Flight Blog

Jun 10 2008 Gluttons for Punishment BY sgf-adminTAGS 2008 Energy Crisis


Will airlines charge passengers by how much they (passengers) weigh? That's the question asked by a speculative news story by Bloomberg News.


According to Bloomberg, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, says, ""They [airlines] have already begun to think exotically. Nothing is not under the microscope.'' He declined to discuss what any individual airline might be contemplating, including charging passengers based on weight."


Meanwhile, an ad agency in Philadelphia makes the unthinkable seem reasonable.


Continental Airlines drops the axe—cutting 3000 jobs and retiring 67 planes. Read more from Reuters.

May 27 2008 Some Help for the Overpacked Traveler... BY sgf-adminTAGS Airlines


suitcase.gifHow about the ruckus American Airlines (AA) caused last week? You know, the announcement that your first checked bag will soon cost $15. This on top of the earlier announced AA fee—that the second checked bag will cost you $25! Just wait until June 15th. That's when the $15 fee goes into affect—then we'll really hear some uproar. But wait...I'm getting ahead of myself...I need to tell you about the help.


This morning I discovered a web site called onebag.com. It's chock-full of useful information about packing lite. Give it a look. Now back to the uproar...


American is getting it from all sides. Aviation consultant Michael Boyd writes, "Unfortunately, some of the actions taken by some carriers in recent weeks are clearly the result of quick panic decisions, not rational planning to adjust to $3.50 - $4 jet-A (jet fuel). They are directly affecting customers' good will. More and more, the flying public walks into an airport and likely starts to feel like "marks" at a two-bit country carnival. Every game in the place is rigged to shake more money out of them. An airline ticket once bought travel from A to B. Now, it's becoming just a down-payment."


BusinessWeek writes, "PR fallout? That would presume that the airlines had any credibility at all with consumers and business travelers in the first place."


The travel blog at the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram had plenty to say too.


Yes, there's lot's chatter out there but just wait until June 15th. I haven't heard anyone mention it in the blogosphere, but one wag around this airport thinks people will start stuffing their carry-on bags to the max. That could result is a massive logjam at the security checkpoints—especially if other airlines follow AA's lead and start charging for the first bag too.

May 24 2008 Midfield Terminal Question BY sgf-adminTAGS Midfield Terminal


SGFpilot writes, "I have a question regarding the jetbridges at the new terminal....Are they really going to use the old ones from the existing terminal? You have a beautiful new $130 million dollar terminal and they're planning on sticking rusty old jet bridges that work 1/2 time on there? I think that'd give the NEW terminal a bad appearence. Would they at least paint them all a fresh white color to at least make them look new? Thanks for your insight."


The total cost of the terminal project, including the building, parking lots, ramp, taxiways, etc., is just under $118 million. As for the jet bridges... The assertion that they work only half the time is not right. Rusty? Perhaps you're talking about the color of the paint?


The jet bridges at the current terminal will be removed, rehabilitated, repainted and moved to the new terminal.

May 16 2008 The Weight Factor BY sgf-adminTAGS Airlines


"Airlines have reduced the amount of spare fuel on airplanes in a money-saving effort that is raising concerns among some pilots and a government watchdog."


That's the lede sentence in a story today from USA Today. What the story lacks is perspective. It's common industry knowledge that airlines have been asking pilots to conserve fuel—and it's been going on for sometime.


I recently talked to an airline pilot who was telling me some of the different tricks of fuel conservation. But the main point of his conversation was that the airlines EXPECT pilots to conserve fuel.


The weight of an airplane, and the role is plays in the business of airlines, is little understood by either the media or the public. Let's start with a couple of obvious points: 1) if a plane is overweight it can't fly safely. 2) There are three main weight variables that an airline deals with on every flight: the weight of people, the weight of fuel, the weight of baggage.


How does this affect you? Here's an example: pilots calculate the combined weight of these three variables before take off. If the math says the plane is overweight, the airline might have three passengers (and their luggage) get off the plane. But there are other, less obvious, things that this math affects...


Here's an example: for the past few years the airlines have mostly flown regional jets (RJs) into markets our size (they've done this for economic reasons that you're about to get a taste of). RJs are small; usually 40, 50, or (if you're lucky) 70 seats. The fact that most of our service is on RJs makes it extremely hard for us to convince an airline to provide direct service to either coast. Why? In a word...weight.


Suppose we're talking about a hypothetical flight between Springfield and Los Angeles on a 50-seat RJ. To fly that far the plane has to carry A LOT of fuel—so much fuel that 50 people, plus their baggage, makes the plane overweight. So what does the captain do? He might make ten people and their bags get off. Now here's where the math gets nitty-gritty. With only 40 paying passengers onboard the flight can't make a profit.


Doesn't airline math make your head hurt?!