Archive for airlines

Climate change? Pfft! say deniers. But money talks, and right now it's screaming.


climate change Jack and Jill

Climate change, schlimate change, what a bunch of hooey, because, brrr, it's cold! Clearly, that means there's no global warming, right? Wrong.

Psst! Weather is not the same as climate, denier geniuses:

noun \ˈwe-thər\

: the state of the air and atmosphere at a particular time and place : the temperature and other outside conditions (such as rain, cloudiness, etc.) at a particular time and place

: bad or stormy weather


noun \ˈklī-mət\

:  a region of the earth having specified climatic conditions

a: the average course or condition of the weather at a place usually over a period of years as exhibited by temperature, wind velocity, and precipitation

Now that that's settled, let's take a little peek at how increasingly extreme weather conditions, likely caused by overall climate change, are affecting more than what we wear. As we speak, we are seeing an alarming economic impact. As I read my morning Los Angeles Times, several articles scattered throughout the Business section caught my eye, and not in a good way:

1. Stocks dive on fresh growth worries:

Stocks were pounded by discouraging data released Monday on manufacturing, auto sales and construction spending.

You're probably asking, "Yeah? So? What does that have to do with climate change?" Plenty:

2. GM, Ford, Toyota auto sales plunge with January's cold weather:

Arctic-like weather across much of the nation put a freeze on January auto sales. [...] General Motors said Monday that its U.S. sales fell 12% in January to 171,486 vehicles compared with the same month a year earlier. [...] The automaker said its sales were the worst in the South, Midwest and Northeast, all areas that suffered from the extreme cold. [...]

Ford Motor Co. said its January fell 7% to 154,644.

Given the difficult weather in our largest sales regions, we are fortunate to have held in at retail as well as we did,” said John Felice, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service. [...]

Toyota reported January sales results of 146,365 vehicles, a 7.2% decrease from what it sold in the U.S. in the same month a year earlier.

“January was off to a solid start, but the weather conditions slowed industry sales in key markets late in the month,” said Bill Fay, Toyota’s division group vice president and general manager.

but wait there's more smaller

3. Manufacturing activity slows in January; stocks slump:

"A number of comments from the panel cite adverse weather conditions as a factor negatively impacting their businesses in January," said Bradley Holcomb, chair of the Institute for Supply Management's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

4. California citrus season shortened by December freeze:

Consumers will have less time to get their hands on California citrus this year because of a cold snap in early December that damaged $441-million worth of fruit in the San Joaquin Valley, an industry study released Monday said. [...]

An estimated 40% of the [mandarin orange] crop that remained on trees were lost. That amounts to 4.7-million 40-pound cartons and $150 million in lost revenue. [...]

About 30% of the navel crop was lost in the valley, the heart of the state’s agriculture industry. That amounted to 22 million 40-pound cartons or $260 million worth of navels.

Valley lemon producers lost 20% of their crop, equal to $24 million in lost revenue.

And finally...
tadaa35. 'Polar vortex' wallops fliers' wallets:

Flights canceled in January's "polar vortex" inflicted $2.5 billion in costs on stranded travelers, according to a new analysis. The $2.5-billion figure represents lost productivity, hotel expenses and meals, MasFlight reported. The airline industry lost $75 million to $150 million. [...]

To avoid the hefty fines, airlines are now more likely to cancel flights during bad weather. [...] [T]he weather woes could take a bite out of the bottom line for some of the nation's biggest airlines.

"They'll definitely take a financial hit," Counter said.

All of those stories appeared in just one day, in one section of my paper.

And while all this is taking a financial and emotional toll, we have the filthy, "game over," disaster-in-waiting Keystone XL tar sands pipeline looming.

Hope the weather's good wherever you are, because the overall climate-- whether economic, psychological, political, or meteorological-- is chilling.


Is There Really A Need For A Law Against This?


airline seat phones

For years I've been flying cross country and over that time there were needs to make a call during that 5 hour flight. At one time, there used to be airline phones built into the back of the seats in front of you. You'd swipe your credit card and place your call.

Then with the advent of cell phones, most airlines discontinued these airline phones because they couldn't really justify you not using your own cell phone and make you use theirs at a jacked up cost. So they created the fear that using a personal cell phone would cause your plane to crash and kill you. Not exactly subtle and not exactly true.

Now the FAA has relaxed its rules and is making it okay, leaving it to the airline's discretion, for passengers to use their personal cellphones and other communication devices to make calls once the plane has reached a certain elevation.

Will this be a nuissance for many passengers? You bet. But should there be a law against it? Depends on who you ask.

The Hill:

Political momentum to keep a ban on cellphone calls during flights gained momentum Monday as lawmakers said it would be crazy to allow them.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) became the second lawmaker after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to offer legislation to keep the ban in place.

“Let’s face it, airplane cabins are by nature noisy, crowded, and confined,” said Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “For those few hours in the air with 150 other people, it’s just common sense that we all keep our personal lives to ourselves and stay off the phone.”

I can't say that I don't understand this argument, but I've been in a number of restaurants and they are confined areas where they can get noisy by default and yet they don't prohibit phone calls.

Lawmakers in favor of keeping the ban say they’re not worried about the safety of passengers. They’re worried about their sanity.

