Vietnam War Story Wins Book Award Denis Johnson's novel Tree of Smoke wins the National Book Award. Sara Nelson, editor of Publishers Weekly, details the winners, the losers and the state of the publishing industry.
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Vietnam War Story Wins Book Award

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Vietnam War Story Wins Book Award

Vietnam War Story Wins Book Award

Vietnam War Story Wins Book Award

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Denis Johnson's novel Tree of Smoke wins the National Book Award. Sara Nelson, editor of Publishers Weekly, details the winners, the losers and the state of the publishing industry.


This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Anthony Brooks in Washington sitting in for Neal Conan.

For much of the traveling public, last summer became known as the summer from hell, with stories of flight cancellations, long delays and passengers stranded on tarmacs for hours. Now comes the busiest travel season of the year, as some 27 million Americans start flying back and forth across the country. And even the airline industry says to prepare for the worst. The question we're asking today is how?

President Bush outlined steps today to relieve the grounded planes and massive delays, but what are airlines doing about overbooked flights, electronic glitches, lack of information, lost luggage and bad weather? The list goes on. Today, we're asking the travel experts how to prepare for the holiday crunch. And later, Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme joins us to take your calls.

But first: holiday travel. What are you doing to prepare for the holiday bustle? And don't just call in with your horror stories - we've heard those -tell us what you've learned from them? Are you packing less to avoid checked luggage? Are you picking nicer airports in case you get stuck? Or are you opting to stay home or drive and not fly at all? Our number is 800-989-8255, that's 800-989-TALK. And our e-mail address is And you can also join the conversation on our blog. It's at

We begin this hour with David Field. He is the Americas editor of Airline Business magazine, and he joins us here in Studio 3A.

Welcome, David.

Mr. DAVID FIELD (Editor, Airline Business): Thank you.

BROOKS: Good to have you.

Mr. FIELD: My pleasure.

So David, how bad is it going to be? What should we expect as we head to the airport?

Mr. FIELD: Well, you know, last summer was the summer from hell. This Thanksgiving may well be the turkey from Hades.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FIELD: Look, it's not going to be pleasant and the airlines, I think, deserve a little bit of credit for their candor in telling folks that probably it's going to be tough. Busiest single-travel days of year come this Thursday, this Sunday, 4 or 5 percent more people than last year. Some airports we're talking about - waiting an hour or an hour and a half just to get through security.

The important thing is that we, as travelers, may have learned from last summer, and I certainly hope that the callers will share their lessons with us. And I think the airlines have also - the airlines are really - were burned by the bad publicity they got last summer, burned by the horror stories, and they're really kind of scared of congressional action that would legislate a so-called passenger's bill of rights that would mandate in excruciating detail, things they have to do when flights are delayed, passengers are stranded. So they're making an effort to improve things this Thanksgiving, but…

BROOKS: Yeah, I was reading some wire copy in preparation for the show, and there is an airline official who was quoted as saying, we can't afford another black eye. I mean, they're taking this seriously.

Mr. FIELD: They are taking this seriously. And look at what happened to JetBlue, one of the most liked airlines in the country. And last February, last Valentines Day, they had a horrible crisis at New York JFK, during an ice storm. Since then, their founder has been forced to step aside, their shares have clunked down, they've lost money, they're not as loved as they were. And the other airlines which haven't been loved for a heck of a long time are also - absolutely desperate to get back some of the public esteem they used to have.

BROOKS: Well, what are they doing, I mean, those things that I was reading about this morning? They've had a hundreds of extra seasonal workers. I notice that Northwest Airlines, which had a large number of cancelled flights over the summer, has a 20-point plan for travel reliability. It includes things like waiving fees for passenger's forced to rebook because of various problems. Is there other stuff they should be doing that you'd like to see them be doing specifically?

