Sunday, November 29, 2009

Delta shows its love for NYC

‘We want to be the No. 1 carrier in New York.’Its dual-hub strategy for JFK, LaGuardia consumes resources.

By Kelly Yamanouchi
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, November 29, 2009

In Atlanta, Delta Air Lines has grown comfortable in its decades-long marriage with the city. But in New York, Delta has become a perennial suitor, passionately trying to win over travelers from rivals like American, Continental and US Airways.

“Delta calls New York home,” reads one of the Atlanta-based airline’s latest New York advertisements. “We’re more than NY’s most global airline; we’re New Yorkers.”

This year, Delta has taken some of its biggest steps yet in New York —- including spending almost 90 percent of its advertising and media buying budget on the area, according to Gail Grimmett, Delta’s senior vice president-New York.

It has also announced an elaborate plan to establish what it calls a domestic hub at LaGuardia Airport while keeping its international hub at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where it has international flights to everywhere from Kiev to Kingston.

To build the LaGuardia operation, Delta struck a deal to trade some of its gates at Washington’s Reagan National Airport for some of US Airways’ gates at LaGuardia. That would enable Delta to double its number of nonstop destinations from LaGuardia, now at 32.

Delta’s merger with Northwest Airlines also significantly boosted its LaGuardia presence —- pushing it past American as the No. 1 carrier based on the combined passenger traffic for Delta and Northwest in the 12 months through September. Using those numbers, Delta now has a nearly 28 percent market share vs. 22 percent for American and about 19 percent for US Airways.

Delta also plans to spend $40 million on renovations at LaGuardia.

“If you’re going to be a world-class airline, as Delta wants to be, you have to have a big presence there. It’s just too big to ignore,” said airline consultant Darryl Jenkins. “For years that was a part of their network that was seriously lacking.”

Not for lack of trying. Delta’s efforts to build street cred in New York date to the 1991 acquisition of Pan Am’s European routes out of Kennedy and its East Coast Shuttle operation at LaGuardia. At the time, it had to battle a lingering perception that it was still a Sun Belt airline as it sought to establish itself as the premier carrier in the nation’s biggest city and financial capital.

That perception may be long gone, but gaining market share remains a tough challenge in a highly fragmented travel market.

One of Delta’s recent tactics is investing in more sports sponsorships in New York —- signing on as the official airline of both the Mets and the Yankees as well as Madison Square Garden, particularly in a high-end club area that will be part of a major renovation of the arena. All this, as Delta has relinquished its sponsorship of the Atlanta Falcons.

“We’re sponsoring all of the iconic things of New York,” said Grimmett, who moved to New York from Atlanta. She added, “I have never seen such fierce baseball fans.”

Robert Mann, an airline consultant who lives in Port Washington, N.Y., said such sponsorships come with a lot of media exposure.

“Any time you’re looking at a Rangers or an Islanders game on television, you’re seeing the Delta logo,” he said. And sports sponsorships may also come with access to games and suites. “You can entertain clients, SkyMiles customers, corporate accounts —- there are a lot of opportunities that are valuable and useful,” he said.

On Thursday, Delta was the official airline at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, with a float themed “Winter Wonderland in Central Park.”

The sponsorships and advertising were needed, Grimmett said, “to catch up with everything else” the company has done there with new routes and upgraded aircraft interiors.
“We want to be the No. 1 carrier in New York,” Grimmett said. “Nobody owns the market.”

Mann said the marketing emphasis will also help Delta make the most of the Northwest merger.
“They’ve really taken on a higher profile here,” Mann said.

Still, comments from New York fliers reflect the challenge.

“I fly out of airports all over the New York area. I usually fly either Continental or American,” said Christy Desantis, who lives in Fairfield, Conn., and travels about once a month for her job in marketing. “I haven’t noticed a whole lot of [Delta’s] advertising.”

Shevonne Hernandez, who lives in Manhattan, said she has noticed Delta’s advertising, particularly at Madison Square Garden when she went to a couple of pre-season Knicks games. But she said that was offset by a bad experience with a Delta flight.

“I’ve noticed there’s a little more advertising” by Delta, said Michael Rudez, of Astoria N.Y. But Rudez said he’s long been a US Airways flier and doesn’t really consider other airlines.

Business travelers —- and contracts with their employers that make Delta the carrier of choice —- are the most important target for Delta in New York.

“Think of New York City and how big it is, and how much business goes on there —- how many people are flying to New York and how many people are flying from New York to other parts of the world,” Jenkins said. The city has “some of the wealthiest and longest-distance traveling fliers of anywhere in the world,” with some of the highest fares in the world in business class on international flights.

“So there’s a lot of revenue at stake. It’s a place that you want to build up,” Jenkins said. “You have so many large corporations’ headquarters there, and to get those large corporate contracts, you have to have a large presence in New York. It’s not about getting one or two travelers. It’s about getting all of the travelers from a large corporation. It’s a very big deal for them.”

But it’s not an easy city to grow in. Many more domestic fliers are starting or finishing flights there than connecting, which prevents any single airline from building the kind of hub operation that would dominate among local travelers. Mann said Delta’s LaGuardia operation will be closer to a “focus city” —- where an airline offers some connections but mostly serves travelers coming or going from that city —- than to a traditional connecting hub.

And at traditional hubs like Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, airlines can feed their international flights with passengers from any domestic flight. Delta’s international flights from New York operate at Kennedy, and connecting to LaGuardia is not easy.

But Delta is plowing ahead.

Delta’s 2009 strategy, summarized in a document called the “Flight Plan,” highlights only one city: New York. The goal: “Position Delta as the leading airline brand in New York City, complete our New York City strategy and reach a JFK facility solution.”

The company is still working on those issues, particularly the badly needed upgraded of the terminal at JFK. (ed. note...Delta's JFK terminal is the old Pan Am World Port, an outdated maze of confusing gates)

“We’re the largest carrier in JFK, unfortunately with a terminal that’s not very desirable,” Grimmett said. “We’re working with the Port Authority. I think we’ve got a good plan. They recognize the sense of urgency.”

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wants to increase usage of gates and is concerned about planning for the possibility that the terminal may return to their custody someday, according to Grimmett. Another festering issue is delays in the New York airspace due to the heavy flight traffic in the area and the Federal Aviation Administration’s outdated air traffic control infrastructure.

