Archive for the 'baggage' Category

Best Of AirlineWorld 2007

This is the last day of the year. As billions of people around the world, we also took a look back to what happened in the old year and made some New Year’s Resolutions.

For us 2007 was not a full year as we started our blog in June. It was a nice calm Sunday and Szafi wrote her first post about the Radio Alphabet – a useful tool not just for aviation fans. Balint01 joined her on the 7th with his first post about “Fuller Planes – Good Or Bad?” – a brief explanation of revenue and capacity management of airlines.

A380 

A380 was one of our main topics this year. We could see the a video of an imaginery evacuation of an A380, we reported on that quite unusual initiation that Singapore Airlines sold the first tickets to the A380 on e-Bay and gave the money (USD 1,25 million) for charity. We tried to find out more about the possible cabin configurations and then we reported on the first delivery.

Boeing 787

Boeing 787, the Dreamliner was our other favorite topic. We wrote about it when it was revealed, we put it in our blog header, we reported on the first announcement of delay that predicted 2 months. Now it seems that a 6-month delay is more realistic.

Developments 

Besides A380 and B787 we saw the birth of a Russian jet called Sukhoi Superjet and a Chinese one called ARJ21-700. We kept track of technology trends in aviation. We wrote an article about RFID usage at airlines and airports, about e-ticketing, a new online payment method at Qantas, a weightless flight, a solar powered, unmanned aircraft. Also we were interested in service developments such as the new Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow Airport, Lufthansa’s new A380 First Class Concept, Boeing’s 747 development to keep up with A380,

Crashes 

Unfortunately again some serious accidents happened. We saw around 200 people dying in a very tragical crash in Sao Paulo, brazil. 19 people died in an accident of Air Moorea on the way to Tahiti. When China Airline’ 737 burst into fire and blew up, everybody could escape in time thanks to the flight crew, who was criticized for being rude – we thought it was better being rude than being inactive. Later it turned out that a loose bolt caused the fire. There was a sad collision of two planes at an Air Show in Radom, Poland. SAS Airlineshad a bad series of crash landings – without serious injuries – of its Dash 8 turboprop planes. Finally they decided on grounding all their Dash 8 fleet. 87 died in One-Two-Go Airlines crash in Phuket, Thailand. A few days later rallye driver champion Colin McRae died in a helicopter crash over Scotland. The most commented article was the weird accident of an Airbus A340 on the ground of the Airbus factory during testing. The last serious accident of the year was an MD-83 crash in Turkey killing 56.

Photo reports 

We received a lot of photos from our friends and airline enthusiasts, so we could show a photo report of a Royal Aircraft in Budapest, Red Bull Air Race in Budapest, an Air Show in Kecskemet and the A340 Airbus crash at the Toulouse Airbus factory.

Innovations 

We criticized airlines and other players of the industry about wrong steps and we were happy to present good initiations of other players. We found KLM’s promotion: a gift of a costmetics set for online bookers a very smart and useful initiation. We loved Iberia’s enviroment-friendly attitude with naming their new aircrafts Royal Owl, Imperial Eagle and other endangered species. We could read funny comments about an interesting topic: Vatican’s Air Mistral. IATA’s initiation of a greener aviation industry was also worth a post.

Sex and rock and roll 

And finally we tried to entertain those not interested in professional matters of the airline business with articles like Sex in an airplane, Sexy stewardess uniforms – with special attention to the self-designed uniform of Easyjet, Superstar pilots, Special aircraft paintings and we learned about where lost luggage end up going.

We also lost a very key figure of the European airline indusry. Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair died on 03 October at the age of 71. Net year we will definately write an article about him, because only a few know about his role in today’s aviation business.

And what is our New Year’s resolution? Well, we’ll do our best to entertain you and draw your attention to the magic world of airlines we so much love.

