3 Links I Love: American Makes a Change, A California Airline Finally Flies, Berlin’s Ghost Airport

Links I Love

This week’s featured link

American Elevates Corporate Customers During Disruptions – FlightGlobal
I was critical of American for rolling out a change to how it reaccommodates passengers recently.  (They won’t put non-elites on non-partner airlines.)  Now, apparently, they’ve realized this policy sucks… but they’re only fixing it for corporate customers who aren’t elites.  There’s something about this change that makes it feel even worse.  

Two for the road

After Years of False Starts, California Pacific Airlines Takes Flight – Los Angeles Times
You have to give it to Ted Vallas, the nearly century-old founder of California Pacific.  He did not give up.  And now, after many false starts, California Pacific is airborne.  As if it wasn’t a long enough road, the airline had to contend with a mechanical issue on its first flight.  Ouch. Now we can start playing another game.  How long will it keep flying?  Carlsbad isn’t a bad place for an airline, but I still don’t have high expectations that this will work out.

What Ever Happened to Berlin’s Deserted ‘Ghost’ Airport? – BBC Capital
Remember the Berlin airport that was supposed to open several years ago?  Yeah, it still hasn’t happened.  I like to post periodic reminders every so often.  It’s fun to highlight the ineptitude.  There are little bits in here I hadn’t heard before.  For example, in 2013, there was a computer glitch that wouldn’t allow them to turn off the lights… for months.  What a mess.

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18 comments on “3 Links I Love: American Makes a Change, A California Airline Finally Flies, Berlin’s Ghost Airport

  1. AA just doesn’t get it. +90% of my miles are “corporate travel” however I work for a small company and we don’t have a corporate contract with anyone. Most of my flights are bought right from the airlines website just like leisure travelers. Granted I’m usually buying that flight less than a week before travel and paying much-much-much more than your leisure traveler, but by their metrics I’m still an unimportant traveler. As someone who once upon a time put decent mileage on AA metal so far this year it has been ZERO. Don’t figure that’ll change in 2019. At least I’ll have lots of magazines from my remaining AA miles.

  2. The Berlin airport delay story has never made any sense. You might believe this could happen in some third world country, but in Germany? I guess I could believe that construction mistakes could delay the opening by a year or two (I remember the problems at DEN, which lasted 16 months), but 8 years? And maybe more? It doesn’t make any sense.

    1. From what I heard the first and biggest problem was the smoke removal system was built to remove smoke through the floor…because the architect didn’t want the big ventilation ducts obscuring his vision…that’s all well and good, but smoke rises…which is why it’s always in the ceiling.

      It would appear that no one on the team to approve the plans passed the 5th grade. But after that was built and of course failed the safety standards is when it should have been bulldozed and started over.

      1. That doesn’t make any sense. There are plenty of airports that feature beautiful ceilings that don’t have ventilation ducts visible: Madrid Barajas for one, or Hong Kong. Even the new Mexico City airport was designed to be this beautiful flowing structure with ducts not running around the top.

        So how did they do it, but the architects at Berlin couldn’t figure it out? Seems like there’s more to the story than just the architects didn’t understand smoke

        1. That is what I remember from years ago. And quite frankly, none of this has made sense. At this point I’d bet on Mogadishu getting a new airport before Berlin!

  3. Cranky’s bias has been made abundantly clear over the years. He’s not a fan of startups and is a champion of consolidation. This makes it pretty clear where he stands and whose ‘side’ he’s really on. Lucky for him he isn’t stuck in 1979 when new airlines were starting almost every week. He would’ve gone out of his mind bananas.

    1. Having known Cranky for about 20 years, I can tell you that you could not be more wrong. Cranky loves startups. But he’s not going to allow himself to get carried away. The reality is that most startups fail, and generally for the reason that most people haven’t got a clue about how to run airlines.

  4. Brett,

    By “fixing it for corporate customers who aren’t elites,” does that include the small businesses that agencies like Cranky Concierge manage travel for, or only the bigger companies who are able to more directly negotiate with the airlines?

    Just curious as to what effect the initial policy (and now the new change) are having on your customers, and from your point of view.


    1. Kilroy – It’s just corporate accounts with American. That being said, there are a million ways that you can get an exception, so if we have a non-elite client, we can certainly push on this and try to get it done.

  5. Mocking a few other aviation stories from this week…

    * Ryanair announces the introduction of a “Plane Impoundment Insurance Fee”, in which passengers can pay EUR 50 to ensure that the plane they are scheduled to fly on will not be impounded. Flights in which not enough passengers pay this fee may be diverted “for safety reasons” to airports or jurisdictions where Ryanair has chosen to ignore debt collection letters and legal threats.

    * Boston Logan hires Tom Brady and Boston Red Sox bullpen to guard against drones and to pummel offending drone pilots.

    1. Brady would do fine nailing drones, but I’d put in the Boston starters over the bullpen. The Sox bullpen looked pretty shaky in the post season compared to the starters coming to relieve between their starts.

      (I’m a Boston native that’s lived in LA for 36 years.)

  6. Dear L.A. Times:
    Your CalPac story mentions the airline has four 50-seat jets (ER4s?) in the fleet. But earlier it is stated that the inaugural flight was an ERJ-135 (ER3)–a 37 seater. Huh? Maybe you could have thrown in the word “tarmac” a few times, too!

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