Despite all the sweltering heat, the work still must go on, and we had another fun — and busy week in aviation. So let’s get started, shall we?
- This is a classic case where social media forced an airline to change a bag fee policy. Delta Air Lines was left with egg on its face after two soldiers coming home from Afghanistan posted video on YouTube of 36 reservists being charged $2,800 in bag fees at BWI Airport. There were almost 1,000 stories came up on a Google search of the incident. Delta used its blog to apologize and change the policy, effectively immediately. As the daughter and granddaughter of Air Force officers, stories like this always hit close to home, and I’m glad that Delta has done the right thing. I also commend American Airlines, Continental Airlines and United Airlines for following suit.
- When I travel, I’m always amazed at two things: one, why pilots and flight attendants on duty still have to go through security like the rest of us; and two, how I see passengers who get aggressive when crew members cut to the top of the line. Back in July 2008, the Transportation Security Administration started a pilot program called CrewPASS, a system to take properly credentialed pilots out of the regular line and into an expedited queue, via an airport’s exit lane. Three years later, my Aviation Week colleague Jim Ott blogs about how TSA is still “dithering” over easing security for flight crews. You can see my original Towers and Tarmacs blog post on the topic here.
- As a student of the aviation industry, I enjoy reading articles and columns on the financial status of airlines. Good friend Bill Swelbar of Swelblog, has written an interesting post on the topic: In The Airline Business We Just Do Not Talk About Balance Sheets Enough. Before deregulation, it was all so easy. The Civil Aeronautics Board handled airline routes, fares and schedules, ensuring everyone could make a comfortable living. But now some 34 years after deregulation, airlines are still fighting over their balance sheets.
- As airports continue to search for ways to bring in more non-airline revenue, several have looked to bringing slot machines into their facilities to bring in more cash. New Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing just that for O’Hare and Midway airports, according to Jaunted. Back in February, I wrote a blog post over at Things With Wings on how my hometown airport — BWI — was considering a similar measure. Don’t laugh — slots brought in $25.7 million in FY 2009-10 at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.
- I have many dear friends who happen to be gay. I have been following columnist Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign, created to help gay teens considering suicide after being bullied over their sexual orientation. No matter what a teen’s orientation, none of them should feel so desperate that they see suicide as their only option. So I was happy to see that American Airlines has become the first carrier to make a video contribution to the project via its GLEAM employee resource group.
We have a bumper crop of crazy in today’s Strange But True Aviation News, with rats on a plane, issues with Virgin Atlantic employees and more problems with TSA screeners. Enjoy!!