Airline of the Year will be named in Hamburg on May 20

United Kingdom-based Skytrax will give out a number of awards on May 20 this year, including Airline of the Year, at the World Airline Awards, an internationally respected awards ceremony.  This year the ceremony will be held in Hamburg, Germany, at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, just as it was last year.  Awards for which all airlines are eligible will be given in dozens of categories, including Best Cabin Staff, Best Regional Airline, and Most Improved Airline.  Some awards that will be given out later this month are seat-class specific, such as Best Airline Lounge, and Best Airline Seat.

The most coveted award is always the overall Airline of the Year award.  But a Best Airline will also be recognized for seventeen different regions in the world.  In fact, a number of the awards will be given on a worldwide scale, and also on a regional basis.  Nominations for the various awards were made yesterday, whereby the field for each award was narrowed to ten airlines.  As a result, no North American carrier or European carrier is in the running for Airline of the Year.  The flag carriers of Australia (Qantas) and New Zealand (Air New Zealand) will compete with eight Asian airlines for that award.  JetBlue, Southwest, and Virgin America are in the running for Best Low-Cost Airline, along with the Canadian low-cost carrier WestJetAir Canada is in the running for Best Trans-Atlantic Airline.  The six airlines contesting for the North American Service Excellence Award are, alphabetically, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest, Virgin America, and WestJet.

Skytrax has also awarded Airport of the Year since 1999, an accolade first claimed by Schiphol in Amsterdam (IATA: AMS; ICAO: EHAM), but every year since, claimed by an airport in Southeast Asia.  Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards have been given for Airport of the Year annually since 2001, the most frequent award recipients being Hong Kong International (IATA: HKG; ICAO: VHHH) and Singapore Changi International (IATA: SIN; ICAO: WSSS).  Seoul Incheon International (IATA: ICN; ICAO: RSKI) is the only other airport to win Airport of the Year since the awards were first given out.  At no time since 1999 has an airport in the Western Hemisphere ever received Gold, Silver, or Bronze.

Since it originated, Skytrax has gained the reputation as being a fine impartial judge of airline and airport quality.  Its airline rating system awards between one and five stars to airlines based on various aspects of airline quality.  This rating system is ongoing in nature, and as of this post, Skytrax awards five stars to only six airlines in the world, all of them located in Asia, and four of them located in Southeast Asia.  Skytrax was founded in 1998.

original story (World Airline Awards)

2010 nominations for the various awards (World Airline Awards)

list of Skytrax five-star airlines (Skytrax)


Hawaiian Airlines gets nod from DOT for service to Haneda

Last Friday, along with Delta, Hawaiian Airlines was also granted service by the United States Transportation Department, to and from Haneda International Airport (IATA: HND; ICAO: RJTT), the preferred airport of business travelers in Tokyo.  Hawaiian was approved for service to and from its hub at Honolulu International Airport (IATA: HNL; ICAO: PHNL) on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  Hawaiian believes that the time slots of departure and arrival in both directions are especially convenient for business travelers.

No timetable for the commencement of this route has been posted on the website of Hawaiian Airlines.  Japan Airlines was the first airline scheduled to commence the round-trip route, which it plans to do on the last day of October this year.  Five other airlines, headquartered in both the United States and abroad, already fly non-stop, year-round between Honolulu and suburban Narita International east of Tokyo (IATA: NRT; ICAO: RJAA).  Those are, in alphabetical order, All Nippon, China Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Japan Airlines, and United Airlines.

Hawaiian applied to the Transportation Department for two daily round-trips between its hub Honolulu International and Haneda International, but only received one.  It plans to continue negotiating with DOT for the second daily round-trip.  Hawaiian Airlines was founded in 1929 as Inter-island Airways.  The airline changed its name to Hawaiian Airlines in 1941.  In the last decade, it has been frequently top-ranked nationally for on-time performance and baggage handling.

related story

Delta now praises DOT for approving non-stop flights to Haneda (May 8, 2010)

original story (Hawaiian Airlines)


Celebrity celebrates Solstice class with Caribbean sweepstakes

Celebrity Cruises is in the process of constructing two new ships, scheduled to be launched by 2012.  They will accommodate more than 2800 passengers each, and are being built by the German shipyard Meyer Werft.  The new ships will be part of Celebrity’s Solstice class, which currently includes three ships, called the Solstice, the Equinox, and the Eclipse.  The Solstice class of ships is an ongoing project begun by Celebrity in 2005.  The three Solstice class ships in service are the three largest in Celebrity’s current fleet of ten.

