Flight Blog



Safety concerns over lithium batteries continue to grow. The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a safety alert urging cargo and commercial airlines “to conduct a safety risk assessment to manage the risks associated with transporting lithium batteries as cargo.”


The problem with lithium batteries is the risk of fire and explosion. Have you heard about the so called “hoverboards” that burst into flames? They have lithium batteries.  As a result, American, Delta, and United have banned hoverboards from all aircraft.

There's conflicting infomation about whether all lithium batteries are a concern, but the larger ones (as measured by "watt hours") seem to be singled out. Check out these shipping guidelines from United Parcel Service.



Chicago O’Hare airport (ORD) is the airport a lot people love to hate — perhaps the most common O’Hare complaints: congestion and flight delays.

Those of you who fly to Chicago a lot will be glad to know that American Airlines is adding five additional gates — scheduled for completion by 2018. Read more about it from ch-aviation.

The additional gates are part of a bigger plan that the city of Chicago has to improve things at O'Hare. You'd think that improvements would please everyone ... well ... not everyone, sort of.



Seasoned air travelers have likely heard about, or noticed, the fare wars going on at some major hub airports between the legacy airlines (American, Delta, and United), and low-cost airlines (mainly Spirit and Frontier).

The low cost guys are waging the war with no frill fares. Here’s how Spirit Airlines defines no frills: “Our fares are fully unbundled. No “free” bag. No “free” drink. Other airlines bake those options right into their ticket price. We don’t. A ticket with us gets you and a personal item from A to B.”

The legacies are now making plans for their own no frills fares — the New York Times offers this analysis of the no frills plans of American, Delta, and United.


All this talk about no frill fares sounds interesting enough, but will they eventually make their way down to smaller air markets such as Springfield? We hate to say it, but no.


No frill fares will only exist in select large air markets where low cost airlines fly. The current business models of Spirit and Frontier dictate that they serve large markets only. By “large” we mean markets that fly millions of customers a year. The Springfield market generates less than a million customers a year.





An agreement approving airline service between the United States and Cuba was signed this morning in Havana.

If all goes as expected U.S. airlines should begin Cuban service this fall. Before the ink on the agreement was dry United Airlines announced its intent to start service between some of its hubs and Havana. Get more details from the Dallas Morning News.



The federal government’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) says the average round trip domestic fare was $372 in the third quarter of 2015 — that’s down 6.2 percent compared to 2014. That headline sounds great, but there’s a lot more to it. CNN Money covers most of the bases in this story.

While consumer groups, politicians, and some media outlets claim credit for forcing the average base fare down, it probably has more to do with good old-fashioned competition — especially at large hub airports such as Chicago O’Hare, and Dallas/Ft. Worth. BTS data says the average fare at O’Hare was down 19.4%. At Dallas it was down 14.5%.

The competition at those airports is fierce between the ultra-low cost airlines, such as Frontier and Spirit, and the legacy airlines, American, Delta, and United.

Speaking of fares —

The New York Times offers its take on the best way to find cheap flights, well,  … sort of —

Here’s the deal: figuring out the best way to find cheap fare is the holy grail of air travel.  If you’re trying to figure it out, good luck! You wanna know what half the problem is? What’s a “good” fare to one person is a “terrible” fair to someone else. Just what is a good fare? It depends on who you ask.

Our best advice: if you find a “good” fare you’d better buy it quick before it goes away.

You can read the BTS report here.



American hopes to make long waits a little easier for passengers with a new test program at New York’s JFK Airport that brings free food to delayed customers.” That news comes from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

Whether the airline expands the test to other airports (including small airports like Springfield) seems to be an open question. Interestingly enough, Delta offers refreshments in Springfield to delayed customers and has done so for some time.

The takeaway: this is another sign that the airlines are making efforts to improve customer service.




Should electronic cigarettes be banned from planes? That's a hot topic right now in Congress.

No telling where this congressional argument will go. As USA Today reports, one lawmaker “argued that lawmakers would next try to ban hot air, bad breath and body odor.”






Need a passport, or is the one you have expiring soon? If so, the U.S. State Department urges renewal ASAP. That's because the department expects an avalanche of renewals this year and next — so many that it may take longer than the typical six weeks to get a new passport.

Why the avalanche? Passports are good for ten years. And it was about ten years ago that a new U.S. law required citizens to use a passport to travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, Bermuda, and Canada. All those ten year old passports are starting to expire.


Get the lowdown on passport renewal by clicking here.



Delta and American airlines are at war, so to speak. That's according to the widely read industry publication, Airline Weekly :

"They are the two largest airlines in the world and — in terms of total dollars — the most profitable too. And they are at each other's throats."

Well that's all fine and dandy, but what does it mean for consumers? A lot it turns out —

Among other things:

  • Delta has significantly improved its on-time performance. Last September it began offering an on-time guarantee to business travelers.
  • Both airlines are phasing out small jets (50-seats). The resulting bigger planes means more customer comfort and, in some cases, the return of a first class section.
  • American has brought back free snacks.

But something more fundamental is going on — with the return of a profitable airline industry we seem to be witnessing a return of airline civility — and we're speaking of airlines in general now. Overall, the industry seems better behaved.

Just a few short years ago, when airlines were bleeding red ink, merging, and going out of business, surly airline employees seemed ubiquitous. Sometimes flights were cancelled, at the drop of a snow flake, to save money. Airlines were so busy trying to stay alive they didn’t even seem to care what the other guy was doing.

Now days airline employees seem generally happier. Rather than cancelling flights on a whim, airlines brag on their operational performance. And rather than ignoring the other guy, airlines are actually paying attention to the competition.

Does the industry still give people heart burn? You bet it does — but things are definitely improving — and airline warfare is one of the telltale signs.



A new app launched last week hopes to upend the way some of us buy airline tickets. OneGo says it’s “the first booking app for subscription-based flying on major airlines.” In other words, get unlimited flights for a monthly fee.

It’s aimed at business travelers. Give it a look by clicking here.



And here’s one from someone who has WAY too much time on their hands. It’s Apex Airways — “the global carrier that touches you personally.”

With twin hubs in Minot, ND, and Branson, MO, the airline is proud of its 50-seat jet that features “an all lie-flat bed configuration in a reverse herringbone layout … [and] the first on-board shower available on a regional aircraft anywhere. Used primarily on our longer trans-Pacific routes.”

Yes, it’s the spoof that goes long and deep — it features accompanying websites, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account.

Spend your time wisely: http://www.apexairways.com/