Monday, December 23, 2013

On Jammed Jets, Sardines Turn on One Another

The New York Times
By JAD MOUAWAD and MARTHA C. WHITE | The New York Times –  5 hours ago

Flying coach can be a bruising experience these days.

Rory Rowland said he was rudely rebuffed after he asked the person in front of him not to recline his seat on a red-eye flight. When he later got up to use the bathroom, and the other passenger had fallen asleep, “I hip-checked his seat like you wouldn’t believe,” Mr. Rowland, a speaker and consultant, said, then feigned innocence when the enraged passenger complained to a flight attendant.

With air travelers increasingly feeling like packed sardines, flying has become a contact sport, nowhere more than over the reclined seat.

Now, it is only getting worse, as airlines re-examine every millimeter of the cabin.

Over the last two decades, the space between seats —  hardly roomy before —  has fallen about 10 percent, from 34 inches to somewhere between 30 and 32 inches. Today, some airlines are pushing it even further, leaving only a knee-crunching 28 inches.

To gain a little more space, airlines are turning to a new generation of seats that use lighter materials and less padding, moving the magazine pocket above the tray table and even reducing or eliminating the recline in seats. Some are even reducing the number of galleys and bathrooms.

Southwest, the nation’s largest domestic carrier, is installing seats with less cushion and thinner materials —  a svelte model known in the business as “slim-line.” It also is reducing the maximum recline to two inches from three. These new seats allow Southwest to add another row, or six seats, to every flight —  and add $200 million a year in newfound revenue.

“In today’s environment, the goal is to fit as many seats in the cabin as possible,” said Tom Plant, the general manager for seating products at B/E Aerospace, one of the top airplane seat makers. “We would all like more space on an aircraft, but we all like a competitive ticket price.”

Some carriers are taking the smush to new heights.

Spirit Airlines, for instance, uses seats on some flights with the backrest permanently set back three inches. Call it, as Spirit does, “prereclined.”

The low-cost airline started installing the seats in 2010, squeezing passengers into an industry low of 28 inches. While the Airbus A320 typically accommodates 150 passengers in coach, Spirit can pack 178.

And that is a good thing, Spirit says.

“Customers appreciate the fact that there is no longer interference from the seat in front of you moving up and down throughout the flight,” said Misty Pinson, a spokeswoman for Spirit.

Rick Seaney, the chief executive of, said the airline business had changed in recent years, after airlines parked older planes and started flying with fewer empty seats. In the past five years, he said, carriers had cut capacity —  the number of seats they fly —  about 12 percent.

“The flip side is they can’t afford not to fill up their seats,” Mr. Seaney said. “This is a massive sea change.”

With so little space to haggle over, passengers have developed their own techniques for handling the crowded conditions.

“They jam their knee into the back of your seat as hard as they can, and they’ll do it repeatedly to see if they can get a reaction,” said Mick Brekke, a businessman who flies for work a few times a month. “That’s happened to me more than once, and that usually settles down after they realize I’m not going to put it back up.”

The passengers Mr. Brekke has encountered are not even the most extreme: Some have taken to using seat-jamming devices, known as knee guards, that prevent a seat in front from reclining. Airlines ban them, but they work, users say.

Smaller seats are not the only reason passengers feel more constricted these days. Travelers are also getting bigger. In the last four decades, the average American gained a little more than 20 pounds and his or her waist expanded about 2.5 inches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The dimensions of airplanes, however, have not changed and neither has the average width of a coach seat, which is 17 to 18 inches.

As the cabins grow more crowded, airlines say they are thinking only of their customers, trying to keep costs down. Jude Bricker, the senior vice president for planning at Allegiant, said the airline’s nonreclining seats have fewer moving parts and so require less maintenance, which means lower costs. This allows the airline to keep its fares low, he said.

“We are continually reminded from customers and their behavior that what they want most is convenient service with a low fare,” Mr. Bricker said.

Several budget carriers in Europe have also adopted stiff seats, including Ryanair and EasyJet. Air France, for its domestic flights, which never take more than an hour, has installed nonreclining seats where the magazine pocket has been moved above the tray table to provide more space in the critical area around the knees.

For passengers willing to pay more, of course, airlines offer more room. Business class remains an ultracompetitive market with constant innovation and comfortable amenities, like seats that recline fully. Airlines are also increasingly offering several rows of coach seats with more legroom —  also at an extra price.

Still, the squeeze is on for most passengers in coach. On a flight from Washington to Frankfurt last year, Odysseas Papadimitriou, the chief executive of, a personal finance social network, was challenged by a tall passenger seated behind him when he reclined his seat. “He was like, ‘Hey, watch it, buddy. I don’t fit here with you reclining the seat,’ ”  he said.

Mr. Papadimitriou called the flight attendant to mediate the dispute and eventually tilted his seat back, but the price he paid to recline was a fitful night’s sleep, as the other passenger grumbled and pushed against the back of his seat for the rest of the flight.

There are ways of resolving conflicts other than bumping into other passengers, as Mr. Rowland, the speaker and consultant, found.

“I lean forward and tap them on the shoulder and say, ‘I’ll buy you a drink if you don’t push your seat back,’ ”  Mr. Rowland said. “It’s made flying very pleasant.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

 Airlines: No in-flight calls. Period.
Published: Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 | 1:03 PM ET
By: Robert Ferris | Special to  

While the Federal Communication Commission reconsiders its longtime ban on in-flight-phone calls, Delta Air Lines says its own policy will remain as it is: no, no and no. And after it previously considered allowing in-flight calls, JetBlue has also decided to prohibit them.

The FCC is considering a proposal to step aside and let airlines determine their own policies on using electronic devices in the air. In an apparent attempt to test public opinion, the commission issued an open invitation to anyone willing to comment on the matter.

(Read more: 'Inattentive parents' top list of worst fliers)

Delta CEO Richard Anderson responded with a statement Wednesday, saying both his company's customers and crews are still cold on the idea of passengers chatting away into phones on flights.

Which electronics are banned in flight?

CNBC's Phil LeBeau breaks down the FAA rules: Anything with a cell signal is still banned, but e-readers, among other devices, will be allowed.

"In fact, a clear majority of customers who responded to a 2012 survey said they felt the ability to make voice calls on-board would detract from—not enhance—their experience," he said. "Delta employees, particularly our in-flight crews, have told us definitively that they are not in favor of voice calls on-board."

However, should the FCC overturn the ban, Delta said it will compromise by allowing passengers to text, email, or use their phones in other ways. Just so long as they do so silently.

JetBlue representative Morgan Johnston cited similar customer feedback to support its decision to forbid in-flight calls.

