IN THE 1950s—when the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a cartel of airlines, used to set fare levels and service quality on international routes—there were few differences between major carriers. One way to persuade passengers to choose one airline over another was to offer better meals as entertainment on board. And so an arms race to serve fancier food on transatlantic flights began. It came to an end in 1958, when SAS, a Scandinavian carrier, was fined $ 20,000 by IATA for serving open sandwiches that, contrary to IATA’s rules, contained overly fancy ingredients such as ox tongue, lettuce hearts and asparagus. The quality of food on board flights has fallen greatly since. Liberalisation of the aviation industry in the 1980s and 1990s, with IATA losing its power over fares
THERE has been much chatter among frequent flyers in London this week about a front-page splash in the Financial Times claiming that British negotiations with America to replace the EU-US Open Skies Treaty are in trouble:The US is offering Britain a worse “open skies” deal after Brexit than it had as an EU member, in a negotiating stance that would badly hit the transatlantic operating rights of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. British and American negotiators met secretly in January for the first formal talks on a new air services deal, aiming to fill the gap created when Britain falls out of the EU-US open skies treaty after Brexit, say people familiar with talks.The talks were cut short after US negotiators offered only a standard bilateral agreement. These typically require airline
Cancellation charges for 'cheap' domestic air tickets will no longer be a flat Rs 3,000. Indian airlines say their domestic cancellation charges will be "Rs 3,000 or base fare plus fuel surcharge per passenger, whichever is lower." This will provide relief to those who manage to buy cheap air tickets, mostly by buying in advance, but ended up losing a lot of money while cancelling them if unable to travel for some reason. However, domestic travellers, whose base fare and fuel surcharges combined is more than Rs 3,000, will continue paying that as cancellation fee. The change in rule comes after aviation minister Jayant Sinha recently voiced concern over the flat Rs 3,000 domestic cancellation fee being too high. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) then wrote to airlines,...
WHEN Gary Leff, a prominent travel blogger, took his first flight on one of the new “no legroom” planes operated by American Airlines, he found that the experience was not nearly as bad as he feared. American had drawn howls of protest from customers when it announced it was reducing the distance between rows of seats—“seat pitch”, in industry jargon—on its new Boeing 737 Max planes to 29 inches, compared with the 31-inch pitch on its existing 737-800s. So in June it capitulated, and settled on 30 inches. Mr Leff tried out these new seats last week and was pleasantly surprised to find that “the seats themselves are no worse than” in American’s current layout in economy. That may seem counterintuitive, but aircraft-interior designers had come to American’s rescue. New thinner seats have ena
TRAVEL advisory notices, which alert passengers to the risks of going to certain places, are standard business for frequent flyers. But last week brought an unusual one. The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), America’s oldest civil-rights organisation, warned black flyers about the dangers of travelling with American Airlines.The NAACP says that “a pattern of disturbing incidents” has been reported by black passengers specifically about American Airlines. Such incidents “suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias”. Of the four incidents that the NAACP cite, two involved prominent black activists, PR Lockhart notes at Vox, a news site. Although the NAACP does not mention them by name, one is thought to be Rev William