American Airlines Business Travel News

The Low Down for Carry on Bags

Airlines are cracking down on carry on bags.

This may sound inconvenient, but it could actually be good news if you can travel light. Fewer travelers with overstuffed bags translates into faster, easier boarding.

Packing Carry on luggage

Carry on Bag Dimensions

Although enforcement varies, the current restriction for carryon bag dimensions is 22x14x9 for American, Delta, United and US Airways. AirTran, JetBlue and Southwest are slightly more generous with dimensions set at 24x16x10. Of course, you can also bring a purse, laptop or small personal item, but it must fit under the seat in front of you. Check the policies from the major airlines.

While most major U.S. airlines don’t charge a fee for one carry-on, budget carriers may. Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit Airlines charge anywhere from $25 to $100 per carry-on bag.

You may be surprised to find that your relatively small, wheeled luggage is now too big for the overhead bin. In fact, if it doesn’t fit in the size-wise metal frame at the gate, you may have to go back to check-in, where you’ll likely encounter a fee to check your luggage.

Nearly all the airlines (except Southwest) are charging fees for checked luggage, starting around $15 and running up to $30 apiece for the first bag or two. After that, fees skyrocket: extra, overweight or over sized luggage can cost up to $200 per bag.

Dimension restrictions vary on foreign carriers, so make sure you check out their policies before leaving for an international trip. In addition, while most U.S. airlines don’t have carry-on baggage weight limits, some foreign carriers do (and the weight fees can be hefty, up to and over $150 per overweight bag).

Packing Tips

  • Balance the need for wheels – Wheels and a frame can lighten your load, but they also take up quite a bit of space. To make the most of your carry-on space, consider a soft tote that can expand but still manages to meet size requirements.
  • Use and lose – Disposable items, like shavers and old clothes, are a great way to lighten the load on your return, especially if you have to bring back paperwork or business tchotchkes.
  • Go monotone – Pack one color theme (black or brown) to cut down on the need for more shoes and other accessories.
  • Downsize – Travel-sized toiletries can save a lot of space… and don’t forget that most business hotels have good health and beauty products.

Rethink what you need to bring; Be more discriminating when packing. Make decisions before you put everything in your luggage, as we tend to want to throw in a few extras after a bag is packed. And remember, you can always buy as you go.

Airlines News, Passenger load, Priority boarding, Electronic Devices

Delta Airlines

Airlines Are Fullest They´ve Been Since 1945

U.S. airlines had an average load factor of 82.8% last year, their highest since 1945, according to the latest figures from the Department of Transportation.

Load factors were even higher for domestic flights, averaging 83.4%. In addition, U.S. airlines carried 0.8 % more total system passengers in 2012, 736.6 million, than in 2011.

And the biggest carrier, when measured by number of passengers carried, was Delta Air Lines, carrying more system passengers than any other. It was the third year in a row that Delta hit this metric. Southwest Airlines carried more domestic passengers than any other airline for the ninth year in a row. United Airlines, its merger with Continental now complete, carried the most international passengers. (Source: DOT press release).

AA Tests Giving Priority Boarding to Passengers Who Check Bags

American Airlines is giving passengers who check their bags prioritized boarding in a test in four markets, letting them board between groups one and two.

Higher load factors and passengers’ desire to save on baggage fees and to skip the wait at the baggage carousel have made dealing with carry-on bags more time-consuming for airlines.

Flight attendants often urge passengers to quickly stow their bags in order to have an on time departure. In addition, flight attendant unions are reporting increased injuries among flight attendants and passengers from hoisting heavy bags into overhead bins or from improperly stowed bags falling out. American is testing the priority boarding in Austin, Washington Dulles Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale. (Source: American Airlines, industry interviews).

FAA Continues to Examine Changing Policies on Inflight Reading Devices

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman would not comment on press reports that the Federal Aviation Administration might allow passengers to read their Kindles or Nooks during take-off. However, the spokesman did confirm that the FAA’s Portable and (PED) Advisory and Rulemaking Committee is continuing to examine policies for using cell phones, electronic readers and tablets on planes and will end deliberations in July.