"We've heard from many customers, and the majority have shared that they do not want voice or video calls allowed on board," Johnston said in an email to CNBC. "We do not allow customers to use VOIP onboard, and have no plans on installing the cellular transponders that would allow cellular calls."

United Airlines gave CNBC a statement less final, saying the company is "evaluating the views of our customers and crew members on in-flight calling, and at this time we don't intend to permit use of cellphones."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

American Air Is a Sleeper Stock if US Airways/America West Is a Precedent

BY Ted Reed |  12/12/13 - 05:59 AM EST

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (TheStreet) -- The new American Airlines (AAL_) went public Monday with a half dozen analysts recommending it. 

New American may not meet the classic definition of being a sleeper stock, one that is likely to achieve unexpected success. Rather, it is a sleeper because of the promise that could be unleashed by having the America West management team take over American's vast route network, and perhaps because of all the lessons learned from previous mergers including the 2005 America West/US Airways combination.

"AAL shares appear to be trading as if this is a typical merger: we believe there is more to the story," wrote Imperial Capital analyst Bob McAdoo in a report issued Monday. McAdoo said he expects schedule changes visible as early as January will show the new management's impact.

In a previous report, McAdoo said the America West team could find $1 billion worth of revenue gains by eliminating unprofitable flying, which would buttress the value of the remaining seats.
Additionally, JP Morgan analyst Jamie Baker wrote Monday that "the earnings power of new American appears sorely underappreciated by the equity market, in our view." Baker has a $37 target price and has put the shares on the firm's "analyst focus list."

So expectations are high for the shares. New American traded for the first time on Monday morning at $23.95, after a one-for-one exchange with shares of US Airways, which traded as LCC. American shares closed Wednesday at $25.99, up $1.11 on a day when shares in every other major airline were down.

When the same management team, headed by CEO Doug Parker, President Scott Kirby and Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr took over at US Airways in 2005, they quickly made improvements, primarily capacity cuts. In the first quarter as a merged company, revenue per available seat mile on the US Airways routes improved by 27.7%, a very high number. So Wall Street has faith in the team.
On Monday, CRT Capital analyst Mike Derchin initiated coverage with a buy rating and a target price of $31; he called AAL "one of our favorite ideas."

Derchin said equity distributions over the next 120 days should create buying opportunities. He said labor goodwill, a strong cash positioned and a strengthened OneWorld alliance, due to the addition of the US Airways destinations, will all benefit the shares.

"The main risk is now merger integration," Derchin wrote. "We believe management knows from personal experience and recent industry successes and failures how to get it right."

In an interview Monday, Terri Pope, US Airways/American vice president for Charlotte Douglas International Airport, said she has managed through four mergers at US Airways. "I've seen planning in the last 24 months that I had never seen in those four mergers," Pope told reporters on Monday. One lesson, she said, is that "it's not about how fast you make it happen, but that you make it happen the right way."

The point is that not only has the airline industry learned from the closely watched mergers over the past decade, but also that throughout its management ranks US Airways has people with broad experience in overseeing mergers. That was not the case at Delta (DAL_) or United (UAL_), which both stumbled in completing their mergers.

In his note, Baker wrote that new American's EBITDAR margins already rival Delta's and exceed United's" and we expect AAL to widen its lead going forward." Of the three, he said, Delta presents the least risk, with "little being asked of management besides staying the course, (while) United still requires heavy lifting, (yet) shares already trade at a premium following management assurances to do better.

"This leaves AAL, with a management team that has tackled integration in the past and is starting from a base of profitability already rivaling DAL's," Baker wrote. Like McAdoo, he warned that emergence from bankruptcy, accompanied by equity distributions, can lead to selling pressure.
Delta, he said, lost 18% of its value in the first month after emerging from bankruptcy, while United lost 10%.

Wolfe Research analyst Hunter Keay also said he sees favorable comparisons with United and Delta. In a recent report, Keay wrote that new American's "large discount to Delta and United is simply too much."

Keay also suggested "that the AAL merger integration risks are overblown (because) labor is large mollified entering the process and hard knocks IT experience from US Airways' prior merger (same executives, same reservations systems) should yield valuable lessons learned." He has a $39 price target and calls AAL his top pick.

Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
 To contact this writer, click here.
Follow @tedreednc

Monday, December 02, 2013

US Airways Can Find $1B in Revenue Gains at AMR, Analyst Says

Stock quotes in this article: AAMRQ, LCC 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (TheStreet) -- American Airlines has cut costs by $1 billion in bankruptcy, and now the US Airways  (LCC_) management team is likely to find another $1 billion in financial gains from cutting unprofitable routes and better matching aircraft to routes, a veteran airline analyst said.

"This transaction is as much about fixing AMR as it is about normal merger integration," Imperial Capital analyst Bob McAdoo wrote in a recent report. McAdoo said he sees "well over $1 billion in opportunities to improve AMR's revenue generation potential and financial profitability, simply by shifting priorities and assets.

"AMR Corp. has been a chronic underachiever, particularly in generating revenue," he wrote. "AMR has struggled to generate revenue despite having its hubs arguably in some of the largest and most attractive U.S. cities and also having the largest U.S. carrier presence at London's Heathrow Airport, arguably the most important international airport in the world."

Shares in existing US Airways group and AMR Corp. are scheduled to cease trading on Friday. Dec. 6. On Monday, Dec. 9, AAL shares will begin trading. Existing LCC shares will be converted on a one-for-one basis to AAL shares. LCC shares closed Friday at $23.48, up 74% year to date. McAdoo has an outperform rating on the shares and a $36 target price.

In his report, McAdoo listed three key areas where he believes revenue per available seat mile (RASM) gains can be easily achieved.

On JFK-LAX, the largest U.S. market in terms of revenue, American loses $70 million annually, McAdoo estimated. While its competitors all operate narrow-body aircraft, American flies three-class Boeing 767 nine times a day. Those 767s have fewer seats than competitive aircraft, meaning higher costs per seat mile -- 44% higher costs per seat mile to generate only 7% more revenue than Virgin American, McAdoo wrote. The solution? American already plans to replace the 767s with Airbus A321s.

On JFK-Heathrow, American suffers from "its quantity of slots and its ego-driven tendency to virtually always fly each London flight with its largest B777 aircraft, (and) finds itself unable to always profitably operate to each of its hubs." Furthermore, American's hub in Chicago competes with its hub in Dallas and Los Angeles for London traffic, with the Chicago one-stop undercutting the non-stops. The solution? Cut flights.

