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Flights By Joe Brancatelli


On-the-Road Intelligence to Help You Travel Smarter: Frontier Airlines has changed its same-day flight change policy. Travelers who wish to change flights on the same day now can switch to any available seat for $75. No fare difference will be charged. … Sixteen months after it first announced in-flight Internet, Virgin America this week got a plane with Internet access in the skies. The price is $9.95-$12.95 a flight, depending on travel time. … The Star Alliance has opened a lounge in Terminal 1 of Paris/CDG Airport. … Southwest Airlines got bankruptcy-court approval to buy the 14 slots that ATA Airlines once used at New York/LaGuardia Airport. It means Southwest will be able to fly to a New York City airport for the first time in its history. … The Transportation Security Administration has opened its self-select security lanes at Norfolk Airport. It’s the 50th airport in the country with "black diamond" lines for frequent fliers and separate lanes for families and casual travelers.


So Much for That Airline-Capacity Crisis: Remember the "experts" who predicted a calamitous rise in airfares after Labor Day when the Big Six slashed their flights and seating capacity? Never happened, because demand for air travel is actually falling faster than the airlines can cut their capacity. 

  • At American Airlines, available seat miles (ASMs) last month dropped by more than 9 percent compared to November, 2007. Yet American’s load factor, the number of seats filled with paying customers, still declined by 4.6 points. A similar situation occurred at its American Eagle commuter subsidiary: Year-over-year seat capacity in November plummeted by 15.9 percent, but the load factor dropped 4.8 points.
  • Meanwhile, United reported that its November ASMs fell by 14.2 percent, but its load factor declined by 2.7 points.
  • At Continental, the seat-capacity decline was a more modest 7.3 percent, but its load factor still fell by 2.8 points.
  • US Airways cut 6.1 percent of its seats in November and its load factor fell by seven-tenths of a point.
  • The November load factor at Northwest and its regional carriers dropped 1.2 points even though they slashed seating capacity by 4.7 percent.
  • Only Delta and its commuter airlines managed to eke out a higher November load factor: It rose by a meager three-tenths of a percent on 5.3 percent fewer seats.

What’s it all mean to you? The likelihood of fare sales in 2009, as airlines try to figure out how to fill seats.

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Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.

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