The FAA actually allows airlines to decide what can and can’t be used right now on planes, but the FAA provides guidance on those policies. The current guidance requires passengers to turn everything off below 10,000 feet. The committee is not looking at cell phone use, which is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission. The committee has more than two dozen members, who include representatives of the FAA, Amazon, airlines, pilot and flight attendant unions, aircraft manufacturers, the FCC, the consumer electronics association and others. (Source: FAA interview).

IATA Forecasts Bigger Profits for Airlines in 2013

The latest financial forecast from the International Air Transport Association projects larger industry profits in 2013 for most airlines around the globe than it had estimated in December.

Tony Tyler, IATA´s director general and CEO, credited the improvement to optimism for the global economy. “Passenger demand has been strong and cargo markets are starting to grow again,” he said. IATA said that it expects North American airlines to make a $3.6 billion profit, which is slightly ahead of the $3.4 billion IATA originally projected for the year and well above the $2.3 billion profit reported in 2012.

Other regions were reporting smaller profits–$800 million in Europe, $1.4 billion in the Middle East, $600 million in South America and $100 million in Africa. IATA said that the recovery could be derailed by factors such as the continuing Eurozone crisis, specifically naming what it called the draconian bailout proposal for Cypriot financial institutions.
Tyler pointed out that travel demand has been supported by robust growth in emerging markets, reflecting a longer-term shift in the center of gravity in the industry. (Source: IATA press release).

Airline Industry News: Delta baggage policy & Southwest Fees

Delta baggage policy

Skipping to the Front of the Line

JetBlue Airways is testing a new ancillary service a $10 fee to use expedited security lanes at select airports. For $10, passengers can buy an Even More Speed option that lets them use expedited security lanes usually reserved for elite frequent flyer club members and first and business class ticket holders.

Even More Speed was originally part of Even More Space for seats with extra legroom, but JetBlue has now made the service a stand-alone option. There are other expedited security programs, including the Transportation Security Administration´s Pre Check program, a trusted traveler program whose members are pre-vetted and can not only go through an expedited security line but also go through an expedited security process. (Source: industry interviews.)

Southwest Institutes No Show Fee

Southwest Airlines, which does not charge a penalty to change a flight, will introduce a no-show fee on its least expensive tickets at some point this year. Passengers who book the cheapest fare and fail to show up for the flight will be charged a fee.

To avoid the fee, passengers just have to notify Southwest that they will not be on the flight. The fee applies only to Southwest´s cheapest fares; passengers buying more expensive tickets don´t have to tell the airline they won’t be on the flight.

Southwest is unique in that its travelers can book a flight, pay for it, not use the ticket and have a year to apply what they paid for that ticket to another purchase, with having to pay a penalty. The new fee is essentially saying "Give us the courtesy of letting us know," said a Southwest spokesman. (Source: interviews).

Airlines Still Profitable in Q3 2012

Major airlines still showed a profit for the third quarter of 2012 according to the latest Department of Transportation figures.

The largest scheduled passenger carriers showed a 6.4% profit margin, down from 6.8% from the same quarter a year earlier. The DOT said that the largest 10 airlines have achieved an operating profit margin as a group in each of the last six quarters. The DOT also reported that all U.S. passenger airlines collected $924 million in baggage fees and $652 million from reservation change fees in the third quarter.

Airlines do not break out the fees they collect for other ancillary fees, such as revenue from sating assignments and sales of food, beverages and entertainment, for the DOT. (Source: DOT press release).

American and US Airways Lay Groundwork for Pilot Deal

American Airlines and US Airways said that they have completed discussions with the unions representing American and US Airways pilots. The talks were to create a framework for employment of pilots as well as prepare for the possibility of integrating the pilots working for the two airlines, should American and US Airways merge.

The two pilot unions created a memorandum of understanding designed to help determine whether or not the two carriers should merge. (Source: American, US Airways’ press release).

Delta Baggage Policy

Delta Air Lines, which had planned on implementing a new baggage policy on single or conjuncted tickets, checking bags only between the origin and destination points indicated on that ticket, is delaying the new policy.

