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NYT: Shuttles Smaller But Still Flying Hourly  
User currently offlinerjpieces From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 10308 times:

Interesting NYT article today on how the NYC/DC/BOS Shuttles are smaller these days but still demand hourly service to stay competitive. Michael Boyd is quoted as saying the real strength of the Shuttle is in building brand loyalty. Some passenger is quoted as complaining about the smaller planes (As many of you know from past threads, I hate the new planes on the Shuttle (Delta at least)).

I guess any plans to bring the Delta Shuttle back to mainline are tied up in the DL/US slot swap, so things will probably remain the same for the near future.

One thing I have never understood. A common theme in every article about the Shuttle is that mid-day, off-peak flights go out fairly empty. Yes, very true. What I don't understand is why the airlines don't sell some cheap, restricted discount tickets to fill some of those seats up? Business travelers will still want flexible tickets so they could switch flights, and the airlines would obviously leave enough seats open for last-minute, walk-up passengers. Seems like a no-brainer to me for some extra revenue. What am I missing?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/20/bu...ess/20shuttle.html?ref=todayspaper

Excerpt:

The airline shuttles that operate between New York, Boston and Washington have been downsized, as fewer executives traveled those routes in the recession.

But while the planes got smaller, the carriers have kept the hourly departure schedule that has long defined the shuttle as a convenient transportation option.

Whether that departure model still makes economic and environmental sense is debatable. But analysts and airline executives say the hourly shuttle is a critical service to offer for one main reason: business travelers demand it.

31 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineSTT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16878 posts, RR: 51
Reply 1, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 10282 times:

Quoting rjpieces (Thread starter):

I guess any plans to bring the Delta Shuttle back to mainline are tied up in the DL/US slot swap,

Even then I doubt the shuttles would see upgraded equipment, the only way the Northeast shuttles will see dedicated mainline equipment is if WN were to acquire the slots.



Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
User currently onlinejfklganyc From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 3508 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 10256 times:

The Acela train, bad ATC delays, the TSA, and the proliforation of RJs on short routes in the United States came together to effectively kill the shuttle market.

It should be noted that while BOS-LGA seats have decreased, B6 has added 7+ mainline flights a day from JFK since 2000. This is a huge increase in this market. This probably hasn't helped the shuttle either as it skims off a layer of customers that a) prefer JFK b) are more concerned with price.

My prediction: In very short order the shuttle will only exist on DL. US will offer high freq LGA-DCA and that's it.


User currently offlineseabosdca From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 5531 posts, RR: 6
Reply 3, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 10159 times:

Quoting rjpieces (Thread starter):
What I don't understand is why the airlines don't sell some cheap, restricted discount tickets to fill some of those seats up? Business travelers will still want flexible tickets so they could switch flights, and the airlines would obviously leave enough seats open for last-minute, walk-up passengers. Seems like a no-brainer to me for some extra revenue. What am I missing?

They already do. If you book 7+ days out for these flights, you can find some very good prices. The issue is just too much capacity for the demand, even at a discount.

They are eventually going to have to move to a different scheduling model, one more like commuter public transit: frequent trips at peak hours, with a few trips on smaller equipment scattered through the midday and late evening.

Business travelers can howl and whine all they want, but the service just isn't sustainable.


User currently offlineenilria From Canada, joined Feb 2008, 7244 posts, RR: 13
Reply 4, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 10140 times:

Quoting jfklganyc (Reply 2):
My prediction: In very short order the shuttle will only exist on DL. US will offer high freq LGA-DCA and that's it.

I think US will fly LGA-DCA 8x daily and the Shuttle will be the property of B6. The only question is what B6 will do with the Shuttle. Will they fly it as a Shuttle or use the slots for other stuff?


User currently offlinemogandoCI From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 10113 times:

on top of that, with jetblue's JFK hub you can connect practically anywhere (including transcons), while DL/US are confined to LGA's perimeter rule.

the only "real" shuttle route left that's still unmatched by rail is BOS-DCA or maybe BOS-PHL... NYC's central location leads a lot of business travelers to pick Amtrak Acela Express over flying... who the heck wants to go through security checkpoints ?

i understand there might be *some* value in hourly service during rush hours, but do you really need 1pm and 2pm and 3pm ?? i'm perfectly fine with reducing that to 1:15 and 2:45 while reducing airspace congestion and increasing profits.