“We have to plan accordingly,” Grimmett said. But, “shrinking your way to congestion is not the right way for anybody.”

Delta in New York

Delta says it is New York City’s largest carrier, with more routes from New York’s LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airport combined than any other airline. But Continental, with plentiful international flights from its massive Newark hub, will remain the largest carrier in the New York area based on capacity measured in available seat miles.

Delta’s peak daily flights from:

JFK 158

LaGuardia 143

Newark Liberty International Airport 32

Delta’s international destinations from New York City airports:

Canada 2

Europe/Middle East 21

Latin America/ Caribbean 14

Africa 3

Asia 1

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wanna glass of vino on an airline? Here's the skinny:
What wine, champagne and port airlines offer

What wine, champagne and port are on airlines' wine lists for October through December.

•Coach, Domestic & International Flights 2008 Coastal Ridge Chardonnay; 2007 Coastal Ridge Merlot; 2008 Casa Mayor Chardonnay; 2008 Casa Mayor Merlot.
•Premium Class, Domestic & International Flights 2008 Coastal Ridge Chardonnay; 2007 Coastal Ridge Merlot; 2008 Casa Mayor Chardonnay; 2008 Casa Mayor Merlot.

•Coach, Domestic & International Flights Stone Cellars Chardonnay; Stone Cellars Cabernet; Sutter Home Chardonnay; Sutter Home Merlot.

•Premium Class, Domestic & International Flights 2007 Apex Chardonnay; 2007 Apex II Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Washington Hills Chardonnay; 2007 Washington Hills Merlot; 2007 Washington Hills Syrah Summit Reserve; 2007 Waterbrook Chardonnay; 2005 Pavin & Riley Cabernet Sauvignon; 2006 Bridgman Chardonnay.

•Coach, Domestic Flights 2007 Sutter Home Cabernet; 2007 Sutter Home Chardonnay; 2007 Sutter Home White Zinfandel.

•Coach, Domestic Flights Domaine Laurier Brut; 2007 Hayes Ranch Sauvignon Blanc; Tamas Estates Pinot Grigio; 2005 Bernal Estates Syrah; 2006
La Palma Cabernet Sauvignon; 2008 La Maridelle Merlot; 2007 Sutter Home Merlot; 2007 Sutter Home Chardonnay; Pacific Vista Pinot Grigio.

•Premium Class, Domestic Flights Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Carneros Brut; Domaine Ste. Michelle Washington Brut; 2007 Buena Vista Carneros Chardonnay; 2007 Kiwi Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc; 2007 OneHope Zinfandel; 2007 OneHope Chardonnay; 2007 OneHope Sauvignon Blanc; 2003 Foris Merlot; 2008 Warburn Estate Gossips Chardonnay; 2004 Murphy-Goode Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; 2006 Buena Vista Carneros Pinot Noir;

2008 Cachuma California Shiraz; 2007 Lot 205 Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Lot 205 Zinfandel; 2004 Waca Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon; Scudo di Corte Prosecco I.G.T.; 2007 Montevina Chardonnay; 2008 Principato Pinot Grigio; 2008 Woodhaven Chardonnay; 2008 Pasqua Pinot Grigio; 2007 Gerard Bertrand Aigle Noir Pinot Noir;

2007 Helena Ranch Merlot; 2008 Arniston Bay Cabernet Merlot; 2006 Taja Monastrell; 2007 Stone Barn Merlot; 2006 Glass Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon; 2009 De Gras Sauvignon Blanc; 2007 Canyon Oaks Chardonnay; 2008 Canyon Road Chardonnay; 2007 Elsa Bianchi Torrontes; 2006 Mount Linden Chardonnay; Graham's Six Grapes Port.

Coach, International Flights Bouvet Brut; 2008 Redwood Creek Cabernet Sauvignon; 2005 Château La Marzenac Bordeaux; 2005 Hayes Ranch Syrah; 2007 Sol Casal Tempranillo; 2007 Domaine de Pellehaut Blanc, Gascogne; 2008 Château de Nivelle Bordeaux Blanc; 2007 Frederic Roger Vins Chardonnay.

Premium Class, International Flights Champagne G.H. Martel & Co. Brut Prestige; Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut; Champagne Pommery Brut; 2007 Landmark Overlook Chardonnay; 2006 Wegeler Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Spätlese; 2003 Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino; 2006 Joseph Drouhin Rully; 2008 Falanghina Feudi di San Gregorio; 2003 Domaine Duclaux Châteauneuf-du-Pape; 2005 Château Batailley (Pauillac); 2006 Altos Las Hormigas Malbec; 2006 Andeluna "Winemakers' Selection" Cabernet Sauvignon;

2008 Aresti Estate Collection Carmenere; 2008 Aresti Estate Collection Chardonnay; 2003 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon; 2003 Arrowood Merlot; 2007 Castle Rock Central Coast Pinot Noir; 2003 Château Belgrave, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux; 2006 Château Du Seuil Graves Blanc; 2006 Château Grand Destieu St. Emilion Grand Cru; 2003 Château Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot; 2006 Château Teyssier St. Emilion Grand Cru; 2004 Château Villa Bel Air; 2006 Cloudline Oregon Pinot Noir;

2005 The Colonial Estate Explorateur Old Vine Shiraz, Barossa; 2007 Conde de Valdemar Blanco Fermentado Barrica; 2004 Cyan Prestigio; 2002 Domaine Vincent Sauvestre Chablis Premier Cru Beauroy; 2005 Domaine Vincent Sauvestre Pommard Clos de la Platiere; 2007 Fabre Montmayou Malbec Reserve; 2007 Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera; 2002 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Groom Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc; Heidsieck-Monopole Brut Champagne; 2006 Inniskillin Oak Aged Vidal Icewine; 2006 Kaiken Malbec; 2006 Riff Pinot Grigio; 2007 Montes Classic Series Chardonnay;

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve Particuliere; 2007 One World Pinotage; 2006 Pascal Bouchard Chablis Vieilles Vignes Grande Reserve du Domaine; 2006 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc; 2006 Rusca Gavi di Gavi DOCG; 2005 Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Scarbolo Chardonnay, Fruili; 2008 Seven Sisters "Vivian" Sauvignon Blanc; 2005 Steel Creek Pinot Noir; 2008 Tabali Reserva Especial Chardonnay; 2006 Val Do Sosego Albarino, Rias Baixas; 2006 Warburn Premium Reserve Pinot Grigio;

2004 Wattle Creek Alexander Valley Shiraz; 2006 Wegeler Estate Riesling; 2007 Willm Pinot Blanc Reserve; 2007 Willm Riesling Reserve; 1999 Graham's Malvedos Vintage Port; Graham's 20 Years Old Tawny Port; Emilio Lustau Amontillado La Plaza Viejo Sherry.

