Security Musings

Security Musings

Information Security Travel Guide

Stephen Northcutt, an Information Security Researcher, United Airlines 1k, Writer and Instructor, documents the struggles of the travel and hospitality industries as we all face continually increasing energy costs. He and his peers share their travel experiences and give you quick tips and short reviews of the companies they do business with as they travel. If you came across this article because of a Google search, what you want is probably here, just use find with your browser (CTRL - F), it is easier than reading from top to bottom; however, you may get some useful tips if you stick around and read. Each major cluster of trips is documented in a separate file.

Other Related Articles in Information Security Travel Guide

United 1K News Archive 2010 (through Q3)

By Stephen Northcutt
[September 30, 2010]
At the opening day of Beyond Sport Summit 2010, United Airlines had the privilege of helping present the Humanitarian in Sport Award to retired NBA All-Star, Dikembe Mutombo. Beyond Sport is an organization that promotes, develops and funds the use of sport to create positive social change throughout the world, and it honored Mutombo for his outstanding efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo through the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation. Among other contributions in Congo, Mutombo is helping to run a $29 million 300-bed hospital, which he also helped build. Upon receiving the award, Mutombo said, “I am honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious Beyond Sport Award. Sport is a great vehicle to unify people and create change and, as I have witnessed first-hand on the continent of Africa and most recently during my trip to the World Cup, it can have a tremendous impact." The award was presented by Senator Bill Bradley, an NBA Hall of Fame member and former Presidential Candidate, and Peter McDonald, Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Vice President of United Airlines.

[September 29, 2010]
It doesn't pay to be a wallflower in the airline industry. Delta is enjoying merger bliss with Northwest. United is about to take the plunge with Continental. And now Southwest has made its proposal to AirTran. How long will American Airlines hold out before it finds a partner too? According to experts, American may not be able to afford its independence for long. According to Bob Profusek, global head of M&A at Jones Day and lead lawyer for the UAL merger, the industry's climate is like "a game of musical chairs. It's also just a function of industry conditions. Too many people chasing the same dollar means that it's not very efficient. I think there will be continued consolidation in the airline space." With growing pressure, and rumors circulating about an old flame between American and US Airways, time will tell the fate of this obstinate bachelor.

[September 28, 2010]
The California antitrust lawsuit attempting to block the United/Continental merger has been thwarted. U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco ruled in favor of the merger after United and Continental offered evidence contrary to the accusation that the combined company would limit consumer choice and diminish competition. After reviewing the case, the judge agreed the merger "is necessary to bring stability to a turbulent and ailing industry and that, as a result of a combined United and Continental, consumers will benefit from passed on cost savings, new system wide destinations and routes, increased capacity, and a better overall product, and further that employees will benefit from a healthier and more competitive employer." The 49 plaintiffs failed to produce evidence that they would be personally harmed by the merger or that the merger would create a monopoly. The merger is still set to be finalized on Friday.

[September 27, 2010]
With the United/Continental merger wrapping up this week, Southwest Airlines is joining the merger bandwagon by expanding its territory and bursting its borders. The low-cost airline has announced its $1.4 billion deal to buy AirTran Airways. In a conference call this morning, Southwest's CEO, Gary Kelly, exclaimed, “It sets the stage beautifully for us so that we can resume our growth again with the necessary profits in place.” This merger will give Southwest access to 37 airports to which they do not currently fly, most remarkably Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport. Southwest will gain significant access to south-eastern states and increase its coverage in the north-east. USA Today states, "by creating a truly nationwide, low-cost airline, the merger will make Southwest a tougher competitor in the lucrative domestic business travel market." This consolidation may also open the door to Southwest becoming an international air carrier. The CEO of AirTran, Bob Fornaro, said, “Together, we are stronger,” and by joining together they “can accomplish more than either of us can accomplish alone.” The combined company anticipates flying from over 100 airports and serving more than 100 million passengers.

[September 24, 2010] With the merger expected to close next Friday, the leadership of the two airlines are preparing to rally together in the stock market. United and Continental announced that at the completion of the merger, the holding company, UAL Corporation, will be renamed as United Continental Holdings, Inc. The combined company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticket symbol "UAL". In the meantime, nostalgic Facebook members are attempting to save United's logo. Two avid fans of the logo have created a Facebook group called "Save the United Tulip". One of the creators claims, "the Tulip is something you can rally around when you don't have any power or control over what they are going to do with the frequent flier program." Many frequent fliers have joined the group as their fears mount regarding what will happen to their miles once the merger is completed.

[September 23, 2010]
As a reward for their honesty, United Airlines was hit with a $12,000 fine by the Department of Transportation for improperly reporting its tarmac delays. Apparently, United reported 4 flights as violating the new three-hour tarmac delay mandate, while the Department of Transportation says the flights were not in violation of the rule. The new mandate states that airline carriers must offer passengers food, water and the opportunity to exit the airplane before a tarmac delay reaches the three-hour limit. In May, United operated four flights with reported tarmac delays ranging from 3 hours and 10 minutes to 4 hours and 41 minutes due to foul weather. United also reported that all of the passengers were given the chance to exit the plane, and were provided with water and snacks as they waited for the weather to clear up. The DOT retorted that United should have stopped the clock on the delays the moment the passengers were given the opportunity to leave the airplane. The DOT claimed, "United's misreporting of this data wasted valuable Department resources, since only after the Enforcement Office initiated its investigation did it learn that United improperly filed the data." In response to the $12,000 fine, a spokesperson from United said, "We are committed to providing fully accurate data to the (Transportation Department). It is unfortunate that our effort to be fully transparent resulted in our inadvertently reporting four flight delays where we complied with regulations and with our own procedures to ensure the comfort and safety of our customers and employees." United is expected to pay $6,000 of the fine now and the other half only if they have reporting "violations" in the future.

[September 22, 2010] Today United Airlines released its 2009-2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, Every Action Counts®: Making Lasting Connections. This report focuses on the airline's actions regarding environmentally conscious solutions, community connectivity and financial stability. United is making efforts to minimize their environmental impact by promoting on-board recycling programs for U.S. flights and using alternative fuels. Glenn Tilton, United's chairman and CEO, stated, “In towns and cities across America and around the world, United connects families and friends, colleagues and companies. We help drive tourism, generate business opportunities, and contribute to economic growth and exports. Most importantly, the actions we take matter. More is expected of us and we rise to that expectation with commitment and a true sense of responsibility,” According to Market Watch, some of the highlights of the report included: The first flight by a U.S. commercial airline using natural gas synthetic jet fuel was flown by United; United transported more than 150,000 pounds of aid and relief supplies to Haiti over the course of 7 relief missions; and United's customer satisfaction scores rose nearly 20% in 2009, while its Employee Courtesy Index jumped 30% in two years.

[September 20, 2010] This morning a United Airlines Boeing 757 en route from Chicago to Seattle was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines failed. The plane landed in Montana at Billings International Airport around 11:00 a.m. All 188 passengers exited the plane safely and no injuries were reported. The FAA stated that a 757 "is capable of flying long distances on one engine, and that there was no danger to passengers or the crew." Not sure everyone wants to be on the plane when only one engine is working, despite the FAA's reassurances.

[September 17, 2010]
A hearty stamp of approval from the shareholders of Continental and United paves the way for the creation of the world's largest airline. Votes were cast in Houston and Chicago this morning, and 98% of shareholders from both carriers voted in favor of the merger. Continental's CEO, Jeff Smisek, stated, "our stockholders recognized the value of bringing together Continental and United to create a platform for increased profitability and sustained long-term value". Smisek will be the leader of the newly formed company. United's current CEO, Glenn Tilton, said: "There is much work ahead as we bring these two companies together, pulling the best from both of our companies, and building on the work we have each done to strengthen our airlines." According to the Guardian, it is predicted that the merged airline will have $30 billion of annual revenue, carrying 144 million passengers a year to 59 countries. It will surpass Air France-KLM as largest carrier in Europe, and Delta-Northwest in the United States.

[September 16, 2010] With the United/Continental merger still in the cards, the partnership between American Express and Continental Airlines is ending. American Express announced that as of September 30, 2011, American Express Membership Reward members will no longer be able to redeem their membership rewards for frequent flyer miles through the Continental OnePass program - they'll only be able to do it redeem miles via the "Pay with Points" program. In exchange, they have added two new options that will begin December 30, 2010: card members will be able to earn a $200 airline fee credit to help cover checked bag fees and flight change fees, and Amex will credit a 20% bonus to account members when they spend money on travel.

[September 14, 2010]
With the United/Continental merger rapidly approaching, an agreement has been made to help alleviate some frayed nerves at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Cleveland and Continental Airlines have a long standing partnership, and obvious concerns were raised about the status of that airport once the two airlines merge and begin to fly under the new United name. On Monday, the Ohio Attorney General announced that the airlines have agreed to maintain at least 90% of their flights at Cleveland for two years. If the merged airline fails to honor their agreement, they could face up to $20 million in fines. After two years, the airline can re-assess the profitability of maintaining Cleveland as a hub and make adjustments as they see fit.

[September 13, 2010]
The FAA's new fines for airline delays seem to be paying off for passengers. As previously reported, the FAA began imposing a $27,500 per passenger fine on airlines that subjected their passengers to tarmac delays of three hours or more. Since the threat of these fines, such delays dropped from 161 in July 2009 to only 3 in July 2010. American Eagle was the guilty culprit who broke the new regulation, with planes stranded on the tarmac at Chicago O'Hare Airport for over 3 hours on July 23rd. Despite this impressive improvement regarding long delays, complaints against airlines rose 32% because of an increase in the frequency of short delays. It is speculated that this rise in complaints is also due to a new option on the Department of Transportation website allowing travelers to email their complaints about airlines directly to the DOT.

[September 11, 2010]
First lady, Michelle Obama, and former first lady, Laura Bush, came together today in Shanksville, PA, for a somber and touching ceremony honoring the brave souls lost on United Flight 93. The first ladies praised the heroic passengers and crew who fought back, and thwarted the terrorists from reaching their target. Laura Bush stated "Nine years ago in the skies above this field and in Washington and in New York City we saw the worst of our enemy and the best of our nation. We saw that there is evil in the world but good at the heart of our country. America was attacked, but the deepest belief of our democracy was vindicated." During the ceremony, as the family members of those who died read the names of those they lost, a bell tolled representing each of the 40 victims. Michelle Obama stated "I come here as an American, filled with a sense of awe at the heroism of my fellow citizens. I come as a wife, a daughter, and a sister, heartbroken at the loss so many of you have endured". She also lauded the courageous determination of the passengers and crew by saying, "They all took a different path to that September morning. But in the awful moment when the facts became clear and they were called to make an impossible choice, they all found the same resolve. They agreed to the same bold plan". Thanks to the immeasurable sacrifice of those 40 people, greater loss of life was prevented.

[September 10, 2010] Many East Coast communities are preparing for various commemorative events this weekend honoring those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks nine years ago tomorrow. A ceremony will be held at The Garden of Reflection 9/11 Memorial in Bucks County, Pennsylvania Saturday morning, and it will be the starting point of a 5k walk/run on Sunday to help raise funds to maintain the memorial. The third annual Hero's Run, hosted by the Travis Manion Foundation, will also occur this weekend to raise support for injured veterans and the families of those killed in the line of duty. In New Jersey, a 2,997 flag display will be at the We Shall Never Forget monument from Friday night to Sunday morning. As previously reported, Michelle Obama and Laura Bush will be at a 9/11 memorial ceremony at the site of the United Flight 93 crash in Shanksville, PA. The first phase of a permanent memorial at that site is expected to be completed by September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the attacks. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "the National Park Service, the state Game Commission and the nonprofit Families of Flight 93 Inc. have stepped in to preserve the crash site by buying more than 1,500 surrounding acres as a buffer zone that memorializes those who perished on the plane." The National Park Foundation still needs to raise $18 million to complete the memorial.

[September 9, 2010]
Major U.S. airlines have good news to report regarding summer traffic this year. Compared to last August, United Airlines traffic increased 2.5%, from 11.03 billion revenue passenger miles to 11.3 billion. Their capacity also rose 1.7% from 12.80 billion available seat miles to 13.03 ASMs. Delta and American Airlines showed encouraging increase in traffic and capacity, as well. Southwest Airlines takes the cake with a 6.4% increase in traffic. Southwest has shown a consistent increase in its performance throughout this year, and hopes to continue its success as its flight coverage spreads.

[September 8, 2010] Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! With the skiing season around the corner, United Airlines has added two new resort destinations to their flight plan. Starting December 16th, daily flights will commence from San Francisco, CA to Mammoth Yosemite Airport. Non-stop flights between Aspen/Pitkin County Airport and Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport have also been introduced. The Aspen Skiing Co. is particularly delighted that more traffic will be heading their way. See you on the slopes!

[September 7, 2010] Chicago Mayor, Richard Daley, is seeking to borrow $1 billion in bonds to complete a massive expansion project at O'Hare International Airport. This amount would cover approximately a third of the remaining cost for the expansion. Daley is hoping the money will buy time to keep the project alive, while trying to convince United Airlines and American Airlines to pitch in for the rest. United and American hold the largest stake at O'Hare, and Daley wants them to foot the bill for a new western terminal that would be used primarily by other airlines. According to a statement by the Chicago Aviation Commissioner, the building of the western terminal should be postponed until it is needed. United is on-board with this mindset and is potentially willing to help if the city waits to proceed until flight demands reach a pre-determined level.

[September 3, 2010] Great news for Continental pilots and their families! The airline is recalling 132 pilots who have been on furlough since September 2008. Thanks to an increase in international flying, and a need to offset retirements, Continental is expected to retrain the restored pilots by the end of the year. The return of the pilots will also help Continental prepare for their merger with United by anticipating the company's growing needs over the next 18 months.

