Southwest Pilot Holds Flight For Murder Victim’s Family

Most days we are bombarded with sad news so it is refreshing to read a story about a good person. The good person happens to be a pilot at Southwest Airlines who held up a flight to get a murdered victims family on board. The circumstances were that a 3-year-old boy was body slammed by the live in boyfriend of the daughter. Life support was going to be pulled and the child’s grandfather was trying to get to Denver in a hurry.

Even though he arrived at the airport two hours early, between baggage check in and going through security, the grand dad was still running late.

The article stated that:

According to him, everyone he talked to couldn’t have cared less. When he was done with security, he grabbed his computer bag, shoes and belt and ran to his terminal in his stocking feet.

Little did grandpa know that the pilot of the Southwest plane he was trying to get on board was being held up by the pilot. When the man reached the gate the pilot was waiting and the man thanked him profusely. The pilot stated that the plane wasn’t going anywhere without him and that the pilot wasn’t leaving without the grand dad.

Comments welcome.

Source – Elliott

Orbitz & Expedia Drop American Airlines – Will It Have Any Effect On Your Travel Plans?

I have used Orbitz in the past for my traveling needs, including booking flights through them on American Airlines. My experience on American Airlines has been anything but pleasurable. They are arrogant and their flight attendants border on being rude. Now it appears that both Orbitz and Expedia have a conflict with American Airlines and both travel agencies have dropped the airline from their web sites.

What seems like the motive for American Airlines is that they seek to drive consumers to their own web site and not through a ticket vendor which they need to pay a fee. The airline seems to think that this is not going to have any affect on their business and that consumers will check flight fares using a direct link to the airlines web site. Interesting concept if it works. But I personally have no brand loyalty to any airline and book my flights on cost and convenience.

In one recent article it stated that:

American doesn’t expect a “significant” drop in sales from Expedia’s move, said Ryan Mikolasik, a spokesman for American Airlines. On Dec. 23, Expedia omitted American fares from prime search displays on its site, though customers could still buy tickets. This drove consumers to other ticket sites, Mikolasik said today.

American spokesman Mikolasik said that while consumers can’t buy American tickets on Expedia anymore, the airline’s fares and schedules remain on Egencia, Expedia’s corporate travel website.

I use companies such as Orbitz, Expedia and others to find the lowest fares and if American Airlines is not listed I will look no further.

But what about you? Will you go directly to any airlines site for your flight needs?

Comments welcome.

Source – Bloomberg

Flight Attendants Speak Out About The Things They Hate About Passengers

I just read an interesting article in which flight attendants speak out about some of the things they hate about passengers. I found some of the complaints were humorous and thought I would share them with you. But before I share my favorites from a list of 13 complaints, there is one story I read somewhere that I always enjoy. When a flight attendant demonstrates how to buckle and unbuckle a seat belt, I always chuckle under my breath. If you don’t know how a seat belt works, maybe you shouldn’t be traveling alone. LOL

Here are a few of the complaints I enjoyed:

“An all-too-common scenario: I hand you a cup of coffee and say, ‘Cream and sugar?’ You say, ‘What?’ I say, ‘Cream and sugar?’ You say, ‘What?’ Come on, people. What do you think we’re going to ask after we’ve handed you coffee? Your favorite color?”

“The lavatory door is not rocket science. Just push.”

“If you have a baby, bring diapers. If you’re diabetic, bring syringes. If you have high blood pressure, don’t forget your medication. That way, I’m not trying to make a diaper out of a sanitary pad and a pillowcase or asking over the intercom if someone has a spare inhaler.”

“Just in case you hadn’t noticed, there are other people on the airplane besides you. So don’t clip your toenails, snore with wild abandon, or do any type of personal business under a blanket!”

“Passengers are always coming up to me and tattling on each other. ‘Can you tell him to put his seat up?’ ‘She won’t share the armrest.’ What am I, a preschool teacher?”

“Do you really have to go to the bathroom right now, while we’re wrestling a 250-pound food cart down the aisle? You can’t wait 90 seconds for us to pass?”

Is it that difficult to say hello and goodbye? We say it 300 times on every flight, and only about 40 people respond.

If you hear us paging for a doctor or see us running around with oxygen, defibrillators and first aid kits, that’s not the right time to ask for a blanket or a Diet Coke.

