Sunday reading items: Win miles, use miles, Hyatt Points, and ID that plane overhead

This week, I had the the opportunity to fly Southwest Airlines for the first time in several years. Just to give you an idea of how long it’s been, the last time I flew WN they still used the plastic boarding passes.

It’s not that I avoid Southwest, it’s just that over the years the when and where of my travel plans have kept me away, but they’re still as good as I had remembered.

A few observations:

While I think I prefer having a seat assignment, the boarding process is quick and efficient.

Because Bags fly Free, there’s no time wasted with people trying to shove too many bags into too little space in the overhead bins. It was a full flight, and in less than twenty minutes we were pushing back from the gate.

In my opinion, Southwest has the best coffee in the air. Drinking coffee on a bumpy flight can be a challenge, and I love that they serve it in a paper cup with a lid. It’s very similar to the cup that Starbuck’s uses.

I’ve always admired Chick-fil-a, Ritz-Carlton, and Apple because they’re very, very good at delivering a great customer experience.  Southwest is just as good.  Every single Southwest employee was cheerful and pleasant. Being nice goes a long way.

Anyway, here are a few items that I thought you might find interesting:

• Not a lot of positive news about the negotiations between American and their pilots’ union. The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram hosted a chat on the subject:

Reporter Andrea Ahles and columnist Mitchell Schnurman answered readers’ questions Thursday on what’s next for American Airlines.

Even more depressing, Mitchell Schnurman of the Star-Telegram shares his thoughts about what he sees as Lack of leadership imperils American Airlines’ future:

The drumbeat toward Chapter 11 is growing as outsiders and even some employees get comfortable with the idea. A month earlier, most seemed shocked that dysfunction at the airline could lead to such a destructive path. Now they’ve moved on to dissecting the advantages of Chapter 11.

Analysts put a dollar value on dumping pensions, evaluated which airplane leases must go and speculated on rivals that could absorb American. A merger with US Airways, one analyst wrote, could create $1.5 billion in synergies.

For those at American who say bankruptcy wouldn’t be much worse, imagine thousands of job cuts and the Fort Worth airline being run by a company in Arizona.

Now for other news:

• American Airlines partner Hawaiian Airlines announces the start of service between New York City and Honolulu and Hillary Stockton over at Travel Sort writes How to Fly Hawaiian from NYC to Hawaii with AAdvantage Miles

• American announces some promotions to their executive management team.

AMR Corporation today announced the appointment of Charles Schubert to Vice President – Network Planning, and Andrew Backover to Vice President – Corporate Communications for American Airlines. The company also selected Pedro Fabregas as Senior Vice President – Customer Service for American Eagle.

• There have been number of recent sweepstakes opportunities to win AAdvantage Miles.Points, Miles & Martinis has compiled a complete list of them.  Go here to make sure you haven’t missed one (and while you’re there, learn how you can win your share of the several million points that Hyatt is giving away!).

• Do you ever find yourself looking up at the sky when a plane flies overhead?  Do you wonder if you’re looking at a 767 or a 777?   Wonder where it’s going?  Well now you can find out.  From Search Engine Land:

Wolfram Alpha has just launched what I’d have to put on any year-end list of the coolest search technologies of 2011: a tool that tells you, literally, what flights are in the sky above you.

Go here to read more.

Hope you’re having a good weekend!

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