[September 2, 2010] Hurricane Earl, recently downgraded from a Category 4 to a Category 3, is rapidly moving up the East Coast. United Airlines is warning passengers about probable travel delays and are also waiving flight change fees for passengers who are affected by the storm. It is predicted by the weather service that "the core of the hurricane will approach the North Carolina coast" by late tonight. Although the storm should gradually weaken overnight and into tomorrow, it still looks to be a sizeable storm and will be strong when it touches the East Coast.

SANS is here at Virginia Beach doing what we can to make sure our students get their training but also stay safe; for several days now we have been starting early, running late and using working lunches to accelerate the training, and have arranged for a bus to get any students up to IAD tonight if their original flights out of Norfolk are cancelled. The temperature is starting to drop a bit, everything gets greyer by the hour, the Weather Channel was just outside the hotel filming the ocean, the waves are just starting to pick up, guess the surfers are loving life, we have not yet had any rain, but you can feel the mugginess. You never know what is going to happen, but the hurricane is projected to pass by here tomorrow (Friday) morning, Day 6 of the conference.

[September 1, 2010]
The two men arrested Monday in Amsterdam have been released after no evidence of terrorist conspiracy was found against them. Unfortunately, United Airlines is involved in another international incident. A delegation of high-ranking Pakistani military officials were removed from a United flight after boarding a plane at Washington's Dulles International Airport en route to Tampa for a meeting with the U.S. military's Central Command. The details are unclear, but apparently a flight attendant or a passenger was alarmed by a comment made by one of the military officials. The comment was something to the effect of "I hope this is my last flight". The delegates were detained for over two hours, and reportedly were not able to telephone their embassy or contact the U.S. military officers who had invited them to the meeting. After the ordeal was over, the delegates canceled their meeting and returned home to Pakistan in protest against the treatment. Apologies have since been given by United Airlines, the Pentagon and Central Command.

[August 31, 2010] Two men traveling on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Amsterdam were arrested yesterday at Schiphol airport based on suspicions of a terrorist conspiracy. Officials were concerned about a possible "dry run" attack, due to suspicious items being found in the travelers' checked-in luggage. The items included a cell phone taped to a medicine bottle, several cell phones taped together, watches taped together, a knife and a box cutter. According to Today Online, "the incident could have been an attempt to test what items could pass through airport security, in preparation for a future attack." Both men were headed to Yemen, and missed their original flight connecting in Washington Dulles International Airport from Chicago. They were re-booked on a flight to Amsterdam. Their luggage, however, was still shipped to Washington. The men have not yet been charged with anything, and Homeland Security is encouraging people not to jump to conclusions.

[August 30, 2010] It's hard to hear stories like this in the news. Two teenagers were on a Hawaiian vacation with their aunt when an unexpected tragedy occurred, and the teens were left stranded on their own. The aunt drowned last Monday in a hotel swimming pool, leaving the kids in an unknown place without a flight for four days. Back in Minnesota, the family talked with Expedia, through which the tickets had originally been purchased, but apparently Expedia completely refused to help. The family eventually called United Airlines directly, and were able to change the children's flights for a fee of $75 each. The children did not arrive home until Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, the guardian of the children called U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, U.S. House Transportation Committee chairman and United's current arch-nemesis regarding their seemingly inevitable merger. By Friday, the guardian received this apology from United: “I am truly sorry for the difficulty that you report encountering when contacting United to make arrangements for Daniel and Jessie to return home,” wrote Donita Mincey. “Our employees should be attentive to your needs and make every attempt to minimize the inconvenience to you. Our staff certainly could have done more to acknowledge the situation and to better assist you during this very difficult time. I apologize.” The guardian was also promised $400 electronic travel certificates for each of the children. No word has been received yet from Expedia yet; at least United owned up to their mistake.

[August 28, 2010] We have lift-off!! Late Friday night, the Department of Justice gave their seal of approval for the merger between United and Continental Airlines. Concluding their antitrust review, the DOJ was sufficiently convinced that the merger will not result higher fares and less flight choice for consumers, despite the fact that it will result in the world's largest airline. The clincher in the deal was the agreement that 36 slots at Newark Liberty International Airport will be given to Southwest Airlines in order to promote more competition in that area. This is a major victory for Southwest, who has been trying for 14 months to gain a greater stronghold in the New York area. The next step in the merger is the shareholder meeting next month. Although critics of the merger are screaming louder than ever, it looks as though it will take place, as anticipated, in October.

[August 27, 2010] The heat continues to rise for American Airlines as they are slammed with the proposal of a $24.2 million fine by the Federal Aviation Administration, the single largest fine in FAA history. The fine was proposed for alleged maintenance violations occurring in April 2008. Apparently the maintenance issue forced American to ground hundreds of planes at the time and led to thousands of cancelled flights and hundreds of thousands of stranded passengers. The airline seems shocked at such a lofty bill, pointing out that this incident occurred more than two years ago and they had not been notified by the FAA about any pending actions. They have 30 days to appeal the fine and are stating "American Airlines has always maintained its aircraft to the highest standards, and we continue to do so. We assure our customers there was never a safety of flight issue surrounding these circumstances more than two years ago." According to AOL travel, it appears the FAA seems "determined to make American a scapegoat for industry maintenance issues". American isn't the only airline in trouble with the FAA, but it is by far in it the deepest. United has a $1 million fine hanging over their heads from a maintenance issue back in June of 2004.

FAA fines are only one of the problems plaguing United Airlines right now. In California, a United pilot was arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana. The pilot is being held in the Cleveland County Detention Center on a $5 million bond. United also has 30 fare complaints lodged against them by customers, not to mention the 24 complaints against Continental Airlines, their soon to be partners. One complaint against United stated: "Tuesday, the price [of a United Airlines trip from Boise to Kona, Hawaii] was $1,072. Wednesday it went up to $2,133!!! If there isn’t, there should be a law that prevents PRICE GOUGING when they know you are about to book a flight." Ouch.

[August 26, 2010] Stocks drop as tempers rise in the contract negotiations between American Airlines and their mechanics. After four years of negotiations, the recent contract proposing higher pay and reduced retiree medical benefits was rejected by over 60% of the mechanics. With this strong reaction, Reuters reports that "the union said the 'no' votes amount to strike authorization." In light of these foreboding results, along with lingering difficulties between US Airways and former American West pilots, United and Continental are encouraging their unions to come to agreements now in preparation for the upcoming merger.

[August 24, 2010]
Are we alone in the universe? This has been a question for the ages... and apparently for Stephen Colbert as well, who resuscitated an old UFO incident on his show yesterday. His interview with journalist Leslie Kean, author of "UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record", sparked new interest in the alleged appearance of a metallic-looking, disc-shaped object hovering over Chicago's O'Hare International Airport back in 2006. The object was first seen by none other than a United Airlines ramp worker, and was reportedly seen by several other United employees, including a mechanic who was working in the cockpit of a Boeing 777 at the time. United Airlines and the FAA were questioned on the matter, and the FAA chalked it up to a "weather phenomenon". What the object actually was remains to be seen, but it sounds as though United employees are on the lookout for more than just planes in the skies above.

[August 23, 2010] The numbers are in. In the second quarter, United spent $660,000 lobbying with the federal government on a myriad of airline issues, same as 1st quarter, each 10% more than 4th quarter 2009. The airline industry has been a hot topic in Congress this year, and United has been especially attentive as they've been trying to stay in favor with the approaching merger. Regarding the merger itself, debates continue to rise about its dubious fairness. Shareholders are demanding the disclosure of more details, while the two airlines contend that this is "a 'merger of equals' not a takover."

On a somber note, Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Bush will be in Pennsylvania next month for ceremonies remembering the forty victims lost on United flight 93. These ceremonies will mark the ninth anniversary of that harrowing day, and will commemorate the brave souls aboard that tragic flight.

[August 20, 2010] A little light has been shed on the process that will be undertaken for the merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines. Three steps will be taken over the course of approximately a year. Step one is the legal merger, which is expected to occur near the end of this year, and will blend the management and stockholders of both airlines. Step two is being referred to as "Customer Day One" when we, the public, will only see one airline. This requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work for marketing and IT, and it is expected sometime next spring. The third step is the operational one, in which the two airlines' operational certificates will be replaced with a single one, and hopefully everyone will be on the same page with how to operate the newly birthed airline. This should occur about a year after the legal merger. Shareholders are set to vote on the merger plan on September 17th, so let the blending begin!

[August 19, 2010] American Airlines has jumped on the bandwagon of taking the nickel-and-dime game to the extreme. They've announced their new option of "Express Seats", charging passengers an extra $19 to $39 to sit in the front rows of coach. Yes, plain old coach. At least United's "Economy Plus" seats offer extra leg room. With all their faults, United does show some semblance of common sense. I can understand paying more for an extra five inches of leg room, but American is simply slapping a price tag on something that was free yesterday and offering one small carrot of an earlier boarding group. At any rate, they haven't stooped as low as RyanAir...yet. When coin-operated restrooms and "vertical seats" hit airlines in the states, you know we've reached the bottom.

Actual Flight Experience: Dayton to Seattle by way of ORD. We finished with InfraGard early and I am not sure where my brain was, but I did not ask about an earlier flight when checking in. But I did walk up to the gate and United was willing to let me stand by on an earlier flight, this took some work on their part since they had to get my checked bag to my new flight. Anyway, I caught UA 6396 which left on time, had two flight attendants, served drinks, this time I had ice with my orange juice. Chicago was massively crowded, I ducked into the Red Carpet Club, there were no seats available, so I hovered for ten minutes until I got a seat. I know I read about the soft economy and the double dip recession in the Wall Street Journal, but you could not fit many more people into the United part of this Chicago airport. The economy at the restaurants and bars here is booming, there are no empty seats. It is several more hours till my flight, so it will be tomorrow before I can report about ORD to SEA.

[August 18, 2010] On the upside, the AOL Mystery Flyer rates their recent international flight via United Airlines as having been better than expected, and in fact they would do it again, which is in itself pretty high praise. The United/Continental Merger 2010, more talk: According to Crain's Chicago Business, a hearing is scheduled at the end of the month for a lawsuit disputing the merger between United and Continental Airlines. A group of passengers is rallying against the merger, arguing that it will result in higher fares due to less competition. It sounds like they're worried about the beginning of a monopoly, although I'm not sure how much of a case can be made there since, in the past, there has been very little overlap between the routes of the two airlines. The merger is broadening the companies' horizons, so to speak. This is the second class-action suit these airlines have faced since their announcement in May; while the first was settled earlier this month, it doesn't sound like the new lawsuit stands much of a chance to stop the merger, but it may slow down the process.

Actual Flight Experience: Pittsburgh to Dayton OH. Got to PIT early, we settled in at the gate. They were filming a movie ("Abduction") according to one of the extras. That made for some fun people watching. Plane was on time, no real problem with turbulence. Chicago [ORD] was crowded, I wanted a deep dish pizza, settled for a Quiznos sub (if you get the prime rib, I suggest skipping the sauce.) Flight to DAY, UA 8075 was also on time, short flight, 25 minutes, only one flight attendant and she made a heroic effort to give everyone a drink, I had apple juice no ice, because I knew there wasn’t time for the ice to melt. The folks in the Dayton OH area need an OPSEC refresher. The lady behind me kept talking on her phone about the C130 delayed in England that was going to bring the plane back, but they were not sure the propeller assembly would fit. The gents in front of me were talking about bringing up a VPN in XXX, going to the T17 and something about a Predator, which I think must be an aircraft.

[August 17, 2010] United announces their "Fly across the Atlantic for less" offer. It is their fall/winter promotion of flights from the U.S. to Europe. The booking deadline is August 25th, and you have to travel between October 24, 2010 and March 31, 2011. This might be helpful for those of you taking the November course at SANS Geneva, or anyone who hasn't seen Ireland in early spring.

[August 16, 2010] Surging bookings lead United and British Airways to recall 747s from desert storage and put them back in service. USA Today report on Lithium-ION batteries, a Lithium powered curling iron went out of control in baggage claim in Japan, and a single customer had 58 phones with him which were confiscated. More on the upcoming branding for United/Continental. Faulty warning light triggers evacuation of a United flight in O'Hare, 40 of 114 slid the slide before rescue workers announced there was no fire, no injuries this time.

Actual flight experience. United Airlines - Richmond to Pittsburgh. First flight August 15, UA 7994, boarded on time. On taxi out, one of two hydraulic systems for the rudder failed, returned to airport. Had to deplane because the AC unit was not working. I called the United 1k desk and they gave me an alternate booking on US Air that would put me in about 11 PM, not ideal, but it beats mission failure. They fixed the plane and I decided to fly to Dulles even though I knew I missed my connection. I had been told whenever United fails, a team starts working on your itinerary so the best thing to do is go to customer service and use the kiosks; I tried, and the offer was a standby at 10 PM Aug 15, near certain mission failure. I called the 1k desk and he put me on a flight to Pittsburgh leaving in 30 minutes, UA7503, so I headed for D gates. Got there five minutes before boarding, got my new boarding pass, the time for boarding came and went. Twenty minutes later a flight crew showed up, then the flight attendants got off the plane, fifteen minutes later they returned with Subway sandwiches, the folks in the Red Carpet line were not impressed. Fifteen minutes later we boarded, the pilot apologized and explained they had been scrambled as well. Easy flight, comfortable seat to Pittsburgh. Got there, no bag. United baggage claim called hotel to let me know it was in IAD and would arrive to PIT about 11 PM. I decided to have hotel not call me when it came in, I would pick it up in the morning. Woke up 4:30 A.M., bag was here, opened it up, no suit. Whoops. Did I forget to pack it or did it get removed from the bag? Who would steal a suit, they are custom fit for the guy that wears it; anyway, I will look a bit frumpy today and try to pick something up off the rack tonight, have a lot of business meetings. Finally, we have a blogger, Stefanie, that is unhappy with United Airlines, I couldn't really follow the story, but the part about the fuel truck crashing into the plane really got my attention. I know that a couple years ago an empty United Express jet hit a fuel truck, and in April on Boeing field there was a similar mishap, but this story is below the radar line.