Don’t ask us if it’s okay to use the lavatories on the ground. The answer is always yes. Do you think what goes into the toilet just dumps out onto the tarmac?

Have you ever been the victim of rude behavior by another passenger? Have you every been on a flight where any of the above complaints have occurred? Have you been the victim of rude behavior by a flight attendant?

Share your stories with us.

Comments welcome.

Source – Readers Digest

Scientific Research Study Analyzes When To Buy Airline And Theater Tickets

There should be an image here!Do you fancy watching a musical in London? Then, according to a research study at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) if you want to save money you should buy your airlines long in advance, but postpone the purchase of your theater ticket until the last minute.

Why do airline tickets become more expensive as the travel date approaches whereas theater tickets are sold at half price in Leicester Square on the day of the performance? In their recent article published in the Economic Journal, (Advance Purchase Discounts versus Clearance Sales), Professors Marc Möller and Makoto Watanabe from the UC3M Department of Economics have considered the pricing of products that can be purchased in advance, i.e., long before their actual date of consumption. Further examples include seasonal products like the newest skiing equipment or entry slots for marathons.

According to the study, there are two determining factors for optimal planning for prices. On the one hand, when purchasing early, consumers face uncertainty with respect to their own future demands. “When we reserve our flight to London weeks ahead we have to take into account the possibility that unforeseen circumstances could keep us from traveling to London”, the study’s authors explained. “In order to make consumers take their chances, airlines have to offer advance purchase discounts. As a consequence ticket prices increase as the travel date approaches,” they added.

On the other hand, when purchasing late, consumers face the risk of becoming rationed. When we purchase our theater ticket last minute, there exists the possibility that the event has sold out. In order to make consumers bear this risk, theaters implement a clearance sale by offering last minute discounts. As a consequence ticket prices decrease on the day of the performance

The optimal dynamic pricing strategy depends on the interplay between individual demand uncertainty and rationing risks. In turn, rationing risks depend on a comparison of demand and supply and hence on the seller’s capacity. Differences in dynamic pricing can therefore be explained by differences in capacities. Marc Möller and Makoto Watanabe show that advance purchase discounts will be employed by sellers whose capacity is relatively small in comparison to demand whereas Clearance Sales are optimal when capacities are large. Hence differences in the pricing of airline and theater tickets can be explained by the fact that air travel to London is a relatively tight market while the long running musicals of London’s West End are very unlikely to become sold out.

The article shows further that clearance sales are more likely and advance purchase discounts are less likely to be observed in markets where prices can be committed to in advance, temporal capacity limits are difficult to implement, and resale is feasible. These results provide further reason for the observed differences in pricing.

In addition, in his ongoing research Makoto Watanabe has found evidence which shows that air fares are lowest around eight weeks before the travel date. Moreover, it seems as if tickets are cheaper when purchased in the afternoons, rather than the mornings. Do airlines price discriminate between business travelers who book their tickets at work and leisure travelers who book from home? This claim still has to be confirmed in future research.

[Photo above by mynameisharsha / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Ana Herrera @ Carlos III University of Madrid

[awsbullet:savvy travel]

Thinking Of Flying This Holiday Season? You Better Book Early

With you have plans to make it home for the holidays this year, you better heed the warnings and book your flights early. Most airlines have cut back on the number of available flights since 2008, and there is about 12 to 15% less capacity. Also fares have increased about 20 to 30% so expect to pay more. But what is going to make this an especially busy holiday season is the fact that many fliers did not go home for the holidays last year. Pressure is sure to mount as grandma insists you come home this year or face banishment from the clan. LOL

On a serious note, this is what is being said about flying this holiday season:

This year the holiday travel window is narrower than usual since the holidays fall on weekends. Consumers normally have a 16 to 19 day window for travel, but with both Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Saturdays this year, the peak travel period shortens to 14 days, experts say.

The time to book (or at the very least, shop around) is now. Prices may go down if you wait until closer to your departure date, but Seaney and Parsons predict the opposite: Planes will fill up fast.

“The first mistake travelers make while poking around online is searching for more than one seat, even if you have multiple people traveling together,” Parsons said.