On various domestic routes, for instance Chicago-La Crosse, Wis., American uses uneconomic 44-seat aircraft to fly four to five times daily, with the flights only two-thirds full. By contrast, McAdoo wrote, Delta (DAL_) flies Minneapolis-La Crosse three times a day with a 48-seat aircraft and generates far higher RASM.

In a 2005 merger, the America West management team led by Doug Parker took over at US Airways following a bankruptcy. In the first quarter as a merged company, revenue per available seat mile on the US Airways routes improved by 27.7%. Much of the improvement reflected capacity reductions. McAdoo said he believes the America West management team, little changed from 2005, will make similar improvements at American.

"Arriving from the much smaller America West Airlines in 2005, the (team) promptly delivered industry-leading margins at then bankrupt US Airways, a company three times the size of America West," McAdoo wrote. "The team, then and we assume now, has a determination to eliminate flying that could not be made profitable.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Forget house flipping: billionaires flip their super jets

9 hours ago
A Gulfstream G650 business jet stands on display during the Cheongju International Airport Air Show in Cheongju, South Korea, on Oct. 25. Demand is so high for the jet that some billionaires are flipping them for a hefty profit.
SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Gulfstream G650 business jet stands on display during the Cheongju International Airport Air Show in Cheongju, South Korea, on Oct. 25. Demand is so high for the jet that some billionaires are flipping them for a hefty profit.
The age of house flipping may have faded. But the super rich have found a new path to instant profits: flipping their megajets.

Demand for the biggest, most expensive Gulfstream jet — the G650 — is so strong that owners have started flipping them to other buyers. In some deals, the sellers are pulling in profits of between $5 million and $7 million per flip.

Billionaire Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One tycoon, recently flipped his G650 to an Asian businessman for $72 million — at least $6 million more than his purchase price, according to people familiar with the deal. The transaction, first reported by BizjetBlogger, came just weeks after Ecclestone received the plane from Gulfstream. (Ecclestone couldn't be reached for comment, but BizjetBlogger said the plane was too large for some of Ecclestone's favorite airports).

Jet brokers and consultants said at least two other buyers have flipped their G650s recently for more than $70 million. At least two other deals are in the works, they said. One of these is an American billionaire negotiating with a buyer in Asia. The other deals involved billionaires in Russia, Latin America and the Middle East.
The flips highlight the strong demand for large-cabin planes — the biggest, most expensive private jets — at a time when the rest of the private jet market is still languishing. Business jet deliveries are still down more than 30 percent from their peak in 2008, and prices for some planes have fallen by more than half, brokers say.

But large-cabin planes are a hot commodity among billionaires and global companies. With their long range and ample cabins, they can carry more passengers over longer distances and in greater comfort. The G650, with a base price of $64.5 million, is the king of the large-cabin private jets, with a range of well over 7,000 miles and a maximum speed of Mach 0.925.

The G650 also is very scarce. Only around 30 to 35 have been delivered since its launch last year, according to brokers.

Still, the jet has become the must-have plane for the world's billionaires, with Ralph Lauren and Oprah Winfrey both lining up for one. Demand is so strong that a buyer signing a contract today won't get their G650 until the third quarter of 2017. That's why many buyers are willing to pay more than $70 million to get their planes today.

"These are billionaires who are willing to pay a premium to avoid the wait," said Philip Rushton, founder of Aviatrade, an aviation consulting and brokerage firm.
The deals are a double-edged sword for Gulfstream. While they highlight the strong demand and value of its aircraft, they also show that customers are now making millions off of its product. The company said that it is "not privy to the details" of any flips, "if customers are, in fact, getting a premium for the aircraft, it's a testament to the amazing capabilities of the G650."

The real problem for Gulfstream is clients trying to sell their planes before they are delivered. Gulfstream said that, "Customers cannot sell the aircraft before they've physically taken delivery of it. This prevents speculation, which isn't good for the market."

The company has a "non-assignability" clause in its contracts, meaning the ownership can't be reassigned after a contract is signed.

Some customers tried to get around the clause by buying the plane under the name of a newly created aviation company. They would then sell the company to a new buyer, essentially transferring ownership of the plane through the company sale. Brokers said Gulfstream caught on to the game and is now requiring the signer of the contract to be involved in the final delivery.
"They're really doing their best to deter this," said Jay Duckson of Central Business Jets.
By CNBC's Robert Frank. Follow him on Twitter @robtfrank.

Why Europeans Put Bigger Planes on Trans-Atlantic Flights

The days when flying over the Atlantic automatically meant a seat on a two-aisle jumbo jet are over. U.S. carriers have switched many ocean-crossing flights to slender Boeing 757s, a smaller airplane than the typical wide-body giants favored by European airlines headed to North American destinations. The strategic split in airplane size is the result of differences in fare-pricing software, reliance on hub airports, and passenger preferences in the two markets. Here’s why Europeans fly larger than Americans:

1. U.S. airlines manage fares more tightly. Revenue management software is widely used across the U.S. industry to oversee how many seats are sold at specific prices—a strategy that can maximize profitability when tweaked just so. Deploying sophisticated algorithms to determine pricing was a direct result of the industry’s deregulation in 1978—a process that occurred nearly 20 years earlier than in Europe, airline analyst Robert Mann notes. The software does best when managing an airplane without that many seats. “Too much capacity (larger gauge with more seats) puts those tools outside their sweet spot and unable to deliver improvements in unit revenue,” Mann wrote in an e-mail. “This is why half of U.S. domestic frequencies are on regional partners’ smaller jets.”

2. Hubs play a huge role in aircraft size. The legacy U.S. airlines all have multiple hubs to feed, whereas British Airways (IAG:LN) and Air France (AF:FP) each has essentially one. United (UAL), for example, flies to London Heathrow from six of its eight U.S. hubs, seeing those multiple frequencies as a competitive weapon to lure corporate travelers who fly to the U.K. British Airways, however, feeds nearly all its North American traffic through Heathrow, which it says makes larger airplanes more logical.

“The B757 allows us to serve certain cities that we may not be able to serve profitably with a larger aircraft—this fact makes the service possible in the first place,” US Airways (LCC) spokesman Todd Lehmacher says, citing the summer service to Shannon. That route was successful and will return in 2014. Delta (DAL) also has found niche uses in Europe for the 757, as has American with a daily flight from New York to Madrid. (The main downside is flying west in winter, when high winds can boost fuel burn and necessitate expensive diversions for refueling.)