PART 2 United Airlines - Richmond to Pittsburgh on Sunday, August 15. I received an email from with an apology and gift of award miles:

From: Customer Relations []
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2010 7:57 AM
Subject: United Airlines MA - REF:XXXXXXX

Dear Mr. Northcutt:
Please accept my personal apologies for the delay and misconnection when you flew from Washington to Pittsburgh.

You were inconvenienced and this runs counter to our team efforts to run a great airline. To assure you of our intentions to improve your next trip with us, I'm depositing 9,000 award miles into your Mileage Plus® account.
Nancy Castro
Manager Customer Solutions, Customer Relations

Interesting, I had not submitted a formal complaint, although I had reported my missing baggage, and the above message included a link to a survey that explains more; apparently, this is a "proactive" outreach with "goodwill product" offerings, and they want to know if my satisfaction level has changed since the time of the incident. In the end, it is a start at customer satisfaction recovery, and though it is nice of them to give miles as make-up gift for the hassle, those mileage miles don't mean as much to me as they used to, it is much harder now to redeem those miles for upgrades and real flights.

[August 14, 2010] Actual flight experience. I will not say that I will not fly Air Tran again, but I will say that I witnessed a near total meltdown of an airline. We started flying on August 13 from Branson. There were thunderstorms over Atlanta. The Branson sign said the flight would be delayed 45 minutes. We decided to get a leisurely meal at Famous Dave's. However the pilots had this whacky idea of loading all the people on the plane and moving out on the tarmac, A 45 MINUTE CHANGE IN THE ANNOUNCED BOARDING TIME. There was an amazing scramble of people to pay for their meals and board. I did not get to eat much of my meal, but I will say the Georgia Mustard sauce is pretty good stuff. Then they put us on the plane, it was really hot, and they said they were going to start another engine to cool off the plane. It was not cool and the pilot said, and I quote, "WE HAVE PLENTY OF FUEL." His plan was to be ready on the tarmac and maybe get in a few minutes early. The plane did not cool off, we sweat through our clothes and we did not leave early. AND WE RAN OUT OF FUEL IN FLIGHT and had to divert to Huntsville Alabama. This was the kiss of death and, of course, we missed our connection. When we got off the plane (thank heavens we booked business class), the person that met the plane was very slow witted, we kept asking RIC, RIC, and she just wanted to read her long list. They sent us to a gate (C 18) where there was one person to help everyone on the plane. Thank heavens were were number two position in line. Our flight to Richmond had already left. Their story was that we would have to stay in a hotel in Atlanta on our nickel, it was beyond their control *BZZZZ* wrong! So, we asked if we could divert to IAD or DCA, there was a flight to DCA, two actually, one leaving in 22 minutes, but the gate was "closed". Okay, 1.5 hours till the next flight, find food! It was five minutes till 11 P.M. and we raced to the Grilled Subs place. We did get food, but they actually told people behind us in line that they could not get food. Kathy was spun up and wanted a drink, so we took our food to a bar across the hall that had stopped serving food fifteen minutes earlier. The staff was so bloody rude there, but I reminded myself they had been through a stressful day too. They were out of all tap beers except Killians, OK then, we must like Killians. We called James Limo and arranged a pickup in DC. The flight happened, but with minimal service, and James Limo did pick up as requested and got us home at 4 A.M. Now we are trying to get our checked bags and none of the Air Tran phone numbers work and the only phone call back from Air Tran says you have to pick them up if it is weather because that is out of their control. Yeah, weather and every other thing on the planet is apparently out of their control? I am out my famous Dave's 2 meat BBQ platter, $200 for the limo pickup, and I don't have my bags. But, in the end, I travel enough to count myself lucky since I am at home and thousands of people are stranded in Atlanta, sitting in the airport, waiting for space available seats they have no chance of getting. Again, I will not say I will not fly Air Tran again, but for all the people that say bad things about United Airlines, you have no idea how bad it can really get, at least United answers the phone. (Specific data: confirmation AyP5XT )

PART 2 Recovering the bags. OK, I was wrong, I will attempt not to fly Air Tran again, not because I am mad, I understand weather happens, but because they are incompetent. We left a voice mail before we crashed - needed some rest. They called and left a voicemail from 800 965 2107 x1966, Tiffany the supervisor or x 1964, saying they would not deliver the bags because weather is beyond their control, we needed to pick them up, but they needed our address *again*. So, we called but could not get through. First thing I did when I woke up was called, and the phone # did not work. We decided to get the bags, Kathy went to the airport so I could work. They were closed. Kathy, called me and asked for help. So, I got their contact information on their web page and called the system baggage service x 8900. The first guy said he would put me through to RIC baggage, no pickup there. Called again, this time I tried Customer Relations, 866-247-2428: it said if it was baggage, press 1, so I did; it said, if this was baggage, press 1, I did; it said, if this was baggage, press 1. At this point, I realized it was an intelligence test and I was failing. Sent Kathy a quick note, sit with your mother, relax, I will get through. Next, I called baggage again; the lady said they closed at noon, but the ticket counter was open, she transferred me, it said to leave a message. Called baggage again, lady said she was in a call center in a warehouse and there was nothing she could do. I said, all airlines have contracts with companies that deliver lost bags to hotels and houses, call them. She said there was nothing she could do. I asked that she escalate to a supervisor, she put me in touch with customer relations. I told him my story, he said he would call operations. Meanwhile Kathy, also an experienced business traveler and United Airlines 1K, had managed to get a call put out on the Richmond Airport intercom system if anyone could open the Air Tran baggage room, please go do it. An airport custodian showed up, had keys, opened the room and handed out bags (yes there were other stranded people as well, one lady had even booked a second ticket just to get home), all without checking any baggage claim checks, of course. But, hey, the adventure finally ends, we are only out my famous Dave's 2 meat BBQ platter, $200 for the limo pickup, and a couple hours dealing with Air Tran. But, I know there are people that do not travel as much as we do that must have been totally, totally worked over. They seem to be nice people at Air Tran, and if I was going somewhere like Bermuda, I would fly them again, but I would do it defensively: try not to check a bag and make sure I return on a Saturday so that if anything goes wrong, I have Sunday to get into position. Of course, there is much more to the story, if anyone from Air Tran wants to debrief, you can reach me at; but I warn you, I have fast memory fade from bad experiences, so if you want details, don't dally.

[August 13, 2010] It is hard to say that more fees attached to the airline industry could be good news, but this may be. According to the LA Times, long airline delays have decreased since June, when federal officials started giving fines to airline carriers that stranded passengers on grounded planes. United recently got hit with these fines for three flights stuck on the ground in the infamous foul weather of the Chicago O'Hare airport. I'm glad to hear someone is trying to stand up for the passengers for once, though I must wonder how long it will be until the airlines decide those passengers should absorb this new cost as well. We shall see.

[August 11, 2010] United Continental merger, press release on the design, logos, airplane paint jobs, etc. of the merged airline. Another actual airline experience: Airtran #244 from Richmond to Atlanta. Two hour wait, I was fairly brain numb, so essentially went into a vegetative state. Airtran #1580 to Branson. We were on time. Branson is a cool airport, I like what they did with the stick chairs and all that. I was really glad that I paid the extra money to upgrade to Business Class; the only on airport rental car counter is Enterprise and when I got to the line I was number three, but there was no one there. They finally found the employees and processed me fairly quickly.

[August 9, 2010
] Actual United flight experience. Flew UA #897 from BOS to IAD. Was not able to check in online, tried curbside, unable to check in. Went inside the airport, stood in line, United employee was not able to check me in, put me back in the line apologizing for doing that to a 1k. The fourth person was able to check me in, did not get First Class, did not get the exit row, did not get United Economy Plus, sigh. We were late, some sort of mechanical where they "rebooted" some part of the Airbus. I try to never stress over being late because the majority of the time I make my connection. Sure enough, when we got to Dulles, we found our connecting flight UA #7994 was also late. Made our way to the C gates. At that point the flight was even later, and then later. Apparently there was weather in Chicago. The line at customer service was not too bad about 20 people in the C gates area at any one time.

[August 8, 2010] Bloomberg and others report a United flight from London made an emergency evacuation after smoke was observed on the underside with most attention on the landing gear. Three people were slightly injured, two women hurt ankles and a man had chest pains. Etravel reports United extending deal with Travelport (travel agency) for two more years. Human Interest story, I have not yet verified the accuracy, of Air Canada breaking a dying boy's wheelchair and not fixing. Bloomberg has upgraded UAL's debt, yayyyy, I need United to keep flying. Blogger talks about why she hates United, "I loathe United Airlines with the fervor of 500-some burning forest fires. Their flight attendants are, hands down, the rudest I have ever encountered." OK, tell us how you really feel. Another blogger says you can get cheap fares to Australia, but the blogpost is undated, I am sure it was true at some point.

[July 30/31, 2010] AJC posts United offering $140 one way fares to various western cities, wish I had known that. Flew UA 66 from Lihue (LIH) to LAX 7/30. Ten minutes late departure passengers could not seem to get their bags in the overhead bins, decent service, had the Sezchuan Beef instead of the Citrus Chicken. Movie was Date Night (I have seen it on United twice now). Pilot tried to make up the time, but when we got to LAX there was no where for the plane to do. Boarding for UA was at 10 P.M. most of the shopts were closed, completely full flight. The sign said you could only have one carry-on. The announcer said "according to FAA regulations you can only have one carry-on, a small item like a purse or laptop"; is that a change or was he blowing smoke? After all that they did not enforce it, lots of people in seating area 3 and 4 had three carry-on items or more. Turkey Panini sandwich snack, movie was Last Song, I had been wanting to see that and will say that it drew me in. American Airlines settled a class action suit for price fixing; say it isn't so. Looks like they have the dots of their eyes on the United Continental merger agreement. Wall Street Journal on airline economy, this is way past my pay grade. More related WSJ includes a blog post on flying pasties to shield your private parts from body scanners and were the good ol' days of flying that good.

[July 28, 2010] AP reports just released government data says airline prices are going up, hey, I could have told them that! June 2009 - June 2010 18% increase, good thing there is no inflation. Aviation Week says, United Airlines’ CFO Kathryn Mikells and President John Tague will leave the company if the proposed merger with Continental Airlines, currently being considered by the U.S. Department of Justice, is approved. The article goes on to say who will be taking the leadership positions in the new company. Several news outlets say the Aviation Safety Bill is close to passing. The families of ill fated Continental 3407 are some of the strongest proponents of the bill. The bill raises the experience requirement to be a captain from 250 hours to 1,500 hours. Bloomberg points out this may make it harder to hire pilots for regionals.

[July 27, 2010] Another smoke in cockpit emergency landing. Guess that is two for the month for United. Airlines are not going to roll back fees for everything, that is hardly a surprise, United and American between them collected 1.8 Billion dollars. Blog says they are going to charge for traveling with pets, here is the United fee schedule. Huffington Post reports Sen. Charles Schumer wants to implement stiff fines for preparing airline food in unsanitary conditions. According to the article, "The FDA has cited LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet and Flying Food Group for having poor sanitary conditions in their kitchens, including reported sightings of mice, roaches and listeria." CNN reports, "Schumer, D-New York, said he personally contacted officials at American Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue, United Airlines and US Airways, and secured commitments from all five companies." not to charge for luggage stored in overhead bins. Chicago Tribune broke the story of " the fourth-grader, who was flying alone from his father's home near San Francisco and waiting for a connecting flight to meet his mother in Ottawa, was forgotten by United Airlines' workers." and missed his flight. Someone is going to be looking for a new job I guess. Bloomberg: Delta is making a run against the United Chicago - New York shuttle. United/Continental are deciding who is going to be in charge. Bloomberg: merger approved by European Union. Another post about GetThere selling United Economy Plus seats, I can feel the back of the plane getting closer. Interesting, probably wrong assertion that Carrol's United Breaks Guitars cost United $180 Million based on stock priced drop, well they have made it back up by now, what do we attribute that to? Mediabistro: The New York Observer has tapped Aaron Gell, former editor in chief of United Airlines in-flight magazine Hemispheres. Singapore Airlines posts a whopping profit ( I like United, but I have always wanted to experience Singapore).

[July 23, 2010] Heads roll at American Airlines, can't lag behind the other airlines in profit and keep your job. Not sure what this next article is really going to mean, but you should read it. Some company called GetThere is going to start selling United Economy Plus seats through the Sabre network. I think that means some of us will be flying further back in the plane. United is dropping the prices on flights from SLO San Luis Obispo to LAX, I guess some competitor was walking away with all the business. Washington Post Blog, wearing your seat belt reduces risk of turbulence risk, so very, very true. I suspect there are some unhappy campers right now, I was trying to book a flight and the United web site was not working right and they were experiencing a high call rate, storms late yesterday must have had a trickle down effect today and flightstats shows Chicago as the chokepoint. Not seeing a lot of complaints from the Twitterverse though.