Mr. FIELD: I'd like to see them hiring people full-time rather than part-timers who haven't been staffed up yet, trained up yet. But I think that they are being proactive. A lot of other airlines are taking the cue from Northwestern, coming out with reliability plans. Probably, you won't have to pay a fee if you get or bumped or lost or delayed. They're going to go out of the way to waive fees to make it easy.

But what is, to me, most extraordinary is that the White House has stepped in. And in the last hour or so, President Bush came out with a plan to relieve congestion and ease delays. And this plan, although it's - basically in long term, it's going to do a few things that may actually make the next week go a little bit smoother.

BROOKS: Mm-hmm. Yeah. We're going to be talking a little bit more about what the president proposed a little later. But chief among his proposals is the military will make airspace available for civilian airliners. So freeing up more space up in the sky is basically.

Mr. FIELD: That's right. That's right. If you look at air traffic control map of the Eastern United States, up and down the Coast, from Maine all the way down to Florida, you'll see series of large, purple boxes. And those are boxes in the indicating airspace where airliners aren't allowed to fly. They're called the MOAs, Military Operating Areas.

BROOKS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. FIELD: Can't go in there unless you have specific permission from a military air traffic controller. What the president did today was to say we're opening them up over the holiday. You don't have to call and beg and do a song-and-dance act with the military. You can use the space. If the weather was bad, it's going to be an enormous reliever for the pressure. You're not going to have to squeeze as many flights into this narrow an area. If weather is good, we may not have to use them. But, you know, even President Bush can't do anything about the weather, so we'll have to see.

BROOKS: And we're going to be hearing a little bit from President Bush later. We've got tape of what he was proposing. We're going to play that a little later.

What, in terms of - in terms of the traveling public, what did we learn last summer that we can sort of put to good use in this holiday season and save ourselves some of the agony, I guess?

Mr. FIELD: I think one thing we learned - I hoped we learnt - is to live in an era of diminish expectations. Air travel isn't glamorous. It hasn't been glamorous for a long time. It's not fun, it's a pain. And if you sat on a runway for four hours or sat and stood for an hour and half in a TSA line, you know this to be the case. So if you're going to the airport this Thanksgiving, go with low expectations. It's not going to be fun.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FIELD: I would argue that the purpose of the flight is to get from point A to point B, rather than to have a good time.

BROOKS: Right.

Mr. FIELD: But…

BROOKS: Well, listen. On that point, here is an e-mail from Jack(ph) in Norman, Oklahoma.

My girlfriend and I decided against flying altogether. We're going to take the train from Oklahoma City to South Carolina. It'll take three days and be a fun part of the vacation.

So here's a guy who's deciding that the traveling can be fun - take a train, have a cocktail, kickback, relax.

Mr. FIELD: I hope Jack and his friend have a good time, but…

BROOKS: Here's another e-mail from Mike(ph) that I like.

There are two types of luggage: carry-on and lost.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FIELD: Very clever. But carry-ons and checked luggage have become a real issue. You remember in August of '05, the TSA cracked down on the number and types of things you're allowed to carry after the big scare in London. And this led to a dramatic increase in the number of people checking bags and the number of checked bags. And that is one of the reasons why we had delays over the summer of 2007, 2006 also. More and more people checking more and more bags. At the same time, the airlines had fewer people to handle the bags, toss the bags and unload the bags because they've laid so many people off during the downturn after 2001.

BROOKS: We're talking about what you're doing to prepare for what could be the worst holiday travel season in the history of mankind. Give us a call: 800-989-8255. With us is David Field, Americas editor of Airline Business magazine.

And let's go to Shaina(ph) who's calling from South Bend, Indiana.

Hi, Shaina.

SHAINA (Caller): Hi. Are you hearing me okay?

BROOKS: Yup, loud and clear. You're on the air.