4. Europeans pay for cabin comforts. The traditional European flag carriers have a relatively robust business for first and business-class seats, compared with their American counterparts. Lufthansa (LHA:GR) is the largest provider of premium-cabin seating across the Atlantic and needs at least 60 business-class seats on most of its flights to North America to meet demand, spokesman Nils Haupt says. So while United can make do with 16 business-class seats on a 757, Lufthansa will not (usually) struggle too mightily to sell the 98 biz-class seats in its massive 526-seat A380s—nor the eight in first class.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Too fat to fly: French family stranded in US

A British Airways aircraft takes off from Heathrow Airport in west London
A British Airways aircraft takes off from Heathrow Airport in west London (AFP Photo/Ben Stansall)
Chicago (AFP) - A French family who came to the United States for medical treatment said they were stranded in Chicago after British Airways determined their son was too fat to fly.
Kevin Chenais, 22, spent a year and a half at the Mayo Clinic for treatment of a hormone disorder which led him to weigh 500 pounds.

His mother was near tears as she described the family’s problems to the local CBS affiliate.
"We blame British Airways because now they just leave us, and they brought us here,” Christina Chenais told the station.

"If they could bring him here with that problem in economy, there was a way to take him back by economy but just get him back home for his medical treatments to continue."

The family spent a week in an airport hotel trying to resolve the matter and, running out of money, has decided their only option is to take a train to New York and cross the Atlantic on the Queen Mary cruise ship.

Kevin Chenais requires round-the-clock oxygen and medical attention.

"I’m sure a lot of big people like me or bigger cannot travel because they have the same problem,” he told the station, head hanging down as he sat up in bed.

"This time before leaving I knew something would go wrong."

A British Airways spokesperson told AFP that its customer service team "worked diligently to find a solution."

"We will always try to accommodate someone if it's possible and safe to do so," Caroline Titmuss wrote in an e-mail.

"Unfortunately, it is not possible to safely accommodate the customer on any of our aircraft and the family has been offered a full refund."

The airline said it provided hotel accommodation for the family along with "guidance and support" to help explore other travel options.

A spokeswoman for the French consulate told AFP it "attempted a mediation with British Airways, but the position of the airline is firm on the security issue."

It has provided the family with the names of two lawyers who may be able to help.
The Chenais family did not immediately return requests for comment.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Which airlines now allow electronic devices?

2 hours ago
One by one, airlines have begun allowing passengers to expand the use of personal electronic devices since the Federal Aviation Administration said it would start approving applications. So far, only a handful of airlines have the all-clear, and some have more exceptions than others.

US Airways and United are the latest to secure approval from the FAA.

US Airways on Nov. 7 said "customers on US Airways domestic mainline flights will now be permitted to use small PEDs during all phases of flight." Its US Airways Express flights do not have FAA approval.

United Airlines on Nov. 6 adopted the new rules on all domestic mainline flights arriving or departing within the 50 states. The new rules do not apply to United Express flights, but United said it is working with its with its regional partners to make that happen by the end of the year.

American Airlines on Nov. 4 said the new rules apply to "American's entire mainline fleet as well as regional aircraft operated by American Eagle Airlines." However, it does not yet apply to American Eagle flights operated by SkyWest Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines, Republic Airline or Chautauqua Airlines, American spokesman Matt Miller told CNBC.

Delta Air Lines as of Nov. 1 allows "portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet on mainline U.S. domestic flights," according to its website. However, "Delta Connection's more than 550 regional aircraft will be ready by the end of the year."

JetBlue on Nov. 1 "adopted the new rule completely, all JetBlue flights," company spokesman Mike Miller told CNBC.

The FAA has received a handful of other plans and hopes to approve them quickly, agency spokeswoman Kristie Greco said.

Some are still preparing the paperwork. Alaska Airlines "will apply to the FAA for approval very soon," Paul McElroy said in an email to CNBC.

The new rules generally add the ability for passengers to use their smartphones, e-readers, electronic games and tablets during taxi, takeoff and landing as long as they have the device in airplane mode with cellular service disabled. Voice calls will still be prohibited and laptops will still need to be stowed for taxi, takeoff and landing.

The FAA, in its announcement Oct. 31, said there would be only limited exceptions to the new rules. "In rare instances of low-visibility, the crew will instruct passengers to turn off their devices during landing."

The new rules, the FAA made clear, do not yet apply to all fliers.

"Due to differences among fleets and operations, the implementation will vary among airlines, but the agency expects many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year," the FAA said in its Oct. 31 announcement.

The American Eagle rollout is one early example of how the new system may be confusing. Since some American Eagle regional flights are operated by other airlines, those flights will be certified by the FAA. Those approvals are expected by the end of the year, Matt Miller said. (Passengers can find out by checking the "operated by" line on their flight status notification on, he said.)
The same goes for Delta's nine carries operating under the Delta Connection banner, according to Delta Air Lines spokesman Paul Skrbec.

But where the new rules are in place, there is happiness in the land.
"Customer feedback has been terrific. We've had more than one instance of customers cheering on planes," Skrbec said.

"It has gone swimmingly as far as I'm aware," American's Miller said a day after the new rules were adopted. The airline will have to change its safety videos, but in the meantime the flight crew is providing guidance to passengers about the new rules.
—By CNBC's Amy Langfield. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyLangfield.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pilot dies after forced emergency landing at Boise airport
A United Airlines flight bound from Seattle made an emergency landing Thursday after the pilot suffered a heart attack. An airline spokesperson confirmed Friday that the crew member has died, NBC's Tom Costello reports.

By Matthew DeLuca, Staff Writer, NBC News

A pilot suffered an apparent heart attack in midair aboard a United Airlines flight to Seattle on Thursday evening, and later died after the plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Boise, Idaho, a hospital spokeswoman told NBC News.

A doctor and military personnel reportedly attempted to save the pilot’s life by administering CPR amid a dramatic scene, as another passenger rushed to help get the plane safely to the ground.

The spokeswoman at Saint Alphonsus Hospital in Boise confirmed the pilot’s death on Friday morning. United Airlines spokeswoman Christen David said that the flight’s captain was the individual involved in an email to NBC News.

The pilot was alive when he arrived at the local hospital but died during the night while being treated, hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Krajnik told the Associated Press.

“I am sad to confirm that our co-worker passed away last night,” David said. “Our thoughts are with his family at this time.”

Boise Airport spokeswoman Patti Miller told Reuters that the airport received a call “at about 7:55 p.m. Mountain Time declaring an emergency, they said the pilot had had a heart attack.” The plane landed less than fifteen minutes later, Miller told the news service.

Passengers on board the flight from Houston to Seattle said a doctor on board helped the patient, and the co-pilot was heard telling air traffic controllers that chest compressions were performed on the individual.

Passengers said two army soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord on the flight assisted the doctor in attempting to treat the patient before the arrival of first responders, NBC News Seattle affiliate King 5 reported. A passenger who trains Boeing 737 pilots aided the copilot as the plane made the emergency landing in Boise after the unconscious pilot was removed from the cockpit, passengers said, according to the station.

