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Posts Tagged ‘Airlines’

Captain Steve Answers More of Your Airline Questions

A while back, we began soliciting reader questions for Captain Steve, a pilot with a major U.S. airline. He answered his first two batches of questions here, and is back with another round. Please leave new questions for him in the comments section below.

Captain Steve Answers Your Airline Questions

A while back, we began soliciting reader questions for Captain Steve, a captain with a major U.S. airline. He made his debut here, with his rather spirited take on the state of the modern pilot, and now is back with his first round of answers to reader questions. Thanks to him, and to you — and please leave new questions for Captain Steve in the comments section below.

The Bathroom or a Glass of Wine

USA Today had a poll asking people, “Would you fly on airlines that charge for access to the restroom?” Most respondents said no, but I bet that people wouldn’t let this bother them, they wouldn’t alter their flight plans, and they would pay for use of the toilet.
Pricing the bathroom would reduce the quantity demanded; some people would wait and race off the plane to the airport bathrooms (unless airports started charging also). But I would think that the demand for using a plane’s bathrooms is fairly inelastic, so that — except on short flights — behavior wouldn’t change very much.

A Profitable Divorce

Continental Airlines is suing nine of its pilots, reports ABC News, claiming they faked divorces in order to draw down their pension funds before retirement. The airline became suspicious when some of the couples continued living together and all nine couples eventually reunited. Continental believes the pilots became worried about the safety of their pension funds, especially after seeing what’s happening at other airlines.

Introducing Captain Steve, Who Will Now Take Your Airline Questions

The good news is that he has agreed to share this knowledge with the rest of us on a regular basis. As longtime readers of this blog are well aware, airline issues have been a recurring theme, ranging from the old cellphone debate to safety precautions to the question of why flight attendants aren’t tipped.
So leave your questions for Captain Steve in the comments section and over time he will answer them in small batches.

When Airline Tickets Start Looking Like Cigarettes

Cigarettes are some of the most heavily taxed goods around. According to this source, the average state tax per pack of cigarettes is $1.23, plus an additional $1.01 of federal taxes, as well as any local taxes. With an average price per pack in the United States of $4.82, the combined state and federal taxes make up 46 percent of the price. In Chicago, total taxes per pack are a whopping $4.67 per pack! I don’t know the exact price of cigarettes in Chicago, but taxes must be around two thirds of the total cost.

Better Air Travel: Just Add Recession

| The economic boom of the mid-2000’s brought horror stories of an air travel system straining to operate well over capacity. But fewer people flew in 2008, and a survey shows that translated into better service — fewer delays and cancellations, fewer lost bags, and fewer overbookings. Maybe it’s time to add airline service quality to the list of economic . . .

Airlines and Opting Ethics

Here’s a post with my co-author and colleague at Yale Law School, Jonathan Macey. Jon is the author of the just-published book Corporate Governance: Promises Kept, Promises Broken. Airlines and Opting Ethics By Ian Ayres and Jonathan Macey Some airlines and travel sites are trying to goose their revenues by running a new opt-out insurance scam. As Tribune Media Services . . .

A Water Landing? You've Got to Be Kidding

Back in 2006, I blogged about a bunch of nonsense that they do on commercial airline flights, including the idiocy of schooling passengers on what to do in the “unlikely event of a water landing.” My friend Peter Thompson‘s research found that there had been more than 150 million commercial flights since 1970 without a single water landing. How rude . . .

Free the Hangers

I typed this from 10,000 feet, while on my way to the annual econ gabfest known as the ASSA meetings. I was lucky enough to score an upgrade to first class, and as I settled into my seat I was informed about the most astonishing cost-cutting measure: U.S. Airways has taken the coat hangers out of its planes.

Surviving Holiday Air Travel

Time‘s Amanda Ripley reminds us that last week’s crash of a Continental Airlines Jet in Denver wasn’t especially unusual. That’s because, as is typical of plane crashes, everyone survived. In this case, flight attendants and passengers worked together to evacuate the plane quickly after it veered off the runway during takeoff, crashing into a ditch and bursting into flames. Levitt . . .

Are You Better for the Environment if You’re Tall or Short?

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is increasing the space between rows of seats on its planes. I’m not surprised — the Dutch are the tallest people on earth these days, as I discovered when I had to crane my neck around the Brobdingnagians in front of me in an Amsterdam movie theater. Like many Europeans, the Dutch are also very concerned . . .

