But Only the Federal Government Could Protect Us?

The hiring practices of the Transportation Security Administration, which permitted the employment of screeners with criminal histories, is being probed.That’s a start, but it hardly begins to address the fundamental cultural issues affecting the agency. I’ve written at great length in the past about absurd practices and violations of rights that are rampant in the federal ‘security’ operation.A new problem I hadn’t previously read about, though, is that TSA screeners aren’t particularly considerate of passengers with disabilities, either: Screeners have been accused of forcing passengers to remove prosthetic limbs, lifting them out of wheelchairs or separating blind travelers from their guide dogs. Meanwhile, when it comes to an issue involving real security concerns — whether to arm pilots — the TSA has missed a congressionally mandated deadline for a decision on stun guns in the…

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Quality Grows

Emirates wants to triple the size of it’s fleet over the next ten years. Towards that end, it has placed orders for 26 Boeing 777-300ER planes and is expected to place an order for 23 Airbus 380 super jumbo jets (bringing it’s total of on-order A380s to 45). One reason that Emirates is in a position to expand is the quality of it’s inflight service. Another reason is the success of it’s loyalty program. Emirates won several Freddie Awards in the “international” (non-U.S.) division this year: best affinity credit card, best website, best customer service, best award redemption, best elite level, and program of the year. I had the opportunity to meet a couple of folks from the Emirates Skywards program at the Freddies this year, and can report that they are a real class…

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Lower Cost, More Legroom Than the Competition

Midwest Express, known for it’s quality food and all-business class configuration, has been cutting back on it’s service and is now set to launch a low fare carrier devoid of it’s traditional 2 by 2 seating. While they’ll be trying to pack in more passengers, they are at least going to offer 33″ seat pitch (two inches more legroom than the industry standard). Delta’s low cost carrier, Song, also advertises a similar seat pitch — which is more than Delta’s mainline coach product offers. These new offerings, whie in many ways inferior to their predecessor products, are at least offering passengers some benefit. Contrast that to American’s decision to add some seats back into coach sections on A300 and 757 aircraft, and the troubled world’s largest carrier doesn’t appear too competitive.

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Open wide and say ‘Omnipotent State’

May this forever remain strictly a German phenomenon A German mother was fined $116.9 because her 8-year-old daughter refused to open her mouth for the school dentist. “The dentist wanted to check her teeth, but the girl was afraid and refused to open her mouth. So the dentist reported her,” a court spokesman in the central town of Wernigerode said on Thursday.

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Marriott goodness

Marriott has introduced enhancements to it’s rewards program; especially it’s elite-level program. I got this news by email yesterday, and it seemed like no big deal — more marketing bluster than anything else. Perhaps because I’m not an elite member of Marriott’s loyalty program. But the Webflyer folks have convinced me that it’s worth noting.

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Which way UA?

There are substantial disagreements between United Airlines management and it’s creditors, who have substantial say in it’s operations while in bankruptcy. United’s creditors object to the millions being paid to consultants McKinsey & Company. United wants to engage the consultants even more. But the disagreement really isn’t about the payments — it’s about the product being received. McKinsey recommends that United start a low cost carrier as a separate operation. The creditors committee sees that as a dubious strategy. And other than the cost cuts that United has already achieved, the airline has no other clearly articulated strategy. So the airline is at a crossroads. They may or may not be able to move forward with their consultant, and they may or may not be able to move forward with their strategy. Which means they…

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The most creative flyer I know

Steve Belkin’s latest plan has made the news. New Zealand students are being offered free flights to Europe in exchange for US firms gaining their frequent flyer points. … He said the frequent flyer points, earned through Air Canada’s “Aeroplan” scheme, would be used by US companies to get cheap business-class flights. …Belkin says he is just recruiting the people to fly. Then he finds “employers” in the US who are “basically sponsoring these students to fly”. …The scheme works like this: * A flyer gives written permission allowing a third party to have access to his or her account and to redeem award tickets. The frequent flyer points are not transferred into anyone else’s account. * The four round-trip flights in economy class between New Zealand and Western Europe generate enough frequent flyer mileage…

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Notes on Freedom

Why are we at ‘orange alert’? Terrorism is actually at it’s lowest level since 1969 Acts of international terrorism fell by almost half from 2001 to 2002 — to the lowest figure since 1969. “Most centers for the study of global terrorism report unprecedented calm. Their analysis is backed by the latest annual U.S. State Department report and an interim study, to be submitted next month to the G-8 summit in [the eastern French spa town of Evian]. There were 199 ‘acts of global terrorism’ in 2002. There were no acts of terror in the United States, the United Kingdom, or Australia, designated as special targets by Al-Qaeda.” I first thought, “hey – we just invaded Iraq, of course terrorists are running scared!” But that makes no sense, because the data far predates our invasion.…

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