“United flight 1603 from Houston to Seattle diverted to Boise, Idaho, tonight when a crew member experienced a medical emergency,” United Airlines said in a statement Thursday night. “The flight landed safely, and paramedics met the plane upon arrival and transported the crew member to the hospital. We are working to re-accommodate customers as soon as possible.”

The airport spokeswoman told Reuters that the plane’s passengers got off the plane and waited for another pilot to take over the flight. The flight landed in Seattle just after midnight local time.

The 737 had 161 passengers and six crew members on board. The name of the pilot has not been released.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

This story was originally published on Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:40 AM EDT.

13 Secrets Airline Pilots Won't Tell You

By LIZ VACCARIELLO , Reader's Digest:
"Good Morning America" is teaming up with Reader's Digest on a special series, " 13 Things Experts Won't Tell You." This month, Reader's Digest unveils the 13 secrets your airline pilot won't tell you that will change the way you fly, plus one bonus tip.

We asked 17 pilots from across the country to give us straight answers about maddening safety rules, inexplicable delays, the air and attitudes up there-and what really happens behind the cockpit door. What they told us will change the way you fly.
"We miss the peanuts too." -US Airways pilot, South Carolina

What You Don't Want to Know
"I'm constantly under pressure to carry less fuel than I'm comfortable with. Airlines are always looking at the bottom line, and you burn fuel carrying fuel. Sometimes if you carry just enough fuel and you hit thunderstorms or delays, then suddenly you're running out of gas and you have to go to an alternate airport." -Captain at a major airline

"Sometimes the airline won't give us lunch breaks or even time to eat. We have to delay flights just so we can get food." -First officer on a regional carrier

"We tell passengers what they need to know. We don't tell them things that are going to scare the pants off them. So you'll never hear me say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, we just had an engine failure,' even if that's true." -Jim Tilmon, retired American Airlines pilot, Phoenix

"The Department of Transportation has put such an emphasis on on-time performance that we pretty much aren't allowed to delay a flight anymore, even if there are 20 people on a connecting flight that's coming in just a little late." -Commercial pilot, Charlotte, N.C.

"The truth is, we're exhausted. Our work rules allow us to be on duty 16 hours without a break. That's many more hours than a truck driver. And unlike a truck driver, who can pull over at the next rest stop, we can't pull over at the next cloud." -Captain at a major airline

What We Want You to Know
"Some FAA rules don't make sense to us either. Like the fact that when we're at 39,000 feet going 400 miles an hour, in a plane that could hit turbulence at any minute, [flight attendants] can walk around and serve hot coffee and Chateaubriand. But when we're on the ground on a flat piece of asphalt going five to ten miles an hour, they've got to be buckled in like they're at NASCAR." -Jack Stephan, US Airways captain based in Annapolis, Md., who has been flying since 1984

"The two worst airports for us: Reagan National in Washington, D.C., and John Wayne in Orange County, Calif. You're flying by the seat of your pants trying to get in and out of those airports. John Wayne is especially bad because the rich folks who live near the airport don't like jet noise, so they have this noise abatement procedure where you basically have to turn the plane into a ballistic missile as soon as you're airborne." -Pilot, South Carolina

"At some airports with really short runways, you're not going to have a smooth landing no matter how good we are: John Wayne Airport; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Chicago Midway; and Reagan National." -Joe D'Eon, a pilot at a major airline who produces a podcast at

"I may be in uniform, but that doesn't mean I'm the best person to ask for directions in the airport. We're in so many airports that we usually have no idea." -Pilot for a regional carrier, Charlotte, N.C.

"This happens all the time: We'll be in Pittsburgh going to Philly, and there will be a weather delay. The weather in Pittsburgh is beautiful. Then I'll hear passengers saying, 'You know, I just called my friend in Philly, and it's beautiful there too,' like there's some kind of conspiracy or something. But in the airspace between Pittsburgh and Philly there's a huge thunderstorm." -Jack Stephan

"You may go to an airline website and buy a ticket, pull up to its desk at the curb, and get onto an airplane that has a similar name painted on it, but half the time, you're really on a regional airline. The regionals aren't held to the same safety standards as the majors: Their pilots aren't required to have as much training and experience, and the public doesn't know that." -Captain at a major airline

"Most of the time, how you land is a good indicator of a pilot's skill. So if you want to say something nice to a pilot as you're getting off the plane, say 'Nice landing.' We do appreciate that." -Joe D'Eon
"No, it's not your imagination: Airlines really have adjusted their flight arrival times so they can have a better record of on-time arrivals. So they might say a flight takes two hours when it really takes an hour and 45 minutes." -AirTran Airways captain, Atlanta
I'm not known for being a patient man...I get angry as soon as I step foot into an airport. Everything about it is inefficient. If it's a 6 hour drive or less you can find my in a car.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Saying No the Flighty American-US Airways Deal
The Feds' Move to Block the Airline Merger Is Overdue

by Al Lewis - Wall Street Journal - August 18, 2013

Try to keep this straight:

American Airlines—which has already merged with Trans Caribbean Airways, Air California,
Reno Air and TWA—wants to merge with US Airways—which has already merged with
Lake Central Airlines, Mohawk Airlines, Pacific Southwest Airlines, Piedmont Airlines and
America West.

They want to merge because:

• United Airlines—which had already merged with Capital Airlines and part of Pan Am—
merged with Continental Airlines—which had already merged with People's Express,
New York Air and the original Frontier Airlines.

• Delta Air Lines—which had already acquired the Chicago and Southern Air Lines,
Northeast Airlines, Western Airlines and Pan Am's shuttle airline—merged with Northwest
Airlines—which had once swallowed Republic Airlines.

• And Southwest Airlines—which had acquired Muse Air, Morris Air and ATA Airlines—
recently took over AirTran Airways—which had merged with ValueJet.

The U.S. Justice Department, which rarely intervenes in airline mergers, last week sued
to block the $11 billion merger of American and US Airways. The deal, it complained,
would reduce the industry to just four big carriers controlling more than 80% of the
market, which means higher airfares and less air service for consumers.

The airlines, and a chorus of critics, immediately complained

 a) hey, this isn't fair, you already let everyone else merge,
 b) American is in bankruptcy and needs this deal to compete,
 c) one less major airline will actually increase competition by creating a stronger
competitor and
d) let the free market decide.

These arguments are as old as the industry. There has never been a free market in the
airline business. The industry has always been federally subsidized in one form or another.

