first commercial spacecraft center

  • Although the merger partners have been lavish with claims about 'global reach,' most of the attention on the merger has been on financials and management structure. The merging lines have had little to say about details that matter most to customers

  • The federal government is giving travelers an extra month to comment on proposed new consumer rules for airline passengers.

  • In the case of JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater who went ballistic recently, had a 'take this job and shove it' moment, then grabbed a beer, pulled the chute and went slip-sliding away, the only question I have is this: Why didn't the passengers follow him?

  • You probably know Secure Flight as the pesky requirement that the name on your passport or driver's license be an exact match with the name on your airline ticket. But the program is much more than that. With the extra passenger data, the agency promises to improve the travel experience for all airline passengers. I think it's worth asking how the data is being used

  • Forcing travelers to opt out of a purchase when they're buying a ticket or a hotel room isn't new. But the volume of complaints I've received about pre-checking is on the rise, as is the number of well-known travel companies engaged in this questionable e-commerce practice

  • You hear a lot about alliances among the world's giant airlines these days. Many industry financial analysts claim that they're necessary for the older 'legacy' lines to survive in a world increasingly driven by low-cost competitors. And consumer advocates say they're thinly disguised attempts to stifle competition and hike prices. Who's right? In my view, all of them are partly right

  • EU 261 is a five-year-old law that establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights.

  • I've sometimes scoffed at those surveys that rank the 'best' airports -- after all, if I'm headed to Portland, what do I care if the Portland airport scores below Hong Kong? There are times, however, when choosing an airport matters

  • American Airlines is the latest convert to the airlines' current gimmick du jour: new 'bundles' of formerly 'free' features that it thinks it can sell you. Similar deals are available from two other big lines

  • It's a wildly successful scheme: Domestic airlines collected an astounding $7.8 billion in ancillary fees last year, up 42 percent from 2008, while keeping their base fares artificially low. (Legacy airlines still managed to lose $2.8 billion, somehow.) But passengers are confused and angry about being nickel-and-dimed. Finally, help is on the way

  • In an ongoing effort to keep you tied to their own booking sites, some of the big airlines give out special promotional codes for fare deals they don't advertise openly. These deals aren't available at all to the general public, and especially not to those 'aggregator' sites that are supposed to search everywhere for the lowest fares.

  • Resort fees. Mandatory tips. Concierge surcharges. If you've stayed at a hotel in the last few years, you've become accustomed -- if not anesthetized -- to these annoying extras. You expect them. You're indifferent to them when they appear on your bill. You shouldn't be.

  • I've run across travelers who feel that a company should honor any fare error, no matter how outrageous, and who don't think twice about booking blocks of rooms or several tickets at a wrong price. Not only do I find that ethically problematic, but it also makes matters more difficult for passengers

  • Dulles inaugurated its new billion-dollar 'people mover,' and it should make life a lot easier for you whether you live in the area, visit the area, or have to change planes there. Dulles joins a number of other airports around the United States -- and the world -- that offer an easier and more convenient alternative to trekking through endless corridors or schlepping on and off buses

  • Air New Zealand generated a lot of ink (and pixels) with the announcement that it was installing 'Skycouches' in a few rows of seats in the economy cabins of its long-haul 777s. Couches -- really? Yes, starting later this year, the line really will be offering a sort of flat seating option, but it will be a far cry from what most of us would consider lie-down seating.

  • I recently booked a flight through Expedia from Orlando to Hyderabad, India. The flights were on Continental Airlines and Jet Airways. After I made the reservation and received a confirmation, I got an e-mail from Expedia that one leg of my flight had been canceled. I have been trying to get a refund for that canceled flight since then

  • It used to be so simple: The price you were quoted for an airline ticket, rental car or cruise used to be the price you actually paid. Ah, the good old days. Today, the rate you're given is almost never the final price. It's considerably more.

  • Frequent flyer miles no longer have much if anything to do with loyalty: Instead, they've become a strange sort of currency that you don't really own and has value that is at the whim of the airline. Unless you fly a lot, it's time to re-think your frequent flyer plans.