Don’t forget to factor in peak travel surcharges. Most of the major carriers add $10 to $30 on top of published fares during the busiest travel periods.

Days around Thanksgiving with added charges include November 19-24 and 26-29, with the highest surcharges on November 28 and 29. Around Christmas and New Year’s, December 17 to 24 and December 26 through January 3 will be subject to peak travel surcharges, with $30 charges on December 23, 26 and 27 and January 2 and 3, according to Farecompare.

Be flexible on dates for the best fares. According to, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The cheapest time to fly is typically the first flight out in the morning.

I am glad we are staying home this holiday season. It seems that trying to get home for the holidays may be more expensive and challenging than in previous years. But let’s face it. Flying during the holidays has always been anything than satisfying, unless you like large crowds, canceled flights and bad weather.  You also get to sit with people around you sneezing, coughing and sharing their germs.

What are your plans? Will you be flying home this holiday season?

Comments welcome.

Source – CNN Travel

Spirit Airlines Charging $45 To Put A Carry-On Bag In Overhead Bin!

If you want cheap fares, Spirit airlines is one of the no frills companies that will fly you on the cheap. But the airline has a CEO who thinks that, by offering cheap fares, it can make a killing charging outrageous fees for other items such as carry-on baggage. Spirit is also one of the only airlines that has advertisements plastered all over the inside of the plane as well. But the $45 fee to place a carry-0n bag in an overhead bin takes the fees to an all-time low.

According to one recent article it also states that:

And don’t think this is the last fee you’ll see. Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza — who actually calls the fees “a consumer benefit” — hinted to ABC News that more surcharges will soon be on their way.

“It lets consumers decide what is important to them rather than the airline presuming what’s important to them,” Baldanza said. “Imagine if you went to McDonald’s and the only things you could buy were the value meals.”

Spirit’s philosophy is to make base fares cheap as possible, and then to charge passengers for almost every conceivable extra. Want an assigned seat? That will cost you $8 to $20. (Spirit even charges to reserve a middle seat.) Thirsty? Coffee costs $2; a Coke, Sprite or water — yes water — is $3.

Other complaints from passengers include a lack of leg room between seats. This is another measure to cut costs and give the passengers a sardine-in-a-can feeling. LOL

Comments welcome.

Source – ABC News

Air Miles Rewards Getting Tougher To Spend With Fewer Flights

When I read an article over at the Houston Chronicle website about rewards miles received for airline flights, and how there were fewer flights available, it struck a cord since I just ran into a similar problem. I have had a business United rewards card for about 6 years for which I pay $150 a year fee for my card and one for my wife. We use the credit card for all of our purchases even for buying groceries and other household needs. We can usually rack up about 25k miles a year, which is usually good for one flight in the U.S. In the past we have had a good experience with our Miles Plus card and have even used for free flights to Hawaii and to New England to visit our kids.

So we had racked up enough miles for us to take a trip in September and were going to fly to Seattle, where the kids have just recently moved to. So I went out to the United Miles Plus site to book our flights. Going to Seattle was easy, but coming back was a nightmare.  The only flight available from Seattle was through Spokane with a 5 hour layover. From Spokane we flew to Atlanta for another 4 hour layover. By the time we would of arrived home we would of spent about 16 hours in the air or airports to go about 1800 miles!

BUT, if I wanted to use more miles, I could fly direct to Atlanta and than home in under 6 hours. I paid the blood money for a shorter flight but made a decision that next May, I would be canceling the card and damn my credit score.

Here are some other stories:

That’s made it “impossible” for him to cash in his United Airlines-accrued miles for an award seat, said Tracy, who flew to Houston recently on United’s Star Alliance partner Continental Airlines.

In the wake of the global recession, airlines cut the number of planes they fly, and flights are now nearly full. Those fuller flights mean airlines can earn revenue for seats instead of giving them away, experts said.

At the same time, it’s become increasingly easy to earn miles as airlines have teamed up with credit card companies and other partners to reward consumers for purchases.

“There are too many people earning more miles chasing fewer seats,” said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog, a low-fare alert site.

He recently tried to book a flight using his miles to Europe, and no seats were available.

“I’ve sort of given up,” Hobica said.

Seats that once only cost 25,000 frequent-flier miles round trip never seem to be available and consumers have to spend twice as much for the same award ticket, he said.

