Having two new aircraft of the same type involved in tragic and fatal accidents in the space of five months is a very unusual state of affairs but, without any solid information from the authorities investigating the crashes, it's important that we resist the urge to start apportioning blame for those disasters.
An article in yesterday's Seattle Times makes for worrying reading if you're a flyer, a Boeing shareholder or a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) manager because it suggests that the certification process for the Boeing 737 MAX was hurried, botched and, to a significant degree, passed back to Boeing engineers to do themselves.
The European Union, Australia, China and India are just an example of the regions and countries where the 737 MAX aircraft may no longer operate (temporarily) but the US airline regulator (FAA) and the US airlines who operate the aircraft are, at the time of writing, sticking firm in their stance that the aircraft is perfectly safe. Why?
There's no doubt that Boeing has a big issue on its hands with the rapidly growing perception that all may not be quite right with its 737 MAX 8 aircraft but, right now, all we have is speculation and commentary from (mostly) uninformed sources and people demanding that Boeing makes reassuring noises in the direction of the general public.
Joe Biden famously once compared New York's LaGuardia airport to a third world country and not many people disagreed with him (although the comment may have been a bit unfair on third world countries). Since then LaGuardia has been undergoing some significant changes and there was a big reshuffle a little over a year ago when Delta, JetBlue and American Airlines all moved around to new locations. Now we're about to see the next phase of LaGuardia's regeneration.
I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Citi ThankYou points and Amex Membership Rewards points all at 1.5 cents each so it may seem strange that, at times, I choose to earn the equivalent of a 4.5% rebate through Chase or Citi rather than an effective 7.5% rebate through American Express...but there's a very good reason for this.
There are a number of complicated ways in which experienced travelers maximise their chances of getting a complimentary upgrade or having one of their upgrade instruments clear....but there's one simple thing everyone hoping for an upgrade can do to give themselves the best possible chance of sitting upfront.
In late March the United States decided to introduce a ban on all inflight electronics larger than a smartphone for departures to the US from 10 airports in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. A few days later the United Kingdom introduced a similar ban but only from 6 of the airports the US targeted. There were rumors at the time that the US may consider extending that ban to other airport and now those rumors appear to be hitting a crescendo.
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We already have OneWorld, the Star Alliance and SkyTeam as alliances unifying a large number of the world's full service carriers but now we have something big at the other end of the scale too. Eight low-cost carriers in the Asia-Pacific region have banded together to form the world's first pan-regional low-cost alliance that they're calling "The Value Alliance".