Friday, November 18, 2005

Airline Descriptions/Contact Information

I figure the best way to start is to list America's airlines and their services and contact information. So, here we go...

AIRTRAN AIRWAYS
www.airtran.com
800-AIRTRAN (800-247-8726)
Fleet: Boeing 737-700, 717-200 (about 102)
AirTran recently reached "major airline" status as its annual revenues exceeded $1 Billion. With flight concentrations on the east coast, AirTran's main hub is Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport(ATL), with a second hub at Baltimore/Washington International Airport(BWI), and focus city operations at Boston(BOS), Philadelphia (PHL), Dallas/Ft. Worth(DFW), and Chicago Midway(MDW). Flying brand new Boeing aircraft, AirTran's fleet is among the youngest in the nation and offers a mix of coach and business class seating. While no meals are offered, flights include the traditional soda and chips, not to mention the airline is upgrading its entire fleet to offer free XM satellite radio service. Look for AirTran to continue its rapid growth and become a major player in US commercial aviation.
Little-known tidbit: AirTran offers last-minute business class upgrades for as little as $35, depending on flight length.

ALASKA AIRLINES
www.alaskaairlines.com
800-ALASKAAIR (800-252-7522)
Fleet: Boeing 737-900, -800, -700, -400, -200; MD-80 (about 110)
Unless you live on the west coast, you probably do not know much about Alaska Airlines. Coupled with its commuter subsidiary, Horizon Airlines, it would be an understatement to suggest Alaska is a west coast player. With almost 1000 daily flights, Alaska maintains its hub at Seattle-Tacoma(SEA), with major operations out of Portland(PDX), Anchorage(ANC), San Francisco(SFO), and Los Angeles International (LAX). The airlines frequently rank among the tops for business and elite flyers, not to mention those in Alaska's hinterlands that would otherwise be dogsledding were it not for their hometown airline. In the past few years, and thanks to the addition of farther reaching fuel efficient Boeing 737s, Alaska has made inroads on the east coast, with transcontinental flights to Boston, New York, Washington, Orlando, and Miami. Mainline (read Alaska and not Horizon) operations offer a mix of coach and business class seating. One of the few airlines to report profit recently, look for Alaska to continue its conservative growth rate while increasing value within its existing services.
Little-known tidbit: Alaska Airlines is the only airline to offer nonstop service between Washington's National Airport(DCA) and Los Angeles International(LAX), thanks to restrictions on airlines and routes out of National.

ALLEGIANT AIR
www.allegiantair.com
800-432-3810
Fleet: Boeing MD-80, MD-83, MD-87 (about 20)
Allegiant is undoubtedly an airline heard of by few. Operating with a Las Vegas(LAS) hub and Orlando-Sanford(SFB) focus city operations, Allegiant has been growing rapidly and creating quite a fanfare in the cities from which it flies. Allegiant has created quite a niche for itself, flying leisure passengers to the two aforementioned tourist destinations, from small cities and little used airports, such as Idaho Falls(IDA), South Bend(SBN), and Worcester(ORH), MA. Allegiant's fleet features all-leather coach seating, serving the usual soda and chips, and all travel is electronic/ticketless.
Little-known Tidbit: Allegiant has partnerships with just about every major hotel in Las Vegas, often offering hotel packages that include free air travel.

ALOHA AIRLINES
www.alohaairlines.com
800-367-5250
Fleet: Boeing 737-200, -700 (about 21)
Currently operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Aloha Airlines, along with its recently spun-off partner, Island Air, offers primarily inter-island flights across Hawaii, but has created popular transpacific flights to mainland destinations throughout California with connections to Reno and Las Vegas. Aloha operates Boeing 737 aircraft exclusively, with the highly efficient 737-700 permitting the extended flights to the U.S. west coast. While technically not a hub-and-spoke carrier, the bulk of Aloha's flights travel through Honolulu(HNL) on Oahu and Kahului(OGG) on the island of Maui. Flights offer seating in a mix of coach and business classes, with traditional soda and chips offered. Hawaiian accented meals and inflight video are offered on the long flights to California.
Little-known Tidbit: Aloha's food was recently ranked number one by Zagat's.

