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Posts Tagged ‘misc.’

I’m back in Washington after a great visit to Dallas and Southwest Airlines’ headquarters for media day. Kudos to their communications team for putting together a fantastic program for the reporters, analysts, and bloggers present. Thanks are also due to Southwest for its hospitality and openness. Southwest had us meeting and talking with their top executives, right up to Gary Kelly.

Me with Paula Berg

Me with Paula Berg

A special thanks goes to Southwest’s “blog girl” and communications director, Paula Berg, who was responsible for inviting us “emerging media” folks down to Dallas. She runs Nuts about Southwest, which Brett Snyder calls “the best” of the airline blogs. It was a real pleasure to meet Paula.

Me with Rob Mark

Me with Rob Mark

I also had the pleasure of meeting a number of the industry’s top bloggers in person, all of whom you’ll find in the blogroll on the right and many of whom I’ve communicated with by e-mail in the past. Jetwhine‘s Robert Mark; Flight reporter Megan Kuhn, who writes the Terminal Q blog; Holly Hegeman of Plane Business; and Star-Telegram reporter Trebor Banstetter, who blogs with a Metroplex focus at Sky Talk.

Paula said she had hoped that Brett Snyder (a.k.a. the Cranky Flier) could make it, but his nuptials this weekend seem to have taken priority. Congratulations!

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Dallas-bound

I’m leaving for Dallas shortly to attend Southwest Airlines’ media day. Look forward to a dispatch or two from Dallas in this space tomorrow. Is there a policy issue you’d like me to ask Southwest about? Let me know in the comments.

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Benet points us to a new initiative by Lufthansa to get into the student travel market by running a social networking site. It provides forums, games, and access to special fares. It’s nice that Lufthansa is reaching out to this demographic, but I don’t know how useful it will prove. I’m no longer a student, so I’m not eligible to sign up, but I don’t think I would if I could. The proliferation of social networks is actually a pain for me. Who wants to have so many log-ins and passwords? I try to limit my exposure, and for this reason, I love Google, through which I follow blogs via RSS, use email, maintain my calendar, comment on Blogger-based blogs, and participate in groups. Facebook, a real social network, has the same sort of thing going on — instead of letting people run all over the web, people can bring everything under one roof. I like OpenID, which allows me to use a log-in for one site at others. That’s what I’d prefer, and if Lufthansa wants to reach folks like me who want to enjoy some simplicity in our frenetic online lives, they’d be of a mind to introduce useful applications for existing social networks and aggregation sites, not necessarily to create ones of their own.

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More on the BAA case

I have a guest post on the Competition Commission’s remedies for BAA’s common ownership over at Towers and Tarmacs. Thanks to Benet Wilson for the invitation!

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Happy (con)trails

I’m headed off to the West Coast for a week; in the meantime, a few of the aviation blogosphere’s top writers have graciously agreed to offer some policy perspectives in this space. I hope you enjoy their writing, and I’ll be back with you soon.

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B-roll

The following post has nothing to do with aviation policy; it’s just a rant. This story came across my reader today. What’s wrong with the screen cap below?

If that jet in the picture looks like it’s in Continental’s livery, you’re right. The editors chose the do a screen grab of a Continental aircraft on a story about United. Why? Beats me, but it seems to go along with a general illiteracy about commercial aviation in the mainstream media.

I was once interviewed last fall for a segment on the Essential Air Service. The segment focused on flights at Washington Dulles Airport; all of the “b-roll” — the background footage that airs as people talk — came from Reagan National. But at least they shot the right airline.

TV shows and movies get it wrong a lot, too, confusing airline liveries and aircraft types. A sitcom episode I saw not long ago, set in 2007, showed an establishing shot of the Delta terminal at New York’s JFK airport. The aircraft were L1011s and Boeing 727s — decked out in Delta’s mid-’90s livery — types Delta has not operated since 2001 and 2003, respectively. The worst offender in this category is the terrible short-lived sitcom The Loop, which focused on a young executive at a major airline. This show had every reason to be accurate; after all, it was about the airline industry. Instead, its understanding of the industry was juvenile, as if the writers merely skimmed a few newspaper articles. But its visual cues were much worse. It used footage of LaGuardia and Newark airports as establishing shots of Chicago-O’Hare. It would show a narrowbody plane in an establishing shot, then reveal a widebody interior — and vice versa. And no wonder the fictional airline was hemorrhaging money — they were, according to the show, operating 747s on domestic routes like Chicago-Denver!

This is, of course, a trivial tip of the iceberg. Patrick Smith nearly has a full-time job pointing out errors in the mainstream media’s reporting of much more serious aviation issues.

Rant over. Now back to your regularly scheduled wonkishness.

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In only the most marginally aviation-related news, the final round of the twentieth annual National Geographic Bee will be held today. In honor of the occasion, I have an article on American.com about the Bee and the importance of geography education.

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Quote of the day

Maybe it’s sex appeal, but there’s something about an airline that drives investors crazy.

–Alfred Kahn

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Herb Kelleher, the legendary founder of Southwest Airlines, proponent of low fares, and friend of deregulation, delivered the Charles A. Lindbergh Memorial Lecture tonight at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. He reflected on his long career in aviation, on the fundamentals of Southwest, and offered a few comments about the future of the airline industry. As usual, Kelleher’s lecture was full of humor — most of it at his own expense.

Kelleher recounted a number of critical moments in Southwest’s history, from the four years of litigation just to get started to the fight to operate out of Dallas’s Love Field. When Southwest launched with $26 fares, its competitors undercut the price by half. Kelleher said that he would still offer the same fare, but that every customer would get a bottle of whiskey. “We became the largest liquor distributor in the state of Texas!” he chuckled.

Even though almost all the major airlines opposed deregulation, and although observers thought Southwest would get stomped in a competitive environment, Kelleher said, “Southwest Airlines supported deregulation of the airline industry throughout the 1970s.” A sign of deregulation’s success? When Southwest launched, only 15 percent of American adults had been on a commercial airline flight. Today, 85 percent have, although this is not only due to lower fares but also a growing economy and general better standards of living. (more…)

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One of my favorite blogs, Strange Maps, posted an entry I submitted — Swiss International Airlines’s map of its American destinations, which is gloriously ill-informed about American geography. Apparently Hudson Bay is now a landmass, Sacramento is in Nevada, Memphis swapped places with Chattanooga, and . . . the errors continue. Just look at the map below. As a commenter on the blog noted, “Wow, this is almost beauty-pageant-contestant bad.”

I just hope Swiss’s navigational charts are correct, or else flights to “Pittsburg” better be equipped with pontoons.

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