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Miles flown for stories
2014: 137,829
2013: 330,818

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Is Spirit Airlines Over Reacting to New Federal Regulations?

Spirit is not afraid to give their opinion about the new rules on taxes and fees.

Spirit is not afraid to give their opinion about the new rules on taxes and fees.

If you have been on Spirit Airline’s website recently, you might have seen a big warning taking over your screen. The warning shows Spirit’s disdain for the Department of Transportation’s new fees and tax regulation that require airlines to include fees and taxes in their advertised prices. The warning states, “New government regulations require us to HIDE taxes in your fares. This is not consumer friendly or in your best interest. It’s wrong and you shouldn’t stand for it.”

Senator Barbara Boxer, D-California, is not happy with Spirit’s actions and has asked the airline’s CEO, Ben Baldanza, to remove the warning message off the website. Spirit Airlines is disappointed by the letter and spokeswoman Misty Pinson told CNN, “We would normally expect Senators to encourage 1st Amendment protection.”

“We have always shown taxes before someone purchased. They now want them hidden. It is wrong and we will fight for consumers,” Pinson said. Spirit is concerned that the government will be able to raise taxes without customers knowing and blaming the airlines for higher overall costs.

Why is the government targeting airlines? In most places in the US, you see a list price and know you will have to pay more (ie taxes) when you check out. Let’s take buying a car for example. It might be advertised as a $19,999.00 vehicle, but after adding taxes, licenses, dealer fees, interest and others, that $20,000 car ends up costing you much more than advertised. Why does the government feel the need to regulate the airline business, but allow other areas to do business as usual?

These new rules might not be permanent. Yesterday, Representative Tom Graves, R-Georgia, introduced legislation to counter the new rules. “If the American people can’t see these costs clearly, I fear it will be easier for these fees and taxes to be raised without their knowledge,” Graves said.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A320.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A320.

I asked some of my Twitter followers what they thought about the new regulations and Spirit’s reaction and I want to share a few reactions:

“As if raising fees is done in secrecy. Spirit has lost my support. Final price is the way to go,” @gusnyc.

“Seeing as taxes make a bulk of tix price for flying, it should be shown,” @MichaelLacek.

“I’d love for stores to show prices with taxes included. Shopping in sales tax-free Oregon is strange yet awesome,” @quanterium.

“Two flights advertised as the same amount but which “ring up” differently is bad for consumers,” @iansltx.

“Super easy way to show it: Total Fare: $275. Fare: $200. Taxes/Fees: $75. Why is everything airlines do so damn hard?” @smtpboy.

“It’s about time! Stop whining Spirit!” @PiloTgod.

“@spiritairlines is just mad they can’t advertise $9 fares anymore,” @amolkold.

Ah, I think @amolkold might have hit the nail on the head. Spirit loves to talk about their $9 fare deals, which always end up costing more than $9 after all the fees and taxes. Having to add those fees and taxes up front wouldn’t allow the airline to advertise a flat $9 fare.

As a la carte pricing becomes more popular with airlines, it seems to cause additional anger with many passengers. Even with a growing dis-like for fees, passengers keep on paying them and flying on airlines, like Spirit, who are well known for their low prices and plenty of fees. If passengers truly hated the airline and their way of doing business, they would not be in business.

Of course, all this over-reaction could just be another publicity stunt for the airline. Spirit has been known to come up with crazy ads and stunts to get free publicity. Although I am sure that this new rule hurts the airline’s bottom line, it has also given them the opportunity to once again garner a bunch of free publicity (including from me).

No matter your thoughts on the new rule or Spirit’s actions, it is pretty interesting to see an airline that is so vocal about a law. Seems like this rule could still be over turned.

 Spirit A320 Image by Justin Pistone

American Airlines Shows Off New Boeing 777-300ER Interior

This is a preview of what American Airline's business class in their new Boeing 777-300ER. Image from American.

This is a preview of what American Airline's business class in their new Boeing 777-300ER. Image from American.

American Airlines has unveiled what the interior of their new Boeing 777-300ER will look like when delivered. American has placed an order for 10 of the aircraft and will be the first US airline to operate them.