[July 21, 2010] Why didn't I think of that? ZDNet blog suggests if you are using your iPhone as your boarding pass, to take a screen shot of the boarding pass. To take a screenshot on an iPhone, hit the sleep and home keys and the image appears in your images folder. UAL 967 (IAD - LAX) encountered severe turbulence over the midwest and had to be diverted to Denver, there were injuries, Denver channel says 26 passengers, 4 crew and they have a great blow by blow if you want gory details. You will see it on my blog many times: never take turbulence lightly, tighten that seat belt when the bumps start. Here is an interesting article, should airlines return to a regulated status. I hate to get political, but Congress seems to have enough trouble passing legislation, trying to run insurance companies, financial companies and car companies hasn't worked out that well so far. I do not like everything the airlines do or charge, but they do a pretty good job of getting me from point A to point B without the government's help.

[July 20, 2010]
Washington Post Article on near collisions. Sobering, three events in 8 weeks, two of them involved small aircraft, the last is clearly an air traffic controller failure. There is a related article here, the key appears to be that all the air traffic controllers hired when President Regan took on the union are having to retire ( 56 years of age or 25 years of service). Worse, there is a pay freeze so there is no incentive for experienced controllers to leave regional airports and work the complex airports like Chicago. Finally got around to reading the ATSB report on the March 2010 EMB-120ER Brasilia training check flight mishap in Australia. I think I must agree with their conclusions that shutting down an engine on takeoff is best practiced in a simulator. In this case, both pilots were killed and the plane destroyed. On the financial side of things, United Airlines profit exceeded analyst expectations with $273 million in profits, best quarter in three years. Part of that is staff reductions, they have 2.7% less employees, UAL now employs 46,200 and leaner staffing is a trend across the industry. American Airlines /One World has been granted immunity from anti-trust, so you can expect to start to see larger players in the industry especially as the United Continental merger completes.

[July 19, 2010] Read one of those "on this day in history" about the heroic work to save as many as possible on the ill fated DC 10 July 19, 1989 that had a catastrophic failure in the tail destroying all hydraulics. The pilots managed to actually put the plane on the ground more or less on the runway simply by adjusting the engine speed. Here is the story. A Boeing 787 Dreamliner took off from Seattle and did a fly by at the famous Farnborough Airshow followed by a landing. United Airlines already has 25 orders for the jet. Five are already in the air in testflight mode. They are now expecting the Dreamliner to ship in early 2011. On the financial side Delta stocks went down after announcing second-quarter profit that beat Wall Street estimates, but revenue fell short of expectations. United is expected to announce earnings tomorrow.

[July 15, 2010] Happy 94th birthday Boeing! Great article with a short history of Boeing, I just drove by Boeing field a couple times last week while relocating to the Seattle Tacoma area. And of course, Boeing has a ton of history on their web site. Wall Street Journal article saying airlines are going to have a profitable quarter, not just reasonable fuel prices, SEATAC airport was packed out last week, people are flying. A bid for $17M has been accepted to renovate the west concourse (United and Southwest) at Tulsa. They say they can do it in 550 days, we will see! @UnitedAirlines, United's Social Media experiment is about to hit 100k followers, wow!

[July 14, 2010] Another customer service black eye, putting passengers through a walk of shame? @unitedairlines tweets that they are looking into the incident, but passengers waiting to board a United branded flight from Burlington to Washington are singled out by a gate attendant (and it is announced on loud speaker) and bumped from the plane because they paid discounted fares. In economic news, it's interesting to note that United, under the umbrella of Star Alliance, wants to expand service in China, especially Shanghai; makes sense, since China's plans include building 97 new airports.

[July 7, 2010] A military family frequent long distance flier gives a very enlightening description of United Airlines employees giving either very bad customer service, or downright rude attitude. I'm amazed at his calm description of some very disturbing behavior by gate and flight service staff, on an ill-fated trip from Singapore to Baltimore.

[June 29, 2010] The United/Continental Merger 2010, more talk: A suit was filed today in an attempt to block the United/Continental merger; attorney Joseph Alioto, who filed the case in San Francisco's US District Court claims he represents U.S. consumers and small businesses and that the proposed merger would restrain airline competition at the expense of the consumer.

[June 17, 2010] A United Express airplane skidded off the runway in rainy conditions at the Ottawa International Airport this week; they don't know the reason(s) yet, but certainly the pilots did an outstanding job of (eventually) stopping the plane, with injuries only to the two pilots and one passenger! And, American Airlines has joined United, Southwest and Europe's Ryanair with their latest airline fee that gives passengers the chance for early boarding; that is one privilege United 1k members and other airlines' VERY frequent fliers get as part of their percs, and I am usually happy for that since standing in long lines can really chew up time and energy. This is an interesting possibility, since I still haven't gotten a chance to fly on one: consolidation may bring the A380 to U.S. airlines, but many are skeptical.

The United/Continental Merger 2010, more talk: United Airlines and Continental Airlines feel the merge is neccessary to compete with low-cost and foreign carriers, and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) is asking for more employee protection.

[June 14, 2010] A new service partnership has been agreed to by United Airlines and Beyond Sports; Beyond Sports "develops and funds the use of sport to drive positive social change across the world", I am not really a sports fan, but I like the sound of their goals. According to a survey by Embassy Suites, business travelers are on the move again, with some flying coach and others sharing rooms while on travel to cut back on expenses.

[June 9, 2010]
Continental Airlines shareholders are suing in hopes of getting a better price than what United Airlines offered in its merger deal. Delta Air Lines on Tuesday began operating flights between Osaka and Seattle, reopening the route closed by Northwest Airlines in 2001. Investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS have been advised that United Airlines parent company, UAL (Nasdaq: UAUA), has received the Fool's dreaded one-star ranking.

[June 4, 2010]
United Airlines is working with NAV Canada to conduct two trans-Atlantic flights using state-of-the-art flight planning to reduce environmental impact and save fuel, however there are skeptics who believe this is not new. And, United seems to still have buying power, they recently finalized an order of 25 Boeing 787’s, with the option to buy 50 more.

Might be fun to see how this works - United now offers customers more choices for free music, up to 21 separate playlists from Microsoft's Zune.

[June 1, 2010]
A Senate committee is hearing the pros and cons of the United/Continental Merger and they are going to enter it with an "open mind," according to Senator Kohl.

More fliers are packing lighter and deciding that it's smarter to save when flying. It's not something one can get by with at every airport - some, such as United at SFO, are closely monitoring carry-on luggage; this guy had to go back and pay a $25 fee because his carry-on was slightly larger than 45 inches.

One blogger describes how airlines are lobbying against a bill before the Senate that would bring funds to the FAA by raising the passenger facility charge (PFC) caps from $4.50 to $7 per segment. "After swilling down profits from ancillary fees of $25 or more per passenger, airlines have the gall to protest $2.50 that would fund capital projects such as runway improvements, safety improvements and equipment purchases by airports." On the other hand, a colleague of that blogger says the airlines are doing passengers a favor by complaining, he sees a difference between the airlines' fees (somewhat optional) and taxes (required).

[May 29, 2010] I read one observer's suggestions for finding least (or less) expensive air travel that highlight the need for flexibility of travel dates due to airlines creating "peak travel surcharges" instead of raising fares, while it is also recommended in a Seattle Times article to search for less traveled airports and avoid checking baggage if you want to pay less to travel by air. And, I've been trying to follow the recent story of the woman who was sleeping when her Trans States Airlines flight landed in Philadelphia and was left locked inside the plane because the flight crew didn't see her when they left. Apparently, a cleaning crew later boarded and found the passenger still asleep, but because of anti-terrorist procedures they did not wake her and left her locked in the plane until law enforcement could be present. Ginger McClure, the sleeping passenger, has decided to sue the airline for false imprisonment, among other reasons.

[May 26, 2010]
In real time yesterday, there were differing web reports about injuries from excessive turbulence for passengers and crew members of a United Airlines flight from London LHR to Los Angeles LAX, diverted to Montreal; the last report I can find available on the internet is that 1 flight attendant and 9 passengers were injured, a crew member and 1 of the passengers quite seriously. However, today there are no discussions or formal announcements - shows how quickly we move to "new" news. As I have said before, seatbelts fastened while in flight are key to your safety.

[May 21, 2010]
The FAA is speeding up an order requiring airlines to inspect windshield heaters on Boeing jets after a plane's emergency landing at Dulles International Airport this week.

Effective May 20, 2010, upgrade award co-pays will be waived for elite members on United Airlines flights within the continental U.S., Alaska and Canada. So, all those miles I have may not go to waste - they sure were asking for quite a bit of cash just to use miles for upgrades, glad to know I can at least use them on mainland flights without paying extra fees. The United/Continental Merger 2010, more talk: Continental Airlines and United Airlines have settled on the leadership and structure of a high-level merger-integration planning team, they want to be ready in case the final approvals come through for the merger later this year..

[May 17, 2010]
United Airlines Flight 27 from New York to Los Angeles made an emergency landing on Sunday evening at Dulles International Airport; the flight landed safely, even though some passengers reportedly took pictures of flames in the 757's cockpit. And, I suppose it would not surprise many observers to find out that Continental Airlines spent $894,000 to lobby Congress and executive-branch agencies in the first quarter of 2010 on several issues, including antitrust exemption.

[May 14, 2010] Only a couple of items caught my eye about the proposed United Airlines/Continental merger: labor integration will certainly be a challenge given that there will be approximately 87,000 employees all together; and, the two airlines have said that if their merger is eventually approved, they will combine elements of their two frequent-flyer programs.

So, two planes were trying a merger of their own and touched wingtips while on the ground Wednesday at McGhee Tyson Airport, TN. The contact was so minimal some of the passengers didn't realize what had happened until they had to get off the planes to be moved to replacement aircraft. And, not surprisingly, air travel gets pricier over the, now common, anxiety of fuel costs and the still struggling economy - what we are being offered by most airlines are fewer seats and higher prices.

[May 10, 2010] DOT awards new Tokyo routes to Delta, American and Hawaiian (that might come in handy for me) while Continental and United are left out. Of course, I may eventually be able to use my United 1k perks because United Airlines still believes it has the best route proposal and will be filing a response with the DOT. United Airlines #950 blew a tire during takeoff of flight from IAD (Washington Dulles) to Brussels and had to return shortly after take-off Saturday night. Not a very good way to start a trip across the Atlantic, the plane was forced to circle the D.C. area for nearly 2 hours dumping fuel to bring their weight down for a safer landing.

[May 6, 2010] The United/Continental Merger 2010, more talk: Continental Airlines Inc. and United Airlines pilot unions agreed on a framework for joint contract talks with management, a first move toward meshing work groups as the two carriers prepare to merge. House Transportation chairman, Oberstar, says he opposes the United - Continental deal.
Okay, so the United merger might be a good thing for some passengers; for instance, it would offer a new choice for Yuma air travelers trying to fly to other parts of the nation and world. One blogger asks will "Bigger be better" for United? Continental's CEO (and CEO-designate of the merged company), Jeff Smisek, said that "putting these two carriers together is a match made in heaven." Even assuming that the merger is given regulatory approval (which is not a sure thing), the integration process will be extremely challenging.

[May 5, 2010] Will the marriage between United and Continental Airlines be for the better or worse? One blogger writes how passengers feel about service and ticket prices. In the broader economic view, Chicago, home to United Airlines, may come out on top if this merger finalizes. And, in the "Will we as a nation ever actually decrease our dependency on oil?" department: Rentech, Inc. has announced that a successful engineering validation flight was conducted on Friday April 30, 2010 by United Airlines using Rentech’s certified synthetic jet fuel.

[May 3, 2010] Merger Monday elevates stocks. Investors voiced their approval for consolidation in the airline and car rental industries today pushing U.S. equities to comfortable gains at midday. The Justice Department is examining the competitive effects of a proposed merger between Continental and United Airlines. The department routinely examines airline deals, which may affect services and prices for consumers. United Airlines and Continental Airlines plan to merge in a $3.17 billion deal, creating the world's largest airline. The boards of Continental and UAL Corp., United's parent company, voted Sunday evening to OK the all-stock deal.

[May 3, 2010] The merger appears official, I received this letter in my email.

Dear Mr. Stephen Northcutt,

Today we announced that United Airlines and Continental Airlines will combine to create the world's leading airline, offering unmatched benefits and opportunities for business and leisure travelers and frequent flyers. As one of our most valued members, we want to provide you with additional information on the merger.

More Access to More Destinations

The new airline will be called United Airlines and will offer exceptional international gateways to Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East from anywhere in the United States. Among other things, Continental's fuel-efficient fleet, New York hub and extensive Latin American routes, will combine with United's excellent domestic hub structure, Pacific routes and leading global brand.

The airline will have ten hubs, including hubs in the four largest U.S. cities. The new airline will serve 144 million customers per year as it flies to 370 destinations in 59 countries. We will also continue to provide service to all of the communities that United or Continental currently serve, including more than 140 small metropolitan areas and communities.

Shared Commitment to Performance and Service
Our new airline will combine our shared commitment to customer service with industry-leading on-time performance. We will be positioned to invest in globally competitive products, upgrade technology, refurbish and replace older aircraft, and implement best-in-class practices of both airlines. Our combined airline will have the most modern, fuel-efficient fleet (adjusted for cabin mix) and 75 new technology planes on order.

Enhanced Redemption Options
As an elite member of Mileage Plus, you already benefit from our codesharing relationship and joint membership with Continental in Star Alliance. You have the opportunity to book travel and earn and redeem miles on either airline. Red Carpet Club members have reciprocal privileges with Continental's President's Club lounges.

