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Airlines

The Brian Lehrer Show

How the Germanwings Crash Affects Our Notion of Suicide and Mental Illness

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The revelations that the Germanwings co-pilot who deliberately crashed the plane in the French Alps has sparked a debate on suicide, mental illness and how we deal with those issues.

Comments [20]

The Takeaway

How Airlines Cash In on Our Discomfort

Monday, January 05, 2015

Flying is more uncomfortable than ever, and the airlines made it that way. If you want relief, you have to pay. 

Comments [5]

WQXR Blog

New Rules for Musical Instruments on Planes Take Flight

Thursday, January 01, 2015

After nearly three years in legal limbo, the government has finalized federal rules for bringing musical instruments onto commercial flights.
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Comments [2]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Orbitz Isn't Cheaper, and Other Things We Learned About Plane Tickets

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Airlines are trying to wrestle power back from travel sites like Orbitz, which still don't always have cheaper tickets. Here are 5 things you should know before flying this weekend.

Comments [4]

Operavore

Video: Verdi Flashmob Surprises Airplane Passengers

Monday, June 30, 2014

What's perhaps most impressive is that Alfredo and Violetta's "Brindisi" unfolds in a small regional jet.

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Comments [2]

WQXR Features

Café Concert: Time for Three

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Within the last month, the string trio Time for Three has had the unusual distinction of being covered by the Today Show, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, The Strad and yes, WQXR. Here's why.

Comments [1]

Transportation Nation

Delta Changes Frequent-Flier Program, Social Media Erupts

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The airline will now calculate miles earned based not on how far you fly, but how much you pay for the ticket.

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World Weekly with Gideon Rachman

China and Japan in the struggle of the century

Thursday, December 05, 2013

China and Japan in the struggle of the century

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Transportation Nation

Nose Gear Collapse Under Review in Southwest Airlines Rough-Landing

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WNYC

The Nation Transportation Safety Board is reviewing the data and cockpit voice recorder of Southwest Flight 345 to determine why the front landing gear collapsed upon landing Monday night. 

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WQXR Blog

Precious Chinese Instrument Damaged in Airline Mishap

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A precious Chinese instrument worth $50,000 and belonging to the noted musician Wu Man was damaged on a US Airways flight on Friday. She blames a flight attendant for dropping it.

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Transportation Nation

Gadgets Could Be Allowed on Planes Soon

Friday, June 21, 2013

Marketplace

The Federal Aviation Administration issued rules on gadgets in flight when cellphones first became popular. There were fears they could interfere with planes’ navigational systems. So passengers are told to turn off their electronic devices at the beginning and end of a flight. But today’s gadgets have weaker signals. So, some experts say, interference should be less of a problem.

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Transportation Nation

Interview: John Mica Argues for Airport Expansion Over "Shortsighted" Airline Objections

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

WMFE

The former chair of the House Transportation Committee supports expanding the airport in his home district, but opposition is coming from an unexpected corner: airlines. Congressman John Mica (R-Fla.) speaks with WMFE's Matthew Peddie about an airport as an engine of regional growth.

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Transportation Nation

Few Major D.C.-Area Flight Delays Three Days Into Furloughs

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

WAMU

When automatic federal spending cuts under a process known as sequestration loomed in March, federal officials warned the furloughs of air traffic controllers would snarl the air travel system and leave passengers waiting in terminals for hours.

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Transportation Nation

When Airlines Outgrow Their Computers

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Marketplace

It's not clear what caused American's problems with its computer system.

“American’s not telling anyone exactly one happened,” said Brett Snyder, who runs the blog crankyflier.com. He says all we know is that the link between American Airlines and its reservation system, known as Sabre, went down. “And so American was unable to do a lot of things that are required of daily business."

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Comments [2]

The Takeaway

Japanese Airlines Ground Boeing 787 Fleets

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Today an emergency landing of a Japanese flight has grounded the All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircrafts. Clive Irving, senior consulting editor at Condé Nast Traveler, explores the problems facing Boeing going forward.

Comments [1]

Conducting Business

The Pitfalls of Carrying Musical Instruments on Planes

Monday, August 27, 2012

A recent incident involving a checked cello raised new questions of how airlines set rules about which musical instruments are allowed on board.

Comments [10]

Annotations: The NEH Preservation Project

Girls Who Fly: 1965 Angel Derby Pilots Are Told Sexism Doesn't Exist

Thursday, July 26, 2012

WNYC

This Overseas Press Club conference is a reminder of the unfortunately routine institutionalized gender oppression in American industry. Featuring deft pilots in the Angel Derby, an all-female air race from New York to the Bahamas, this panel's male moderator and reporters dole out condescension and hostility, but "the girls" hold steady despite the dismissive questioning. 

