American Airlines flight attendants to protest company success

Boston’s Logan Airport is one of 10 across the country to host flight attendant protests today. The American Airlines employees are pissed about compensation paid to the company’s executives.

Here’s the deal: flight attendants have had to stomach pay cuts, while executives have picked up a cool $100 million over the past six years. The flight attendants gave up $340 million a year in 2003.

I guess this is the difference between negotiating your own compensation and having a union do it for you.

American Airlines points out, according to the Boston Globe, that the largess doled out to the top dogs is incentive-based compensation, mostly tied to stock price. This isn’t unusual for the executive suite, as it requires the brass to generate value for shareholders in order to score big. So, the fact that the execs were able to rake in some dough means they rewarded shareholders first.

The airline also points out that its executives have only been paid 65 percent of their “intended compensation,” as the Globe puts it, over the past decade. Simply put: they have no choice but to take a pay cut when the airline fails to perform.

What’s interesting is that a flight attendant quoted in the Globe’s story wants “some accountability.” She doesn’t realize, however, that it’s already there. The comp structure is designed for it.

[Via Directorship]

Wi-Fi usage at Boston’s Logan Airport jumps 412% after going free

If there ever was an arguement for the positive effects of free airport Wi-Fi, this is it. The Massachusetts Port Authority Board says the number of passengers using its free wireless service to access the Internet at Boston’s Logan International Airport jumped by 412% last year. More than 1.4 million sessions were logged on its Wi-Fi network in 2010, compared with just over 349,300 in 2009.

That represents more than half of the more than 2.2 million sessions since Wi-Fi was first available at the airport in June 2004.

The free system was unveiled in January 2010 and is supported by advertising that users must view before accessing the Internet.

Having benefitted from Logan’s free Wi-Fi on numerous occassions, we can only hope that this is a movement other airports consider.

The arguement from a traveler’s perspective is simple – free Wi-Fi is available almost everywhere else … so why should we pay for it at airports? Anything that makes our air travel experience more pleasurable is something we’ll continue to champion.

[Flickr via Gurretto]

Mystery bag gets passenger yanked from Boston flight

Was Ognjen Milatovic a nutty professor? Only time – and the legal process – will tell. The University of North Florida professor of mathematics and statistics put a carry-on in the overhead bin … and his fellow passengers said it was making strange noises. Then, he wouldn’t get off his phone and take his seat when told to do so by the crew.

So, he was turned over to the Massachusetts State Police.

Milatovic was arrested in Boston and then released on his own recognizance after being pulled from the US Airways flight on Monday. The mystery luggage was inspected, and according to the Associated Press, “no threat was found.”

[photo by purpleslog via Flickr]

White Collar Travel: The upgrade rotation

Routine often breeds insight, and the form of business travel that once ruled my life was one of the variety that Ralph Waldo Emerson would have called “the hobgoblin of little minds.” During one project, which involved seven months of weekly roundtrips to Omaha (and platinum status on Northwest by June), I’d get to Logan Airport every Monday morning and see the same names called for upgrades. It was demoralizing. As my miles accumulated, I knew that theirs were, too, leaving me no closer to my goal.

Then, a strange thing happened when I crossed from silver to gold: I started to get the bump. The people normally summoned up to the gate – who I had come to know by sight and the first three letters of their last name – were no longer on my flight. The upgrade candidates behind them were getting the first nod, and occasionally, I’d pick up some first class table scraps. Two months later, I was at the top of the list.

My business partner, who joined me in this weekly grind, noticed the change, as well. Having gotten this far, it didn’t take us long to put the rest together. The people who used to beat us to the upgrades had rolled off their projects: their work was done, and they had moved on to gigs in other cities. We still had plenty of Omaha time in front of us and relished the thought of having to compete with only the people paying for first class, and the occasional heavy-hitter who was taking a rare trip in our direction.Watching this unannounced changing of the guard is good for a morale boost in a life where pleasant surprises just aren’t frequent enough. It entails a sense of accomplishment, a touch of prestige and an expectation of a little more comfort. Everything that cuts your way carries disproportionate weight when you’re a road warrior.

So, if you’re among the many making the weekly “commute” to another part of the country on a long-term project, watch the pre-boarding process, and celebrate when those familiar faces disappear. It means you’re getting closer to a wider seat and coffee in a ceramic mug. There’s a rhythm to business travel, much of it defined by the work the passengers do. Get in synch with it, and the lifestyle becomes much easier to bear.

Airline fee backfires: skycaps win in Massachusetts court

When American Airlines started to charge a $2 fee for curbside baggage check-in, the skycaps lost their tips. Passengers were accustomed to paying $2 or so, it seems, and weren’t going to amp up the cash flow just because the money was going into a different pocket. So, nine Logan Airport skycaps – current and former – just came into $325,000, thanks to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled based on a law intended to protect wages and tips.

American Airlines tried to get by on a technicality, saying eight of the nine skycaps were subcontractors (working for G2 Secure Staff) and thus weren’t protected. The court disagreed, favoring broader protection. But, it isn’t over yet. American Airlines, according to a report in USA Today, is evaluating “all of its legal options.”