AMERICAN AIRLINES
www.aa.com
800-433-7300
Fleet: Boeing 737-800, 757-200, 767-200, -300; 777-200, MD-80, Airbus A300-600 (about 700)
The world's largest airline (after a recent acquisition of TWA), American, in conjunction with its American Eagle and American Connection partners, operates to just about every city with commercial service in America, and most foreign destinations popular to American travelers. The epitome of a legacy carrier, traveling on American usually means flying through a hub on an aircraft with both coach and business classes and lots of people higher than you on the frequent-flyer foodchain. With hubs at Dallas/Ft. Worth(DFW), Chicago-O'Hare(ORD), Miami(MIA), New York(JFK), St. Louis(STL), Los Angeles(LAX), and San Juan(SJU), American is prolific across these United States. Additionally, American is only one of two "legacy" or "traditional" airlines that is NOT operating under Chapter 11 protection (or recently emerged from it) and only one of two to NOT abandon their pension obligations to the government. Food is provided for international flights, with "buy-onboard" meals offered domestically; soda and chips standard fare otherwise. American has done an admirable job at reducing unit costs, but continues to suffer from a surplus in seat supply, weakened revenues, and unyielding pressure from the smaller, low-cost competition. Because of its advantageous financial position relative to other "legacy" carriers, look for American to benefit from capacity reductions as more financially burdened carriers fold or merge.
Little-know Tidbit: American pioneered frequent flyer programs to lure passengers to the airline prior to deregulation. The airline's entire fleet is not painted, but rather is finished in polished aluminum to save on weight and therefore fuel costs, a move that some estimate to be worth millions with today's fuel prices.

ATA (AMERICAN TRANS AIR)
www.flyata.com
800-I-FLY-ATA(800-435-9282)
Fleet: Boeing 757-200, -300; 737-300, -500, -700, -800, and L-10-11(charters)
The nation's largest charter operator, ATA is but a fraction of what it was a year or so ago, prior to filing for Chapter 11 protection. Operating from its hub at Chicago-Midway(MDW), ATA has been shrinking and refocusing its business plan, while expanding its codesharing agreement with Southwest Airlines. The airline maintains strong routes to several Hawaiian destinations from the American west. While continuing to lose money, the all-coach carrier recently announced new financial investors as it restructures. The future for ATA is uncertain at best, with little confidence it can survive in its current state. However, ATA has succeeded in shedding superfluous costs, continues to profit from its charter operations, and with announcements that it intends to purchase Boeing 767s, may be positioning itself as the first significant low-fare trans-Atlantic carrier.
Little-known Tidbit: ATA operates an executive charter service, ATA Execujet, offering private services aboard Learjets, Cessna Citations, and Bell helicopters.

CAPE AIR
www.flycapeair.com
800-352-0714
Fleet: Cessna 402s, ATR-42s (about 55)
Another carrier heard of by few, Cape Air, and its sister airline, Nantucket Airlines, fly short-hop Cessna commuter flights, with as much as 850 flights a day during peak times, making it arguably the largest independent regional airline. Originally founded to connect New England's Cape Islands with mainland Massachusetts, Cape Air has spread its wings, and now supplements its busy New England summer season with winter season routes in south Florida. Additionally, Cape Air has established itself in the Carribbean, connecting Puerto Rico with the U.S. Virgin Islands, and in Micronesia, connecting Guam with Rota and Saipan (these flights operated with the ATRs). While the Micronesia flights are operated aboard more traditional commuter planes, the vast majority of Cape Air's flights constitute a few passengers, pilot, and a small unpressurized Cessna twin-turboprop plane going to a destination a hop-skip-and-a-jump away. Cape Air has a loyal following among its passengers with limited flight options, and anyone who has paid any attention when flying through Boston's Logan airport (BOS) can recall seeing the many little Cessna's wedging between their much larger jet brethren.
Little-known Tidbit: Flights throughout Florida and the Carribbean, and flights throughout Guam are codeshared with Continental and are eligible for OnePass miles. Flights in New England earn points with Cape Air's own "Cape Air Class".