•Coach, Domestic Flights 2006 Uma Chardonnay; St. Germain Blanc; St. Germain Rouge; 2008 Redtree Chardonnay; 2007 Nostalgia Merlot.

•Premium Class, Domestic Flights Charles de Fere Jean-Louis; Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top; J.P. Chenet Brut; 2007 Randall Moore Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 Telteca Tacones Chardonnay; 2007 McManis Merlot; 2007 McManis Cabernet Sauvignon.

•Coach, International Flights 2006 Uma Chardonnay; 2005 Louis Montellier Chardonnay; St. Germain Blanc; St. Germain Rouge; 2008 Redtree Chardonnay; 2007 Nostalgia Merlot.
•Premium Class, International Flights Charles de Fere Jean Louis; Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top; J.P. Chenet Brut; 2007 A to Z Chardonnay; 2005 Laetitia Pinot Blanc; 2007 St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc; 2007 Domaine Laroche Chablis; 2005 Château Toumillon; 2007 Bouchard Pere et Fils St. Veran; 2007 Schloss Reinhartshausen Fountain Blue Riesling; 2006 Schloss Reinhartshausen Fountain Blue Riesling; 2007 Barberani Vallesanta; 2005 Moletto Pinot Grigio; Dow's Fine White Port; 2002 Quinta do Noval LBV Port;

2007 Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel; 2005 Rodney Strong Pinot Noir; 2006 RockBare Shiraz; 2006 Domaine de Beaurenard Rasteau Côtes du Rhône Village; 2007 Ogier Vacqueyras; 2004 Château Loudenne (Medoc); 2005 Château Bois Chantant St. Emilion Bordeaux; 2006 Château Lagrange Lussac; 2005 Château d'Argadens (Bordeaux Supérieur); 2005 Straccali Chianti; 2006 Dom Martinho; 2003 Ferreira Grand Red Douro; 2004 Telteca Anta Malbec; 2003 Miguel Torres Sangre de Toro.

•Coach, Domestic Flights Gato Cabernet; Gato Chardonnay.
•Premium Class, Domestic Flights 2006 Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Callaway Cellar Selection Chardonnay.

•Coach, International Flights Bandit Chardonnay; Bandit Merlot; La Champagne Chardonnay; La Champagne Merlot; Prospect Hill Chardonnay; Prospect Hill Shiraz.

•Premium Class, International Flights 2007 Santa Ana Reserve Torrontes; 2006 Anne Boecklin Pinot Blanc Reserve; 2006 Sebastiani Chardonnay; 2006 Occhio a Vento Vermentino; 2007 Brampton Sauvignon Blanc; 2007 Hermanos Lurton Rueda; 2005 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Domaine de la Griveliere Côtes du Rhône; 2005 Wente Southern Hills Cabernet; 2005 Belguardo Serrata Maremma; 2005 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Merlot; 2006 Mark West Pinot Noir; Scharffenberger Brut; 2003 Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port; Jurancon Prestige.

•Coach, Domestic Flights Kenwood Cuvée Brut; Woodbridge Merlot; Woodbridge Chardonnay; Hayes Ranch Chardonnay; Hayes Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon.
•Coach, International Flights Kenwood Cuvée Brut; Woodbridge Merlot; Woodbridge Chardonnay; Hayes Ranch Chardonnay; Hayes Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon.

•Coach, Domestic Flights 2007 Tamas Cabernet Sauvignon; 2008 Tamas Chardonnay; Korbel Brut.
•Premium Class, Domestic Flights 2007 McManis Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Bogle Chardonnay; Cristalino Brut.
•Coach, International Flights 2007 McManis Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Bogle Chardonnay.
•Premium Class, International Flights 2007 McManis Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare; 2008 A to Z Wineworks Pinot Gris; Cristalino Brut.

•Coach, Domestic & International Flights 2007 Washington Hills Chardonnay; 2007 Washington Hills Merlot; 2008 Randall Harris Sauvignon Blanc; 2007 Randall Harris Merlot; 2006 Apex Chardonnay; 2006 Apex Cabernet.

•Coach, Domestic Flights 2007 Hope Estate Verdelho; 2007 Hope Estate Shiraz.
•Coach, International Flights 2007 Hope Estate Verdelho; 2007 Hope Estate Shiraz.
•Coach, Domestic Flights Kenwood Cuvée Brut; Hayes Ranch Chardonnay; Hayes Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon.

•Coach, Domestic Flights 2007 Coastal Ridge Merlot; 2007 Coastal Ridge Chardonnay.
•Coach, Domestic Flights 2008 Sutter Home Cabernet; 2007 Sutter Home Cabernet; 2008 Sutter Home Chardonnay; 2007 Sutter Home Chardonnay.
•Coach, International Flights 2008 Sutter Home Cabernet; 2007 Sutter Home Cabernet; 2008 Sutter Home Chardonnay; 2007 Sutter Home Chardonnay.

•Coach, Domestic Flights 2007 Redwood Creek Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Redwood Creek Chardonnay.
•Premium Class, Domestic Flights 2008 Bushman's Gully Shiraz; 2007 Canyon Road Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Canyon Road Chardonnay; 2008 De Bortoli Selection Shiraz; 2008 Trapiche Merlot; 2005 Montevina Zinfandel; 2006 Stone Barn Chardonnay; 2008 Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc; 2007 Yali Chardonnay.
•Coach, International Flights 2007 Redwood Creek Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Redwood Creek Chardonnay.

