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United Airlines

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Welcome change to London Heathrow for Star Alliance Airlines Passengers

Unlike some other travel writers and air travel commentators, I’m still a big fan of airline alliances. Those are the large, multi-airline, varying degrees of cooperation, groupings of airlines, promising “seamless travel”, “earn and redeem across our network”, “global recognition”, and other buzzwordy come-ons that often fall short. But not always. Of the three big alliances, oneworld, Skyteam, and Star Alliance, the latter, Star, is my favorite. Not only nor even primarily because it is the biggest, not because it’s the oldest, but because it is by far the most integrated. They come closer to delivering more of those cloudy benefits than do the other two, in my experience as a traveler and in what I read as an analyst of the travel scene. They are definitely doing so with this move.

Artist rendition of the completed T2 LHR Star Alliance common checkin area

Artist Rendition of the completed LHR Terminal 2 Common Check-in area. Courtesy Future Travel Experience. Click the image for Ryan Ghee’s article.

Star’s “Move Under One Roof” initiative – something they all talk about, but *A (as it’s often abbreviated on sites such as Flyertalk) is doing so much more with it. This initiative in London, at London’s premier international airport, Heathrow, really outdoes everybody. Read the story from Future Travel Experience, watch the video in that link, and then read on here. Continue reading »

Denver nonstop to Panama means 1-stop to South America

From USA Today:
United Airlines to add Denver-Panama City nonstop

This would have been great news for me in 2012, when I did a few flights between Colorado and Latin America.  To Uruguay in my case,  where I now live.  I took United’s Star Alliance and Mileage Plus partner Copa on one of those flights, starting with a United connecting flight to a Copa Airlines international gateway. But had to fly to Washington Dulles (IAD) to connect to Copa.

three side-by-side shots - Aerial view of hub showing relatively small size, a line of Copa 737s at gates, and a night view of the airport

Copa’s Hub of the Americas

From Panama, Copa Airlines has nonstop flights to many cities in South America, even to under-served Uruguay at our Montevideo International Airport (MVD). (Posted edited to expand information, add some links and images, after initial posting from WordPress’ inadequate mobile app.)

Continue reading »

United giving up in South America?

Wow, this is a shock. According to various reports, including Flyertalk.com member “JOSECONLSCREW28”, a United (sCO, the “Continental” internal subsidiary that is still a separate operating division) flight attendant, UA is killing off the East Coast US-to-Argentina flight, leaving only a Texas-Argentina flight. They are just bailing out and giving up.

United Fleet Site banner

If you’re a serious flight geek, you can find more details of United cutbacks, including this one, on the United Fleet Site, an unofficial website that I believe he (and others) maintain. Continue reading »

Boeing: further flights of fantasy on Dreamliner battery problem

Boeing: Dreamliner battery tests should be done soon. From Boeing’s chutzpah-laden pronouncements at Friday’s press briefing in Tokyo:

Boeing says it still doesn’t know why batteries failed, but the fixes they have developed will cover any possible future problem, and the airliner should be back flying shortly.

(emphasis mine)

ANA 787 smokelinerWell, that’s a relief! They know that any possible future failure will not be a problem. No need worrying about those pesky root causes.

Look, I don’t pretend to be an aeronautical engineer. But I was a software engineer (yeah, I know, “not real engineers”), and I’ve been involved in plenty of QA, root cause analysis, risk mitigation, and similar failure post-mortems. Continue reading »

Is the Dreamliner the new DC-10?

Is it over for Boeing’s Dreamliner barely before it began?

United Airlines 787, one of the grounded aircraft and part of the UA 787 fleet where one had to make an emergency landing – Engadget photo and article.

In the last 48 hours, airlines or regulatory authorities worldwide have banned the Boeing 787 from the skies, until there is a full understanding of its many problems and a resolution. Fuel is leaking. Fires are starting in the very controversial lithium-ion battery-powered APU – traditional aircraft use a hot-air bleed system for that, and Li-on batteries are capable of ignition, which is why you and I are banned from packing them in our checked luggage according to international airline safety regulations!

Two days ago, Japan’s largest airlines, JAL (a significant partner of American Airlines in both a revenue sharing deal and in the broader oneworld alliance, and ANA (a significant partner of United in both a revenue sharing deal and the broader Star Alliance), voluntarily grounded their 787 fleets.

Dreamliner with evacuation shoots deployed and emergency response vehicles

Evacuated ANA 787 in Japan after electrical malfunctions and smoke. From The Guardian

Yesterday, the US Federal Aviation Administration grounded the US-registered 787 fleet, which is solely flown by United Airlines. United did not choose to follow its partner ANA’s lead, so the FAA made the decision for them. Today, more airlines around the world and more governmental aviation authorities have grounded 787 Dreamliners based on the information shared by Japan and the USA to the worldwide aviation community. And in no small measure, because of customer trepidation about the aircraft’s safety and reliability. “If Japan and the US say it is unsafe, why is my country or my airline still allowing it?” is a rational response by the public. (Update: LAN Airlines of South America, whom I wrote about getting the first 787 in the Americas, also has grounded their fleet of 3 Dreamliners.)

My opinion? Continue reading »

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