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Southwest Airlines, George Santos, Clear Secure

Happy holidays to everyone! I hope everybody survived. I hope that tons of snow (Buffalo, New York), bitterly cold wind chills, and subzero temperatures didn’t freeze out your holiday spirit.

Just before Christmas, a large cold front moved across the country. It brought severe winter weather to most of the country. Besides the freezing cold temperatures, wind gusts in the 40- to 50-miles-per-hour range made this a severe winter storm. On December 23, as winter storm Elliott hit the Midwest, over 4,500 flights were canceled. With Christmas just around the corner, this was disastrous for holiday plans. Over the next two days, Americans seemed to figure out how to get where they were going.

Unfortunately, that’s not true. Tens of thousands of Americans were stuck. They had no way to get to where they needed to go. While major air carriers like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines managed to get their planes back on schedule relatively quickly, Southwest Airlines continued to struggle. A week later, Southwest Airlines continued to cancel more than 2,500 flights a day. Passengers were stranded hundreds of miles from home. Southwest had no answers for them. Why? Why was Southwest Airlines so out of step?

Let’s remember that we, the taxpayers, bailed out Southwest Airlines early in the pandemic. We handed them over $7 billion. Billion. This was done to prevent massive layoffs in the travel industry, which would have crippled our economy. So, I think that we should be able to ask Southwest for some customer service for our money.

A failed business model

Some of the problems lie in Southwest Airlines’ business model. Major air carriers like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines use a hub and spoke model for their flights. For example, American Airlines has five or six major hubs throughout the United States. To get almost anywhere on American Airlines, you need to go through one of those hubs to connect to a remote location. For example, if you wanted to fly from Asheville, North Carolina, to Miami Beach, you have to fly into Charlotte, a major hub for American Airlines.

Southwest Airlines is different. They have a point-to-point model. For example, you can fly on Southwest Airlines from Oklahoma City directly to Phoenix. If you are flying on a major airline like American, to get to Phoenix, you would have to fly from Oklahoma City to Dallas (a major hub) and then Dallas to Phoenix. So, besides the cheaper fares, you also save time at the airport with Southwest.

The point-to-point model works great until you have a major weather event like winter storm Elliott. Now you have airplanes scattered all throughout the country, but they’re not in the right location at the right time. This makes logistics extremely difficult. One would figure that Southwest Airlines would have a sophisticated employee tracking system. This system would tell them where their pilots are as well as where their stewardesses (flight host/hostess) are located.

Unfortunately, they don’t. Southwest pilots have been sitting in airports waiting on assignments right beside angry passengers waiting on planes. To get this complicated system back online, Southwest Airlines must cancel thousands of flights to get their airplanes, pilots, and crew back in the right locations. It is still unclear to me why it takes nearly 10 days to make this happen. This is a huge failure of big business. The next time someone tells you about how great business is at efficient use of resources, point to Southwest Airlines.

By |2023-03-21T12:25:16-04:00March 21st, 2023|Business, Congress, Party Politics|0 Comments

Tuesday Morning News Roundup

Today voters go to the polls in Michigan and Arizona. We’ve had 20 debates and over a year of campaigning for some candidates. Who would’ve thought that Michigan was going to be a key state? In 2008, Mitt Romney smoked his Republican competition. Since then, he came out firmly against the auto bailout. Yet, by all accounts, the auto bailout not only worked but worked fabulously well. So, instead of admitting a mistake, he and the other Republican candidates have doubled and tripled down on the Let Michigan Die, free-market rhetoric. If Mitt Romney loses Michigan, his home state, a state where his father was governor, his candidacy is in real trouble.

President Obama proposes cutting corporate tax rates and closing corporate loopholes. There is no doubt that we need to fix our corporate tax system. The Tax Policy Center produced the following graph.

Newt has one. Ron Paul has one. Romney has several. Even Rick Santorum has his own billionaire. Can I have my own billionaire, too?

Could it be that Governor Scott Walker is resigned to the fact that he’s going to be recalled? He has declined to challenge signatures ahead of Monday’s deadline. It looks like the recall election will have a date set some time next week.