•Premium Class, International Flights 1998 Heidsieck Monopole Cuvée Diamant; 2003 Louis Roederer Brut; 2002 Nicolas Feuillatte Brut; 2002 Pannier Brut; 2000 Philipponnat Brut; Iron Horse Brut; Mumm Napa Brut; 2007 Andean Malbec Reserve; 2005 Benziger Merlot; 2005 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon; 2005 Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage; 2006 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon; 2005 Artesa Meritage;

2006 Wakefield Shiraz; 2006 Bouchard Beaune Avaux; 2005 Bouchard Pommard; 2005 Capcanes Vall del Calas Merlot-Tempranillo; 2006 Champy Pinot Noir; 2006 Château Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc; 2008 Groom Sauvignon Blanc; 2006 Laetitia Chardonnay; 2007 Mount Nelson Sauvignon Blanc; 2005 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay; 2006 Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay; 2007 Te Hira Sauvignon Blanc; 2006 Bouchard Les Clous (Chardonnay); 2006 La Chablisienne La Singuliere (Chardonnay); 2007 Laboure-Roi Les Chevaliers (Chardonnay); 2007 Saget Domaine de la Perriere Sancerre;

2007 Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinett; Etoile Brut; Gloria Ferrer Brut; 2007 Firestone Vineyard Select Chardonnay; 2007 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc; 2006 Hayman & Hill Reserve Chardonnay; 2008 iSong Sauvignon Blanc; 2007 Lockwood Chardonnay; 2006 Simi Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 Stormhoek Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 Trapiche Oak Cask Chardonnay; 2007 Andean Malbec; 2005 Firestone Vineyard Select Merlot; 2005 Jindalee Circle Cabernet Sauvignon; 2005 L de Lyeth Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Lucas & Lewellen Queen of Hearts Pinot Noir; 2007 Masterpeace Shiraz; 2007 Solterra Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Trapiche Oak Cask Cabernet Sauvignon; 2003 Graham's Late Bottle Vintage Port.

•Coach, Domestic Flights Turning Leaf Merlot; 2005 Beringer Stone Cellars Cabernet; 2006 Beringer Stone Cellars Chardonnay.
•Premium Class, Domestic Flights 2007 Cypress Vineyards Chardonnay; 2007 Montevina Chardonnay; 2007 Cachuma Cabernet; 2006 Cachuma Cabernet.
•Coach, International Flights Turning Leaf Merlot, 2005 Beringer Stone Cellars Cabernet; 2006 Beringer Stone Cellars Chardonnay.
•Premium Class, International Flights 2007 Callaway Cabernet Sauvignon; 2006 Matchbook Tempranillo; Wente Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 Callia Alta Chardonnay Torrontes; Quinta do Noval Port; Charles de Fere Blanc de Blancs; Pol Clement Brut; Scharffenberger Brut.

Virgin America
•Coach, Domestic Flights 2006 Wente Chardonnay; 2005 Wente Chardonnay; 2006 Wente Cabernet Sauvignon.
•Premium Class, Domestic Flights 2006 St. Francis Sonoma County Chardonnay; 2004 St. Francis Sonoma County Syrah; 2007 Mirassou Pinot Noir; 2007 Mirassou Sauvignon Blanc; 2006 Château Julien Barrel-Aged Merlot; 2007 Château Julien Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay.
Foreign airlines' flights to/from the USA

Air France
•Coach Chanoine Brut Grande Réserve; Wente Chardonnay; 2008 La Vieille Ferme (Perrin & Fils), Côtes du Lubéron, Côtes du Ventoux.
•Premium Class 2003 Louis Roederer Brut Millésimé; Lanson Black Label Brut; 2003 Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh "Vendémiaire" Alain Brumont; 2006 M. Chapoutier, Condrieu Invitare; 2005 Antonin Rodet Mercurey 1er Cru en Sazenay; 2004 Saint-Emilion Château Canon; 2006 Champs Royaux Reliquat, Chablis, William Fèvre; 2005 Champs Royaux Reliquat, Chablis, William Fèvre; 2004 Château Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc; 2003 Château Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc; 2006 d'Antoine Ogier Crozes Hermitage "Les Allégories."

Air New Zealand
•Coach Montana Lindauer Brut; 2006 Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay; 2006 Spinyback Chardonnay; 2007 Five Flax Chardonnay; 2008 Lake Chalice Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 Sugar Loaf wines; 2008 Devil's Staircase Pinot Noir; Carrick Unravelled Pinot Noir; 2008 Russian Jack Pinot Noir; 2007 Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot; 2007 Southbank Estate Syrah; 2007 Mission Estate Merlot; 2008 Waimea Estate Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 Bensen Block Sauvignon Blanc.

•Premium Class 2007 Sileni Syrah, Cellar Selection; 2007 Saint Clair Pioneer Block 17 Bay Block Merlot; 2007 Villa Maria Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, Cellar Selection; 2007 Ata Rangi Celebre; 2007 Forrest Pinot Noir; 2007 Mondillo Pinot Noir; 2007 Saint Clair Pinot Noir, Pioneer Block 14 Doctor's Creek; 2007 Montana Pinot Noir, Gabriel's Gully; 2007 Villa Maria Pinot Noir, Cellar Selection; 2008 Montana Sauvignon Blanc, Festival Block; 2008 Kahurangi Estate Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc; 2007 Coopers Creek Chardonnay, Swamp Reserve;

2007 Wither Hills Chardonnay; 2007 Alpha Domus Chardonnay, Barrique Fermented; 2007 Lawson's Dry Hills Chardonnay; 2008 Hunter's Gewurztraminer; 2007 Morton Estate Musetta Rose, White Label; 2008 West Brook Riesling; 2008 Wither Hills Pinot Gris; 2008 The Edge Viognier, Escarpment Vineyards; 2008 Forrest Noble Riesling; 2007 Konrad Sigrun Noble Two; 2007 Rose Tree Cottage Noble Riesling.

All Nippon
•Coach Chambler Vin Mousseux Brut; 2008 Gaston Cabernet Sauvignon; Vin de Pays d'Oc; 2008 La Baume Chardonnay.

•Premium Class 2006 Château Labouré Roi, Meursault 1er Cru Bouches Chères; 2007 Schug Chardonnay; 2007 Wegeler Riesling Spätlese, Wehlener Sonnenuhr; 2005 Château Bergat; 2004 Domaine des Perdrix, Nuits Saint Georges, 1er Cru, Aux Perdrix; 2005 Franciscan Oakville Estates Cabernet Sauvignon; 2006 Nagano Merlot; 2007 Château Julien Barrel Fermented Chardonnay; 2008 Babich Sauvignon Blanc; 2006 Lockwood Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; 2007 Domaine Ninot Erell Mercurey.