Quoting jfklganyc (Reply 2):
It should be noted that while BOS-LGA seats have decreased, B6 has added 7+ mainline flights a day from JFK since 2000. This is a huge increase in this market. This probably hasn't helped the shuttle either as it skims off a layer of customers that a) prefer JFK b) are more concerned with price.


User currently offlinerjpieces From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 10076 times:

Quoting STT757 (Reply 1):
Even then I doubt the shuttles would see upgraded equipment, the only way the Northeast shuttles will see dedicated mainline equipment is if WN were to acquire the slots.

US still has dedicated A-319s on DCA-LGA, and Delta has MD-88s on LGA-BOS. Not sure how long this is going to last though.

Quoting jfklganyc (Reply 2):
My prediction: In very short order the shuttle will only exist on DL. US will offer high freq LGA-DCA and that's it.

It seems like US does better on LGA-DCA then Delta (from my basic observations of which flights are more full). US carries quite a few passengers on LGA-DCA who are connecting at DCA.

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 3):
They already do. If you book 7+ days out for these flights, you can find some very good prices.

Not particularly. A quick search for 9 days from now found the cheapest off-peak fare at $289 roundtrip. When I was a student I booked cheap-ish student fares....I guess my point is if they know from years of models that an off-peak flight is going to be 75% empty, why not offer some super cheap discount fares (like $100 one way)?

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 3):
They are eventually going to have to move to a different scheduling model, one more like commuter public transit: frequent trips at peak hours, with a few trips on smaller equipment scattered through the midday and late evening.

This isn't a bad idea at all. Having an A-320 or A-321 on the morning or evening Shuttles would be a great idea for US.


User currently offlinetharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1865 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 9947 times:

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 3):
They already do. If you book 7+ days out for these flights, you can find some very good prices. The issue is just too much capacity for the demand, even at a discount.

I concur. I've found leisure-traveler rates on both DL and US on shuttle routes, if you look about two weeks early. Won't always be available, but it can be found.

Quoting mogandoCI (Reply 5):

the only "real" shuttle route left that's still unmatched by rail is BOS-DCA or maybe BOS-PHL... NYC's central location leads a lot of business travelers to pick Amtrak Acela Express over flying... who the heck wants to go through security checkpoints ?

If Amtrak could get the track issues straightened out and go at their top potential speed, even BOS-PHL would become more attractive on the train. Though the long stop at NY Penn is an issue there: the train waits at NYP for so long, it's almost like taking a connecting flight at NY.


As for the planes being smaller: I love E-jets. So long as we don''t see CR2s.


User currently offlineSoxfan From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 865 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 9842 times:

Quick question: Are US's A319s dedicated to the Shuttle routes, or are they rotated with other locations? I know Delta used to have dedicated Shuttle planes; did US used to--or currently--have those as well? I seem to recall some US planes with a big cursive "Shuttle" written on the side.


Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
User currently offlinerjpieces From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 9817 times:

Quoting Soxfan (Reply 8):
Quick question: Are US's A319s dedicated to the Shuttle routes, or are they rotated with other locations? I know Delta used to have dedicated Shuttle planes; did US used to--or currently--have those as well? I seem to recall some US planes with a big cursive "Shuttle" written on the side.

US had a dedicated Shuttle fleet until about 2003. Now they use normal mainline A-319s that are rotated through the system. But on a given day, an aircraft usually sticks to the Shuttle runs.

Delta had a dedicated fleet until late 2008 and it was a lovely way to travel...I miss it very much  


User currently offlineseabosdca From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 5531 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 9742 times:

Quoting rjpieces (Reply 6):
Not particularly. A quick search for 9 days from now found the cheapest off-peak fare at $289 roundtrip. When I was a student I booked cheap-ish student fares....I guess my point is if they know from years of models that an off-peak flight is going to be 75% empty, why not offer some super cheap discount fares (like $100 one way)?

I've paid $100ish one way on quite a few US Shuttle flights, both the 6 a.m. (on days not named Monday) and the midday flights. Those tickets are not available every time because sometimes the flights do go out full, especially if there is some kind of event going on in one city.

Fares of $150ish one way are pretty routine for advance bookings of flights other than those at 7 and 8 a.m. or 5 to 8 p.m.