Houston oil company worker Gary Rath found that out when he recently tried to book an award ticket to Savannah, Ga., and discovered that far more miles were needed than he was willing to spend.

“It was actually cheaper to pay than to use the points,” said Rath, who was en route to Denver out of Bush Intercontinental Airport recently.

Continental spokeswoman Julie King said if passengers are flexible on travel dates and destinations, they can find award seats.

Some of the airlines now charge a booking fee for last minute bookings for those who use reward miles. I think the days of air miles rewards is going to come to and end. It doesn’t seem that the consumer nor the airlines benefit from the program any longer. I do agree that it is now cheaper to book a flight than to try and use your miles.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Houston Chronicle

Is In-Flight Wi-Fi Safe?

Q: Is airline Wi-Fi any good and is it safe? — Wade

A: In-flight Wi-Fi brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘cloud computing!’ In past years, the offerings were expensive, restrictive, and inconsistent.

That’s all changed with today’s options and it’s what every business traveler that gets stuck on three or four hour flights has been praying for!

My personal experience with in-flight Wi-Fi was on a cross-country Delta flight and it proved to be a very productive use of $12.95. I was able to complete work that would normally have been delayed until after getting off the plane late at night.

The primary task was to get our newsletter completed and delivered, which is very Web-intensive as it’s done completely through a Web-based service (Exact Target), so a reliable Internet connection was critical.

I was pleasantly surprised at the speed and reliability of the connection (or maybe I managed my expectations really well!) and more important, was grateful that I didn’t have to stay up late after a long flight to complete my work.

The actual service that I used was from Gogo, which currently works with Air Canada, AirTran, American Airlines, Delta, United, Virgin America, and is scheduled to launch service on Continental and US Airways this year.

Not all flights on all carriers are offering Wi-Fi at the moment (you can check which airlines are offering it on which aircraft at Gogo’s Web site). In most cases, it is being offered only on longer flights (3+ hours), but that is bound to change.

Gogo’s service is based on a special high-speed cellular frequency that communicates via towers on the ground in the continental US.

Another provider, Row 44, is a satellite based service which will allow it to provide service on transcontinental and domestic flights. It is working with Alaska Airlines and Southwest, among other international carriers.

As of this writing, the providers and airlines are not blocking access to any specific content or Web sites and are relying on passengers to behave themselves (this could change)!

One exception is voice traffic. If you plan on using a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service such as Skype to make voice calls in-flight, don’t waste your money. The airlines decided that their passengers didn’t want to get stuck next to loud, obnoxious ‘deal makers’ flapping their gums about their latest conquests during these long flights (good for them).

Interestingly, you apparently are allowed to connect via Skype for video only (the audio gets scrambled), but what good is that unless you know sign language?

Also, the Internet service can only be used at 10,000 feet or higher, so it’s not like you can use it during the whole flight or if you get stuck on the tarmac for hours waiting to take off.

Any device that is Wi-Fi enables and has a browser can make use of the connection: laptops, Netbooks, smart phones, and even the iPod touch and some handheld gaming systems. You must have a browser in order to get past the ‘I Agree’ terms of use gateway page.

As far as safety goes, this shouldn’t be approached any different than any other public Wi-Fi connection. If you aren’t careful, you could expose your computer to others on the flight, just like in the airport or at a hotel (my column on public Wi-Fi safety is posted here.)

Be very mindful that those in the row behind you (or lots of folks if you are seated in the aisle seat), can easily see through the gaps in the seats to your screen. This means you should avoid typing in any sensitive information or browsing Web sites that will display sensitive information.

If your company requires you to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to connect to the company network, you may have problems getting it all to work depending upon how restrictive your IT department has set the VPN to be (check with it before your flight for the best results).

Ken Colburn
Data Doctors Computer Services
Data Doctors Data Recovery Labs
Data Doctors Franchise Systems, Inc.
Weekly video tech contributor to
Host of the award-winning “Computer Corner” radio show

Allegiant Air Kicks Off A Crying 2 Year Old, Cranky 4 Year Old and Mom – No Refunds, Sorry!