This is for instances in which travelers have separate tickets for a trip. Previously, Delta baggage policy and most other carriers in this circumstance would check through the bags to the final destination, but Delta´s new policy would end that convenience and require customers to claim and the recheck the bag after flying the first leg. (Source: Global Business Travel Association press release.)

Airline merger & International air traffic

Airline merger

American Merger Talks Heat Up
US Airways, which has is pursuing a reluctant American Airlines, has signed a nondisclosure agreement with American’s parent company, AMR, according to a memo US Airways’ CEO Doug Parker sent to employees.

The two airlines have agreed to exchange confidential information to work in good faith on evaluating a potential combination. Parker said that the NDA means only that the airlines have agreed to talk about the possibility of merging. AMR’s CEO Tom Horton initially resisted the idea of a merger.

AMR has also signed an NDA with British Airways, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Jet Blue Airways and Virgin America. (Source: press reports).

International Air Traffic Continues to Grow at a Slower Pace
Global air traffic grew 3.4% in July 2012 over a year earlier, down from a growth rate of 6.3% in June and 6.5% for the first half of the year, according to the International Air Traffic Association.

It blamed the slowdown on a recent fall in business confidence in many economies. Airlines are responding to slower growth by holding capacity, which means planes are flying full—and profitably. Traffic is growing, but at a slower pace, said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO. And he said that, combined with rising fuel prices, means a tough second half of the year. (Source: IATA press release).

FAA to Study Use of Handhelds on Planes
The Federal Aviation Administration FAA has created a committee to study the use of portable electronic devices on planes. Right now, the FAA leaves the decision of how passengers can use handhelds in flight up to airlines.

The FAA committee will be made up of representatives of aircraft manufacturers, mobile technology providers, airlines, including flight attendants and pilots, as well as airline passenger organizations. Passengers are increasingly interested in staying connected while in flight. This is an effort to learn if there are ways for more electronic devices to be used without interfering with the radio frequencies pilots use.

The group will look at a variety of issues, including how to test for safety. The group is not looking at whether or not to allow cell phone use while in flight. (Source: FAA press release).

Delta to Reduce Mileage Rewards for Some Unpublished Fares
Delta Air Lines is reducing mileage passengers can earn when they buy certain unpublished fares. These include group fares, consolidator fares, tour or group package fares and student fares.

Travelers flying using negotiated corporate, governments and sports fares will continue to get full mileage credit. Other airlines also limit or provide no mileage awards for some unpublished fares. (Source: news reports).

TSA Expands Pre Program to Phoenix Sky Harbor
The Transportation Security Administration has introduced its Pre program at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, with US Airways as its partner.

Participants who are from certain airline frequent flyer programs or who participate in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler program provide biometric information about themselves and qualify for expedited screening.

The Pre is now available in 22 airports with partner carriers US Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. (Source: TSA press release).

Travel News: Seats and Airline Phone service

airline phone service

Passenger Numbers Up Internationally
Despite the gloomy financial outlook, more people are flying, according to the International Air Transport Association’s latest figures. Passenger demand rose globally 6.1% in April over April 2011, which is higher than the 20 year average.

Load factors are up, too, since airlines especially U.S. carriers are managing capacity so well. International travel was up the most 7.4 percent. North American carriers saw only a slight increase 1.6 percent, down from a 5.3% increase in March. European air carriers saw a 5.9% growth in passenger demand, which was down from 8.7% in March. The Asia-Pacific region and Middle East Also saw strong growth. (Source: IATA.)

Airline Profits Tighten

Airlines are getting better at managing capacity and demand, but it’s still tight financially for them. The nation’s ten biggest airlines reported a 1.5% profit margin for the fourth quarter, down 3.2% from a year earlier, according to the Department of Transportation.

Large airlines as a group have reported an operating profit margin in each in the last three quarters. American Airlines, which is the last airline to restructure under bankruptcy, reported a loss, as did United Airlines, which is in the process of merging with Continental Airlines. (Source: DOT)

Paying More for Seats
It could get tougher to avoid getting stuck in that middle seat without paying an extra fee. Some airlines charge you for the ability to pick your own seat. But some of the larger carriers are increasing the number of seats that they’re holding for premium fliers.

