Feds rubber-stamp US Airways/America West merger — U.S. anti-trust enforcers cleared the proposed merger between bankrupt US Airways and America West Airlines, saying it would be good for consumers, the Justice Department said on Thursday. The agency said it concluded its 30-day review of the deal worth up to $1.5 billion and found that combining the carriers would not hurt competition. The government declined to seek additional information from either company. (Reuters)

Hot topic on the Tripso boards — Should cell phones be allowed on planes?

In wake of Cessna joyride, authorities ponder crackdown — A Bethel, Conn., man’s joyride across state lines in a Cessna allegedly stolen early Wednesday has set off a scramble on both sides of the Connecticut-New York border to address the lack of national security rules for small airports. Gov. M. Jodi Rell responded to the security breach yesterday by ordering the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security to send teams to assess the security at every airport in the state. (Advocate)


Amtrak funding cut for next year
— The House Appropriations Committee June 21 approved a bill the would provide Amtrak with $550 million for the coming fiscal year, an amount the falls far below the $1.2 billion the rail line said it needs to simply maintain the nationwide system. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta praised the committee’s action as a first step towards the Bush administration’s goal of reforming Amtrak, which is billions of dollars in debt. (Travel Weekly)

Flight attendants could derail United cost savings — United Airlines flight attendants’ attempts to save their pensions may be futile, but their discontent casts a shadow over United’s restructuring and could unravel progress recently made on cutting costs. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) is banking that either litigation or legislation will block a plan by the bankrupt No. 2 U.S. carrier, a unit of UAL Corp., to shift its employee pensions to government insurers. (Reuters)

Woman sues government in bra-stuffing incident — A Quincy, Mass., woman who apparently stuffed $46,950 in cash in her bra before trying to board a plane to Texas for plastic surgery has sued a federal agency, demanding the return of her money. The money was seized from Ileana Valdez, 26, after a security check at a metal detector at Logan International Airport on Feb. 3. Valdez told authorities she was heading to Texas for plastic surgery on her buttocks and breasts. (AP)

Airline exec accused of peeping on lav users — Prosecutors say the owner and president of Corporate Jet Center at the Muskegon County (Mich.) International Airport used a miniature spy camera to view and videotape his female employees as they used the restroom. The camera was allegedly encased in a doorstop set at doorknob level in the women’s restroom at the company hangar. (WOOD)

Frequent flier miles for laser eye surgery — The wide world of frequent-flier miles just got bigger. Sure, Northwest Airlines Inc.’s frequent fliers can accumulate miles when they buy electronics or clothes online or when they charge a purchase to a WorldPerks credit card. They can even earn points by refinancing a mortgage or getting a loan. Now, add laser eye surgery to that list. (Detroit Free Press)

Air traffic controllers covered up errors — Air traffic controllers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area routinely covered up errors and their supervisors failed to investigate cases that included airplanes flying too close to each other, federal officials said. The incidents date back seven years at D-FW Terminal Radar Approach Control, which oversees air traffic at all of the area’s airports, including Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. (Washington Post)

Passengers stranded in 115 degree heat for two hours — Rail travellers smashed windows with emergency hammers to escape from overheated carriages yesterday after a power failure left them stranded between stations in baking heat. Nearly 300 passengers were trapped for two hours after the 2.55pm train from Newcastle to London Kings Cross, came to a halt near Sawtry in Cambridgeshire at around 5.30pm. (The Independent)

Hot meals to fly first class — First-class fliers, rejoice: Hot meals are returning to cross-country US Airways flights. Airline food has long been grist for late-night comics. But many of US Airways’ most frequent travelers weren’t laughing when the airline, citing problems with a food vendor, pulled hot meals from long-haul domestic flights in February. In their place came In-flight Cafe boxes, filled with the same sandwiches available for purchase in coach.
(Charlotte Observer)

Three charged in theft of valuable from soldiers at BWI — Three baggage handlers at Baltimore-Washington International Airport have been charged with stealing electronics and other valuables from U.S. military personnel on overseas assignments and from other international travelers. Thousands of dollars worth of laptop computers, cameras and other items were taken, mostly from the luggage of military personnel, in what Maryland Transportation Authority police called a “major felony theft scheme” that targeted international travelers. (Baltimore Sun)

Commentary from John Frenaye — Tripso is speechless!

Correspondents: Richard Wong, Carrie Charney, Leslie Friedman, John Frenaye, Stephanus Surjaputra.