Finding Discounted Fares for Seniors- Part II of a II Part Article
Please see Part I of this series of articles at: Finding Discounted Fares for Seniors-Part I
(11/29/13)- Judge Sean H. Lane of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York found that the settlement agreement between the Justice Department, U.S. Airways and AMR Corp.ís subsidiary American Airlines did not modify the plan of reorganization to warrant a new vote by creditors and shareholders. He therefore concluded that the merger could proceed.
American said it expected the merger to close on December 9. It said that the last day of trading for all outstanding securities, including those of its parent AMR Corporation, as well as shares of U.S. Airways would be December 6. Once the merger closes, AMR will be renamed American Airlines Group and be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL.
(11/19/13)- AMR Corp., U.S. Airways Group Inc. and the government have reached an antitrust settlement on November 12 that will allow their $17 billion merger to proceed. In return for giving up some gateways at several airports, especially at LaGuardia in New York and Regan International in Washington, the government will allow the merger to proceed.
The airlines also agreed to maintain their hubs that underlie their combined networks, and continue service to some smaller cities. The settlement would affect only 112 of the combined airlines planned 6,500 daily flights. The airlines hope to close the merger by December, and will become the worldís largest airlines by traffic numbers.
(9/29/13)- American Airlines parent, AMR Corp., and US Airway Group Inc., agreed to extend their termination deadline merger date to January 18th from December 17th to allow for a trial in which they intend to challenge the Justice Departmentís objection to their combination. The trial is expected to begin November 25th.
If the judge in the case, which is being held in the U.S. District Court in Washington, rules in their favor on or before January 17th, either side could terminate the accord on the 15th day following that order..
If the judge rules against the merger, either party may terminate the agreement 5 days after the judge enters a final but appealable order enjoining the companies from proceeding with the deal.
(9/16/13)- Judge Sean H. Lane of the United States Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan confirmed American Airlinesí bankruptcy plan, but ruled that his decision was contingent on the Justice Department approval of its merger with U.S. Airways. Americanís creditors and its 3 main labor unions have approved the plan.
American had filed for bankruptcy protection about two years ago. The judge did rule against one provision of the plan that called for the payment of $20 million to Americanís chairman Thomas W. Horton, after he would end a short stint as chairman of the combined companies.
The boards of American Airlines parent, AMR Corp. and U.S. Airways are expected to extend the deadline for their merger termination date beyond December 17, since the merger has been delayed by the Justice Departmentís anti-trust suit to prevent the merger. That trial is expected to start November 25th.
The new termination date has not been made public yet.
(8/16/13)- It came as an unexpected surprise, but the Justice Department moved to block the merger between AMR Corp., the parent of American Airlines, and US Airways.
Six state attorneys general and the District of Columbia joined the Justice Department in opposing the merger.
The move throws a roadblock into the exit from bankruptcy that AMR had hoped to take place this week. AMR's creditors and unions had previously approved the plan.
The Justice Department filed its suit to prevent the merger in the U.S. District Court in Washington alleges that that it would be harmful to competition in that it would leave the four largest airlines controlling 80% of the U.S. market.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said: "This transaction would result in consumers paying the price-in higher airfares, higher fees and fewer choices,".
(7/17/13)- Avis Budget Group Inc. acquired Payless Car Rental for about $50 million as it expands into the discount car-rental area of the business. It intends to operate Payless as a separate brand.
Payless was founded in 1971, and it presently has about 120 rental locations that provide discount services and generate about $80 million in annual revenue.
(4/28/13)- Joe Sharkey, who writes the "On The Road" column for the N.Y. Times had a recent article in which he praised the Global Entry program of the Customs and Protection, wherein international travelers can gain speeded re-entry to this country merely by swiping their passports at special kiosks set up at the airports.
Back-ground check-ups and an in-person interviews are some of prerequisite of the program. Fingerprints and iris data are entered into an identification card, which must be matched when passing through the entry point in the kiosk.
Global entry started 5 years ago, and now has more than1.5 million members, with an estimated usage of between 7,000 to 15,000 members per day at the airports in the United States.
