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26 October 2012

How severe storms can affect your air travel plans

Should hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the US early next week, anyone planning to fly anywhere in the US may expect serious delays or even flight cancellations. Because US airlines are not required to provide any kind of reimbursement or compensation for flight delays or cancellations.

This storm may be particularly destructive because it may combine with other weather systems in conditions similar to those that created the 'Perfect Storm' of movie fame. Already this upcoming storm, possibly occurring around Halloween, has been given the nickname 'Frankenstorm.'

What flights may be affected If your airline has flights anywhere on the east coast of the US, a large major storm could disrupt your airline's flights throughout your network, and there may be disruptions for several days before and after the storm hits.

The current forecasts have the storm hitting the east coast early next week in an area that include airports in or near Baltimore, Boston, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. Airlines with major operations in this region include American, United, US Airways, Southwest, and JetBlue. Also, a number of international airlines fly into cities in this region.

Compensation for delays and cancellations For domestic US Flights, there are no US federal regulations that require any compensation for a delayed or cancelled flight. However, your airline may have a special policy for compensating passengers whose flights are delayed or cancelled by a major storm, and those policies may include things such as waiving fees for changing reservations.

What Should You Do?

  • Check to see if your flight is affected
  • Check the airline's web site for special notices about the storm
  • Keep track of storm forecasts
  • Be prepared to have your flight delayed, rerouted, or cancelled

Airline Travel Issues and Hurricanes

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Compensation for delays and overbookings
Airline travel issues and hurricanes

22 October 2012

Meet's New Featured Cartoonist

The cartoonist Andy Singer, who has created a number of cartoons that take a humorous look at modern airline travel, has graciously allowed to feature several of his cartoons. Please take a look at some of his cartoons that are on the following pages:

Andy Singer: How Far Will We Go?Please feel free to send us comments about the cartoons at If you think they are funny, we will have more. If not, we will strike a more serious tone at

In any case, please be sure to visit Andy's site at

Near collision of USAF KC135 and NATO E3 AWACS

This isn't too relevant to commercial airline safety, but the following incident did produce a rather dramatic video. Shortly after a NATO E3 AWACS connected to a USAF KC135 for refueling, the refueling boom is disconnected and the AWACS comes perilously close to hitting the KC135.

The USAF KC135 was from the combined 537/137 Air Refueling Wing of Tinker AFB near Oklahoma City, OK. It is not clear from the video where the NATO AWACS was based.

For other videos of plane crashes and near crashes, visit

If anyone has any information about this event, please contact us.

20 October 2012

A talk on the future of the European airline industry

Lufthansa executive Sadiq Gillani spoke to an overflow crowd at MIT last week, at a presentation sponsored by the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, where he presented an overview of the present state and likely future of airlines in Europe. Much of what he said had a familiar ring to it, especially to passengers who have experienced firsthand the changes in the US airline industry over the last decade.

Airline Profitability
One of Sadiq's not so surprising observations was that businesses that support airlines, for example maintenance and catering companies, are more consistently profitable than the airlines. There are many reasons for this, among them a cost structure, especially when it comes to the cost of capital and labor, that can't adjust quickly to changing market conditions.

One example of this that is an ongoing area of interest to US passengers is the how much pilots are paid. Sadiq mentioned that some senior Lufthansa pilots are compensated about 300,000 euro per year, or about $400,000 per year. By comparison, pilots at many major US airlines have had to take severe pay and benefits cuts, and new pilots at smaller carriers may get paid considerably less than $20,000 per year, about as much as the lowest level enlisted person in the US military.

While many US airlines have addressed cost issues by layoffs or restructuring debt or labor contracts through bankruptcy, Lufthansa and other European airlines have addressed cost issues by other means, including creating low-cost carriers to handle less profitable routes, expanding into more profitable airline support businesses, and growing revenue through joint ventures with other airlines.

Service Changes in Europe
A considerable portion of passenger traffic through many of the smaller cities in Lufthansa's network is for transit passengers who are changing planes, and a minority of the routes generate significant profits for the airline. As has been the case in the US with its extensive network of hub-and-spoke airports, Lufthansa and other airlines with significant hub-and-spoke operations will over time reduce services to and from some smaller markets, or replace some current flights with lower cost airline subsidiaries.

The most significant competition mentioned by Sadiq was from airlines outside of Europe, particularly Emirates and other airlines from the Gulf region. In part because these airlines have lower cost structures due to lower labor costs, lower taxes and fees in their home countries, and lower financing costs. The latter are lower because some of these airlines, unlike Lufthansa, are able to borrow at rates closer to that seen by governments, as opposed to the higher rates that are charged even for profitable and financially stable airlines like Lufthansa.

Ancillary Revenues
This is a somewhat fancy term for the extra fees and charges that have become the norm in the US. From checked bag fees, to early check-in fees, to fees for meals in coach, the average US traveler has come to expect to pay for what used to be offered for free with every ticket. Sadiq sees this as an area of opportunity and increased profits for Lufthansa and other major airlines in Europe.