British Airways
•Coach Kupferberg Gold; 2004 Prieur des Jacobins; Redwood Creek Cabernet Sauvignon; Redtree Chardonnay; 2008 Château Belair.

•Premium Class Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top; Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve; Ayala Brut Majeur; 2000 Bollinger Grande Annee; 2007 Terra do Gargalo Monterrei; 2006 Marmesa Vineyards Chardonnay; 2007 Château De Rully, Rully; 2009 Alexanderfontein Sauvignon Blanc; 2006 Montes Alpha Syrah; 2005 Château Bournac; 2007 La Haute Marone; Gigondas; 2006 Los Osos Merlot; 2006 Valdivieso Cabernet Franc; 2006 Brocard Chablis Grand Cru Valmur; 2007 Terrassen Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal; 2007 Hahn Pinot Gris; 2007 Artesa Chardonnay; 2002 Château Batailley (Pauillac); 2001 Château Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc; 2004 Grand Tinel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape; 2006 Closerie de Vaudieu, Châteauneuf-du-Pape; 2006 Château Ste. Michelle Merlot, Indian Wells; 1998 Château Coutet, Barsac; 1992 Warre's Colheita Port.

Cathay Pacific
•Coach 2007 Domaine La Combe; VDP de L'Herault Merlot; 2008 Madison Ridge Chardonnay; 2007 Cantine Due Palme Canonico IGT Negroamaro, Salento.

•Premium Class Champagne Amour de Deutz 99; Champagne Deutz Brut Classic; Champagne Krug; 2006 Mormoreto (Frescobaldi); 2006 Felipe Rutini Malbec Reserve; 2001 Château Lynch-Bages; 2005 Bouchard Pere & Fils Meursault, Les Clous; 2005 Henri de Villamont Meursault; 2004 Cuvaison Estate Chardonnay; 2006 Wente Riva Ranch Reserve Chardonnay; 2005 Nipozzano (Frescobaldi) Riserva; 2005 Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon; 2006 Vieux Château Landon, Haut-Médoc; 2005 Vieux Château Landon, Haut-Médoc; 2008 Beringer Stone Cellars Chardonnay; 2008 P. Ferraud & Fils Vire Clesse; 2007 Delphine de Margon Chardonnay.

•Coach 2007 Binyamina Merlot
•Premium Class Brut Private Collection; 2006 Golan Basalt Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve; 2005 Golan Basalt Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve; 2008 Chardonnay Recanati; 2007 Chardonnay Recanati; 2007 Adamah Basalt Cabernet Sauvignon; 2006 Adamah Basalt Cabernet Sauvignon; 2005 Yarden Merlot; 2004 Yarden Merlot; 2007 Dalton Safsufa Cabernet Sauvignon; 2008 Tishbi Estate Sauvignon Blanc; 2007 Tishbi Estate Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 C Blanc du Castel Chardonnay; 2007 C Blanc du Castel Chardonnay; 2006 Dalton White Safsufa; 2007 Yarden HeightsWine; 2006 Yarden HeightsWine.

•Coach Bernard Massard Brut, Cuvée l'Ecusson; 2008 Tandarra Shiraz, Cuvée Prestige; 2008 Tandarra Chardonnay, Cuvée Prestige.
•Premium Class 2003 Joseph Perrier Brut, Cuvée Royale; 2003 Château Coufran, Cru Bourgeois Superieur; 2004 Pezzo Morgana, Salice Salentino; 2007 Regnard Chardonnay; 2007 Clos Henri Fusional; 2007 Opitz One; 1995 Niepoort Port.

•Coach 2008 Canforrales (red); 2008 Faustino VII (white)
•Premium Class Castillo Perelada, Brut Reserva; 2006 Inspiración Valdemar, Rioja; 2008 Martín Códax, Rías Baixas; 2008 Fontana Fontal, La Mancha; 2005 Marqués de Riscal Reserva, Rioja; 2005 Marco Real Crianza, Colección Privada; 2006 Condado de Haza Crianza, Ribera del Duero; 2008 Mara Martín Godello, Monterrei; 2008 Naia Verdejo, Rueda; 2005 Valtravieso Crianza, Ribera del Duero; 2006 Hécula Monastrell, Yecla; Tres Leones (Moscatel de Alejandría) Sweet, Málaga.

•Coach Piper-Heidsieck Brut;
Japan Airlines Bergerac; Japan Airlines Fleur de Tarn.
•Premium Class 1997 Champagne Salon; 1996 Henriot Brut Millesime; 2000 Perrier-Jouét Brut, Cuvée Belle Epoque; Piper-Heidsieck Brut; 2007 Remoissenet Puligny Montrachet, 1er Cru, Les Garennes; 2007 Nicolas Potel Volnay, 1er Cru; 2006 Clos Du Bois Chardonnay; 2007 Duerkheimer Hochmess Riesling Spätlese Trocken; 2007 Grace Taru Koshu; 2006 Chateau Calon Segur (Saint-Estephe); 2004 Silkwood Syrah; 2003 Haras de Pirque "Albis" (Cabernet Sauvignon); 2005 Abbaye des Fontenay Macon Villages, Les Truites; 2007 Robert Pepi Sauvignon Blanc; 2005 Miguel Torres Nerola; 2006 Morro Bay Cabernet Sauvignon; 2004 Domaine Louis Max Mercurey, Vigne du Domaine; 2004 Château de By (Medoc).

•Coach 2008 Terra Andina Cabernet; 2008 Terra Andina Merlot; 2008 Terra Andina Chardonnay; 2008 Terra Andina Sauvignon Blanc.
•Premium Class Billecart-Salmon; 2006 Château Carignan; 2009 The Ned Sauvignon Blanc; 2005 Tempus Two; 2008 Cono Sur Chardonnay Reserve; 2009 Kleine Schorre; 2006 Pinehurst Pinotage; 2009 Boschendal Sauvignon Blanc; 2003 Taylor's LBV Port; Croft Pink Port.

•Coach 2007 Fairseat Cellars Shiraz; 2007 De Gras Cabernet Sauvignon; 2009 Moselland Riesling Nahe; 2008 Allendorf Festival Riesling.

