Browsing Tag: FAA

OMG!I took this photo below 10,000 over Iceland. I am in big trouble now?! Nope... not only did I have permission, but it was a media flight.

OMG!I took this photo below 10,000 over Iceland. I am in big trouble now?! Nope... I had permission.

Earlier in the week, I posted a time-lapse video of a Southwest flight from Denver (DEN) to Burbank (BUR) and back. Almost a year ago, I posted a similar video of an Air France video from San Francisco (SFO) to Paris (CDG). Along with the comments about how awesome the videos were, I also received quite a few angry comments, emails and tweets berating both artists for using their cameras below 10,000 feet.

First, let’s start with the facts. In both cases, the people making the videos received permission from the airline beforehand. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airlines are able to approve the use of electronic devices on their own aircraft. From an FAA advisory: “The related 14 CFR sections in paragraph 3 allow for the operation of PEDs [Personal Electronic Devices] that the operator of the aircraft has determined will not interfere with the navigation or communication system of that aircraft… It should be noted that the responsibility for permitting passenger use of a particular PED technology lies solely with the operator.”

Just to make sure I was not reading this wrong, I reached out to the FAA and Alison Duquette with the FAA Office of Communications confirmed to that, “The guidance states that everything should be turned off below 10.000 feet and we expect operators to follow that.” She continued with, “An airline could let someone use a video camera if they determine that there would be no interference.”

So now that we have those pesky facts out of the way, let’s talk some common sense. The rule to not allow cameras is overzealous and well… I think stupid. Do you honestly think that someone using a digital camera is going to cause any sort of interference for an airplane? Things like phones, computers, radios, are made to send and receive signals. Even with those, many have argued that they cause no real harm for airlines.

Most digital cameras, or at least mine, do not transmit anything outside of the body of the camera, they simply have a battery. I have successfully used my Canon digital camera in my house (lights didn’t short out), near my microwave (it didn’t explode), in a highly sophisticated/computerized car (didn’t lose operational control and crash), on the floor of the Boeing factory (paint didn’t catch on fire nor did engines mysteriously start & begin to run out of control), and on yes, on airplanes of all types and I’m still here writing my blog, right?

There is being careful and then there is going a little too far. As I am sure you know, airlines are extremely safe and cameras are not going to change that. With all the real issues going on in the world, being concerned about someone taking photos or video below 10,000 feet should be at the bottom of your list.

All that being said, I am not telling you to take photos below 10,000 without permission from the flight crew. Even if I might not agree with it, these are still the rules and every time I have been told that I cannot take photos I politely comply. It doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.

The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental landing at Boeing Field after her first flight.

The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental after landing at Boeing Field after her first flight.

Some media outlets are reporting that the FAA partial shutdown could affect the certification of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the 747-8 Freighter and 747-8 Intercontinental. According to Boeing, as of now, the partial shut down will not affect the certification of the aircraft, but could affect airports looking to be certified to operate the new 747-8.

“The FAA says airplane certification activities will continue– so we don’t expect any impact there,” Boeing spokesperson Doug Alder Jr explained to “As for airport certification, if furloughed FAA personnel don’t return to work in time to finish the remaining airport approvals for the 747-8, customers wouldn’t be able to fly the airplane into certain airports until that work is complete (SFO, Newark, O’Hare and Houston are the major ones).”

This is just another reason to be angry at the partial FAA shutdown.

I wanted to find a sad and picture that made me feel disapointed. I think this one does nicely.

I wanted to find a sad picture that made me feel disapointed. I think this one does nicely. That is an old TWA 707 nose and landing gear located in Tuscon, AZ.Â

While US House leaders start summer recess today, there are still 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees that will remain furloughed and about 70,000 construction and support workers that will not have jobs until the the recess concludes on September 6th. Of course there are no guarantees that congress can even come to an agreement when they return. Due to the lack of cooperation, the FAA will continue to lose about $30million per day totaling over $1billion during the recess.

According to CNN, representatives continued to argue, “over an issue they said was the real subject of the dispute — new National Mediation Board rules that make it easier for airlines to unionize. Democrats favor the new rules; Republicans oppose them.”

While the country has been concerned about the raising of the debt ceiling, not as much attention has been given to the funding issues facing the FAA. Not everyone is losing due to the shutdown — at least for the short term. As part of the shut down, FAA taxes are not longer being collected by airlines and some have decided to pass the savings on to passengers, while others decided to keep the additional funds to offset the increase in fuel prices. While it seems that passengers and airlines are celebrating the savings, long-term it will only end up hurting airline infrastructure.

If passengers purchased tickets for travel after July 23rd and paid the taxes, they have the option to request a refund from the IRS. Delta Air Lines is hoping to make the process much easier, by offering the IRS tax refund directly though them.