Shoulder Straps on Airplanes

Photo: Rhett Redelings On a recent United Airlines flight I was surprised to see that their new planes are equipped not just with lap belts, but shoulder restraints as well. This just cannot make any sense. First, planes virtually never crash. Second, when they do crash, it is unlikely that a shoulder restraint will be the deciding factor in whether . . .

Should Thinner People Fly Cheaper?

A story on Yahoo news mentions that the Philadelphia newspapers are running advertisements for a fake airline, Derrie-Air (get it?). The airline advertises that it is carbon-neutral, and that it charges per passenger pound — $1.40 from Philadelphia to Chicago, $2.25 from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Screen shot from While quite mythical, this pricing structure is not unreasonable: the . . .

Mixed Messages on Auto Use

We wrote not long ago about the various negative externalities produced by driving — congestion, pollution, accident risk, etc. — and how pay-as-you-drive insurance might help impose the true cost of driving on each driver. Now a reader named Larry Holt, the director of research of the Birmingham (Alabama) Regional Chamber of Commerce, writes in with an interesting point about . . .

How Late Will You Really Be?

For fans of FareCast, there is a cool new site called DelayCast that’s just gone into beta. Type in the airport codes for your departure and arrival cities and the date and site come back with predictions about the probability of cancellation and delay for different airlines serving the route. For example, here are the results for a trip from . . .

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Last October, we gathered a group of experts together to find out what U.S. air travel will look like ten years from now. If you want to remember what air travel looked like twenty years ago, try booking a flight to Russia on American Airlines’s website, which appears to give you the option of flying to the Union of Soviet . . .

All Aboard the Gordon Bethune

Here’s a picture I snapped out the window at Newark (Liberty International) Airport not long ago. It’s a Continental Boeing 777 whose nose, as you can see, features the name of former Continental chairman and C.E.O. Gordon Bethune. I wondered: Do all Continental planes from Bethune’s era carry his name? No. According to a Continental spokesperson, this is the one . . .

What Are the Odds You Survive an Airplane Crash?

George Bibel has written a fascinating book entitled Beyond the Black Box: The Forensics of Airplane Crashes. I suspect this is one book that you are never going to find in the airport bookstores. Bibel tells you when planes crash (focusing in particular on DC-10s). Forty-five percent of the crashes happen on landing, but remarkably these crashes account for only . . .

What Do DVD Rentals and Airport Security Have In Common?

Both are provided by companies offering cash prizes in exchange for new business ideas. Just as Netflix announced plans to pay a $1 million prize to anyone who comes up with an algorithm for movie recommendations that is 10 percent more accurate than its own, airport security company Clear is now offering $500,000 to whoever comes up with the best . . .

The FREAK-est Links

How is baseball signaling like financial markets? Steve Pinker to speak in New Jersey. (Earlier) Airlines offering better meals, albeit for a price. (Earlier) Chinese cremator leaves corpses half burned to save on fuel costs.

On the Cheapness of Air Travel

We’ve blogged quite a bit about the vagaries of airline travel. One point we’ve made is that, thanks to fierce competition, the cost of airline travel is, relatively speaking, dirt cheap. This also means, of course, that airlines have to try to make people happy on skimpy revenues, even as prices for things like fuel, labor, and insurance may rise. . . .

The FREAK-est Links

A proposed history of the efficient markets hypothesis. (Hat tip: MidasOracle) U.N. climate change conference to discuss global warming post-2012. (Earlier) Senator proposes national registry for convicted arsonists. (Earlier) The misery of economy air travel continues. (Earlier)

What Will U.S. Air Travel Look Like in Ten Years? A Freakonomics Quorum

We’ve blogged quite a bit about airline travel over the past couple of years, covering everything from the future of pilotless airplanes to security snafus to the likelihood of an all-business-class U.S. airline. I don’t think this reflects our overwhelming curiosity about the subject as much as the fact that we both happen to be on planes a lot. That . . .

Arthur Frommer Answers All Your Travel Questions, and Then Some

Arthur Frommer Last week, we solicited your questions for travel pro Arthur Frommer. Thanks for the strong response and thoughtful questions. As for Arthur’s answers, below — well, they are IMHO fantastic. Now I see why his books are so popular. He is opinionated, colorful, informed, passionate, and a few dozen other things. We hope you enjoy. Q: As the . . .