•Premium Class D de Devaux Brut; Jacquart Brut Mosaique; 2004 Domini Veneti Amarone della Valpolicella Classico; 2008 Meersburger Jungfernstieg; 2006 Rutherford Ranch Chardonnay; 2007 Iphofer Kronsberg Silvaner; 2005 Veenwouden Merlot, Paarl; 2002 Château Belgrave; 2006 Château de la Peyrade Muscat de Frontignan, France; 2005 Artesa Carneros Chardonnay; 2007 Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Trocken; 2008 Sonnenwind Riesling Spätlese Trocken; 2008 Red Diamond Chardonnay;

2005 Château Barreyres, Cru Bourgeois, Bordeaux, Haut-Médoc; 2006 Quinta do Gradil (Dry); 2005 Kanonkop Pinotage, Stellenbosch; 2008 Semper Vivum Riesling Spätlese Trocken; 2007 Francis Coppola Director's Cut Chardonnay; 2009 Leyda Vineyard Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc; 2005 Quinta das Tecedeiras Douro Reserva; 2002 Château Belgrave Cru Classe; 2005 Tokaija Edes Late Harvest, Oremus, Ungarn.

Open Skies (British Airways)
•Premium Class Lanson Brut Black Label; Laurent Perrier Brut LP; 2004 Château L'Argilus du Roi (Saint-Estephe); 2007 Francois Lurton Malbec, Tierra de Luna, Alta Coleccion; 2005 Château Seguin, Pessac Leognan; 2007 Joseph Mellot Sancerre; 2007 Château Corton André Bourgogne Chardonnay; 2005 Château Le Bonnat Graves.

•Coach Jacob's Creek Brut Cuvée; 2009 Oakridge Over the Shoulder Chardonnay; 2008 MadFish Premium White; 2009 Primo Estate La Biondina Colombard-Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 St Hallett Poacher's Blend Semillon Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Viognier; 2008 St Hallett Gamekeepers Reserve Shiraz Grenache; 2008 Fox Creek Red Baron Shiraz; 2007 Barwang Cafe Series Cabernet Merlot; 2008 Brokenwood Cricket Pitch Cabernet Merlot Shiraz; 2008 Ferngrove Merlot; 2008 O'Leary Walker Adelaide Hills Chardonnay.

•Premium Class 1999 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne; Charles Heidsieck Brut; 2004 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon; 2009 Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc; 2008 Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc; 2004 De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon; 2008 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling; 2005 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay; 2003 Brokenwood ILR Reserve Semillon; 2007 Paringa Estate Pinot Noir;

2005 Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier; 2006 Frogmore Creek Pinot Noir; 2007 Howard Park Sauvignon Blanc; 2004 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz; 2004 Jacob's Creek St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon; 2005 Stonier Reserve Chardonnay; 2008 Rochford Pinot Gris; 2007 Coriole Vineyards Shiraz; 2007 Yalumba Eden Valley Chardonnay; 2006 Yalumba Barossa (Tempranillo-Grenache-Viognier); 2005 Barossa Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Riesling; 2005 St Hallett Shiraz, Barossa, Blackwell.

•Coach 2007 Paul Mas Cabernet de Cabernet; 2007 Paul Mas Chardonnay 2007; 2007 Mosel Riesling.
•Premium Class 2000 Dom Pérignon champagne; Krug Grand Cuvée; Charles Heidsieck; 2007 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc; Clos du Bois Calcaire; 2001 Château Poyferre Bordeaux; 2006 Château Patache D'Aux; 2005 Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon; 2006 Rive Barbera D'Asti; Dow's 20-Year-Old Port; 2003 Graham's Port; 2006 Geyser Peak Chardonnay; 2006 Villa Franz Hattenheimer Riesling.

Virgin Atlantic
•Coach 2008 Marques de Caza Airen; 2008 Marques de Caza Tempranillo.
•Premium Class Champagne Pannier; Berrys' Extra Dry; Blanquette de Limoux; 2008 Doria Sauvignon Blanc VdP; 2008 Inspired Semillon/Chardonnay; 2008 Monte da Casta Ribatejo; 2007 Cocoa Hill Red; 2006 Le Petit Chapoton; 2004 Gran Marqués Reserva, Terra Alta; 2008 Marques de Caza Airen; 2008 Marques de Caza Tempranillo; 2008 Tres Olmos Verdejo; 2009 Du Toitskloof Chenin Blanc; 2009 Don Victor Chardonnay Reserva; 2007 Mountain View Merlot; 2008 Camparrón Selección, Toro; 2008 Michel Lynch Bordeaux.

West Jet
•Coach 2007 Lindemans Bin 40 Merlot; 2007 Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay.
Note: Airlines may use "economy" or another word for coach class. Premium class represents business and/or first class.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Union Members Seek Federal Probe
Exclusive To the Crew Report Blog
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents flight attendants from American Airlines (AMR) convened last week to remove the voting rights of its laid off workers. The Constitutional referendum, if approved, would require those on furlough to begin paying union dues or risk having their voting rights extinguished.

The move comes during the union's heated negotiations with American Airlines amid fears its laid off workers would vote against a tentative agreement in retaliation for having their seniority stripped from them. The laid off workers are comprised entirely of former Trans World Airlines (TWA) flight attendants who lost their seniority and placed on the bottom of the seniority list by the union, APFA, in 2001, after American acquired TWA.

Robert Applegate, a former contract negotiator for the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) and past Business Agent for the International Association of Machinists (IAM) who is currently furloughed from the airline, blasted the union's actions.

"It has taken decades to cultivate union democracy in this country and only one rogue union to set it back light years. APFA has now embraced retaliation, in exchange, for monetary gain; a contract. APFA has taken (former TWA) seniority, jobs and now disguised as a dues assessment, the intent to take away the most valuable thing a man or woman can have: the right to vote." Applegate stated.

The former TWA flight attendants have asked the Department of Labor to investigate the matter and exercise the agency's authority to safeguard the workers against retaliation, improper discipline and dues assessment, a protection afforded by the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959.

Trouble Brews for Yank Pilots Across Pond
Ted Reed
11/12/09 - 08:53 AM EST

LONDON (TheStreet) -- U.S. pilots need to think twice about kicking back a few beers -- make that even one -- in jolly old England.

"Did you know that the aviation blood alcohol limits in Great Britain are one half of what the limits are in the US?" the U.S. Airline Pilots Association asked last month, in an email to its 5,200 members.

