Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘airline’

Here at Amazing Journeys, we're lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it's chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.

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Goodbye WOW

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

by Malori

Ave Shalom WOW.

I really liked WOW.  As an airline, it had a certain ‘joie de vivre’ and a style all its own.  From the magenta colored planes to the smiling but somewhat snarky attitude of the flight attendants, their uniforms and best of all, just the name WOW said it all. 


But airlines come and airlines go.  If you’ve been in the travel industry as long as I have, you understand it’s just part of the natural selection process. At the bottom of the food chain are the “low cost carriers.” They are actually doomed from the start if you ask me. An airline or any other business cannot operate on a shoestring.  While it may be nice for an airline to advertise uber low fares, they still have to maintain their planes, hire qualified pilots and have some savings for a rainy day, when something goes wrong and you need a back-up plan.  Low cost carriers usually have great fares, a few planes and a “fly by the seat of their pants” position. It’s not sustainable. Add to that the large giants of the sky, the competing carriers who are ready to wage an all out war when a low cost carrier comes into the market.  Advertising picks up, fares drop to match the new airline and before you know it, the new carrier can’t compete with the big dogs.

So while I am sad to see another carrier go, it was only a matter of time.  So long WOW. C’est la vie. Or as they say in Icelandic, svo lengi.

 

Airline fees you may not hate

Friday, October 11th, 2013

-by Erin

Within the past few years, passengers have been hit with airline fees for seemingly every part of your trip.  From booking your flight with an actual person on the phone to checking your suitcase to enjoying an in-flight snack, each transaction had travelers opening up their wallet again and again.  It was maddening how things that were once included in your day of travel are now a la carte with additional costs.  With that being said, airlines are now introducing a new slew of fees, but this time passengers might actually like them. Unlike the first generation of charges which dinged fliers for once-free services like checking a bag, these new fees promise a taste of the good life, or at least a more civil flight. Extra legroom, early boarding and access to quiet lounges were just the beginning.

Airlines are now renting Apple iPads preloaded with movies, selling hot first class meals in coach and letting passengers pay to have an empty seat next to them. Once on the ground, they can skip baggage claim, having their luggage delivered directly to their home or office. In the near future, airlines plan to go one step further, using massive amounts of personal data to customize new offers for each flier.

Carriers have struggled to raise airfares enough to cover costs. Fees bring in more than $15 billion a year and are the reason the airlines are profitable. But the amount of money coming in from older charges like baggage and reservation change fees has plateaued. So the airlines are selling new extras and copying marketing methods honed by retailers. Technological upgrades allow airlines to sell products directly to passengers at booking, in follow-up emails as trips approach, at check-in and on mobile phones minutes before boarding. Delta Air Lines recently gave its flight attendants wireless devices, allowing them to sell passengers last-second upgrades to seats with more legroom. And just like Amazon.com offers suggested readings based on each buyer’s past purchases, airlines soon will be able to use past behavior to target fliers.

Other airlines are experimenting with tracking passengers throughout the airport. In the future, if somebody clears security hours before their flight, they might be offered a discounted day pass to the airline’s lounge on their phone. Airlines have yet to find the right balance between being helpful and being creepy. So, for now, most of the data is being used to win back passengers after their flight is delayed or luggage is lost. “We want to get back to a point where people feel like travel isn’t something to endure, but something they can enjoy,” says Bob Kupbens, a former Target executive and Delta’s current vice president of marketing and digital commerce.

Southwest has held off charging for most checked bags. But it sells plenty of other add-ons. Recently, it introduced a way for people at the back of the boarding line on some flights to cut to the front for $40. Airlines now alter fees based on demand. United Airlines used to sell its Economy Plus extra legroom seats for one price per route. Today, aisle seats cost more than middle seats; prices are higher on popular flights. Airlines are also starting to bundle items. Passengers purchase items they might not necessarily buy alone; it also simplifies the dizzying array of offers. American offers a package for $68 roundtrip that includes no change fees, one checked bag and early boarding. Delta is experimenting with a $199 subscription that includes a checked bag, early boarding, access to exit row seats and extra frequent flier miles on all flights a passenger takes between now and Jan. 5.

Airlines say the fees bring a sense of fairness to the system. Why should a passenger with a small carry-on subsidize a family of four, checking suitcases? Jamie Baker, an airline analyst with JP Morgan Chase, likens it to a meal at a restaurant. “The sides are not included in the price of a steak,” he says. “Airline ticket prices should reflect the costs incurred by the individual passenger.”

Original article can be found here

CONFESSIONS OF AN AIRLINE “BAG THROWER”

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

As one of the busiest travel periods looms, so does one of the greatest travel “wonders of the world” IF! We all wonder if our bags will arrive on time, and if they will arrive in tact. At the airport, we watch our checked bags disappear into that black hole in the wall and hope against all hope that someway, somehow they will miraculously appear on the other side of our travels. If we happen to show up on time!

