JetBlue and United Airlines are pushing the first taste of cheap fares out on Twitter. They hope to use what USA Today calls the “uber-trendy form of messaging” to push seats on flights that may have vacant seats prior to wheels-up. After deals appear, they don’t always stick around long. JetBlue’s first “Cheep” (a variation on “tweet”) offered a $9 one-way fare from JFK to Nantucket. The model that’s emerging puts JetBlue’s fare tweets out on Monday mornings and offers around eight hours to act on them.
United Airlines has had its “twares” in action since May, and the element of surprise is a factor. The discounts can be released without warning, and there’s no discernable schedule. The deals can live for as little as two hours, forcing Twitter-using travelers to act fast.
Small planes just don’t resonate with some passengers. MaryBeth and Cy Christiansan of Queens paid the equivalent of an extra ticket each to skip a Colgan plane and fly on a jet. They indicated that the Colgan crash in Buffalo back in February wasn’t far from their minds. So, for a bit of comfort, it was $150 well spent.
A Colgan flight crashed in February, killing all 49 people on the plane and one person on the ground. A recent investigation suggests that the pilot did not meet Colgan’s standards and that the copilot may have suffered from fatigue.
Sentiments expressed by the passengers suggest that the size of the plane was the principal concern. The Christiansans changed flights for an aircraft that “didn’t have a propeller.” Richard Younglbood, who was about to board a Continental flight to Tennessee summed it up: “I don’t like any of these jets. I don’t trust any of them.”
I guess it pays to keep an eye on JetBlue‘s website. Last Thursday, the airline sold 200 seats on its New York-to-San Francisco route at $14 a pop. Unsurprisingly, it only took a few hours. Those living on the west coast still have a shot at a sweetheart deal, though, with 1,600 seats for flights between San Francisco and Long Beach, CA still unsold at mid-day on April 2, according to an Associated Press story on MSNBC.
JetBlue used this promotion to highlight its policy on not charging for the first bag you check. Some airlines are charging $15 a bag, which makes it more expensive for your luggage to take another airline than it would for you to fly yourself on JetBlue.
Financially, JetBlue is taking it on the chin with this deal. As of the fourth quarter of 2008, it cost the airline $300 to carry a passenger 2,900 miles (the distance of a coast-to-coast jaunt).
As always, there’s a catch. The trips have to be taken by April 8, 2009.
Every passenger stuck on the ground fantasizes about busting open the door and liberating people on the plane. For me, it usually involves the battle cry, “I GRANT YOU FREEDOM!!!” Of course, I’m no Robert McDonald. He acted on these urges during a delay at John F. Kennedy International Airport (yep, no surprise there).
The Glasgow, Scotland resident was charged with reckless and endangerment and criminal tampering for his shenanigans, which involved opening the emergency exit hatch. The cabin crew stopped McDonald before he could open the door enough to activate the emergency chute.
Delta Flight 149, which had just come from Rome and was to finish in Las Vegas, was stuck on the tarmac for close to three hours when the angry Scot had had enough. Local District Attorney Richard Brown offered a “no shit” explanation that highlights the benefits of a top legal education: “Apparently, the defendant wanted to get off the plane,” District Attorney Richard Brown said, “so he opened the emergency exit door.”
Ultimately, McDonald’s act of defiance ruined the evening for the 146 passengers on Flight 149. McDonald, who is 60 years old, risks spending the next one in prison if he’s convicted.
From New Hampshire to the Carolinas, March came in, as the saying goes, like a lion. Snow, sleet and wind gusts reaching 30 mph have lead to for motor vehicle deaths, school closings and chaos at airports.
More than 900 flights have been canceled at New York area airports (JFK, Newark and LaGuardia). Hundreds more at Logan International Airport in Boston never left the ground, where the airport closed for more than half an hour to clear a runway. In Philadelphia, more than 40 people were stranded overnight.
Even the bus operators got into the delay and cancellation game. Greyhound and Peter Pan scrapped trips into and out of New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
So, get comfortable. It’s going to take a while to sort this mess out.