Cranky on the Web – Finding Cheap European Flights, US Airport Complaints, United Snacks

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Travel to Europe for LessKiplinger’s Personal Finance
This article looked at the various low cost costs to get to and fly within Europe. I spoke with the author at length, but the particular part we discussed here was how to find which low cost airlines fly to the places you want to go. I know it’s strange, but I’ve always found Wikipedia to have the most accurate representation of which airlines fly to an airport. (The routes may not be as accurate, but the airlines usually are.) Once you know the airlines, then you can go direct to see what schedules are.

Why do so many people hate US airports?BBC News
This article was from a couple weeks ago. I had a wide-ranging discussion with the reporter, but she chose a tiny snippet of a clip on how older US airports lacked space.

United again offering free snacksHouston Chronicle
The Chronicle has a new airline reporter, and she reached out to talk about United’s decision to give free snacks in coach. I was happy to share my thoughts.

13 comments on “Cranky on the Web – Finding Cheap European Flights, US Airport Complaints, United Snacks

  1. I always feel that while many criticisms of airports are justified, the comparison to the airports of city-states is just silly. Unlike Singapore, America has dozens of major airports alone, let alone if you include every airport with commercial service. Being able to centralize your focus, and also having a functional party dictatorship, is very smooth for getting things done, regardless if people like it or not. Our systems is far messier and requires numerous approvals and checks and balances.

  2. United offering free snacks? This is going to “fix” their terrible customer service and performance?

    How about communications with the passenger and operating flights on time. I used to joke that United made Aeroflot look good, now I see that Aeroflot has a higher rating than United. Keep your cookies and just act like a business.

  3. I liked the airport story and the guy that said Miami smells like mold everywhere. That smell was like that years ago when Eastern had a hub there. That was the first thing you noticed when you stepped off the airline, that damp moldy smell.

    The problem in the USA is it takes years to do anything and big cities have no place to build a new airport or add on to an old one. China will just tear down a whole city and move everyone out to build a new airport, but here that just won’t happen.

      1. Yeah thats always the funny part about people praising the edifices of countries with no sense of transparency or any say in how things are run; its nice to visit, but less nice if you are the one being forced off your property or otherwise shafted.

  4. I agree that wikipedia does a good job keeping track of airlines at airports. I actually think they do a remarkable job of keeping track of the routes, too.

    When I’m looking for fares on a particular int’l route — say, within Europe — I go to skyscanner.com first. Their search engine finds the flights and fares from discount airlines and other fares not available from the usual USA online sites.

    1. I post frequently on another air travel forum, and Wikipedia is the first place I go to when someone asks for flights from X to Y. It’s also very up to date. I happened upon the London Gatwick page the day after British Airways announced the restart of LGW-JFK, verified it and posted it, as that forum had been yearning for mainline US service from LGW (MCO/TPA/LAS leisure service doesn’t count).

  5. Cranky I saw that BBC article a couple of weeks ago and wondered if the reporter had actually spoken with you or had screen scraped from this site! Glad to see they did the right thing, though frankly I thought the overall article to be “Phillipa Space” stuff.

  6. The main thing airports need are designated places for sitting/waiting, and nothing more. Denver, fortunately my home airport, has this with spacious mezzanines and quiet corners not far from the busy gates. As does MSP, even offering rooms with signs noting no cell phone use. At ORD, MDW, LGA, and many other old “concourse finger” style airports the only place to sit, (aside from restaurants requiring foodservice or airline lounges), are at gates, which constantly fill up with place when places arrive and depart. Or strewn across the floor.

    Also, CF, unrelated: Was driving away from LAX Saturday and saw a DC-2 or DC-3 style plane landing on the north runway, about 9:45-10am. Pulled up Flighttracker or Flightaware and couldn’t find a way to search history. Any ideas? Private plane? Too far away to see any markings, but could certainly make out the distinct classic beautiful style. Cheers.

    1. James – I have no idea what kind of DC-3 would be flying into LAX. I suppose it could have been Catalina Flying Boats which is based at Long Beach and flies back and forth to Catalina Island. But I really don’t know.

  7. Read the BBC article, and as expected saw the mandatory (and well founded, IMHO) Joe Biden quote on LGA.

    Shame on NYC for letting the taxi lobby prevent direct subway/rail service to the airports, as Chicago, San Francisco, and even Atlanta do.

    Disagree with ATL being a bad airport, and with CVG being one of the better ones in the US. There is a reason that many business people in metro Cincy choose DAY over CVG, and it isn’t just fares and traffic, though I will say that CVG has the most efficient economy parking system I have ever experienced- seriously, it is best of class, the agent at the entrance tells you where to park and radios to the shuttle driver, such that by the time your bags are out of the trunk the shuttle driver is waiting on you, with a ticket in hand telling you where you parked.

    Atlanta isn’t bad at all for an airport of its size, always seems to have empty gates to sit in, and the automated trains work well. DTW is also very nice. MSP should rent running shoes, took me 40 minutes once and at least 4 or 5 escalators to get from gate to rental car.

    For comfort, security speed, and time from tire smoke on the runway to curb (I once clocked it at 12 minutes, which is amazing given the airport’s design), TPA is tough to beat. An at-gate nano brewery by Cigar City doesn’t hurt either.

  8. United has its most profitable year ever. Passengers get a free cookie or bag of pretzels.

    Trickle-down economics.

  9. My three favorite airports in the US are DTW, IND and CLT. It is not a coincidence that aall three have been renovated extensively (or in IND’s case is new).

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