It also has been subsidized by the bankruptcy process. Airlines battle each other for
market share and lose money until the day that they can't. Then they file for bankruptcy
and glue their pieces together.

Creditors, investors and employees take the financial hit while top executives walk away
with grandiose pay packages.

American wants to pay its chieftain Tom Horton $20 million for taking the carrier through
the bankruptcy it filed in November 2011—but the bankruptcy judge has scoffed at the

The Justice Department notes that executives from both airlines have bragged that they
could operate without the deal—so why not hold them to their words?

No, it's not easy running an airline. Beyond complex logistics and fending off competitors
who've slashed their operating costs in bankruptcy court first, there are spiking jet-fuel
costs, terrorist attacks and economic meltdowns to circumnavigate.

The solution always comes down to yet another bankruptcy and yet another merger.
Over time, planes become filthy, airline employees get grumpy, service gets spotty and
innovation is reduced to how to charge customers more fees.

What's left is an industry of bureaucratic, too-big-to-fail corporations that will live to file
bankruptcy again.

American and US Airways vow to fight. They'll likely bring enough corporate lobbying
power to bear, and offer just enough concessions, to put together some kind of deal.

And everyone will forget what American advertised when it bought what was left of TWA
in 2001: "Two great airlines, one great future."

—Al Lewis is a columnist based in Denver. He blogs at; his email address is

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Captive Wi-Fi Audience Pays Off

By Kevin Fitchard

August 09, 2013

Our need to remain constantly connected everywhere is definitely paying off for inflight Internet provider Gogo. The company reported its first quarterly earnings since going public in June, and it shows that not only are more domestic flyers signing up for its pokey airborne connections, but that they’re also paying more for the privilege.

Gogo (GOGO) now connects 1,982 American Airlines, United (UAL), Delta (DAL), Air Canada (AC/A:CN), US Airways (LCC), Alaska Air (ALK), AirTran, and Virgin America planes in North America, and each plane brought in an average of $25,600 in the second quarter, up 22 percent from the same period a year ago. That’s a pretty hefty increase for a single year, but that’s not the half of it. Its overall revenue from commercial aviation increased an impressive 53 percent, to $49.8 million, in the second quarter.

It’s connecting not only more planes, but more flights with more passengers. The company estimated that in the second quarter, 77.1 million butts were in the seats of Gogo-linked flights. Not only did Gogo succeed in luring more of those passengers onto its network (5.9 percent vs. 5.3 percent a year earlier), but it also extracted more money from each passenger who did connect: $10.38 per session, a full $1.35 more than it did a year ago.

Gogo still isn’t profitable—in fact, its losses increased fivefold, to $72.6 million—but its revenue is increasing at a fantastic clip and shows few signs of slowing down. After all, Gogo has what amounts to a monopoly in the aircraft that it does serve, and our desire to check e-mail and surf the Web at 10,000 feet shows no sign of abating.

The irony is that the more successful Gogo becomes, the worse off its customers will be. Gogo is feeding all these flights with what is essentially a CDMA 3G network pointed at the sky, and as with all cellular networks, users must share their capacity. So just as a bunch of simultaneous smartphone users will congest and even take down a cell on the ground, the more Internet surfers there are on a flight, the slower the speeds will be for everyone.

Gogo is trying to keep up with that capacity demand by upgrading its networks, but so far only 312 of its planes can tap into the new system’s higher speeds. And even when its entire fleet is upgraded, we’re still talking about just a souped-up 3G network.

It doesn’t seem to matter to the flying public, though. We’re more than willing to shell out $20 a flight for slower than dial-up speeds. I do it every time I get on plane for San Francisco. So does Om Malik and pretty much everyone on the GigaOM staff. We’re holding out hope, though, that a new generation of air-to-ground systems—currently being debated at the FCC and developed by Qualcomm (QCOM)—will supply the same level of broadband quality that we’re used to on the ground up in the skies.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

How to Survive a Plane Crash: Ten Ways Fliers Can Improve the Odds

Plane wreck
JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom
An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 is seen on the runway at San Francisco International Airport after crash landing on July 6, 2013. Video footage showed the jet, Flight 214 from Seoul, on its belly surrounded by firefighters.

As investigators probe the causes of the crash of Asiana flight 214 in San Francisco, the focus will also be on how the evacuation was handled. Some of the surviving passengers of the crash are starting to tell their stories, and the details paint a mixed picture, with flight attendants coming to the aid of trapped passengers while one crewmember was trapped behind an escape chute that deployed inside the plane.

But evacuations are almost, by definition, a chaotic affair, and in this one, fliers had virtually no warning. So it's understandable that some things would not go by the book. In fact, a number of passengers reported grabbing their items and hauling them off the wrecked aircraft as they escaped.

That’s a serious no-no, as I learned when investigating air crash survivability for this magazine. While it’s a natural impulse to grab your possessions, that can greatly slow down the evacuation process. And every second counts: A plane must be capable of being evacuated within 90 seconds of impact, even with half the exits blocked—since that’s often the case. Fire becomes a serious threat after that all-too-short interlude, as we saw in this instance .

The truth is that most accidents are survivable; while two lives were tragically lost in the crash of Asiana flight 214, remarkably, the other 305 passengers and crew got off the plane.

Evacuations are more common than we suppose—at the time of our 2005 report, an aircraft was being evacuated at U.S. airports every 12 days. But surveys have shown that few fliers pay any attention to the pre-flight safety briefing, either because they’ve heard it all before, or, strangely, because they believe if they crash there’s nothing they can do about it anyway.

But that’s far from the case; the vast majority of passengers involved in U.S. airline accidents over the years have survived. So, here’s some advice from the experts at the FAA as well as dozens of survivor interviews, on what to do:

1. Listen closely to that safety briefing before takeoff and study the seatback safety card; yes, you have heard it before, but a refresher is always a good idea.
2. Count the number of rows between you and the two nearest exits at the start of the flight; in a real evacuation, if one isn’t working, move on quickly to the next.
3. Assume the brace position for impact—head down, arms crossed—even if flight crews don’t issue instructions; they may not have time, as was the case last weekend.
4. Leave all belongings behind; whatever it is, it’s not worth risking your life or your fellow passengers’ lives for. Carry ID, cash, and credit cards in a neck pouch or fanny pack.
5. If there’s smoke, keep your head low and cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or other article of clothing.

6. Clothes made of natural fabrics—such as cotton, wool, denim. or leather—offer better protection from high heat than synthetics.

7. Wear long sleeves and pants, avoid tight clothing and short skirts.
8. Wear low-heeled shoes. Avoid sandals, which don’t protect against burns, and high heels, which must be removed before evacuating via an emergency slide.