In connection with completion of construction of the Solstice class, Celebrity launched a sweepstakes at midnight EDT (UTC-4) on May 7.  The cruise line is awarding as prizes, one grand prize Royal Suite, five first prize AquaClass, and ten second prize ConciergeClass staterooms on a seven-night, round-trip Caribbean cruise, departing from southern Florida.  The prize winners will either depart from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on the Solstice, or from Miami, Florida on the Eclipse.  Twenty third-prize winners will receive an Apple iPod Touch.

It is unclear at this time whether the prize winners will have their choice of the Solstice or the Eclipse, or will be assigned accommodations on one ship or the other.  But appropriately, the sweepstakes will end this year on the summer solstice, June 21.  The first sweepstakes winners will be selected on June 24.  The sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada, who are 21 years old or older.

Nine of Celebrity’s ten ships sail under the flag of the Maltese Republic.  One, the much smaller and more upscale Xpedition, sails under the flag of Ecuador.  Celebrity Cruises, founded in 1988, has been a subsidiary of the multinational company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. since 1997.

original story (Celebrity Cruises)


Dutch Safety Board released conclusions on fatal plane crash

On Thursday the Dutch Safety Board published its conclusions on the likely causes of the fatal crash landing of Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 on February 25 last year.  It was a regularly scheduled flight from the airline’s hub near Istanbul to Amsterdam, and it crashed on final at Schiphol (IATA: AMS; ICAO: EHAM) killing nine, including the three pilots.  The airplane broke into three pieces on impact.

The report concluded that on final approach one of the plane’s two radio altimeter systems registered a much lower altitude than what the aircraft was actually flying.  (The altitude registered by the broken altimeter system, according to the report, was eight feet below sea level, basically the elevation of Schiphol.)  This in turn caused the autothrottle system, which took its readings only from the altimeter system that happened to be broken, to reduce throttle further and sooner than what protocol would dictate.

Moreover, air traffic control instructed the pilots of the Boeing 737-800 to fly a much shorter final approach than normal.  A consequence of this was that the plane was flying much higher and faster than one on an approach of a more normal length would be flying, that close to the end of the runway.  The autothrottle responded by automatically reducing throttle to near idle, as if the aircraft were at the touchdown stage of the final approach.

Only when the plane was about to stall did the pilots take corrective measures.  They pushed the throttle forward, presumably for a go-around and another try at the landing pattern.  But according to the report of the Dutch Safety Board, the pilots’ measures were in vain, because they neglected to disengage the autothrottle prior to attempting recovery from the stall.  The autothrottle responded to the pilots’ recovery attempt by pulling the throttle back to idle, where it had been when the stall (or near-stall) conditions were present.  At last the pilots disengaged the autothrottle, but their final efforts were too late.

The cause was determined to be a faulty radio altimeter compounded by pilot error.  Moreover, the Safety Board’s conclusions put some of the blame on the aircraft manufacturer’s documents for failing to mention the need to disconnect autothrottle during recovery from a loss of control.

original story (Turkish Airlines)


Barcelona Airport closed today due to volcanic ash in the air

Barcelona Airport, the second-busiest airport in Spain (IATA: BCN; ICAO: LEBL), stopped all takeoffs and landings indefinitely today, due to excessive amounts of ash in the air, resulting from last month’s eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in south central Iceland.  According to reports from the Spanish flag carrier Iberia Airlines, a number of smaller airports in northern Spain are taking similar precautions, and stopping takeoffs and landings.  Iberia is assisting stranded passengers by providing ground transportation where possible.  The airline’s website reported that the airport in Barcelona, a city on the Mediterranean coast of northeastern Spain, should reopen tomorrow.

Just as Icelandair has promised to do for its passengers affected by temporary airport closures, Iberia has offered a full refund for cancellation, or itinerary change without penalty, to travelers whose plans were compromised.  Iberia has requested that travelers whose itineraries involve an airport which has been temporarily shut down, not go to the airport.  Iberia will post tweets on Twitter, updating travelers on the situation as it develops.

Barajas Airport in Madrid (IATA: MAD; ICAO: LEMD) is Spain’s busiest.  Construction at the current location of Barcelona Airport began in 1948.  Iberia was founded in 1927 by a businessman from Lufthansa, nationalized in 1944, and re-privatized in 2001.