After the merger closes, which is expected to occur near the end of the year, you will participate in the industry's leading loyalty program. Your miles in both programs continue to be valid and can be used according to existing program rules. After the merger closes, we plan to combine our loyalty programs and when that happens, your miles in both programs will be combined into one account. And you will continue to experience the benefits of Star Alliance, including service to more than 1,000 destinations, more connecting opportunities, additional scheduling flexibility and access to reciprocal frequent flyer and airport lounge benefits with Star Alliance's 24 other member airlines around the world.

Based on our ongoing codeshare and joint venture partnerships and collaboration in Star Alliance, we are confident that we can successfully and seamlessly integrate our companies.

Until the merger closes, United and Continental will operate independently as competitors and remain focused on improving your flying experience.

As for now, enjoy all the benefits of Mileage Plus, which was named the "Best Frequent Flyer Program" by the readers of Global Traveler Magazine. This year, we've made the program even better by offering you unlimited domestic first class upgrades so when you book a domestic ticket on United or United Express, we'll automatically request an upgrade for you and up to one companion – even when you travel to Hawaii. If an upgrade seat becomes available, it's yours – with our compliments. And later this year, as we announced earlier, you will be able to enjoy elite upgrade and premium seating opportunities on Continental, even before the merger closes.

What's Next
Although announced today, the merger is subject to the approval of United and Continental shareholders, as well as regulatory clearance and certain other closing conditions. We are committed to obtaining the necessary approvals and clearances in a timely manner and hope to close the merger by the end of the year.

This announcement does not affect any travel today or in the near future that you may be planning on United or Continental. You can continue to make reservations for your travel and redeem miles with your airline of choice, as well as continue to earn miles with your Mileage Plus credit card. You will not have to redeem your miles before the merger is closed.

This is an exciting development for all United and Continental customers, but especially for our elite members. We will keep you updated on the status of the merger and Mileage Plus developments, and you can also see the latest information on or on

We look forward to continuing to serve you on United Airlines.

[May 2, 2010] Hottest story is a bomb threat in the lavatory of United Flight 148 which made a safe landing at a secure area of the Philly airport around 7:00p.m. Saturday night. The plane is an Airbus A-320 with 113 passengers and 5 crew members. It is not official, but here is a post saying both boards have approved the merger. Numerous reports United just flew testing a synthetic jet fuel created from natural gas. Blog reports United celebrates eight decades of Stewardesses, at least that is what people called them six of eight decades. Applied Transport Solutions (ATS) filed suit Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging UAL Corp., the parent company of United Airlines, violated a confidentiality agreement by teaming up with FedEx to ship passenger luggage overnight using the proprietary information learned during meetings with ATS, according to the suit. Guess this is a chance for United's new highly compensated attorney/vice president to earn his keep. Press release: Wallace & Pancher Inc.has been hired to landscape the Flight 93 National Memorial, near Shanksville. United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after 40 occupants overcame a group of terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, preventing the plane from reaching its Washington, D.C., target.

[April 30, 2010] CEO United gets 4M in bonus money. Blog article says ESTA Visas are Simple and fast to acquire should you have all your Details Prepared What is ESTA? Welcome to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization Web Site. Another blog about how much United execs will get with merger. Unused airmiles translates to $64 million for United. San Francisco-Guangzhou service by United delayed by yet another year to June 2011. Tons of articles saying the merger is on track and headed for completion.

[April 29, 2010] Blogger asks, Can I Get Rewards By Using My Credit Card? The article warns of high interest rates and overspending. All true, but man do I love my United Airlines Visa card, I may never get 10 million miles, but I don't have to ride in the back of the plane every time either. Blogger reminds us we can save a lot of money parking off Airport and recommends USAirport Parking in Denver. That is great, but I usually have a rental car. USA Today ran a story with a headline claiming United made a profit, but said loss in the body of the story; bad journalism Ben Mutzabaugh, we are busy, be accurate with your titles. The on again, off again merger appears to be on again, Continental's Board of Directors is meeting to consider the offer. The mayor of Houston sent a letter to Continental asking them to stay in Houston. Don't know if it still is, but Houston used to be the air conditioning capital of the world. United's executives stand to make millions if the merger closes according to Bullfax. NPR discusses the new maximum of three hours on the tarmac rule.

[April 28, 2010] Lots of news stories saying that United posted a "smaller than expected loss" for Q1 2010. Now I find that interesting. Their Stock is up 333% for the year, however, you have to factor in the fact that March 2009 was a historic low. However, how can an airline that is losing money have a stock that is up 300+ per cent. Interesting article about the fact that the first 787s are going to foreign airlines, All Nippon, Royal Air Maroc and LAN.

[April 27, 2010] United lost bag story, fairly horrific. World in Motion blog gives United a C+ for recent trip, apparently they got bumped, but seems like there is more to the story. Another rant about airline fees. United Airlines UA-964 from Washington Dulles, DC (USA) to Moscow encountered problems and returned to Dulles. Have you ever noticed they never give details? United Airlines UA-927 from Frankfurt/Main (Germany) to San Francisco,CA (USA), was enroute at FL360 near Edmonton,AB (Canada) when the airplane encountered severe turbulence causing the airplane to descend about 1600 feet. Amazingly nobody was hurt. Have I ever mentioned that wearing the seat belt is a really good idea? Turns out there is a $500 million dollar hidden cost if United and Continental merge. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee from Houston does not support the merger.

[April 26, 2010] United and Continental talks appear to be in trouble, disagreement over the share price. Whoops, according to Consumer Travel, United and US Airways appear to be violating federal laws for flies with disabilities.

[April 23, 2010] Very little news, but this article claims United and US Air will not continue merger talks.

[April 22, 2010] Despite all the talk about airline stocks going up, here is a report Continental ( which is in merger talks with United ) posted a loss for first quarter. Same thing for American, The AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines, said on Wednesday that it lost $505 million in the first quarter because of rising fuel costs and a sluggish economy. And this after all the positive talk about airline stocks, glad I did not buy them. Emergency landing by a United flight into Halifax, as usual, no additional data is available.

[April 20, 2010]
Volcano is costing United 8.4M dollars per day. On Wall Street, shares of airlines tumbled. United Airlines fell 5.1 percent, Continental declined 4.4 percent, and US Airways dropped 3.6 percent. United Airlines opened an office at Kanoo Holidays building in Mahooz area of Bahrain. Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport (PNS) announced that United Airlines will commence daily nonstop service to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Some analysts suspect that United is trying to put together a complex three-way deal that, in effect, would create a global aviation leader almost 50% larger than current No. 1 Delta. I am thinking none of them really know what they want to do. If the merger does happen, where will HQ be? Cost of living in Houston is lower and there is less snow. Stay tuned.

[April 19, 2010] More labor unrest, United flight attendants are warning there is not going to be a merger if they do not raise salary and provide job security. Business Week suggests the merger will result in higher costs for overseas travel which is till not possible to Europe because of the volcano. A six year old girl was placed on the "no fly" list, apparently an error. Another smoke in the cockpit on a NYC to Denver flight just happened leading to an emergency landing. Details are sketchy as they usually are when this sort of thing happens. Not sure what airline this guy flies, but blogger reports airlines are offering more healthy food choices.

[April 15, 2010] Now United is in talks with Continental again, still. It seems to hinge as much on United CEO Tilton wanting to remain in control as anything.

[April 14, 2010] United announces a promotion for their premium service between SFO and New York and also LAX and New York. I have had the pleasure of flying P.S a couple of times and it is fairly awesome. They give you a portable flat screen and you can pick from a large number of movies and the last time I fly P.S. they had wireless on the plane, I am salivating just thinking about it. To learn more and to register for the offer visit For some reason, I got a Google alert for the ill fated United 585 crash, but that was 1991, so not sure why it is news.

[April 12, 2010] Market Watch, "A United-US Airways combination would net some needed cost synergies and an improved market presence, [but] we believe more appealing would be United and Continental Airlines," A Qatari diplomat who created a bomb scare mid-flight earlier this week tried boarding the same airline for his return flight to Washington. United Airlines said, "No." And which airline did they use, United, "There is understandable outrage in Russia after an American woman shipped her adopted 7-year-old son back to Moscow yesterday, declaring him to be “mentally unstable.”The Russian Foreign Minister Sergev Lavrov responded this morning by demanding that all Russia-to-United States adoptions be frozen" More on labor unrest at United, " Florida AP reports, "Flight number 368 took off from O'Hare at 8:53 a.m. Trevino said the flight crew decided to return to O'Hare after the indicator light came on."

[April 10, 2010] Great article recounting the other dumb passengers that caused planes to divert. Patrick Smith, writes a similar article, but shows he has no clue. Washington Post article says Mohammed al-Madadi is being sent back to Qatar, probably a wise decision." As word of Madadi's fate traveled quickly through Washington's diplomatic community, the reaction at Arab and Muslim embassies was twofold. There was widespread agreement that Madadi appeared to have done a dumb thing. But many think that profiling was involved, and that the situation would not have gone so far if Madadi were not Arab." Here we have the crux of the problem. It is just plain wrong to discriminate against Arabs and people that follow the Islamic faith. HOWEVER, who is causing all the trouble, flying planes into the World Trade Center, trying to blow up planes with explosives in their shoes? Arabs and people that follow the Islamic faith. Actually, the world has been amazingly tolerant to date, but Madadi impacted thousands of people with his joke, two terminals at LAX had to be closed, imagine the impact that has. If you are Islamic and you want to be treated fairly you must start policing your brothers or you know what is going to have to happen. One World may be making forward progress, American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey said Thursday that he expects requested antitrust immunity for American's proposed closer ties with Japan Airlines and British Airways to be approved soon. More evidence of economic recovery, Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have announced additional service to Idaho Falls International Airport. Article on United - US Airways merger talks that focuses on Mr. Tilton and his views on consolidation.

[April 8, 2010] March traffic at United Airlines rose 3.2% to 9.89 billion revenue passenger miles from 9.58 billion a year ago. 3.2% is not that much and you already have people picketing.

According to a report by ABC News, a Qatari diplomat based in Washington D.C. was physically confronted by air marshals on the flight from Washington to Denver after flight attendants saw smoke coming from the washroom. The man reportedly told the marshals “I’m lighting my shoes on fire.” After the aggressive response, it turned out that there were no explosives in the shoes of the man, identified as Mohammed al Modadi, 27, the embassy’s third secretary and vice-consul." Other reports say it was a misunderstanding. Still others say" he was "trying to sneak a smoke," in the bathroom. Look Qatari diplomat, flying is hard enough as it is. Morons like you mean the rest of us are going to have to fly barefoot. United Airlines and US Airways are in merger talks that, if successful, would create the nation’s second-biggest airline.

[April 7, 2010] United Airlines has moved forward in acquiring 25 A350-900 aircraft, in addition to 25 Boeing 787s. This is going to have to mean a shift away from massive use of outsourced regional jets. My guess is United is no fool and knows when their current regional contracts are up for renegotiation. Story about Rahinah Ibrahim, doctoral student who just had a major operation, trying to fly home to Malasia and her name was on the no fly list. Sabre Travel Network and British Airways have signed a new three-year global distribution agreement, providing agencies and corporations around the world with continued access to the airline's full content and inventory via the Sabre global distribution system (GDS). Another cheap seats are gone this summer article, one note, Cancun is still a bargain ( do people go to Cancun in the summer?). Actionable tip, if you see a round trip domestic fare for $250 or less or anything to Europe for $600 or less snag it. Surely hope this labor dispute clears before I fly, many stories about flight attendants picketing today, flight attendants made concessions to the airline when United filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002, buts flight attendants are now working more and getting paid less than they were before. Spirit Airlines says it will charge as much as $30 each way for carry-on bags that are too big to fit under the seat, this is a great NY Times article with a lot of tips, if you fly it is worth the read. United Airlines regional express flight from Denver to Oklahoma City returned to Denver International Airport this afternoon after pilots noticed a crack in their windshield. From Slashdot, "Jordanian mayor Mohammed Mleihan has taken a dim view of local newspaper Al-Ghad's April Fools prank, which saw a front page story claiming that 'flying saucers flown by 3m (10ft) creatures had landed in the desert town of Jafr.' The paper claimed that communication networks had gone down, and people were fleeing the area. The mayor called the local security authorities, who combed the area, but they were unable to find any evidence of the aliens."

[April 6, 2010] Looks like more labor problems with United. They have offered to increase flight attendant pay, but want changes in work rules. I do not fly for three more weeks and hope they all sort it out. Price of fares is up 13 percent, fewer seats and rising demand. There was a story in USA today saying travelers favorite perk is free Wi-Fi in airports, sounds reasonable, but I travel with a Verizon MiFi since I can't risk it. US Air reports 18% rise in "passenger unit revenue", that is per seat revenue. NY Times has an article about why curbside check in is better, they claim you can get heavy bags on board that way.

[April 5, 2010] If you don't like the way I fly, get off of the beach, emergency landing kills jogger. Oil squirting on windshield, jogger listening to ipod, recipe for disaster. ET409 crash more complicated than first thought, second airplane involved. One more factoid about enhanced international screening, "all passengers who match specific criteria and updated intelligence characteristics, including travel patterns, will be subjected to a secondary security screening, making use of psychological questioning, physical pat-downs and body scans." Airlines may charge more for fat people, why not they charge more for everything else. Anemic article about being polite while traveling. United said its customers can now enjoy convenient new connections to cities in Europe and Africa under a new codeshare agreement with Brussels Airlines that is open for sale today. Interesting, The News & Observer, a North Carolina paper, and three other newspaper companies — including The New York Times Co. and USA TODAY publisher Gannett— sued the airpotr (Raleigh-Durham International) in 2004, arguing that its refusal to install newspaper racks violated their First Amendment rights to distribute news. Gift shops are making about $12M annually on newspaper sales.

