The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Killing time at O'Hare

By this time next Sunday, I'll have gone through O'Hare five times in eight days. I actually don't mind—yet—possibly because this is only my second visit of the week. The flight to DC isn't horribly delayed, and I've got a good perch to watch the planes:

Gotta run. Time to wait on the plane instead of in the club...

As predictable as the weather

Original plan: Fly to Chicago tomorrow, then change at O'Hare for D.C. New plan: Fly to Chicago tomorrow, twiddle my thumbs at home, and fly to D.C. Sunday morning. Why? Because no one is flying to D.C. tomorrow:

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the entire [Washington] area, starting midnight Friday and lasting through 6 a.m. Sunday.

ABC 7 Meteorologist Chris Naille says the most of the region can expect 10 to 15 inches of snow, with up to 20 inches in spots along and east of I-95.

Parts of western and central Virginia could get up to 18 inches.

What fun. Fortunately, American Airlines has already gone into emergency mode, so when I called to see what my options were, they said "any plane Sunday."

So, I'll see everyone on Sunday.

The world's favourite airline? Um...

A high court in the U.K. has ordered British Airways cabin crews not to strike over Christmas:

The dispute at BA centres on its desire to cut costs by reducing cabin staff on most flights and limiting wage increases. The airline’s pilots and engineers have already accepted austerity measures; cabin staff, notified of the proposed changes in July, are less inclined to compromise (though some have taken voluntary redundancy). On December 14th Unite, the union which represents almost all of the company’s 13,500 cabin staff, said they had voted overwhelmingly to strike.

The next day BA applied to London’s High Court for an injunction to stop them. The airline argued that Unite had not polled its members correctly: some votes were recorded from people no longer employed by BA, and the call for industrial action did not specify the intention to strike for 12 consecutive days precisely at Christmas. Had members known those details, fewer might have supported a strike, BA argued. The judge agreed, and ruled against the strike.

... Willie Walsh, the airline’s punchy Irish chief executive, was appointed in 2005 to knock such practices into competitive shape. He is unlikely to yield much ground to union militancy. It seems that BA’s core shareholders support him: the share price hardly moved when the strike was announced. Many reckoned that the benefits of BA’s restructuring outweighed the likely damage from the threatened strike. Estimates of potential net revenue loss over the 12 days ranged from £60m to £160m, whereas the benefits of restructuring were put by some analysts at £60m a year.

That court order can't have helped the union. Generally I'm sympathetic to organized labor, being a leftie with some knowledge of labor history, but the union here scored an own goal, as they say in Britain. I'll be on a BA flight in late January, and I can't wait to find out first hand what the cabin crews really think.

Too bad they closed the loophole

Want frequent-flyer miles? Try this:

At least several hundred mile-junkies discovered that a free shipping offer on presidential and Native American $1 coins, sold at face value by the U.S. Mint, amounted to printing free frequent-flier miles. Mileage lovers ordered more than $1 million in coins until the Mint started identifying them and cutting them off.

Coin buyers charged the purchases, sold in boxes of 250 coins, to a credit card that offers frequent-flier mile awards, then took the shipments straight to the bank. They then used the coins they deposited to pay their credit-card bills. Their only cost: the car trip to make the deposit.

Add that to the list titled "Now why didn't I think of that?"

The rumors were true

It looks like I might fly this afternoon:

I've had to postpone my annual flight review four times because of weather. Finally, today, the forecast calls for what you see above: clear skies, light winds, cold temperatures. (It's 0°C this morning.)

Airspace changes over the Hudson

Pilot and author James Fallows is thankful for the reasonable and minimal changes to New York City airspace the FAA announced last week:

When regulators and security officials address a problem through minimal rather than excessive rule-setting and interference or panicky over-reaction, that is worth our thankfulness too. Building toward a crescendo of things to be thankful for at this time of year.

By the way, it's a very fun trip for private pilots:

(From a flight I took in March 2000.)

Germany tells Emirates to raise prices

From the Economist's Gulliver blog:

The Germans said in a letter to the Dubai-based carrier that under European law it was not allowed “to engage in price leadership” on routes from Germany to non-EU locations. Emirates, which condemned the decision as “commercially nonsensical”, responded by raising prices by 20% on some routes.

Andrew Parker of Emirates told the Financial Times, "We are adamant this is selective and clearly an attempt by Lufthansa [Germany's national carrier] to pursue Emirates versus a legitimate policy."

Yes, but on the other hand, it would not surprise me to learn that Emirates had priced the seats as a loss-leader to undercut its competitors, including Lufthansa. Regardless, this seems a good example of the African proverb, "When elephants wrestle, the grass suffers."

At this writing, a 7-day advance, Saturday-to-Thursday (discount) business class ticket from Frankfurt to Dubai was €2,245 on Emirates and €2,954 on Lufthansa. I can see why Lufthansa (and the German goverment) might suspect anti-competitive behavior...but still, raising prices for everyone doesn't seem sporting.

Not as scary as today would have been

Reader EB has passed along Travel & Leisure's "World's Scariest Runways," including one of my favorites, Princess Juliana Airport in Sint Maarten:

Why It’s Harrowing: The length of the runway—just 2,180 m—is perfectly fine for small or medium-size jets, but as the second-busiest airport in the Eastern Caribbean, it regularly welcomes so-called heavies—long-haul wide-body jetliners like Boeing 747s and Airbus A340s—from Europe, which fly in improbably low over Maho Beach and skim just over the perimeter fence.

Today I had scheduled my annual flight review (required by my flight club—the FAA requires a review only every other year), but with 28 km/h direct crosswinds gusting to 48 km/h, I used the time-honored safety procedure called "staying on the ground."