SHAINA: Okay, great. Well, what I have learned to do is to put an automatic buffer vacation day at the end of every trip that I take, because so often I don't get back on the day the flight is scheduled to come back that I've just kind of sacrificed an extra day knowing that it might be the next day. Because sometimes, you'll get caught in an airport in some other country and then you have to call your boss, and you're on a different time zone and they're expecting you in the next day. So I just - every trip I take, I put an extra day on the end, knowing that…

BROOKS: So does that mean you ask for an extra day off or do you cut your vacation short by a day?

SHAINA: I use a vacation day - I don't know how to explain it.

BROOKS: Yeah. It was probably a false distinction anyway. Okay, Shaina, thanks. Sounds like a good idea. Appreciate the call.

SHAINA: Yeah. Thanks.

BROOKS: There's a lot of speculation about a merger, David, between United and Delta. How do mergers affect passengers?

Mr. FIELD: The best planned, most anticipated merger is still going to mess up passengers. We've never had a merger in this country, in this industry that has not truly messed up flight schedules, crew schedules and airline operations. And the bigger they are, the worse they are. The last merger we have in this country was between America West Airlines and U.S. Airways, and they are still going through the effects of that. And stay prepared for it.

BROOKS: Let's bring another guest into the conversation.

Tom Parson, he is publisher of and he joins us from member station KERA in Dallas, Texas.

And Tom Parson, welcome.

Mr. TOM PARSON (Publisher, Well, thank you.

BROOKS: It's good to have you. You've been listening to this conversation. So far, what are some of the things that passengers can do to help ease their travel woes?

Mr. PARSON: Well, you know, I've been agreeing with your guest there, but also I'm one of those guys who don't want to deal with a human. I don't want to go to the baggage claim. I don't want to see the guy there. I don't want to - you have to be told to go up to the ticket counter and talk to the ticket agent because they're going to keep me there for a day and a half.

And so I think what you have to do is - I do think you have to go out to the airport with the attitude that things are going to go wrong. And I think if you do that and you plan ahead - and this Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and New Year's or anytime, don't let be your fault that you missed the plane. Let it be the airlines, let it be weather, let it be something else, because that's why I think we see the number of bumpings have declined by - they were as over a million plus before 2000, the year 2000.

Today, we got more people traveling than ever. The planes are 85, 90 percent full, and yet we're only bumping between 600,000 and 700,000 people. I think the primary reason we had that drop of 300 or 400,000 people is the fact people aren't getting the airport on time. They are getting - they're not getting - get in line to check their bags and wait 45 minutes, and then they get there and they say, well, I'm sorry but we're not going to give you a boarding pass. You're going to have to go standby for the rest of the day.

And those are the things you don't want to happen this holiday season. And there are systems out there that will tell you - the folks that you can look it up. And if the DOT or - I don't know if the DOT - TSA says 30 minutes, then I'd probably double it. If it says - anything you see out there, double it, double it, double it. I now - I mean, I used to be - I hate to use this phrase, but you might remember with the Hertz commercials with O.J. Simpson?

BROOKS: Right.

Mr. PARSON: And I used to say I used to run to the airport like O.J. Simpson. Well, I guess he's hoping he wish he can do that again, too, but that's not happening. But still, I used to get to the airport with five to ten minutes run - get on the airplane. That was back from the good, old days. Today, I actually now take a little bit extra time. I do get to the airport. I allow myself an extra hour just because I think Murphy's Law is going to sit in. I now get there, I go through security, I print my boarding pass at home, I now use a valet service at DFW. It's cost me an extra buck. But I tell you what, I'm so…

BROOKS: But its money well spent. Stand by, Tom Parsons…

Mr. PARSON: Yeah.

BROOKS: …we have to take a very brief break. We're talking about what you're doing to prepare for the worst this holiday travel season. Give us a call: 800-989-8255. You can also send us an e-mail. The address is More of your calls in a minute. And up next, the president's plan to make traveling a little easier, and if it will help. Stay with us.

I'm Anthony Brooks. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

BROOKS: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Anthony Brooks in Washington.

