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Why Delta’s ‘ Basic Economy’ Fare Is All Your Fault

A Delta jet at the gate in Atlanta. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Delta Air Lines has begun testing rock-bottom “basic economy” fares on selected routes — and you, the traveler, have no one but yourselves to blame.

Why is it your fault? Because you refuse to pay the higher fares that Delta and other airlines want you to. And since you refuse, they are going to get the money out of you other ways, by hook or by crook. Take a look at what fees have been introduced in the past 10 years: checked bags, food, drinks, change fees, phone booking fees and fuel surcharges, to name some.

So Delta for the past two months has been testing fares that are remarkably similar to those offered by Spirit Airlines, on some of the routes that the ultra-low-fare carrier flies, including Detroit to Orlando, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. With basic economy, travelers can’t make any changes to their itinerary, nor can they choose seats in advance.

You may hate what Spirit does (see why in this guest blog post), but you can see how other airlines have followed some of the things they do.  And someone does like the airline, because they have full flights and regularly make a profit.

So if Delta is successful with this test, look for it to expand the basic economy fares into other markers.  And don’t be surprised if other airlines follow.

The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News

It was raining parts! An Air Canada flight taking off from Toronto to Tokyo had to make an emergency landing after parts from its engine fell to the ground, reports KHOU-TV.  No one was injured during the landing.

He *didn’t* have a ticket to ride, but he didn’t care.  A man who had just been released from jail managed to get onto a flight at San Diego International Airport — without a ticket, reports MSNBC.  He entered the airport through an emergency door at the airport’s commuter terminal and was discovered after a flight attendant realized there were too many passengers on the plane.

You must behave on your flight!  Ryan Snider was arrested when his American Airlines flight landed in Montego Bay, Jamaica, after becoming unruly during the flight, reports MSNBC.  he refused to follow crewmember instructions and had to be restrained by two passengers.

No buckle, no ride. Mark Yanchak and his toddler were kicked off an Alaska Airlines flight leaving Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after the child refused to buckle his seat, reports CBS News.  The father said the pilot was overreacting, but the pilot said he’d rather “deal with it on the ground than in mid-flight.”

Don’t you need a pole to pole vault?  Pole vaulter Kati Davis got an unpleasant surprise when her Delta Air Lines flight arrived in Pueblo, Colo., for a major track and field event — her poles were not there, reports KOMO-TV. Davis paid $200 to check the poles, but they were lost, and she blames the airline for her poor performance. Delta did refund her$200 fee.

Interesting joy ride. A man was arrested  after stealing a jeep and a motor home and crashing them both through the fence at Mississippi’s Segars Field/Iuka Airport, reports WTVA-TV. He was charged with two counts of grand larceny.

How Social Media Got Me On The MetLife Blimp


 

Me in the MetLife blimp.

Regular readers of this blog know I am a HUGE fan of social media, especially Twitter, where I do my aviation geek posts as @AvQueenBenet.  You also know that my day job is handling media relations for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) — a job I found via social media.

Our headquarters are directly across the street from Frederick Municipal Airport, where I happen to be taking my flight lessons.  Last Monday as I was coming into work, I saw the MetLife blimp parked at the airport. It had flown to cover the Preakness horse race in Baltimore.  I got out, snapped a few pictures and thought that was that. I kept seeing the blimp, so finally on Thursday, I thought I’d send a tweet to @MetLifeBlimp.

 

I was amazed when I got such a quick response.

Pilot Charlie Smith was kind enough to pick me up and off we went.  First, I was amazed at how big the blimp was. I was also surprised that it’s just a big bag of air, as Charlie aptly described it.  I got to talk with Charlie about how he became a blimp pilot, the traveling life of the crew of 13, and everything it takes to get the blimp from point A to point B.  As far as him getting in the door, Smith said he was in the right place at the right time.  “Not too many people dream of doing this, but we all fall  in love with it.”

I know what he means. I actually felt an electric thrill when I got into the blimp’s cockpit.  Forgive me as I go into uber avgeek mode. Amazingly enough, the cockpit looked amazingly like the one I’m using in my flight lessons on the Cessna 172 Skyhawk SP.  Smith agreed, noting that the blimp’s cockpit only had three instruments that were unique to the aircraft.  And the blimp doesn’t have ailerons, which are hinged flight control surfaces on the trailing edge of the wing on an aircraft and are used to control the aircraft in roll. As a current student, it seems weird to me that such a key part of flight is not there!

 

Smith noted that the @MetLifeBlimp social media team is pretty quick about responding to tweets.  He said the blimp has responded to tweets to fly over schools or other places if they can fit it in the schedule. I really appreciate the folks at MetLife for allowing me to have this grand adventure!  And if the blimp shows up in your city, send them a tweet — they may just fly by!

