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American Airlines Suing Travel Company For ‘Bait And Switch’ Sales Tactic

American Airlines is suing Skiplagged, a travel company, claiming that they’re deceiving customers with a “bait and switch” tactic on ticket pricing.

pilot

Airline Pilots Protesting For Better Working Conditions And Quality Of Life

Protests in airports have been occurring all across America as pilots are fighting for better working conditions with quality of life issues taking center stage of their requests.

airport

Australians Experience 50% Rise In Airfare Travel Costs To Europe 

According to data collected by travel booking site Kayak, Australians looking to travel to Europe are seeing fares around 50% higher than what they cost last year, despite the fact that there’s also been an increase in available seats this summer and fuel prices improving within the past few months. 

Kayak used data from early January, up until this month, to conclude that the average price for return economy airfare from Australian cities to Europe would be around $2,500. This marks a 46% increase on average airfares for 2022, as well as a 63% increase when compared to pre-pandemic pricing. 

In general, this summer travel season is already gearing up to be increasingly expensive as well as busy for many major destinations around the world, but especially in Europe. 

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David Beirman, an adjunct fellow professor at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia who also specializes in tourism, stated that this increase, while jarring, isn’t exactly surprising. 

“Airlines for a long time were making next to no money on international flights, especially for economy passengers. Most carriers were still working to financially recover from the steep losses of Covid, even if some such as Qantas have been posting record profits of late. Those two years of lost revenue is what consumers are paying for now,” Beirman explained. 

“Covid was an extreme lesson in what could happen when things go wrong. So they have been forced to be more realistic about their pricing now, as irritating as it is to the traveling public,” he continued. 

“Sadly what has happened since Covid is that travel has gone from being something very democratic that just about anyone earning even a modest salary could afford to being a plaything of the elite or for people paying huge amounts of money just to see loved ones.”

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“They’ve had to recruit staff and pay them much more money than they used to get. Maybe by 2024 or 2025 people will be a bit more choosy, less eager to travel, and prices will come down but at the moment it’s very much a sellers market and airlines are, rightfully or wrongfully, taking advantage of that,” Beirman said.

Simon Elsegood, head of research at the Center for Aviation, said “while fuel prices have come back down substantially [and] we’ve seen a portion of the leisure market move up to premium economy and other classes, it’s not been enough to compensate airlines from lost business travel.”

“Air fares are a sore point because they are so much more expensive than 12 months ago but I don’t feel like people are getting a raw deal. It’s very difficult to price gouge between Europe and Australia because there are so many route options.”

“It’s just the way the market has to be at the moment. Yes, they’re making money now but they also lost billions during the pandemic. They’re not a charity and they have to make sure their shareholders are also taken care of,” he concluded

Kitten

Reduce Your Fear Of Flying With Some Cute Therapy Animals at Airports

Travel to many people is a gateway to the rest of the world. The opportunity to explore new places, meet new people and try new experiences. To meet up with family and friends, conduct business or even part of a commute for some workers.

And with the holiday season fast approaching it’s easy to get caught up in the mad dash at the departure gate, or bustled through security meaning stress levels can increase significantly.

There are also some passengers who find travel so traumatic that they need medication just to get on the flight.

But there is another way!

Many airports are turning to therapy animals who can not only be a comfort within the stress of an airport but can also put anxious children at ease thanks to a spot of petting the animal. Although most airports have employed therapy dogs there are also some airports who use other animals such as miniature horses. Or pigs.

Meet LiLou, who is not just an ordinary pig; she’s a therapy pig, and wants to help travelers have a more relaxing experience.

The ‘Wag Brigade’ is a program the San Francisco International Airport has set up to help ease the anxieties some passengers may have, enabling them to get on their flights without popping pills or having that extra drink.

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Owner Tatyana Danilova brings the five year old Juliana pig to the airport not only dressed in a pilots cap but also with bright red toenails.

Lilou then heads to airport security, passes through the metal detectors – never needing to be searched – and makes her way to the departure gates where she loves to entertain the passengers with selfies or by playing a tune on her toy piano. She also greets everyone with a raised hoof to make sure you notice her.

Danilova explains, “People are very happy to get distracted from the travel, from their routines, whether they’re flying on their journey for vacation or work. Everybody is usually very happy and it makes them pause for a second and smile and be like, ‘oh, it’s great’.”

Many airports around the world have ways to help passengers have a more relaxing flight but pigs are not one of the most popular, though LiLou has become a firm favourite at the airport.

And to make sure she keeps healthy she lives on a diet of protein pellets and organic vegetables in her apartment in downtown San Francisco that she shares with Danilova. She also has her own bed and keeps in shape by heading out to explore the neighbourhood each day, taking in the sights and again, meeting new people.

However LiLou is still a prey animal so it is important not to approach her from behind as she can react so if you do have the pleasure in meeting her make sure you say hello to her face!

Back at the airport a young girl from California is ecstatic to meet LiLou and watches in amazement as she plays her a tune on her piano — she uses her snout and hooves to create a good melody — and enjoys taking a few selfies together.