User currently offlinedeltal1011man From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 9509 posts, RR: 14
Reply 11, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 9500 times:

Quoting STT757 (Reply 1):
Even then I doubt the shuttles would see upgraded equipment, the only way the Northeast shuttles will see dedicated mainline equipment is if WN were to acquire the slots.

DL has M88s running half the shuttle now and its likely that when they get the slot swap done both shuttle routes will go 319.

Quoting rjpieces (Reply 6):
and Delta has MD-88s on LGA-BOS. Not sure how long this is going to last though.

The M88s will be replaced by 319s. Not sure when though. It's also likely DCA-LGA will get 319s.



yep.
User currently offlinedeltal1011man From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 9509 posts, RR: 14
Reply 12, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 9403 times:

Quoting deltal1011man (Reply 11):

Starting June 10 LGA-BOS goes from 15x (14x M88 1x E75) to 16x(15x 319 1x ERJ)



yep.
User currently offlineTUNisia From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1844 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 9315 times:

Quoting mogandoCI (Reply 5):
unmatched by rail

I beg to differ. Acela is a dream between BOS-WAS especially in First Class. You'll enjoy 2 or 3 hot meals and sit in huge comfortable seating. No worries about WX delays, TSA lines, ATC delays, security nonsense, and grumpy airline employees, etc....

Business Class on Acela is just as nice as First minus the food.



Someday the sun will shine down on me in some faraway place - Mahalia Jackson
User currently offlineseabosdca From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 5531 posts, RR: 6
Reply 14, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 9233 times:

Quoting TUNisia (Reply 13):
I beg to differ.


Boston-Washington is a nice ride, but just takes too long on the train... about 7+ hours. Remember that these flyers are mostly business travelers in a hurry.

If we were to pony up the $billions to build a dedicated high-speed corridor connecting Washington-Baltimore-Philly-NYC-Providence-Boston, that could be cut to under 4 hours. Until then, the BOS-DCA and BOS-PHL shuttles have nothing to fear, because Boston-NYC is slow even on Acela. Amtrak put the biggest speed improvements where the most riders are, which is on Washington-NYC.

[Edited 2010-04-20 09:05:35]

User currently offlinewagz From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 516 posts, RR: 16
Reply 15, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 8786 times:
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Quoting seabosdca (Reply 14):
Amtrak put the biggest speed improvements where the most riders are, which is on Washington-NYC.

Not true at all. The only 150MPH running for Acela is in New England, mostly in Rhode Island I believe. Between NYP and WAS the best speed is 135MPH in some locations, 125MPH in the rest (and 125MPH running was always the norm in this area for conventional trains). In fact, until 15 years ago New Haven-BOS wasn't even electrified railroad.

That said, it is still a long trip NYP-BOS, mainly because the line is ridiculously curvy. I think I read somewhere that if you add up all the curves between NYP and BOS it comes out to something like 18 complete circles. Even with the speed improvements of electrified railroad and Acela, it still doesn't compete with the shuttles. Right now Acela can do NYP-BOS in 3:30-3:40. Regionals take 4:15-4:20.



I think Big Foot is blurry, Its not the photographers fault. Theres a large out of focus monster roaming the countryside
User currently offlinetharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1865 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 8736 times:

Quoting wagz (Reply 15):
Not true at all.

But the worst bottlenecks are in CT.

Quoting wagz (Reply 15):
Right now Acela can do NYP-BOS in 3:30-3:40.

I might as well be the first to say it.. if you are going from within Boston to manhattan, this often works out faster than flying, once you deal getting to logan, EWR or LGA, arriving early for security, leaving logan/EWR/LGA, etc.

and now with wifi, you can spread out and be productive the whole time


User currently offlinerjpieces From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 8609 times:

Another complaint about the Shuttle is that they are not exempt from the stupid checked-bag fees.

Quoting tharanga (Reply 7):

As for the planes being smaller: I love E-jets

I don't mind the E-jets per se. I hate the outsourced Shuttle America part. I've flown mainline US E-jets on DCA-LGA and they are fine.

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 10):
I've paid $100ish one way on quite a few US Shuttle flights, both the 6 a.m. (on days not named Monday) and the midday flights. Those tickets are not available every time because sometimes the flights do go out full, especially if there is some kind of event going on in one city.

