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Another move in the airline alliance game this week: Air France chose
Delta as its exclusive U.S. partner. What's emerging are four global
groups: the Star Alliance, OneWorld, the soon-to-be-unfurled Wings; and
now, this partnership. These alliances help you earn miles on multiple
airlines, but for passengers, there aren't many more benefits, says
Biztravel.com's Joe Brancatelli.
Brancatelli: "A perfect example is this new Delta-Air France alliance. So
now you have two carriers that are going to globally align their flights.
Yet if you connect between a Delta flight in New York to an Air France
flight in New York, which are their two major hubs for international
flights, you'll have to change terminals because they're not going to move
their flights into the same terminal, so actually passengers have to pay
more attention to these alliances to see what they're losing than what
No question what the airlines are gaining. United and Lufthansa said
being part of the Star Alliance contributed at least $200 million to
their profits last year.
B'bye Passenger Rights Bill
Airlines have had five years of record profits, but some travelers say
they're not doing as well at customer service. A Senate committee
Wednesday supported the airline industry's voluntary improvement plan.
Gone for the moment at least is Senator Ron Wyden's proposed legislation,
which would guarantee passenger rights such as access to the lowest fare.
More on Pilot Fatigue
How about a guarantee that your pilot is well-rested? USA Today reports
that American Airlines pilots have complained they're often pressured to
fly without adequate sleep. The airline called the claims nonsense, but
the FAA will investigate the matter as part of its probe into the Little
The Not-So-Friendly Europeans Skies
There's trouble in the air over Europe as well. The Association of
European Airlines says the first three months of '99 were the worst EVER
for flight delays. They predict a summer of chaos, blaming increased
military air traffic and incompatible air traffic control systems.
Milan's Malpensa airport had the worst record, with more than half of its
flights delayed by an average of 45 minutes.
Well, it just got easier to leave London. Check-in desks
for Heathrow Airport opened Wednesday at Paddington Train Station.
Passengers on 19 airlines can now get boarding passes and check luggage
before hopping on the high-speed Heathrow Express Rail, which reaches the
airport in 16 minutes
by Cheryl Glaser
Transportation Strikes in Italy
You might have to wait even longer for that flight out of Milan if Italy's
transportation strikes continue. This week's wave included airport
firefighters, railway workers in Tuscany, Venice and Naples, and ferry
service to Sicily. The strikes against government reforms are expected to
continue several more weeks.
U.S. Embassies in Africa
The State Department closed six U.S. embassies in Africa on Friday. They
cited security concerns including suspicious individuals watching the
buildings, and intelligence reports that accused terrorist Osama Bin Laden
was planning an attack.
Earlier in the week the State Department issued a "Worldwide Caution,"
anticipating the resumption of the treason trial against Turkish rebel
leader Abdullah Ocalan. It urged Americans abroad to remain "vigilant" with regard to personal
security, but declined to specify areas that present the most danger.
Violent protests occurred throughout Europe when the Kurdistan Workers'
Party leader was captured earlier this year.