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LAST CHANCE! $35 to $50 off your next Spirit flight

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, June 29, 2009

Save $50 on your next trip with Spirit Airlines. Just enter promo code 50Off at time of purchase. This deal is good for round-trip travel between August 11 and November 17.

For round-trip travel between November 18 and April 30, enter promo code 35OFF to save $35.

Both offers expire tonight at 11:59 PM ET. For more info, visit Spiritair.com.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Domestic US Fares

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Did airline deregulation "work"? Think tank makes compelling argument that it did not

Posted by George Hobica on Sunday, June 28, 2009

We've polled our users on whether they think airlines should be "re-regulated," and a slight majority believe that dereg is just fine that way it is. But Demos, which describes itself as a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization, makes a convincing argument that deregulation has been a disaster all around.

Headquartered in New York City, Demos works with advocates and policymakers around the country in pursuit of four overarching goals:

  • a more equitable economy with widely shared prosperity and opportunity;

  • a vibrant and inclusive democracy with high levels of voting and civic engagement;

  • an empowered public sector that works for the common good;

  • and responsible U.S. engagement in an interdependent world.

Their June 26, 2009 media release makes interesting reading:


Contact: Tim Rusch, Demos, trusch@demos.org or (917) 399-0236

New Demos Report Examines Impact of Airline Deregulation

Safety, Labor and Passenger Concerns Highlighted; Calls for National Task Force to Investigate Air Travel Problems

View online at www.demos.org

New York--A spate of airline tragedies and near misses this year, including the crash of a Continental/Colgan flight heading into Buffalo, New York, have called America's attention to the deeply troubled state of the airline industry. Since 2000, U.S. airlines' net losses have exceeded $33 billion--almost twice their accumulated profits from 1938 to 1999. Eleven domestic airlines filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008 alone; nine shut down altogether. The surviving companies have slashed costs, with some resorting to steps that threaten passenger safety.

In "Flying Blind: Airline Deregulation Reconsidered", a wide-ranging new Demos report on the industry, co-authors James Lardner and Robert Kuttner point to preliminary findings in the Buffalo investigation that the pilot and co-pilot lacked crucial experience and training, and "down time" between flights. Since the crash, critics have raised questions about the little-known regional airlines that now handle a growing proportion of domestic flights, effectively acting as subcontractors to the big brand-name airlines. The major carriers have been widely faulted for farming out more and more flights to these smaller companies, which, in many cases, appear to have significantly less rigorous hiring and training standards.

The authors highlight that regional carriers now account for roughly 35 percent of all flight-hours, more than double the 16 percent share that these companies held at the beginning of the decade. At that time, the report shows, two-thirds of all heavy aircraft maintenance was performed in-house, while today more than 70 percent of the work is outsourced, leaving federal inspectors scrambling to keep up with nearly 5,000 repair facilities in the U.S. and abroad.

The report links these practices to a precipitous decline in service standards and labor practices. While many industry leaders blame the airlines' difficulties on the price of fuel and the current economic crisis, "Flying Blind" uncovers a three-decade-long pattern of declining profitability and rising instability. The industry ran up huge losses in the early 1980s and again in the early 1990s.

"Each of those periods, too, was marked by a wave of bankruptcies and layoffs," Lardner and Kuttner note. "The economic downturn of 2000 and 2001 sent the airline industry into another tailspin, with nine airlines filing for bankruptcy before September 11."

The report traces the industry's current troubles back to the decision, three decades ago, to lift most federal regulation of air travel.

"Deregulation was supposed to lead to a dramatically expanded universe of airlines--companies big and small, old and new, competing and innovating for the public benefit," the authors write. Instead, "Today's industry is more concentrated than ever, yet lacks the resources and motivation to make crucial investments in equipment, technology, and human capital. And most of the major U.S. airlines appear to have no long-term strategy except more of the same--more outsourcing, more service cutbacks and hidden charges, more wage and benefit reductions, and more consolidation in the hope of surviving long enough to be in a position to turn a profit and expand again during a future economic recovery."

