Yes, three people died last July when an Asiana jet misjudged its landing at San Francisco’s airport last year. But among US carriers, the last incident involving a passenger’s death was in February of 2009 when a Continental commuter flight, Colgan Air, crashed near Buffalo, NY, killing 44 people on board.
How do we account for such an extraordinary record?
I asked Patrick Smith, a pilot for a large, commercial airline in the US and author of the book Cockpit Confidential. He attributed the excellent stats to better crew training, more advanced cockpit equipment and improvements in airport infrastructure, and better collaboration between the government, airline unions, and airlines.
It’s something to keep in mind when you’re next inconvenienced by a flight delay, your bag goes missing, you find yourself crowded in a middle seat, or your choice of an entrée isn’t available on your flight.
Incidentally, each day, more than nine people die in auto accidents in the US.
The London magazine Time Out calls it the “contender for the best opening of the year.”
Ziferblat is owned by a Russian company, and the company calls Ziferblat a “social experiment.” The goal is to get folks to hang out in a congenial atmosphere. So the café is filled with comfortable chairs, writing tables, and Wi-fi. You’re welcome to sit down and socialize, read the newspaper or a book, or work.
Help yourself to coffee or tea or any snacks on offer—it’s all free. You just pay a nickel for every minute you’re in the house. That’s $3 an hour, and if you regularly spend $5 for a fancy coffee at a rival place, you may be ahead of the game if you spend less than two hours at Ziferblat.
I haven’t visited, so I can’t describe the food offerings, but it’s certainly an interesting concept. If you spend four hours a day writing the Great American Novel at a Starbucks, though, this might not be a business model that works for you.
Ten days ago, Delta Airlines tried to sugar coat a new fee aimed at passengers who enjoy airport club access because they carry an American Express Platinum Card or another credit card co-branded by Delta.
What’s all the fuss about?
Beginning May 1, Delta announced, it would cost someone using a club by virtue of the right credit card $29 to bring in a guest. That’s a perk that’s always been free. In fact, you could bring in your immediate family members or two guests.
This is going to make one group of travelers happy: Those who travel alone. They don’t care about guest charges and probably think private airline lounges are overcrowded.
And that’s how Delta sugar coated taking away this perk-by explaining that clubs will be less crowded. That’s true, and it’s true that many airport club rooms are overcrowded, including Delta’s.
But this rule change not only devalues the worth of those credit cards that made club membership a selling point. It also makes Delta clubs less valuable. I’m not about to pay $29 so a guest and I can nibble on modest snacks. If you don’t like this policy—or if you do—let Delta management know by writing the airline’s CEO at Richard.Anderson@delta.com.
Americans love to talk about the weather as evidenced by the success of The Weather Channel and a new rival that DirectTV is starting up. I’ve lately been struck by how relative weather is to what you’re accustomed to.
I lived more than 35 years in Washington, DC, where winters are so mild, the federal government and schools close down when three inches of snow hits the ground. Bread and milk disappear from store shelves. The last 10 years I’ve soldiered through Minnesota winters, where the morning TV weather reporters make happy talk when the temperature will be above zero in January. A foot of snow doesn’t close schools or government.
But I also spend a lot of time in Los Angeles where locals don down ski vests when the thermometer hits 60 degrees and worry about driving on those rare occasions when it rains.
Not only does travel deliver new experiences in sights, sounds, smells, cuisine, art, language and a dozen of other things, the outlook on something as basic as the weather varies, too, and it’s great fun to see how one man’s spring-like weather is another’s bitter cold.
But I’d still rather be in SoCal in January.
Four of this country’s biggest airlines—American, Delta, United, and US Airways—are digging in their heels about the entry of the low-coast carrier called Norwegian that’s begun offering deeply discounted fares between the US and Europe.
This is going to get messy.
You might think an airline called Norwegian flies out of Norway, and it does. But it wants to hire lower-cost pilots out of Asia so it established a subsidiary in Ireland that is part of the European Union, which Norway is not. The EU has an Open Skies agreement with the US that allows airlines to fly between treaty countries at will
US airlines, along with the US-based pilots’ union, are opposing Norwegian’s application in Ireland to obtain a permanent EU license. Meanwhile, the airline is already flying between Europe and New York and Ft. Lauderdale. Service to LA, San Francisco/Oakland, and Miami is to follow soon with fares at less than $600 round trip. That includes all taxes and fees.
And with US carriers charging hundreds of dollars more, well, you get the picture. Are Asian pilots less qualified than European or US pilots? No. But this is a radical move, and it will be interesting to see who wins this one.