Monday, September 27, 2010

Wowza Travel News Today

Southwest Gobbles Up Air Tran
The travel world is buzzing, and frantically tweeting, about the elopement of Southwest and AirTran this morning. Seems Southwest has quietly bought AirTran for $1.4 billion in cash and stocks. This will gain Southwest a toe-hold into important markets (such as Atlanta) and transform the carrier into an international airline (when it takes over AirTran's flights to Mexico and the Caribbean).
Photo by AComment

What's up in the air? A lot, actually. Will Southwest start offering first class service, as AirTran does? Will its boarding procedures and fee structures change, to dovetail with those of its mate? Will the Feds approve the merger?

And most importantly, when will airfares start to rise? Because that's the inevitable outcome of this type of consolidation. My condolences go out, particularly, to those who fly out of Dulles. AirTran and Southwest were the #1 and #2 presences there; methinks this is bad news for Washingtonians.

Airline fees up 50% in last year?
That's the juicy headline over at USAToday which has found massive increases in existing fees and an explosion in new types of fees. Believe it or not, it now costs $300 to change an international flight on American Airlines. It seems American's reservationists are so overtaxed by the hissy fits thrown by international travelers, they require a constant supply of champagne and chocolate truffles. Or at least that's what I'm guessing; I can see no other reason why a 10-minute procedure to change a ticket should cost $300 bucks!

General Strike in Spain Set for this Wednesday
This may not be top news for everyone, but it is for me, as I'm scheduled to fly into Barcelona Wednesday morning (gulp!). According to what I've read, concessions have been made by the unions which will allow 40% of the international flights to arrive. I've called Iberia and they say the flights still on, so I'm hoping (praying!) that we're in that 40%. A friend of a friend has kindly offered to whisk me out of the chaos by picking me up at the airport. Now, all I need to do is figure out what kind of elaborate thank you gift is appropriate for this kind gesture. We'll see.

Prices rise for what may be one of the most painfully bad shows at sea
There's much to like about the new Norwegian Epic (its singles cabins, in particular, are a great innovation). But the Cirque Dreams show isn't one of them. I know, I walked out halfway through it (as did many others the night I saw it). NCL is raising the prices because its proved to be their most popular show. And frankly, I'm not surprised at its popularity. When you name something "Cirque" most people are going to assume they're getting a real "Cirque du Soleil" show. They aren't. Take this post as a warning not to waste your money on this overly loud, vulgar, mind-numbingly poor show. NCL: you had the good sense to bring in the real and terrific "Blue Man Group" to perform. Instead of ripping off the Cirque concept, why not give your passengers a taste of the real thing with that as well? It might build more repeat customers.

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