As the word spreads about the system, applicants for membership are zooming to about 50,000 a month.
As we noted in our item dated 12/27/12 below, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is also expanding their PreCheck program, in order to speed up the lines both boarding and debarking from planes. The agency has announced a "trusted travelers" program. Passengers who pass background checks, and have been selected by their airline as a high-volume travelers, could enroll in the PreCheck program at a reduced fee.
(12/27/12)- The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has expanded its PreCheck trusted traveler program to 35 airports, allowing members who have been deemed low risk to keep shoes, jackets and belts on. Children 12 and under and passengers 75 and older also received expedited screening at any checkpoint.
Pilots, flight attendants, members of the military and people with top secret security clearances qualify at some airports.
(11/18/12)- The Federal Trade Commission granted its approval to the $2.3 billion merger of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. with Hertz Global Holdings Inc. The approval was granted after Hertz agreed to divest itself of about a dozen locations at U.S. airports.
For more information on this matter, please see our item dated 11/13/12 below.
(11/13/120- As a follow-up to our item dated 8/28/12 below, the deadline for the Federal Trade Commission to grant approval for the merger between Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. and Hertz Global Holdings Inc. is the 16th of November. To help gain approval from the FTC, Hertz has tentatively agreed to shed about a dozen locations at U.S. airports to help win the okay to proceed with the deall.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the largest car-rental company in the United States with 6,187 locations, according to the trade publication Auto Rental News. Hertz is second, with about 2,500 sites including its Advantage Rent-A-Car brand, which Hertz agreed to sell to help the deal pass muster. Avis is in third place with about 2,300 places, and Dollar Thrifty is a distant fourth with 445 locations.
More than a decade ago, there were nine car-rental companies
(8/28/12)- In our item dated 10/18/11 below we noted: " In its statement, Dollar Thrifty left open the possibility that it could be acquired, saying its board would review and consider "any changes to the Hertz offer or other proposals that may be made by Hertz or others."
Hertz Global Holdings increased its offer for the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group to a deal valued at $2.3 billion, and that seems to be enough to get the transaction done. Under the terms of the deal, Hertz will pay $87.50 in cash for each share of Dollar Thrifty that is tendered to them
Hertz will sell its Advantage Rent a Car discount unit to Franchise Services of North America, a car rental franchiser and Macquire Capital as part of the deal in order to prevent the Federal Trade Commission from preventing the merger on anti-trust grounds.
Hertz said that it intends to operate Dollar and Thrifty as separate brands.
Enterprise Holdings Inc. is the largest car-rental company in the United States with 6,187 locations, according to the trade publication Auto Rental News. Hertz is second, with about 2,500 locations, and Dollar Thrifty is 3rd with about 2,300 locations. Avis Budget Group Inc., which had also actively pursued a merger with Dollar Thrifty, is fourth.
(5/7/12)- Alaska Airlines became the 3rd airline, joining Delta Airline and American Airlines to participate in the government's "PreCheck", expedited boarding and departure system at certain airports. For more on this topic please see our item dated 4/4/12 below.
PreCheck is now in operation at special lanes at 13 airports in the U.S.
The program is based on the idea that frequent fliers are less of a risk than others. With the passenger's permission, the airline shares the flier's personal data with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which in turns decides if that flier will be eligible for expedited security.
PreCheck has enrolled 820,000 members at last count. It is also eligible to travelers who are enrolled in government trusted-traveler security programs like Global Entry, which provides international travelers with expedited re-entry.
The successor to bankrupt Clear program, by the name of A!clear, a privately held company that that we discussed in our item dated 5/12/10, stated that it now has over 200,000 members and has applied to the TSA to be included in the PreCheck program.
(4/20/12)- With the myriad of confusing fees being charged by the airlines there is a Web site that has come to the rescue of the consumer. The site, nerdwallet.com compares about 300 fees on different airlines, including those for checked baggage, seat selection, priority boarding, booking over the phone and carrying a pet on board.
You can compare the fees charged by the different airlines, or you could select an airline to see the cost for its various fees or non-fees.