This means that on some airlines, you can pay for a seat for more legroom, but you can also pay to get a window or aisle seat or a seat closer to the front of the plane. Airlines are also introducing a new economy class, one that is a little cheaper but gives you even less flexibility when it comes to changing our flight or choosing seats.

Delta Air Lines is doing this on some routes where it competes with the ultra low-cost carrier Spirit Air. (Source: News reports).

Mixed Response to Airline Phone Service
A survey by flight comparison site Skyscanner finds that most passengers oppose airline phone calls, with 86 percent saying it would be annoying.

The survey results followed reports that Virgin Atlantic will offer inflight phone service on A330s flying between New York and London. The service is pricey--$1.60 per minute—and it will only work with certain types of phones. No talking on take off, landing or within 250 miles of the U.S. So much for one of the last sanctuaries from being forced to listen to others’ cell phone conversations. (Source: Skyscanner)

More Long-Haul Service Offered From Washington Reagan
You’ll soon be able to fly transcontinental flights from Washington Reagan International Airport thanks to legislation that authorized new beyond-perimeter slot exemptions allowing some carriers to fly beyond what had been a 1,250-mile route limit out of Washington Reagan.

  • Alaska Airlines will fly to Portland, Ore.
  • JetBlue Airways to San Juan, P.R.
  • Southwest Airlines to Austin, Texas,
  • Virgin America to San Francisco.

(Source: DOT)

Travel news Air traffic fees increases & Tokyo Haneda Airport

Delta Airlines


Air Traffic Is Up and So Are Oil Prices
Air traffic continues to increase, says the International Air Transport Association, with passenger traffic up 8.2% in January, better than December, when severe weather in Europe and North America slowed the recovery. January´s air travel volumes were 18 percent higher compared to the low point reached in early 2009 and some 6% above the prerecession peak of early 2008.

The problem with this otherwise rosy picture? Oil prices. The industry´s current forecasts were based on $84 per barrel oil and that price is now up to more than $100, said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA´s director general and CEO. A $1 increase in the price of oil means the industry has to recover $1.6 billion in additional costs. Bottom line? It´s another challenging year for airlines. (Source: IATA press release).

Airlines Test the Waters With Fare Increase
Early last month, several carriers initiated fuel surcharges that ranged from $4 to $10, according to airfare comparison website FareCompare.com.

Except for some peak travel miscellaneous surcharges for popular travel periods, U.S. consumers haven´t seen domestic fuel surcharges since November 2008, according to Rick Seaney, FareCompare´s CEO. And airlines continue to try hiking fares. Late last month legacy carriers tried a $20 fare hike but ultimately cut that in half when low-cost carriers countered with a $10 fare hike. (Source: FareCompare.com).

American Fined for Charging Bumped Passengers a Fee
Read the fine print if you volunteer to give up your seat on an overbooked flight. The Federal Aviation Administration has fined American Airlines $90,000 for failing to disclose that vouchers given to passengers who voluntarily gave up their seats on oversold flights could be redeemed only after paying a ticketing fee of as much as $30.

Airlines have to look for volunteers before involuntarily bumping passengers, when the Department of Transportation requires the airlines to pay travelers cash in most cases. Ray LaHood, US Transportation secretary, said that if you give up your seat, you deserve full compensation—and not find out later that they have to pay $30 to use it. (Source: DOT press release).

Major Carriers Tout Service into Tokyo´s Haneda Airport
Carriers are adding flights to Tokyo´s Haneda Airport, located near Tokyo´s business center, even as they maintain service to the larger—and more distant—Narita. Delta Air Lines is now flying between Tokyo Haneda and Detroit and Los Angeles.

American Airlines has also begun flying nonstop between JFK and Haneda. The new service is a result of the Open Skies Agreement that the U.S. and Japan signed in October. U.S. carriers aren´t the only airlines flying into the more conveniently located Haneda; British Airways launched its new route to Haneda in Japan on Feb. 19. (Source: American, British Airways, Delta press releases).

