The U.S. airline industry is chronically in dreadful shape, with Aloha, ATA, Skybus, Eos, Silverjet, Maxjet, and now Zoom having shut down. Midwest merged into Frontier. American went bankrupt and the corpse merged into US Airways, although the surviving company is still called American. Sun Country went bankrupt but is still flying, Frontier went bankrupt but seems to be surviving as part of regional carrier Republic, and most of the remaining airlines are hanging on with a combination of somewhat higher fares (much higer for trans-Atlantic) and very full planes. The weak economy has kept them from raising fares as much as they want, but they're not passing on the recent lower fuel prices. Southwest and Airtran, two relatively healthy low-fare carriers have merged, with the surviving airline Southwest with more east coast and international routes.
The confusion is even worse if you want to fly internationally. Official fares to most countries are set via a treaty organization called the IATA, so most computer systems list only IATA fares for international flights. It's easy to find entirely legal ``consolidator'' tickets sold for considerably less than the official price, however, so an online or offline agent is extremely useful for getting the best price. The airlines also can have some impressive online offers on their web sites.
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This ultra-modern terminal complex features the Midfield Terminal Building, one of the most architecturally impressive structures in the Middle East and the third largest airport terminal in the world. The building will offer exclusive entertainment, vibrant landmark lounges, modern guest rooms, world-class cuisine, and an up market duty free area with high end retail outlets and designer brands from all over the world.
The confusion is even worse if you want to fly internationally. Official fares to most countries are set via a treaty organization called the IATA, so most computer systems list only IATA fares for international flights. It's easy to find entirely legal ``consolidator'' tickets sold for considerably less than the official price, however, so an online or offline agent is extremely useful for getting the best price. The airlines also can have some impressive online offers on their web sites.
Citizens from countries participating in the US Visa Waiver Program who wish to travel by air to the United States must obtain prior approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is used by the U.S. government to screen eligible residents of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries before they board a plane to the U.S to determine whether or not they pose a law enforcement or security risk. VWP passengers are encouraged to apply for an ESTA when beginning to plan travel to the United States, using the convenient ESTA online form External site which may not meet accessibility guidelines. Passengers will be required to present proof of ESTA registration at time of check in and those who have not obtained prior approval via ESTA before departure will be denied boarding.
Four giant airline computer systems in the United States handle nearly all the airline reservations in the country. (They're known as CRSs, for computer reservations systems, or more often now GDS for global distribution systems.) Although each airline has a ``home'' CRS, the systems are all interlinked so that you can, with few exceptions, buy tickets for any airline from any CRS. The dominant systems in the U.S. are Sabre (home to American and US Airways), Galileo (home to United), Worldspan (home to Delta, Northwest), and Amadeus (many European lines.) The company that owned Galileo and Orbitz recently bought Worldspan, so the two GDS will presumably be merged. Many of the low-price start-up airlines don't participate in any of these systems but have their own Web sites where you can check flights and buy tickets. Southwest, the largest and oldest of the low-price airlines, doesn't participate, either. Southwest's web site gets car and hotel info from Galileo, but the info seems not to flow the other way. Orbitz one of the big three online travel agencies, runs its own system which is "direct connect" linked directly to many of the airlines.
​​​​Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the sixth busiest airport in the world offering more than 160 nonstop destinations around the globe. CLT oversees more than 700 departures and landings each day, and is served by seven domestic carriers and three foreign flag carriers. As American Airlines' second largest hub and the second largest airport on the East Coast, CLT connects passengers to exotic locations throughout the world.
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Passengers are subject to much more extensive screening than in the past, including screening of checked baggage at check-in time, and, according to news reports pat downs that approach groping. Airlines recommend arriving at least an hour earlier than before. In my experience the extra delay is rarely more than 15 minutes, even with the extra baggage screening, although I usually fly out of smaller airports, not big hubs where you can get the killer two hour lines. The TSA has handed back screening at a surprising number of airports to private contractors, all of whom wear outfits intended to look like TSA uniforms. There is remarkable inconsistency in procedures from one airport to another, particularly with respect to your shoes, is worse than ever. Don't put your shoes in a bin, do put your shoes in a bin, and they all insist very loudly that whatever their rule is has always been the rule everywhere. A variety of extra cost "trusted traveller" plans may allow people to get through the screening faster, or may just involve waiting in a different line. The TSA makes no promises. If you don't want to go through the X-ray machines, whose safety is nowhere near as clear as the TSA would like you to believe, you can get a light body massage instead. They have a web site with estimated wait times based on averages in previous months, not real time numbers.
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This ultra-modern terminal complex features the Midfield Terminal Building, one of the most architecturally impressive structures in the Middle East and the third largest airport terminal in the world. The building will offer exclusive entertainment, vibrant landmark lounges, modern guest rooms, world-class cuisine, and an up market duty free area with high end retail outlets and designer brands from all over the world. 
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