November 8th, 2011 by TRT Blog
Flying is never fun—cramped seats, long lines, bad food—but even with all of the downsides, the future of flying is starting to look a little less dull. Boeing recently rolled out its long-awaited 787 Dreamliner aircraft, which reportedly uses 20 percent less fuel than similar-sized airplanes.
via CNet News
And for the environment, it’s better late than never. After taking three years longer in manufacturing than originally predicted, Boeing delivered its first Dreamliner to Japanese airline, All Nippon Airways, in late September. The $200 million jet boasts new high-tech GE and Rolls-Royce engines, which represent a two generation jump in engine technology—the main factor for its top notch fuel efficiency.
Half of the plane’s primary structure, including the fuselage and wings, are made up of composite materials. With its more efficient fuel use and lightweight structural composition, the mid-sized plane is capable of longer-range, non-stop flights.
Although flight time is a main contributor to an individual’s carbon footprint, the new Boeing Dreamliner allows travelers to be more cognizant of their environmental impact and further the push for more sustainable travel options.
Since the Boeing Dreamliner program was launched in 2004, customers across six continents have placed 821 airplane orders. Here’s hoping we’ll all be flying on one soon.
May 13th, 2011 by TRT Blog
Airline carriers have been trying everything to entice customers to fly with them. Larger carriers have been dipping into their budgets to launch national advertising campaigns to expand their loyal (or not-so-loyal) fan bases. But not all airlines have the means to advertise on a regional scale – let alone a national platform. Despite all of this, it’s the smaller airlines that are currently offering the most value to travelers.
Larger airlines may offer the convenience of more frequent flights, but travelers are subjected to higher fares and additional fees because of high overhead costs. Regional airlines – such as Vision Airlines and Sun Country Airlines are starting to gain more attention, however (check out this New York Times article). Limited services and scheduling means significantly lower overhead which results in lower fares and more direct routes – a dream come true for frequent fliers. The main problem for these little guys is reduced visibility. You won’t find them on booking sites like Expedia or Travelocity because of the listing fees associated with them, but word of mouth has helped these airlines immensely.
So what are the downfalls? Because of their size, there are some concessions that are made for the direct flight and lower prices. For one, flights aren’t run as frequently as can be found with larger carriers – smaller airlines make an estimated 1,000 trips per route a year. You’ll also find more often than not, that checked bags and in-flight snacks are only offered at an additional price. Perhaps the biggest concern, however, is the age of the planes used. Aircrafts flying for smaller airlines are over 15 years old on average, further punctuating the concern about longevity and how much longer the planes will hold together. Have you been reading any of the news around aging jetliners and the likely possibility of compromising safety?
As the airline industry continues to stabilize itself and looks to rebuild out of the downturn, we’re constantly reminded of how many businesses and industries depend on the health of the travel industry. And there’s no mistaking the necessity of airlines like these as the airline industry continues its journey to recovery.
Providing a service that compliments the big boys of airfare and doing so at a reasonable price will make the value of these airlines greater. As their value increases the possibility of benefits is twofold; Greater visibility with consumers as well as larger carriers increases the likelihood of acquisition (think more routes and more service from point A to point B). On the other hand, standalone growth in ridership means equal benefit as more and more money is infused back into the industry – a win-win for everyone.
February 11th, 2011 by TRT Blog
With our strong presence in the hospitality sector, we’re always keeping one eye on trends that may be coming travelers’ way. For example, a little while ago we blogged about some of the designs companies had commissioned to move airplanes into the next generation. There were certainly some unique ideas and conceptual designs that were created which would’ve tested the aviation industry. While there will be a great deal of interest and eventually progress on turning these concepts into something real, we can all accept that it won’t be for quite a few years.
What has already been in progress for quite a few years, albeit disappointingly, is the supposed new standard for aviation travel, the Boeing Dreamliner. Claiming to be quieter and more comfortable for air travelers the airline giant has now gone three years past the scheduled delivery of the plane and has cost Boeing an undisclosed, but presumably large, amount.
What’s troubling is that something of this magnitude – there are over 825 orders in for the new model – is suffering from so many delays for so many reasons. It hasn’t affected shares, which went up at the time of the announcement because investors feared the delay would be longer. By delaying a leap toward a quieter, more efficient and overall more pleasant flight because of delays, that with a little more planning could’ve been avoided, just slows whatever progress the travel industry as a whole could be making.
Hopefully soon we’ll be able to travel on the airliner of our dreams, and when we do we’ll be glad Boeing got everything right despite the delays. But at this rate, as soon as Boeing gets it together, we’ll be flying in one of these a few years later.
