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TRAVEL BRIEFCASE

Airlines post best on-time performance since 2003

Complaints about airline service and incidents of mishandled baggage fall sharply as well, according to the latest data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation.

July 11, 2009|Peter Pae

Airlines are still crowded, in-flight service is marginal and there are fewer flights to choose from.

But, hey, at least planes are increasingly on time.

With a lower number of flights overall, U.S. airlines posted their best on-time performance since 2003 for the first five months of this year, with fewer delays and cancellations.

Complaints about airline service and incidents of mishandled baggage fell sharply as well, according to the latest data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Airlines have been cutting flights since last summer, first in response to rising fuel prices, then to cope with a slump in air travel. In May, nearly 81% of all flights arrived on time, compared with 79% a year earlier.

Hawaiian Airlines topped the list with a little more than 90% of its May flights arriving on time.

At the bottom was Comair, a regional affiliate of Delta Air Lines, with only 65% of its flights having been on time.

Passenger complaints were down nearly 26%, while mishandled baggage incidents fell to 3.56 per 1,000 passengers from 4.6 a year earlier.

All-business-class flights to London

The timing may seem a bit off with business travel in the dumps, but in late September British Airways plans to launch a daily, all-business-class service between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and London City Airport.

British Airways is hoping to draw business travelers who want to avoid London's crowded Heathrow Airport and instead fly into the smaller airport near London's financial district. Because of the size of the airport, the airline said, passengers have the convenience of checking in only 15 minutes before departure.

The service will be on Airbus A318 aircraft configured to fit just 32 business-class seats. The plane, typically used by low-cost carriers, usually has about 100 coach seats.

The flights will be the first long-haul international service to operate from London City Airport, the closest airport to the city. In a nod to aviation history, the flights will be dubbed BA001 and BA002, codes that were used by the supersonic Concorde before it was grounded in 2003.

Starwood to host virtual meetings

Starwood Hotels and Resorts will begin rolling out special conference rooms where hotel guests can hold virtual meetings.

Dubbed "TelePresence" suites, users pay a rental fee to use the specially equipped room to hold a video teleconference meeting with others who may be across the street or across the Pacific.

The hotel plans to open 10 such facilities, including one at the Westin Los Angeles Airport and W Chicago-City Center.

Allegiant to curb Monterey flights

Allegiant Air, the Las Vegas-based carrier that in May began flights from Los Angeles International Airport to smaller cities west of the Mississippi with one-way fares as low as $9, said it would stop flying between LAX and Monterey, Calif., on Sept. 6.

"Unfortunately, due to lack of market demand, we will end our Los Angeles service from Monterey," Allegiant President Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. said.

The airline will continue its scheduled service from Monterey to Las Vegas and San Diego, Gallagher said.

Carry-ons

V Australia, the start-up carrier that flies between Los Angeles International Airport and Australia, is offering complimentary chauffeured limousine service to and from the airport for business-class passengers who live within 50 miles of LAX. . . . Delta Air Lines and Australia-based Virgin Blue are seeking approval for a tie-up that would allow their passengers to book flights on each other's airline. . . . Emirates Airlines, which has nonstop service from LAX to Dubai, is slashing $500 off connecting flights to Africa for the first 500 travelers who book a business-class ticket Tuesday and Wednesday.

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peter.pae@latimes.com

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