Tens of millions of people are getting ready to board a plane for the holidays. And on Monday, the airline industry warned passengers to prepare for the worst. Earlier today, President Bush laid out several steps the government would take to help reduce some of the delays. They include the military opening unused airspace along the East Coast to commercial planes during the holidays, a holiday moratorium on nonessential maintenance at the FDA - FAA, and more.

(Soundbite of archived speech)

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Fifth, we're proposing new regulations to help insure that airline passengers are treated fairly. We're proposing to double the amount of compensation passengers receive when they're forced off overbooked flights. For example, a passenger forced to wait more than two hours for another flight would receive a minimum of $800 under our idea instead of the current $400. We want people who are responsible for moving passengers to understand that there will be consequences for these delays.

BROOKS: That's President Bush speaking earlier today in Washington. The heads of Delta and JetBlue were also in Washington today, telling a House subcommittee their plans for dealing with the holiday rush. But after the summer of hell for air travel, will it be enough? What are you doing to prepare for might be more congestion and delays in the air? Give us a call at 800-989-8255. Our e-mail address is

And our guests this hour are David Field, Americas editor for Airline Business magazine; also, Tom Parsons, publisher of

And let's go right to a caller. Let's go to Josh(ph) who's calling from Charlotte, North Carolina. Hi, Josh. You're on the air.

JOSH (Caller): Yes, sir. Thank you very much for taking my call.


JOSH: I just want to say that forget about checking luggage. It's just too big of a hassle. You might as well let the professionals at the USPS, UPS, FedEx, places like that to take care of it for you. Go ahead and mail it, you know, to your destination. You don't have to worry about it.

BROOKS: That's not a bad idea. What do you think, David? Good idea?

Mr. PARSON: Good idea. There are also a number of private services that will get the luggage there for you. It costs money, but if you're concerned with sort of your mental health, as Josh - I think he is - it's probably worth it. Don't be like me. I have an enormous collection of extra socks and extra underwear from having left my luggage behind and then having had to buy extra stuff. Don't do that. By all means, do what Josh says.

BROOKS: Okay, Josh. Thanks for the suggestion.

JOSH: Thank you.

BROOKS: Let me come to you, Tom Parsons. For people who haven't bought tickets yet, are record fuel prices affecting how the price of tickets - I mean, are we seeing more expensive tickets this holiday season?

Mr. PARSON: Well, we were, but also, I think, we're seeing some bargained basement stuff, too. I mean, if you know - I think the trick this holiday season is flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. Look at alternate airports, too. One airport can be much higher than the other. And then also, there's -certain days this holiday season, I mean, like this coming Sunday, a week from this Sunday, will probably be the worst day to travel and then probably the most expensive day to travel.

And when we did a comparison - and we did several, a matter of fact, we put one up on our Web site just for your listeners today. But we did - we've been monitoring the fares out of San Francisco to Tampa since, I guess, the beginning of October. And now, when they first started - November 21st, which is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, coming back this Sunday after - they started off at $500.62 a ticket. Today, that's - those same flights are going for 948 bucks.


However, the cheapest airfare on that route today is 218 roundtrip, and then again, all the flights between December 4th to December 11th, we can get those. If you went back - if you left on November 21st but came back on November 26th, the following Monday, it drops by $400. And then also, the airlines have now waived what we call waive the advance purchase.

So if you still want to go somewhere and you're very flexible and you want to go out there and keep the booking engines out there, look left and right, the airlines have reduced the advance purchase from the standard 21 days to one day advance. And many of these airfares, especially the small regional airports maybe like Roanoke, Virginia, Fargo, North Dakota - I'm talking about airports that have no competition - they pay the highest fares in America. Like Spokane to Key West, Florida, they're one of the most expensive leisure fares in America at $710. It's now been reduced to $358 over the holidays.