Don't know the details, but I know that node mapping is cool, here is a map of United on Twitter. Blogger gives United an F on recycling.That is harsh, I know I have seen them separate cans, so a D minus is their worst case actual score.

[April 2, 2010] Important article for those that travel international, "United Airlines is giving a long overdue makeover to the Boeing 777 aircraft used on some of its longest overseas flights, adding perks like video-on-demand for passengers flying in the cheap seats." There is a lot more info, go great it. The United Airlines Premium Plus invention seems to be catching on with a number of airlines. Amazing video of a United 747 landing in Narita, smoke everywhere and nobody could find anything wrong with the plane or the tires. (Alternate link if that fails) Better avionics allow planes to fly closer together over the ocean., "In presentations at the AEEC General Session in Phoenix this week, Honeywell and ACSS outlined separate efforts to demonstrate the optimal flight profiles and reduced separations possible with ADS-B equipped aircraft flying ITP in oceanic airspace." Virgin Blue is buying more than 100 new Boeings. Sabatino, the new senior VP and General Counsel gets 40k United shares on his first day of work. New and additional screening of flights coming into the United States, "A senior administration official told CNN that racial or religious characteristics could be used to identify passengers requiring a more thorough review, though the official insisted the new system will not constitute racial profiling."

[March 31, 2010] Near miss over San Fran, a United jet, a Boeing 777-200 bound for Beijing, had just taken off from San Francisco International and was at about 1,100 feet when a tower controller alerted it that the United jet had another airplane nearby. The safety agency added that the two airplanes came within 300 feet of colliding. Unruly woman on a flight causes it to be diverted. Charges filed Tuesday in federal district court in Nebraska identify the woman as Maria Rita Manzoni. Authorities seek to formally charge her with interfering with a flight crew and its attendants after she allegedly began screaming of other passengers’ terrorist plots and had to be restrained by flight attendants and passengers. United adds a 6th daily flight to SLO from LAX. Not sure what SLO is, join the crowd, "Located just south of the City of San Luis Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport serves areas as far north as Southern Monterey County and as far south as Northern Santa Barbara County. The airport offers convenient access to and from the Central Coast. Residents and visitors have the choice of two commercial airlines with flights to Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Francisco." Computerworld reports, " US Airways launched Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi service on five aircraft yesterday, joining eight other airlines working with wireless service provider Aircell. Gogo is offered on about 700 planes, including all AirTran Airways and Virgin America flights." Interesting complaint about being seated next to an overweight passenger on United and they would not move him because the only open seats were in Economy Plus.

[March 30, 2010] Do you know you can fly from LAX to BOS to attend SANS Boston 2010 on a United non-stop for about $500; book now! For the 3rd year in a row, Southwest carried more domestic passengers than any other carrier, American carried more international. NASDAQ reports United and AMECO ( American Engineering ) have signed a five year contract to maintain United's heavy fleet (747s and 777s). Continental CEO Jeff Smisek gave up his salary until he gets the airline in the black. Air Canada sees pickup in air freight, more signs of an economic rebound. The Republican National Committee spent nearly $2,000 in party funds at a racy nightclub, voyeur, in West Hollywood. Why is this in a United blog? Well the RNC Chair, Michael Steele, has the perfect alibi that he was not there, he was on a United flight from HNL to LAX.

[March 29, 2010] Bloomberg reports that bookings across the Pacific are getting stronger for United Airlines. “There are real signs of recovery,” Chief Executive Officer Glenn Tilton said in Beijing today. “The Pacific is showing its traditional strength. It’s moving at a higher level compared to our other international markets.” USA Today has a really nice, in depth interview with Continental's Chief Marketing Officer that mentions Star Alliance and talks with United.

Allrighty, a retelling of the famous Captain Killian and First Officer James Dee United Airlines UFO, fun if you have a couple extra minutes and remember, the truth is out there. The big snow in Colorado canceled some flights. A United Airlines jet lying south of Reading made an "unusual request" to descent and the RAF scrambled two fighters, first time I had ever seen a photo of a Typhoon fighter, they are cool. Apparently, US and European negotiators have come up with an agreement that will allow more competition and cooperation between carriers across the Atlantic, will it mean more opportunity and possibly lower fares, we will see. The agreement has already had an impact leading to labor unrest, United flight attendants are going to picket at Dulles to protest the new United / Aer Lingus agreement to "outsource" flight attendant jobs. You can read more about this here and here. Lansing airport continues to have a drop in travelers, though United still has daily service.

[March 24, 2010] reports, "Thomas Sabatino is the new general counsel for UAL Corporation, the holding company of United Airlines. He'll start his new job on March 29, and report to CEO Glenn Tilton." BTNOnline says China's economy is rocking and major carriers including United are increasing flights there. Mike Souter has a story about United losing his bags, the story rambles a bit, but I think he got them back.

[March 23, 2010] Betcha we start seeing articles crying double dip recession in the next ten days. Existing housing sales just dropped for the 3rd consecutive month ( making this the perfect time to put a bid on a house). "Passenger counts at McCarran International Airport fell 6.2 percent in February as the full impact of cutbacks by US Airways were felt. according to Las Vegas Review Journal, this puts United in the number two spot to get to Vegas, which is good news to me since I fly United and we have a couple of events in Vegas. However, according to WSJ, the African airline market is growing rapidly. The Associated Press reports United spent $600k lobbying, primarily about rules for stranded passengers ( why does that sound ominous). Travel specialist Tom Belden ( who does not travel often) reports airplane seats are cramped and that makes it hard to read your email on the few planes with WiFi; thanks for that Tom!

[March 22, 2010] Money Telegram reports, "Beijing’s airport became the world’s third busiest last year, surpassing Chicago’s O’Hare, as its passenger total jumped 17 percent to 65.3 million on increasing demand for travel throughout Asia and overseas." Cool articles notes, "Following the recent United States federal approval United Airlines has launched the Beijing to Washington DC direct flight service. The first flight to Beijing from Washington DC flew in late March 2007." Kralev from the Washington Times is usually critical of carriers says, "I've been very impressed by the competence, flexibility and calm of U.S.-based agents when handling disruptions. Not that there aren't some less helpful ones, but a request to speak to a supervisor — or hanging up and calling again — usually solves that problem. The trick is to get an agent in the U.S., and if you are not a top elite flier, you might have to endure outsourced call centers in India, where I hear things are very different." and backs his assertion with a story about "Mr. Cohen was on his way home from Venice, Italy, when his Lufthansa flight to Munich was canceled". Here is another bad customer experience with United story, but the actionable key for United is the following statement, "But here’s the bottom line: In one personal encounter, three phone calls and four emails, only two of eight United employees spent more time trying to provide satisfaction than trying to make excuses (and that’s all rules are to the customer). " Here is another, I got stuck with United story. Charlie Trotter, the United Airlines First Class Chef is closing his Vegas restaurant. Continental plans to launch a food-for-sale/buy on board program that mirrors what other carriers such as United already do.

[March 21, 2010] Here is a link to an article in the Silicon Valley Mercury News about the joys of airport security. Nothing a frequent traveler does not know, but a nice piece of writing. In a similar piece, 7 airline perks that used to be free but are gone, gone, gone. If you are going to Asia, United is offering a summer fare sale. Here is one to watch, United Airlines pilots are starting to picket to protest outsourcing to regional carriers. British Airlines strike enters second day. My guess is that this is not going to work out well for British Airlines pilots. And it certainly does not work out well for the passengers. United Airlines stock dropped 3.4% though it has been up lately. For the life of me, I could not see why it was going up and the rosey announcements over the past three weeks, almost feels like a plot to defraud investors. That said, first quarter 2010, United reports an increase in passengers. And here is a United customer tale of woe, followed by stock analysis for short term investors. And finally, United has offered a sale on the ship your bags ahead service.

[March 13, 2010] Digital boarding pass, Consumerist says you can download your boarding pass to your smart phone. Source of the story appears to be the Denver Channel or the Chicago Tribune. According to the various press releases repeats, one advantage of this is to cut down on boarding pass fraud. You may remember back in 2006 a college student, Christopher Soghoian, had a web page about how to fake a boarding pass. Christopher, by the way, is alive and kicking and currently doing research into federal surveillance.

In what is certain to be yet another PR black eye for United, a flight attendant told John Battelle, a wired founder he could not continue chat with his family. Oh My. If I could offer a strategy, if the customer is a United frequent flier, he/she probably does not want to crash the plane. If the customer is worth millions, he/she probably does not want to crash the plane. This will not be fool proof, but I bet it holds up statistically.

[March 10, 2010] NYT reports,"Denver airport officials say thousands of bags were loaded onto United airplanes in late December without being run through security scanners." I was unable to confirm this report.

[March 07, 2010] Started teaching today on how to start a Security Awareness Program it went well. United 1k news that surfaced while I was teaching includes: "Five U.S. airlines have applied for the right to offer 11 flights a day from eight U.S. airports to Tokyo's Haneda International Airport, Asia's busiest airport." However there are only four flights available to award. Dallas Morning News refers to the legal posturing as "trash-talking". I was just reading the flyer talk blog post by Rick Anaya, feeling that United treats Global Services better than United 1Ks. I think Global Services is a status that is awarded by United to people that have contributed substantially to United's revenue, so if you buy a lot of expensive international tickets you get it. And I do agree they have a higher level of privilege than a 1K. That said, some of the really corny stuff like priority boarding Global Services first and even making first class wait seems to be over. I didn't personally mind the snub, it just slows the boarding process down.

Another blog post on flyertalk has my head spinning. One guy asked if it makes sense to spend $1,000 on a ticket to make sure he makes 1K and the answers sound like alphabet soup. So here is a key to some United 1k terminology ( thanks for the help Google):

  • CR-1 stands for Confirmed Regional Upgrade and get this, it is not an official United term, it is apparently frequent flier lingo
  • SWUs stand for System Wide Upgrade, these puppies let you get into business class on an international flight
  • RDM stands for redeemable miles
Hope there isn't a lingo test in my future, I would be doomed! USA Today reports American Airlines is launching a program similar to United Airlines at Chicago O'Hare, with mobile-device-toting agents assigned to post-security customer service counters. The program was subsequently introduced at Washington Dulles and Denver." They are there to "help you" but also if you have too many bags cause you to check them for a fee. AA will start this at Boston Logan. This tip courtesy of the Insider guide to Boston 2010.

[March 06, 2010] A United Airlines flight en route from Rochester to Chicago made an emergency landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport this morning after the crew discovered smoke in a lavatory. Early diagnosis is the Aux power unit. Dana Sacks has been hired as vice president of Human Resources Partners and Talent Acquisition. More evidence United is gowning, "United Airlines is adding another daily nonstop flight between Los Angeles and Reno-Tahoe International Airport. " Airline Biz talks about the impact of the winter weather on the major carriers, "carriers canceled nearly 38,000 flights last month, with Southwest Airlines hit hardest."

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Continental Airlines Inc., following in the footsteps of some of its rivals, said it will begin letting nonelite frequent fliers sit in roomier exit-row seats in coach for a fee. " They have a marketing relationship with United Airlines.

On a personal note, Kathy and I flew Jetblue today, it was my first time and I enjoyed it. There was enough legroom in the seats, you get your own TV and Matrix II was playing, what is not to like? They have free snacks, I had the cashews and I think you can get seconds, but I can't handle that much salt when flying, I would turn into a mummy.

[March 03, 2010] United Airlines said Tuesday it will begin daily service from Washington to Accra, Ghana, on June 20 reports the Airline Biz Blog. Interesting, a few news stories lately about how the big 5 are positioned to make some money as the economy grows and United, which has been dropping flights is adding a route. Let's keep an eye on this. Walletpop Blog has an article on United's tricky upsell kiosks. United gets a lot of unfair critiscm, but their kiosks will suck money out of your credit card in a flash. JFK airport is remodeling and will need to close some runways; yikes. I dutifully watched United Breaks Guitars 3, are we done now?

[March 02, 2010] You know whenever you see those top five XYZ stories, they tend to be fairly fluff. Read this one anyway, it is a touch off topic, but a lifelong study of mine is why we make bad decisions, you can read more about the competencies to consistently make good decisions on my leadership blog. Anyway, The top five trip planning mishaps, takes five minutes to read the article, hours to recover from an error when traveling. The final edition of United Breaks Guitars releases tomorrow and we are supposed to be hyping it, ho hum.

[March 01, 2010] Just flew United from Richmond VA to Stuttgart Germany, all flights on time, was a bit concerned about the winter storms in Europe, but made it with no incident. "Majestic Research Corp., released a study predicting that large, traditional airlines such as US Airways, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines may see passenger revenue increase as much as 9% in the first quarter of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009. The research firm based its analysis on proprietary data collected from airline ticket vendors and by surveying ticket prices on the Internet, among other techniques." However, this article implies the upper hand goes to the discount airlines.

Another turbulence story, buckle up, when ever you can, "On Jan. 10, 2008, Air Canada flight 190 took off from Victoria, heading to Toronto. While the plane was still climbing, passengers were shaken by several sharp jolts to the aircraft, which then tilted violently to the left, then right and suddenly plunged, sending passengers, flight attendants and food carts flying."

Sioux Falls and Richmond VA, some of the challenges of region airports. "Despite Sioux Falls airport officials' success in courting new carriers such as American Eagle, which will offer new flights to Chicago beginning in April, and their ability to secure federal money to enhance services, such as a $500,000 grant backing a new American route to Dallas, Sioux Falls residents increasingly are flying out of other airports offering cheaper fares." "Though RIC's traffic has been off since April 2008, the Capital Region Airport Commission said the trend for enplanements -- passenger boardings -- at RIC should compare favorably to nationwide performance this year." Northcutt: be careful to believe about half of what you read. A number of business travelers deal with the famous snarling I95 because at least United cancels a lot of flights. Once after they canceled a flight I needed to be in position for business when I called them they told me to go home and try again tomorrow. That will hold Richmond ( RIC ) back.

