United optimistic, pilots union not; American fears recession; mileage runners; ridiculous lawsuit; hotels rejoice; DOT changes and Australia’s woes

In other airline, hotel and travel industry news this week…

  • United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek claims he doesn’t see any signs of an “imminent recession” when looking at advance bookings. A combination of capacity discipline and fare increases has kept the carrier in the black. Smisek remarked, “We’re not seeing it in our bookings [or] in our business travel,” as he told reporters after a speech at the Executives’ Club of Chicago. At the same conference he told reporters, “It’s easy to talk culture; it’s hard to walk it,” referring to the turbulence in challenges of merging two carriers and their respective unions. Captain Wendy Morse, chairwoman of the United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) claims, “We will not stand by silently while United CEO Jeffrey Smisek inaccurately proclaims that the United-Continental merger is going along smoothly.”
  • American Airlines, on the other hand, fears a double-dip downturn in the economy. They’ve further cut capacity this year and will retire 11 Boeing 757s. Eight times the normal amount of pilot retirements also occurred in August and September this year contributing to some of the capacity cuts. It’s rumored pilots are bailing early to ensure they receive advantageous pension plans, and one post also claims it’s due to the raise in mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65.
  • Want to know more about mileage runners? Check out this amazing article that appeared this week on Fox News. BoardingArea’s founder Randy Petersen was interviewed for the article as would be expected since I consider him the “God” of frequent flyer programs. Here’s a teaser – “Would you ever fly around the world in 48-hours, or fly through Detroit eight times in a single trip just to get air miles?” We’re a unique bunch, but very passionate about why we do it.
  • A woman has sued United-Continental (and regional airlines Colgan Air and Pinnacle Airlines) claiming post-traumatic stress disorder from a flight she was on that experienced ‘extreme turbulence.’ The flight from College Station, Texas to Houston was operated by Colgan Air, which does business as Continental Connection. File this under ridiculous and the far too often litigiousness some people have thinking an opportunity has opened up. Shame on the lawyers for taking such a ridiculous case. Money, money, money rules, though.
  • Hotels in the United States posted impressive financials this summer. It has been reported, “U.S. hotel demand during the summer was higher than STR forecasted. Demand for the three months ended August 31 increased 4.2% from a year earlier, while revenue was up 8.1% to $31.2 billion.” Overall occupancy at hotels rose 3.5% and the average daily room rate similarly increased by 3.7%. No economic downturn signals this summer from the hotels.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation is looking to ensure passengers with disabilities have equal access to booking and checking-in with airlines. “Currently, the nation’s air carriers fail to use updated, accessible technology on the internet and at the airport, openly discriminating against the blind.” As such, the DOT is proposing regulations that will amend the Air Carrier Access Act to include provisions that will allow sight-impaired people to access web-only sale airfars, as well as include Braille instructions on check-in kiosks. I have a feeling the proposals will pass… it’s about time.
  • More woes for travelers in Australia this week with Qantas cancelling or delaying flights due to labor unrest, Jetstar check-in agents taking “industrial action” by self-waiving excess baggage fees for 24-hours and Customs and Border Protection staff taking similar “industrial action,” by striking this past Thursday. The Australian Prime Minister is close to stepping in requiring Qantas and their unions to re-open discussions. It’s pretty unstable in Oz right now, in some cases benefiting passengers and in some cases not.


  1. “Mile Runners Take Frequent Flyer Mileages to a Whole New Height” by Shira Levine. Clearly this Fox News writer was seriously in need of an editor. One of the most poorly written articles I’ve seen online or offline.

    • While not perfect in editing, I still think it’s a pretty good article explaining why and how we do it, with links to the appropriate websites.

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