(4/4/12)- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has unveiled a new expedited airport screening system called "Precheck", to help travelers boarding and departing from their planes.
There are now selected lanes for background checked travelers who can keep their shoes, belt and jackets on, leave laptops and liquids in carry-on bags and walk through metal detectors instead of going through full-body scans. The process is up and running at 9 airports in conjunction with two airlines.
To qualify, frequent fliers must meet undisclosed TSA criteria and get invited by the airlines, which are Delta and American. Approved travelers who are in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's "Global Entry" program can transfer into Precheck using their Global Entry number.
Enrolling requires a $100 application fee for a background check, plus a brief interview with a Customs officer. It is available at New York's Kennedy International Airport.
(3/26/12)- The legislation that Congress passed last month and that was signed by President Obama, that we discussed in our item dated 2/21/12 below allows airports to apply to the Transportation Security Agency to have private contractors replace government officers for airport screening.
The agency said it now has 28 such applications pending. Sixteen of the nation's 450 airports presently use private contractors, including San Francisco International Airport and Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming.
Those airports that want to leave the agency's screening program must prove to the agency that the contractors are more cost-effective and would not be detrimental to security. The TSA will pay for the private screeners.
Private screeners will have to follow TSA guidelines and fall under the supervision of the agency. Officials at the New York airports and Washington, D.C. said that they would not be applying for any change to private contractors in the immediate future.
(2/21/12)- It took 23 stopgap measures, and 5 years, but Congress has finally passed permanent funding for the Federal Aviation Authority. The four-year, $61 billion funding measure was passed in the Senate by a 75 to 20 vote, after having passed in the House by a 248-to-169 vote. President Obama has indicated that he would sign the bill.
It provides for about $16 billion a year for airport construction and expansion, and includes provisions for pilotless domestic drones. A transition period of time will be utilized over to a Global Positioning System (GPS) called NextGen. Under this system, pilots and the control tower will know the exact position of each plane in the area.
It will speed up departures and arrivals at airport terminals through usage of the NextGen system.
It does not however, include provisions for passenger protection, such as the penalty airlines face when a plane is on an airport tarmac for over 3 hours. It also continues the subsidization given to airlines to continue air service to some rural areas. It tightens the requirements for the unionization of the airlines and its employees.
(2/1/12)- Among the new federal air travel rules that took effect recently is one that now allows air travelers to cancel a reservation within 24 hours of making it and receive a full refund without penalty. This rule applies only to reservations made at least a week in advance.
Airfare advertisements must clearly indicate the full fare price, including taxes and mandatory fees. Online bookings must clearly disclose baggage and handling fees.
Airlines must "promptly" notify travelers of flight delays of more than 30 minutes.
(11/19/11)- The Department of Transportation announced it had fined American Eagle, a regional unit of American Airlines $900,000 for keeping 608 passengers on board 15 different flights for more than three hours at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in May.
The fine was the first since the government imposed a limit on tarmac delays in April 2010. Under the new limit, carriers must allow passengers to get off planes if they are stuck on board for more than 3 hours.
Under the terms of the new regulations the airline could have been fined $16.7 million, or $27,500 for each of the 608 passengers stranded on board the plane that day for more than 3 hours.
(10/27/11)- Both Canadian and Mexican officials are pressing the president to reconsider the decision by U.S. officials to reinstate the $5.50 per ticket surcharge for travelers from Canada and Mexico. This surcharge was included in the final version of the U.S.-Columbia free trade pact that the president recently signed into law.
Free trade agreements also became law at the same time with Panama and South Korea.
(10/18/11)- Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. announced that it had not received an acceptable bid for the company, and at the same time it announced that it would buy back $400 million of its stock. As noted in several of our items directly below, both Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. and Avis Budget Group Inc. had been seeking to take over Dollar Thrifty for over a year.
Avis recently dropped out of the competition leaving Hertz' offer of about $2.2 billion as the top offer. A Hertz spokesman said that Hertz is still interested in acquiring Dollar Thrifty.
In its statement, Dollar Thrifty left open the possibility that it could be acquired, saying its board would review and consider "any changes to the Hertz offer or other proposals that may be made by Hertz or others."
