Monthly Archives: September 2006

Wright Amendment “Reform” Act of 2006

AArm wrestling Just in case you thought there were more important things for our fine friends in Washington DC to deal with this week, on Friday both the House and Senate approved the compromise agreement brokered by Dallas, Fort Worth, American Airlines (AMR) and Southwest Airlines (LUV).
AMR’s website only appears to be updated during waking hours on Amon Carter Boulevard, so we can’t actually link to their press release, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wasted no time posted an update to their website.
I’m sure this comes as good news for most of the parties involved, and while the language blocking an anti-trust review seems to have survived, I wouldn’t be breaking out the silver party hats just yet. There’s still a lawsuit pending against the City of Dallas by the owners of the former Legend Terminal, and this road has been far too long and winding for me to really believe that the end of the Wright Amendment could actually be near.
Then again, near is a relative term, when you consider the fact that today’s high school freshmen class will be seniors in college when the restrictions are actually lifted.

OT:Ugly DISH in the Yard Update. It’s All in the Timing

Okay. After I wrote about the new freestanding DISH in my front yard, many of you sent me emails. And without exception — you all agreed that the DISH looked pretty ugly sitting out there. But, not one person questioned my reasoning for putting it there.


Guess what happened this week?

A huge truck with one of those automatic arm things that electric companies use to fix electric lines showed up across the street. (Where the offending trees located at the back of the property had made connection with the DISH satellites impossible from the side of our house.)

In the next two days, a number of minions (aided by the use of this mammoth truck) took down every one of the tall pines at the back of our neighbor’s property. Yep, those pine trees.

I guess I should call the guy who installed the DISH to come out and reinstall it on the side of my house.

But after he spent almost all day out here the first trip, I’m not so sure he’s going to be too anxious to make a repeat appearance.

Publishing Update for PBB Subscribers

Home-Typewriter Copy-1-8

Look for this week’s issue of PBB to be posted Friday. It’s been a little slow-goin’ today. Our email hosting company told us they were having a problem with the “backbone” or whatever. Translation? We had no email access for much of the day. Well, except for our non-site related addresses.

Uh-huh. Backbone…right. Whatever.

I’ll post here tomorrow when the issue is up for grabs.

Compass Gets DOT Nod


Tuesday the DOT gave Northwest the okay to start its new regional subsidiary, Compass.

This is not good news for either Pinnacle or Mesaba, both of which now find themselves in the unenviable position of having to bid for regional routes against a new in-house competitor. Northwest has said that it intends to expand its new operation fairly quickly. However, contrary to what the airline said earlier in the month, when it claimed it intended on starting new service from Dulles in October, Northwest this week would not give a firm start date for the new airline.

Formal FAA approval of the new operation is still pending. As you may recall, Compass is operating under the certificate of the former Independence Air, which Northwest purchased from the bankrupt airline.

FlyerTalk Regular Tweaks the TSA’s New Rules — and Gets Delayed in the Process


Following up on a suggestion that a fellow FlyerTalk member had made Monday, one regular poster at the popular website decided to protest the new TSA ” liquids-are-okay-in-a-quart bag rule.”

So he wrote, “Kip Hawley is an Idiot” with magic marker on a quart-sized plastic zip top bag, into which he placed his toiletries. The bag was then placed into his carry-on bag. The passenger flew out of Milwaukee Tuesday.

(Hawley is the head of the TSA.)

We’ll let the creative flyer tell you the rest of the story:

I was detained for about 25 minutes today after passing though the TSA checkpoint at MKE terminal E.

I thought about posting this in the other treads devoted to their experience today under the new new liquids-are-okay-in-a-quart bag rule, but I decided it needed its own thread.

Yesterday, while discussing the new rules a fellow Flyertalker suggested we write “Kip Hawley is an Idiot” on the outside of our clear plastic quart bags.

At the checkpoint I placed my laptop in one bin, and my shoes, cell phone and quart bag in a second bin. The TSA guy who was pushing bags and bins into the X-ray machine took a good hard look, and then as the bag when though the X-ray I think he told the X-ray operator to call for a bag check/explosive swab on my roller bag to slow me down. He went strait to the TSA Supervisor on duty and boy did he come marching over to the checkpoint with fire in his eyes!

He grabbed the baggie as it came out of the X-ray and asked if it was mine. After responding yes, he pointed at my comment and demanded to know “What is this supposed to mean?” “It could me a lot of things, it happens to be an opinion on mine.” “You can’t write things like this” he said, “You mean my First Amendment right to freedom of speech doesn’t apply here?” “Out there (pointing pass the id checkers) not while in here (pointing down) was his response.”

At this point I chuckled, just looking at him wondering if he just realized how foolish that comment was, but I think my laugh pushed him over the edge as he got really angry at this point. A Milwaukee County Sheriffs deputy was summoned – I would have left at this point, but he had my quart bag with my toothpaste and hair gel.

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OT: Superbowl in September


I tell you what folks. It was like having a Superbowl game here in September yesterday as the New Orleans Superdome was host to the first home game of the New Orleans’ Saints to be played at “home” in more than two years last night on Monday Night Football.

I take that back.

It was better than a Superbowl game. Because with a Superbowl game, you never have that electrifying emotion that you get with most college games. Instead it’s a corporate base of fans — with only a token representation of the teams who are actually playing.

This was not the case yesterday in New Orleans. Far from it.

Tens of thousands of people began milling around the Superdome starting at 5 in the morning. And the party merely picked up steam as the day wore on.