9. Jump feet first into the center of the slide, arms folded and legs together; don’t sit down, which will slow the process.

10. Avoid panty hose; friction on the slide can cause leg burns.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

TWA Flight 800 Investigators Claim the Official Crash Story Is a Lie

A new film claims the official government report on the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996 is an elaborate fabrication, but the most shocking part of the story is that charges are being leveled by some of the very investigators who put the report together. Six experts who appear in the film were members of the National Transportation Safety Board investigation team that concluded the crash was an accident, but they now claim they were silenced by their superiors.
The movies, "TWA Flight 800" will debut on EPIX TV next month, on the 17-year anniversary of the crash.
TWA Flight 800 was en route from JFK Airport in New York to Paris, France, when it exploded and crashed off the coast of Long Island, killing all 230 people on board. From the very beginning, there were some who speculated that the plane was the victim of a terrorist attack, leading the FBI to conduct its own criminal investigation. Among the possibilities that were suggested as the cause were a bomb in the cargo hold, or an anti-aircraft missile. Several witnesses even claimed they saw an object or streak of light that looked liked a missile or rocket moving toward the plane before it exploded.

The final NTSB reported said that faulty wiring connected to a central fuel tank caused a blast that destroyed the fuesalage, however, there were still many skeptics and conspiracy theorists who have long doubted that official story. In one particularly famous example, Pierre Salinger, a former Press Secretary for President John Kennedy and reporter for ABC News, claimed he'd seen proof that the U.S. Navy shot down the plane and then covered it up.

Now, those theories are likely to get a new airing, thanks to accident investigators who worked on the TWA 800 case, but say they were not allowed to speak up at the time of the official report. The experts include NTSB and TWA accident investigators, who say they are only able to speak up now that they are retired. According their statements in the film, they believe the official explanation is wrong and the damage was caused by an explosion that came from outside the plane.

The filmmakers won't speculate on what could have caused such an explosion, and haven't yet offered up evidence to support their theory (you'll have to watch on July 17), but they are asking the NTSB to re-open the investigation. Whether or not that happens, or even if a follow-up reaches the same conclusions as the original, this new film will ensure that the alternate theories and claims up a cover will probably never be put to rest.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

10 Things Flight Attendants Wish They Could Say But Can't
How rude passengers and their strange requests and poor behavior get on their nervesby Kelsy Chauvin, Frommer's, April 3, 2013

There's no doubt that being a flight attendant requires more patience than most jobs. Imagine coping with hundreds of passengers at a time, each one convinced that his or her needs are the most important. Demands can be wacky, unreasonable or outrageous, while the smallest of slights (or perceived slights) can spark fiery tantrums. Amid all the craziness, flight attendants serve as calm mediators with the forbearance of saints. Most of the time, anyway.

Sometimes, even the most professional and courteous flight attendant can barely bite his or her own tongue. We asked two veterans to share the things they'd love to tell passengers … if only they could.
Flight attendants often have to bite their tongue when dealing with rude airline passengers.

1. "Your shoes are so cute, but they would smell better on your feet."Tracy Christoph, a seasoned, Boston-based JetBlue flight attendant and travel blogger, notes that an airplane is no place for olfactory assaults.

2. "We love your child, but would appreciate if he didn't use the flight-attendant call button to compose the next great symphony." Before you take a nap and let Junior play freely, remember that someone like Christoph has to deal with the noise.

3. "You know, you do have the opportunity to select your seat in advance."
Not all airlines allow passengers to choose their seats before flights, but many do. A flight attendant who began her career 25 years ago with Pan Am and wants to remain anonymous (we'll call her Pam) is baffled when tall people stuck in the middle seat beg for an aisle only after they're on the packed airplane.

4. "We know our comfy leather seats and individual TVs make you feel like you're on your couch, but we have some great hotel partners for those more intimate moments with your loved one." Sure, travel is romantic, but there are far better — and more private — places for getting frisky.

5. "Why are you asking me that now?"It might be a request for a drink two minutes before takeoff or for the vegetarian option during meal service, but attendants get frustrated when passengers have bad timing or resist planning ahead.

6. "Let me gate-check that for you." "You can't fit a 10-pound bologna in a 5-pound bag It never fails: Someone's always trying to slip a little more luggage onto the plane.

7. "What was it like being raised by wolves?" Pam says her parents always taught her to make requests with a "please" and respond with a "thank you." But for some reason, too many passengers seem to check their manners at the gate.

8. "Compassion goes a long way." All too often, a childless passenger ends up seated next to a parent with an upset, fidgety baby on a fully booked airplane. When Pam hears, "Can't somebody shut that kid up?" she often wants to hand the child to the complainer and relocate the parent to first class with a tray full of drinks.

9. "So you're mad because someone's asked you to do your job?" Pam admits that sometimes it's her fellow flight attendants who frustrate her, returning in a huff to the galley to complain about having to serve someone yet another Coke.

10. "I'll be right back."
 OK, this one is really spoken out loud. But Pam says this is a flight attendant code phrase for something a little more, let's say, expressive — usually in response to an overly demanding, absurd or downright rude passenger request.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Assessing US Airways' Doug Parker's Legacy

BY Ted Reed| 05/13/13 - 06:45 AM EDT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (TheStreet) -- Will US Airways(LCC_) CEO Doug Parker be remembered as a giant of commercial aviation?

Of course, it's too soon to tell. Over the next few years, as he oversees the merger of US Airways and American(AAMRQ.PK), which would create the world's biggest airline, Parker and his every move will be closely watched and continually assessed.

In an interview, Parker said his legacy should be largely about whether he can preserve jobs for the employees of US Airways and American. Beyond that, however, Parker has already established himself as a catalyst of change in the final round of post-deregulation airline industry consolidation. After he pursued a merger with Delta(DAL_), Delta merged with Northwest. After he pursued a merger with United(UAL_), that carrier merged with a hesitant Continental. Then Parker pursued a merger with American, one that now awaits only regulatory approval.

Imperial Capital analyst Bob McAdoo said Parker's ability to reverse the fortunes of American, which has underperformed its peers for close to a decade, will be the key factor in establishing his legacy. But perhaps improving American's performance will, in the end, equate to preserving jobs for its employees.

At the moment, five leaders stand out as the giants of the post-war airline industry, essentially one at each major airline. Robert Crandall built American, Stephen Wolf built United and Frank Lorenzo built Continental, which later merged with United. Herb Kelleher created and built Southwest(LUV_), and Jerry Grinstein transformed Delta. Commercial aviation is so young, relative to many other industries, that all of its most important leaders are still alive.