The deadly shooting in Ohio is such a tragedy. A second teenager has died. Once again, we are at a loss. I would caution everybody against overanalysis.

It takes a special kind of thief to scam a nun. Lowlife.

It appears that sleeping pills are associated with a fourfold increase in premature death. This details of the study can be found here.

Omega-3-fatty acids are associated with more brainpower and are shown to retard brain aging. I’m going back for a second helping of fish!

A new political action committee has formed in order to combat anti-choice legislators.

I’ll be the first to admit that I really do not understand gas prices. Back in 2007 and 2008, I interviewed some oil “experts” who talked about supply and demand and world supply and refinery production. They sort of really made sense. World demand has increased. This is clear. American utilization of oil has decreased dramatically over the last two years. Yet we have seen a steady rise in oil prices over that timeframe. Instability in the Middle East, in my opinion, has been the same for over the past 40 years. It is an unstable part of the world. Whether it is Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela or somewhere else, some oil country is threatening to cut off the supply almost all the time. So what economic force can be conjured up to explain the recent spike in oil prices? Oil speculators? These are the guys with the, to quote Alan Greenspan, “irrational exuberance?” I should pay an extra 25 or 50 cents per gallon because these guys get a wild hair? A federal judge is looking into these oil speculators. Just to confuse matters even more, another expert is telling us that this oil price spike shouldn’t be that bad because other fuel prices are relatively low.

Canadian company decides to go ahead with the Keystone pipeline.

Internal workings of the German government may cause problems in the Eurozone bailout. You didn’t think that this would be easy, did you?

Climate change and increasing volcanic activity.

I’m not sure what that was at the Daytona 500. Texting during the race? Crashes. Then we had more crashes. Why race at night? Isn’t there better lighting during the day? Wouldn’t you want the best and fastest conditions for the best race in the US?

Thoughts? What stories are you following?

By |2012-02-28T09:28:41-04:00February 28th, 2012|Big Oil, Business, Economy, Environment, Party Politics|Comments Off on Tuesday Morning News Roundup

Another false controversy

angry

For the last 20 years, if not more, we’ve been embroiled in an us versus them controversy. Whether it is abortion or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, universal healthcare or even the auto bailout, this has been perpetrated in the media as us versus them. Many of these controversies have been extremely petty. Currently, we have some folks who are incensed that Republican Governor Chris Christie has decided to fly the flag at half mast in honor of Whitney Houston. There are some who believe that such an honor should be reserved only for fallen officers and fallen military personnel. Okay. You can believe that, but it’s not based on anything written in stone. I have a problem with people who get mad simply to get mad. These people want to be outraged all the time. These are the people who scream at you through their car windows while driving 80 miles an hour through bumper-to-bumper traffic spilling their hot coffee on themselves.

The decision to fly a flag at half mast is usually up to the governor of that state, or to the president. The decision is relatively arbitrary. It is simply a sign of respect. Whitney Houston was beloved by millions of fans all over the world. She had an amazing voice. Unfortunately, she was consumed by demons both real and imagined. Personally, I find great sadness in her death. It seems to me that someone who flamed out so publicly could’ve been saved by somebody. She had mentors. She had followers. She had handlers. She had friends. Yet through this vast network of people, nobody pulled her out of her tailspin. To me, that’s the real tragedy. I don’t think flying the flag at half mast dishonors our troops or fallen police officers. Whatever Governor Chris Christie had decided would not have changed my mind about Whitney Houston’s career or her death.

Finally, if we want to get mad about something, we need to get mad about how we are treating our troops. These guys are real heroes. Whether you believed in their missions or not is not germane. The fact is that these young men and women stepped up and answered the call when our country asked them to. They need universal health care for life. They need better post-traumatic stress treatment. They need better services available for them so that they can reassemble into society with a minimum of disruption. They need better pay. There should be no family of active duty servicemen on food stamps. There’s no excuse. If we truly want to honor our troops, we need to take care of them like the heroes that they are.

By |2012-02-22T09:24:12-04:00February 22nd, 2012|Domestic Issues, Military|Comments Off on Another false controversy
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