Spreading the LUV
Aug 31st, 2009 by Mike

@southwestair

Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of Southwest Airlines.

Recently, I had an experience that proves why Southwest does something right that most airlines have wrong.

My travel plans for next weekend have changed. Josh’s closing got pushed back due to a problem on the seller’s end. That means I’m not helping him move this weekend. Instead, I’m going to be spending the weekend in Washington, DC to see an old friend from college. I had already purchased my airfare on Southwest weeks ago. With most other airlines, my $265 fare would have been history. But not with Southwest.

I went to southwest.com and canceled my reservation. That meant that I had $265 in credit available for my next flight. Instead of losing money, I can apply it to my trip to DC this weekend without any additional fees. A refund would be nice, but that’s not very good business. But by giving me an opportunity to use that money toward a different trip, they keep me coming back for more.  THAT’s good business.

It gets better, though. As the day has progressed, I’ve decided to take Friday as a vacation day. Reggie is heading to my friend Chris’ house on Friday morning now. That means I can catch an earlier flight. Most airlines will charge you a fee for this. Instead, my flight has a lower fare available than my original flight. Southwest is giving me the fare difference as a credit.

You’ll never see US Airways do that.

Merger
Apr 14th, 2008 by Mike

The news is out that Delta and Northwest plan on merging. If you follow the aviation industry, this is hardly a headline. The merger has been in the works for months.

What is really fascinating here is the labor relations aspect. Delta said all along that it wouldn’t go through a merger without the support of it’s pilots union. The Northwest pilots weren’t going to be happy with any decision regarding this merger, so they got shut out of the talks, and the Delta pilots are sitting happy, and the Northwest pilots are pouting and saying they’ll oppose the merger.

This is sounding a lot like the US Airways/America West merger of a few years ago. America West bought US Airways (keeping the US Airways name) and prevented the old US Airways from going belly up. Northwest isn’t in the best financial position and flies a fleet of ancient DC9 aircraft. I think Delta is rescuing Northwest, so the pilots should sit down, shut up, accept the seniority consolidation, and be thankful they have jobs. Sure the 747 pilots are going to get bumped down to flying 777s, but it’s not like they’re going to the complete bottom of the seniority list.

Three
Apr 3rd, 2008 by Mike

ATA Airlines announced today that they’re going belly-up as well. If you’re keeping count, that’s three airlines in a week. Keep in mind that none of these airlines have been solid performers, so it comes as no surprise here. Frankly, I’m waiting to see if any of the big carriers start to flounder.

ATA had some new aircraft, but they did have a bunch of old DC-10 and Lockheed L1011 aircraft. Is anybody else seeing the same pattern I am? That’s right, the airlines flying old planes are doomed. Northwest, they’re coming for you.

Another one bites the dust…
Mar 31st, 2008 by Mike

Charter carrier Champion Air announced today that it is going call it quits, according to the Dallas Morning News. Champion will be grounding its fleet of 14 Boeing 727 aircraft.

That’s right, I said Boeing 727 aircraft. According to Wikipedia, the first 727 flew in 1963 and the 727 family continued to be made until 1984. Assuming that Champion had some of the newest 727s made, they’d still be 25 to 30 years old. Again, flying older, inefficient aircraft in times when oil prices are so high doesn’t bode well for airlines.

If I were Northwest Airlines with their fleet of ancient DC-9 aircraft, I’d be scared. I’d be very scared.

More on Aloha
Mar 31st, 2008 by Mike

Aloha Airlines will soon be a footnote in aviation history. They’ve been blaming “illegal” competive practices by Go!, a unit of Mesa Air. Aloha claims that Go! was selling seats below cost.

I call bullshit.

According to their own site, they were operating the following aircraft:

11 Boeing 737-200 Passenger Advanced
3 Boeing 737-200C
4 Boeing 737-200QC
8 Boeing 737-700

That’s 18 737-200 series aircraft. It’s no wonder they weren’t making money. According to the Wikipedia article, the 737-200 entered service in 1965 and the last one was delivered in 1988, 20 years ago. Perhaps Go! was pricing seats below Aloha’s costs, and with a fleet of ancient, inefficient aircraft, that’s not exactly hard to do. I was honestly surprised to find out that any US carrier was still operating those old things. Don’t get me wrong, they’re solid, safe, reliable aircraft. They’re also really old, fuel INefficient, and very costly to operate.

I think Delta was the last mainland carrier to retire their 737-200s from service, and that was sometime shortly after 9/11. Every other airline has replaced the 737-200 with newer versions of the 737. Aloha would have done well with the Boeing 717, too.

Sure, Mesa may have been flooding the market with cheap seats. Southwest made a name for itself doing this. Other carriers responded by bringing their costs down and replacing older aircraft with newer, more efficient aircraft. But I think this proves one thing: You can’t make money hopping around the islands on a 40 year old gas guzzling aircraft when your competition is doing the same thing with brand new regional jets.

 

Aloha
Mar 21st, 2008 by Mike

Aloha Airlines filed for bankruptcy today. (link) It’s not surprising, and you’re going to see some more airlines going down if oil prices continue to rise. This really isn’t a big deal. What I found funny about this article is that both times I visited the page, the banner ad at the top was for rival Hawiian Airlines.

It makes you wonder if that was planned.

image

Delta’s New Safety Video
Feb 20th, 2008 by Mike

I read in a recent blog post that Delta is premiering their new safety video.

It’s awful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgpzUo_kbFY

If the cheesy acting isn’t bad enough, the flight attendant wagging her finger while telling me that smoking is not allowed on any Delta flight is just too much.

Maybe I’m just nitpicking the aircraft, but they filmed this on a Boeing 757 and the graphic showing the exits is a 737-700. Keep in mind that Delta doesn’t even fly the 737-700.

In all fairness to Delta’s people, these things are incredibly boring to watch, so making them has to be even more painful.

 

UPDATE: Okay, in fairness, I double-checked my facts and wasn’t entirely accurate. I was correct when I said that Delta doesn’t fly the 737-700. They fly the 737-800. However, Delta does have ten of the 737-700 on order. (details)

Too Close for Comfort
Feb 14th, 2008 by Mike

If you’ve ever flown into San Francisco, you might have gotten a little warning announcement from your captain about seeing another plane out the windows.

You see, San Francisco has two parallel runways that are 750 ft apart, which I believe is the minimum distance allowed between runways. As you’re landing, it sometimes appears as if another airplane is coming right at you, and it makes some people nervous. You might get nervous if you saw something like this or this, too.  Maybe this will put it in a little better perspective.

VS12
Feb 14th, 2008 by Mike

I was out walking Reggie tonight when I heard a “heavy” taking off. After a while, you can tell when a widebody aircraft is taking off, and this was certainly one of them. What I saw was a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-600 on its way to London. All I could say was “Wow.” Watching the big planes taking off is one of the few things I’ll really miss about living in this neighborhood.

Almost Famous
Feb 5th, 2008 by Mike

This photo made me almost famous.

Click Here to view the photo

Several years ago, after I had posted this picture to airliners.net, I got an e-mail from somebody in the 737 program at Boeing. He was asking if they could use this picture (I think it was that one, but it could have been a similar one) on their intranet site as part of a story about maneuvering the 737 in snowy conditions. Yeah, like I was going to say no to that. The guy was really appreciative. I just wish I could have been able to see that. Imagine my little digital camera got a picture put up on internal Boeing website. How cool is that?

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