We both wish you a very happy, successful new year and please keep on reading us! 🙂

By Szafi and balint01
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Friday Fun – Luggage Stand-Up Comedy

Last Sunday we have published a post about Where lost luggage end up going…, here is a funny stand-up comedy about almost the same issue (the luggage is not lost, “only” damaged a little bit…)

by balint01

Where Lost Luggage End Up Going…

Have you ever lost one of your bags while traveling by air? Arriving to a new airport (or finally back home) and just standing there next to the carousel and waiting for your favorite bag, or the one that had THOSE things which you definiately never wanted to lose?? And as minutes go by, the known faces from the plane slowly disappear (with their bags of course), but you just keep staring and staring at the carousel but yours isn’t there… And the worst moment is probably when they just stop it, and the screen is refreshed showing a new flight number arriving from another airport… And then new passengers start to gather around the plastic snake…

Usually you have to go through some paper-work, claiming that you indeed didn’t get it, and explaining how it looked like, what was inside, etc. And of course you have to claim that you indeed had your name and address on it. In most of the cases, the luggage then will be found based upon your explanation, and delivered to you the next day or a few days later. It happened to a friend of mine, that she was to change planes in Santiago de Chile, but due to bad weather her plane was diverted to her final destination directly. Agustina was very happy that she didn’t have to wait for her connection and take another flight, but then she had to go through the above described situation. The problem in this case was that the bag actually continued its originally planned trip to Santiago but as nobody claimed it there, it never made it to the connecting flight to Cordoba, Argentina as she was already home by then! She had to wait almost a week to finally get it. But some people are not so lucky. They start the bag-hunt, but their bags are never found… So where do they go? Do they end up anywhere? Is there a chance to get back the most important items?

 Unclaimed Baggage Center, Scattsboro, Alabama, USA

As I have learned from a BBC news article, they actually do go somewhere, they end up in a STORE! I know it sounds funny at first, and it did sound funny to me as well, but it actually makes sense (and a good business). The “Unclaimed Baggage Center” in Scattsboro, Alabama, USA buys those bags, resulting the vast majority of items in the store from unclaimed baggage which, after at least 90 days of intensive tracking by the airlines, are declared unclaimed. However, lost and unclaimed cargo is also now available in special areas of the store. They buy those bags, without knowing what’s inside, for a standard fee (maybe it’s depending on the size). (I was wondering whether if the bags are flown into Scattsboro and if they are, then what happens to them if they get lost on that trip – but then I realized, it doesn’t really make a difference, they would only end up here 3 months later…) Then they unpack them, and after sorting put out all the stuff from the bags in their store, which is basically a low-fare, low-cost department store! Yes, they hang the clothes, they lock up the watches, jewellery and cameras in small cabinets and then open the store, so anybody can go in and shop if they find anything that interests them. The goods are used and not handed over by the original owners for sale directy, but their faith is rather determined by luggage sorting/forwarding systems and the employees of the airlines and airports.

The discounted prices attract a large number of visitors every year, who are looking at this event as some sort of a Treasure Hunt, as they never know what they would find! One of them had bought a bag for peanuts, only to find at home that there was money hidden in the lining. The Store actually has a small museum with the most interesting finding they had ever come across, such as a 19th Century full suit of armour, and underwater camera from NASA, Egyptian artefacts and props from movies as well as an ancient map of Afghanistan.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center started when the founders began the business by buying lost luggage from the Greyhound Bus Company in 1970 – as a part-time business. In those days things were literally thrown onto a table and people sorted through, in search of a bargain, but 37 years later the centre is one of Alabama’s top tourist destinations. Over one million items pass through the store annually. About 60% of the merchandise is clothing with the balance of the store dedicated to cameras, electronics, sporting goods, jewelry, designer optical, books and of course, luggage. But don’t forget, they had earlier found a full parachute, an F-16 guidance system and even a 40.95 natural emerald just to name a few of their most interesting findings, so you never know what you may be able to buy over there for a discounted price!

I wonder if anyone had ever visited the store looking for their own belongings which were lost – and had actually found them!? I think if I would lose something really-really important on a flight departing or arriving in the US, and my bag would be classified as unclaimed, I may drop in to the Unclaimed Baggage Center for a “quick” view to look for it! But first of all, I will always make sure that the most important, unreplacable goods are in my hand-luggage, above my seat in the cabin, or underneath the seat in front of me – and this is my heartly advice to you as well!

Here are some of tips by the Unclaimed Baggage Center about how to make your bags recognizable.

by balint01

Vatican’s Mistral Air: Sorry, No Holy Water On Board!