Random Aviation Photo

I’m still feeling nostalgic for Memorial Day, so today’s photo is one I took at last year’s EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis.  Despite my military upbringing, I never felt the love for military aviation like I do commercial aviation  — until I saw all the warbirds at Oshkosh.  Below is Miss Geraldine, a gorgeous and pristine North American P-51D Mustang. Enjoy!

Best of Aviation Queen: Why We Travel

Editor’s note: Kids, I’m still recovering from the holiday weekend, so today you get a Best Of.  This post first appeared on the blog on Feb. 16 and was inspired by a great New York Times slide show and presentation on why we travel. Enjoy!

There’s so many bookmarks under my aviation/travel links.  The New York Times has been doing this ongoing slideshow called “Why We Travel.” It features some fantastic photos, along with the stories behind then, from the newspaper’s readers.  Looking at those slideshows got me to thinking about some of the cool places I’ve been, confirming why I travel (besides the fact that it has been a part of my job the past 20 years). So below are 10 sights I’ve seen on my travels.

  1. The vast bareness of Greenland. I was flying a 30-seat Saab 340 turboprop from Linkoping, Sweden (where the plane was built) to Minneapolis to deliver it to then-Northwest Airlink carrier Mesaba Airlines.  You just can’t fly direct on a turboprop, so we made several stops, including one in Greenland. It was cold and so stark and barren, it was almost beautiful in a bizarre sort of way.
  2. The colored roofs of Iceland. On that same trip, we spent the night in Reykjavik. As we were landing, I got to sit in the cockpit, which gave me a stellar view of this island nation’s ubiquitous colored roofs.
  3. New Year’s Eve, Times Square, New York City.  I hate crowds.  But in 2004, my sister the police detective, who lives in California, came out to the East Coast with a friend to celebrate New Year’s Eve at Times Square. We spent the day wandering the Times Square area. Everywhere we went, she chatted with cops, who were out in full force.  So as the celebration drew closer, the area went on lockdown. But we got a prime watching spot because the cops recognized my sister and gave us better and better viewing spots. Sweet!!
  4. The food halls of Singapore. During my second trip to Singapore to cover the biannual air show, me and some of my journalist friends found ourselves frequenting these great eat places.  One of my favorites was outdoors, and if you’re adventurous, just order a Tiger Beer and let your server choose what to eat. I sampled whole fried duck (which included the head and feet), chili crabs, fish ball soup and shark’s fin.
  5. Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France.  I’ve been an on-again, off-again Catholic for quite a while. During one of my on phases, I happened to be in Paris for the Paris Air Show. Some friends said we should go to mass, and off we went. One of the best things is no matter what the language, you know exactly what’s going on.
  6. Honolulu International Airport. I was on my way to Indonesia for the launch of a new turboprop, and we had a 3-hour layover here.  It was pre-9/11, so I actually ventured outside to see the gardens.  The flowers were colorful and beautiful, and I can still smell them to this day.
  7. Embraer aircraft plant, Gavião Peixoto, Brazil.  I was on one of my many visits to this Brazilian manufacturer, which is headquartered in São José dos Campos.  We flew a small jet to this city, located in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, which is home to, among other things, the assembly lines for the Embraer 190 and 195 jets and final assembly for Phenom business jets. I noticed was how incredibly green and lush the region was, home to sugar cane fields and orange groves.
  8. The Corn Palace, Mitchell, S. Dakota. Back in 1992, completely burned out from a very stressful job, I quit and decided to take a road trip across America with my friend Mark, who was moving to Seattle to do his medical residency. Since neither of us was in a rush, we took the scenic route, which included a trip to this facility, which features ever-changing murals made out of corn on the outside walls and colorful onion domes.  The moon landing — in corn. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — in corn. The Iwo Jima flag raising — in corn. You get the picture.
  9. Bandung, Indonesia. This city, about 110 miles southeast of Jakarta, is the third-largest city in the country and was home to aircraft manufacturer Industri Pesawat Terbang Nurtanio (IPTN, now Indonesian Aerospace). I was there for the roll-out of the IPTN N-250, which never took to the skies. But the highlight for me was to see an amazing display of Dutch colonial architecture, defined by the tropical Art Deco style. Amazing buildings I saw included the Institut Teknologi Bandung, the Hotel Savoy Homann and Villa Isola.
  10. Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona.  This was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, near the McDowell Mountains. It serves as the home for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and offers tours and programming year-round. When I lived in Phoenix, I actually bought a membership and took visitors on tours of this estate. I was never bored, because each guide at the facility always managed to tell me something about Wright that others missed.

Speaking of missed, why do you travel?  What are some of the more interesting or off-the-beaten-path places you’ve seen in your travels?