Tag: air travel

A Pre-Covid Travel Vignette

 

I noticed the young mother because she was alone and in charge of three beautiful children. The oldest, a girl, looked to be only 6 or 7 years old. The middle one, a boy, was probably around 4. And in her arms she carried the third child, an infant not quite one year of age. We were waiting at the same airport gate and appeared to be sharing a flight to the west coast. I always feel sympathetic toward young women traveling alone with small children. For my part, air travel increasingly seems like something conjured up from the fiery abyss and a young mother with small children in an air travel environment is always under stress.

A large number of the passengers were crowding around the gate even though boarding had not yet started. For whatever reason, people who will be boarding late in the process often have a tendency to crowd around the gate. I’m not sure what accounts for that, but it’s probably the same thing that motivates the very last people who ordered at Starbucks to barge their way up to the counter where the drinks are being delivered and wait for their drink from there, in front of everyone who ordered before them. 

Plunder at Love Field

 

The road to deregulation is often marred by unanticipated pitfalls. Yet such is the case in a saga over airline deregulation in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. The story begins over forty years ago, and its final chapter is now being played out in the courts. In 1978, Congress decided to abolish a hoary New Deal agency, the Civil Aeronautics Board, which was created by the Civil Aeronautics Act (1938) to determine routes and to set prices for airline passenger traffic throughout the United States. But the New Deal law’s price setting powers were quickly used by airlines to suppress competition among themselves, so that interstate fares were consistently higher for short hauls than intrastate fares were for longer ones.

The deregulation movement of the late 1970s had its intended consequence of hastening competition among airlines. But it also created a backlash in one market, Dallas-Fort Worth, located in the backyard of then-Speaker of the House Jim Wright. Wright feared that vigorous competition to the new Dallas/Fort Worth airport (DFW) would come from the Love Field airport, the home of the upstart Southwest Airlines, which was now poised for the first time to expand operations into the interstate market. Wright thought that flights from Love Field would reduce the air traffic at DFW, which in turn would reduce the revenues needed to fund the debt service on DFW bonds. So in 1979, he induced Congress to pass the Wright Amendment, which perversely restricted all flights out of Love Field outside of Texas and four contiguous states—Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma—to aircraft that had 56 or fewer seats.

Unfortunately, this bizarre and protectionist legislation received an undeserved constitutional blessing from the courts in 1991. But local outcry against this rigged system continued so that this already tangled history then took another bizarre turn. By 2004, Southwest mounted an effective campaign to “free Love Field,” which prompted American Airlines to make Southwest an offer it could not refuse. Both companies, the two airlines concluded, would be better off by cartelizing the market by dividing a limited number of gates at Love Field and DFW between them. In order to put this plan into action, however, the two airlines, the DFW Airport Authority, and the two cities (Dallas and Fort Worth) had to reduce the capacity of Love Field. They decided to do so by getting rid of twelve state-of-the-art gates—six at the main terminal and six on Lemmon Avenue—serving Love Field, which were owned by the company Love Terminal Partners (LTP). Flights from these gates could crater the American/Southwest alliance. So these five parties (Southwest, American Air, Dallas, Fort Worth, and DFW) prevailed on Congress in October 2006 to pass the Wright Amendment Reform Act (WARA) which provided that “The City of Dallas shall reduce as soon as practicable, the number of gates available for passenger air service at Love Field to no more than 20 gates. Thereafter, the number of gates available for such service shall not exceed a maximum of 20 gates.” And shortly thereafter, Dallas condemned LTP’s gates and promptly razed them. That’s one way to ground the competition.

Member Post

 

Barring the minority group of recluses, most Americans love to travel. Whether they fancy a tropical adventure, or are more inclined to soak up the ambiance of an ancient European city, just about everyone loves to get out and explore the unexplored. However, there’s always that dreaded traveling part of traveling. You know, the actual […]

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Moonstruck and the Greater Good

 

Seems many a story here on Ricochet revolve around travel and doing my fair share of traveling I am compelled to share. I was on my way back home recently and traveling through Charlotte airport. It was a normal Friday mid-afternoon flight returning to Ronald Reagan International Airport. I had a short layover and moved quickly to my gate.

Once there the incoming plane has just landed and folks were getting off allowing me time to survey my world or turn on the oh so entertaining people watching system. We had the usual array of folks around the gate: recreational travelers, traveling pilots and flight attendants, military folks, families needing some assistance, disabled needing assistance and of course businessmen talking on their phones via Bluetooth (life and death decisions, I am sure) making those around them glance sideways ensuring the businessmen weren’t talking to them.

These Wonderful Scourges of Modern Life

 

I like contrails. Taking walks on clear summer days, when the heavens are deep blue, I love to tip my head back and watch aircraft passing overhead, leaving their long, white traces against the blue expanse. Someone, a pilot, explained to me that it was exhaust, up there so high that it freezes. The exhaust looks like clean, billowing cotton collecting behind the plane. I wonder how many miles of trail I’m seeing, wondering whether my distance from the plane is deceiving my eyes, that a space I could frame with my fingers is actually far longer than it looks from the ground.

I love planes. I like how sometimes you hear their hum before you see them. Their sound is not logical. Then you crane your neck and finally, you spot the tiny machine far off in the sky. It may be toward evening, the sun glinting off the metal. I think about how that craft is full of orderly rows of people, way up there, seats bolted to the floor, who are at this instant talking, reading, watching movies. The plane’s metal belly separates their feet from great heights beneath them and the wooded landscape below where a pair of eyes might be watching their progress.

Member Post

 

A Russian airline has crashed in Egypt, leaving no survivors. Here are the facts so far:  The aircraft was flying from Sharm al-Sheikh to St. Petersburg There were 224 people on board, almost all Russians, plus a few Ukrainians The aircraft was an 18 year old Airbus 321  The pilot sent a radio message about […]

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Bad Airports We Have Known

 

I traded a few tweets with fellow Ricochet members Whiskey Sam and 6Foot2InHighHeels — yes, we’ve joined the Twitter Borg — about bad airports and airport experiences. The exchange got us wondering what would make a good post on the topic. I settled on what became the title of this post: the worst airports you and I have known.

First, let me stipulate that my dad has many better airport — even landing zone — stories than I do. His two worst are LOS (Murtala Muhammad in Lagos) and MLW (the domestic airport in Monrovia, Liberia). LOS was the airport you’d see warned about in US airports:

Airport Security vs. Being Admitted into Prison: A Comparison

 

Passing through airport security seems more and more like being admitted into prison. First they confiscate two things: anything remotely sharp and… your belt. Then you’re standing in line with a bunch of barefoot people holding up their pants up with one hand and their sole possessions in the other. The travelers who passed through security hours earlier are looking on and chanting “Fresh fish! Fresh fish!”

Upon reflection, that last part doesn’t sound plausible enough to deem reliable memory. But you get the idea.