Following this past weekend’s incident in which a Southwest Airlines jet suddenly got a sunroof when a hole opened up in the plane’s fuselage and the subsequent finding of problematic cracking on at least three other Southwest jets, the FAA is set to require inspections of around 175 older Boeing 737s.
It has not been a good weekend for Southwest Airlines. The carrier grounded dozens of planes and canceled hundreds of flights after a hole opened up in the fuselage of a plane in mid-flight on Friday. Investigators subsequently found widespread cracking in that plane. And now comes news that cracks have been found in at least three more Southwest jets.
Safety inspectors have found what they describe as “widespread cracking” and fatigue on the fuselage of the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 forced to make an emergency landing Friday when a large hole opened in the cabin mid-flight.
Southwest Airlines announced today that they are grounding 79 planes after 3- to 4-foot hole opened in the fuselage of one its planes mid-flight, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing.
Overshadowed by last year’s relatively rapid merger of United and Continental was the sale of AirTran to Southwest. That sale is now one big step away from completion after AirTran shareholders approved the deal earlier this week.
Earlier this week, I took part in a panel discussion at SXSW on “The Legal Ramifications Of Saying ‘I’m Sorry,'” along with a senior executive from Southwest Airlines who explained why his company believes it’s best to be proactive about apologizing to customers when a mistake has been made. A few days later, Southwest was given the chance to make good on its claim.
The Superbowl of storms is headed for the Midwest with 20″ snow and 45 mph winds predicted for Chicago. Thankfully, a lot of airlines are waiving their usual ticket change fees for travelers who could be affected. 3,000 flights have already been canceled in advance of the potentially deadly weather. Don’t go to the airport to see if you can make your flight, don’t get stuck in an airport, stay home, stay over at your friend’s house an extra day or two, and take advantage of this leniency. Here are links to the various airlines and their waiver and winter update pages and policies:
Elliott.org has the incredible story of a grandfather who was trying to race through the airport to get to the hospital to say goodbye to his 3-year old grandson who being taken off life support after being body-slammed by his daughter’s live-in boyfriend. Despite getting to the airport early, long lines were going to make him late for the plane and all the TSA drones couldn’t give a damn. Finally through security, he ran through the airport in his socks, clutching his shoes, before arriving, gasping at the Southwest gate—12 minutes late.
If air travel was a multi-player video-game, you would call Southwest’s new “Rapid Rewards” frequent flier program “adjusting the game balance.” In this case, the “Pinstripe” class is getting favorably tweaked at “Joe Sixpack” class’s expense.
For the 20th year in a row, the people at Zagat have done a survey of passengers on the major domestic and international airlines. And by the looks of it, travelers are much more pleased with the likes of Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin than they are the old-timers like United, Delta and American.
Global austerity has lead some airlines to chuck first class seats out the air lock.
Sure, you don’t have to pay to check your luggage on Southwest. Tara tells Consumerist that after her new suitcase was stained and broken while in Southwest’s hands, and she’d rather pay to check a bag that survives the trip intact. The airline says it’s their policy not to repair or replace suitcases damaged in transit. They’ve offered her a $100 voucher for future flights. Tara, who tried Southwest based on positive comments from Consumerist readers, isn’t interested in flying with them again.
Among the biggest domestic carriers, Southwest finished at the bottom of the heap in on-time arrivals for September, according to Flightstats. This is surprising as the carrier usually performs well. Here are the overall rankings for the big birds:
So, what are the consumer repercussions of the surprise acquisition of AirTran by fellow low-fare airline Southwest? Airfarewatchdog‘s George Hobica is worried that fewer competitors, especially at this price point, will mean that Southwest and other airlines will have less pressure to keep fares low. He also expects more mergers on the horizon.
It’s hard to keep track of all the extra fees airlines have invented to pad a ticket purchase, especially since they keep introducing new ones; USA TODAY says revenue from added fees have jumped nearly 16% from a year ago. The newspaper reviewed fees from 13 airlines in the U.S. and compiled this handy reference chart of current fee schedules, to make comparison shopping a little bit easier. As expected, Southwest continues to be one of the best values.
Overweight people wearing rude tshirts or skimpy clothes will soon have fewer flying options, now that Southwest Airlines is buying Air-Tran. The deal was announced this morning and comes a week after Continental and United Airlines merged. Southwest will get more access to places like New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, and expand into places like Atlanta for the first time.
Strip clubs and cockpits don’t mix, at least not when there’s a spinning search light involved, says the FAA. The agency has asked Bombshells, a club near Love Field Airport in Dallas, TX, to keep its newly installed rooftop light turned off after the pilot for a Southwest flight reported his cockpit was flooded with light while trying to land the plane. The pilot feared that it was a laser strike, which can cause temporary blindness.