US Airlines Collected $3.5 Billion In Baggage & $2.55 Billion In Change Fees In 2012

There was an interesting piece on Chicago Tribune yesterday about the baggage and change fees that the US airlines had collected in 2012 that was released by DOT (Department of Transportation) on Tuesday. You can access the piece here.

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The amount of changes fees that i.e. United collected in 2012 doubled from 2011.

Airbus A350 XWB Ready For June Test Flights

Airbus unveiled its first painted A350 XWB plane in Toulouse yesterday and the test flights are expected to start in June. You can read more about this on CNN Business Traveler here.

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There are currently more than 600 of this aircraft type on order from 34 customers that comes in three different variations of A350-800 (270 passengers), A350-900 (314 passengers), and A350-1000 (350 passengers).

FAA Funding Woes In the States & Ancillary Fees

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There was an interesting piece on the NY Times about unintended (or maybe it is intended) casualty of the airline ancillary fees in the United States that is the FAA. You can access this article here. I wrote a piece about airlines’ love affair with fuel surcharges that you can access here.

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The airline tickets are subject to 7.5% Federal Excise Tax that is collected on the airfare and used to fund the FAA. The recent change, how the airlines price tickets (more fees), has had an effect on the FAA funding. The ancillary fees like baggage, food, drinks, premium seats, premium boarding etc. are not taxed at all.

Switchfly Study About Airline Award Availability

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Switchfly released yesterday its 4th annual study about airline award seat availability that you can access here. There was a long piece on Wall Street Journal about this study that you can access here.

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This study was done by doing set number of award searches on airlines websites for two people traveling together on a round trip.

Air India Pilots Napping – Flight Attendants In The Cockpit

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This is one of those unbelievable news stories in the past week. Apparently, the cockpit crew of Air India flight from Bangkok to Delhi let two cabin crew members to control the plane (on autopilot), while they took a 40 minute rest in the business class cabin.

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Something happened and the auto pilot was turned off. The cockpit crew rushed to the to take control of the plane.

NY Times Article About Low-cost Indonesian Airlines

The Indonesian aviation safety came back to spotlight last month, when Lion Air’s flight overshoot the runaway in Bali and ended up in the water. Luckily nobody died in that accident. You can read my piece about the crash here.

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Now, NY Times has an article on their website that was published on the International Herald Tribune about the state of the Indonesian’s low cost aviation and you can access it here. It is a good read.

Bird Flu H7N9 Spreading In Asia – Travel Bargains Coming?

The new strain on bird flu has been on the news a lot here in Asia in the past week after Taiwanese, who had not been in direct contact with birds, contradicted the virus. This was believed to be a human to human transfer of the virus.

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There has been quite a few reported deaths in China and this is believed to have a effect on the Golden Week travel in China that starts on May 1.

Boeing 787 Back In Service In Ethiopia And Hopefully Elsewhere Soon Too

The FAA issued new air worthiness certificate to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner on Thursday allowing them to return to commercial service.

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Ethiopian Airlines was the first airline to fly commercial flight from Addis Abeba to Nairobi on Saturday morning after grounding of the entire 787 fleet and ANA has done a test flight in Japan. You can read more about this on BBC’s website here.

US Preclearance (Immigration & Customs) Coming To Abu Dhabi?

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There was an interesting news piece last week about the new US Customs & Immigration preclearance location that is being planned to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. You can read more about this on WSJ (here) and on USAToday (here).

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This would be very interesting move. The US currently has preclearance posts in Canada, the Caribbean, and Ireland. You can access the list of these current locations here.

SkyTrax’s World Best Airports Rankings

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SkyTrax publishes rankings based on passenger surveys about airlines and airports. Now, SkyTrax has released a list of top 100 airports and this was covered on a recent Economist article that you can access here.

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As Gulliver points out, there are no US airports in the top 25 and I would say rightfully so.

Airbus To Shrink Window & Middle Seats To Make Aisle Ones Wider

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This issue has been covered in the European media quite widely in the past week, but it doesn’t seem to have made it elsewhere yet. Here’s piece from the Daily Telegraph about it.

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Airbus is going to offer an option for airlines to order the A320 aircraft in a configuration that shrinks the window and middle seats by an inch and gives the extra space for the aisle seats to better accommodate the larger passengers. Airlines in turn could charge higher price for these wider seats.

Would You Fly Inside A Plastic Bag?

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When I first saw this photo, I thought that someone had passed away during a flight and they had put the body inside a plastic bag. But this was not the case here, however.

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Apparently, some orthodox Jews are forbidden to be in touch with dead people or even fly over a cemetery. The solution for this problem is to bag yourself inside a plastic bag during a flight.

Should I bring My Own Life-jacket To Lion Air Flight?

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Lion Air plane overshot the Denpasar runaway in Bali this Saturday afternoon and landed on water. The flight was from Bandung in West Java to Bali. Surprisingly, there has not been any casualties. You can read more about this incident on Jakarta Globe’s website here.

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The Indonesian airline safety has not been very good in the past. Due to number of crashes in 2007 all Indonesian airlines were put on the EU’s black list of banned airlines. The national airline Garuda and three other Indonesian airlines were removed from the list in 2009, however.

Airline Quality Rating (US Airlines) Is Out For 2013

The Airline Quality Rating (AQR) based on the 2012 data is out for 23rd time. This report uses publicly available information that airlines are required to report to Department of Transportation and then applies formula (some magic) to come up with the ratings. You can access AQR’s website here.

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The findings are nothing new to those of us that have had a look at the DOT’s monthly Air Travel Consumer reports. The Virgin America was on the first spot and the United was dead last. United had a disastrous year in 2012 complaints and operation wise.

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