Fares of $150ish one way are pretty routine for advance bookings of flights other than those at 7 and 8 a.m. or 5 to 8 p.m.

I can usually pay $100ish on the weekends. But $100-150 are still not great prices for leisure travelers, and they are obviously not coming close to filling the aircraft with those fares.

I still don't understand why they don't lower the advance fares more for mid-day bookings. If the load factor really is only ~40% and they insist on keeping hourly schedules, why not at least fill some more seats and get some extra revenue?

I assume they have worked out the models over the years, but they don't seem to be working for them.

It's a shame really. The Shuttle is by far the fastest way to get between DC&NY (depending of course on where exactly you are going).

Quoting deltal1011man (Reply 12):
Starting June 10 LGA-BOS goes from 15x (14x M88 1x E75) to 16x(15x 319 1x ERJ)

Interesting. Wonder if they will change DC now too.

Quoting tharanga (Reply 16):
I might as well be the first to say it.. if you are going from within Boston to manhattan, this often works out faster than flying, once you deal getting to logan, EWR or LGA, arriving early for security, leaving logan/EWR/LGA, etc.

I don't know what the Shuttle set-up is like at BOS, but I've honestly never waited in line for security on the Shuttle at LGA on either DL or US. DCA is the same security check-point for the entire concourse, but the lines at DCA are rarely ever that long.

There really is no reason to arrive early for the Shuttle. Inexperienced travelers often arrive 1.5 or 2 hours early and either have to sit there (if they checked bags) or hop on an earlier Shuttle.

I'll give you that weather delays can seriously screw with the Shuttle and that is not a factor on Acela.

Meanwhile, the Shuttle is still the way that DC elites travel. I don't see that changing anytime soon.


User currently offlinemogandoCI From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 8581 times:

that's already very good.... by the time you factor in 30 mins from midtown new york to LGA (i did some padding for traffic jams which is common), arrive 45 mins before gate time (hey, that TSA line isn't exactly a walk in the park either), 1:10 block time, 15-25 mins ATC delay during rush hours (and that's probably on a good day already), 10 mins from landing to curbside, and 10 mins back to downtown Boston, that's like 3:00 - 3:10 right there... and that's an economy class seat

for NYC-WAS, it's pretty much slam-dunk to take Acela. the only downside is that Amtrak's reward program is purely revenue based, while airline miles still have the 500 minimum.

Quoting wagz (Reply 15):
Right now Acela can do NYP-BOS in 3:30-3:40.


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25459 posts, RR: 22
Reply 19, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 8532 times:

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 14):
Quoting TUNisia (Reply 13):
I beg to differ.


Boston-Washington is a nice ride, but just takes too long on the train... about 7+ hours

Paris-Marseille on the TGV, roughly the same distance as Boston-Washington, takes 3 hrs. 10 min.


User currently offlinetharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1865 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 8481 times:

Quoting rjpieces (Reply 17):
I don't know what the Shuttle set-up is like at BOS,

for US, it has its own gates and security lanes, and is pretty fast.

for DL, I think the security is in the same place as everybody else for that terminal, but there may be an express lane.. I don't remember. but the gate may be pretty far away.

so i'll grant you, security lines for the shuttle are not bad. but depending on where you are, where you are going, South station and Penn station can be more convenient than the airports


User currently offlineFlyWhisperjets From United States of America, joined Mar 2010, 81 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 5836 times:

Quoting rjpieces (Reply 17):
Meanwhile, the Shuttle is still the way that DC elites travel. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

That is the truth!!! NYP during morning rush hour with all of the RR and subway traffic is a regular zoo. And nothing could be finer from a passenger point of view than a low load factor on a Mad Dog.....It's like your own private jet....



1st. time Eastern Lockheed L-188, 1st. jet Delta Convair 880
User currently offlinebond007 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 5417 posts, RR: 8
Reply 22, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 4770 times:

Quoting rjpieces (Thread starter):
But analysts and airline executives say the hourly shuttle is a critical service to offer for one main reason: business travelers demand it.

