Month: December 2009

Random Musings on Travel: Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Yes, there is travel related news out there other than TSA and DL/NW 253.  Listed below in no particular chronological order: Japan Airlines’ stock dropped 24 percent today.  Apparently the wheels have started to come off and bankruptcy is a real possibility. Jeff Smisek takes the left seat at Continental on 1/1. Continental, United and ANA filed for antitrust immunity. Royal Caribbean obtained financing for Allure of the Seas.  🙂  Sorry, just couldn’t leave that out.  You know I love cruising. I received my Delta Medallion card in the mail.  I heart being Medallion again. Man, it feels good to talk about something other than terrorism and TSA!  Now back to serious stuff! ...

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I’m Going to Defend the TSA

Yes, that’s right.  I am going to defend the TSA.  Shocking I know.  While it’s obvious that I don’t agree with some of the things TSA pulled in the immediate aftermath of DL/NW 253, I have to acknowlege that TSA is in a damned if you do/damned if you don’t situation.  They had to do something.  And I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt. This happened on a holiday weekend, and I can’t help but think that the pincipals were out of town on holiday.  Yes, I know that no one is truly out of touch anymore, but I’m just sayin’…..  Couple that with the fact that TSA remains without a permanent leader, and I can paint a mental picture of well-intentioned people going a little overboard and implementing certain processes that proved unworkable in the end.  Thankfully, TSA seems to have recognized its error. I support the idea of TSA, and I really do think that the overwhelming majority of TSA employees have the best interests of all travelers at heart.  I also happen to believe that we as a country need to rethink our approach to transportation security.  Our focus remains far too dedicated to finding objects and not finding people.  We expend untold security resources on taking Barney Fife’s belt buckle shaped like a gun (seriously, I saw TSA take a belt buckle from...

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There’s a Silver Lining in NW 253

Silver lining?  I must be drinking.  No, I’m quite serious.  There is a silver lining in the Christmas Day security incident on NW 253.  How so?  Frankly, it’s been a while since 2001, the shoe bomber, and whatever else.  We’ve had a pretty good run of luck with terrorist activity and aviation.  And I think that has made many of us who fly somewhat complacent.  With this, I think we have all been reminded that there are still some very bad people out there who don’t like us very much, and would love nothing more than to be successful in bringing down an airliner.  Look at the events of the last few days as a wakeup call.  Keep your eyes open, and if you see something suspicious, do us all a favor and let someone...

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Details on Security Changes

Fellow Boardingarea.com blogger Steve Frischling over at Flying with Fish has posted details of the TSA Security Directive issued in the aftermath of NW 253.  These directives aren’t “classified” and the information is are considered security sensitive information, but this one appears pretty generic.  One thing did pop out at me, there is no additional limit on the amount of carry on luggage.  It would seem that those airlines which have posted limits took it upon themselves to do so.  The TSA did not direct those airlines to do this, they are doing it because of the requirement in the directive to physically inspect every piece of carry on luggage.  Fewer bags to inspect means less time spent digging through bags and gets everyone on the airplane quicker.  Not a bad idea, but the airlines that are implementing this restriction need to be honest about why they are doing so. The requirement to disable live television programming and internet access is an especially huge blow to those carriers that have invested in such systems, not to mention companies like LiveTV, Row 44, and the rest.  We can only hope that this is relaxed in the coming weeks.  One other item of interest, the directive has an expiration date of December 30th.  We’ll see what happens after that. I know it can sometimes seem like one hand doesn’t know what the other is...

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Traveling by Air – Pack Some Patience with TSA

I’m not going to review the situation with Northwest 253 yesterday.  Unless you’ve been really out of touch, you know that some jackhole managed to burn himself and others trying to blow the airplane up yesterday.  Preliminarily at least, it looks like he was packing some pretty powerful explosives and we are very fortunate that something went wrong in the detonation process, or we could be looking at a much more horrible outcome. Expect some changes at security right away.  They may already be happening.  Here’s a link to a New York Times article on the subject.  Hat tip to Dan Webb for the article.  Joe Brancatelli reported in an alert to his members this morning (note: I am a subscriber to Joe’s newsletter) that Air Canada and WestJet have already put some more onerous restrictions in place including a limit of one carry on bag.  Here’s a link to an announcement about new security procedures on Air Canada’s website.  The situation is evolving rapidly and I wouldn’t expect TSA to publish every possible change they might implement in advance.  Pack a little patience and extra time into your air travel plans beginning...

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Happy Holidays from MJ on Travel

Just a brief missive to wish everyone the best of holiday seasons.  Mrs MJonTravel and I are in North Carolina now celebrating Christmas, but we plan to head back home to DC today.  Look out I-95!  I hope the drive back will be as easy as the drive down.  We left our home in northwest DC at 4:45am on Christmas Eve! I’ll post more this week, including my vision for the blog moving into 2010.  Looking forward to a prosperous new year! My best to...

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Hotel Review: Omni Atlanta CNN Center

I recently completed a 2-night stay at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta.  This was a business-related stay, and the Omni happens to be the absolute closest hotel to my Atlanta work site.  Given that I’ve done about as much as I can do with my usual hotel programs, and my need to maximize my office time for such a short trip, I booked the Omni.  I’ll talk about Omni’s frequency plan later, but for now, let’s focus on the stay itself which was flawless. The hotel, as the name implies, is located at the CNN Center in downtown Atlanta.  The south tower is located within CNN Center, and is attached to the north tower via a bridge which is completely climate controlled.  The hotel is easily accessed from the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport via Atlanta’s subway system, MARTA, and the Georgia Dome/Phillips Arena/CNN Center Station.  Check-in Check-in was friendly and would’ve been swift were it not for my corporate credit card.  It seems that my purchase of a MARTA roundtrip at the automated fare machine at Hartsfield tripped off JPMorgan-Chase’s fraud sensor.  Nevermind that every trip I’ve ever taken to Atlanta starts with the same purchase after touchdown, and my airplane ticket to Atlanta had been purchased with the same card for travel that day.  Oh well, a phone call and a few questions answered and I...

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Randsom Musings on Travel – December 19, 2009

It’s Snowing in DC It’s been a while since we’ve had this much snow.  I was still working for AA during the big President’s Day storm in 2003.  The airport was closed for at least 2 days, but the customers still showed up.  Advice to the uninitiated:  when there’s a blizzard warning posted for your area, check with your airline before you risk your life getting to the airport for a flight that is likely canceled.  All the airlines have posted storm policies for airports affected by our first big winter storm and will waive change and cancellation fees. What an Awful Week for a Snow Storm I remember the week and weekend before Christmas as far busier than the day or two immediately prior to the big day.  A LOT of people are being negatively impacted by this mess.  The only silver lining I see is that apparently airlines have dropped their advance purchase restrictions for Christmas travel.  Translation: there are empty seats out there waiting to be sold.  So there’s some hope for everyone to eventually get home by Christmas. Why Are There Empty Seats at Christmas? Answer (my opinion only): airlines jacked fares way up hoping to sell seats at the highest possible price, adding surcharges for days surrounding holiday travel.  I think pricing may have been too aggressive as most leisure travelers are looking for...

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Coming this Weekend

Looks like we’re going to have heavy snow in DC this weekend.  That’s a good thing, because I owe you a review of my stay at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta this week.  Look for that over the weekend as well as my thoughts on the 787’s first flight, the end of Citi AAdvantage Card churning, and...

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