Airline news taking off

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Love them or loathe them, you haven't been able to watch the news or read the papers without seeing several big stories about popular air carriers - even our "hometown airline." And some of the biggest items hit close the the heart of every passenger - carry on bags and restrooms!

CHARGING FOR CARRY ONS?
Spirit Airlines, a small regional carrier in the southeast, flying primarily to sunshine destinations, has decided to forge ahead with something that just 18 months ago would have been unthinkable - charging passengers to carry on bags.

Absurd? Absolutely, but being implemented nonetheless.

Personal opinion? I think this carrier, who was among the first to adopt fees to check luggage, was disappointed in the amount of revenue the checked bag fee was bringing in. Like other airlines, I think Spirit found their passengers very adept at working around the fee, by bringing on ever-larger carry on bags. The big increase in carry on bags slowed the boarding process, which affects every airlines' bottom line. By adding the fee for carry on bags - which is almost double what they charge to check bags - they're pretty much forcing their passengers to check their luggage, streamlining the boarding process, or pay more for the privilege of carrying on.

I've hated the checked bag fees since they were introduced in 2008, but I think these fees are worse. American Airlines, who started the bag fee madness, and US Airways - who was quick to follow - said they implemented the fees to make those travelers who check bags "pay for the cost of handling their bags." So what is Spirit saying? We're going to hit you in the wallet either way?

I said this two years ago and I'll say it again - if you hate these fees - especially since you know other airlines are watching to see how the Spirit carry on fees will be received by their travelers - LET THE AIRLINES KNOW HOW YOU FEEL. Call them, e-mail them, move your business to airlines who don't charge fees. Once these fees are added - the bag fees were originally supposed to help offset the higher fuel costs by encouraging people to travel lighter - they rarely, if ever, come off.

Spirit Airlines has warned us all.

PAYING FOR THE POTTY?

Ireland-based Ryan Airlines has been batting this around for over a year, but has recently come out with some much more concrete proposals about adding pay toilets to some of their planes. Are they for real?

Yup. Even though Ryan Air is also famous for floating ideas like in-flight lounges with bar stool seating for some of their flights (because this kind of seating takes up less room and they can carry more passengers - to say nothing of the revenue from the drinks they'd sell in the "lounge" section), not too many people took the pay toilet idea seriously.

Now Ryan Air, a profitable "a la carte" airline that flies all over Europe (seriously - these guys charge for everything from checked bags and seats to selling passes for early boarding), figures they can take out all their on-board lavatories for planes that service flights of less than an hour, using that space to add seats they can sell. They figure people can use the restrooms in the airport - or hold it for the short duration of the flight.

They're also considering leaving one lavatory on this type of flight, adding a coin or credit card-operated lock. For their medium-haul flights, they'd just convert all the lavatories to pay versions.

Ryan Air considers all press - even negative press - to be good for business, so the pay toilet idea may be more of a gimmick than anything else. But they sure seem to be putting a great deal of thought into this...

US AIRWAYS MERGING WITH UNITED?

This story rears its ugly head. Again.

For the fourth time since 9/11, US Airways is said to be in merger talks with United Airlines.

On several levels, this merger makes sense - US Airways has an extensive network of domestic routes, while United is a big time player in international routes. And merging the airlines would create the second largest carrier in the United States.

But on many other levels, this merger would mean several negative things - especially for the Valley. Current rumors have the US Airways management taking over the management of United, but the headquarters would doubtless leave Phoenix and Tempe for the much larger headquarters complex United has in Chicago. I'm sure some jobs would stay here - and Phoenix would continue to be a large hub for the combined airline - but many more jobs would be lost in redundancy between the airlines.

And let's face it - US Airways as it currently exists still hasn't fully merged the flight attendants and pilots from the old America West days. And now they want to take on another, even larger, set of negotiations with United? Interesting.

Neither airline will even confirm these talks are ongoing, so this set of discussions may go the way of the three previous talks. But a merger on this scale will mean all kinds of things for US Airways - not all of which will be good for our area.

After all these odd airline stories, let's talk about fun things, like some great deals!

CANCUN ALL-INCLUSIVES ON SALE!

Great deals abound for this popular beach destination if you can travel before Memorial Day!

The rates below include round trip air from Phoenix, six nights all-inclusive accommodation (all meals and beverages - including alcohol - and non-motorized water sports) and airport transfers. Air taxes are additional - around $95.00 per person - but the deals are great, so grab your passport and give me a call!

ROYAL SOLARIS CANCUN
$859.00 per person, double occupancy!
This is a popular and comfortable property on a great stretch of the newly-restored beach Cancun's hopping Hotel Zone!

BARCELO MAYA BEACH RESORT
$925.00 per person, double occupancy!
Lots of amenities and lots of options at this popular Riviera Maya resort! This property sits on one of the most beautiful beaches I've seen in this laid back resort area!

Valid for midweek travel in late April and May. Weekend to weekend travel rates are also available, but they may be higher.

LOS CABOS WEEKENDER!

One of my favorite all-inclusive properties in this popular resort area is still offering some great rates for travel before Memorial Day!

RIU Santa Fe
$779.00 per person, double occupancy!

This package includes round trip air from Phoenix, four nights all-inclusive accommodation in a garden view room and airport transfers. Air taxes are additional. Check your calendar and give me a call!

SPEND A WEEK IN OAHU!

Great rates for travel before Memorial Day!!

The packages include round trip air from Phoenix, seven nights accommodation and airport transfers. Airport taxes are additional. The weather is great at this time of year, so pack your swimsuit and go!

OHANA EAST
$699.00 per person, double occupancy!
Comfortable hotel near the beach and tons of shopping!

OHANA WAIKIKI BEACHCOMBER
$779.00 per person, double occupancy!
Right by fantastic shopping and across the street from easy beach access!

SHERATON PRINCESS KAIULANI
$849.00 per person, double occupancy!
Across the street from beach access and you can use the facilities at two sister hotels - the lovely Westin Moana Surfrider and the beautiful Sheraton Waikiki!

ASTON WAIKIKI BEACH HOTEL
$989.00 per person, double occupancy!
Right across the street from a great stretch of beach!

SHERATON WAIKIKI RESORT
$1149.00 per person, double occupancy - Ocean Front Room!
$1072.00 per person, double occupancy - Partial Ocean View Room!
Love, love, love this resort! Sitting right on a prime stretch of Waikiki Beach, you've also got access to a great new pool complex, along with an adults only pool! You're also just steps away from the shops and restaurants of the world-famous Royal Hawaiian Center and the new Beach Walk complex!

Across town or around the world, we're planning your next great vacation at TravelationOnline! Give us a call at 602-252-1140, or toll-free at 888-751-2032 if you're outside the 602, 480 or 623 area codes. You can also reach me directly via e-mail at rosanne@travelationonline.com. I look forward to hearing from you!