While the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits flying by a pilot whose blood alcohol concentration is at or above 0.04, the standard in Great Britain is roughly half that.
USAPA, which represents pilots at US Airways(
LCC Quote), warned members to "use extreme caution" when overnighting in England, because the country has tougher aviation blood alcohol limits than the U.S. does.

A United(UAUA Quote) pilot learned about this difference first hand when he was arrested at London's Heathrow International Airport Monday after failing a breath test.

The pilot, Erwin Vermont Washington, 51, was arrested after a United employee reported him to the authorities, a spokeswoman for BAA Airports Ltd., Heathrow's operator, told The Associated Press. It was not immediately clear how much alcohol he had consumed.

Specifically, British law prohibits pilots from having more than 20 micrograms of alcohol for each 100 milliliters of blood in their system, or .02%. For an average-sized man, that is equivalent to about a half glass of beer.

A similar incident involving a pilot for American(AMR Quote) occurred in May. The pilot, Capt. Joseph Crites, 57, arrived for his flight aboard a Boeing 777 with alcohol on his breath as he was about to fly to Chicago. His blood-alcohol level was found to be twice the legal limit, and he was arrested.

In an October court hearing, the pilot said that he had had a few drinks with dinner the night before reporting for duty, according to The London Daily Mail. His lawyer told the court: "He did have some drinks, but the only thing he can suggest to explain this is that he had some unfamiliar beers, which were stronger than those he was used to." The pilot was fined and lost his job.

It was the American incident that prompted USAPA to warn its members about the law in Great Britain. USAPA's email also included these points: "British security screeners are not only trained but are required to report any suspicious behavior. You can be prosecuted for violating British law. Convictions can result in heavy fines and/or prison time. Failure to submit to a breathalyzer test will result in your immediate arrest. Think before you drink."

In the United case, passengers had boarded Chicago-bound United Flight 949, a Boeing 767 that was preparing for departure when the arrest was made.

"Safety is our highest priority and the pilot has been removed from service while we are cooperating with authorities and conducting a full investigation," the airline said in a statement. "United's alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry and we have no tolerance for violation of this well-established policy."

A spokesman for the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association declined to comment.
Last month, two Northwest pilots, Capt. Timothy B. Cheney, 53, and First Officer Richard I. Cole, 54, overflew the Minneapolis airport in an Airbus A320. The National Transportation Safety Board said the two had lost track of time because they were using personal laptop reporters while discussing a new crew flight-scheduling system.

In that case, Lee Moak, chairman of the ALPA chapter at Delta(DAL Quote), went to bat for the pilots, defending their right to due process. Moak said the NTSB had committed a breach of trust by prematurely releasing self-disclosed information.

Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, says the series of incidents involving pilots is not random. "We have begun a long slide in terms of professionalism in the industry," he said. "This industry and its workers have been pushed to the limits, and I think they are a little ragged at the edges.

"You have an industry of professional pilots whose pay had been cut, their work hours extended and their pensions slashed in many cases," he said. "They are demoralized. They tell their kids not to come into the profession."

Mitchell said he will propose a solution Thursday when he appears on a panel at a U.S. Transportation Department forum on the state of the industry. "We have to put together a coherent national air travel policy instead of the patchwork we have now, overseen by Congress, the FAA and others," he said. "If we had a national transportation policy, the red flags would come up before there are incidents.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C. .

Monday, November 09, 2009

Furloughed ex-TWA flight attendants fight proposal to make them pay dues

by Terry Maxon Dallas Morning News

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines employees, is proposing a constitutional amendment that has outraged its members who formerly worked for Trans World Airlines.

APFA board members this week approved an amendment that would assess dues on all members if they want to remain in good standing and have the right to vote. Furloughed members or members on leaves currently don't have to pay dues.

Roger Graham, a furloughed ex-TWA flight attendant who is helping lead the fight against the dues changes, called the proposal "in a word, despicable."

He said the amendment is aimed directly at the ex-TWA flight attendants, since all 1,200 flight attendants currently on furlough are ex-TWA employees. They joined American when the airline bought Trans World Airlines' assets and hired its people in April 2001.

"We're the only group that it's going to hurt because we're the only ones that are indeed furloughed," Graham said.

APFA president Laura Glading denied that the dues proposal targets anyone. The union just has a lot of members who aren't working or paying dues, around 2,400 as of Dec. 1, and the union needs the money.

"We have no intention of harming anyone," she said. "It's just a matter of running an efficient union. You don't have to pay dues when you're on leave or on furlough if you choose not to. But you cannot vote."

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines employees, is proposing a constitutional amendment that has outraged its members who formerly worked for Trans World Airlines.

APFA board members this week approved an amendment that would assess dues on all members if they want to remain in good standing and have the right to vote. Furloughed members or members on leaves currently don't have to pay dues.

Roger Graham, a furloughed ex-TWA flight attendant who is helping lead the fight against the dues changes, called the proposal "in a word, despicable."

He said the amendment is aimed directly at the ex-TWA flight attendants, since all 1,200 flight attendants currently on furlough are ex-TWA employees. They joined American when the airline bought Trans World Airlines' assets and hired its people in April 2001.

"We're the only group that it's going to hurt because we're the only ones that are indeed furloughed," Graham said.

APFA president Laura Glading denied that the dues proposal targets anyone. The union just has a lot of members who aren't working or paying dues, around 2,400 as of Dec. 1, and the union needs the money.

"We have no intention of harming anyone," she said. "It's just a matter of running an efficient union. You don't have to pay dues when you're on leave or on furlough if you choose not to. But you cannot vote."

Here's where it gets complicated. There's a group called the Coalition for Union Principles, comprised of retired and furloughed TWA flight attendants, who have threatened to work American Airlines flights during any APFA work stoppage.

CUP is unhappy that the ex-TWA flight attendants all got lower seniority than all American Airlines flight attendants who had been hired prior to the TWA acquisition. You've got 40-year TWA flight attendants with less seniority than flight attendants hired by American in 2001.

Right now, about 1,200 flight attendants are furloughed, all ex-TWA. The rest of the approximately 4,000 ex-TWA attendants were furloughed years ago and have fallen off the recall list.

The 2003 APFA contract with American said that furloughed flight attendants would lose their right to recalled after they had been on furlough five years. A bunch fell off the recall list as a result.

