PLANE

Would you care to hold that plane?

Maxim/Shutterstock
Maxim/Shutterstock
Holding a plane for a passenger is an iconic customer service gesture.

In a different era of commercial aviation, before on-time arrivals became so important that aircraft doors closed 15 minutes before departure, planes were almost routinely kept at the gate for passengers who were trying to make a connection or who were just late.

Which made the story of Kerry Drake, a grief-stricken United Airlines passenger who was trying to catch a flight from San Francisco to Lubbock, Tex., so that he could say goodbye to his dying mother, so remarkable — and heartwarming.
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Ridiculous or not? Going out of your way to avoid planes

We’re a nation of drivers, no doubt about it.

Don’t believe me? During the first five months of the year, Americans flew 321 billion miles. They drove 1.1 trillion miles. (It’s not a perfect comparison, since these are calculated slightly differently, but you get the idea.)

Last holiday weekend, less than eight percent of travelers flew to their destination. Almost 9 out of 10 drove.

You might not arrive at that conclusion from reading most travel blogs or magazines, but it’s true. For all the fretting we do about the indignities of flying, we sure don’t do very much of it.

All of which made me wonder: How far would you go to avoid a plane?
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Weekend survey: Should peanuts be banned from planes?

Peanut allergy is the most common cause of food-related death, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Given that, is it responsible for airlines to continue serving their passengers peanuts on planes?

The Transportation Department is considering a rule that would prohibit peanuts from being served on commercial aircraft, even though it has partially backed off on the proposal, because it lacked the authority.

Some say it’s about time the government takes action to protect passengers with allergies. Others say it’s an infringement of their rights to eat whatever they want, whenever they want.
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Southwest Airlines pilot holds plane for murder victim’s family

It’s easy to be an airline industry critic in an era of “no waivers, no favors” and fees on top of fees. It’s easy to paint airlines as heartless corporations that treat us like self-loading cargo.

But every now and then, you hear a story that turns you into an adoring fan. Like Nancy’s story.

Before I continue, I should mention a few things: Nancy is a faithful reader of this site, and I agreed to use only her first name because of the brutal nature of the crime and the age of the victim. Second, I’m not an emotional, John Boehner-type, but I can’t read her story without getting a little teary.

So you’ve been warned: Grab a tissue.
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The hard facts about the peanuts-on-a-plane rule everyone’s talking about

Editor’s note: This is part twelve in a series about the Transportation Department’s sweeping new airline passenger protection rules. You can read the entire document here (.DOC). Please take a moment to comment on these proposed rules at Regulationroom.org. The future of air travel depends on it.

Ban peanuts? Really?

That’s the first reaction I get when I mention the final, and perhaps the most ridiculed, of the Transportation Department’s proposed new rules. Seriously — why would the government do away with peanuts on a plane?

The regulatory analysis (PDF) I’ve referred to throughout this series of posts doesn’t even address this contentious issue.
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