Low Cost Carriers Add Workers & Network Carriers Cut Them
Low-cost carriers reported an increase in fulltime employees in December, the latest figures available, while network carriers reported fewer, according to the Department of Transportation.

The result was that the number of fulltime employees for passenger airlines increased .2%. It´s a major turnaround for the industry, which saw employee numbers drop for the 28 months up until November 2010, when there was no change. (Source: DOT press release).

Airline updates: fees increase

Delta Airlines

International Premium Travel Sees First Uptick in Nearly Two Years
The International Air Transport Association reported that international premium travel was up 1.7 percent in December 2009 over a year earlier. That’s the first increase since May 2008. Economy travel was up five percent over a year earlier.

The recession hit airlines hard throughout the first half of 2009, but a post-recession upturn began in the second half. May marked the low point for premium travel while February marked the low point for economy travel. (Source: IATA press release).

Global Air Capacity Grows for the Sixth Month in a Row More good news came from OAG, the aviation data tracking company.

It reported that in February, global airline capacity was up five percent, the sixth month in a row that it has increased. The single exception: North America, which reported a one percent decline in February in both flight frequency and capacity.

However, North America saw positive growth of three percent and two percent for frequency and capacity in flights to and from the region. Decreases continue on service between North America and Western Europe, where routes have five percent fewer seats and five percent fewer flights for the month.

Still, the OAG said airlines are adding routes in North America—108, with most being domestic flights. (Source: OAG press release).

U.S. Airline Revenue Up for First Time in More Than a Year
Other positive airline news: The Air Transport Association reported that passenger revenue rose 1.4 percent in January, reversing 14 consecutive months of declines.

Traffic was down very slightly--.4 percent—and the average price to fly one mile was up very slightly--.6 percent. James C. May, president and CEO of the ATA, said that the small revenue increase, coupled with a 17 percent increase in cargo traffic, could be the sign of a recovery. (Source: ATA press release).

Business Travel Continues Slow Recovery
Business travel continues its slow recovery with more than one in seven (15 percent) adults planning at least one business trip during the next six months, up from 13 percent recorded one year earlier.

According to the travel horizons survey co-authored by Ypartnership and the U.S. Travel Association.The U.S. Travel Association projects a slight increase in both business and leisure travel for 2010 over 2009. The "perceived safety of travel," declined from 93.8 in October 2009 to 84.8 in February 2010, presumably due to lingering concerns about the "Christmas Bomber" incident that occurred in Detroit over the recent holidays. (Source: Ypartnership and U.S. Travel Association press release).

Virgin America Ups Baggage Fees, American Charges for Blankets
Airlines continue to add on fees. American Airlines, following the lead of other airlines, will charge $8 for blankets and pillows in coach starting May 1.

Virgin America upped its baggage fee for all checked bags to $25 from $20. First Class passengers continue to check two bags for free; Main Cabin select and Main Cabin passengers with refundable fares can check their first bag for free. (Source: Virgin America press release, American statement).

Road Warriors Biggest Worry is Those at Home
Nearly 74 percent of business travelers say their stay-behind spouse has expressed concern about being left home alone, according to a survey commissioned by Logitech, a Swiss technology company.

Even more, 79 percent frequently worry about their significant other when traveling for business. Fifty-nine percent said they would look for a job with less business travel when the economy improves. And 54 percent would take a $5,000 paycut if it meant never having to travel for work again. (Source: Logitech press release)

Reservations and Frequent Flier Program Charts

Reservations
Airline Book round-trip ticket by phone Preferred seat Ticket change fee:
Domestic-International
Fee to change flight to same destination on day of departure1
AirTran $15 $6 or $20 $75-Not applicable $75
Alaska $15 Not available $75 online; $100 on phone; $125 at travel agency-$100 0
Allegiant $23.50 per one-way flight; $33.50 for roundtrip $5-$25 $50 per one-way flight-Not applicable Not allowed to change ticket within 24 hours of departure
American $20 Not applicable $150-$150-$250 $50
Continental $15 Not available $150-$150-$250 $50
Delta $20 Not available on Delta; $5-$35 on domestic flights, $15-$75 Northwest international flights $150-$250 $50
Frontier $25 Not available $50 or $150-$150 $75 or $150
Hawaiian $10-$25 Not available $150 or $200 per flight-$150 or $200 per flight $150 or $200 per flight
JetBlue $15 $10-$40 $100-$100 $40
Midwest $25 $20-$50 $100-$100 $50
Southwest 0 priority-boarding fee $10 0-Not applicable 0
Spirit 0 $7-$20 $100 online; $110 on telephone-$100 online; $110 on telephone $100 online; $110 on telephone
United $25 $14-$119 $150-$150-$250 $75
US Airways $25 domestic ticket; $35 international ticket $5-$30 $150-$250 $50

