Tag Archives: Delta Air Lines

Why Delta’s ‘ Basic Economy’ Fare Is All Your Fault

5 Jun

A Delta jet at the gate in Atlanta. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Delta Air Lines has begun testing rock-bottom “basic economy” fares on selected routes — and you, the traveler, have no one but yourselves to blame.

Why is it your fault? Because you refuse to pay the higher fares that Delta and other airlines want you to. And since you refuse, they are going to get the money out of you other ways, by hook or by crook. Take a look at what fees have been introduced in the past 10 years: checked bags, food, drinks, change fees, phone booking fees and fuel surcharges, to name some.

So Delta for the past two months has been testing fares that are remarkably similar to those offered by Spirit Airlines, on some of the routes that the ultra-low-fare carrier flies, including Detroit to Orlando, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. With basic economy, travelers can’t make any changes to their itinerary, nor can they choose seats in advance.

You may hate what Spirit does (see why in this guest blog post), but you can see how other airlines have followed some of the things they do.  And someone does like the airline, because they have full flights and regularly make a profit. 

So if Delta is successful with this test, look for it to expand the basic economy fares into other markers.  And don’t be surprised if other airlines follow.

Random Aviation Photo

17 May

One of my last duties before leaving Delta Air Lines was working on the events surrounding the retirement of The Spirit of Delta, a Boeing 767 bough by the airline’s employees, retirees, family and friends in 1982.  I left before the plane was brought to its final home at the Delta Heritage Museum at the carrier’s headquarters campus in 2006.  So I was so excited to see it in the museum during a visit to Atlanta in April 2011.  Enjoy!

Phones On Planes – Even VoIP – Are Another Circle of Hell

15 May

Regular readers of my blog know my strong feelings about cell phones on planes: I am against it for many reasons (you can ready why here).  So this headline in The Next Web – Delta calls cops on Viber founder for using VoIP app on plane – really caught my eye.

Talmon Marco is the founder of social VoIP and free texting app Viber. On a recent Delta Air Lines flight, Marco was told by a flight attendant that he couldn’t use the voice part of Viber, citing FAA regulations.  In fact, FAA says it doesn’t have any regulation specifically covering VoIP, adding it’s more an issue with airlines.  The flight attendant then told Marco he was violating the terms of service of Gogo, the carrier’s inflight Wi-Fi vendor.

Marco took to Twitter complaining about a regulation that doesn’t exist, and was told by the airline that they had called the police, who would be there when he landed.  They were, but let him go when they realized that he hadn’t broken any laws.

I won’t go off on a tangent about how flight attendants like to throw around the phrase “FAA regulations” when they want passengers to do — or not do — something.  Technically, Marco  wasn’t breaking any rules.  But if I’m flying in a metal tube sitting next to or near him, I do NOT want to hear him gabbing away via VoIP.

Rolling Aviation Thoughts

2 May

  • I am a big fan of art in airports.  I feel like it breaks up the monotony of the walls, plus I get to experience art I might not see in my everyday life.  So I was delighted to read this great story in USA Today Travel from my airport soul sister Harriet Baskas on the re-dedication of a multi-panel mural at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport saluting African-American achievements in aviation.
  • The New York Times Practical Traveler column recently covered ways that travelers can speed through security lines.  While the article did outline the options (Global Entry and Pre-Check) it made it so very clear how limited the options really are. Global Traveler is for those who travel overseas, while Pre-Check is only for frequent travelers flying on American and Delta. I sure wish there were more options for those of us who don’t fit into the above categories.
  • The Toledo Blade recently had an article about how Toledo Express Airport still hasn’t been able to attract commercial airline service seven months after receiving a $750,000 Small Community Air Service grant designed to bring in a carrier.  This is not a new problem for the airport, which  is about an hour’s drive away from Detroit Metro Airport.  And there’s the problem. You have a major hub airport that offers service around the glob, plus a healthy amount of flights from Southwest Airlines.  And flying out of Toledo to connect through another airport tends to cost more. The airport received a $400,000 grant back in 2006, but had to return the money after having no luck attracting an airport even then. The lesson? Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.
  • Peter Shankman, founder of the Help A Reporter Out website and frequent traveler, recently did a Twitter Q&A on flights from Hong Kong to New York and Newark to Los Angeles International Airport.  Some of the questions — what is the meaning of life — are a little offbeat, but there are plenty of other travel-related questions that are worth a read.
  • Last week, a former flight student tried to steal a Cessna 152 from Compton Airport, reports the Los Angeles Times.  I found several things interesting about this. One, who knew there was an airport in Compton and that it’s been around since 1924? Two, please feel free to insert your favorite NWA jokes here.  And three, click here to read a conversation I had with my flight instructor about this story, on the AOPA Pilot blog.

Random Aviation Photo

22 Mar

I went down to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport last April to do a series of stories about the facility, along with my former employer, Delta Air Lines.  I usually don’t sit in a window seat because I’m a bit claustrophobic, but the flight was pretty open. So I scooted over to the window seat and got this shot of a very long wing, with some of the Delta fleet in the background. Enjoy!

