Tag Archives: Mary Kirby

Aviation Queen, In The Media

Kids! It’s been a busy media week for me!

I was a guest appearance on Mary Kirby’s Runway Girl Network #PaxEx podcast, episode six, talking about “10 passengers you don’t want to see at the airport or on your flight,” along with handling passengers of size and opportunities for women in aviation.

I also wrote another piece for CNN Opinion, “No one likes drunks on planes,” where I discuss what can happen when passengers and too much alcohol mix, along with what can be done to mitigate the problem.

And watch this space next week for some MAJOR news from your Aviation Queen. Cheers!

Travel Predictions For 2014

I’ve always been one to look ahead when it comes to the new year.  And I’m a big fan of getting — and making — predictions and looking back to see how well folks did.  So I decided to ask some of my aviation and travel geek friends to get their predictions about the industry for 2014. Enjoy!

Mary Kirby, founder of the Runway Girl Network offered two predictions.

  1. The race is on for US carriers to offer truly high-bandwidth connectivity to passengers. JetBlue Airways has set a new standard with its high-capacity Fly-Fi service, and now other carriers and connectivity providers must – and will – step up their game. American Airlines, for instance, will offer a hybrid air-to-ground/satellite connectivity system on its new narrowbodies, and Virgin America recently announced a deal with Gogo that could bring a groundbreaking new system, called GTO, to passengers. Travelers are insatiable for bandwidth, and now the airlines are under pressure to deliver it.
  2. Airlines will continue to reconfigure their aircraft with slim seats in super-snug seating configurations, in a bid to squeeze in more passengers and generate additional revenue. Yet, in parallel with this trend, carriers are also moving rapidly to offer the type of technology in-flight that will distract our brains from the pain, including providing power for our personal electronic devices, faster/better connectivity (see #1), wireless inflight entertainment and, increasingly, personalized service from flight attendants who will be armed with ‘connected’ tablets.

Consumer advocate and journalist Christopher Elliott wrote in this blog post on Dec. 9:  “Here’s my prediction for 2014: more nonsense fees. But they’re going to be smaller than ever, in increments you hardly notice. They belong to a subset of junk fees I call microjunk fees. They’re $5 or less, an amount that even the most price-sensitive customer sometimes fails to notice. But add them all up and they can turn a money-losing business into a profitable operation.”

Phil Derner, Jr., president and founder of NYCAviation LLC says he sees  2014 bringing about two big things within two arenas in air travel…safety and technology. “On the tech side, I think airlines will be battling to take the top spot on the most reliable and useful inflight wifi services, while also seeking more implementation for individual power outlets,” he said. “On the safety side, we will see the introduction of FAR117 which brings crew duty time limitations to a stricter level in an effort to solve problems with crew fatigue (which also brings its own set of problems for airlines). We will also see the debate on pilot automation be addressed, especially with findings of the Asiana 214 crash, though I expect few changes to come about as a result.”

Henry Harteveldt is the travel industry analyst & strategist for Hudson Crossing, LLC, and he offered up several trends:
  • U.S. airlines shift their partnership focus from the major alliances to anti-trust immunized joint venture airline partners;
  • Yield-managed ancillary product pricing;
  • Complete elimination of complimentary economy meal service on all U.S. airlines’ long-haul flights;
  • Airlines implement improved website shopping paths to better “merchandise” their various products;
  • Growth of “micro” airlines like Surf Air and Southern Airways Express;
  • Airlines use customer mobile phone geo-locaiton information to text/email location-based offers; and
  • As a result of ever-higher airfares, fewer middle- and lower middle-class consumers will be able to afford to fly. As it stands now, in 2013 the average annual household income of a US traveler is $73,900; the average household annual income of an airline passenger is approximately $86,000.

Johnny Jet is a U.S.-based travel expert and the Editor-in-Chief of JohnnyJet.com, a leading travel information website. His trend for 2014 is more travelers booking on mobile. “The trend towards mobile is undeniable. According to Eye For Travel research, 63% of travel suppliers have seen an increase in mobile booking volumes since 2011,” he said.

Addison Schonland, founder and partner of aviation security consultancy AirInsight, predicts  that cyber security becomes a key area of focus for airlines as e-Enabled aircraft enter fleets and the technology vulnerability comes to the fore.

As for me, I think airline merger talk will continue. I know, we’ve already seen Continental, Northwest, AirTran and US Airways go away. But there are still carriers out there — JetBlue, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America — with targets on their backs, either as going after another carrier or being swallowed up. I’ll also be watching how inflight WiFi continues to expand and what the pricing will be.  Please feel free to share your predictions below.