What goes on behind the curtain?
You might be amazed at how much manpower it takes to get your luggage on plane. Once you leave your bag at the check-in counter, it goes through a series of conveyer belts, where it may or may not be opened and searched by TSA, until it reaches the pier for your departing flight. It is then sorted into carts by one ramp agent who brings it planeside for other ramp agents to load on the airplane. And there’s a lot more than just loading and unloading your bags-there is a lot of other cargo that gets transported by air. Bag Handlers see everything from human remains to mail to fruits and vegetables coming on and off the plane. They’re also the guys directing the plane to its parking position at the gate, securing the aircraft and hooking up the ground power, and driving the push-back tug, ensuring that aircraft do not come in contact with each other.

How do bags get damaged?
It’s obvious, your checked luggage takes a beating. They call it “throwing bags” for a reason. Airplanes only make money while in the air, and no airline wants an airplane on the ground too long. Due to the nature of some aircraft, it would be impossible to turn around a 757 in an hour or less without throwing bags because it’s just faster. On these planes, there are only two long and narrow cargo holds where your luggage goes. One agent puts the bags on the belt loader, which carries it up to an agent inside the cargo hold who throws it 50 feet to the back where another agent stacks all the bags as if it were a game of Tetris. Wheels and handles oftentimes break or crack on impact, and anything fragile inside that is not packed well doesn’t stand much of a chance. Don’t put red wine or alcohol in your suitcase ever. Do not check any fragile items in a soft sided suitcase, unless it was professionally packaged. Those fragile stickers don’t get noticed very often in the rush of loading bags unless it is an obvious shape, such as a musical instrument. One good thing about the larger aircraft (747, 767, 777, 787, etc.) is that they are all loaded by machines. Your bags are just put in a can and that can is loaded on the plane by machine so there is no bag throwing. Theoretically there’s a better chance of your bag coming out unscathed if you fly on one of those jets.

How do bags get lost?
Sometimes the airport code is read incorrectly and it gets put in the wrong cart and brought to the wrong plane. Someone might mistake VCE for NCE or PDX for PHX. It happens, but not that often. It’s always important to ensure you have the correct destination on your bag tag and to keep your receipt. Secure your contact information on the outside and inside of the bag in case the outside tag falls off. If your bag ends up in a different destination, it won’t get re-routed until it reaches wherever it went and is scanned. Scanners are all wireless now and don’t always work due to bad connections or getting locked up. If time is of the essence, your bag may not get scanned. Also, if you have a tight connection, you may be able to make it, but your bag may not. On smaller regional flights, many times bags are not loaded or taken off due to weight and balance limits. This is for safety reasons and ensures a safe take off and landing weight. So ideally, try to avoid those planes.

What kind of suitcases get damaged least? The most?
Cheap bags that you buy at the discount store break very easily. If your handle is sewn on or is very flimsy, it’s probably going to break. If you travel a lot or pack heavy, make sure you buy a quality, durable bag. Hard-sided suitcases will get less damage, but also look for well-designed handles that are attached with rivets and some sort of protection around the wheels. Speaking of wheels, the best bags to get are the “spinners” with four wheels on the bottom. We like these because we don’t have to throw them when loading. We just roll them down the belly of the plane so your bag and its contents will suffer much less damage.

Should I worry about theft?
There are no cameras inside the belly of the plane. Always use the TSA-approved locks to lock a suitcase. This not only prevents someone from easily taking something, but also keeps the bag closed securly. Bag Handlers see open bags all the time because the zipper just started coming apart, and yes, things do fall out of these open bags. Sometimes, they see it and can put whatever came out back in the bag it came from, but sometimes there are just random items strewn around the belly. If it’s a random piece of clothing or a shoe, those won’t go down the baggage claim belt too well and just get discarded eventually.

How can passengers prevent their bags from going astray?
The main thing to do is keep your bag tag receipt so you can track your bag. If it didn’t get scanned on the flight, it will get scanned eventually when it reaches a station. Also, try to plan sufficient ground time for your bag to make its connection. Thirty minutes isn’t always enough at a big airport like Atlanta.

And you thought the Scots only played bagpipes…

Monday, June 13th, 2011

As Amazing Journeys prepares to take nearly 100 eager and excited travelers to Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales on our Jewish singles cruise to the British Isles, everyone accepts that its simply part of the process to have to find a way to get there.  These days flying is such a challenge and potentially full of stories-in-the-making that we, as airline passengers, share an almost-kinship to the whole experience.  From fares that change by the minute, to the friendly (right!) customer service, to precarious delays and added charges for anything from luggage to food to snacks and booking fees….you never really know what an airplane ticket will cost you until you finally get off the dang flight. 

Well, here’s a little perspective as conveyed entertainingly by a few Scottish ladies.  Apropos given our upcoming Amazing Journeys destination that includes Scotland. 

Feel free to sing along….or just have a little laugh.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPyl2tOaKxM