Asked whether it is reasonable to compare him to the industry's five giants. Parker responded: "I don't care about comparisons. I really don't. What we're doing, what I learned about a long time ago, is that it's (most important) to think of all these employees who do their jobs so well, but are so beholden to their leadership."

In some cases, "management didn't make sure the airline could stay in business," Parker said. "That's our job, to be sure we're doing everything we can" to ensure that airlines survive. "What I care about is, by the time I'm done, I'd like the people at American and US Airways to know the company will be there for them," he said. "I'm highly confident we'll get there."

Parker said he found a role model in Kelleher, who "really cares about the people who work for him.

"Herb understands people so well -- that's in the airline," Parker said, noting that if Kelleher were talking with an employee and "if the president of the United States walked into the room, Herb wouldn't divert his attention," but rather would remain engaged in the conversation. Kelleher "is in a class by himself," Parker said. "I could never get there."

Like Kelleher, Parker focuses intently on employees. During a presentation at US Airways media day in April, he described an October 2001 trip home to Phoenix from Washington D.C. just after he failed to secure an Air Transportation Stabilization Board grant that would have ensured the continued operation of America West, which later merged with US Airways. "It was a bad day," said Parker, who thought to himself: "I'm 39. I've been CEO for a month. Now I'm going to liquidate. It is not going to look good on the resume."

A depressed Parker went to the rear galley and spoke with a flight attendant, a single mom, who asked how it had gone. "I couldn't lie to her," he said. "I told her: 'They don't want to do it. We're trying to get it done. Hopefully we'll be able to get through bankruptcy.' She just looked at me. She said: 'You can't do this. I've been doing this job for 15 years. This is what I do. I have my child care set up around it. I can't do anything else.'

"I realized this isn't about me," Parker said. "Management's job is to serve the people who do what she is doing." A later run at the ATSB succeeded in securing a $380 million loan guarantee, making American West the first carrier to receive an ATSB loan guarantee.

Airline experts see additional legacy considerations. Consultant Bob Mann called Parker "absolutely the foremost advocate for consolidation" and said he needs continued support from labor, especially given that the American unions provided early, essential backing for a merger that was initially opposed by American management. "Labor threw the other guys over the side of the boat in order to sign up with this guy, and labor will be the key to his legacy," Mann said.

McAdoo said Parker's legacy will be determined primarily by whether he can reverse American's fortunes. "American has been clearly struggling, losing billions over the last 10 or 12 years, even when the other guys were making money," McAdoo said. "If Parker can turn that around and bring American back to what it once was, his legacy will be that he was the guy who took a company that was stumbling and turned it into a nice property."

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Premium-Class Service, Long Before Fliers Board

Turkish Airlines
The Turkish Airlines premium-class lounge at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul has a pool table and masseuse, and is open to members of the airline’s corporate incentive program.

TO celebrate the beginning of service between Dulles International Airport and Abu Dhabi on April 2, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, James Hogan, made the 13-hour flight to Washington to host a party for 450 people with entertainment by Harry Connick Jr.
But do not try to talk to Mr. Hogan about New York. After four years of flying out of Kennedy International Airport, Etihad is still waiting to lease space for a premium airport lounge. 
Emirates Airlines of Dubai, Etihad’s competitor, has a 4,000-square-foot private waiting room overlooking the gate at Terminal 4, and business and first-class travelers can board the plane from there. This month, Delta Air Lines will open a Sky Club in the same terminal; at 24,000 square feet it will be the largest club at the airport and in the Delta system, with seating for 450 people and an additional 2,000 square feet dedicated to an outdoor deck. 
Offering lavish airport services to premium-class passengers is a worldwide phenomenon.
In Istanbul, Turkish Airlines built a lounge that includes a pool table and a masseuse. In Frankfurt, Lufthansa’s first-class passengers are assigned a personal assistant; when it is time to leave the cigar lounge or dining room for the plane, they are taken by private car, without having to board with other passengers. In the home bases of Emirates and Etihad, business-class passengers get deluxe accommodations; first-class passengers, ultradeluxe. 
“We believe that the comfort and convenience of dedicated lounges enables our passengers to enjoy the Emirates experience even before they have boarded the plane,” said Mohammed H. Mattar, divisional senior vice president at Emirates Airport Services. Etihad has a similar philosophy, which is why its executives are so frustrated at their lack of space in New York. 
“I can’t control customs or security; some are good, some are bad, but what I can control is our touch points,” Mr. Hogan said. “So the experience in the lounge is important to us.” 
Mr. Hogan complained in February that the airline was getting the runaround in New York, but by April the airline was predicting a new Etihad lounge would open at Kennedy in 2014 or 2015. “A potential space has been identified,” Niall Doheny, an Etihad spokesman, said by e-mail. JFK International Air Terminal, the company that runs Terminal 4, declined to answer questions about Etihad’s complaint. 
Improving the airport experience has long been a priority for airlines with heavy passenger traffic passing through their home base en route to somewhere else, according to a report on airports by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman. “In the Middle East in particular, the newly developed hubs have based their business models around transfer passengers,” the report says, but it is also true for airlines like Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Turkish and Lufthansa. Song Hoi See, chief executive of the airport services company Plaza Premium Lounge Management Hong Kong, said American airlines came late to the game. 
“The reason why the U.S. is lacking is because traffic used to be concentrated on domestic traveling,” Mr. Song said. “Before 9/11, it was like going on a bus, you get to the airport half an hour before the plane leaves. After 9/11, even domestic traveling meant passengers had to wait longer in the airport.”
Now some airlines in the United States have decided that giving passengers a comfortable place to wait gives them a competitive advantage, especially at older airports, which can be short on amenities like electrical outlets, Wi-Fi, quality food and beverages and a place to sit and work. 
“Increasingly what we’re focused on is having a highly segmented space, such that there are people in there doing work, people gearing up for the day. There are people in there unwinding and doing different things,” said Tim Mapes, senior vice president for marketing at Delta, which has spent $20 million on new or renovated lounges in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Seattle and Los Angeles, as well as in New York at Kennedy and La Guardia Airports. It is a lot of pampering and it is not over yet. Having spent 15 years managing airport lounges that cater to the minority of travelers for whom service is more important than price, Mr. Song says the trend is still evolving. 
“Now you go to the lounge and they provide hot food and shower, wellness services, pedicure, manicure and also business center services, more than printing, but secretary, meeting and videoconferencing,” he said. 
Premium services can even go beyond the airport; airlines, including Lufthansa, offer limousines, and Delta is considering what kind of amenities it can offer in city centers.
“Traditional airline thinking results in traditional customer experiences,” Mr. Mapes said. “We have to be a lifeline and have customers’ backs 24/7.”