“American Airlines continues to remain focused on providing a differentiated customer experience through various efforts, including the execution of our fleet renewal plan,” said Virasb Vahidi, American’s Chief Commercial Officer. “The addition of 777-300ER aircraft will further modernize our fleet through the integration of unique customer comforts, which are designed to create more inviting interiors and enhance the travel experience.”

The Boeing 777-300ER, which will be configured in a three class layout, will become American’s largest aircraft that they operate. Both First Class and Business will offer lie-flat seating.

American has also announced that they will use their new 777-300ER on the Dallas/Forth Worth (DFW) to Sao Paulo (GRU) starting in December of this year. American is expecting to receive two of their 777-300ERs in 2012 and the remaining eight in 2013.

This first class suite will be on American's Boeing 777-300ER. Image from American.

This first class suite will be on American's Boeing 777-300ER. Image from American.

This new and improved economy class will be on the Boeing 777-300ER.

This new and improved economy class will be on the Boeing 777-300ER.

The look of the interior will look more like the 787 versus older 777s. Image from American.

The look of the interior will look more like the 787 versus older 777s. Image from American.

 

Airline Livery of the Week: Jat Airways

JAT Airways Boeing 737-300.

Jat Airways Boeing 737-300.

If you like dots and simplicity, boy do I have a livery for you — Jat Airways. The airline was founded in 1927, which makes it one of the world’s older airlines. JAT is the national airline of Serbia and operates out of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG).

JAT currently operates a fleet of Boeing 737-300 and ATR-72 aircraft that fly to mostly international destinations in Europe. The airline has had quite a few different liveries through out the years and some better than others.

The JAT Yugoslav Airlines livery seen on this DC-9 in 1986 has a very classic looking livery with the retro “JAT” circle on the tail.  Then, with the introduction of the Boeing 737-300 to the fleet, JAT went with a similar livery, but with bare metal instead of white paint – not quite as nice looking in my opinion. In 2001, JAT updated their livery with a waving flag design on their tail and a predominate “JAT” on the front of the fuselage — which looked great on a DC-10.

To help celebrate their official name change to “Jat Airways” in 2003, the airline decided to hold a competition for a new livery. A simple livery involving dots ended up winning and is now on their entire fleet.

So… what are your thoughts?

Image by 64N21W

Classic Air Cal Commercial – You’re Going to Like Their Style

In the 1980′s Air Cal had an interesting campaign using a piano man and highlighting the fact that you might just like their style. I do not think many airlines would do a commercial quite like this one today. Unfortunatly the colorful style of Air Cal did not make it past the 1980′s and in 1987, the airline was purchased by American Airlines.

Starting operations as Air California in 1967, they operated Lockheed Electra’s with a very classic looking livery and later operated the Boeing 737-200 in the same and then slightly modified livery.

My Review: Air Canada E-190 Flight from Toronto to Seattle

AIR CANADA REVIEW BASICS:

Airline: Air Canada
Aircraft: Embraer 190
Departed: Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
Arrived: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Executive Class
Seat: 3F (window)
Length: 5.5 hours

Cheers: Cookies made fresh on the plane served with ice cream — double cool.
Jeers: Wish there were more options with the in-flight entertainment and OMG that lavatory is unreal.
Overall: I was impressed with my first Air Canada and E-190 flight.

Oh here is my Air Canada E-190 leaving Toronto. You true airline geeks will know that is a lie. This is actually an Air Canada E-190 I caught while in Montreal -- there were no good shots of mine at Toronto.

Oh here is my Air Canada E-190 leaving Toronto. You true airline geeks will know that is a lie. This is actually an Air Canada E-190 I caught while in Montreal -- there were no good shots of mine at Toronto, so I am kind of cheating here.

THE FULL AIR CANADA REVIEW:

Anytime I have an opportunity to fly on an new airline or new aircraft type, I get excited. So, the fact I was flying on a new airline AND new aircraft type made me a bit giddy. I was able to  fly from Toronto (YYZ) to Seattle (SEA) non-stop on an Air Canada Embraer E-190 in Executive Class and of course I wanted to write up a review. (disclaimer: The cost of the flight was covered by a TV production studio, for work not related to Air Canada or Embraer).