Even many of the original champions of deregulation have acknowledged their failure to anticipate some of the key results. By the late 1980s, the economist Alfred Kahn, who has been called the "father of airline deregulation," was highlighting that the "naturally monopolistic or oligopolistic character of most airline markets...would continue under deregulation."

Kahn and others have taken refuge in the argument that deregulation has produced lower airfares and wider access to air travel. The Demos report concludes that even this benefit is widely overstated. "While the price of flying has come down over the past thirty years," the report notes, "it decreased at a comparable rate from the 1940 through the 1960s. In any event, low airfares are as much a problem as an achievement if they leave an industry without the resources to maintain service standards and make crucial investments in equipment, technology, and human capital."

The report makes clear an urgent need for Congress and the relevant executive agencies to make a thorough-going study of the industry's troubles. The authors recommend creation of a federal task force to examine the industry's problems and propose solutions. Specifically, they call on the task force to:

--Develop a plan to moderate the booms and busts and build a more stable domestic airline industry. Here, the remedies could include capital-reserve requirements and bankruptcy reform.

--Expedite (and establish stable financing for) a modernized Air Traffic Control (ATC) network.

--Develop coordinated national and regional transportation plans, with provision for high speed rail networks to eliminate the need for excessive short-haul air traffic.

--Devise a code of customer service that would, among other things, protect passengers from wildly varying prices and establish more uniform procedures for ensuring remuneration and rebooking when a flight is delayed or cancelled.

--Promote more equitable and stable labor practices and return to the pre-deregulation practice of pattern bargaining in order to discourage airline competition based on low wages and high-pressure working conditions.

--Insist on uniform airline safety standards, including mechanic credentials and oversight of maintenance facilities.

--Develop new regulations to curtail airline consolidation and promote genuine competition where feasible, while, at the same time, cracking down on monopoly pricing and the other abuses of concentration on routes that are incapable of supporting more than one or two carriers.

STATISTICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

--Out of roughly 150 low-cost airlines founded since 1978, fewer than a dozen are still operating; they account for only about 10 percent of current airline capacity.

--Before deregulation, there were 11 major trunkline carriers; today, the country has six large mainline carriers--American, United, Delta, Continental, US Airways, and Southwest. The first three, along with their regional partners, control two-thirds of domestic air travel.

--More than 100,000 pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, ticket agents, cargo handlers, and other airline workers who lost their jobs since 2001.

--The number of people on the payroll of the legacy airlines dropped 26 percent between 1998 and 2006.

--DOT Data for US Airways, United, Delta, American and Northwest show labor costs falling by nearly a third, on average, between the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2006.

--According to the U.S. DOT, 2008 total baggage-fee charges by U.S Airlines came to more than $1.1 billion--a figure that is expected to triple by 2010.

--In 2007, more than a quarter of all flights were delayed, accounting for 112 million lost passenger hours.

--More than 100 communities have lost air service over the past decade.

 

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airline Industry News

More to Love, More to Pay?

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, June 26, 2009

Should obese passengers be required to buy an extra seat? It's a question we've asked before around here, and one that people feel very strongly about. Today, CNN tackles the subject once again, citing policies from both Southwest and United.

According to their article, "U.S. obesity rates have mushroomed during the last 25 years, but the width of a coach airplane seat has changed little, remaining between 17 and 18 inches in most commercial planes."

The article also goes on to point out that economy seating is cramped for average-sized passengers too (you probably knew that) and most "seat space invasions" are due to wide shoulders. We can certainly vouch for that, what with all the millions of beverage cart wackings our poor shoulders have suffered through the years. Ouch!

So does more to love mean more to pay? Comment below.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Airline Industry News

We're hiring airfare analysts

Posted by George Hobica on Friday, June 26, 2009

Do you love finding low airfares, either for yourself or family and friends? Great! How would you like doing it for millions of people?

Airfarewatchdog.com, named "Best Cheap Flight Finder" by Money Magazine, is on the hunt for someone like you. You'll help maintain our fare database, scouring every possible source to find the lowest possible fares in various markets.

When we say we're hiring "Fare Analysts," it's not just a fancy name we made up. You'll actually be analyzing airfares, using your noggin and not a computer program, to see if an airfare is a "deal" or not.