(9/16/11)- As noted in our item dated 9/1/11, the long drawn out battle over Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group looks like it is about to end, since Avis Budget Group Inc. announced that it was bowing out of the battle, citing current market conditions.
Dollar Thrifty had been sought after by both Avis and Hertz Global Holdings, Inc., for several years now, with the Hertz last offer being worth about $1.9 billion.
(9/1/11)- The long drawn out battle for Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group may be finally coming to an end with the letter that Dollar sent to both Hertz Global Holdings, Inc., and Avis Budget Group Inc requesting "best and final" takeover offers. For more info on this matter please see our item dated 5/10/11 below.
The letter from Dollar is intended to bring the protracted battle for the company to a conclusion within a matter of months, but approval from regulatory agencies may throw a monkeywrench into its finalization.
Hertz has a higher bid on the table, with a cash-and-stock offer worth $1.9 billion, but Dollar's shareholders rejected a previous offer from Hertz last fall.
Avis' s most recent proposal was worth $1.55 billion at last count. Representatives from both Hertz and Avis were unavailable for comment at this time.
(7/20/11)- Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. announced that it and the privately-held vehicle-fleet leasing and management company Donlen Corp. had arrived at an agreement of acquisition for $250 million, and also the assumption of $680 million of debt.
The Donlen acquisition has been approved by the board of directors of both companies and by Donlen's shareholders. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of the year. This deal is not expected to alter Hertz' battle to acquire Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group as we mention in our item dated 5/10/11 below.
Donlen provides corporate customers technology that give them real-time data on their vehicles and operation of their fleets.
(5/10/11)- The battle between Hertz Global Holdings, Inc., and Avis Budget Group Inc., over Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group heated up with the announcement by Hertz that it would offer Dollar Thrifty shareholders $57.60 in cash, and 0.8546 shares of Hertz for each share of Dollar Thrifty. Based on Friday's closing price of Hertz, that brought the value of the Hertz offer to $72.00 per share.
For more information on this takeover battle please see our items dated 10/1/10, 9/26/10 and 9/15/10 below. Dollar's board of directors has not responed to this latest offer.
(4/23/11)- The Obama administration released a new passenger rights plan that will take effect beginning in August of this year, and among other items it will require the airlines to refund baggage fees for lost luggage and pay more for involuntarily bumping passengers on overbooked flights. It replaces the previous plan introduced last summer.
Under the new plan, fines would be levied on foreign airlines for keeping passengers stuck on the runway at U.S. airports for more than 4 hours. This compares to the 3-hour timeframe for U.S. airline delays.
The new rules do not specify a timeframe for lost luggage, so there is a question in regards to this matter that needs resolving.
(4/15/11)- Expedia Inc. Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi announced that it would spin-off its TripAdvisor subsidiary in "a shareholder friendly transaction". Expedia is an online travel agent, with brands like Expedia.com, Hotels.com and Hotwire.com, while TripAdvisor is a travel-media company driven by advertising. TripAdvisor will present travelers with travel related reviews and advice on hotels, restaurants, flights and vacation packages.
Several financial experts said that this move was precipiated by Google's entry as a possible competitor to TripAdvisor.
(4/8/11)- American Airlines and Expedia have patched up their differences, so that effective immediately viewers will be able to find American Airlines fares and flight data on Expedia's and its affiliate Hotwire's Web sites.
About 3 months ago, American removed its flight information and booking ability from the Expedia Web site. As more information becomes available on this matter we will pass it on to our viewers.
(1/14/11)- According to the results of the annual Middle Seat customer-service rankings of the 9 major U.S.airlines, the results of the smaller airlines bested the results of the larger airlines.
The evaluation by Middle Seat is based on information on airline operations from FlightStats.com, which uses airline and Federal Aviation Administration data to track flights, and Department of Transportation data.
The five areas covered by the scorecard are: On-time; Cancelled Flights; Baggage Handling, Bumping Passengers and Customer Complaints.
AirTran led the overall rankings, followed by Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, US Airways, Continental Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Airlines finished ninth and last.