[February 26, 2010] Interesting video about UA 909 Amsterdam to Chicago being canceled. I was not able to find a news story explaining it, if anyone has more data can you send links to please. I think this must have happened a month ago. When I did a search, I found a 2006 story about another UA 909 that overheated internally. A good reminder to always pack a water bottle with you.

Of course the biggest news for the day, United just purchased 25 Boeing 797s. I like new planes. There is also a story about United and fuel futures, very tricky trying to know the price of a commodity in the future.

[February 24, 2010] ( Continuing story, see Feb 21) Unknown number of passengers injured in turbulence, "20 passengers were injured during a flight between Washington DC and Tokyo. The injuries were caused after the 13-hour flight, which was operated with a Boeing 747, experienced turbulence halfway through its journey, over Alaska." The reason I wrote unknown is because the majority of the passengers were lightly injured, seatbelt bruises and the like. I could not find the article but this happened in either 2008 and 2009. Forgive me for being graphic, but on that flight they found part of some passenger's hair and scalp stuck in the crack between two overhead bin compartments. Hint, when they say seatbelts, wear your seatbelt.

The first full-body scanner is finally set to arrive at O'Hare International Airport next week, bringing with it both the hope of better security and the fear of invasion of privacy. Take the rich and famous, TSA Agents making a fairly low hourly wage mix well with full body scanner and what do you think will happen. Sorry about the sensationalist article, but the picture shows you what they will see. Then of course you have the people that are so into it, they will autograph their scans for you.

[February 21, 2010] Lufthansa pilots begin four day strike. "The four-day work stoppage by the pilots' union of one of the world's largest airlines threatened to disrupt travel on more than two dozen partner airlines [including United Airlines] later on Monday." Tell me about it I am headed to Germany in a couple of days. They are holding off for the moment, wish me luck.

US airlines making a big push to offer in-flight Wi-fi service. "United Airlines has it on 13 aircraft," far behind Delta and American. I am salivating, I have had the pleasure of flying on a WiFi equipped plane once so far, much better use of my time answering email than watching a movie I have seen four times on other flights.

Doctors call for airline pet ban. "A report in an influential medical journal has called for airlines to ban passengers flying with pets in the cabin." United airlines allows caged pets in the cabin on certain routes.

Airport check-in: Vancouver prepares for Olympic exodus. "Air Canada and United Airlines will set up remote check-in stations at the Olympic villages in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, for athletes to check in, dump luggage and get boarding passes up to 24 hours in advance of their flights."

No wonder American Airlines rates higher than United. "While United has been dropping CX standards American Airlines has been raising them. This article looks at how."

Eighteen injured as United Airlines jet hits turbulence. "Eighteen people were injured, with one breaking a leg, when a passenger plane hit turbulence en route from Washington to Tokyo, Japanese police said on Saturday."

United Airlines outsourcing leads to questions over aircraft safety. "United Airlines plans to outsource engineering work from its SFO maintenance hub to other parts of the world, but United employees and U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, question the impact the move will have on the quality of repair work and aircraft safety."

United Airlines pilot gets suspended sentence for drinking on the job. "
A United Airlines pilot received a 10-month suspended jail sentence on Friday for showing up to fly a jet on a trans-Atlantic flight while over the alcohol limit."

[February 19, 2010] Bomb threat forces United Airlines plane to land in Salt Lake City. "Federal authorities are investigating a threat made on board a United Airlines flight from Denver to San Fransisco, that forced the airplane to land in Salt Lake City."

Kevin Smith - too big to fly commercial. "Kevin Smith ain't gonna settle for another airline dis -- we've learned he just canceled his United Airlines flight to New York City and opted for a private jet." Kevin Smith drama sparks debate.

United Airlines adds service in 13 cities. "United Airlines today announced additional service linking 13 cities to the airline's global network with seasonal and year-round flights beginning June 9, 2010, to and from the airline's hubs in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington." Living in Hawaii, the Maui to Chicago flight caught my eye.

New Airline Recycling Rankings - United flunks. "Overall, airlines could recycle nearly 500 million more tons of waste each year (including 250 million tons of in-flight waste)."

ExpressJet signs agreement to fly 22 regional jets for United Airlines. "This signed agreement finalizes the previously announced successful bid by ExpressJet to replace flying done by other United Express partner carriers whose contracts have expired."

Delta asks US to bar rivals from new Tokyo flights. "Five U.S. airlines [including United Airlines] are vying for limited new access to Haneda in the most hotly contested route award since new China rights were divided up six years ago."

[February 17, 2010] United Airlines seeks to serve downtown Tokyo. "United Airlines, today applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide non-stop air service from San Francisco to Haneda Airport in downtown Tokyo." Delta, American and Continental also applied.

Bears board United Airlines parent. "Bearish investors piled into put options on the Chicago-based owner and operator of United Airlines Tuesday with shares of the underlying stock down 2% to $15.62."

United Airlines keen on consolidation. "The head of United Airlines has hinted at the benefits of renewing merger talks with Continental Airlines."

United 1k member Tom Dougherty blogs on his experience with United Airlines.
"I have booked over a million miles in the past years with United Airlines. Believe me, it is not a badge of honor as much as it is an acknowledgment of repeated inconvenience, poor service, and time lost."

[February 15, 2010] United Airlines posts higher traffic, revenue in January. "United Airlines said Monday that January traffic rose, and it collected more revenue from each passenger."

Foreign investment is US airlines pushed. "United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton renewed his call for overseas investment in U.S. airlines Thursday as part of deregulation worldwide to boost industry profitability.

United executive breaks old barriers. "Graham Atkinson has been president of United Airlines' frequent-flier program, Mileage Plus, for only 16 months, but while some questionable policies remain in place, he has made a big difference for the better."

Quantas anxious as rival airlines fight for government travel business. "BusinessDay has confirmed that Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Emirates, Malaysian Airlines, United Airlines and Air New Zealand have all submitted bids."

Airline shares climb after carriers raise fares. "Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines matched a $10 round-trip air-fare hike Friday that was initiated by UAL Corp's United Airlines on Wednesday night, according to Rick Seaney, chief executive of, which tracks ticket prices."

US Airlines face millions in costs as storm grounds planes. "UAL Corp.’s United halted 750, or almost a quarter, of its flights.." Proactive airlines minimize Denver International Airport impact. "United Airlines, DIA's largest carrier, 'proactively canceled flights, and we issued travel waivers, so a number of people flew to where they needed to be before the storm,' spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said.

Daley administration defends landing, rental fees at O'Hare. Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie "Andolino said she’s 'disappointed' that United and American Airlines chose to go public with their dispute after making substantial progress in negotiations that were supposed to be conducted behind closed doors."

United Airlines appoints new finance officers, names new managing director - invester relations. "United Airlines announced [Feb. 8] that it has named Rohit Philip to the newly created role of senior vice president – Corporate Strategy and Business Development. John R. Gebo was named vice president – Financial Planning and Analysis, succeeding Philip in that role. Additionally, the company named Tyler Reddien as managing director – Investor Relations, succeeding Gebo."

United Airlines flight delayed by Saints parade. "Close to 100 passengers on a United Airlines flight spent an extra night in New Orleans because of heavy traffic as a result of the parade honoring the Super Bowl-winning Saints, the airline said Wednesday."

United Airlines to deliver teddy bears to children with cancer. "United Airlines employees will begin delivering thousands of teddy bears to kids undergoing cancer treatment at hospitals across the country through a partnership with the American Cancer SocietyŽ that raised almost 27 million Mileage Plus miles."

[February 5, 2010] More on air travel safety - NTSB meeting, FAA Call to Action Report and codesharing, professionalism, commuter flights and pilot training. "Judging from the language coming from last week's United Airlines analyst call, we have only seen the beginning of the structural changes in the US legacy airline industry and, according to United executives, pilots and regionals are prime targets in capturing greater cost efficiency. That means that rather than regaining their former remuneration, there are more cuts to come. 'There are no sacred cows,' said United CEO Glen Tilton. 'The industry has made expedient decisions, when it was seemingly affordable or comfortable to do so, and regretted them thereafter.'"

United Airlines Issues Travel Waivers, Encourages Customers to Begin Travel Before Forecasted East Coast Snow. It's a good thing my assistant saw this notice. Kathy and I got out of Richmond just in time. We're back on Kauai as of last night.

Frontier Airlines to begin nonstop service between Grand Rapids and Denver. "That new service will compete directly with the only other nonstop flight to Denver from Grand Rapids, currently provided by United Airlines."

Airlines boost flights to Alaska this summer. "United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said the airline is 'seeing an interest among our customers to go to Anchorage in the summer season, more so than we've previously seen ... we've seen a significant uptick this summer.'"

[February 4, 2010] Delta and American losses exceed $1B in 2009, low-cost carriers still making money. "While the legacy carriers [including United Airlines] continued to bleed money during 2009, the low-cost airlines continued to prosper with increased market share and yes, imagine this, profits!"

Regional carrier partners with United Airlines. "Starting Feb. 11, ASA [Atlantic Southeast Airlines] will begin flying for United Airlines as United Express. By May, the Atlanta-based regional carrier should be operating 90 flights a day out of United hubs at Washington Dulles International Airport and O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

ALPA safety chief says basic flying skills are eroding. "The Air Line Pilots Association's top safety official has echoed the view of US Federal Aviation Administration administrator Randy Babbitt that airline pilots may need to spend more time hand-flying aircraft to stave off the impacts of automation.... United Airlines 'actively encourages' pilots to hand-fly whenever possible through verbiage in the flight operations manual."

[February 3, 2010] Planes with maintenance problems have flown anyway. "During the past six years, millions of passengers have been on at least 65,000 U.S. airline flights that shouldn't have taken off because planes weren't properly maintained, a six-month USA TODAY investigation has found....In October, the FAA proposed a $3.8 million fine against United Airlines for allegedly operating a Boeing 737 jet "not in airworthy condition" on more than 200 flights Feb. 10-April 28, 2008."

BA American offer concessions to European regulators. "The European Commission confirmed yesterday that it is assessing 'the effectiveness of proposed commitments' received from oneworld partners British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia designed 'to alleviate' its concerns over anticompetitive aspects of their proposed joint venture....The EC is conducting parallel investigations into the proposed cooperation among four Star Alliance members--Lufthansa, Continental Airlines, United Airlines and Air Canada--and among SkyTeam members."

Airline Stocks Rise. "United Airlines parent UAL Corp. rose 52 cents, or 4.3 percent, to $12.75"

United Airlines sues City of Chicago for $1M for jet-truck collision. "United Airlines is suing the City of Chicago for more than $1 million for an accident five years ago, when a United jet pushed back from the gate at O’Hare International Airport and struck a city maintenance truck."

FAA's NextGen receives funding spike in Obama's 2011 budget. "[A]ny savings to carriers like Chicago-based UAL Corp., parent of United Airlines will be realizable over the long run, rather than in the immediate future."

New security measures to register and screen visitors to the U.S. may discourage tourists. "A United Airlines spokeswoman said that if a passenger was denied boarding for failing to register, the airline would typically waive the fees to book a later flight after the flier registers for clearance."

[February 2, 2010] FAA fines American Eagle for mismanagement of baggage calculations. "Officials from the US FAA have proposed a $2.5 million penalty against US regional American Eagle Airlines for operating flights without ensuring the weight of baggage was properly calculated."

Virgin's Branson unveils underwater tourist plane. "UK tycoon Sir Richard Branson has unveiled his new toy - an underwater 'plane' for a voyage to the bottom of the sea."

[February 1, 2010] Bag fee ruling a victory for United Airlines and others. "US airline baggage fees are not taxable, the Internal Revenue Service said, a victory for carriers trying to protect a revenue stream that could grow to $1.76 billion this year."

United Airlines Confirms One-Way Awards and Miles & Money Awards. "As FlyerTalk member United PR — who also happens to be Vice President of the United Airlines Mileage Plus frequent flier loyalty program — on Feb 1 - one-way awards will be bookable on, where one can travel one-way for half the miles of a round-trip award on United Airlines or United Express, starting at 12,500 Mileage Plus miles for a domestic Saver award."

Cash can't sway Western Pennsylvania on terror trials. "The Western District of Pennsylvania -- which includes Somerset County, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001 -- has been mentioned as an alternative."

Colgan Air, pilots at odds on safety. "Persistent airline safety lapses and lax government oversight—in addition to pilot fatigue—are likely to be cited by the National Transportation Safety Board as major factors in the crash that killed 50, according to industry and government officials." Colgan Air flies commuter planes on behalf of United Airlines and other major carriers.

United Airlines one of the least favorite airlines of Budget Travel readers. Paying more for a seat at the front of the plane is worth it!

Sixties technology to the rescue at Dulles. A service delay on the new AeroTrain at Dulles "had a ripple effect; three United Airlines flights were held and six passengers missed their connecting flights.
While the problem was being fixed, passengers were ferried to their terminals using the mobile lounges first introduced in 1962 when the airport opened."

Eli's Original Plain Cheesecake now part of United Airlines Choice Menu.

Can't wait to get back on United Airlines and fly home to Kauai where there's no snow! For now I'm still in Richmond. Here's the link to my most recent edition of the Information Security Travel Guide.

[January 29, 2010] Pilot contract threatens United-Continental ventures. "A little-known pilot contract provision could scuttle two major international initiatives planned by Continental and United Airlines and their Star Alliance airline partners."