Part of me wants to support the effort of passengers getting their refunds, since it is the government who messed up and they should be “punished” by having to give tax money back. However, the airline part of me feels that asking for a refund will just further hurt the airline industry and I rather “donate” my taxes I already paid.

This story is extremely angering and is NOT okay. The airline infrastructure and hard working employees should not be suffering while members of our political system go on holiday. I do not think that most politicians realize that their school-yard politics actually affects real people and this inability to work together will have a negative impact that will be felt for a long time.


Image: Telstar Logistics

As of midnight last night, part of the FAA shut down due to fun politics. Part of the shutdown was not having the ability to renew FAA taxes on airline ticket sales. Some airlines are taking advantage of this and offering lower fares, others are using this as a chance to earn a little extra dough.

It makes sense for airlines to go both directions. One is really just your classic sale promotion and using the timing of the taxes. For the others, I would assume that most consumers do not understand that there are no taxes and are not aware that even though the taxes are removed, most airlines have just raised fares to compensate.

UPDATE 1: I have confirmed that Spirit Airlines is passing the savings on to customers. I have heard rumors that Frontier is as well, but waiting to confirm.

UPDATE 2: Hawaiian Airlines is also sharing the love with customers.

UPDATE 3 (7/24 2pm PDT): Frontier Airlines is also sharing the love. American and JetBlue have raised their fares.

UPDATE 4 (7/25 7:45am PDT): It looks like some airlines might have had a change of heart. Working to confirm, but appears that Virgin America and Frontier might have stopped passing on their savings and have raised fares. For now I am changing Virgin America and Frontier to “unknown.” Also checking in with Alaska, Spirit and Hawaiian to see their thoughts.

UPDATE 5 (7/25 8:55am PDT): Spirit Airlines has confirmed they are still offering lower fares. Virgin America has raised some of their fares, but not all of them.

Currently Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are the only two passing the FAA tax savings to customers.

Currently, only a few airlines are passing the FAA tax savings to customers.

I am trying to talk directly to US airlines through out the day and will be updating. I am hearing somethings from reliable sources, others are more like rumors and I am being sure to indicate each:

ALASKA AIRLINES- Sharing the Love
Alaska Airlines is advertising on their main page that they are having cheaper prices due to no FAA taxes. A spokesperson with Alaska explained via email, “We’re not raising fares.  We’ll continue to pass the savings on to customers.”

SPIRIT AIRLINES- Sharing the Love
I have confirmed directly with Spirit that they are passing down the savings and have no plans to stop.

As of 6:30pm PST on 7/24 there is no information about their “Spirit Airlines is Giving Customers Their Share of $200 Million Per Week in Tax Savings!” deal on their webpage, but an email was sent out to their VIP customers (thanks John B for sharing). In the email they state, “Spirit has become a model for transparency, ensuring customers are not impacted by hidden fees as practiced by other airlines and the government.”

Hawaiian Airlines is promoting saving money via the FAA Taxes on Twitter: “Some major federal taxes on airline tickets have taken the weekend off. BOOK NOW.”

VIRGIN AMERICA- Sharing Some of the Love
Over the weekend, Virgin America ran a special “Evade Taxes. Take Flight,” campaign, but now the website is changed. As of 10:40pm last night they were advertising fares with lower federal taxes. As of Monday morning, they have raised some of their fares. “Yes, we were automatically passing on the equivalent discount (down to the decimal) across the board through the weekend – and encouraging guests to grab the discount early,” Abby Lunardini with Virgin America Communications explained over email.  But, given the dynamic nature of fares, with the Monday morning fare load – some fares have changed and/or moved up, but some of the discounts have held.”

As of Monday morning I am hearing rumors that Frontier has raised their prices. Emails, calls and messages sent via Twitter have not yet been returned to confirm.

DELTA AIR LINES- Keeping the Money
It seemed earlier in the day that Delta was going to share the love, but it has been decided to raise fares.

“Southwest and AirTran implemented a system wide fare increase of $4 each-way to help offset industry cost pressures – such as the rising expense of fuel,” Brad Hawkins with Southwest Communications explained over email.  “Our current ticket prices will remain the same (Customers will not see an increase in fares), as the 7.5% excise tax will not be collected. These decisions were made in light of the recent industry change in aviation tax collections, and we made a business decisions to remain competitive in these economically challenging times.”

UNITED AIRLINES- Keeping the Money
United has decided to match the taxes and have increased fares.

AMERICAN AIRLINES- Keeping the Money
According to the LA Times, American Airlines and JetBlue have raised their fares and are keeping the extra FAA tax money. “So in effect the taxes are not being collected, but the price paid by the customer remains the same,” American’s Tim Smith told the LA Times.

JETBLUE- Keeping the Money
JetBlue has decided to raise fairs and a spokesperson told, “We’re working with the Federal Government to determine how the recent expiration of the Federal Excise Tax, and other taxes, will impact our operation. We have participated in an industry-wide fare increase in order to remain competitive.”