I must admit. By the time the game started I was a nervous wreck.

No, I didn’t go to the game. I don’t have season tickets, and tickets in the Dome’s “nosebleed” section for the game were going for $500 and up a piece. Forget the good seats. Those were going for $1000 and up. Per ticket.

I figured I’d stay home, chow down on ribs and enjoy ESPN in HD. I was not disappointed. Unbelievable game.

It’s difficult to explain to those who don’t live in the city and who have gone through the last year how important, psychologically, this game was. But it was. For many, it represented a much-needed break in an ongoing struggle to rebuild their homes and their lives. It represented a return to normalcy. The Dome was back. The much-improved Saints were coming home. All was suddenly very right with the world in a place where almost nothing has gone right for more than a year.

As I said in last week’s PBB, a year ago I would have never thought that just one year later there would be football played in that building again. I remember saying, “That building is done. They will never be another football game played in that building.”

Because as we all know, the Superdome last year was the poster child for how not to use a sports stadium as a “shelter of last resort.”

But not only did the Dome reopen yesterday, but after $185 million and a fast-track rebuilding and reconstruction process, the building is now much improved. Better seats, better lighting, state of the art electronics and video, larger concession areas. You name it.

Then there are the Saints.

An honest-to-god quarterback in Drew Brees, Heisman winner Reggie Bush, a defense that stopped the highly-touted run game of the Falcons cold, veteran Deuce McAllister, and a rookie head coach who I only grow more and more impressed with as the weeks go by.

Who Dat. Who Dat. Who Dat Say They Goin’ to Beat Dem Saints?

Not the Falcons.

And not Katrina.

United Pilots: Fallout from the Past

United Logo1

Last week in PBB we noted that openers had been exchanged between the unions representing pilots at both American Airlines and Southwest and their respective companies.

Meanwhile, while there are no contract negotiations in progress at United Airlines, an email we received this morning reminded us that the different factions of that pilot group seem to be even more entrenched. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The pilots at United Airlines were handed a horrifically expensive contract in the summer of 2000. I say “handed” because that was exactly what happened. Management agreed to a contract the airline was incapable of even paying at the time. Why? Because that pesky detail would go away once the airline merged with US Airways. United management was willing to do whatever it took to make the merger come together.


Is it any wonder that we awarded our coveted “PlaneBusiness Ron Allen Airline Management Award” to then-United CEO Jim Goodwin the next year?

Now, after we’ve seen that expensive contract deconstructed — the United pilot group appears to be one fractured mess.

A PBB subscriber, who is a retired United pilot, sent us the latest missive to hit his email box today.

“For the past several months, through many email contacts with both active and retiree union and nonunion employees at United Airlines, we have been able to discern with crystal clarity one glaring observation…the employee anger, despair, hatred, disharmony, and disunity currently is running rampant in all sectors of employee and retiree ranks. With pilot apathy and poor morale at an all-time high, it is absolutely amazing that the airline has not yet experienced a non-terrorist related hull loss (Thank God for that!).

Several months ago, a number of other active and retired United pilots attempted to reunify all the pilot ranks at the airline to no avail. The active junior pilots hate ALPA and the “unfair disbursement of the $550-million note (which should have never manifested in the first place). Many senior active pilots are disgusted with the lack of direction ALPA leadership has provided and many are ashamed of distress-termination of the defined-benefit pension plan that screwed their former fellow aircrew members…as well they should be.”

The note also discusses the fact that a splinter group of United pilots calling themselves the Pearl Group is now attempting to form a new union at United, the United Pilots Association.

Essentially what you have with the United pilot group is the junior pilots scorning the older pilots, and the older pilots spewing disgust at ALPA. Meanwhile the retired pilots hate all of them.

To be fair, it’s not just the pilot group that seems to be fractured at United these days.

On the management level it does appear that it’s now pretty much come down to this. Either you are aligned politically with the Glenn Tilton/Jake Brace management duo theory of airline management — or you are now considered to be in the “other” group.

Needless to say, a lot of those in that “other” group have either left the airline, or are currently looking to leave the airline.

Branson Pledges $3 Billion To Clinton Initiative


Thursday Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Atlantic Group pledged $3 billion over a 10-year period to the Clinton Global Initiative.

Branson essentially pledged all profits generated over the next ten years from the Virgin Group’s airline and train companies.

And what does Sir Richard hope to get for his investment?

A hand in developing renewable sustainable energy sources, particularly bio-fuel projects — in addition to working on a solution for global warming. Branson has been a vocal supporter of bio-fuel technology over the last couple of years. He has said publicly that he would like to have a hand in developing alternative fuel sources for his airplanes.

Good for Sir Richard. Just think how many chickens would have to be fried to produce enough vegetable oil to fly a 747 across the Atlantic. It’s a rather daunting thought — but probably doable. In some fashion.

This was the second year the Conference has been held. The project was started by former President Bill Clinton and seeks to bring diverse political and business entities together in seeking solutions to major world issues such as poverty, health care, religious and ethnic conflict and the environment.

You have to give Clinton credit. He apparently has Barbra Streisand and Rupert Murdoch working together on one of the Initiative’s committees.

Talk about two people with widely divergent political beliefs. For that matter the fact Murdoch and Branson were in the same room is quite an accomplishment.

Much better than anything the United Nations has been able to put together lately.

But that is what is cool about the project. The organization does work to bring together all political sides of an issue — in an attempt to find workable answers.

The Initiative, which generated $3 billion in support last year, had racked up some $6 billion in privately funded commitments — as of Thursday.