Effect on passengers
The picture painted by Sadiq makes the near future for passengers in Europe look very similar to the current situation for passengers in the US. The availability of flights will likely decrease for smaller cities within Europe as routes are dropped or flight frequencies are reduced. Larger airlines like Lufthansa may use some of their lower cost subsidiary airlines to take an increasing share of this traffic. At the same time, passenger fees will increase for services and amenities that are currently free, and will form a more significant portion of future profits for Lufthansa and for other airlines in Europe.

15 October 2012

Todd Curtis Interviewed about his new airline complaint book

subscribe.airsafe.comCover of Airline Complaint GuideDr. Todd Curtis of was recently interviewed on the nationally syndicated radio talk show Rudy Maxa's World about his latest book, Airline Complaint Guide. Rudy and Todd talked about a number of subjects, including the most common kinds of complaints seen by and when a passenger should not complain.

This latest book is the first of a series of books that will be published by the end of 2012, with the next book covering child travel issues.

Todd Curtis interview on 13 October 2012
Listen to the interview

How to get this book
To get this newest title, simply join the mailing list at If you are a mailing list member, look for the book link in your latest email, or contact for a copy.

08 October 2012

Loose Seats Grounds Dozens of American 757s

Last week's temporary grounding of dozens of American Airlines 757s was due two three incidents where passenger seats came loose in flight. In all three cases, which involved two aircraft, no one was injured and the aircraft landed without incident.

The incidents, which occurred in late September and on 1 October 2012, eventually led to the cancellations of 95 flights on the 4th and 5th of October, and involved 48 of the 102 757s in American Airline's fleet. The temporary grounding led to roughly 1,000 cancelled flights and over 10,000 delayed passengers.

The grounded aircraft had their seats checked, and at least four other aircraft had improperly secured seats, though none of the passenger seats on these aircraft came loose in flight. All aircraft were returned to service by October 7th.

The 48 grounded aircraft all had recent modifications to some rows of passenger seats where the rows of seats were moved to provide greater legroom. The airline identified several factors which led to the seat problems, including installation issues, problems with a seat locking mechanism, and the effects that spilled soft drinks and other debris may have had on the locking mechanism.

 Other American Airlines issues
These seat incidents generated significant media attention last week, and caused the media and the flying public to scrutinize several recent American Airlines events that were unrelated to the 757 seat issues, including a flight delay due to problems with a pilot's seat, and unscheduled landings involving smoke in the cabin, a flap warning light, and landing gear issues.

Along with the recent incidents, American Airlines has been restructuring agreements with many of its unions after filing for bankruptcy last year. In the past couple of months, the company has announced announced that it will be closing down one majore maintenance facility and outsourcing some of its maintenance work that had previously been done by American Airlines employees.

No connection between seat issues and other events
While recent the recent 757 passenger issues and other safety-related incidents may be a cause for concern for some passengers, there is no obvious connection between those incidents and any changes in operational practices by American Airlines. It appears that only the loose passenger seat incidents were due to a related cause, and the airline took actions that addressed the problem.

As for the effect that going through bankruptcy and outsourcing maintenance may have on airline operations, no matter what organization performs the airline's maintenance, that organization will still have the same kind of regulatory oversight, and American Airline will still be responsible for ensuring that their aircraft meet or exceed all the appropriate requirements, regardless of their current financial condition.

03 October 2012

Get the New Airline Complaint Guide from

Cover of Airline Complaint GuideThis book provides airline passengers with advice on how effectively complain to their airline or to the TSA when they experience bad service. More importantly, it gives passengers detailed advice on how avoid situations that may lead to a complaint.

Who is this Book For?
Anyone who flies knows that there are a number of situations that can ruin your trip and end up costing you time and money to fix. Complaining about your problem may help, but avoiding the situation that led to the complaint would help even more. In this book, airline safety and security expert Dr.Todd Curtis shows how passengers should complain to their airline or to the TSA when things go wrong during a trip.

How to get this book
To get this newest title, simply join the mailing list at If you are a mailing list member, look for the book link in your latest email, or contact us for a copy.

All on board killed in Sita Air crash in Nepal

28 August 2018; Sita Air; 9N-AHA; flight 601; Dornier 228-200; Kathmandu, Nepal: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, Nepal, and crashed shortly after takeoff. The aircraft reportedly struck a vulture about 50 feet off the ground. The bird hit the right engine, and the plane crashed while the crew was attempting to returen to the airport. All three crew members and 16 passengers were killed.
Dornier 228 Crash History This was the 12th crash of a Dornier 228 that resulted in the death of at least one airline passenger. The most recent two fatal Dornier 228 plane crashes both involved Agni Air in Nepal, with one crash in 2012 and the more recent one in May 2012. In all, five of the 12 Dornier 228 crashes have occurred in Nepal About Agni Air Agni Air began flight operations in March 2006, and prior to the crash had a fleet of about a half dozen Jetstream 41 and Dornier 228 aircraft. Additional Resources Bird strike hazards to aircraft Photo credits: Reuters, AP