According to media reports, a very interesting situation arose when the passengers of the first ever Vatican Airways pilgrimage flight prepared for their return flight to Rome.

As reported earlier, the Vatican has launched a new initiative, which is providing air travel for Catholic pilgrims from Italy to some Holy Sites. You can read more about the first flight in another earlier post as well.

But what happened at the airport in Lourdes is really showing the clash between religious and non-religous life. The pilgrims took the flight from Rome to Lourdes to visit the “Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral”, which is one of the holiest locations in connection with Mary, the mother of Jesus in the Roman Catholic world. (The sanctuary lays at the site where Catholics believe the Virgin Mary appeared in 1858.) Pilgrims usually stand in long lines at the grotto, to fill up their bottles with holy water which is said to have miraculous healing powers. Until this point, the story is absolutely OK. But taking these bottles filled with holy water home? Onboard an airplane? That leads to some unwanted airport situations, which the organizers of the flight have probably not warned the passengers about. Those of you who have recently travelled around Europe by air, may guess our point of interest: Bingo! It’s the new EU-wide security regulations, about liquids in carry-on baggage!!

Lourdes Holy Water in Bottle

According to the regulations, you are not allowed to take more than 1 liter of liquids on board, and the size of each container (“portion”) within this 1 liter may not exceed 1 deciliter. Or course, the pilgrims filled up their bottles with holy water from the holy site, and it is also understandable that they wished not to check it in. For some of them, taking the holy water home (to some sick loved ones maybe) was probably the most important reason to take this pilgrimage and the flight. Unfortunate for them, the EU airport regulations are in place and are enforced all over Europe, and the French authorities did not make an exception in their fight against terrorism. All passengers are obliged to respect the rules and not go over the quantities (of liquid) permitted on flights, said Franck Hourcade, an official at the Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees International Airport.

Therefore the passengers were forced to either leave the water bottles behind, or as one of them has reportedly done: drink it on spot, at the security check, right next to the X-rax machines. According to The Associated Press Francesco Pizzo, Mistral Air’s president, said the company must adhere to the international regulations. “There are international rules that state that liquids cannot be carried on board. These have to be respected,” he said. Pizzo further announced that Mistral Air had provided small bottles shaped like a Madonna and full of holy water on every seat for when the pilgrims came back on board. The flight carried 145 passengers on the inagural flight of the new Airline, he said.

by balint01

RyanAir Charges For Airport Check-in Desk Usage

RyanAir  RyanAir – who are usually the first to introduce new charges in the European low-cost air travel market – have published their plan to start charging extra for passengers who use the check-in desk at the departure airports, to check-in for their RyanAir flights.

RyanAir actually plans to simplify the check-in and boarding process, cut costs and increase ancillary revenue with this action. The fee will be £2/€3 to each person using an airport check-in desk beginning 20SEP2007. They also claim that the fee “reflects the cost of airport check-in desk facilities“, but it will also encourage customers to use RyanAir’s Check’N’Go Web check-in service. So basically this is the next step in pushing the passengers towards self-service in as many steps of the flying process as possible. If you think about it:

  • 10 years ago we all required personal assistance while booking our flights. Now we do it ourselves over the internet.
  • 5 years ago we all needed personal assistance while checking-in for our flights. Now we do it ourselves using self-service check-in kiosks, web and wap applications.
  • Until about a year ago, no matter how we checked ourselves in, we required to be assisted in printing our magnetic stripe boarding passes. Now more and more airlines use bar codes for check-in and boarding, so we can actually print a standard size paper ourselves at home and proceed to passport control/boarding immediately after arriving to the airport.
  • Until also about a year ago, we always stood in the queue at the boarding gate and handed over our magnetic stripe boarding pass to the gate agent, who then assisted us while placing it in the machine, which read it and allowed us to proceed. Now at more and more airports they offer self-boarding facilities, where we can either load our boarding passes to the machine ourselves, or just waive the bar-coded piece of paper to the reader, which opens the gate for us.

The last four steps are now encouraged by RyanAir the hard way:

DO IT YOURSELF OR PAY FOR THE ASSISTANCE!!

