Looking back at ’08 – 5 things no longer with us

We lost quite a bit in 2008. Several old banks are gone, the value of your house is probably gone, and in the world of travel several things disappeared for good as well.

I’ve listed 5 things no longer with us as we head into the new year. Come back in a few days to read my list of 5 things we gained in 2008, and keep your fingers crossed that things pick up a bit in 2009!

Aloha Airlines

In 2008, almost 80 airlines went bankrupt. I’m sure most of you were not too upset when Swazi Express Airways stopped flying, but one of the more popular airlines we lost was Aloha Airlines.

Aloha had been flying between the islands and the mainland since 1946, but 2008 would become their final year. As usual, rising fuel costs were cited as one of the main reasons they could not survive.

Another, probably more important reason for their demise, was an intense price war that broke out between Aloha and GO!. GO! started offering inter island flights to local residents for as little as $15.

In an ironic twist of events, the very airline that contributed to the collapse of Aloha has managed to purchase their name and will be renaming themselves “Aloha” next year.


Skybus Airlines

Airlines come, and airlines go. But seldom does this happen as fast as with Skybus. Skybus started operating out of Columbus, Ohio in May of 2007, and by April of 2008 it was grounded. The airline had set itself up like many European carriers, with flights to smaller secondary airports, a flexible pricing system and even forced people to dispose of all food and beverages before boarding the plane.

Once on board, food, beverages, snacks and pillows were sold, and 10% of the revenue became salary for the flight attendants.

The concept obviously looked good on paper, but their timing was horrible, and passengers did not care for the total lack of service. Skybus never published a phone number, and all communications with the airline had to be made through email.

In the end, their business model clashed with rising fuel prices, and the airline went under, stranding 1000’s of people at various airports around the country.


Free baggage allowance

Of all the perks the airlines took away from us in recent years, this is the one that is bound to hurt the most. I survived the removal of pretzels, I managed to deal with a 4 hour flight without a pillow, but forcing people to pay for their checked luggage is just cruel.

Of course, the natural effect this is having on passengers and their bags, is that people are now carrying more than ever on board the plane. The airlines still have a tad of compassion left, as their elite travelers are currently exempt from these new money making measures.


Berlin Tempelhof Airport

I’m sure more airports closed in 2008, but none of them were as important to aviation history as Berlin Tempelhof. The airport closed on October 30th, and will make way for a single Berlin Airport which is scheduled to open in 2011.

Tempelhof played a very important role in German aviation history, and was the home of Lufthansa for many years. Of course, the war transformed the airport, and the massive terminal building at Tempelhof was one of many buildings Hitler commissioned for the city. After the war, Tempelhof played a pivotal role in supplying food and other supplies during the Berlin Airlift.


The 2008 Chinese Olympics

The buildup to the Chinese Olympics was filled with scandals, anticipation and a lot of worrying.

In the end, the games went pretty much like clockwork. It’s always a little sad when such a long wait for something is over in just 2 weeks. The Chinese put on one heck of a show, in some of the most impressive sporting venues the world has ever seen.

Like with most Olympic events, before the games start, there is always a ton of bad news, rumors about incomplete facilities and some corruption scandals, but he Chinese managed to prove everyone wrong, and gave the world a great show as well as a nice view into their culture.

Aloha Airlines to end passenger service Monday

Grant’s post about Aloha Airlines filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy wasn’t exactly the sound of a death knell, but since then, the airline has decided to call it quits on passenger service. After Monday, as in March 31, according to this AP article, there will be no more passenger reservations taken.

Those who have Aloha Airlines tickets already may be rerouted on United Airlines flights to the mainland or on Hawaiian Airlines if travel is between the islands. Those who don’t want those options, but who want their money back instead, can file in bankruptcy court. I don’t envy people who are left to sort out their travel plans on such short notice. Hopefully, they saw this coming. The Aloha Airlines Web site does have links to help passengers rebook.

The demise of the airline that has been around since 1946 is due to unfair competition and rising fuel costs the airline’s money folks say. I feel bad that Aloha Airlines hasn’t been able to continue. The first time I went to Hawaii, I flew Aloha Airlines from Oahu to The Big Island on a package deal. It was much cheaper than I had imagined it would be. The rental car and two nights in a hotel was included. The best thing about arranging for the trip was that we were able to set it up after we were already visiting my relatives on Oahu. For people who travel within Hawaii, I bet they are bummed.

The shipping function of Aloha Airlines is being taken over by a Seattle-based company. Maybe people could package themselves up as a way to get off the island with their unused tickets? In case you’re one of the one affected, here’s a link with questions and answers.

Aloha Airlines files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

It looks like oil has taken its latest victim in the airline industry: Aloha Airlines just announced that they’re applying for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Citing outrageous oil prices and “predatory” competition of inter-island carrier “go!”, the Hawaiian airline is now seeking financing to keep operations and logistics going while they reorganize.

I’m not too sure what the history is between Aloha Airlines and go!, but Aloha definitely isn’t very happy. Said David Banmiller, their CEO on the affair:

“It is a travesty and a tragedy that the illegal actions of a competitor and other factors completely beyond our control have forced us to take this action”

In case you were already booked on Aloha Airlines, operations are supposed to continue for the near term. If the bankruptcy court ends up pulling the plug though, things are going to grind to a halt pretty quick, so be ready to cash in your chips and look into an alternative airline. Luckily, there is plenty of competition on the inter-island routes.

Check out the website’s FAQ on their chapter 11 filing here.

Want to work until you’re 68 and see the world while you are working?

Yesterday I wrote about Air Force One flight attendants. I’d say their job satisfaction, despite the hard work, is high. Here’s another person who has found flight attending a heck of a good time. Patti Smart has worked as an attendant from the time she was 18. Now she’s 68. Fifty years later, Smart is leaving behind her Aloha Airlines job.

Reading about her job in this AP article by Mark Niesse reminded me a little of a book I read years ago called Coffee, Tea or Me, a novel/memoir about flight attendants in the 1960s. I have a vague recollection of the story-line. I do remember that this was a job that sounded like a lot of fun.

According to Smart, the job was a bit more fun than it is now. Like most jobs, the time frame for getting tasks done has shortened. Instead of having the time to visit with passengers in between rolling beverage and food carts down the aisles, attendants barely have time to stop moving. Considering that job hopping is more the norm, it’s refreshing to read a story about someone who found a job that she loved from the beginning and stayed with it for so many years. Plus, it’s a job that treated her well. The pay wasn’t so shabby either.