Iberia Airlines website


Delta now praises DOT for approving non-stop flights to Haneda

Delta’s CEO Richard Anderson thanked the United States Transportation Department yesterday for allowing Delta, the world’s largest airline (by number of scheduled passengers) non-stop access to Tokyo’s preferred business airport, Haneda, from the American cities of Los Angeles and Detroit.  Just as it did in its criticism of DOT over takeoff and landing slots on the American east coast earlier this week, Delta drew attention to its latter proposal’s potential for job creation.  Mr. Anderson thanked Delta’s employees who sent letters to DOT in support of allowing Delta non-stop access to Haneda from North America.

No American-based carrier currently flies in to or out of Haneda, the busier of Tokyo’s two airports.  However, American Airlines is already scheduled to commence service to and from Kennedy International in New York (IATA: JFK; ICAO: KJFK) at the beginning of October this year.  Two more American cities, San Francisco and Honolulu, will receive non-stop service to and from Haneda starting at the end of October this year, from the large Japanese-based carrier Japan Airlines.  Delta’s expected timetable for commencing service to Haneda from Los Angeles and Detroit is not yet disclosed on the airline’s website.

Thirteen major metropolitan areas in the United States now have non-stop, year-round access to Tokyo’s Narita Airport, some 35 miles east of Tokyo, including Los Angeles and Detroit, both served by Delta.  Presumably, Delta still intends to appeal the recent USDOT joint decision with the Federal Aviation Administration rejecting Delta’s joint proposal with US Airways, to trade time slots with four other airlines, at JFK and Reagan National (IATA: DCA; ICAO: KDCA) in Washington, D.C.

original story (Delta Air Lines)


Keflavík and others might close temporarily tomorrow

Keflavík International Airport, the largest airport in Iceland and a hub of Icelandair, could close temporarily tomorrow morning.  Keflavík International (IATA: KEF; ICAO: BIKF) and other European airports are considering the move because of the rise above acceptable levels, of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull, a volcano located in the south central part of the island.  Eyjafjallajökull simmered for a month at the beginning of spring before boiling over last month and paralyzing commercial aviation in Europe for several days.  Keflavík itself is located on the southwest coast of Iceland.

During the expected closure tomorrow morning, Icelandair passengers originating on mainland Europe, whose destination is the Americas, will be routed through Glasgow International Airport instead (IATA: GLA; ICAO: EGPF).  Upon arrival in Boston, New York, or Seattle, they will then be routed to their final destination.  Passengers originating in Iceland whose flight is scheduled to leave Keflavík during the closure, will have the option to take a bus to a smaller airport near the town of Akureyri in north-central Iceland, and connect to Glasgow International from there.  Passengers scheduled to arrive in Iceland during the closure will be routed through Glasgow to Akureyri, where a bus will take them to Keflavík.  The bus ride is four hours long.

A number of Icelandair flights both departing from and arriving at Keflavík International, from and to both Europe and North America, have already been cancelled and replaced with flights through Glasgow International in anticipation of the closure.  Icelandair is offering refunds to affected passengers.  It is also offering the opportunity to rebook within two weeks, and travel within a month, for no extra charge.

Keflavík is the only international airport in Iceland.  Iceland should be proud of the international reputation it has gained as a gracious host of stranded travelers throughout this emergency.  Icelandair has not yet posted to its website losses or projected losses due to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.

Comments are welcome, as always.


related story

The spread of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull over time (May 4, 2010)

original story (Icelandair)


The black boxes from Air France 447 have indeed been found

A submarine from La Royale (the French naval service) made the discovery the afternoon of May 6, Paris time.

This report is from the U.K. website

It appears Air France 447 turned back toward Rio de Janeiro before crashing.

This report is from, which took it from Le Figaro, a daily newspaper published in Paris.

Here is the French article from Le Figaro.  Go to, copy the quote from the government source in the first paragraph into the box on the left, and translate, to get the idea of what was said regarding the flight path of Air France 447 immediately before impact.  The translation powered by Google is a little better.

Incorrect airspeed readings and other dashboard readings at cruise altitude over the Atlantic Ocean are suspected to have contributed to a stall.  What follows is somewhat informed speculation, drawing on fifteen years experience flying with a computerized flight simulator.  But it is possible that failed recovery from a primary stall induced a series of secondary stalls, which, if severe enough, could certainly have caused an aircraft that large and fast to drop (as if quickly lowered by a crane) 35,000 feet in four minutes.  Such continued stalls at low enough altitudes would have indeed caused the fuselage of the aircraft to slam down onto the surface of the ocean in the manner suspected from looking at the crash debris.

The London Times also speculates a stall occurred at cruise.  Here is their article.

Comments, as always, are welcome.