January 4th, 2011 by TRT Blog
Travelling can be costly for those who don’t properly prepare. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, everyone must take into account any fees that aren’t immediately mentioned when shopping around for plane tickets or hotels. Unfortunately, not everyone does their due diligence finding airfare, and it appears airline companies are capitalizing on this.
After the Transportation Dept. reported airline companies made $4.3 billion this year through bag checks and ticket changes, there were many who found this to be an inaccurate representation of how the monies were actually obtained. In a USA Today article, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey claimed that much of the $4.3 billion reported were through fees that weren’t disclosed properly and cost flyers extra and at a time when passengers could not make adjustments.
We’ve documented how the airline industry has struggled and needs to do everything possible financially to recover and become the leader in aviation travel it once was. However, it should not come at the expense of positive business practices. There are many travelers who are only able to travel once or twice a year, and some less than that. With these discouraging tactics to line their pockets, airlines risk alienating passengers, losing business through word of mouth by spurned consumers, and ultimately hurting the industry by scaring away the “infrequent flyers”.
Transparency is necessary in all forms of business, whether it’s green practices, a manufacturing process, or all fees applied to taking a trip. Everyone should have the right to know how something is made or where their money goes. Being a commodity that is required by many does not give airlines the right to charge fees at their whim. Until they can make clear how and why every fee is charged, there may be more bad times than good in the future for airline companies.
December 28th, 2010 by TRT Blog
Image from MIT/Aurora Flight Sciences
We’ve written about the steps that consumers and corporations alike have taken to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to the global appeal for climate change and sustainability. It’s nearly impossible to ignore that fact that change is needed in the ways we both produce and operate many of the machines we use daily. Electric cars, energy efficient appliances, and solar powered production have all deservedly taken the spotlight as some of the leading trends and contributions made toward the reduction of energy emissions, but lately it’s been NASA who has, if you’ll excuse the pun, flown under the radar.
In late November, NASA handed out a total of $6 million to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to help major airlines develop quieter, more fuel efficient and “green” planes. NASA’s goal is to reduce harmful emissions from jets by half, cut the area affected by noise planes produced from takeoff and landing by 83%, and enable planes to reduce fuel consumption by half. The plan is to have planes that adhere to all of these requirements in the air by 2025.
It will be just as exciting to hear about the developments from these two companies as it will be to see the design of the aircrafts that are developed. An article in the Los Angeles Times gave a glimpse into the funding from NASA and readers were invited in to see a few of the green plane concepts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With additional requirements that the aircraft be able to carry a minimum of 100,000 pounds in either passengers or cargo, and fly at the speed of sound for 7,000 miles, NASA is urging both companies to think outside the box.
Flying has changed dramatically since its birth in the early 1900’s. It’s not unfathomable to think that in another 50-100 years we could be travelling by air much differently than we are now. It’s good to see that we’re taking the steps to make sure that when that time comes, we won’t be using outdated methods or technology and potentially contributing to added noise and pollution.
December 10th, 2010 by TRT Blog
The airline industry has taken a beating the last ten years. Whether it’s the cost of travel for a family, the lackluster accommodations on the planes, or subpar ability for carriers to remain on schedule, taking a trip by plane no longer provides the majestic feeling of travel for some. Compounding these feelings recently have been the TSA’s new heightened security measures.
After some scares in airports surrounding packages and travelers, the TSA recently turned to full scale pat-downs and full body scanning to screen passengers getting on flights. Almost immediately, backlash arose from flyers. The full body scanners were already a source of concern in terms of privacy, but now the full pat-downs amplified this concern. Lines at security checkpoints are backing up and are taking more than our time.
In a somber piece in the New York Times, Nate Silver looked at some of the negative impacts that could occur when people choose alternatives to air travel because of heavy handed TSA tactics. The loss of recreational travelers can hurt areas which depend on that revenue. Business deals can be lost when companies choose to teleconference as opposed to meeting face- to-face. The equivalent of roughly four Boeing 737s crashing each year equal the number of deaths of people who travel by ground instead of by air!
All of these stats are of course worse case scenarios, and the article does point out that the new security measure can have the opposite effect. But in 2002-03, while travelers claimed new security measures gave them the feeling that travelling is safe once more and would fly more frequently, actual numbers suggested otherwise. Hopefully, history doesn’t repeat itself and these polarizing feelings on the subject even out and the airline industry can get back to putting the last decade behind them.
October 22nd, 2010 by TRT Blog
As the economy continues to rebound, more and more ways of effective cost reductions are popping up. Homeowners do their own painting, hotels look to renovations instead of new construction, and businesses look to reduce consumption in order to buy new materials less often. Airlines are also making adjustments, in some cases with the repair of planes in their fleets. While there have been savings for many carriers, it has raised fears that this is coming at the expense of customer safety.