(11/8/10)- Flight delays at the three New York area airports continue to lead the nation, according to a recent report from the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Transportation Department's office of the inspector general.
The FAA has limited the number of flights per hour that can take off or land at Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International Airport in an effort to avoid traffic jams on the taxiway.
The inspector general's report concluded that those limits had not been effective, because the limitations were based on ideal conditions rather than practical and realistic conditions. As an example, poor weather conditions had not been taken into account when setting the limits.
The report went on to say that true capacity at the airports was far lower than the caps might suggest.
"To prevent delay rates from again rising to record levels, " the report went on to say, "FAA will need to re-examine its flight caps, basing then on realistic airport operating conditions."
(10/20/10)- Hertz Global Holdings Inc. announced that it would commence its "Connect by Hertz" program which would offer one-way rentals between its Manhattan car locations and New York City-area airports. It will allow car renters to drop off a car at an airport instead of the original pick-up point.
Hertz's West 55th St. location will be the first site to offer the new program, but other Hertz locations will be offering it throughout the coming months at over 100 locations with about 250 cars.
The one-way-service flat fee, based on the destination, will be competitive with taxi or private-car fare, said Robert Stuart, senior vice-president of global sales at Hertz, a subsidiary of Hertz Global Holdings Inc
(10/1/10)- Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc.'s shareholders voted down
the takeover offer from Hertz Global Holdings Inc. at the special shareholders
meeting held on September 30.
Avis Budget Group announced that if Dollar Thrifty shareholders were to reject Hertz Global Holdings $1.46 billion takeover bid, it would include a $20 million reverse termination fee in its offer. Dollar's board of directors previously had rejected Avis' higher offer than Hertz's offer, because it did not contain a reverse termination fee if the deal fails to win antitrust approval
The Hertz reverse termination fee was $44.6 million. Hertz had previously stated that if the Dollar shareholders voted against its offer, it would terminate its interest in making the acquisition.
(9/26/10)- Avis Budget Group Inc. raised the cash portion of its bid for Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc by 12% in its battle with Hertz Global Holdings Inc.
The latest cash-and-stock bid values Dollar Thrift at $1.6 billion, or $53 a share as of Wednesday's stock market close, compared with $1.53 billion value of the Hertz offer which contains a $44.6 million reverse-break-up fee. Avis has interposed that such a fee is superfluous in light of the fact that its bid is higher then Hertz' bid. For more info on this battle please see our item dated 9/15/10 immediately below. Hertz has indicated that it does not intend to raise its bid any further than its last offer.
Please see our item dated 9/15/10 below
(9/15/10)- Hertz Global Holdings increased its takeover offer for the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group to about $1.43 billion in stock and cash.
The offer is comprised of $43.60 in cash and 0.6366 Hertz shares for each share of Dollar Thrifty. Dollar Thrifty's board has voted to accept the new offer.
Hertz also said that it had begun the process of selling off its Advantage Rent-a-Car division to avoid antitrust concerns. Dollar said it would postpone its shareholder vote on the merger to Sept. 30 from Sept 16th to give shareholders more time to consider the new offer.
Included in the offer is a reverse termination fee of $44.6 million if the deal fails to win antitrust approval. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. For more information on this matter, please see our item dated 9/10/10 below.
(9/10/10)- A Delaware judge, Vice Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr. of the Delaware Chancery Court denied an injunction sought by two pension funds seeking to block a September 16 shareholder vote on the proposed merger between Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group and Hertz Global Holding's Inc.
As noted in our item dated 8/7/10 below, Dollar Thrifty's board has recommended that the shareholders accept the lower offer of $41 from Hertz rather than the higher $46.50 offer from Avis Budget Group Inc.
Dollar Thrifty used the argument that there was no reverse breakup fee in the Avis offer, which meant that if the merger failed because of anti-trust concerns, the company would not receive any payments for its efforts.
The judge went on to say: "The Dollar Thrifty stockholders are free to accept or reject the Hertz deal on their own."