The black boxes from Air France 447 might soon be found

The French naval service La Royale seems to have identified a beacon signal during its search for the wreckage of Air France Flight 447, which mysteriously left the radar screen early in the morning (Paris time) of June 1, 2009.  Investigators have tentatively narrowed the search to a box-shaped oceanic zone measuring approximately 5 kilometers by 5 kilometers (3 miles by 3 miles).  Use of satellite data on oceanic currents assisted in narrowing the search to such a small area of the Atlantic Ocean.  Recovery of the flight data recorders (informally called "black boxes") of Air France 447 would enable investigators to put together a much clearer picture of what caused the aircraft to crash.

Searchers from Brazil recovered several shattered pieces of the aircraft soon after the accident.  Analysis of those pieces in the month following the crash led to the conclusion that Air France 447 struck the ocean intact and right-side up, but also that it slammed onto the surface of the ocean so hard that all fatalities likely occurred on impact at the latest.  Experts on the physics of aviation have said that an aircraft striking the ocean or ground in this manner is likely in a stall, or is recovering from one.  But the physical stresses of repeated stalls typically cause an aircraft to break into pieces before reaching the ground or ocean.  Evidence shows the Airbus A330-200 dropped 35,000 feet out of the sky in just over four minutes.

Air France 447 was a regularly scheduled flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, with which air traffic control lost contact almost halfway between the South American and African coasts.  The Airbus disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean about three and a half hours after takeoff from Rio de Janeiro.  The 228 resulting fatalities made the incident the deadliest in the history of the French national airline.


original story (Air France)

original story (

story from July 2009 (


Princess has contracted for the construction of two new ships

Earlier this week, Princess Cruises finalized an agreement with the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy to construct two new ships to add to its current fleet of 17.  The two ships will be the two largest in the current fleet, and two of the largest ever constructed for Princess.  Exact dimensions and exact cost are unknown at this time.  What is known is that the ships will have a passenger capacity of roughly 3600 each.  Additionally, Princess will expand the size of the central atrium on the new ships to dimensions never before seen on any ship in the Princess fleet.  Moreover, with the two new ships, the cruise line will continue to adhere to its ever popular ratio of balcony staterooms to interior staterooms.  That ratio, which has traditionally been 4 to 1, is one of the highest ratios of that kind in the industry.

The Chief Executive Officers of both the Fincantieri shipyard and Princess Cruises expressed enthusiasm and gratitude to each other on behalf of their companies, for finalization of the contract.  It was not lost on either CEO that the contract was signed during an economic recession.  Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono thanked Princess for placing its trust in the shipbuilder despite the unpredictable world economy.  Princess CEO Alan Buckelew expressed confidence in the ability of Princess Cruises to weather the economic storm.

Design specifics for each of the two ships are forthcoming.  Princess Cruises was purchased by the multinational Carnival Corporation in 2003.  The Fincantieri shipyard is well acquainted with Carnival Corporation, as it is currently in the process of constructing what will become the second-largest ship in the fleet of another Carnival Corporation line, Holland America.  In total, cruise lines owned by Carnival Corporation will add a dozen new ships over the next four years, bringing the total number of ships operated by all lines within the Carnival Group to 107.

original story (Princess Cruises)


It is advantageous to book air travel as early as possible

Data from show that booking air travel as early as possible makes an air traveler more likely to be eligible for a partial refund if the price for their ticket drops between when they purchased it and the date of their flight.  The data show that someone booking airfare a month in advance of intended travel is more likely to get a refund of the difference if the price of his or her flight drops, than someone booking airfare only a week in advance.  Someone booking airfare two months in advance is even more likely to get a refund of the difference if the price drops between the date of purchase and the intended date of travel.  However, there was no indication that booking any further out than two months made someone even more likely to receive a refund after a price drop on his flight.

JetBlue and Alaska Airlines were discovered to be the two American-based carriers most likely to issue the difference to a traveler who purchased his ticket early, only to see the price drop.  Airlines differed greatly in the average value of the travel credits refunded to passengers who book early, only to have the price of their flight drop.  The values of the travel vouchers issued since April 2009 vary from under $100 for domestic flights with some airlines, to several hundred dollars for international flights with other airlines.  To build brand loyalty among air travelers however, airlines will almost never issue a check for the difference on the spot.  Instead, they will issue the difference in the form of a travel credit good for future travel on that airline.  So really, an air traveler is still paying what he or she paid for their original ticket.  And unless they fly relatively often, and demonstrate loyalty to the airline issuing the original ticket, the credit may go unused.

original story (

summary of the data gathered by


Delta is offering a free checked bag to AMEX SkyMiles members

Air travelers who book with Delta Airlines and have one of six American Express Delta SkyMiles credit cards, will be entitled to one free checked bag per flight, beginning on June 1, Delta announced today.  This benefit can be utilized by up to nine people, one of which must be the American Express SkyMiles cardholder, on a single reservation with Delta.  The six American Express SkyMiles cards that are part of the offer are the (1) Gold Delta Personal Card, (2) Platinum Delta Personal Card, (3) Reserve Delta Personal Card, (4) Gold Delta Business Card, (5) Platinum Delta Business Card, and (6) Reserve Delta Business Card.

