Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday's Travel InsideOut

Orbitz -- she of pressurized travel transactions -- hopped onto the media/advertising bandwagon in a super-charged way with the relaunch of For those of you who remember the ill-fated and nebulous brand under former owner Cendant, we can say that at last has a raison d’etre.

Dennis Schaal Blog: Mega, Not Meta, Move: Orbitz Enters Search Business: I wrote several weeks ago that Orbitz would attempt to maximize all of those lookers perusing its shop, take its media business a leap forward and get into the search business, possibly through a merger of some sort with Kayak.

Well, Orbitz, has entered the search business on its own, for now, by relaunching as a search business. This fairly huge development was brought to my attention by Tom Botts of the Hudson Crossing Travel Industry Insight blog. Read more


There are more warnings that this could be the Winter of our discontent, with airline bankruptcy filings looming.

Wall Street Journal: Loss at AMR Narrows: American Airlines parent AMR Corp. on Wednesday reported a $390 million second-quarter loss as collapsing travel demand continued to erase gains from lower fuel costs.

The results are the latest evidence that the airline industry is flying through one of its toughest summers ever. The other four large U.S. hub-and-spoke carriers -- Delta Air Lines Inc., UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, Continental Airlines Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. -- also are expected to announce second-quarter losses when they report next week. Read more


United is not alone, of course, in feeling the pinch from and lack of control over credit card fees. Even federal agencies haven’t been able to negotiate lower fees from the banking kingmakers of plastic. (Note: the story below inaccurately says that United “last month” began passing along its fees to some travel agencies. Actually, the initiative is slated to begin July 20.)

New York Times: Card Fees Pit Retailers Against Banks: The most profitable item at Patricia Orzano’s 7-Eleven store on Long Island is coffee. Slurpees are a distant second.

But as more customers use plastic to pay for even small purchases like these, she has watched a growing share of her revenue vanish in a stream of credit and debit card fees that retailers say raise the price of goods and sharply lift the cost of doing business. Read more


AirTran claims it’s the first carrier to install Wi-Fi throughout its fleet, and it offers tips about onboard-surfing protocol. I can’t wait until airlines allow passengers to use their cellphones during flights, and I’m looking forward to those yakety-yak-yak do’s and don’ts, too.

Yapta: AirTran the First to Establish "Internetiquette": AirTran Airways announced on Tuesday that it’s the first airline to equip its entire fleet (136 aircraft) with Wi-Fi. The cost for access is $9.95 for flights under three hours, $12.95 for flights longer than that and $7.95 for Blackberry/iPhone access. Read more


Kayak,, Hotwire and Yapta good, says Consumer Reports. Expedia and Orbitz price guarantees, not so much.

Consumer Reports: Travel Price Guarantees Come Up Short: Whether it's for a hotel, a cruise, or the fare to get you there, many travel sites offer a "best price guarantee," and will "refund you the difference" to match any lower price you can find. Some sites, such as Delta, will also throw in a travel voucher for up to $100. Read more


Arthur Frommer looks askance at cruising. After all, it’s not “travel,” he sniffs.

TravelMole: Cruising? That's not traveling:
Don’t get him wrong. Arthur Frommer likes cruises but “travel, it’s not.” Read more


Travel InsideOut is a Dennis Schaal Blog daily feature. Get a thorough-going look at the day's travel industry top and tangentially interesting stories. Feel free to comment on them below.

Travel InsideOut is Copyright (c) 2009 by Dennis Schaal. All rights reserved.

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