American’s plans for its fleet, and other aviation stories of the past week

An American Airlines 777-300ER parked at LAX. Photo credit: American.

An American Airlines 777-300ER parked at LAX. American is taking delivery of six 777-300s this year, which will bring the total number in the fleet to 16. Photo credit: American.

What’s news in the world of aviation? These are the stories I have enjoyed most in the past week or so:

The size of American’s combined fleet will be just about the same this December as it was in December 2013, the Dallas Morning News reports. But the mix of the mainline airplanes will change a lot. “AAG plans to take delivery of 83 new airplanes in 2014 for American and US Airways, led by 42 of the Airbus A321s,” Terry Maxon writes. “That’s one new airplane every 4½ days, approximately. But AAG also plans to park 80 older airplanes, including 26 McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and 22 Boeing 757s.” The size of the total fleet will be about 970 airplanes.

Did you know that on 72 days in 2013 Delta did not cancel a single flight? And already this year, Delta told the Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney, it is already ahead of that pace. What’s Delta’s secret? McCartney breaks it down. One of the most interesting things? Delta moves flight crews around the system to ensure a flight does not necessarily need to be canceled just because the original pilots have gone illegal.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports on an interesting study on airline price volatility. Among U.S. airports, Bloomberg reported that San Francisco had the most volatility, while New York LaGuardia had the least. Among carriers, Alaska Airlines and US Airways played with their prices the least, according to the study.

In her regular column on Flyertalk, flight attendant Sarah Steegar says your flight crews like to mix things up with pranks. Apparently pilots will sometimes tell new hires that they have “forgotten the keys” to the airplane.  Hah!

Is Spirit interested in moving some flights from Fort Lauderdale to Miami? The Miami Herald says it’s a possibility. But that seems odd considering Miami has unusually high costs for airlines. Any ideas on why Spirit is floating this option?

And finally, one of my stories. I wrote a trend piece asking whether airlines have instituted something like an on-board caste system as they have added perks in premium cabins and taken them away from economy class travelers. “I just find it distasteful.” said Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance and a consistent airline critic. Others, of course, see no problem with airlines rewarding their most lucrative customers.

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Emirates Airline is looking for flight attendants from Los Angeles

Emirates is looking for flight attendants from Los Angeles. No word on whether you have to smile like this.

Emirates is looking for flight attendants from Los Angeles. No word on whether you have to smile like this. Photo courtesy of the airline.

Want to be a flight attendant for Emirates Airline, the Dubai-based luxury carrier?

Now is your chance.

The airline will recruit crew on Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Torrance Marrriot South Bay just south of Los Angeles International Airport. It starts at 9 a.m. You’ll be speaking to the company’s recruitment team. You should also register online at www.emirates.com/careers.

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New video: Flight attendant Heather Poole answers your questions!

Heather Poole could be one of the most famous flight attendants in the world.

The Manhanttan Beach, Calif. resident wrote a best-selling book called “Cruising Attitude: Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 30,000 Feet,” about life as a major airline flight attendant. She’s also built a huge following on her blog and on Twitter. It’s not unusual for her to be recognized, especially in airports. (And yes, she’ll sign a copy of her book if she sees you reading it.)

I met with her Tuesday to ask about her life and her job. She was kind enough to answer three questions posed by my Twitter followers on video.

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Flight Attendant reacts to TSA’s reversal of knife policy

Backing down from its earlier announcement, the Transportation Security Administration announced Wednesday that it will not allow knives on commercial airplanes.

The move comes after fierce lobbying from flight attendants, pilots and even some airline chief executives. All noted that hijackers on 9/11 used blades to help bring down airplanes.

TSA Administrator John Pistole had argued small knife blades posed limited risk for travelers. He had wanted to remove the ban on certain blades, saying screeners should focus on other banned items.

Just after the announcement, I caught up with Dante Harris, a United Airlines flight attendant and the president of Association of Flight Attendants, AFA-CWA LAX Council 12

Brian Sumers: Are you pleased with the decision?

Dante Harris: That sounds like good news. I think it’s absolutely absurd to have knives on board a plane. There is no real benefit to having knives on a plane. I was just traveling myself for union business, and they took away my toothpaste and they had 3 officers looking at my toothpaste. Yet they were going to put knives on planes. It just doesn’t many any sense. It’s a very good decision. We applaud the TSA administrator.

Sumers: Why is this decision so important?

Harris: Our flying partners were murdered on Sept. 11 using small knives  A couple of those flight attendants were friends of mine. It’s very personal for us as flight attendants. We are the last line of defense. When things go down, it’s the flight attendant that has to make sure all the passengers are safe.

Sumers: You were a leader in the “No Knives on Planes” campaign. You even held a press conference at LAX. Do you feel it worked?

Harris: I don’t have a lot information. But if that’s the case and its’ a definite that there will be no knives, I think the campaign did work.

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