What to Know Now
Don’t update your 2014 expense projections yet. The recent fee increase from the TSA is being fought on the hill by a trade group called Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association. Their chief complaint is that congress didn’t put a cap on how high fees can eventually go — so that $5.60 that you pay right now could one day go even higher.
There’s a great breakdown of this whole confusing process by Andy Bender over on Forbes if you’re interested. Though there’s not much word on how smoothly the lawsuit will go, at least someone is pushing back against the growing mountain of fees.
With my company’s recent move to San Francisco, our entire staff has been flying United almost exclusively, so I’m peppered each day with complaints about operations and delays. Part of it is the daily rigamarole of airline travel, be that weather or air traffic control or crazy passengers across the board. But part of it has to do with United just not having its act together. Last quarter, United was the only airline to not turn a profit among the legacies.
This quarter is different. United’s recent filings show a profit of $919M (American and Delta earned $1.5B and $1.4B respectively) and the management boasted that the airline has turned around during their quarterly call. Both Brett Snyder at the Cranky Flier and Gary Leff at View from the Wing have analysis.
Hopefully they’re right. But from where I sit on my delayed SFO-ORD flight (“don’t worry, the replacement plane is coming from Alaska!”), there’s still a long way to go.
SOCIAL QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The IAD hub may be profitable, but UAL in-total would likely be more profitable if IAD were reduced,” writes Imperial’s McAdoo.
Delta eases limits on electronic devices on international flights: Airlines continue to ease restrictions on electronic devices in planes, with Delta Air Lines now allowing passengers to switch on their gadgets during takeoffs and landings on international flights. Read more at the LA Times
How U.S. Airlines Manage Customer Service Expectations on Twitter: For an airline employee managing a social media account, the sheer volume of tweets, @ mentions, direct messages and hashtags can be as high as 30,000 a week. And if the weather’s bad it’s even higher. Read more at Skift
Aer Lingus Reveals Its New Long-Haul Business Class Seats: Starting in January 2015, the carrier will refit the business class cabin, as part of a two stage program to renovate the entire airline experience (a new economy product is in work and will be announced at a later state.) The carrier will complete renovating its long haul business class cabin by the end of March 2015, the quick turn around helped by the smaller and more nimble long haul fleet that Aer Lingus flies. Read more at Skift
London Gatwick Airport Blames Third Party for Its Baggage Nightmares: London Gatwick Airport said staff shortages at ground-handling firm Swissport International AG are to blame for delays at luggage carousels affecting thousands of incoming passengers with carriers including British Airways. Read more at Skift
Airline Groups Sue TSA over Fees: Airlines for America (A4A) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have filed a lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) over the recent increases in security fees attached to airline tickets. The eight-page petition, filed in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, called for a review of the changes. Read more at Flyertalk
Detroit Airport Just Spent $2 Million to Make International Arrivals Faster: Long minutes or hours snaking through Customs and Immigration may soon be over at Detroit Metro Airport. Read more at Skift
Airports on high alert for fliers with Ebola symptoms: Amid fears of a global Ebola epidemic, the feds are keeping a close eye on passengers arriving at JFK and other international airports in the United States to quarantine anyone showing signs of the deadly virus. Read more at The New York Post
Lyft Needs New York City Drivers So Badly It Is Giving Them $10,000 Each: A week after beginning operations in New York, ride-sharing startup Lyft Inc. is offering as much as $10,000 a month to commercial drivers to work for the service. Read more at Skift
Comedy Is The Most Popular Genre in the In-Flight Entertainment Business: Passengers laughing at what they view on seatback screens is nothing new in the airline industry, and Spafax research shows comedy is still the most watched genre. Read more at Skift
If your wedding guests throw shade on Yelp, this hotel will charge you $500: A hotel in Hudson, New York really doesn’t appreciate it when wedding parties come through town and wind up trashing its hard-earned Yelp rating. So it’s implemented a policy whereby the hotel will fine newlywed couples $500 for any negative review posted on the internet after their special day. Read more on The Verge
The Restaurant Reservation Tech Company That’s Targeting Hotels: Lavu Inc. in Albuquerque has made a huge splash in the restaurant industry with its point-of-sale software to conduct business on mobile devices, but now the company is launching a new system for the hotel industry, scheduled for launch next week. Read more at Skift
Raffles Is the Latest Luxury Hotel Brand to Move Into Istanbul: Raffles Hotels & Resorts is on an expansion streak that will see the luxury international hotel company open its first property in Turkey, the Raffles Istanbul, on September 1. Read more at Skift
Hotel and Tourism Boom Lures Billionaire Pritzker to Seattle: Seattle’s rapidly growing downtown is luring billionaire John Pritzker’s Commune Hotels & Resorts for a $104 million lodging and residential project, adding to a surge in development as employment and tourism climbs. Read more at Skift
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison Now Owns Every Hotel Room on Lanai, Hawaii: Billionaire and Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison now owns every hotel room on Lanai, having closed July 7 on the purchase of the venerable Hotel Lanai. Read more at Skift
Despite my report suggesting general improvement to the TSA’s PreCheck program over the last year, ol’ Johnny Jet is still seeing a lot of turbulence with the service. Read his most recent calamity here.