Daily Archives: April 9, 2012

Jet blows tires during landing at Reagan National

A United Airlines flight blew two rear tires Monday morning at Reagan National Airport, but landed safely.

United Airlines Flight 1075 from Houston arrived at Reagan just after 11 a.m.

Read the original report on NBCWashington.com.

No injuries were reported. After landing, the Boeing 737-700 was towed to a gate.

The runway re-opened at 11:30 a.m.

There were 122 passengers and five crew members on board, according to the Associated Press.

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Airlines avoiding North Korean rocket path

Some Asian airlines plan to change flight paths for several routes to avoid a rocket North Korea is expected to launch in the next week.

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Philippine Airlines said Monday that a dozen of its flights from the United States, Japan and South Korea will fly safely away from the rocket’s possible path.

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways are changing flight paths on routes connecting Tokyo to Manila, Jakarta and Singapore. Domestic flights will not be affected.

JAL has four flights a day on the expected rocket launch dates, and airline official Norio Higashimine said each flight will carry more fuel in case of an unexpected route change.

ANA is making similar route changes on five flights.

North Korea says it is launching a satellite between Thursday and April 16, depending on weather. It says the satellite will observe crops and natural resources and denies suspicions that the launch is intended to test long-range missile technology.

Philippine officials have declared a no-fly zone and urged ships and fishing boats to avoid northeastern territorial waters where rocket debris may fall.

More about the North Korean rocket program:

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Titanic cruise delayed due to strong winds

Chris Helgren / Reuters

Tormod Gaasbakk, left, and Anne Isabel Udbye of Trondheim, Norway, sit in a hot tub on a Titanic Memorial Cruise aboard the MS Balmoral as it navigates high winds April 9 on its sailing to Cobh.

It’s been a stormy beginning for a cruise ship retracing the maiden voyage of the doomed Titanic.

The MS Balmoral, with 1,309 passengers aboard, was delayed on its first day at sea due to strong winds, the Guardian reports. The ship set sail Sunday from Southampton — as the Titanic did on its maiden voyage 100 years ago — on a 12-night cruise commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking.

After being slowed by strong winds, the Balmoral reached Cobh on Ireland’s southern coast late Monday, the BBC reports.

The ship originally had been due to arrive in Cobh at 2:30 p.m. local time, according to the Guardian, forcing a civic reception to be postponed for several hours. The Balmoral arrived shortly before 6 p.m. and was greeted by thousands of well-wishers, Rachael Jackson, public relations manager for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, which operates the Balmoral, told msnbc.com.

The town of Cobh, formerly known as Queenstown, was the Titanic’s last port of call before it crossed the Atlantic almost a century ago. The ship will follow the same route as the Titanic, though since it is a smaller ship, the Balmoral had to leave Southampton two days earlier than the Titanic.

The parent company of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Harland and Wolff, built the Titanic in Belfast. It has been chartered for the event by Miles Morgan Travel, which specializes in tailor-made holidays.

David Moir / Reuters

The Titanic Belfast Experience is a new visitor attraction location in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, on the original site of the Harland and Wolff shipyard –  birthplace of RMS Titanic.

Launch slideshow

Rachel O’Reilly, a spokeswoman for Miles Morgan Travel, told the Guardian that the ship was running late. “But I have spoken to Miles Morgan himself, who is on board, and he tells me the ship will categorically not be delayed leaving Cobh this evening.”

Alastair Grant / AP

Mary Beth Crocker Dearing and her husband, Tom Dearing, from Newport, Ky., pose for the media in period costume as they wait to board the MS Balmoral cruise ship April 8 in Southampton, England.

The organizers are trying to recreate the onboard experience — minus the disaster — including the food and a live band playing music from that era, in a tribute to Titanic’s musicians who reportedly played their instruments until the ship sank.

People from 28 countries have booked passage, organizers said, including relatives of some of the more than 1,500 people who died when the Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912, in international waters in the North Atlantic. Other passengers include relatives of the around 700 survivors, along with authors and historians.

The tickets varied in cost from 2,799 pounds ($4,445) to 5,995 pounds ($9,520).

Over the course of the voyage, passengers will attend lectures by Titanic experts such as Philip Littlejohn, grandson of a Titanic survivor. Littlejohn said he is sure his grandfather would be proud to know his story would be shared with passengers on the Titanic Memorial Cruise.

“It will be an emotional moment when we are over the wreck site, where I dived in 2001 and where my grandfather left Titanic rowing Lifeboat 13,” he said.

While on board, passengers also will dine on meals based around dishes served in April 1912, with a formal dinner on April 13 made up entirely of dishes served aboard the Titanic.

Cruise organizers have set up a special memorial service on April 14 to start at 11:40 p.m. to mark the moment Titanic hit the iceberg, and later at the exact moment when the ship sank.

The cruise is among an abundance of commemorations and memorials to the reputedly unsinkable ship that have sprung up to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s doomed voyage.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.

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Frequent fliers blast flying experience in annual survey

Performance-wise, 2011 was a very good year for U.S. airlines. As an industry, overall performance was the best in the 21 years of the Airline Quality Rating 2012 (AQR) (PDF), a yearly report that crunches data such as lost bags, delayed flights, bumped passengers and customer complaints.

“This is not opinion. In almost two decades we have not had this level of optimum performance,” Dr. Brent Bowen, the head of the Department of Aviation Technology at Purdue University, told msnbc.com. Bowen conducts the AQR with Dr. Dean Headley, an associate professor at the W. Frank Barton School of Business, Wichita State University. The report was released April 2.

Despite the strong marks, however, air travelers don’t seem to notice. In the Airline Passenger Survey 2012 (PDF), also conducted by Purdue and Wichita State researchers and released Friday, more than half of frequent fliers polled reported being disappointed with the air travel experience.

“By the numbers, 2011 may have been the best year for the airlines,” said Dr. Erin Bowen, one of the survey’s authors and an assistant professor at Purdue University’s Department of Technology Leadership Innovation. “But airlines are doing a poor job of conveying these improvements to passengers. The objective improvements don’t match up with the experience passengers are getting when they fly,” she said.

Among some other findings from the survey:

  • Fifty-four percent of frequent fliers don’t believe airlines are being completely honest by attributing fare and fee increases to rising fuel costs;
  • Given a choice of how to offset rising air costs, air passengers put a la carte fees, such as Allegiant Air’s recently imposed fee for carry-on bags, at the bottom of their wish list. “They’d rather pay a higher fee, take alternative transportation or fly less,” Erin Bowen said;
  • Passengers primarily rely on price and schedule when choosing an airline. When that is constant, however, travelers consider customer service (36 percent) and on-time arrival (32 percent) as factors.

In a ranking of the most passenger-friendly airlines, Southwest was an overwhelming favorite. More than one-third of frequent fliers surveyed put the low-cost carrier ahead of the 14 other airlines on the list. JetBlue was ranked No. 2 (12 percent), followed by Continental and Alaska (6 percent each).

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Southwest also ranked No. 1 as the most preferred airline with 17 percent of the vote. Delta and United were close behind at 12 percent, followed by American (11 percent) and JetBlue (10 percent).

The gap between Southwest and its competitors has been shrinking. In 2009, the first year of the Airline Passenger Survey, the discrepancy between Southwest and Delta was 9 percent; the gap fell to just under 6 percent at the end of 2010, and now sits at 5 percent.

“Southwest has the lead, but other airlines are starting to do a better job of meeting consumer expectations and putting out a friendlier message,” Erin Bowen said.

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