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Transportation Nation

Congressman Nadler: Families That Fly Together Should Be Seated Together

Thursday, July 12, 2012

(photo by caribb via flickr)

(UPDATED 3:37) Families who travel by plane have probably had the experience of being told they can't be seated together -- and that their only recourse is to hope their fellow passengers are willing to switch seats.

It's disconcerting -- and becoming more common. Because as airlines ramp up policies that charge additional fees for aisle and window seats, it's getting harder for people to request seats together without paying a premium (as AP reported earlier this year.)

This tension has led to headlines like "Do Airlines Hate Families?" (One answer to that question, from the Los Angeles Times, is no -- but they "love revenue more.")

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has proposed legislation called the Families Flying Together Act of 2012. It would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to direct each carrier to “establish a policy to ensure, to the extent practicable, that a family that purchases tickets for a flight with that air carrier is seated together during that flight; and (2) make the policy…available to the public on an appropriate Internet Web site of the air carrier."

According to an emailed statement, Nadler said “air travel is complicated and expensive enough for families without adding new stresses. Families should not be stuck paying hidden fees, or buying ‘premium’ seats, simply because they wish to be seated together on crowded flights.  It is positively absurd to expect a two or three-year-old to sit unattended, next to strangers, on an airplane.  It is up to air carriers to make their seating policies clear and easily accessible to the public.”

But Airlines for America, an industry lobbying group, called the legislation unnecessary. Steve Lott, the group's VP, said "airlines have always worked cooperatively with their customers to seat parties, including those traveling with children, together. The great news for consumers and families is that the airline industry is hugely competitive, and customers have choices of airlines and different products within airlines." He added: "As with all other products and industries, it is the market that can—and should—determine how air travel is priced, not the government.”

 

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Airlines Can be Deadly for Pets: 35 Died in 2011

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dogs, planes (photo by: flickr user derekb)

 

For 35 pet travelers, 2011 was the end of the line.

More than half of the deceased, 19 pets, flew Delta airlines. All of the deaths happened in the cargo holds of the planes, government documents show.

The pets ranged from dogs and cats to a chinchilla.  It boarded a Delta flight at New York’s JFK Airport last June for the second leg of its journey from St. Louis to Moscow, Russia.  The airline notes that the flight was delayed 44 minutes in St. Louis before departure for New York.

Still, the pet chinchilla appeared fine to the Delta crew at JFK, according to a Live Animal Incident Report.  Without warning, the chinchilla arrived in Moscow deceased.  The airline was forced to ship the pet, without its owner, back to New York, because Russian authorities refused to allow the dead animal into the country.

Other airlines also noted pet deaths last year; five animals died on American Airlines, three on Continental and two perished on United.  The pet injury and death figures are drawn from the January-December 2011 Airline Reports to USDOT of Incidents Involving the Loss, Injury or Death of Animals During Air Transportation.  The lost and deceased pet tallies are included in the U.S. DOT's Air Travel Consumer Report.  The 2011 figures are lower than in 2010, when 39 animals died.  Delta again recorded the most pet deaths, with 16; Continental had six.  Far fewer pets perished in 2009 - about 23 total.  Nine animals died on American Airlines that year.

Delta’s record for pet deaths this January was no better than its record in January of 2011 – it again recorded one pet death for the month.  American Airlines also recorded one death for January.  Monthly 2012 reports can be found here.

The most recent death involved T Bone, a 1 year old Yorkshire Terrier traveling from Frankfurt, Germany to Nashville via Atlanta on January 13, 2012.  In the Incident Report, Delta notes that there were no indications of a problem with the cargo hold being too hot or too cold.  Yet the necropsy indicated the tiny Terrier died from hypoxia, “perhaps associated with seizures, hypoglycemia, or hyperthermia.”

Other Delta victims include Coco, a 9-month old English Bull Dog who traveled from Stuttgart, Germany to Philadelphia via Atlanta.  The puppy was found unresponsive when unloaded in Atlanta, “less than 10 minutes after the aircraft had parked,” according the Delta’s Live Animal Incident Report.

Cats also died on Delta.  Phoebe, an 11-year-old short hair, was traveling with her companion kitty Newman, from Pittsburgh to Phoenix through Atlanta.  The flight was just ten minutes behind schedule, and the airline reported temperatures in the 60s.  But when the flight landed in Atlanta, the ramp crew noticed Phoebe was unresponsive, lying in the back of her crate.  She had passed away.  Newman had to do the final leg of the journey without his buddy.  A necropsy revealed that Phoebe died of chronic heart failure.

