09 April 2011


BEING BUMPED. Michelle Higgins in the NYTimes reports that in the current economy, with airlines cutting service and eliminating the number of daily flights, the overbooking of seats and subsequent bumping of passengers from flights is on the rise. "Airlines regularly overbook flights to help offset no-shows and to ensure that flights are packed with paying passengers. Last year, out of 595 million passengers, 681,100 were denied seats on planes, according to the Department of Transportation. Most of those people volunteered to give up their seats in return for some form of compensation, like a voucher for a free flight. But D.O.T. statistics also show that about 1.09 out of every 10,000 passengers were bumped involuntarily.

"Airlines are required to ask people who are not in a hurry to give up their seats voluntarily, in exchange for compensation, before passengers who do not want to give up their seats are kicked off. But with capacity cuts, getting customers to volunteer is tricky. Full planes mean that the next flight out with an open seat might not be until the next day or even the next."

Still, there is apparently opportunity in every dilemma. Some people who wish to rack up frequent-flier miles, strategically book on flights that are the most likely to be oversold in the hopes of being bumped. Higgins offers a list of tips for those who want being bumped. If you wish to avoid being bumped, just do the opposite (see the article for further explanation) --

~ Be the first in line.

~ Fly through hubs.

~ Take the red-eye.

~ Choose the right airline and the right day.

~ Check the weather.

~ Know the rules.

~ Ask for more.

~ Be polite.

My own semi-educated guess after flying commercially for over forty years, is that airline practices are highly suspect. The hub-and-spoke system is custom-made to generate logjams. Further, the practice of overbooking should be made illegal. It would not be tolerated in any other business. Selling a seat ticket is entering into a contract. Selling more tickets than there are seats, amounts to intentional and systematic fraud.

BIRDNET. How embarrassing. The BBC reports that "A Durban [South Africa] IT company pitted an 11-month old bird armed with a 4GB memory stick against the ADSL service from the country's biggest web firm, Telkom. Winston the pigeon took two hours to carry the data 60 miles -- in the same time the ADSL had sent 4% of the data." High-speed internet still has a few kinks to work out, it seems.

In another bird story, this remarkable video shows two crows inciting an epic cat street fight. The cats fell for it, and neither bird was hurt in the ensuing melee. Where's the dignity?

PARSIMONY. To tickle your imagination, and hopefully to encourage more inconspicuous consumption, check out 7 Ways to Have More by Owning Less. People working together can achieve wonders.

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