 

Frequent Flier Programs
Airline Book free ticket:
on phone-online2
Change free ticket's origin-destination:
domestic-international
Buying miles-credits
AirTran 0-0 $75- Not applicable $39.50-credit
Alaska $15-0 $75 online; $100 on phone; $125 at travel agency-$100 $25-1,000 miles when buying a ticket online; $27.50-1,000 miles when redeeming miles
Allegiant Not applicable- Not applicable Not applicable- Not applicable Not applicable- Not applicable
American $20-0 $150-$150 $27.50-1,000 miles
Continental $25-0 $150-$150 $32-1,000 miles
Delta $20-0 $100-$100 $27.50-1,000 miles
Frontier $25-0 $75-$75 $28-1,000 miles
Hawaiian $10 or $20-0 $30 or $50-$50 $30-1,000 miles
JetBlue $15-0 $100-$100 $5-point, plus $20 fee
Midwest $25-0 $50-$50 $25-1,000 miles, plus $20 processing fee
Southwest 0-0 0-Not applicable 0-Not applicable
Spirit 0-Not available $70-$70 not available
United $25-0 $150-$250 $32.25-1,000 miles, plus $35 processing fee
US Airways $55 domestic flight; $70-$95 international-$25-$50 $150-$250 $25-1,000 miles, plus $30 processing fee

Airlines Travel News Updates

Airplane at take off.
International Travel Keeps Dropping
Demand for international travel fell 5.6 percent year over year in January, a full percentage point more than the 4.6 percent drop in December and the fifth consecutive month that traffic fell, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Demand continues to fall faster than airlines can cut capacity; capacity cuts were two percent. The decline was biggest in Asia, 8.4 percent; North America was second with 6.2 percent.

The Middle East was the only region to see traffic grow, 3.1 percent. There was one bit of good news: the fact that fuel prices remain well below last year’s levels. But IATA projects that airline revenues will drop $35 billion to $500 billion this year. (Source: IATA press release).

Southwest Offers Free Wi-Fi on Four Planes
Southwest Airlines expects to have four aircraft with in-flight Wi-Fi this month –you’ll be able to tell if you’re aboard one from the placards you see upon boarding and onboard instruction sheets.

Southwest is offering the service for free during the test period. Passengers will be able to log on using Wi-Fi enabled devices such as laptops, iPhones and smart phones. Southwest is also offering an in-flight homepage with the service. It includes an in-flight homepage with a flight tracker and local news and information.

Passengers can follow the plane’s flight path and view points of interest they’re flying over. Cellular technology will not work. (Source: Southwest press release).

More Airlines Go Cash-Free
United Airlines and American Airlines are phasing out cash in flight and will only accept major credit cards and debit cards after a transition period. United is introducing EasyPurchase March 23.

After a brief transition, it will only accept credit and debit cards on flights within the United States, including Hawaii, and on flights to and from Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. It will continue to accept cash on flights to and from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America. On United Express, it will continue to accept cash.

American will begin its transition to credit and debit cards only this summer on flights within the United States and to and from Canada. (Source: United, American press releases).

Delta Enables Mileage Transfers Between Sky Miles, Worldperks
Delta Air Lines said that Delta SkyMiles and Northwest WorldPerks members now can link frequent flyer accounts and transfer miles between both accounts at no charge. Members who link their accounts before March 15, 2009 will earn 500 bonus miles.