Top Five Interesting Stories Of The Week

5 Mar
  1. All the true airline geeks (including me) were excited over a major aviation event this past weekend — the final steps to a complete merger of Continental Airlines and United Airlines.  In this phase, the airline now has a single reservation system, a single check-in and one frequent flyer program — MileagePlus. But there’s always some problems when you’re merging two systems, including “late flight departures and arrivals, missed connections, problems at check-in kiosks, long lines and extended wait times to reach reservations agents as United agents tried to master the new system,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
  2. I’m a fool for anything written about my favorite aircraft — the Boeing 747.  So I thoroughly enjoyed a blog post by my former Aviation Week colleague Guy Norris, who gave us a sneak peek of the inside of a VIP 747 delivered to a Middle East customer in the Things With Wings blog.
  3. Back in late 1999, I took a trip to Israel for the delivery of the first ATR-72 to Arkia Israel Airlines. I was in New York City for a family event, so I flew on TWA to Tel Aviv. I could do several blog posts about that particular flight, but one of the things I remember is the flight attendants rolling down the aisles selling TWA-branded items — and being quite aggressive about it. Which is what I thought about when I read this New York Times article on the new revenue sources airlines are now chasing, including insurance, branded items and TV commercials.
  4. With Terrafugia Inc, about to debut its flying car at the New York Auto show next month, I read this Lifehacker blog post on the first true flying car.  The AVE Mizar was a Ford Pinto merged with a Cessna Skymaster plane. The wings were detachable, and that was the plane’s downfall.
  5. Back in the spring of 2005 when I was working for Delta Air Lines, I had to go out to Salt Lake City for a business meeting. One of my co-workers took me to the home of a flight attendant who had turned his basement into a Delta/Pan Am museum, complete with a reconstructed first class cabin, uniforms, travel posters and a huge pile of memorabilia. One thing he had was the wine-in-a-can Delta served passengers in the 1970s. So I thoroughly enjoyed a  post from Mary Kirby of the APEX Editor’s blog on Delta’s selections of wine in a box.

With the big switchover this weekend, the Continental Airlines name is no more.  So I’ll end this post with a classic commercial from the 1970s that featured a young Farrah Fawcett in the “We Really Move Our Tails For You” tag line. Enjoy!

Random Aviation Photo

26 Jan

Back in May 2010, I went to Geneva, Switzerland, to cover the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition.  I flew on KLM and had to connect at Amsterdam Schiphol, one of my favorite airports.  I had some time to kill, so I wandered the gates looking for international aircraft to shoot.  I came across this shot of KLM and its SkyTeam partner (and my former employer) Delta Air Lines.  Enjoy!

Random Aviation Photo

5 Jan

Back in April, I went down to Atlanta to do a series of stories on Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and my former employer, Delta Air Lines.  During my visit to Delta, outside of spending time with my old colleagues, I insisted that we set aside time for a visit to the Delta Heritage Museum.

When I worked at Delta, I did volunteer work for the museum, and would spend many lunch hours there, breathing in the aviation history.Right before I left Delta, back in February 2006, one of my last jobs was to help organize the homecoming of The Spirit of Delta, a Boeing 767 bought by the carrier’s employees back in 1982.  I wasn’t there for the final arrival of Ship 102, so I wanted to see it in its final home.  Enjoy!

Best Of: Top 10 Favorite Airline Commercials

28 Dec

Editor’s note: kids, Aunt Benet is taking the week off to enjoy the holidays with the family. So please enjoy these best ofs this week.  Happy Holidays!!

I know I usually do top aviation stories of the week, but I’m on travel, so I’m switching it up a bit.  The announcement that Frontier Airlines is rolling out a new advertising campaign — complete with television commercials — made me remember how much I love a good carrier campaign.

I’ve always been a fan of good airline commercials.  I like ones that make me laugh, that give me a sense of place and that show the wonderment of air travel.  Below are links to 10 of my favorites, in no particular order.  Which ones do you like? What did I miss?

Click HERE to see the commercials!

Best Of: Top 10 Worst Airports According To CNNGO – But I Disagree, Somewhat

26 Dec

Editor’s note: kids, Aunt Benet is taking the week off to enjoy the holidays with the family. So please enjoy these best ofs this week.  Happy Holidays!!

Having traveled in countless numbers of airports and writing about the topic for almost four years, my crap detector always goes off when I see these worst-off lists.  One these things are very subjective, and two, your experience can be different, depending on the terminal.  So here we go again, with this list from CNNGO.  Based on the airports I’ve visited, I have to agree with their choices of São Paulo-Guarulhos International, Los Angeles International and Paris Charles de Gaulle, but there’s where we part.

Number seven is JFK Airport.  Frequent travelers know that your experience at JFK depends on the terminal.  Truth be told, all the terminals at JFK are pretty nice, having had major upgrades in the past 10 years — except for T2/3, operated by Delta Air Lines. T2 is used for BusinessElite check-in, along with flights to Los Angeles. San Francisco and London Heathrow.  Everyone else boards in T3, fondly known as the Third Worldport, which is what I think CNNGO was writing about.  But don’t despair — Delta will open an expanded operation at Terminal 4 in 2013.

Number three was London Heathrow.  Again, it really depends on the terminal; and the airport has also undergone some major upgrades.  I still have nightmares about navigating the old Terminal 2, but T3 and T4 have had upgrades.  And I took an extensive tour of T5, which I think is a world-class terminal.  The CNNGO article mentioned T5′s teething pains, but that was three years ago.

So — what airports make your worst-of list?

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