Airport Check-In Desks

It is funny, that the RyanAir until now used to charge the exact same fee (£2/€3) for its web-check-in service and the airport desks were free. Now it’s turned around, and the passengers are encouraged to take advantage of the early, web-check-in facility, and indirectly are also encouraged to travel with only carry-on baggage (as if you have a baggage to check-in, you are forced to visit the airport desk and then pay the fee…) The Priority Boarding remains an option while checking in online, which again costs £2/€3.According to the low-cost airline: “Ryanair’s Web check-in and priority boarding service has proven very popular among passengers by freeing them from check-in queues and departure gate queues. However, clearly charging for this service has acted as a disincentive. We expect that providing this service free of charge will significantly increase usage,” it added, noting that the new measures “will, we believe, encourage more and more passengers to travel without checked-in baggage.” I think, the service being free of charge will indeed increase usage, but the real incentive will be not paying for the airport check-in desks…

There is one question which is not yet clear for me however: if you have a baggage to be checked-in, how much do you have to pay? In our earlier post we have investigated the charges for extra, checked-in baggages. Now the charge for those (£5 (€6)) at RyanAir has basically been increased by £2/€3, as when checking in a bag, you must use the airport check-in desk… So you should think twice about having a non-carry on baggage with RyanAir, as it will cost you a minimum of £7/€9 from 20September2007!!

by balint01

easyJet and WizzAir Charging Extra for ALL Checked-In Bags

As the latest effort to reduce costs and turn-around time (the time an aircraft spends at the airport between landing and the next take-off), easyJet and WizzAir are introducing a charge for all checked-in bags. This means that independant from the baggage allowance for a particular flight, passengers from now on will have to pay an additional fee for any bag they wish to check in.

easyJet easyJet will charge an additional £2 (€2.94) for each bag that is checked in (until now they have not charged the first checked-in bag). They allow a maximum of 8 bags, as long as their combined weight does not exceed 20kg. If you want to carry more than that with you, you still have to pay the excess baggage tariff, which costs £6 (€8.81) for each excess kilo you have. Your maximum baggage weight can be 50kg. So let’s see an extra-ordinary example: 8 bags, 50 kgs alltogether: you will be entitled to pay £196 (€288)… A more realistic travel luggage (2 checked-in bags, with a combined weight of 28 kilos) would cost £52 (€76). “Fewer checked-in bags can help to improve the operational performance of airports,” said easyJet.

WizzAir WizzAir on the other hand, will charge €3 per checked-in bags, if you purchase this service at the time of your booking. If you pay at the airport, you will have to pay €6, so double the amount. This gives a good reason for the husbands from now on, when their wives will want to buy souvenir item #132 on their holiday: “Sorry, honey, we can’t buy that, besides the high price and the fact that we have no more space in our living room for this, it would mean an additional bag on our flight back, and you know we have to pay double extra for that at the airport as I haven’t booked it originally…” They also charge €8 for every extra kilo you have above the 20kg original allowance. WizzAir claims this charge is necessary to keep the airfares down.

I’m just wondering how could it happen in an over-regulated, anti-trust European Market, that these two low-costs announced their new regulations on the same day, and will charge basically the same amount for the bags!? How did the second know about the decision of the first one?? 🙂 The only difference is that easyJet will start charging all passengers on flights departing after 30SEP2007, while WizzAir will only start about a month later, on 27OCT2007 and for only those passengers which will do not yet have their bookings at the time of the announcement. So the wifes who want loads of souvenirs are safe until the end of this European Summer Season.

RyanAir Just for your information: RyanAir has been charging £5 (€6) for every extra bag for some time if you pay at the time of booking via ryanair.com, and double the amount if you purchase this service at the airport or through the call-center (so RyanAir actually needs man-power for the purchase). Their charge for excess weight is £5.50 and €8. But mind the trick: the baggage allowance of RyanAir is only 15kg, not 20 as the other two (and most traditinonal airlines on economy class) mentioned in this article.

I believe this service fee will make the people think about their hand-luggage and the liquids in those twice, as if they don’t comply with those regulations, they have to check-in their bags AND pay for them… (Another situation when a smart, educational gift by KLM would have an advantage, but obviously these low cost airlines will not offer anything like that.)

by balint01


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