All posts in Airlines

“Did you know…United’s pilots have developed a plan to force the airline’s leaders to lead?”

(TheStreet.com)

United Chairman, Jeff Smisek; photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

United Chairman, Jeff Smisek; photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

In an exclusive story, TheStreet.com reports that United Airlines’ pilots developed a plan that will, they say, encourage CEO Jeff Smisek to “lead or get out of the way.”

While chief competitors, Delta and American, are making headway in improving relations between management and labor, United hasn’t been able to implement the new airline partnership model.

According to TheStreet.com and a letter from the Washington pilot leaders, “The gap between Delta and United is widening. Without a plan to force leadership here, we will end up in a distant third and not even be in the same playing field as our two major competitors.

Read the full story on TheStreet.com: http://www.thestreet.com/story/12718630/1/exclusive-united-pilots-to-ceo–lead-or-get-out-of-the-way.html?cm_ven=skyg

 

 

One-on-One with Steve Lewis, Founder and CEO of AirPooler

This month, ExpertFlyer talks with Steve Lewis, founder and CEO of AirPooler, a platform that lets pilots and travelers easily find one another to share expenses on private flights the pilots would be doing anyway.

Steve Lewis, CEO, AirPooler.com“Our mission is to make general aviation more accessible and affordable.”

– Steve Lewis, CEO of AirPooler

Where does AirPooler fit in to the air travel industry? In terms of price and accessibility, is your service a real option for the regular air traveler?

Private pilots have been ride-sharing since the days of the Wright brothers. AirPooler is just making it much easier to do. In terms of how this fits into the world of aviation, these are small planes (single or double prop) that fly to smaller general aviation airports that are almost never served by commercial airlines. At the same time, weather is a big factor for smaller planes and pilots cancel or change flight plans often. So ride-sharing on small planes is not a substitute for regular air travel. It is a different option that people can use to expand the range of their regional leisure travel.

Who is your typical passenger and how are they using your service most effectively?

AirPooler’s typical passenger is tech savvy, loves to travel and explore but is short on time and careful about how she/he uses it. They’ll use AirPooler to do something, or go somewhere that otherwise wouldn’t have been an option – especially for short durations like weekends.

How do you vet pilots? If experience is the most important contributor to air safety, are pilots screened by hours of flight time?

AirPooler facilitates pilot and passenger ride-sharing and does not itself offer transportation services or in any way become involved in vetting pilots or the airworthiness of airplanes. However, we work closely with well-regarded pilot clubs which have extensive programs and resources devoted to safety and pilot training.

What types of planes are used and how many people can be accommodated per flight?

Most airplanes are piston-driven single or double propeller planes that can seat from 2 to 6 people, including the pilot. In practice, because of weight limitations, most planes fly with less than their full passenger payload.

How much lead time is required to book a flight with AirPooler?

Most pilots decide on their flight plans a maximum of 4-5 days out. Depending on the popularity of the destination, available spots can fill very quickly or remain open. And since these are flights the pilots would be doing anyway, passengers can often find rides to share very close to departure.

AirPooler was launched last year with service in California. What markets are you servicing now and where are you expanding to within the next few years?

Just to clarify: AirPooler launched to the public in California in March of this year, following a multi-month private beta. We’ve received hundreds of inquiries from pilots and prospective passengers around the country who want to know when the service will be available in their home airports. We’re trying to figure this out now.

Do you think AirPooler will reach critical mass, such that major commercial air carriers will feel a pinch from you competitively? How many flights are you facilitation a month now?

As I mentioned, AirPooler pilots fly mainly to smaller airports that are not served commercially so ride-sharing is not really a substitute for flying commercial. As a small private company, we do not disclose overall usage numbers for competitive reasons.

Is the key benefit to pilots using this service filling empty seats? What’s their feedback been?

Yes. The cost of flying has continued to grow with increasing fuel prices, forcing many pilots to cut back dramatically on their flying time. So, defraying some of their costs is a big deal for most pilots. But many pilots also value companionship.

Are you looking at offering any type of frequent flyer rewards program in the future?

Most likely not. Federal regulations prohibit pilots from taking compensation (passengers on AirPooler pay only their pro-rata share of a trip’s costs) and require pilots and passengers to have bona fide independent reasons for making any trip. We would not want to introduce incentives that may interfere with that.

There have been other startups that have launched similar travel options, like BlackJet and SurfAir. How is AirPooler different and better and how will you succeed where they failed?

BlackJet sold discounted seats on chartered jets. Even discounted, the economics of that are incredibly different: at least $4000 an hour for jet travel, vs. $50-100 an hour on light airplanes. So these are totally different audiences. SurfAir is a commercial airline that operates on a membership basis: customers pay a monthly fee and get “all you can fly.” Flights listed on AirPooler are by private pilots, on a non-commercial basis.

“Did you know…Four Seasons Takes Guests to the Skies with Branded Jet?”

Luxury hotel chain, Four Seasons, rolls out the red carpet with the company’s new Private Jet Experience. According to a USA Today report, reservations are open now for three packages that include airfare, hotel stays, excursions, and meals. Not surprisingly, it comes at a hefty price, starting at $69,000 per person.

“The Four Seasons Jet takes our legendary service to the skies and speaks to our pioneering spirit and the aspirations of today’s modern luxury traveler in an imaginative new way,” says Susan Helstab, executive vice president of marketing for Four Seasons.

Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/dispatches/2014/04/23/four-seasons-hotels-private-jet/7884793/

“Did you know…Teen Terror Tweeter is Arrested?”

(USA TODAY)

Teen tweeting terror to AA is arrested“hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye.”

The above tweet directed to American Airlines at @americanair, came from the Twitter account of a Netherlands teen named “Sarah” last Sunday.  USA Today reports that the teen has been arrested upon turning herself in.  She was accompanied by a parent and is currently under interrogation in Rotterdam.

“The safety of our passengers and crew is our number one priority. We take security matters very seriously and work with authorities on a case by case basis,” American Airlines said to The Huffington Post. “Regarding (the) tweet, we removed it after it had been addressed in order to be able to focus on our customers.”

Read the entire story here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/todayinthesky/2014/04/14/girl-sends-terroristic-tweet-to-aa-gets-unwanted-response/7694161/

“Did you know…You can get $1,000 for your Lost Baggage?”

blue ribbon bagsA new insurance company called Blue Ribbon Bags gives travelers peace of mind in the event that they experience suitcase separation. For a mere $5.00 service fee, Blue Ribbon Bags pays luggage-less travelers $1,000 for each bag lost by the airline after four days missing.  Even better, you don’t have to come up with any receipts for baggage contents to receive payment.

Who says insurance isn’t exciting? Visit www.blueribbonbags.com to learn more.