  • United's Mileage Plus and Continental's OnePass will officially merge 'early in 2012,' says the airline, and all accrued mileage in both programs will be combined under the MileagePlus umbrella. As part of this announcement, United also tweaked the program rules

  • Despite the spate of labor unrest hitting major air carriers, the International Air Transport Association forecast a 73 increase in global aviation profits for 2011

  • Dutch carrier KLM is set to begin using used cooking oil for some of its flights. The announcement comes less than two years after the airline flew the first biokerosene-fueled passenger flight in Europe

  • The Transportation Security Agency has revised its rules on patting down children, two months after it sparked international outrage by frisking a 6-year-old girl and defending the actions of its security personnel

  • Boeing is feeling the love at Le Bourget as it announced dozens of orders for new commercial passenger aircraft during the Paris Air Show

  • 'Rule 240' is the provision in airline contracts that specifies what an airline will and will not do if your flight is delayed and/or canceled. Current provisions are weaker than they were before deregulation, but they never totally went away, and some folks are now trying to revive the rule to full strength

  • Add Frontier to the very short list of U.S. airlines that are trying not to gouge you to the maximum with fees. It dropped the fee to exchange a nonrefundable fare from $100 to $50 per ticket, dropped the fee for same-day itinerary changes on refundable tickets from $50 to $25 with no fare adjustment, and slightly dropped its checked baggage fees

  • AirTran edged Hawaiian out of the top spot in this year's annual 'Airline Quality Rating' (AQR) scores. And the combined quality score for the country's 16 largest airlines again crept up a bit over the previous year. Nevertheless -- although AQR doesn't indicate it -- airline travel remains a miserable experience most of the time. Here's why

  • When Walter Nissen signed up for a British Airways Chase Visa card recently, he thought he'd be jetting off to London after earning just 50,000 miles. He overlooked one little detail: A glance at the fine print revealed he'd have to pay an extra $400 in fuel surcharges

  • How'd you like your next air ticket to include a bet on the price of oil? That's an idea that Allegiant floated in a recent filing with the DOT. You buy a ticket at a price posted for the day you buy. Then, if oil prices go up between the day you buy and the day you fly, you pay more; if oil prices drop, you pay less. Oddly enough, it could work, but I see plenty of ways it could go wrong

  • The Transportation Security Administration's new airport screening procedures -- body scanning machines and enhanced pat-downs -- are justified in the context of our unfortunate reality

  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with full-body scanners. In fact, the more we innovate and introduce new security technologies, the more we can stay one step ahead of terrorists. But there are major problems with the way the Department of Homeland Security, through the Transportation Security Administration, is handling security at airports

  • The U.S. airline industry, which has an unenviable record of failing practically every customer-service survey for the last generation, has a new rival: The Transportation Security Administration

  • It turns out that all the negative things that happened to air travelers in 2010 -- invasive body scans, multiplying fees, erupting volcanoes -- were offset by at least one positive change: an increasingly passenger-friendly Transportation Department.

  • Air New Zealand (ANZ) wins its share of 'awards' for good service, but, this year, it should also win an award for chutzpah. In announcing a completely redesigned cabin for its long-range 777s. Its new design may well be a portent of things to come for international flights, generally. And the news isn't good for economy class travelers

  • It's been more than two years since most major airlines 'unbundled' their fares and began charging passengers for the first checked bag. And although air travelers are now paying more for their luggage than ever -- $2.7 billion last year, compared with just $1.1 billion in 2008 -- they are deeply unhappy about it

  • The skies are always turbulent for investors in airline stocks, whether due to oil prices, economic trends, fare wars or labor union issues. Yet 2010 has been the start of something big in terms of financial success, with many airline stocks strong performers. The question is how long surprisingly good times will last

  • By now you've read about Southwest Airline's proposal to acquire AirTran. And you've probably even seen at least some writers' views on what it means to consumers and who 'wins' in the deal. Although the situation is fluid, I can already draw up a list of the six important things you need to know

  • Only in reviewing the effectiveness of the new tarmac-delay rule has the real problem -- and the solution -- become apparent. It wasn't these isolated but maddening delays, but how airlines regarded them, that became troublesome.