Business travellers never demanded high frequency over on-time flights. I fly these routes frequently and haven't met one business traveller that demanded it (or was even asked of course). These 'customers demanded it' lines are used often when a business model fails and it seems the media always picks up on it. If you ask any passenger if they want more frequent flights, of course they'll say yes. Ask them if they'd like flights every 2 hrs that will probably go on time, or hourly flights that probably won't, and they'll say the former.

Regardless, when were airlines actually successful at doing something that customers actually prefer, let alone 'demand'.

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 3):
Business travelers can howl and whine all they want, but the service just isn't sustainable.

We whine because the 6pm flight departs at 8pm, and the 7pm flight departs at 8:20 ... we'd all rather one flight at 6pm and another at 8:30pm if they depart timely.

Quoting mogandoCI (Reply 5):
i understand there might be *some* value in hourly service during rush hours, but do you really need 1pm and 2pm and 3pm ?? i'm perfectly fine with reducing that to 1:15 and 2:45 while reducing airspace congestion and increasing profits.

Well, no, you don't need hourly flights anywhere. As for reducing congestion, that's only going to happen with collaboration between the airlines, airports authorities, DOT and the FAA.... read 'not soon'. You can reduce the schedules for the shuttles but as long as airports like PHL run at maximum capacity in perfect conditions, expect huge delays every day conditions aren't perfect (a lot of 'em). You'll never fit 50 arrivals/hr into a 30/hr airport!


Jimbo



I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
User currently offlinePolarExpress From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 24 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 4536 times:

Quoting deltal1011man (Reply 12):

Not particularly. A quick search for 9 days from now found the cheapest off-peak fare at $289 roundtrip. When I was a student I booked cheap-ish student fares....I guess my point is if they know from years of models that an off-peak flight is going to be 75% empty, why not offer some super cheap discount fares (like $100 one way)?

To some extent, the NYC-BOS and the NYC-WAS and all the permutations in between have been squeezed by both Acela, which has been well documented here, as well as the intercity buses (BoltBus/Megabus/Chinatown buses) from the cost conscious.

As a former consultant, I've used the Delta Shuttle (sorry, company had a corporate account with Delta so I never took US) and Acela extensively. However, as someone who now only travels for leisure, the free WiFi that the bus lines offer, plus the downtown to downtown convenience (and you can even pick suburban pickup/dropoff spots in some cases), along with the max prices of $50 RT have effectively made it a no-brainer for me.

Until Amtrak (and the US) gets its act together and builds a real, 250+ mph train in the Northeast, there's absolutely no reason for any leisure traveller to fly/take Acela.


User currently offlinepilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3150 posts, RR: 11
Reply 24, posted (4 years 5 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 4491 times:

Quoting rjpieces (Thread starter):
I guess any plans to bring the Delta Shuttle back to mainline are tied up in the DL/US slot swap, so things will probably remain the same for the near future.

Doubtful. If anything I'd expect to see LGA-BOS on the 170s soon. We're already doing it on the weekend and every time I do Shuttle flying those MD-80s look empty. A "full" flight over the past few years that I've been flying out of the MAT has been around 60. That leaves a few seats open even on a 170.

Out of curiosity, what is it that you don't like about the 175s? Is it the aircraft or the service? In either case have you told DL customer service? I'm pretty sure we have the same seat pitch and I know the seats are the same in the 170 and 190 because there is only one approved model.



DMI
25 FutureUScapt : But why? You may very well be right, but there certainly isn't a need for either Shuttle product to be operated with aircraft as large as the A319.
26 spacecadet : Acela passengers can use Club Acela, and don't have to deal with any of that. Except for actually getting to Club Acela, but then you need to walk fr
27 firstclasser : "Acela passengers can use Club Acela, and don't have to deal with any of that. Except for actually getting to Club Acela, but then you need to walk fr
28 Ltbewr : Another reason for continuing the LGA-BOS-DCA shuttles on their hourly schedules is politics. Many elected politicans and senior staffers to them base
29 DeltAirlines : Have you ever been in Club Acela? It is one of the dingiest lounges I've ever been in. The only saving grace of it is that it has clean bathrooms - u
30 spacecadet : I've been in Club Acela at NYP many times. Your argument is that La Guardia Airport is nicer? I'm not sure you're really thinking clearly. That's an
31 jflchantha : There isnt a reason for leisure travelers to take the Acela, its all business class as well and costs 2/3 times more than taking the MegaBus or any o
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