(8/20/10)- According to the latest data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines held 3 planes on the tarmac for more than 3 hours in June, down from 268 such incidents a year earlier. At the same time, there was not any appreciable increase in the amount of flights cancelled over the same comparative period of time
Under the new rules that took effect on April 29, airlines must provide passengers snacks and water, and give them a chance to get off the plane, if they have sat in the plane for more than 3 hours.
Data for May and June indicate that airlines are adapting to the new rules by returning more planes to the gate, when faced with long delays.
In April, before the new rules took effect, 24 flights returned to the gate, before leaving again, after sitting on the tarmac for between two and three hours. In May, after the new rules took effect, that number jumped to 86 and in June it was 67.
Airlines that violate the rules face penalties of up to $27,500 per passenger, but so far the DOT has not issued any fines.
(8/7/10)- Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. announced that it had rejected the $1.3 billion takeover offer from Avis Budget Group Inc.
Dollar which has accepted a lower bid from Hertz Global Holding's Inc. sent a letter to Avis that " a higher price cannot compensate for a deficiency in deal certainty." Dollar also cited the fact that Avis was unwilling to offer a reverse breakup fee.
(8/1/10)- Avis Budget Group Inc. announced that it was making an offer of $46.50 a share for Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. Hertz Global Holding's Inc. had previously made an offer of $39-a-share, which offer is to be voted on by Dollar shareholders in September.
The Avis offer is valued at over $1.3 billion, and consists of $39.25 a share in cash, and 0.6543 Avis stock for every share of Dollar stock
The bid includes a special dividend to be paid to the Dollar shareholders, and will be financed with cash on hand and financing from Avis' advisers, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley. Please see several of our items below this one, for more details on this battle.
(7/14/10)- An article that appeared in the July 13th edition of the Wall St. Journal, entitled " Avis Aims to Outbid Rival Hertz for Dollar", that was written by Gina Chon and Anupreeta Das, stated that Avis Budget Group Inc., would submit a higher bid for Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group to its shareholders before their August 18th scheduled voting date to approve the offer from Hertz Group Holdings Inc.
For more details on this matter, please see our item dated 6/18/10 and 5/28/10 below. The Hertz $41 a share bid is worth about $1.2 billion. Financial experts expect that Avis will take on some debt financing to back its offer.
(6/18/10)- Don't look for quick ending to the attempted merger of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group to be finalized in the immediate future. Financial and legal experts are predicting that it will be months before Avis Budget Group presents its offer to combat the offer already on the table from Hertz Global Holdings Inc.
Avis is aware of the fact that it is going to take many months before the regulatory review process for the Hertz offer is acted upon, so there is no particular advantage to be gained by making its offer now. Avis is in the process right now of finalizing its due diligence review of the Dollar books, and has already stated that it is willing to top the $1.2 billion that Dollar has already received from Hertz.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has asked Avis for more information related to the Hertz offer
(5/28/10)- Wall Street analysts are expecting a heated battle between Hertz Global Holdings Inc. and Avis Budget Group for Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group as we discussed in out item dated 5/5/10 below.
Dollar Thrifty is the nation's fourth largest car-rental company, with Hertz being in the number 3 slot and Avis in the number 2 slot. Dollar Thrifty, which is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has had prior merger discussions with the 2 other suitors, according to documents that had been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Whichever suitor wins out in this case, it will mean that there will be one less competitor in the car-rental business. Dollar has accepted the $41 bid from Hertz, but said that it would reconsider the acceptance if any other party made a higher bid.
Both Avis and Hertz have filed for approvals with the FTC, although Avis has yet to make a bid public. Antitrust lawyers expect regulators will take several months to study the proposed mergers.
(5/20/10)- In his third try at naming a nominee for the top job at the Transportation Security Administration, President Barack Obama named John S Pistole, the current deputy director of the FBI for the position.
Mr. Obama's first two choices had to withdraw their names after revelations of past conduct, thus leaving the agency without a head for the last 16 months. Errol Southers, who was the president's first choice, withdrew his nomination in February after a fight over extending union rules to TSA workers. Retired General Robert Harding withdrew his nomination amid questions over his security company's contracts in post-war Iran.
