A few weeks ago, after Andrew Der posted a story about a Zappos customer who experienced incredible service, a commenter wondered aloud, “What would happen if Zappos ran an airline?” Good question! So I asked Zappos Customer Service Director Rob Siefker — how, exactly, would you run an airline?
What would you do if you had a three-bedroom condo all to yourself on the year’s busiest weekend in Park City, Utah? Steve Barsh decided to invite a few of his friends over. And he has a lot of friends.
Anthony Lipschitz is the chief executive of iStopover, a site that connects homeowners who have spare rooms to rent with travelers looking for affordable accommodations. With several high-profile cases of vacation rental customers being ripped off — including, ahem, some of my colleagues — I wanted to find out how to avoid becoming a victim.
Cory Garner is the director of distribution strategy for American Airlines. You may have heard about American removing its flights
Ron Moore is a former Transportation Security Administration officer at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and whistleblower who has called for better Congressional oversight and training for federal screeners. With some of the busiest air travel days of the year still ahead of us, and with the TSA continuing to insist body scans or pat-downs are necessary, I wanted to know what he thought. Here’s our interview.
Virgin America begins service to Orlando tomorrow. Remarkably, the three-year-old airline has stayed off my radar, when it comes to customer complaints. I asked David Cush, Virgin America’s chief executive, how he’s done it.
I met Allison Ausband, Delta Air Lines’ vice president for reservations sales and customer care, earlier this year in Atlanta after she’d taken over for Perry Cantarutti. I followed up with her earlier this week to see how her new job was going. Here’s our interview.
EpicMix is Vail Resorts’ newest online mobile application for winter sports, and with ski season just around the corner, I asked Rob Katz, Vail Resorts’ CEO, to weigh in on social media and skiing. Here’s our interview.
Frivolous car rental damage claims are a hot topic. Not a day seems to go by that I don’t hear from someone complaining about a bogus repair bill from a car rental company.
It’s been a busy 48 hours since the launch of Hipmunk, the new airline booking site with an impossibly cute name and a slick, critically-acclaimed interface.
US Airways ranked number one in on-time performance, baggage handling and customer satisfaction among the major network carriers for May, according to the latest Transportation Department report — a rare trifecta. It’s even more impressive, considering that just a few years ago, the airline consistently ranked near the bottom of the list. I asked Kerry Hester, the airline’s vice president for reservations and customer service planning, to shed some light on the numbers, and what they mean to passengers
US Airways is kind of obsessed with its numbers. It’s a good kind of obsession — it regularly touts its improvements in on-time arrivals, misplaced baggage, oversales and other metrics reported every month to the Transportation Department. Why is the airline so fixated on these figures? I asked Robert Isom, US Airways’ executive vice president and chief operating officer.
This weekend’s snowstorm in the eastern United States shut down several major airports and stranded tens of thousands of airline passengers. Most flights are operating normally this morning, but there’s always the trip home. I asked Howard Altschule, a meteorologist with Forensic Weather Consultants, what to do when weather threatens to ground your next flight.
Alexi Huntley Khajavi is the chief marketing officer for NatureAir, a small airline that serves destinations in Costa Rica and Panama. Your NatureAir flight comes with an unusual guarantee: It won’t leave a carbon footprint. I asked Khajavi to explain.
Perry Cantarutti is the vice president for sales and customer care at Delta Air Lines, the airline’s top customer-service position. I wanted to find out his tips for getting better customer service from an airline — particularly his. So I asked.
Chuck Thompson is the author of the just-released book, To Hellholes And Back: Bribes, Lies, and the Art of Extreme Tourism, a follow-up to his wickedly funny Smile When You’re Lying, a takedown of the travel writing business. So where are the hellholes? Congo, India, Mexico City and — “most feared of all,” Disney World. I asked him to explain.
Virgin Galactic, the commercial space tourism venture by Sir Richard Branson, is scheduled to unveil SpaceShipTwo to the public today. It’s the first spacecraft designed with the sole purpose of carrying paying passengers into suborbital space. Among the first astronauts will be Matthew Upchurch, chief executive officer of the travel agency consortium Virtuoso. Virgin Galactic has trained more than 70 Virtuoso travel agents as Accredited Space Agents. I asked Upchurch to tell me more about space travel — and space travel agents.
Robert Herbst runs the Web site AirlineFinancials.com, which has provided some of the more memorable and controversial airline analysis for this site and many other media outlets. Herbst is a pilot for a major airline — I agreed not to mention it in this interview, but his employer has been disclosed elsewhere — and has been crunching airline numbers for many years. He flies Boeing 767 and 757 aircraft in the United States, where you’re likely to find him on southern routes during the winter months.
United Airlines Captain Denny Flanagan had his 15 minutes of fame — and then some — when he was “discovered” by several prominent print and broadcast outlets two years ago and profiled for his many random acts of kindness. But long after the TV crews left, Captain Flanagan continues to do good at United. I caught up with him recently.
Rob Katz is the chief executive of Vail Resorts, which owns Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Heavenly, Keystone, and, of course, Vail. Parts of Colorado just received record amounts of early-season snow, which is all the excuse I needed to talk skiing with Katz.
Best Western has spent more than $3 billion in the last three years to upgrade, renovate, convert or construct new hotels in North America. It also separated from hundreds of so-called “underperforming” hotels recently. I asked Best Western’s chief executive, David Kong, what these changes mean to customers.
A few weeks ago, I asked Michelle Hansen, JetBlue’s director of customer support operations, if I could interview her about customer service issues. She later asked Morgan Johnston, JetBlue’s manager of corporate communications, to field my questions. Here are their answers.
Mike Simonetto is the principal and global leader of Deloitte Consulting’s pricing and profitability practice. With airlines and other travel companies testing our willingness to pay fees, I wanted to ask a pricing expert like him why travel companies were doing this and where it’s all headed.
Barney Harford is the president and chief executive officer of Orbitz. One of the first things he did when he took over eight months ago was institute a “total” price for hotel rooms, making it the first of the major online travel agencies to do so. He also launched a campaign to lift travel restrictions to Cuba imposed by the American government during the Cold War. I asked Harford why he decided to take on prices and politics so early in his tenure.
Erich Schuttauf is the executive director of the American Association for Nude Recreation, a group that represents clothing-optional resorts. There’s been a lot of talk about nudism in the travel world lately, from two highly-publicized incidents this summer in which disruptive airline passengers disrobed, to the groups efforts to coin a new term: the “nakation.” That’s right, folks. AANR has trademarked the word. Do nudists have an image problem? I asked Schuttauf.
Ginny Mahl is Travelocity’s vice president of sales and customer service — the woman behind the online travel agency’s vaunted “Travelocity Guarantee”. I asked Mahl about getting the best customer service from a travel Web site, and how her company is doing its part.
Sneharthi Roy is the senior vice president of operations for CheapOair, a Web site that sells discounted airline tickets and hotel rooms. I asked him about the low travel prices we’ve seen lately and some of the possible pitfalls of buying travel in a buyer’s market.