As of May 5, 2010, Delta currently charges up to $25.00 for a first checked bag, and up to $55.00 for a second, for bags that are not overweight or oversized.  According to Delta’s website, overweight bags are those that weigh more than 50 pounds.  Oversized bags are those whose length, width, and height, in inches, total a number higher than 62.  Charges for overweight and oversized bags on Delta flights can run into the hundreds of dollars USD.

It is not immediately obvious that the reservation must have been made with one of the abovementioned American Express Delta SkyMiles cards.  But one assumes reasonably that this is a requirement.

original story (Delta Air Lines)

Delta checked baggage allowances (Delta Air Lines)


The Aruba Tourism Authority has launched a redesigned website

The southern Caribbean island of Aruba is re-branding itself to visitors using online resources to plan their journey to the island.  The site still depicts windsurfing, snorkeling, Scuba diving, casino gambling, and local Aruban food.  But navigation is simpler, and the most important information for visitors from outside the Kingdom of the Netherlands on what to have with them when they arrive, is easier to access.  There is updated information on where to go for shopping and entertainment on the island, and a drop-down menu listing various themed vacations, catering to various interests.  Additionally, there is an online forum for those planning their first visit to the island to read suggestions from people who have been there, from native Arubans, and from other people who live there.  The majority of the posts in the forum are in English and intended for American and Anglophone Canadian visitors.  But some, in a different section, are written in Dutch for visitors to the island from the Netherlands.  Nine airlines fly from the United States to Aruba, eight of them headquartered in the United States.  Three airlines make the flight from the Netherlands, including the Dutch flag carrier KLM.

Due north of Venezuela just a few miles, Aruba was first populated by the Arawak tribe around two millennia ago.  The first trans-Atlantic adventurers to see the island were probably the Italian Vespucci and the Spaniard Ojeda in 1499.  In 1508, Spain appointed a governor over the island, but generations later relinquished Aruba to a joint-stock company headquartered in its former colony the Netherlands.  During World War II, Aruba temporarily fell under the control of the United States and the United Kingdom.  In 1954, Aruba, along with Curaçao, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius, Saba, and Saint Martin, was incorporated into the Netherlands Antilles, under the Dutch crown.

In 1986, Aruba broke from the Netherlands Antilles, but the island remains part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and its head of state is still the Dutch monarch. The Netherlands Antilles is scheduled to be dissolved on October 10 this year.  But the constituent islands will remain under the Dutch crown.

original story (Aruba Tourism Authority)


Delta is angry at DOT and FAA for rejecting its time slot proposal

The largest American-based carrier criticized a decision of the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration yesterday, in a joint statement made with US Airways, and threatened legal action in connection therewith.  The decision rejected a proposal to the USDOT put forward by Delta and US Airways, involving slot transactions with four other North American carriers (JetBlue, AirTran, Spirit, and WestJet, the latter a low-cost Canadian carrier operating out of Calgary, Alberta).  The proposal would have affected the various airlines’ time slots at Kennedy International in New York (IATA: JFK; ICAO: KJFK), and Reagan National in Washington, D.C. (IATA: DCA; ICAO: KDCA).

According to the Delta-US Airways joint response to the decision, approval of the proposal would have granted JetBlue additional access at strategically located DCA, and would have granted AirTran, Spirit, and WestJet additional access at JFK.  Delta also pointed out 7,000 jobs in the New York metropolitan area which it estimated would have been created if the proposal had been approved.

A slot in this context is a short period of time during which aircraft from a certain airline are permitted to take off from, or expected to arrive at, a certain airport.  All slots at large American airports are legally owned by the FAA, even though they are claimed as assets and valuated for accounting purposes by the airlines that use them.

