Zurich: Switzerland’s Downtown

Not everything you hear about Switzerland is true. The place doesn’t run like a Rolex. Not Zurich, where time has a hitch. The eye-popping beauty freezes time. Like there is no other place in the world. No other time. The Swiss call Zurich “Downtown Switzerland.” I started coming here years ago. We’d roll off a…

Delta and Alaska Partnership Will Duke it Out

Here’s the weird thing. As much as airlines are fierce competitors, many also need each other to survive. Take Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines. Alaska feeds Delta’s international flights out of Seattle from up and down the West Coast. If you want baseball-like statistics, Alaska carries 65 percent of the passengers from Las Vegas…

Airliner Water: Is It Safe?

Mama always told me a traveler needs a compliant GI system. Of course that was back when there were porters and not hijackers. Now comes one of those headlines that grab you by the throat: Why Airline Crews Skip The Coffee And Tea On Board. I’m thinking for the same reason I do. I don’t…

Tokyo’s Mountain of Tranquility

The world’s biggest city. Vast suburbs and an honor-bound population of 35 million, equal to all of California. Where they eat all manner of Oceanic goop. But wilderness in Tokyo is not as slippery and elusive as you might think. In the time it takes to blow off an afternoon meeting, you can hike wooded…

Japan Airlines Orders Its First Airbus

Even Boeing now admits the 787 Deamliner’s mechanical snafus are more than just bad publicity. Japan Airlines, a staunch Boeing loyalist, yesterday signed a $9.5 billion (list price) deal for 31 wide-body Airbus A350 jets. Also on the table is the option for another 25 A350s. This was a tough and gutsy call by JAL,…

Etihad Goes on a Buying Spree

In case you didn’t catch it, The New York Times profiled James Hogan, the chief executive of Etihad Airways, over the weekend. The newspaper claims “he’s never been so popular.” Once, “the big European airlines like Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France-KLM lobbied their governments to restrict the fast-growing Gulf carriers’ access to European airports…

Airbus Revamps A330 for Domestic Markets

Let’s consider China’s teeming domestic market. Don’t expect a zillion sports-car-like aircraft from Bombardier and Embraer. It takes a mighty swing to clear the bases on loaded routes like Beijing to Shanghai, which has grown more than 50 percent in the last 10 years. Three-quarters of the flights are wide-body jets. And the aircraft of…

Two-Wheeled Reaches of the Netherlands

I’m up north in the unbounded Netherlands. Cycling beyond the old fishing village of Harlingen, way out on the western tip of the province of Friesland, where the great Dutch ice-skaters live. Where action is virtue. Down at the dock in Harlingen, the departure point for ferries to the nearby Friesland islands, I fuel up…

Low-Cost Airlines Rise in Southeast Asia

Ever been to a night market in Asia? You know, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chiang Mai – where things are cheap and mostly knock-offs of major brands? Locals shop there. Cash on the nail. Now the bulk of airline passengers in Southeast Asia are pursuing cheap knock-off airlines. Low-cost carriers account for more than 50 percent…

Airlines’ Next Generation “Enhancement” Fees

You could argue that the defining business of airlines is to fly you from one airport to another. But we all know the profit comes from ancillary fees. Last year these supplemental fees for extras like checked baggage amounted to $27.1 billion worldwide. Now, reading like a multi-generational novel, comes a new wave of ancillary…

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