Allegiant Air offers low cost flights from various airports around the country and they are explicit on certain discounted offers, that there are no refunds. But when one thinks of a no refund policy, I personally believe that it would apply when someone fails to make it to their scheduled flight. Over at the Consumerist they have an article which described an incident that happened on one Allegiant Air flight.

The article states the following:

An Arizona mom says she was flying to Billings, Montana for her birthday — but never got off the ground because the airline kicked her — and her unruly kids off the flight. They were told they could take another flight — if they paid for it. The airline says it’s their policy not to offer refunds.

Apparently, while still boarding their Allegiant Air flight, the woman’s 2-year-old started to cry. While she was trying to calm the toddler down, her 4 year old got “restless” and wouldn’t stay in his seat.

The airline removed the family from the plane and told them they could take another flight but neglected to mention at the time that this flight would cost $900 more. The airline says they will FedEx her luggage back from Montana (it was apparently behaving itself in the cargo hold,) and offered her a credit towards a future flight. She wants a refund.

I can understand the position of the airline when it comes to removing the children and mom from the flight. Not knowing all of the facts, I would imagine this was done to protect the other passengers on-board from being disturbed by the kids. What I can not understand is the fact that Allegiant Air would not provide the mom and kids to take another flight at the same price and now refuses to provide a refund.

In my opinion Allegiant Air is being unreasonable. What is your opinion?

Consumerist site with the story.

Stray Airline Pilots Admit Playing On Their Laptops And Losing Track Of Time

While 144 passengers sat quietly in their seats,  two pilots for Northwest Airlines were distracted using their laptop computers. It seems that the pilots not only ignored repeated radio requests from air traffic controllers but also messages sent by the airline company. Both pilots appear to have ample flight hours and are considered veteran pilots. What is disturbing about this incident is that we the public have no idea how many other pilots are playing on their laptops during flights.

In a recent CNN article it states:

The pilots said there was “a concentrated period of discussion where they did not monitor the airplane or calls” from air traffic control, though both said they heard conversation on the radio, the report said.

Neither pilot said he noticed messages sent by company dispatchers, it added. It said the men were talking about the new monthly crew flight scheduling system put into place in the wake of Northwest’s merger with Delta Air Lines.

“Each pilot accessed and used his personal laptop computer while they discussed the airline crew flight scheduling procedure,” the report said.

“The first officer, who was more familiar with the procedure, was providing instruction to the captain.”Neither pilot said he was aware of where the plane was until a flight attendant called the cockpit about five minutes before the plane was to have landed and asked their estimated time of arrival, the report said.

“The captain said, at that point, he looked at his primary flight display for an ETA and realized that they had passed” the airport, it added. After 78 minutes of radio silence, the pilots re-established radio contact with air traffic controllers, it said.

This is just one more incident in which technology has distracted people from their duties and could have potentially caused a serious situation. Isn’t it about time that cell phone calling and texting, plus laptop use, or any other distracting device be prohibited from use while operating any type of transportation?

Or as we as a society just going to sit back and watch more people become injured and die because of stupidity on the part of some people?

Comments welcome.

CNN source

JetBlue & United Use Twitter To Sell Airline Seats

Tweeting could get you a cheap seat on one of JetBlue or United flights and may fill up those seats that otherwise would go empty. Both airlines are trying what they call ‘cheeps’ to fill those empty seats at bargain pricing. The first ‘cheep’ seat was advertised by JetBlue on July 6th when they offered a flight from JFK to Nantucket for a only $9 one way.

According to an article over at USA Today it also states that:

In addition to filling empty seats, the sales can introduce new customers to the airline, he says. “Those first-time customers trying Cheeps … we know they’re going to come back.”

United’s Twitter-only fares, also known as “twares,” started in May. The airline’s sales tweets can come at any time for a flight leaving on any day, and fliers have had to pounce quickly because the offers are usually available for only one to two hours.

“Twares are all about surprising our customers with low fares for a very, very limited time,” says Robin Urbanski, a United spokeswoman. And, she says, they “sell extremely fast because the prices are unbeatable.”

Many airlines continue to offer e-fares, notifying fliers about last-minute sales via e-mail. But travelers usually have a few days rather than a few hours to book their tickets.

With Twitter fares, Johnston says, “You really have to act fast. Because people watch Twitter in a real-time manner, the ability for someone to … come in and immediately act on it is a unique phenomenon to the culture of Twitter.”

