TSA PreCheck current status. (Summary of article published in Washington Post, 2/27/2014)
Administrationís new PreCheck system, which offers
selected air travelers access to
expedited security screening, is
moving toward its first big
test: "a crush of inexperienced summer
The Transportation Security Administrationís new PreCheck system, which offers selected air travelers access to expedited security screening, is moving toward its first big test: "a crush of inexperienced summer vacationers".
According to the Washington Post, "as PreCheck expands to 117 airports ó from 40 in the fall ó passengers are discovering that the new lines are sometimes a free-for-all, with travelers randomly selected for preferred treatment. Air travelers feel a mix of gratitude and frustration. Theyíre thankful that they donít have to make a difficult choice between a full-body scan and a pat-down. But PreCheck members are often confused when the PreCheck line is filled with travelers who they say donít deserve to be there." Full Washington Post article here.
2014 airline industry
predictions (condensed from Travel Weekly
editorial). Airlines will in 2014 again
have the biggest impact on the way people travel,
how much they spend and why travel professionals get
headaches......Of course, no one's throwing a pity
party for U.S. airline executives. They have
certainly benefited from consolidation, which has,
ironically, both simplified their lives and enabled
them to diversify their businesses in ways that have
added profitability. Having demonstrated their
ability to maintain capacity discipline, they are
concurrently maintaining their obsession with cost
control and focusing on adding new revenue streams
and creative ways to package them. At long last,
they have an opportunity to break from
commoditization and concentrate on differentiating
So how will all this affect international passengers in 2014? The "stealth" growth of Etihad, Abu Dhabi's state carrier, represents the next evolutionary step following alliances: carriers taking equity stakes in other carriers. Etihad calls it an "equity alliance," and owns, or has announced its intention to buy (pending regulatory approval), pieces of Virgin Australia, Jet Airways, AirBerlin, Aer Lingus, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles and Darwin Airline. Significantly, Darwin, a Swiss carrier, is being renamed "Etihad Regional," a brand ripe for expansion. Similarly, Delta has taken equity stakes in Virgin Atlantic, Aeromexico and Gol.
How might the AA-US Airways merger impact travelers? Peter Greenberg, CBS News travel editor and host of PBS' "The Travel Detective," has some very specific thoughts.
"The biggest travel story of 2014 will be the reduction or outright disappearance of air service to many small and midsize U.S. cities and former airline hubs, as well as a rise in airfares across the board in the U.S.," he said.
The trend started in Cincinnati and St. Louis in 2012, he noted, followed by Memphis losing a substantial number of flights in 2013. This year, he believes it will spread to Milwaukee, Phoenix and Pittsburgh as well as smaller cities like Jackson, Miss., and Albany, N.Y. But he also sees a fast-rising alternative: intercity bus lines. "On trips under 400 miles, it's a logistically and economically viable alternative," he said. "And if this airline trend continues, in some cities it might be the only alternative."
Another aspect of consolidation that could come into play and provide headaches for consumers and travel professionals alike: integration snafus resulting from the AA-US Air merger. Doug Parker, until recently the CEO of the fifth-largest airline in the U.S., is now overseeing the creation of what will be the largest airline in the world. His approach, however, gives me hope that he will avoid missteps he took when integrating America West and US Airways as well as what has become a publicly painful process over at United following its marriage to Continental. United's strategy seemed logical: review operations at both carriers, and adopt "best practices," to create a carrier superior to either.
The unintended consequence, however, was a culture of shared pain, with large numbers of employees resenting change that often seemed arbitrary. Parker has decided to simply maintain the American way. Yes, former US Airways employees may feel that's unfair, but for a significant majority of his employees, there will be no impact on morale. And, as many United flyers will tell you, customers tend to notice unhappy airline employees.