Twitter CEO rejoices - bags finally arrive from United Airlines 42 hours late.
"Little things — like finally getting your waylaid luggage — mean a lot and Twitter CEO Evan Williams sounded almost ecstatic this morning when his bags, checked in on a United Airlines flight from JFK to Frankfurt, finally found their way to his final destination in Zurich 42 hours late."

Airlines see signs of growth. "United Airlines' corporate revenues are up 10 percent this month compared with the same period in 2009, said United CFO Kathryn Mikells."

Tech tidbits from United Airlines, AirTran Airways. "United Airlines and AirTran Airways released their fourth quarter 2009 financial results and there were a few tech items immersed in all of the news."

United Airlines says business travelers return slowly. "United Airlines on Wednesday said it sees a definite improvement in demand for business and premium travel - the high-priced or last-minute tickets that airlines crave."

United Airlines refuses to fly mobile phone passenger. "United Airlines refused to embark an American citizen at a Paris airport Wednesday, a day after he was taken off a flight for using a mobile phone"

Airlines offer hotel rooms, gadgets, dining as way to spend reward miles. United Airlines is among the carriers that are "giving customers the option to buy more than plane tickets with their rewards" to increase loyalty.

[January 27, 2010] Fourth quarter loss expected at United Airlines. "United Airlines parent UAL Corp. (UAUA) and AirTran Airways (AAI) will be the latest carriers to land with fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday, and both are expected to post improved results, helped by lower jet fuel costs and decreasing declines in demand.

Shipping luggage can be cheaper than checking. Earlier this month United Airlines and others "began charging $25 for a first checked bag and $35 for the second on domestic flights — an increase of about $5. That costs more than some shipping services, according to"

[January 26, 2010]
United Airlines and other rescind fare increase. "Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines said they dropped a U.S. fare boost that would have been the first broad increase this year."

Passengers subdued man who tried to open door in flight. "Earl W. Stafford said he had just awakened from a nap in first class of United Airlines Flight 223 Saturday night when a large man holding two satchels came down the aisle from the coach section."

Terrorist alert: Six on no-fly list stopped in 48 hours. "Sunday, a Saudi Arabian passenger was stopped from boarding United Airlines flight 929 to Chicago. Officials said the man was sent back to Saudi Arabia by the British."

United Airlines flight attendants work without pay on Haiti relief flight. "“We were able to take part in the evacuation of orphans, families and elderly Haitians, all of whom were weary from their very horrendous experience...."

Haitian evacuees board United Airlines relief flight on return to US. " Another United flight Thursday evacuated 170 people..."

New way to get extra mile from United Airlines. "United Airlines has just advertised a new way to earn more Mileage Plus miles. Now through April 20, 2010, get 2,500 miles for up to three trips in three months!"

Why doesn't cash fly on many airlines? "...American now joins United Airlines, Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines and other carriers in rejecting cash during some or all flights."

Say goodbye to Miles for Groceries. "Effective Feb. 28, 2010, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, American Airlines AAdvantage, Continental Airlines OnePass and United Airlines Mileage Plus members will no longer earn miles for grocery shopping at Safeway, Vons, Dominicks, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb or Genuardi."

[January 22, 2010] United Airlines CEO expects another industry merger. "There will be another airline merger in the next two years, United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton predicted Thursday, noting that close airline partnerships on international routes could pave the way for further consolidation."

United Airlines pilots union to pay $44M to settle lawsuit by some members.
"The pilots union at United Airlines has agreed to pay $44 million to about 2,000 senior pilots who claimed they were shortchanged by a lump-sum financial deal the union cut to get the Chicago-based carrier out of Bankruptcy Court four years ago."

Airlines lose sleep over corpulent passengers. "The tables may have turned on the horizontally challenged with a ruling recently by United Airlines that obese passengers who cannot fit into a standard sized seat must buy a second seat at their own expense."

Winter storm spawns delays, cancellations at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. "United Airlines and other operators...restricted their operations." Looking at the damage in the Phoenix area makes me a little nervous. Storm cuts power, closes roads across Arizona. I hope everything is cleared up in time for SANS Phoenix 2010 which begins on Feb. 14.

Infant dies after he stops breathing on United Airlines flight. "Sheriff's officials say a 2-month-old boy has died after he stopped breathing on a United Airlines flight that made an emergency landing in Milwaukee."

United Airlines brand and reputation - media case study: "In the case of United Airlines we collected a snapshot of material on 10/01/09 and created a simple one page questions and answers sheet that served as a thought catalyst."

[January 20, 2010] United Airlines flight to Haiti bringing relief workers and supplies. "The 757 aircraft will leave Chicago [today] with 15,000 pounds of water donated by Walgreens, as well as donated tents and communications equipment. Relief workers will be on board as well. United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski says the plane will refuel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and return to Chicago Wednesday night."

Flew American Airlines to Curacao. Customs was a hassle, but it's good to be relaxing.

[January 19, 2010] US Airlines set to post quarterly losses. "UAL Corp , parent of United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways Group are scheduled to report [next] week."

United Airlines names Thomas F. O'Toole Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer. "O’Toole will be responsible for developing and implementing the company’s marketing, e-commerce, contact center and merchandising strategies."

United Airlines sending help to Haiti after devastating earthquake. "United Airlines: Donate miles so that American Red Cross can get aid workers to the affected areas. Or contribute monetary donations to the American Red Cross through the International Response Fund. The United Airlines Foundation will match up to a total of $50,000 for donations made through their link."

United Airlines must pay $67K after Web fare tax error. "The U.S. Transportation Department said on Friday that United Airlines must pay a $30,000 fine for failing to include a federal tax when it quoted some airfares on its Web site."

Are Star Alliance carriers bidding for AK travelers?
Several Star Alliance carriers, including United Airlines, have announced plans to boost service to Anchorage. "[P]ay special attention to these Star Alliance carriers. In addition to the flights themselves, their respective mileage plans, including United's Mileage Plus program, represent an incredible opportunity to develop loyal travelers."

United Airlines expands codeshare relationship with Gulfstream International Airlines on Florida flights.
"Gulfstream passengers may participate in the United Mileage Plus Frequent Flyer program and may book their flights and select their seats via United's website,"

[January 14, 2010] United Airlines matches baggage fee increases. "The new fees are the same at Continental and Delta. Airlines discount the fees by a few dollars for travelers who pay online in advance instead of at the airport."

After brutal year, airlines' hopes rest on business travel.
"Baggage fees might be going up, but travelers flying out of Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport can expect continued strong competition to help keep airfares in check. That's the view of managers from four airlines [including United Airlines] that collectively account for around two-thirds of Mitchell International's departing passengers."

United Airlines offers 'Deal of the Decade' to Colorado Travelers. "United Airlines launched its Fly One, Get One FreeSM offer for Colorado travelers, encouraging residents of the Centennial State to experience the airline's international network and first class comfort."

Have miles but can't get a seat? How to snare one.
"MileageManager's AwardPlanner function lets you put in up to five different itineraries and when availability is found, AwardPlanner alerts you by email so you can book it. The award alert service works with 10 different airlines" including United Airlines.

[January 13, 2010] American, TPG raise Japan Air offer to $1.4 billion. "Cooperation would give Delta and Japan Air 43 percent of the capacity between Japan and North America excluding Hawaii and other beach markets, according to Delta figures. That compares with 35 percent for All Nippon Airways Co. and Star Alliance partners United Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc., and 25 percent currently for Japan Air and American."

United Airlines prices $700 million in debt. "United has been building cash in recent months by refinancing old debt and pledging assets for new debt. "United has been building cash in recent months by refinancing old debt and pledging assets for new debt."

ExpressJet announces 2010 fleet allocations to include United Airlines. "ExpressJet transitioned four aircraft from its Continental Express flying to begin preparing for the multi-year agreement that begins with United Airlines in May 2010."

Personal account of United Airlines Flight 634 emergency landing.
"NEWARK, N.J. -- I boarded United Airlines Flight 634 yesterday morning and quickly used up three of my presumed nine lives."

Denver air wars: United Airlines joins Southwest with two-fer deal. "United said Monday it will offer a free round-trip ticket with the purchase of a qualifying ticket by Feb. 14."

For some, hassles dim the appeal of air travel. "United Airlines has 'not seen any change in (the) amount of people traveling' because of new security measures, spokeswoman Robin Urbanski says in an e-mailed response. Other airlines and aviation analysts say it is too early to measure the impact of additional security measures."

United Airlines demonstrates how to lose customers. "And that is the end of my relationship with United Airlines. I’ve just tossed my United Visa card in the trash (doesn’t deserve recycling) and will switch to Southwest despite the loss of international benefits."

United Airlines competitor Virgin America fends off US citizenship challenge. "Competitors, led by Alaska Airlines, had challenged Virgin's U.S.-citizen status following media reports early last year that Branson's Virgin Group owned virtually all of Virgin America's voting securities. Under U.S. rules, domestic-operating airlines must be 75% owned by U.S. citizens."

[January 11, 2010] Emergency landing by United Airlines Flight 634 in Newark. "A United Airlines jet made a lopsided landing at Newark Airport Sunday, miraculously skidding to a safe stop on the runway after one of its wheels failed to deploy."

Passenger in Oregon to Hawaii air incident faces charges. "Authorities 'will take all necessary steps to assure that air travel is safe, and that standards of conduct for airline passengers are enforced. And everyone who flies should also know that communicating with a flight crew about crashing airplanes will not be viewed as a joke.'"

Winter weather effecting air travel. Power failure leads to flight cancellations in Cleveland. "Road salt that accumulated on a utility pole caused a fire Sunday that knocked out electrical power to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, leading to the cancellation of dozens of flights [including 2 from United Airlines] and leaving airline schedules uncertain for the rest of the day."

O'Hare de-icing: It takes an elephant. "Amid a major snowstorm on Thursday that forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights, United Airlines ramp service worker Joe Lullo stayed warm and dry hosing down planes from inside a new aircraft de-icing truck."

Leader of pilots union at United Airlines flies new approach at contract talks.
"'Our approach may have changed, but the goals have not changed,' said [Capt. Wendy] Morse, a Boeing 777 captain based in Chicago, who is the first woman to head a major airline pilots union."

Las Vegas top 10 tourism stories of 2010 to include United Airlines. "Assuming that United Airlines maintains its current schedule, the Chicago-based legacy carrier is in line to become the second-busiest operator in Las Vegas."

AIG beats out United Airlines as most hated company in the US.

An airline report card includes these results for United Airlines. "United improved on-time arrivals to 80.5% of its flights, up from 71.3% in 2008, according to FlightStats. United has higher rates of mishandled baggage and customer complaints than most of its competitors, but getting flights to arrive on-time is the start of better service for passengers."

Authentic Luxury Travel blogger Elizabeth Hansen reviews United Airlines Suite Dreams.
"[M]any First- and Business-class travelers consider this legacy airline more of a work horse than a thoroughbred."

United Airlines layoffs.
"Systemwide, about 200 of United's 48,000 employees are being laid off. "This is difficult but necessary as we continue to right-size our business in this economy," [United spokesperson Megan] McCarthy said."

American carriers close off abysmal year. "United Airlines saw 81.4 million revenue passengers boarded or a 5.8 drop."

TCU fan misses game and wants United Airlines to pay. "
[Jason]Jones and his stepfather had Fiesta Bowl tickets and hotel reservations in Phoenix that they paid $1,500 for, but United Airlines never got them there."

[January 7, 2010] United Airlines earns top spot among major network carriers for December On-Time Performance. "In the month, 76.4 percent of United’s flights were on-time in a month that experienced significant winter weather challenges along the East Coast and in the Midwest as well as the airline’s highest load factors of any previous December."

United Airlines notes may yield 11%. "United Airlines, a unit of UAL Corp., plans to sell notes due in 2013 that may yield about 11 percent, according to a person familiar with the transaction."

United Airlines to lay of 140 workers at O'Hare.
"Pink slips are flying again at United Airlines as the Chicago-based carrier sizes its work force to fit its far-smaller fleet."

Airline stocks soar as benchmark hits one-year high. "Shares of United parent UAL Corp. jumped 8.7% to $13.91."

Late United Airlines contract draws world-wide protest. "United Airlines Flight Attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA-CWA), will conduct a world-wide protest over the failure of United Airlines management to negotiate a new contract on time."

Business Travel lobby opposes Delta and JAL ties. "U.S. carriers United Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc and Japan's All Nippon Airways Co Ltd, partners in the Star Alliance grouping of airlines, have also said they would apply for antitrust immunity."

New pat-downs, bag checks for US bound passengers. Chicago physician says "a meticulous search of his bags occurred at the United Airlines departure gate."

United Airlines pilot admits being over alcohol limit.
"The pilot will be sentenced on February 5 and was released on unconditional bail. United Airlines said he had been suspended pending a full investigation."

United Airlines seat reviews reveals best seats to choose when selecting low cost tickets on United Airlines.

[January 4, 2010]
Airlines raise fares in the New Year. "At 8 pm Eastern time Wednesday evening the proprietary airfare tracking system detected unusual system wide airfare hike activity initiated by United Airlines."

United Airlines 'Twares' selling out in seconds. "Last year, United Airlines found a new way to use Twitter to reward customers and fill empty seats. In May, the Chicago-based airline began offering a limited number of Twitter-exclusive fare deals, or "twares," to domestic and international destinations. The last-minute specials are sent out once or twice a week and typically expire within one or two hours. Most sell out in seconds, a United spokeswoman says."

2000-2009: A decade of turmoil and opportunity.
9/11 set the tone. "United Airlines Flight 175 also left Logan that morning, headed toward Los Angeles before it was commandeered and flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center."

We have current posts on United travel and earlier posts from 2008-09.