Some of the incidents over the years involved older pets, or dogs that are susceptible to breathing problems, like Bull Dogs.  But others involved younger, less at-risk animals.  Like Katie, a 6 year old yellow Labrador Retriever whose last trip was from Pensacola to Atlanta last July.  Her final destination was supposed to be Baltimore.

Katie boarded her first flight with no issues.  Scattered clouds flecked the Pensacola sky.  Temperatures were moderate to warm, about 75 to 80 degrees.  The ground crew reported that Katie made it to Atlanta without incident.  Delta personnel then transported the middle aged Lab via temperature controlled van to await the next leg of her journey to Baltimore.  Katie boarded her second flight.  It was scheduled to leave at 1:50 pm.  But apparently the plane was delayed; the Captain and ground crew “were informed the delay would only be brief,” according to the Incident Report.

But two hours later, the flight still waited in the sweltering Atlanta summer heat for take-off clearance.  At 5:33 pm, the crew got the go-ahead for departure.  Yet somehow, the report stated, the flight was still on the ground at 7:46 pm, delayed an additional two hours.

Around that time, the crew finally got instructions to return the plane to the gate.  When ground handlers opened the cargo bin door, there was Katie, non-responsive inside her kennel.  Katie’s necropsy report is still pending according to the report, even though her death happened almost 8 months ago.

After Katie died, Delta apparently took action.  The airline stated in the report that it will try to ensure the crew is notified if there’s a pet in the cargo section of the plane when flights are delayed.  “As a result of the animal’s death, our Load Center will pull another Load Manifest in order to determine if an animal exists on a delayed aircraft,” stated the Delta report.

Some of the Animal Incident Reports indicate pets injured themselves during flights, desperate to break free of their crates.  Rides in cargo holds can be grueling, with extreme temperature swings.

In March 2011, a Chihuahua traveling Delta Airlines between Atlanta and Buffalo lost three lower incisor crown teeth chewing the handle and front corner of its crate.  Last January a Golden Retriever reportedly chewed and then tried to swallow the zip ties that secured its kennel door during a flight.  The ties ended up lodged in its throat – a vet anesthetized the dog and managed to remove the obstruction.  Both dogs survived their ordeals.

The airline Incident Reports are required since passage of a federal law, the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act.

A necropsy isn’t always in the mix.  In Coco’s case, the puppy, one was performed.  It found that Coco, due to stress, “regurgitated food consumed prior to transportation which aspirated into the trachea and lungs,” stated the report.  Essentially, the puppy choked.  The vet also noticed “indications of a preexisting respiratory infection which was still inflamed,” according to the report.

TN reached out to Delta Airlines, sending emails and making several calls, but there's been no response as yet.  Airlines can make substantial ancillary revenue in part from pet transportation fees.   According to recent figures, TN reported that Delta earned the most revenue of any reporting airline from ancillary sources like pet transport fees, in the third quarter of 2011.  To see the additional Miscellaneous Operating Revenue data, go to BTS Schedule P-1.2.

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Transportation Nation

Airline Employment Up for 13th Month

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics says passenger airlines employed 2.7 percent more workers in December 2011 than they did in December 2010, making it the 13th straight month of growth.

Here's the BTS release:

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.7 percent more workers in December 2011 than they did in December 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today. This is the 13th consecutive month that full-time equivalent employee (FTE) levels for the scheduled passenger carriers have been higher than the same month of the previous year.  FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the December FTE total of 389,728 for the scheduled passenger carriers was 10,077 more than that of December 2010. These monthly increases reflect gradual improvement in the industry’s employment following declines that began in July 2008. Historic employment data can be found on the BTS web site.

Of the network airlines, only Delta Air Lines, which has been eliminating duplicate positions following its merger with Northwest Airlines, decreased employment from December 2010 to December 2011. Continental Airlines reported 14.5 percent more FTEs in December 2011 than in December 2010, the largest increase among the network carriers. US Airways followed Continental with a 2.9 percent increase. Network airlines operate a significant portion of flights using at least one hub where connections are made for flights to down-line destinations or spoke cities.

All seven low-cost carriers reported more FTEs in December 2011 than in December 2010, except for Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines, which reported a 1.2 percent decrease and a 4.9 percent decrease, respectively. The low-cost carriers with more reported FTEs are Virgin America Airlines, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways, AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines.

Among the 17 regional carriers, the six carriers reporting reduced employment levels compared to last year were Horizon Airlines, Republic Airlines, Comair, Mesaba Airlines, Mesa Airlines and Executive Airlines.

Scheduled passenger airline categories include network, low-cost, regional and other airlines.

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