Arthur Frommer has been one of America's foremost budget travel authorities since the 1950's and with the help of his daughter, Pauline Frommer, he continues to spread his budget friendly travel tips with WOR listeners. Arthur has published series of guides which consist of more than 340 titles reaching more than 6 million travelers per year. He contributes to countless magazines on a wide variety of travel subjects on every major travel destination in the world. Pauline Frommer carries on the family tradition with her own series of award winning travel guidebooks. She was also awarded a Lowell Thomas Medal by the Society of American Travel Writers for her magazine work and a People's Voice Weeby Award for her work as founding editor of Frommers.com. Together the father-daughter duo co-host "The Travel Show" which is nationally syndicated.
Appropriately enough, American and US Air have until Valentine's Day to decide whether they'll be wed. On April 15, the agreement between the two carrier allowing them to share information, during merger talks, expires.
Sure it can be extended (and who doesn't like more foreplay?), but it seems clear that the two will soon be one. Which would leave the United States with four super-carriers operating 80% of the flights around the United States.
Remember "too big to fail" in the banking world? Meet its skyborn equivalent.
Merger fatigue has set in among the pundits, and most are saying that this latest consolidation will have little to no effect on consumers.
Sure prices haven't skyrocketed since the last merger. But there's been a steady creep upward. And many more changes are on the horizon.
Significant changes, actually. American and Frontier both have introduced "bundling" schemes which tie all sorts of extras (luggage fees, priority boarding, cancellation fee waivers, etc.) to the base cost. Click on my links for details on how those programs will befuddle the consumer and hogtie such flight search engines as Kayak and Momondo. In short, it's going to be very, very difficult in the near future to compare one flight to the next, since each will be customized based on your past flying history. The ultimate result? When the ability to compare flight prices evaporates (and it may soon) and consumers are given even fewer options of airlines, I have no doubt the cost of flying will surge upward in 2013.
And let's not forget about the corrallary airline fees, which just keep morphing and increasing. According to a recent study, 36 airline fees were increased in 2006 and another 16 redefined. While there seems to be less of a direct causation between the mergers and that trend, well, who the heck knows.
Remember: less choice is...well, LESS CHOICE!
Finally, did you hear that Pope Benedict will become the first Pope to resign since 1415? I blame Delta Airlines.
I have never paid for a business class seat and on those rare occasions I've been upgraded (I can count three times in the last three years, which ain't much considering how often I fly), the food hasn't been memorable. Looking at my narrow experiences on Singapore Air, Alitalia and Air France, I'd say that the food reminded me of what airline food used to taste like...when you actually got a meal on a plane. The only differences: it came with better and more abundant wine plus good bread served from a basket. Oh, and I got a white table cloth, metal utensils and obsequious service. Those were the only differences I could detect.
Now, that may not be the airlines' fault. Studies have shown that our taste buds are badly affected by high altitudes. In fact, a third of those in our mouths are numbed out entirely when we fly. We don't smell as well, either, as the dry cabin air affects that ability and smell is, obviously, a huge part of the culinary experience. That's why, though airlines oversalt the food, it usually tastes very bland.
Which all leads me to wonder whether the new strategy being employed by some airlines to introduce gourmet food into steerage class will actually work. In a CNN.com article today, it was reported that a number of airlines are making partnerships with well-respected restaurants in destinations around the world, which will allow them to sell their specialties at 40,000 feet. Passengers must pre-order their meal; they pay a bit more for the privilege of dining on the famous dishes being offered. At this stage, Air Berlin, Austrian Airlines, US Airways, Hawaiian Air and KLM have programs of this sort.
I think I'm going to stick with my tried-and-true method of either bringing my own home-cooked meal aboard, or grabbing a sandwich in the destination before I hit the airport. Cheaper, and likely more tasty. But I may be in the minority on this one. It'll be interesting to see how many passengers, er, bite.
After switching over to our new and improved WOR710.com site, we also had to make a switch to a new iTunes podcast link! Arthur and Pauline are once again available to be heard through your iTunes accounts! Thank you to all of our dedicated listeners for bearing with us -- enjoy!