Mr. Pistole has been the No.2 official at the FBI since 2004. He is a graduate of Anderson University and the Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis. He is 53 years of age and joined the bureau in 1983.
(5/17/10)- Starting June 1, American Express Delta Sky Miles credit card holders will have the $25 checked bag fee waived, each way for themselves and for as many as 8 travelers on their reservations.
The waivers will be given to card members with an American Express Gold, Platinum or Reserve Delta SkyMiles credit card. Over-sized and overweight-baggage charges will still apply.
Starting August 1, air-travelers on Spirit Airlines carrying bags that do not fit under the seat in front of them will have to pay as much as $45 per carry-on bag at the gate. The fee is reduced to $30 for those who pay online, on the phone or at check-in and it is further reduced to $20 online for members of Spirit's $9 Fare Club, which has an annual membership fee of $39.95.
(5/14/10)- A new website, DailyGetaways.com is offering as much as a 50% discount on airfares and travel packages to about 50 different American locations. The offer is called Discover America Daily Getaway, and is a promotion of the U. S. Travel Association in conjunction with American Express.
The offers will run through June 4th. American Express card holders can participate in a daily members only auction from now through June 4 in which they can bid on travel packages arranged by two dozen cities. The auctions begin each day at 10 a.m., and end at 10 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.
The packages involve hotels, airlines, car rentals, attractions, theme parks and other businesses.
(5/12/10)- A1Clear has acquired the assets of Verified Identity Pass, the company that went bankrupt a year ago, for $6 million after winning the competitive bid in the bankruptcy court. Verifed is the company that operated the speeded up boarding system at 18 U.S. airports.
The winning bidder, A1Clear, is led by two former investment bankers and backed in part by Robert V. LaPenta, chief executive of L-1 Identity Solutions, the Stamford, CT. based company that supplied kiosks and other technology to the original Verified. For more information on Verified Identity Pass please see our item dated 10/5/09 in Part I of this series of articles.
The new company will be based in New York City and named Clear. As part of the wining bid, A1 acquired the more than 160,000 subscribers to the old V.I.P., but it did not acquire any of the 18 contracts that existed with different airports throughout the country. The bankruptcy proceeding voided those contracts.
A1 said that it was in advanced talk with many of those airports that it hoped to operate its fast-lane service as soon as possible. The company is offering the service at a fee of $179 down from the $200 fee that V.I.P charged, and subscribers could purchase a family plan for an additional $50.
Cogent Systems, a competitor to L-1 Identity Solutions in the market for bio-metric systems, also has plans to introduce its own airport fast-lane service.
Kurtis Fechtmeyer, an investment banker who had also submitted a bid for V.I>P. in the bankruptcy proceeding, also hopes to open a similar service through Henry Inc., his fast-lane service company.
(5/5/10)- The board of directors of both Hertz Global Holdings and Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group agreed to a proposal to have Hertz acquire Dollar in a combined cash and stock transaction. The companies said they began merger talks last November.
Hertz said that it planned to keep the Dollar and Thrifty brands. Mark P.Frissure, the chairman and president of Hertz said that Hertz currently uses about 95% of its fleet during the week and only 30% to 40% during the weekend since it is mainly a business renters operation. On the other hand, Dollar Thrifty uses most of its fleet on the weekend, since it is geared more towards the leisure traveler.
The companies plan to combine their fleets immediately. Enterprise Holdings, which operates the Enterprise, Alamo and National Brands, is the largest U.S. car-rental company.
News articles have appeared indicating that Avis Budget Group may enter a bid to Dollar Thrifty, saying it was considering a higher offer than the $1.2 billion offer from Hertz.
(4/27/10)- Federal officials denied a request by 5 of the major airlines to grant a temporary exemption for New York-area flights from a new rule scheduled to go into effect on April 29 regarding tarmac delays.
The provision in question was part of the new airline passenger protection regulations in December that prohibits airlines operating domestic flights from permitting a plane to remain on the tarmac at large and medium hub airports for more than 3 hours without letting passengers get off the plane.