As an Airfarewatchdog Fare Analyst, you'll spend your day asking, and answering, questions like these--questions that those automated airfare sites can't answer, because only real live human people like you can:

1) OK, so JetBlue is offering a $20 off coupon today on all flights. Their lowest fare from New York to LA is $218. But US Air has that route for $148 today. But US Air isn't nonstop. So which is the better deal? JetBlue for $218-$20 on a nonstop or the US Air sale fare? Or are both "decent" fares?

2) Spirit Airlines is offering 9 cent fares again, plus a $50 off "coupon". Does that mean that their Boston to Myrtle Beach fare really less than $0, since the taxes on that route are $35?

3) Baltimore to Detroit on Travelocity is $98 today. But Travelocity and Orbitz and the rest don't include Southwest's fares. So what is Southwest.com charging on that route today?

4) LA to London is pretty darn expensive for summer travel right now. Should we wait until there's a sale to list fares on Airfarewatchdog? Wait, Air New Zealand flies that route and sometimes has low fares you can only buy on their site. Let's see what they're offering today.

5) Southwest just announced a 50% off coupon code to Phoenix. Oops, looks like United has reacted with fares that are a bit lower. But many of Southwest's fares to Phoenix are valid on nonstop flights. Which fares should we tell people about?

It's sort of like being a travel agent, but you're not actually booking--just looking. And instead of doing it for one person at a time, you're doing it for thousands.

This is a full time work at home posititon (you're welcome to work in our offices if you insist, but isn't it more fun to do it in your PJs? :), however you must be available for training in our Midtown offices for approximately 4-8 weeks. In additon to a competitive salary, we offer 3 weeks paid vacation, paid holidays, priced health, dental, and vision insurance; matching 401K; tuition assistance; and others. We also provide computer equipment. We are a Macintosh office, so familiarity with Macs is helpful but not required. You'll typically work no more than 29 hours/week. Some weekend work is required. Hours are reasonably flexible and  We require a BS/BA degree or higher, or equivalent.

The successful candidate will have the ability to work independently at home in a distraction-free environment. Speed, accuracy, brains, and attention to detail are key attributes we're looking for. You must also live in an area with high speed cable or Verizon FIOS internet service.

Please do not apply for this position if you do not live in or within commuting distance of New York City.

To apply, please send a one-page cover letter telling us why you're the perfect candidate along with a resume to: jobs@airfarewatchdog.com. Only qualified candiates chosen for an interview will be contacted.

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfarewatchdog News

The Spirit Hot Sale & 50% Off Coupon

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, June 25, 2009

Book by 11:59pm EST June 26 to take advantage of the latest $9 Fare Club sale from Spirit. Travel periods vary according to destination and require a 7-day advance purchase. Other non-member sale fares are available for travel between July 2 and November 15, and can be booked until June 30.

Spirit is also offering a $50 coupon (not to be used in combination with other sales, ahem) when entering the promo code 50OFF at time of purchase. Coupon is good for $50 off round-trip flights.

 

 

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Domestic US Fares

Closed For Business: Clear Airport Security Lanes

Posted by Tim Charters on Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The dreaded airport security line. We've all been stuck in line behind the one passenger who forgets to take off every piece of metal jewelry, uses 5 bins to send their items through the scanners, and brings the entire security process to a screaching halt. Well, unfortunately, the security line just got a little longer with the sudden closure of the leading registered traveler program.

The Clear program, a fast-track security lane for airline passengers, has ceased operations at 18 airports as of yesterday. Major airports such as Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis, Orlando, San Francisco and the three New York City airports are affected by the program's bankruptcy.

Verified Identity Pass, Inc. which operated the CLEAR lanes, has posted the following statement:

As you can imagine, the news of Clear's failure is bad news for its registered travelers. Besides missing out on a quick trip through the security line, participants in the Clear program should not expect to get their $200 annual fee back. Currently, refunds will not be issued to registered travelers and, with creditors already lining up, participants in the four-year old program should not expect a refund anytime soon, if ever.