The statement accused the USDOT and FAA of exceeding their statutory authority in rendering the decision.  The two airlines behind the statement said they would appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals (presumably for the Federal Circuit).

original story (US Airways)


Trademark and service mark infringement

Trademarks and service marks are addressed in Title 15 of the United States CodeSection 1127 of that Title will form the basis of the majority of my explanation of trademarks and service marks in this article.  A summary of 15 U.S.C. § 1127 is found on the website of Harvard Law School, here.  It explains that “[a] trademark is a word, symbol, or phrase used to identify a particular manufacturer or seller’s products and distinguish them from the products of another” (e.g., Target, or Kohl’s).  When a “word, symbol, or phrase” is used to identify a particular provider of services rather than goods (e.g., United Airlines, or Princess Cruises), a trademark is more properly called a “service mark.”

Trademarks and service marks are treated slightly differently by the law.  I will therefore strictly use the word “trademark” to refer to “a word, symbol, or phrase used to identify a particular manufacturer or seller’s” goods.  I will strictly use the term “service mark” to refer to “a word, symbol, or phrase, used to identify a particular provider of services.”

Registration of a trademark or a service mark is not required, but is a good idea before a provider of goods or services can reasonably expect to stop infringement of the mark by others.  With both trademarks and service marks, potential registrants should demonstrate “intent to use in commerce” the mark they propose to register.

The “intent to use in commerce” can be split into two pieces.  For both trademarks and service marks, “intent” to use in commerce can be demonstrated simply by signing a sworn statement to that effect.  Previous use of the mark for any purpose is not required.  The applicant or his duly appointed agent may sign the sworn statement.

The second part is a little more complex.  “To use in commerce” means something different for potential registrants of trademarks than it does for potential registrants of service marks.

A trademark satisfies the requirement according to 15 U.S.C. § 1127, when:

1) The mark is placed in any manner on the goods, OR their containers, OR the displays associated therewith, OR on the tags/labels affixed thereto, OR on documents associated with the goods OR their sale, when the nature of those goods makes such placement impracticable,


2) the goods are sold or transported in commerce.

A service mark satisfies the requirement according to 15 U.S.C. § 1127, when:

1)  The mark is used or displayed in the sale or advertising of services,


2)  the services are rendered either
            a) in commerce, OR
            b) in more than one State or in the United States AND a foreign country, AND the person rendering the services is engaged in commerce in connection with the services.

This is just informational background. And I do not dispute that any one of the businesses whose mark I use on this website has indeed validly registered the mark as its trademark or service mark.

The owner of trademark rights or service mark rights can file suit against others for infringement of the mark.  Auspiciously for bloggers and others who desire to place company logos and symbols in their online articles for aesthetic reasons or illustrative purposes, the most common standard for deciding whether infringement of a mark has occurred, is “likelihood of confusion.”  Since 1961, courts have looked at a number of factors to determine the “likelihood of confusion,” on a case by case basis.

For example, could a passerby to my website, reading my article entitled “Does a truly worldwide airline exist?” reasonably conclude that my website is part of the advertising campaign of Air New Zealand?  Might a passerby conclude that I operate a totally different airline that is trying to exploit the good reputation of Air New Zealand, and pass itself off as Air New Zealand?  I will not tell you my view on that.  I will let you decide for yourself.

The owner of rights to a “famous” trademark or service mark can also file suit for what is called “dilution” of the “famous” mark over which they claim rights.  Dilution occurs when a “famous” mark is used either explicitly or implicitly to create confusion with an entirely different kind of product or service, or to cast the company whose mark is in question, in an unfavorable light.  Bloggers who merely place the logos of the companies they are writing about within and around their text, for aesthetic or illustrative purposes have little to be concerned about from trademark or service mark dilution.  They are allowed to be critical of the companies whose marks they place on their sites, but should refrain from unreasonable, unsupported attacks.

A company that believes its mark has been infringed or diluted will nearly always direct its legal counsel to first send a “cease and desist” letter to the person or persons they believe have infringed upon or diluted their mark, before formally filing suit.  These can be very intimidating to read, but are sometimes not nearly as ominous as they seem.  Indeed, if the letter claims nothing about likelihood of confusion or about actual confusion, then frankly, the owner of the trademark or service mark is blowing smoke.

Defendants in trademark and service mark infringement lawsuits have what are known as “defenses” at their disposal.  This is not a reference to the attorney a person chooses to hire if sued for infringement.  A defense is a sort of shield a defendant can raise, which if successful, will bar either partially or totally, the trademark or service mark owner’s claim against them.  The most commonly used defense in trademark or service mark infringement litigation is called “fair use.”  A type of fair use in trademark and service mark law is called “nominative fair use.”  This type of fair use is employed in television and radio advertising every day, and is actually encouraged by American trademark and service mark law.