Twitter is new enough that businesses likely are still trying to grasp who uses it and how that audience can benefit their enterprise, says George Hobica, founder of

“They’re experimenting with it to see what the value is,” he says. “Is it better to send an e-mail with a $9 fare or better to Twitter it?” Still, he says, “I think absolutely airlines and all travel companies need to get in the game and see how it plays out.”

This could turn out to be a win-win situation for both the airlines and consumers. What do you think? Would you be willing to grab a flight on Twitter?

Comments welcome.


Holiday Travel

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="350" height="288" wmode="transparent" /]

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Along with the holidays comes travel to visit friends and family. Here are some great tips sent in by a community member to make your traveling a bit easier.

  • Always plan ahead of time. This will always come in handy, especially during holidays. This is a very famous tip. It will save you money and you will get flights or rooms ahead of time while late people (people who plan at the same minute as the trip) will have to look and look for a flight or room.
  • Buy online airplane tickets. You should shop online because you don’t have to physically go over to the place where they sell the ticket — you’ll even save gas money!
  • Car or bus travel. If you can’t find or afford airplane tickets, take the bus or drive your car. Depending on the price of gas and the distance traveled, driving might be cheaper than a plane ticket. Maybe.
  • Don’t waste money before the trip. You should always save money for things you need to eat on the way and things you want to buy to remember the trip. The only things you need to buy before the trip are food and drinks if you are on a car or bus.
  • Get a travel agent. Usually they can find great deals and save you money.

Portland To Frankfurt In Nine Quick Hours

The Lufthansa flight from Portland to Frankfurt took nine hours. It was a long journey, but time passed quickly with a self-controllable LCD in front of each of us. I wound up watching a few movies that I hadn’t seen before — and that zapped about six of the nine hours right there.

I guess I didn’t need to bring so many personal entertainment options with me after all? If only this kind of amenity was a given instead of a guess.

Too bad the “Internet” button on the remote control didn’t actually bring up anything live. Instead, I was directed to browse a locally-cached set of pages for the airline’s Web site. The seat also had a functional Ethernet port… but that didn’t seem to lead anywhere useful.

In the middle of my second movie, everybody’s LCDs rebooted themselves. This happened to me on another flight with another airline. This time, I witnessed Windows CE assigning an IP address to my location, and then making some kind of connection to another server (not sure where to, why, or how).

Our noise canceling headphones were useless for the in-flight systems, too. For some reason or another, the headsets provided were built with some kind of tri-prong adapter. I was a little baffled, but not put off. I’d rather have something instead of nothing.

Didn’t feel like nine hours — and that’s a good thing.

[tags]lufthansa, travel, airline[/tags]

Web Site Explains Airline Delays

If you haven’t been flying lately on one of the commercial airlines you are in for a real treat. The odds of your flight being on time is getting slimmer every day. There has been much press in the newspapers about what is wrong with our system and what fixes that are needed. Over at there’s a dedicated Web site that addresses many of our concerns and ways to fix the problem. At the learning center I picked up something I didn’t know. That the commercial airlines only make up 4% of the total daily air traffic. I didn’t know that. So who is clogging up our skies? Read on:

It isn’t 1970 anymore. At that time, there were few airplanes besides airlines plying America’s high-altitude airways, and virtually all travelers used the nation’s airlines to fly around the country.

Though the ATC system remains stuck in the analog era of the 1970s, aircraft technology has evolved substantially giving rise to new methods of transportation. The birth of the business jet in 1964 opened an untapped market for private and corporate aviation, using airplanes that delivered airline-like speed, safety and efficiency. The number of private jet aircraft in the United States has grown from roughly 1,800 aircraft in 1970 to 18,000 aircraft in 2007.

There is more information available on the site that is informative and makes for some entertaining reading. Next month Jackie and I are flying to Kona, HI and I am already dreading the trip, especially since we have to go through Chicago. Yesterday United sent us an updated itinerary for our return flight. Flying from Kona to LAX was changed to another flight and we will not be seated together. Jackie is on the wings and my seat is in the restroom. :-)

Check out the smartskies Web site here.

Comments welcome.

[tags]airline, delays, web site[/tags]