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Although the airport has many dogs of different shapes, sizes and breeds in the Wag Brigade, Guest Services Manager Jennifer Kazarian confirms that LiLou is the world’s first airport therapy pig, which she says has helped the airport build a feel good community spirit.

Jennifer said, “When we first launched the program, our main goal was to relieve stress for our passengers. However, what we have found is we have formed a connection with our passengers and it’s been totally amazing.”

There are not many requirements that the therapy animals need to take part in the training program. However, the San Francisco SPCA confirms they must have good manners, a stable temperament and a friendly personality. They must also be house-trained so that there are no incidents that could embarrass the animal, something that LiLou can agree would not be fun!

And if a therapy pig isn’t quite what you have in mind to ease your flying anxieties maybe a cat is? Stitches is 11 years old and has been helping ease passengers at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport since she started her new position this month.

The first therapy cat to join the 96 Animal Ambassador program, Stitches gets wheeled around in her stroller complete with a ‘pet me’ sign on top. She even has business cards available which her owner Nikki Christopher hands out after she receives a good neck scratch, Stitches that is!

Many animals work for several years training to be a therapy pet and Stitches is no different. She worked with the North Star Therapy Animals program for three years before joining the airport and is now happy to be pushed around Terminal 1 and the entrance of Concourse C.

If you are lucky enough to see one of the therapy animals – or even LiLou or Stitches – make sure you stop and say hello.

Traffic

Thanksgiving Travel Expected To Be Highest on Record

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner many families and friends are planning breaks away to spend time with their loved ones and airlines are anticipating record breaking levels of travel despite the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

An announcement by Airlines for America (A4A) has predicted this year’s Thanksgiving holiday to not only be the busiest time of this year but also in US commercial aviation history.

A major player in American aviation services, A4A represent the nine biggest US cargo and passenger carriers and have claimed over 3.1 million passengers will be traveling on the Sunday after the holiday meaning 1 December could be breaking records across the country.

After analysing the holiday period, A4A have claimed between 31.6 and 55 million passengers will be traveling throughout the 12 day holiday period, an increase of 2.7 per cent over the same period last year.

It is also expected load factors are to be between 79% and 91% for the period, with the official holiday break confirmed as being between Friday 22 November and Tuesday 3 December.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are expecting the busiest days for travel being Wednesday 27 November and Sunday 1 December, with the actual Thanksgiving Day being the quietest time to travel. In fact in order to reduce security line times various U.S. airlines have increased their offerings with a further 850 flights – or 108,000 seats – added to the schedules each day.

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These increases have been predicted despite daily airline departures still being reduced significantly due to the grounding of the 737 Max in March this year following two fatal accidents. Currently 76 new aircraft have not been delivered as expected while 72 planes are still grounded meaning all airlines have had to put together new plans to keep up with demand, including retirements being delayed, holidays being postponed, schedules being restructured and maintenance being carried out where required.

John Heimlich, Vice President and Chief Economist of Airlines for America states, ‘airlines had to take greater measures to offset the Max issues.’

November and December are the busiest periods in the travel calendar however this year the daily departures are currently estimated to have a net reduction of 417 for November and 426 for December, which are higher than average. This is despite the increase over the holiday periods.

Clearly all airlines are keen to have the planes returning to active service with Mr Heimlich commenting on the long term effects the industry could suffer once they are in back in service:

‘It’s unlikely that the manufacturer will be able to deliver all those planes on day one. It will be phased in, and even at the airlines which have already taken delivery of Max aircraft, it will take some time to work them back in to the schedule. The market knows this is coming.’

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The additional aircraft, and therefore extra flights, will be in demand during 2020. Currently the U.S. has a strong economy thanks in part to the constant growth in employment leading to more disposable income. Add to this the consistently low fares as well as consumer confidence at an all time high and the continuing increases in gross domestic product.

According to Boeing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are expected to award certification within the next 6 weeks, however this does not mean there is a specific date for the aircraft to return to our skies.

A4A recently published their industry review and have stated that around $18.1 billion was spent upgrading the metal for all the fleet renewal, satisfying demand, however if the Max had not been grounded the investment would have been nearer $19 billion. According to Heimlich that extra billion dollars should be deferred to the 2020 budge.

Domestic travel has continued to grow throughout the United States with passenger traffic in the first nine months of 2019 seeing an increase of 4 per cent compared to the same period in 2018. An average of 26,100 flights took off from U.S. airports each day via both American and foreign airlines, an increase of 2.7% from last year. The number of seats filled also increased with an extra 3.16 million sold, an increase of 3.5%.

If this has put you off the idea of flying home for the holidays you could drive, however the roads are expected to see around 49.3 million travellers heading to their families. These figures are a 2.8% increase on last year and the largest figures since 2005.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts a peak of traffic on Wednesday as most travelers try to beat the holiday rush. Yet mixed with the every day commuters trips can be expected to take up to four times as long, so make sure you pack enough supplies to keep you fed and watered.