This means members who have SkyMiles and WorldPerks accounts can visit delta.com to link their accounts and transfer any amount of miles into either account on an unlimited basis. Both accounts will remain open and functioning until late 2009 when Delta plans to merge the two programs. (Source: Delta press release).

More Accidents But Fewer Fatalities in 2008
On the bright side, aviation safety performance improved, with the total number of aviation fatalities dropping from 692 in 2007 to 502 in 2008, a 56 percent improvement in the fatality rate, according to IATA.

There were more accidents in 2008—109 compared to 100—and the number of fatal accidents increased from 20 in 2007 to 23 in 2008. There were regional differences. North Asia had zero losses.

North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific performed better than the global average; Africa’s accident rate was 2.6 times worse than the world average, but that was a vast improvement over 2005, when it was the worst in the world. Separately, the U.S. Department of Transportation said that the U.S. has seen a 65 percent reduction in the aviation fatal accident rate between 1997 and 2006.

Before the fatal crash in Buffalo last month, the DOT said that there had been no fatal commercial accidents for more than two years. (Source: IATA, DOT press releases).

Airlines Travel Update American and Delta

Alaska Airlines

American AAdvantage Reduces Mileage Accrual, But Drops FF Booking Fee
American Airlines’ AAdvantage no longer offers minimum mileage guarantee for its non-elite status members for shorter flights on American Airlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection, oneworld member airlines, AAdvantage participating airlines as well as rail service and codeshare service booked under an AA flight number.

Customers now will earn AAdvantage miles only for the actual miles flown or, in some cases, for the applicable percentage of miles flown. But, in a give-back for travelers, American has eliminated the $5 fee to book frequent flyer miles. (Source: American Airlines press release).

New Delta Three-Tiered Award Structure Gives More Flexibility for Redeeming Miles
Delta Air Lines new three-tiered Award structure allows customers to combine dates, as well as Economy, First and BusinessElite cabin seating at various mileage levels to create their itineraries.

SkyMiles members also are able, once again, to use miles to book the last seat on a flight. For booking a round-trip flight, tiers now start at 25,000, 40,000 and 60,000 miles rather than 25,000 and 50,000 miles. Customers may search for and book Award Travel using the new structure online. Members cam earn miles with Delta, Delta Shuttle, the Delta Connection carriers, Delta AirElite and other SkyTeam airlines as well as with more than 100 partners, including the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card. (Source: Delta press release)

American Offers Priority Check
in and Boarding to Eite and Premium Travelers at JFK American Airlines is now offering PriorityAAccess privileges at John F. Kennedy International Airport to AAdvantage elite status members, First and Business Class travelers, AAirpass customers, and full-fare Economy Class customers.

They get a dedicated check-in area at the ticket counter, go through exclusive security screening lanes and have a separate boarding lane at JFK departure gates.

Signs clearly mark special check-in areas and security lanes. Priority AAcess security lanes are also available at Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare, Miami, Los Angeles, New York La Guardia, St. Louis, San Francisco, Boston and San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Source: AA press release).

Global Entry Program Speeds Frequent Travelers Through Passport Control
at Chicago

US. Customs has opened Global Entry centers at Chicago O’Hare International to expedite international arrival processing for returning U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Global Entry travelers go to a special kiosk and insert their U.S. passports or lawful permanent resident cards into a document reader. The kiosk will direct travelers to provide digital fingerprints and will compare that biometric data with the fingerprints on file.

Global Entry is in place at JFK, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston and Washington Dulles airports. (Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection press release).

TSA, Continental Test Paperless Boarding in Cleveland
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Continental Airlines are testing Paperless Boarding Passes at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

The boarding passes are passengers’ cell phones or PDAs. The passes have bar codes and passenger and flight information; security officers check them with handheld scanners. (Source: Continental press release).

TSA Expands Self Select Lanes to Newark
The Transportation Security Administration has expanded its Self-Select Lanes to Newark International Airport; 44 airports now have these lanes, which direct travelers based on their travel needs and knowledge.

Casual are for less frequent travelers, Family/Special Assistance for those traveling with small children or strollers or with elderly people or those who need special assistance. (Source: TSA press release).