Mexico safe says American Airlines, for flying anyway

American Eagle’s sold-out inaugural flight arrived in Mazatlan, Mexico (MZT) from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) this week. The move supports tourism authorities that say Mexico is safe for travel. As Mexico struggles to repair it’s image and shift international focus from drug-lord induced crime headlines to business-as-usual, American’s new daily flight was welcomed with open arms.

“We come to Mazatlán to make our contribution and be good partners in tourism” said

Marvin Diaz, Director General of American Airlines in Mexico.

The new 2-hour flight from Dallas affords new travel options for the more than 2 million travelers who visit Mazatlan each year opening up connections from more than 250 international markets

“Mazatlán is a vibrant destination alive with rich culture and unrivalled hospitality on the Pacific Coast,” said Carlos Berdegue, vice president, Mazatlán Hotel Association and Tourism Board in a press release. “We are delighted to begin our new partnership with American Airlines, which will allow visitors from all over the world to discover our beautiful weather, golden-sand beaches, historic center and premier resorts.”

The new American Eagle non-stop flight to Mazatlán offers daily service from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), departing from Dallas at 11:45am and arriving in Mazatlan at 1:05pm.

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American Airlines launches Android mobile app

Last night, American Airlines launched their first Android mobile app. Like most other airline apps, this one is a real one-stop-shopping stop for everything AA.

Inside the app, you’ll find your reservations, mobile boarding pass, flight schedules, flight status and a special version of AA Sudoku. Yeah, we’re not entirely sure what Sudoku is doing there, but it is a nice bonus.

Hidden under the “more options” button are 11 other handy flight features – terminal maps for six hubs, Admirals Club pass purchase link, trip locator, phone and web links and more.

The app is well designed, and (so far) without any bugs or other issues.

You’ll find this (free) app in the Android Market on your phone, or in the web based Market. A similar app has been available for the iPhone for some time now, and is available in the App Store.


Video of the Day – In the Air

The more I fly, the more I take it for granted. When flight starts to become a routine mode of transportation, it’s easy to lose the sense of wonder and amazement that we all had on our first airplane rides.

The thrill of taking off. The unfamiliar view of roads and cars from up above. The wingtips slicing through wisps of clouds.

Today’s Video of the Day from filmmaker Ryan Booth captures those small moments in a way that takes me right back to those early memories of flight. Set to a dreamy soundtrack by Imogen Heap, Ryan shot this video with a 5D Mark II and used Final Cut Pro for color correction. Check out more of his work here.

If you have a great travel video that we should share, leave a comment below, and we could feature it as our next Video of the Day!

Inside Virgin America’s mid-continent arrival

I don’t think I actually understood the implications of Virgin America’s launch into “fortress-hub” Dallas/Fort Worth until we touched down on the tarmac.

As we taxied to our gate, I could see nothing but a endless row of silver fuselages; all adorned with the iconic blue & red “AA” logo. It felt almost as if we were silently making our way through the front gates of a modern-day Troy.

The only difference, of course, was that this Trojan horse was bright red, equipped with mood lighting, and ready to be received by a cheering crowd of residents, city officials, and the rebel billionaire himself, Sir Richard Branson. To top it off, the tarmac was host to a pen of live bulls, tent with cocktail service, and full fledged Texan barbecue – the type of spectacle I’ve come to know, love, and anticipate when Virgin wants to catch people’s attention.

And it certainly seems as if American has already taken notice. In the weeks leading up to the launch, the legacy carrier lowered fares by 20% and offered double frequent flyer miles aboard Dallas-San Francisco and Dallas-Los Angeles routes.

DFW Public Affairs Manager, David Magaña, also mentioned that American hasn’t been able to stop talking about Virgin’s arrival preceding the event, as it signifies the first of several low-cost carriers that will be entering the Dallas market in 2011. While this loosens American’s 85% share of flights from the hub, it spurs competition and ultimately lower fares for passengers.Virgin America’s first mid-continent destination comes at a good moment in the airline’s young story. They posted their first quarterly net profit (as opposed to operating profit) in Q3 of 2010 and were rated top domestic airline for the third year running in the 2010 Zagat Global Airline Survey. At this year’s Farnborough Air Show, they announced plans to more than double their fleet with a purchase of 40 new Airbus A320’s. Now, with their entrance into Dallas consummated, they’ve shown that they’re ready to make their presence tangible and (thankfully) shake thing up a bit.


However, to make a significant impact, they’ll have to add more flights. At the moment, Virgin America will offer two daily nonstop flights between DFW and Los Angeles, and two to San Francisco. Although it plans to add a third on each route, it would require significantly more options to directly compete with the hundreds of flights per day that American and American Eagle offer.

“It signifies a second stage for the company. We knew eventually that we’d be going into the middle of the country but now seemed the right time since we’ve blanketed most of the coasts. So this is the second stage of our network development.” Virgin America CEO David Cush said in an interview on the flight.

He also emphasized the company’s dedication with hiring “creative, smart, risk-tolerant people who are willing to go out and push the envelope.” as they grow, and that they’re “not sitting back”, but pursuing the development of a “new in-flight experience” that could be ready as soon as 2012.

The night proceeded to unfold in Dallas’s emerging and surprisingly modern downtown arts district with an intimate performance by activist & music icon, Willie Nelson. Following Nelson’s recent arrest for possession of marijuana, Branson donned a shirt that read “Free Willie” and cheekily quipped that the 77-year old musician looked good after “losing six ounces”.

In partnership with nonprofit foundation Stand Up To Cancer, Virgin transformed the Winspear Opera House into a glowing red hub of its own; filled with Dallas’s elite and hundreds of donors that had gathered friends for Stand Up To Cancer’s cause.

It was an impressive occasion that only an airline leveraging Branson’s magic could pull together, and one that sent a clear signal to the rest of Dallas. Virgin America has entered the mid-continent rodeo, and is ready to take the legacy bulls by their horns.

For more information, check out Virgin America’s introductory fares and schedules right here.

Former American Airlines flight attendant charged with making terror threats

A former flight attendant for American Airlines has been arrested and charged with making terrorist threats. Rodney Lorenzo claimed he sent secret airline information to 25 Muslim charity organizations in the U.S. and U.K.

Lorenzo had been fired by the airline for throwing a coffee pot at a fellow flight attendant, and apparently held a grudge against his former employer.

According to court papers, he sent a letter to the corporate headquarters of the airline, telling them “Karma will soon bite back and your aircraft will begin to fall from the sky like dead birds.”

Lorenzo claims he made hundreds of copies of the airline safety manual, but in the letter he sent to the airline, he also made threats to the employee that was involved in the coffee pot incident, proving that he’s not a very bright terrorist. He has been released on a $50,000 bail awaiting his trial.

[Photo credit: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara]