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Tuesday, August 21, 2012
(Armando Trull, WAMU-- Washington, D.C.) United Airlines is coming under fire from some parents and travel advocates for outsourcing a program that escorts minors flying alone from one flight to another. On at least two occasions recently, young girls have been left alone at busy airports because the escort failed to show up.
John Galbreath of Bethesda, MD paid United Airlines a $99 fee so his 12-year-old daughter, Charlotte, who was flying alone from Wyoming, would be escorted to her connecting flight at Chicago's O'Hare airport. Charlotte arrived successfully at Reagan National Airport Sunday, although her father was more than a little upset.
"Ninety-nine [dollars] for peace of mind, which I didn't get," Galbreath said. "They outsource it to a third party, the meeting of the passenger."
No one met her at the gate in Chicago, Charlotte said. "I just kind of looked at the screen and went where I was supposed to," she said.
This past June, Phoebe Klebahn, a 10-year-old girl flying alone on United Airlines from San Francisco to her summer camp in Michigan, was left to wander for two hours because her escort didn't show up at the gate. Her parents, Anne and Perry Klebahn, got a frantic call from camp staff to say their daughter wasn't on the flight.
When they called United's customer service, they were directed to a call center in India and kept on hold for 40 minutes as they waited, terrified, to hear their daughter's fate, the girl's parents wrote in an angry letter sent to United.
Phoebe was found unharmed. Meanwhile, Galbreath and United confirm he’ll get his $99 back.
Thursday, July 05, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
(Houston, TX -- Gail Delaughter, KUHF) On the eve of a Houston City Council vote to decide whether Southwest Airlines can build a new international terminal at Hobby Airport, Mayor Annise Parker is formally throwing her support behind the proposal -- and a majority of city council members are also behind the plans.
The city council is set to vote next week on whether to allow Southwest to build a new $100 million facility at the smaller of Houston's two commercial airports. Southwest wants to build five gates and a customs facility to accommodate flights to Mexico and the Caribbean, but the proposal has faced a huge protest from United Airlines, the main tenant at Houston's hub airport, Bush Intercontinental.
United launched a huge lobbying and PR campaign against the move, predicting dire consequences for the local economy if international traffic is split between the two airports. United's own economic study forecasted a $300 million economic hit if the plan goes forward. But according to another study from the Houston Airport System, international service at Hobby would translate into a $1.6 billion economic gain.
At a Hobby Airport news conference, Parker announced that Southwest has agreed to cover the entire cost of the terminal's construction and the city will incur no debt. She also stressed that Southwest is required to abide by the city's minority and small business contracting requirements.
"That helps guarantee our local workers get a chance at the construction jobs," she said. "From the beginning I have said that my decision would be based not what is best for one or another airline, but rather on what is best for the city, the local business community, and the traveling public."
The Houston City Council is set to vote May 30 on whether to allow Southwest to begin construction. Seven council members appeared with Parker at her news conference and an eighth council member has also expressed support. That indicates a vote in Southwest's favor. If the plan wins approval, Southwest hopes to start construction on the terminal next spring.
United issued a statement after Parker's announcement, saying it's not backing off on its position that a split international airline hub would cost the city jobs and hurt its competitive advantage.
Bush Intercontinental carries the bulk of Houston's airline traffic, with about 40 million travelers passing through its gates in 2011. Hobby handled just under 10 million.
Thursday, March 15, 2012