Best Of Aviation Queen: Does IATA Have The Answer To Better Airport Screening?

Editor’s note: I’m taking the week off for vacation, so check out some of my favorite blog posts of 2013. Airports around the world have struggled to work with their governments to to find a good balance of checkpoint security efforts since the aftermath of 9/11. The organization representing the world’s airlines weighs in with its thoughts. The post below first appeared on the blog on June 24. Enjoy!


The security checkpoint at BWI Airport.  Photos by Benet J. Wilson

My former colleague Lori Ranson is a respected freelance aviation journalist. She recently wrote an excellent piece for Mary Kirby’s (another great aviation journalist and former colleague) APEX Editor’s Blog entitled “IATA seeks to restore humanity to airport screening.”

Ranson went into fascinating detail about what the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an organization that represents the world’s carriers sees as the airport checkpoint of the future, first released in 2011.  In a nutshell, IATA wants to bring back the humanity in the screening process, allowing passengers to keep on shoes and jackets, and leave laptops in their bags, among other things.

“COF’s goal is to create a security framework that moves away from a one-size-fits-all approach to procedures built on a risk-management approach supported by optimising and enhancing technology, improving data management, and using biometric identification and behavioural analysis to strengthen security screening, increase check-point operational efficiency and improve the passenger experience at screening checkpoints,” writes Ranson.

When I read this, and read the words “checkpoint of the future,” a bell went off in my head. During almost six years of covering airports and aviation security for Aviation Week and Aviation Daily, that concept became a central theme for the Transportation Security Administration.

Back in April 2008, TSA announced — with a media event at Washington National Airport — that it was unveiling what it called the Airport Security Checkpoint of the Future. We were all shuttled out to an empty hangar, where we saw a mock-up of that checkpoint.  You can read my AvWeek Towers and Tarmacs blog post on that event here.  It was based on a study done by Palo Alto, Calif.-based innovation and design firm Ideo.

The concept was put in place at my hometown Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport about a month later. Elements included things designed to calm the checkpoint process, including: soothing lights; new age music and bird tweets (yes, bird tweets); profiles that personalized TSA screeners; an area to throw out trash and items that couldn’t be taken past security; and more clearly designed queues.  You can hear my 3-minute podcast on my experience going through the checkpoint here.

So IATA jumping into the checkpoint arena is interesting, since this has been the turf of the Transportation Security Administration, partnering with airports.  IATA is stepping up its efforts to test technology that weeds out “known travelers” from those with higher risk factors.  So it will be interesting to see what IATA will be able to achieve by its 2020 deadline. You can see a video on the checkpoint of the future here.

– See more at: http://www.aviationqueen.com/does-iata-have-the-answer-to-better-airport-screening/#sthash.zUwP010b.dpuf

FCC Considers Inflight Cell Phone Use – NOOOOOOOOO!!


Mary “Runway Girl” Kirby warned me this would happen sooner or later. And now this New York Times article indicates that we are now a step closer to allowing travelers to use their cell phones inflight. Regular readers of this blog know that I am dead set against this, comparing it to another circle of hell.

Being on an airplane is one of the very last places on earth where you can have some semblance of peace without phones, although  some of that is gone with the advent of laptops and tablets. That being said, I don’t want to lose my last cell-free zone.

Close your eyes and imagine you’re on a flight from Washington Dulles to San Francisco. You’re buckled in, ready to go. All of a sudden, you hear a cacophony of cell phone chatter. HI! I’N TALKING TO YOU FROM A PLANE! NO, I’M SORRY – I’M JUST NOT READY TO TAKE OUR RELATIONSHIP FURTHER. DO YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE I CAUGHT MY BOSS DOING? YES, SWEETIE, I’LL SING ALL THE VERSES OF “SILENT NIGHT” SO YOU CAN GO TO SLEEP….

Get the picture? If you don’t, and you happen to live in the DC-Philly-New York-Boston corridor, take a ride on Amtrak — and sit in any car. Noise-cancelling headphones will only muffle all the chatter on that train.

The good news for me is that I’m not alone in wanting to keep phones off planes.  The Washington Post reports that there has been a strong backlash against the FCC’s review of reversing the no cell phones policy. There’s even a petition on the White House’s We The People website to stop phones on planes.  A Today Show survey found a whopping 96 percent of its viewers are against cell phones on planes for the same reasons I do.

So take my poll and weigh in!

Related cell phone posts

Who Else Thinks Cell Phones On Planes Are Another Circle Of Hell?

Why FAA MUST Stick With Inflight Cell Phone Ban

Phones On Planes – Even VoIP – Are Another Circle of Hell