  • American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia just announced their new 'joint business' deal. Let's take a closer look at how the AA/BA/Iberia deal is likely to affect consumers

  • 'Bumping' is the popular name for what airlines call 'denied boarding' or inability to honor a firm reservation. Airlines bump travelers for several reasons, most often 'overbooking' to offset inevitable no-shows. About the only time you'll benefit from the new limits is on a long intercontinental flight. Other proposed changes will help you more in the real world

  • Call me a frequent-flier program skeptic. I take a dim view of any scheme that promises you the world in exchange for all your business. Not that I don't like sitting in first class, staying in a suite or being treated like a movie star. I mean, who doesn't? Having covered the travel industry for most of my career, I just don't believe in 'win-win' propositions. Here's why

  • The biggest gripe among airline travelers today is luggage charges. An interesting take is to see who is responsible for the various gripes. Out of the top 12 tabulated annoyances, nine are fully or partially the direct result of airline policies and practices

  • How likely are you to find a 'free' seat with your miles when and where you want to go? That depends, says a recent study, on the airline you fly. Among the 22 programs in the study, the range of success rates runs from 'almost every time' to 'hardly ever.' The following results provide some useful conclusions and guidance

  • By now you've seen the news that Continental and United airlines have agreed to merge. This isn't a done deal yet as this merger will get a close look by the Departments of Justice and Transportation, and anti-trust concerns could derail it. But most industry mavens believe the climate is right for this merger. And, I'd bet that the fallout for consumers will be more negative than positive

  • If regulators approve the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines, it will create the world's largest carrier. Although it's early, many experts agree that there will probably be a push for higher fares.

  • If you don't want to pay the exorbitant price for a first-class ticket, your only chance to avoid the bone-crunching crowding of the airlines' coach/economy cabins is to wangle a coach seat with extra legroom. Rather than dole out those choice seats first come, first served, more and more airlines have taken to selling access to them.

  • When you find a fare online, it isn't actually there -- it's cached on the site. Caching, or storing a copy of the fare information, is cheaper and makes everything run faster. But there's a price to be paid for the speed and convenience: A small number of fares -- usually less than 5 percent -- may no longer be available when you try to book them.

  • This isn't another story about airlines and their misguided fees. It's about the surcharges that are worth paying -- and why you should consider saying, 'yes' to them. That's right, I said 'worth it.' While many fees are outrageous, some aren't entirely out of line.

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation's recently updated 'Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement' Website provides easy access to information available on your 'rights' as an air passenger. And although the content is generally the same as before, it's more accessible. Of the six main options in the opening menu, three are of greatest use to most travelers.

  • Aviation consumer protection is a top priority for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. And air travelers are impressed with the 'new' Department of Transportation, which, if you listen to the buzz, appears to be protecting consumers for the first time in years.

  • I won't insult you by repeating the obvious advice being dispensed by the so-called experts, such as arriving at the airport early or packing light. Instead, I'd like to take a longer view on traveling while under the influence of the TSA. Assuming that only half of the awful things people are saying about the agency are true, how do you fly?

  • Kenneth Miller's Delta SkyMiles are gone -- all 101,000 of them, and without so much as a warning. They were never supposed to expire, but the airline changed its rules without telling him. Does he have any chance of getting them back?

  • Winter is only starting, and when bad weather moves in, your flight schedule isn't worth the paper it's printed on. What to do when your flight is delayed or cancelled due to winter weather

  • The airline industry is a popular target. The University of Michigan's authoritative American Customer Satisfaction Index gives the overall industry a failing grade of 64. Here's seven ways airlines can improve service and their image

  • TSA officials say that a full review is underway to determine how a 2008 copy of its standard operating procedures for all airport security checkpoints was released in its entirety on the Internet.

  • No one would claim that any of the new travel-related laws scheduled to take effect in 2010 are game-changers for travelers. They're relatively minor. An overwhelming majority of the organizations I spoke with said that reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration would be in our best interests.

  • Not all airline ideas are bad -- every once in a while, an airline comes up with something that actually helps consumers. On the other hand, the bad ones keep coming, as well, and, as I've noted before about the airline business, nothing gets copied faster then a bad idea.