“For passengers, being able to use their phones and tablets to get online or send text messages is a useful in-flight option,” Shuster said. “But if passengers are going to be forced to listen to the gossip in the aisle seat, it’s going to make for a very long flight.”

Well, it's nice to see that the GOP lawmakers are not worried about the safety of passengers. That's reassuring. Sanity is their concern. If only that were the case. For if sanity was the determining factor, they'd be on the 'no fly' list.

Certainly I think consideration should be made for those who don't wish to hear the yapping. For years they had smoking and non smoking areas of planes. Maybe that would be a better option, Passing a law against using a cellphone or tablet with internet connections seems extreme.

So perhaps there are options outside the total banning of making a call. And maybe even beefing up the authority of the airline personnel to request a caller keep it down. Currently they have the right to refuse alcohol drink service to anyone they feel is becoming disruptive. You can take away their phone privileges just as easily.

Time for the GOP to settle down into issues that we really need to address. Stop nibbling at the perimeter and start dealing with substantive considerations like immigration, economy, jobs, middle east nuclear weapon disarmament, and making health care work. Airline phone courtesy is best left to the air carrier. Elected officials time is best spent on the public they serve.

UPDATE: Late yesterday the Department of Transportation jumped into the FAA/Airline cellphone decision-making and offered a proposal that would ban calls outright. DOT's proposal would allow passengers to still use their data plans on smartphones and tablets to surf the Web or send e-mails and texts.


Flying The Skies Got A Little Bit Friendlier



With all the government shutdown chatter and the upcoming debt ceiling threats, you might have missed that recently the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), those lovely people who make sure we're safe at airports and traveling on planes have loosened their check-in rules. They've relaxed some regulations and made the items list of what's prohibited a bit shorter.

It's all part of the TSA Pre✓™ program. Some of the new and improved procedures:

... that allows pre-approved airline travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on in select screening lanes.

Travel-sized toiletries like hair gel and moisturizer are also allowed, as long as they are packed in clear plastic baggies.  "Eye drops, lip-gloss, whatever you need if it's in a three-ounce container or smaller," said Kip Hawley, TSA..

A few other, somewhat eye-catching items have been approved for carry on by the TSA as well:

  • Small knives with non-locking blades smaller than 2.36 inches and less than 1/2 inch in width will be permitted
  • Small Novelty Bats and Toy Bats
  • Ski Poles
  • Hockey Sticks
  • Lacrosse Sticks
  • Billiard Cues
  • Golf Clubs (Limit Two)

Before you get too excited, the TSA, a week later, rescinded the pocket knife rule. I'm glad to hear that because if I'm still prohibited from carrying on a bottle of Gatorade or a tube of toothpaste, I don't want the passenger next to me packing a knife. Though a pointed ski pole, or hockey stick does give me a bit of pause. And what about that novelty baseball bat (similar to police billy clubs) or a golfer's sand wedge -- couldn't they be at least as lethal as my toothpaste with breath freshener and tooth whitener?

I'm not sure who sits on the TSA committee but maybe a bit more common sense is still needed here. I want to fly safe, but maybe there's still a bit of Chicken Little, "the sky is falling" thinking permeating those meeting rooms. I'm still surprised that the TSA isn't asking for underwear checks since the underwear bomber. I know that happened only once, but same with the shoe bomber, that only happened one time, and until now we all had to remove our shoes for the past ten years.

Here's a fun little video to let you know about the new relaxed travel restrictions and what they'll mean to us, and our traveling companions, the next time we take to the friendly skies:


The Obama administration has been busy



newsy news smaller

I'm about to run out the door, but I wanted to get a couple of newsy, good news/bad news items out there for you. First, via an email alert from the New York Times, the good news:

Justice Dept. Files Lawsuit to Block US Airways-American Merger

The Justice Department, along with the attorneys general of six states, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday seeking to block the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

The $11 billion deal, announced in February, took American out of bankruptcy. It would create the nation’s biggest airline, a company with the size and breadth to compete against United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which have grown through mergers of their own in recent years and are currently the biggest domestic carriers.

But in the complaint filed Tuesday in Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, the Justice Department said that the merger “will leave three very similar legacy airlines — Delta, United and the new American — that past experience shows increasingly prefer tacit coordination over full-throated competition.”

And the bad news, via The Hill. Surprisingly, this has been the Labor Department's site since February, but nobody said a peep about it. Republicans will. It feeds right into their talking points:

Administration delays ObamaCare caps on out-of-pocket costs

The Obama administration has delayed a main provision in President Obama's healthcare reform law that would limit out-of-pocket insurance costs for consumers until 2015.

The cap, which includes deductibles and co-payments, was supposed to limit consumer costs to $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family. But administration officials have quietly delayed the requirement for some insurers, allowing them to set their own limits starting in 2014. [...]

An administration official said the health law would “protect consumers from the worst insurance company abuses, by banning discrimination based on a pre-existing health conditions [sic], ending lifetime and annual limits on what an insurance company will cover, and capping out-of pocket spending to protect Americans and their families.”

A-a-nd the GOP takes full advantage and ups their Obama/Obamacare bashing in 5...4...3...2...

heavy sigh