The website appears to engage in fair use constantly, and has successfully fought off claimants of trademark and service mark infringement including Google, in the past.  It is now ranked as the second-most popular blog on, a blog search engine claiming to index over 100 million blogs.  TechCrunch sells advertising, and has been described on Wikipedia for over a year as a “company” or a “blog company,” facts which taken together, lead me to believe that it (TechCrunch) is a for-profit enterprise.

(Here is the first instance of TechCrunch being called a “blog company” on Wikipedia.)

If I ever do commercialize this website, my ability to use a trademarked company logo or copyrighted image for aesthetic or illustrative purposes will never be so crucial to me that I will refuse to remove the logo or image if asked to by the holder of rights to the mark or the image.  My own writing and commentary is the crux of this website, not any images, signs, or symbols, trademarked or not, placed upon it.

If you own a trademark, service mark, or copyright to an image I have placed on this site and wish it removed, contact me by leaving a comment on the article where your mark or image is located, and I will remove it.  I have not yet built a formal "Contact Me" section into this site, but hope to do so as the site becomes more widely-visited and widely-read.  Until then, just leave a comment.

Indeed, I will know I have “made it” when I monetize my site with a banner ad or two, place the Nike swoosh into an article, and fifteen minutes later receive a e-mail from Nike demanding removal of it.  I’ll probably be off in the South Pacific, or the Canadian Rockies, or the Italian Riviera.  But you can always get in contact with me.  I’ll always have my laptop with me.

Thanks for reading.

I am not an attorney.  This article is not legal advice, and should not be considered legal advice.


The spread of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull over time

The BBC online posted a fascinating series of graphics showing the geographical and geological extent of the chaos wrought in mid to late April 2010, by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano called Eyjafjallajökull.  This eruption, which actually began in late March, notoriously shut down air travel all over Europe and trans-Atlantic flights, stranding air travelers for days on both sides of the pond.

Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull caused rare electrical storms (lightning caused solely by volcanic ash and without accompanying rainfall), one stunning photograph of which was posted by the BBC.  According to drawings by experts, the ash settled at about 20,000-30,000 feet above sea level, much lower than the cruise altitudes of many commercial airliners.  But the effect on an aircraft of having flown through the ash cloud at all were deemed too great to allow flight through those altitudes, even though the ash may have been diluted sufficiently at the intended cruise altitude of most commercial flights (35,000-41,000 feet).  The presence of volcanic ash has a severely detrimental effect on the cooling system of an airplane, among many other negative consequences.  Satellite photographs of the region affected, and graphs showing how many flights over European airspace were cancelled due to the eruption are also included in the slideshow.

The International Air Transport Association has estimated that the eruption of Ejyafjallajökull has cost the airline industry roughly 1.29 billion Euros (1.7 billion USD, 1.12 billion GBP).  The chief of the IATA called on the governments of European countries where airlines have been affected, to assist the airlines financially.  Almost 100% of the regularly-scheduled air traffic in Europe is expected to fly on Thursday.

graphical presentation posted by the BBC online

original story (BBC)


Dept. of State continues to urge caution when traveling to Georgia

The State Department yesterday made an update to an already-existing warning to Americans traveling to or through the sovereign nation of Georgia.  This update was made because of continued unpredictability of violence in the South Ossetia (north central) and Abkhazia (northwest) regions of the small country on the eastern side of the Black Sea, whose unity is still threatened by various separatist movements.

The State Department urged Americans to stay away from demonstrations.  It reported that the American embassy in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi is open, and that its website is functional.  It also urged all Americans traveling in Georgia to register their location or other contact information with the embassy.

Separatist fighting within Georgia, and international conflict with Russia, began in 2008.  Russia initially recognized the independence of the two Georgian breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but has since taken that back.  George W. Bush was the first American President ever to visit the country.  Barack Obama has yet to visit as President.  The United States has never recognized the sovereign statehood of any region within Georgia.

original story (United States Department of State)


United and Continental will probably merge

An agreement reached yesterday between the two American air carriers based in Chicago and Houston respectively, will probably result in an announcement later today, that Continental and United intend to merge into a single airline.  The parent company UAL Corporation, of which United Airlines is a wholly-owned subsidiary, will buy Continental.  The resulting airline will be called United and will be based in Chicago, United’s headquarters.  But it will eventually be run by Continental’s chief executive officer.

Just as with the Delta-Northwest merger initiated two years ago, this will probably be spun in a way that makes it seem like air travelers will benefit.  But residents of the Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area know better than that.  We have known for years that the reason Delta (even prior to its purchase of Northwest) has been able to charge such high fares for air travelers utilizing Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (IATA: CVG; ICAO: KCVG) is because it held such a high percentage of the market share at the facility.  This was true even prior to Delta’s purchase of Northwest, which was completed earlier this year.  Routes along which United and Continental have always competed for business will almost certainly rise in price due to this deal, even though the two constituent airlines might claim otherwise.