Exceptions to this rule are allowed for safety or security reasons. The rule also requires that passengers be provided with working toilets and, after two hours, food and drinking water.
The reason cited by the airlines for requesting the exemption at Kennedy International Airport was because of the fact that the main runway at the airport will be under renovation until December 1.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that tarmac delays could be avoided or minimized by rerouting or rescheduling flights to the airport's other 3 runways.
(4/19/10)- According to the results of an analysis of government flight statistics there were fewer people flying U.S. airlines in 2009 then there were in 2007. There were 704 million U.S. airline passengers last year, compared with 770 million in 2007, the busiest year since 2001.
For every 10,000 passengers, an average of 1.19 passengers were denied boarding in 2009, mostly bumping due to overbooking. This compares with 1.1 passenger denials per 10,000 passengers in 2008.
Dean Headley, a Wichita State University professor and co-author of the report stated: ""Every airline that we looked at in '08 and '09 got better" in the other categories that the report looked into.
Fewer than 4 bags per every 1,000 travelers were lost or damaged in 2009. In 2008, that figure was over 5 bags lost or damaged per 1,000 travelers.
(3/13/10)- President Barack Obama plans to nominate retired Army intelligence officer, Major General Robert A. Harding to head the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), according to a spokesperson for the White House.
President Obama's first choice for the position was Erroll G. Southers, a former FBI agent and counter terrorism supervisor for the Los Angeles airport police, who withdrew his name in January after it became clear that he faced a long, protracted and contentious battle to win confirmation from the Senate to the post.
As a former head of operations at the Defense Intelligence Agency, General Harding was responsible for security at more than 200 embassies and government offices abroad.
He had also commanded the 902nd Military Intelligence Group, the Army's largest strategic counter intelligence organization, which is headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland.
After retiring from the military he became a consultant to the government on intelligence issues, and two years later he founded a consulting firm, Harding Security Associates. He sold that firm in July of 2009, and then served as an intelligence adviser to the Obama presidential team.
(3/11/10)- Some new rules from the Department of Transportation will impose new limits on what airlines can and can not do in their dealings with airline passengers. The new rules go into effect April 29th.
Included in these new rules are the requirement that the airlines will have to let passengers off planes that sit for more than 3 hours on the runway, unless the pilot and air-traffic controllers determine it is unsafe to get the passengers off the plane or let the plane return to the gate.
Airlines will be required to provide food and water if a plane sits on the tarmac for more than two hours. The DOT will be able to penalize airlines for chronically late flights. A chronically late flight is one that is more than 30 minutes late on at least half its trips each month for four consecutive months.
Airlines will be required to acknowledge customer complaints within 30 days and address the issues raised by the complaint within 60 days.
If your flight gets cancelled because of an airline problem (not weather), the airline has to provide accommodations if you are away from home. The airline does not have to rebook you on a competing airline-just on their next flight with available seats.
(2/2/10)- Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc., Avis Budget Group Inc and Hertz Global Holding all have stated that they would remove thousands of Toyotas from their available fleet after the Japanese auto company announced the safety problem issue with several models of their cars.
Hertz would be the most affected U.S. car rental company since about 20% of its fleet consist of different models of Toyotas.
Avis' figures weren't immediately available but it is estimated that about 7% of its fleet consist of different model Toyotas. Dollars Thrifty said about 1.5% of its fleet consist of Toyotas. The Pontiac Vibe is also affected by the gas problem that is causing Toyota to have such a large recall.
(1/13/10)- The average weekly published airport rental car rate for a compact car was $335.05 in 2009. This represented a 51% increase from the average rate in 2008, according to Abrams Consulting Group, a Purchase, N.Y. rental-car consulting firm.
The main reason for this increase was the fact that rental car companies sharply reduced the number of cars they own. Neil Abrams, president of Abrams Consulting said that fleet sizes fell 25% on average in 2009 from 2008, and have fallen over 50% from several years ago.
Mr. Abrams went on to say that demand for car rentals fell only about 20% across the industry last year.
The average weekly rate last year for a car rental at an off-airport location was $189.16, up about[12% from 2008.
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