Highlighted in an article from Condé Nast Traveler, a damning case document from the FAA against St. Louis based carrier Trans States shows that between 2007 and 2008 the airline suffered through maintenance lapses, resulting in a $2.5 million fine. An example of a misstep the carrier committed was failure to adjust a wing strap which allows the pilot to adjust the plane’s angle and slow down upon landing.
Unfortunately these fines aren’t just being levied against small economy based airlines. In the first half of 2010, six airlines were hit with multi-million dollar fines, including Delta and American Airlines. Though everything is not as dire as it may seem. Many of the facilities outside the US are as competent as their US counterparts, but there has been enough concern about the quality and control of these facilities that it has garnered the attention of Congress.
Travelling hasn’t been the same in the last decade and many companies in the airline industry all have been looking to cut costs and increase revenue as many ways as possible through job cuts, higher fares and outsourcing aspects of the job. But by outsourcing tasks, in particular heavy repairs to fleets, airlines risk losing just as much in fines as they would by keeping the maintenance domestic, and stunting job growth at home.
Much more can be found at the Condé Nast Traveler site here.
October 5th, 2010 by TRT Blog
As the global economy has started showing signs of repair and recovery after the challenges of the last few years, hardworking families and individuals have started reclaiming their financial stability, and consumer spending is on the up and up. The breaks we’ve been cautious to take have started to slowly (but surely) climb their way up the priority list as much needed opportunities for rest and relaxation from the daily grind.
According to a survey, consumers around the world want to take a break – and 60% say they plan to in the coming year by spending the same amount or more than they have in the last year. More than half of Chinese and Singaporeans along with one third of New Zealanders and Australians are planning on spending more this year on travelling then they did last year. Meanwhile, the Japanese and our own fellow Americans said they were looking to cut back spending on vacation budgets.
One thing is certain, no matter where you live in the world, vacationing is never far from your thoughts. About 90 percent of the people surveyed agree that visiting another locale versus staying home is imperative, even when money is tight.
This survey, conducted by SSI (Survey Sampling International), was the result of 5,000+ adult participants from all over the world. The outcome is based on vacations planned that are longer than four days. Americans and Japanese are more likely to skip vacations this year that consist of four or more days of travel. While most other vacationers, about 82 percent, plan on taking domestic trips. Chances are that this will result in less spend, but there are still a few countries that look forward to international excursions which will likely result in higher spending. The survey showed over half of Singaporeans, Germans, British and Chinese are all preparing for trips that will take them outside of their own country.
No matter which destination you chose to visit for vacation, or for how much, the point is to have a good time.
August 6th, 2010 by TRT Blog
It is said you grow wiser with age. Or that as you mature, so does your palette. Both may be true. Though any age can be discerning.
A new study in the workplace among Generation Y, basically people born between 1981 and 2000, found that they have certain expectations of what they want from their employers in their workplaces; and a green workplace is one of them.
The study found that respondents wanted to work in organizations that were ‘on the cutting edge’ of technology, where they could work effectively. And when asked about work environment, they said they didn’t just prefer employers who provide eco-friendly conditions, but they wanted them to exceed minimum compliance standards.
Logic dictates that if this generation expects above average working conditions with regards to green practices, then it’s probable that these workers when they’re traveling for work or pleasure, are going to hold the same, if not higher, standards to the entire travel industry.
It’s refreshing the leaders of tomorrow say that they have standards and want to see organizations demonstrating theirs. This also presents an opportunity for every hotel and travel destination to demonstrate its sustainability and commitment to green, and a lost demographic for those that don’t.
July 27th, 2010 by TRT Blog
Google is a ubiquitous entity in the online world. Having a hand in almost all aspects of the internet has allowed it the opportunity to shape the internet. With their acquisition of flight information company ITA for $700m they have not-so-subtly announced their intentions of making a big splash in the travel industry as well.
This could have a big impact for many. On the business side, ITA has existing contracts with many of the existing trip planning companies out there that offer flight purchasing options to travelers (industry stalwarts like Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz all use information provided by ITA). Google said that the all things internet giant will continue to honor all existing contracts for its part, and it behooves them to stick with that as the Wall Street Journal reports that with such heavy advertising, online travel agencies “generate 8-10% of Google’s gross revenue world-wide”.
So, what does this mean for the consumer? This just gives another platform for travelers to search and compare prices for flights. Customers will be redirected to airline sites to book trips, unlike groups like Expedia and Orbitz who take the orders themselves. This could potentially remove business from these travel agencies in the long term, as these search engines circumvent them and bring consumers straight to the source.
In the end Google is providing a service which could positively impact an industry, one we have very close ties to. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with both consumers and businesses.