Verified Identity Pass is not very forthcoming with additional details on the program's failure. For those individuals registered in the Clear program, check out these other articles from USA Today, CNN, Wired Magazine, and The Los Angeles Times concerning the program's sudden demise.

Categories: Airline Industry News

New Service to Milwaukee from Southwest Airlines

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Schlameel, Schlamazel, Hassenpepper incorporated!" Ok, so maybe Southwest won't be skipping down any Milwaukee sidewalks, singing the intro of Laverne & Shirely, but they will begin flying to/from Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport on November 1.

Southwest will offer three daily round-trips to Baltimore/Washington and Kansas City, two to Las Vegas and Orlando, and one to Phoenix and Tampa.

Introductory sale fares are available for purchase by July 30, for travel November 1 through December 17, with blackout dates November 24-25, and November 20 - 30.

 

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Domestic US Fares

Fares Across America Sale from Frontier

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The latest sale from Frontier is good for Monday-Saturday travel from August 10 through January 15. All tickets require a 14-day advance purchase, and must be booked by 9:59 om MDT, June 30.

Fares include:

Albuquerque to Billings $158 round-trip

Atlanta to Colorado Springs $198 round-trip

Austin to Denver $128 round-trip

Billings to San Diego $178 round-trip

Nashville to Salt Lake City $218 round-trip

Denver to San Francisco $128 round-trip

Washington DC to San Francisco $192 round-trip

Las Vegas to Kansas City $152 round-trip

 

 

 

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Domestic US Fares

JetBlue offering lower prices on its own site, plus bonus $20 PayPal credit

Posted by George Hobica on Monday, June 22, 2009

JetBlue, like many airlines, are often sell fares for less on its own site than they do through metasearch engines such as Kayak or online booking sites such as Orbitz. Plus, as do many airlines, JetBlue often throws in added incentives to book on their site. The latest? A $20 credit to your PayPal account, but only if you book on their site.

Example: Ft. Lauderdale to Cancun is on sale for $58 RT plus a boat load of taxes (final price $134 RT) in a current JetBlue sale.  But you'd pay $20 more if you booked on Orbitz, and you wouldn't get the $20 credit.

Same flights, same dates found on Kayak (and sending you to Orbitz) $154 RT with tax:

 

 

Or you could pay $134 RT if booked directly on JetBlue.com, plus get $20 paid into your PayPal account to spend any way you wish.

 

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfare Tips

JetBlue Beach Sale to Caribbean, Mexico, Bermuda

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, June 22, 2009

If the local beaches just aren't cutting it, check out JetBlue's Life's a Beach sale, good for travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Bermuda. Most fares must be booked by June 26, 11:59 pm MT, for travel between July 14 and October 6. Fares include:

Boston to Bermuda $293 round-trip,including all taxes

Boston to Cancun $254 round-trip, including all taxes

Ft Lauderdale to Cancun $134 round-trip, including all taxes

Ft Lauderdale to Santo Domingo $247 round-trip, including all taxes

Washington DC to Cancun $261 round-trip, including all taxes

Travel from New York to Aruba, Cancun, St. Maarten, Nassau, Jamaica, and/or Bermuda: travel must take place on Monday, Tuesday, and/or Wednesday. For travel from Aruba, Cancun, St. Maarten, Nassau, Jamaica, and/or Bermuda to New York City, travel must take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and/or Thursday. For travel from Boston to Bermuda and from Orlando to Costa Rica: travel must take place on Monday, Tuesday, and/or Wednesday. For travel from Bermuda to Boston and from Costa Rica to Orlando: travel must take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and/or Thursday. For travel between New York City and Puerto Rico: travel must take place on Tuesday and/or Wednesday. For travel between Florida and Puerto Rico: travel must take place on Tuesday and/or Wednesday. For travel between Washington DC and Puerto Rico: travel must take place on Saturday. For travel between Washington DC and Cancun and/or Boston and Cancun: travel must take place on Saturday. For travel between Florida and Cancun: travel must take place on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and/or Friday. For travel between Fort Lauderdale and/or Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic: travel must take place on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and/or Saturday.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Caribbean/Mexico/Latin America Airfares
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