CONTINENTAL AIRLINES
www.continental.com
800-523-FARE (800-523-3273)
Fleet: Boeing 737-300, -500, -700, -800, -900; 757-200, -300; 767-200, -400; 777-200 (about 360)
One of the few carriers to report profits, the nation's fifth largest airline (world's sixth) remains a perennial favorite among business and leisure travelers, frequently ranking higher than its domestic peers. With its main hub at Houston's Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Continental maintains hubs at Newark(EWR) and Cleveland(CLE), with a smaller hub at Guam(GUM), home to its Micronesia division. Continental's all Boeing fleet is among the youngest in the industry, each outfitted with a mix of coach and award-winning BusinessFirst seating. Additionally, Continental may be the only major airline that still offers meals included with the price of the ticket (a dubious distinction?). Like American, Continental has succeeded in avoiding bankruptcy recently, and is the only other carrier not to abandon its employee pension obligations to the government. Continental is arguably the best positioned among "legacy" carriers, with notable revenue potential from its significant international route offerings, though new competition from Jetblue at its Newark hub may cause some disconcern. Nevertheless, expect Continental to lead the pack among legacy carriers.
Little-known Tidbit: Continental offers the world's third longest (America's longest) flight, offering nonstop 777-200 service between New York/Newark and Hong Kong. At just over sixteen hours, the flight crosses the "polar route" over the Arctic circle.

DELTA AIRLINES
www.delta.com
800-221-1212
Fleet: Boeing 737-200, -300, -800; 757-200, 767-200, -300, -400; 777-200, MD-88, MD-90 (about 520)
Depending on whom you ask, Delta is either the world's second or third largest airline. With an expansive route network, particularly heavy in the east, Delta enplaned more passengers in 2004 than any other carrier. Unfortunately, this was not enough for Delta to avoid seeking Chapter 11 protection and abandoning its pension obligations to its retired workers. Even under bankruptcy protection, it is rumored that Delta is hemorrhaging over $5 million a day as it attempts to restructure and transform itself into an efficient and, gulp, profitable operation. Offering (with its connection services) almost 5,000 flights a day, Delta operates out of its main hub at Atlanta-Hartsfield (ATL-the world's busiest airport), with hubs in Cincinnati(CVG) and Salt Lake City (SLC), and major operations at Boston(BOS), New York(JFK), Orlando (MCO), and Los Angeles (LAX). Like its peers, Delta's fleet is appointed with coach and business class seating, and buy-onboard meals supplement the soda and pretzels offered on domestic flights; international flights still offer food service. Delta's future is murky and discomfiting. The airline is in a power-battle with its pilots and just seems to be unable to reign in its extraneous costs. Moreover, unlike many of its "legacy" peers, Delta's hometurf in the southeast is a near-militarized zone as the airline battles with the nation's preeminent low-cost carriers, including AirTran whose homebase is also at Atlanta. Look for Delta to emerge from bankruptcy as a leaner airline, specializing in high-frequency business and the ever-so-lucrative international routes.
Little-known Tidbit: Delta is an anomaly among major airlines, as its pilots represent the only group of its employees unionized.

FRONTIER AIRLINES
www.frontierairlines.com
800-432-1FLY (800-432-1359)
Fleet: Airbus A319, A318 (about 50)
Denver's "hometown" airline continues its struggle towards profitability while maintaining an aggressive expansion at Denver and points beyond, particularly with flights to popular Mexican destinations. The low-cost carrier has increased its market share and loyal following, with brand new Airbus planes, each outfitted with individual passenger televisions linked to satellite LiveTV. Frontier, teamed with its "jetexpress" division (operated by Horizon) and commuter affiliate, Great Lakes Airlines, has a truly transcontinental route plan, spanning from New York and south Florida, to California, Mexico, and Alaska. In additional to the tv's, flights offer all coach seating and the traditional soda and chips, though light snacks and wraps are offered on the longest flights to the east coast. Frontier's rapid expansion has depleted much of the airline's cash position, particularly as it replaced its aging fleet with the brand new baby-buses. Nevertheless, Frontier should be well-positioned, especially when compared to its larger neighbor, bankrupt United, though recent announcements by Southwest that it intends to fly from Denver could be cause for concern.
Little-known Tidbit: Each of Frontier's airplanes has its tail adorned by the picture of an animal in the wild. These animals have starred in Frontier's award-winning television commercials, the most recent of which can be viewed here.

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES
www.hawaiianair.com
800-367-5320
Fleet: Boeing 767-300, 717-200 (about 25)
Recently emerged from bankruptcy protection, Hawaiian airlines has come out swinging. The nation's sixteenth largest carrier has received a littany of awards and accolades from "most on-time carrier" to the airline with the fewest complaints. Recently declaring third-quarter profits, Hawaiian connects the west coast (and Phoenix and Las Vegas) with its Honolulu(HNL) hub, and then on to six inter-island destinations with additional service to Sydney, Tahiti, and American Samoa. Flights aboard Hawaiian's new and efficient fleet include chips and sodas for interisland flights, and meals with inflight entertainment on the 767s to the east and west. Additionally, Hawaiian maintains a codesharing agreement with both Alaska Airlines and America West, offering passengers easy connection opportunities to mid-America and the east coast.
Little-known Tidbit: Hawaiian offers its "Wedding Wings" program where, with ample (60 days) notice, bride, groom, and all of the wedding's guests can receive discounted (and often same-plane) travel for the event.