Since I had a premium ticket, I decided to head to the airport early to try out the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. The lounge was very spacious, had the amenities that one would expect (including showers) and offered a comfortable atmosphere. The choices of food was a bit skimpy, but holy smokes I have never had such delicious broccoli soup.

Where the food might have been a bit lacking, it was made up for in drink choices. The Maple Leaf lounge had a nice array of hard liquor, beer and coffee choices. It was probably the most impressive drink set up I have seen in a lounge without actually having a full bar.

Air Canada's E-190 has a 2:1 layout in Executive Class. As an extra bonus, I had no one sitting next to me.

Air Canada's E-190 has a 2:1 layout in Executive Class. As an extra bonus, I had no one sitting next to me.

When it came time to board, the process went very smoothly, mostly because the flight was not very full. I was a little worried how small the E-190 overhead bins might be and since I was able to check a bag for free with my Executive ticket, I just decided to check my bag. I found it wasn’t really needed and would have had no problem putting it in the bin — oh well.

The Air Canada E-190 has a 1-2 layout in Executive class and 2-2 in economy. I was wondering how a premium seat would feel in such a small aircraft and I was actually pretty surprised. I was hoping to try sitting on the side with only one seat, but I ended up in 3F, which was a window on the 2 side. It worked out since I had no one sitting next to me.

I had plenty of leg room and seat width — even if there would had been someone next to me. I was quite impressed with the size and shape of the windows of the E-190. Height-wise they are perfectly located for my 6’1″ frame and their width makes it easy to look out.

The salad. I probably should have waited for my bread (which did some shortly), but I was too hungry so I took the photo and ate.

The salad. I probably should have waited for my bread (which did come shortly), but I was too hungry so I took the photo and ate.

Upon boarding I was greeted by my last name — before they even noticed I was in Executive Class. Prior to the door being closed, we were given menus to choose between chicken, salmon and veggies — I decided to go for the chicken. We left a bit late, due to the flight arriving late, but we had a short taxi and took off quickly due to having a light load. Shortly after take off, it was time to dine.

After my salad I was served pan-seared chicken in Parmesan cream sauce with seasoned mixed rice, carrots and edamame (yea I kept the menu as a souvenir). The food was decent and filling, but the best part was desert. There was a choice of oatmeal raisin or dark chocolate chip cookies that were made on board the aircraft and served with vanilla ice cream. Fresh baked cookies and ice cream while cruising at 35,000 feet is always a nice treat.

Another nice touch were the swizzle sticks served with the drinks (see last photo). It is more than just serving the sticks, but the fact that they have the maple leaf up top. This is really a lost art that one does not see much anymore. Sure, it is not a huge deal, but little details like this makes you think that the airline cares about the little details.

I wish there were a few more options with the entertainment system.

I wish there were a few more options with the entertainment system.

I test the room of a seat by being able to have a drink, a snack, writing on my laptop and being able to watch a movie. Of course having an empty seat next to me really helps, but even with a seatmate I would have been able to do everything successfully.

If you do not fly much and are only taking one long flight, the in-flight entertainment would probably work out alright. However,  if you are looking for plenty of options, this one will most likely disappoint you. There were some nice selections that kept me entertained, but if I would be flying back to Toronto, I would have probably run out of things that would interest me.

I was also not too fond of the front lavatory. Well, that is probably putting it too lightly — that lavatory was the worst one I have ever been in. It had nothing to do with the upkeep, but the size. Not to go into too much detail, but for me to use the restroom I had to bend my head down and contort to make things work. If it were turbulent, I think I might have had some real issues.

Swizzle sticks totally rock. So do cookies and ice cream.

Swizzle sticks totally rock. So do cookies and ice cream.

I kept wanting to think of the flight as a domestic one, even though it was technically international. Looking at the E-190 as a shorter route domestic aircraft, it does pretty well. However, it did seem a bit out of place for such a long flight and really Toronto to Seattle is about the limit that the E-190 can operate.

For a shorter, domestic flight, this was a nice product and high-end experience. As an international experience, it comes up a little short. But in all honesty, this route and product should be seen as domestic. My Air Canada experience back to Seattle was leaps and bounds better than the economy red eye I took to Toronto where I had to change planes in Chicago.

VIEW MORE PHOTOS OF MY AIR CANADA E-190 FLIGHT