Weekend what we’re reading: Low-cost airline across the Atlantic, Best aviation museums, Airline fees reach $400-plus


This weekend take time to learn about the new low fare airline coming into the transatlantic market. Get the lowdown on the top aviation museums in the world. And, USA Today provides a stunning list of airline fees.

Long-haul expansion by a Norwegian carrier upsets U.S. airlines


It is back to the future. Remember the days of Freddie Laker and his cheap flights across the Atlantic? Well, they’re back. This time, in the form of Norwegian Air Shuttle flying across the Atlantic for a hair above $500 in the most modern airplane in the sky.

The response of the full-fare, legacy carriers is horror. And, just like with Freddie Laker, they are doing everything possible to keep this competitor out of the skies. With the creative organization of Norwegian Air Shuttle basing the airline in Ireland, its pilots in Bangkok and the flight attendants in the USA, there are plenty of issues that startled unions and airlines can jawbone about.

Only this week, according to the New York Times in another article, “Norwegian Air Shuttle said Wednesday that its long-distance subsidiary had formally received an operating license from Ireland, paving the way for the budget carrier to seek approval in the United States for a plan to offer cut-rate flights across the Atlantic…”

Let the savings begin. This will change the transatlantic marketplace and open it to new low-fare competitors. Airline alliances — oneworld, Star Alliance, and Skyteam — are on notice.

Norwegian started flying between Oslo and Kennedy Airport in New York in May and has round-trip fares starting at $509. The second-lowest price found recently was $895 on United Airlines flying out of Newark Liberty International Airport. Norwegian plans to add more than a dozen new routes this year, including direct service from London to New York and Copenhagen to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., once regulators approve its new registration in Dublin.

“They are the first true low-cost carrier to take advantage of the opportunities provided for under that agreement,” [William S. Swelbar, an aviation expert and the executive vice president at InterVISTAS Consulting,] said. “As in any agreement, the first case always challenges the meaning of the negotiated language.”

Mr. Swelbar added Norwegian could be setting a precedent that incumbent airlines probably wish to avoid. “Maybe the fear is that if Norwegian is successful, then that will invite Ryanair and some U.S. low-cost carriers and others to take advantage of what was negotiated between the U.S. and the E.U.,” he said.

World’s 14 best aviation museums

I have always loved aviation museums. I’m lucky to be living just outside of Washington, DC, with its Air and Space Museum downtown and out near Dulles Airport. However, there are other museums that can be jaw-dropping for any aviation enthusiast. Here is a Top-14 list compiled by CNN.

14. Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs, California, USA
13. Central Museum of Air Forces, Monino, Russia
12. Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum, Alice Springs, Australia
11. Red Bull Hangar-7, Salzburg, Austria
10. Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa, Canada
9. China Aviation Museum, Beijing, China
8. Polish Aviation Museum, Krakow, Poland
7. Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA
6. State Aviation Museum of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine
5. French Air and Space Museum, Le Bourget, France
4. Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour, Everett, Washington,
3. National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, USA
2. Imperial War Museum Duxford, Duxford, Cambridge, UK
1. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC, USA

Airline fees reach $400-plus

I’m sorry, but the latest increase in airline fees should get the attention of even the most ardent airline apologist. In an overview of airline fees, USA Today highlights how expensive some fees have become. Their list of fees must be mind-boggling to anyone who has not flown in a couple of years. Book mark this list. It is one of the most comprehensive that can be found on the web and allows consumers to compare many of these fees. However, it does not provide real-time, passenger-specific fees.

Those real-time, passenger-specific fees are still not disclosed by the airlines so that they can be combined with the airfares to allow consumers to compare the total cost of travel across airlines.

Delta Air Lines charges $400 to change a ticket on some international flights — a $150 increase over its most-expensive flight-change fee in 2011, when USA TODAY did a similar survey.

American Airlines charges $450 for an overweight checked bag weighing 71 to 100 pounds for some international flights, while such a bag on United Airlines’ international flights and Hawaiian Airlines’ Asian flights costs $400.

The most expensive fees for a single checked bag are those of Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air. Spirit charges $100 for a bag that must be checked in at an airport gate, and Allegiant charges $75 for a bag checked in at an airport for a Hawaii flight.

  • Mark H

    Yet another article that does no research into what they are saying. The Norwegian start up is opposed not just by US airlines, but by a huge coalition of airlines, labor groups, and European and US regulators. There’s a very good reason that they are opposing this startup, and it’s one that Consumer Traveler should respect and support. They are trying to start an airline that evades the regulations of all of the countries that it operates in. It will have an Irish operating certificate, but won’t operate in Ireland, it will hire Indonesian crews but won’t have an Indonesian base, they will be based in Singapore and maintenance will be done in yet another country. Essentially, this airline will have no oversight of aircraft, crews or any aspect of their operation. Meanwhile, they will be doing to the US and European airlines what was done to the US Merchant Marine in the 1950’s, total outsourcing of every aspect until the industry no longer exists. Is this worth a $200 ticket savings? Pretty shortsighted, and pretty stupid for a consumer travel publication to advocate that their readers travel on an entirely unregulated airline.

  • BobChi

    I’ll be watching the Norwegian project with interest. It could be a fascinating new option, and choices are what I like. Including the choice of whether to pay a bag fee or not. Leocha is horrified that airlines choose to make fees part of a profitable business model. I’m not.

  • Charles Leocha

    Leocha is not “horrified that airlines choose to make fees part of a profitable business model.” He is horrified that the airlines refuse to disclose those fees and their permutations so that consumers can see the full price of travel and buy baggage fees, should they choose, at the time they purchase airfares. And, that this deceptive action makes comparison shopping more difficult. That sleazy airline action is a big difference.