Columnists

December 31, 2006

2006: A Year in Review

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Ah what a year it has been, its been year of ups, downs, roundabouts, flip flops, and OIL! We began the year with the final departure of Independence Air, the little airline that couldn’t, or should we say couldn’t make a profit. What do you expect from an airline that handed out bumper stickers that said “I am not normal?” That should have been our first clue.

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Independence Air promotional bumper sticker

After a long struggle United Airlines emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy a stronger, prouder airline carrying with it the guilt of tens of thousands of employees shown the door, retirees finding that their nest egg was just stolen out from under them, and then announcing, “Hey, we’re up for sale.”

While United emerged from Chapter 11 Delta and Northwest wrestled with their unions, cut service, dumped pension plans, threw winglets on narrow bodies, and packed passengers into a 50 year old terminal at JFK in an attempt to perhaps relive the spirit of Pan Am. Oh and let us not forget the one hit wonder, yes Song. Song performed its last tour in 2006, yes the band broke up but let’s be real, they never really sung a good tune from the start.

Where did the love go? Only a few years ago many were saying the LCCs were the wave of the future — that airlines like jetBlue would dominate the skies and the old legacies would fall. Where are those people now? Probably flying a legacy to Kalamazoo to see family because they realized the LCCs don’t fly there. This year we saw the legacy carriers enter or expand in small and midsize growth markets that the likes of jetBlue, Southwest, and Airtran can’t touch. Give it a couple years, boys and girls. You know those pictures we see of airlines like Eastern, Pan Am, and Braniff just after they shut down? Well, the T5/6 AirTrain station will get you some great photos of jetBlue’s parked fleet.

Ah yes, then there was the price of oil and the wonderful fun that caused. It was bad enough that a $200 roundtrip ticket to LA would really cost you $240 with all the taxes and security fees, but when the fuel surcharges were added on it became laughable.

Kip Hawley's bio page on TSA.gov

Kip Hawley’s bio page on TSA.gov

Finally, yes finally, we have the TSA and DHS. What did we learn from them this year? Well by putting our liquids into a yellow and green makes blue zip lock bag that our skies would be safe from evil. Yes, while sandwich bags protected us from Al Qaeda, homeless people slept on the AOA at Newark, a front man for the Beach Boys was appointed head of security for a major airport, unscreened cargo filled the belly of your Orlando-bound flight, and when you do a Google search for TSA chief Kip Hawley’s qualifications and click the corresponding DHS link you get ”Page cannot be found.” Perhaps an internal error or perhaps the truth of the man heading up our country’s port security.

Yes, 2006 was a fun year, and with the Scooby Do Airline and Virgin America looking to remain a virgin, 2007 should be just as fun.