Because of pressure from the ex-TWA flight attendants, the airline agreed several years ago to extend recall rights. But all employees who had already fallen off the recall list were gone forever.

The Coalition for Union Principles is continuing its fight to get APFA to change the way it merged the seniority lists of TWA and American flight attendants, the method that put all TWA members at the bottom.

Graham, who calls CUP "a rogue group of former TWA employees," said the coalition's actions have created a lot of animosity among APFA leaders, and the dues proposal is to keep the ex-TWA people from voting on any contract proposal.

The question of voting rights is important because the APFA is making a big push to get a tentative agreement by early 2010. Any deal would have to be approved by APFA members.

The NMB and American Airlines are very concerned that even if the union and airline reached agreement, "the TWA bloc vote would shoot it down," Graham said. "They [union leaders] intend to change the definition of union member in good standing to disguise the retaliation of a dues assessment which will be imposed to rid the TWA flight attendants of their voting rights."

Would the ex-TWA employees vote against a proposed contract?

"I can't guess or estimate," Graham said. "You know, it just depends on the contract all around. If there are things in there like an unlimited recall extension, things that would benefit everybody... But the union is determined to get a contract through and they're very concerned about the bloc vote."

Glading said the proposal is not a reaction to any group or threat to vote against a contract or work during a strike.

The union has set a goal to get a new contract with American sometime in January. If not, it wants the National Mediation Board to release the union from federal mediation and allow it to start job actions like strikes.

Glading said the dues proposal probably won't be voted on by members until December. If it is in effect by Jan 1, members can be delinquent 60 days before they'd lose their voting rights. The union would like to have a contract proposal out for a vote before that 60 days goes by. That means everybody would be able to vote on a proposed deal, whether they paid dues or not.
However, if the union does not wrap up a deal quickly, the people on leave or furlough would have to start dues if they want to retain their voting rights.

On Thursday, Graham asked the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate the APFA's actions, and he and associates are talking to lawmakers about getting involved.

"It has taken decades to cultivate union democracy in this country and only one rogue union to set it back light years," fellow furloughee Robert Applegate, a former contract negotiator for the Association of Flight Attendants and past business agent for the International Association of Machinists, said in a statement.

"They have now embraced upon corruption, in exchange, for monetary gain. They have taken their seniority, their jobs and now disguised as a dues assessment intend to take away the most valuable thing a man or woman can have - the right to vote," he said.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Airlines: Some Costs They Can't - And Shouldn't
by: Robert Herbst October 31, 2009

Today, like most every day, just over 44,000 of the world's most experienced airline pilots employed by the 9 largest airlines in the United States will accept full responsibility for over 1.5 million lives sitting on the other side of their locked cockpit doors. Over the next 24 hours, these pilots will make over 13,500 take-offs literally around the world. Through every imaginable type of weather, they will be in command of over 36,000 hours of flight time. And, if today is like most days, you will never hear or read about even one of those flights.

There is a perception that salaries are an important key to discretionary cost-cutting by the airlines. Charts below attempt to put that information in perspective as regards pilots.
So what does it really take to be a commercial pilot?

First, similar to a doctor taking years to get qualified in the operating room, there are no 'entry level' pilot jobs at the major airlines. Before being hired by a major airline a commercial pilot will likely have a college degree and either been trained as a pilot in the military or have spent several years acquiring thousands of flight hours experience on smaller aircraft.

Fully depending on the airline’s growth, it could take as many as 20+ years to move from a co-pilot to captain.

Airline pilot wages, benefits and working schedules are based on company seniority. If a pilot leaves one airline he/she will start at the bottom of the next airline’s seniority list as a new hire.
Once hired by a major airline, regardless of prior experience, a pilot goes through several weeks of training and testing before being qualified on that airline’s specific aircraft operations. Every time he or she moves to a different type of aircraft or moves from co-pilot to captain he will again require more weeks of training and testing.

Pilots have to pass a medical check every six months with an annual EKG required as they get older. Due to very stringent medical requirements, approximately 15% of airline pilots are forced to retire before they reach their mandatory retirement age.

The FAA has strict limits on the maximum number of hours pilots are allowed to fly: The maximums are 1,000 in a year, 100 in a month and 30-32 in 7 days (international flight limits are slightly higher than domestic). In order to actually get an hour of flight time, depending on your seniority and the airline’s schedule, you can expect to be away from your base from two to four times actual flight hours. For the most part, a pilot only gets paid when the aircraft is moving. (Note: Pilots do not get premium pay for working holidays or weekends.)

What is a pilot worth?
Actually the important question should be: In the future, is the job going to be worth it for those individuals you want and expect to be responsible for so much?

Since 9/11 and the bankruptcy or reorganization of every legacy airline, pilot hourly pay rates have been reduced to what they were almost 20 years ago. In addition, work rule changes force pilots to work more and longer days than they ever have. Pilots from United (UAL), Delta (DAL), Northwest (now merged with Delta) and USAir (LCC) all lost significant amounts of their pensions as those airlines went through bankruptcy after 9/11.

Recognizing the above, how much of the average passenger airline ticket fare is now used to pay pilots to accept the responsibility they do? Not very much!

Since 9/11, United, Delta, Northwest and USAir filed bankruptcy. American (AMR) and Continental (CAL) reorganized outside of bankruptcy in 2003.

In the past seven years, while inflation increased by 20%, the average hourly cockpit wage cost for the average passenger fare dropped by 29%.

When comparing year 2008 with 2002, Southwest (LUV) and JetBlue (JBLU) were the only two airlines that had their passenger fare ratio of cockpit wage costs increase. (In 2002, both of these airlines had the lowest fare ratios in the industry.) In figure 3 you can see how the average cockpit wage cost ratio of the average passenger fare per hour of flight changed for each selected airline since year 2002.
As you can see, on average, the coffee you purchased in the terminal before your flight cost more than what both pilots will earn from your passenger fare for each hour of flight they accept responsibility for your safety.

Whether it is in the operating room or an airline cockpit, if you want the “best” individuals there, you will have to provide the incentives to get them first.

The bottom line questions are: In the future, who do you want replacing these aging and very experienced veteran pilots? Is it worth a few dollars more to attract the “right stuff” to be responsible for such an important job?

Data source: SEC filings and BTS reports
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author and his family hold stock in AMR