HOOTERS AIR
www.hootersair.com
888-FLY-HOOT (800-359-4668)
Fleet: 737-200, -300; 757-200 (about 8)
Named after and owned by the popular Hooters restaurant chain, Hooters Air operates mainly point-to-point routes on the east coast from its Myrtle Beach base. Service do extend west to Las Vegas as well as Nassau, Bahamas. All flights offer leather coach seating, flight attendants, and "Hooters girls" there to highten the fun. Hooters has defied the skeptics, expanding rapidly, particularly to smaller, ancillary airports (such as Rockford, IL, and Allentown, PA). Hooters faces little competition because of the airports from which it flies, and the airline enjoys a fruitful relationship with the city of Myrtle Beach. The airline's second-hand fleet, while well-maintained and utilized, may prove a liability should jetfuel prices skyrocket again. Nevertheless, the airline continues to fill seats and build a happy and loyal following. Look for Hooters to continue to expand, pick up newer 737s and 757s, and possibly start low-fare international (trans-Atlantic) options.
Little-known Tidbit: Owned by Hooters restaurants, Pace Airlines actually operates Hooters Air's flights under its operating certificate. Pace is well-established as a charter carrier, popular with professional and collegiate sports teams.

INDEPENDENCE AIR
www.flyi.com
800-FLY-FLYi (800-359-3594)
Fleet: Bombardier CRJ-200s, Airbus A319 (about 55)
A year-and-a-half old airline in the public's eye, Independence has been flying for over 15 years, formally as Atlantic Coast Airlines, commuter feeder for United. Now an independent low-fare carrier, Independence has succeeded in winning numerous awards and rave reviews, including the FAA's Diamond Award for maintenance, and 3rd best domestic carrier by Travel & Leisure Magazine. Independence's fleet is comprised mainly of 50-passenger regional jets, joined by 12 Airbus A319s. All flights offer purple leather coach seats, along with the usual soda and chips. With the exception of flights to Las Vegas (flights to Seattle and San Francisco are being discontinued), Independence operates along the east coast out of its Washington-Dulles(IAD) hub. Now more efficient than July, 2004, Independence has shrunk its fleet to meet demand and load-factors continue to rise. Unfortunately, this has not been enough for the airline to make money, as Independence recently opted for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and announced it will hold a public auction for all or part of the company. The future for the very popular Independence Air is uncertain at best. The airline needs new investors, and the upcoming auction could result in a number of things, including a complete sale and fractionalizatin of the carrier. Furthermore, revenue potential continues to be weak, as the airline faces extensive competition out of its Washington hub, including recent announcements by both AirTran and Jetblue of expanded operations on its hometurf. However, with fuel prices finally declining, and with the carrier able to cut costs in bankruptcy, it is possible Independence could emerge as a leaner contender with new investors.
Little-known Tidbit: The safety demonstrations aboard Independence Air are emceed by recordings of famous actors, adding a little "character" to each flight.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

AIRLINESusa...Everything anyone wanted to know about America's airlines

Welcome All! This is my first blog and certainly my first time publishing anything...so bear with me.

I created this website/blog because I have a near-dork affinity for commercial aviation in America. Just about everyone who knows me knows of my fascination, and most come to me for information, casual discussion, and advice about airline travel here in these United States. I am sure there are many more knowledgeable than I, but I have yet to meet anyone who knows as much about aviation as I know. For those of you who have stumbled upon this or came to this site because of a referral from me, thanks for visiting. Should you want to add anything or refute what I say, feel free; I can talk aviation ad nauseum.

For those of you wishing to further your aviation knowledge, there are a few online sources with which I am familiar and can recommend as at least somewhat reputable. First and foremost, check out www.airliners.net, perhaps the most comprehensive collection of aviation news articles/links and great photos. USAToday.com has a decent link entitled "Today in the Sky". This section, while brief and often full of grammatical errors and typos, offers an abridged and amateur glimpse at some of the goings-on in the industry. In the end, probably the best way to stay apprised of the state of commercial aviation in America is to check out the press release sections of each airlines' respective websites.