The two airlines claim that this will allow another very large, American-based carrier to compete on an international scale, just as Delta claims it is now able to do.  Perhaps it will.  But it also means one fewer airline competing for the domestic market for air travel.  This may therefore permit other domestic airlines not involved in the deal to raise fares on certain routes as well.  A careful look at federal anti-trust law is expected before the deal is allowed by the Department of Justice.

Have you ever flown on either one of these two airlines?  What was it like?  The first time I ever flew United, three years ago, half the expected passengers no-showed, and the flight was cancelled.  I sat at Dayton International Airport (IATA: DAY; ICAO: KDAY) for six hours before being put on a US Airways plane.  But my return to Dayton on United was uneventful and quite peaceful actually.  I have never flown Continental.

What do you think about these airlines?  What do you think about this move?  Comments are welcome.

original story (New York Times)


Another Dutch royal will christen a Holland America ship

Holland America announced last Monday that Máxima of the Netherlands will dedicate the cruise line’s newest ship, the MS New Amsterdam, on July 4 in Venice, Italy.  The Argentine-born Princess of the Netherlands will become the latest of many members of the Dutch Royal Family to inaugurate a ship from the Holland America line.

The fourth Holland America ship to bear this name since 1906, the newest New Amsterdam will be registered at the largest seaport in Europe, the Port of Rotterdam.  The MS New Amsterdam is currently on order and is being constructed at an Italian shipyard.  It will disembark from the Port of Venice on a massive, 22-day grand tour of the eastern Mediterranean Sea following the ceremony.  The itinerary includes one stop further south in Italy, and stops in Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, and Turkey.  As of May 2, availability of cabins and the prices of the various cabin classes for this inaugural voyage – or inaugural trek, rather – were not accessible without logging in to the Holland America website.

The MS New Amsterdam will be the second-largest ship currently in the Holland America fleet, behind her sister ship the MS Eurodam.  The MS New Amsterdam will feature many design elements characteristic of the ship’s namesake, the city founded by Dutch colonists in 1625 as New Amsterdam, and known as New York since 1674.

Holland America is a cruise line that I would like to travel with at least once just as soon as I am able, and no later.  Below is a link to the original story from the website of Holland America.  Please comment and share your experiences traveling with Holland America.  They are supposed to be excellent, but I have no personal experience with them, so please share.  General comments are also welcome.

original story (Holland America)


Does a truly worldwide airline exist?

I did not believe it at first, but one does exist.  Executive Travel Magazine, headquartered in New York and published bi-monthly, recently reminded us that three and a half years ago, Air New Zealand added flights to its schedule that made it possible to fly around the world (either flying westward or eastward) without the aid of any other airline.  The magazine’s website also pointed out in March, in response to a question from a reader, that the now defunct United States carrier Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) used to circle the world using a single plane (with intermediate stops in two or three major international hubs), but that no airline does this nowadays.

I ran multiple searches on Air New Zealand’s multiple region-specific websites this afternoon to confirm the continued existence of the four flights purported to take a traveler around the world solely with Air New Zealand.  They still exist.  Starting in New Zealand and moving across the Pacific, they are Auckland-Los Angeles, Los Angeles-London, London-Hong Kong, Hong Kong-Auckland.

Of course, the importance of being able to circle the world using only one airline depends on a traveler’s objective.  If a traveler’s objective is similar to Phileas Fogg’s – to circle the world as quickly as possible – then this capability might play a crucial role in the logistics of the circumnavigation.  Time spent retrieving luggage, checking luggage with the next carrier, and passing through security when switching from one carrier to another, can be spent walking (or sprinting?) from an arrival gate to the next departure gate, and getting off the ground for the next leg of the journey more quickly.

Circumnavigating the globe for the sole purpose of doing it as quickly as the current state of technology will allow has lost its charm though.  And the requirement that an adventurer begin his quest in one of the four cities listed in the second paragraph causes additional expense and inconvenience even for most who are interested it attempting it.  Travelers who live in the Midwestern United States may be in luck though.  The merger of the United States-based carriers Delta and Northwest might make such an excursion possible on a single United States-based carrier once again in the near future.  And the merger might even make the journey possible with my hometown of Cincinnati (a longtime Delta hub) as an origin.

Would you ever do this just to say you did?  Comments are welcome, as always.

original story (Executive Travel Magazine)

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