And again, that's a smart idea. I would do two things. I'd go back and reprice your ticket now, folks. Do it, because the airlines have made major adjustments to their flight schedules. You do not want to get out the airport like my son would have had to do over at Christmas. His flight's been changed by five hours, to the worst, okay, and yet - and now that we know it, he's going to leave five hours earlier. But if we didn't know it, imagine being at the airport and that was the only flight of the day.

Mr. FIELD: Yeah.

Mr. PARSON: I may have to pack a lunch. The other thing is - second reason I want you to go back and reprice it: If your fare has dropped in that market and at over $100 per ticket, then you might be able to go back and request a refund or a voucher for a future flight, and we've done that twice so far this year. And I think over this holiday season, since we saw some airfares drop by 48 percent since summer, you may want to do that because you can have your next vacation paid for for 2008.

BROOKS: That sounds like good advice. Let's take another call.

Let's go to Al(ph), who's calling from Arcadia, Florida. Hi, Al.

AL (Caller): Hi. Yeah. Our family has just - we actually stopped doing holidays and turned it into family gatherings.

BROOKS: Oh, interesting. So you mean you just don't travel in the holidays?

AL: Well, no. Not only on holiday time. We postpone it or bring it ahead by two weeks or so. We were able to get time off from our work. It's easier that way. The company is not having the fight with letting off their whole workforce. We can take what other people don't want, and it's a little bit easier on everybody. There's no hustle and bustle everywhere.

BROOKS: Sounds like a good idea. Thanks for the call, Al. Appreciate it.

AL: Thank you.

BROOKS: And let's go to Ken(ph), who's calling from Sacramento, California. Hi, Ken.

KEN (Caller): Hi.

BROOKS: You're on the air.

KEN: Oh, yeah. One thing I found out that - I usually travel internationally. And a quick way to do a lot of things is I sometimes go just for like a weekend or whatever, like three or four days or under a week. I usually just pack and expandable - what do you call it - carry-on bag?


KEN: So that takes - go to the luggage. I carry it under my seat. But what's fascinating I found out by accident is (unintelligible), and I wore socks and sandals. And we were waiting at the gate to get in for the security sweep, and he actually pushed everybody aside and let me walk on through because they didn't have to check me. (Unintelligible)

BROOKS: So socks and sandals. That might be the big secret of the holiday season.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KEN: Because that's what's taking a lot now is the security check.

BROOKS: Yeah. Okay. Well, Ken, thanks for the call. Appreciate it.

KEN: You're welcome.

BROOKS: David, Ken mentioned international travels. Is there anything that people need to be aware of in particular if they're traveling overseas?

Mr. FIELD: The main things you'd be aware of, first of all, is the need for documentation, the need for passports. But for U.S. citizens, what you really have to be aware of is that the weakness of the dollar. Travel to Europe is extraordinarily expensive. Travel to England, where I have to go twice a year, basically, it's doubled in cost. My dollar is worth 50 pence. It used to be very close to one pound. It's the same all over Europe, where the Euro is at record level. So basically, you're losing 20, 30 cents on every purchase.

BROOKS: Mm-hmm. Let's take another call. Let's go to David(ph), who's calling from Nevada City, California. David, you're on the air.

DAVID (Caller): Hi there. I was wondering if anyone knows what the laws are regarding your confinement on an airplane sitting on the runway for eight hours. You're being held against your will. And I wondered if you have any rights to demand that you'd be let off.

BROOKS: Good question. Tom Parsons, that was certainly the case this summer. There were at least a couple of stories of people stranded on runways, in airplanes that were in these, you know, unending holding patterns. Can you help David?

Mr. PARSON: Well, that's what the bill of rights is all about, and I do believe there should be a bill of rights. I hate government intervention anyway, but at the same time, I do believe since we can't trust the airlines to do it right -even after they said they're going to correct it, we go back and they do it again. I just think there has to be some common sense in there. I like the fact that for the first time since deregulation, we're probably going to see that the penalties - or what we call denied boarding, which is illegal function - is going to double.

I mean, we've seen the insurance for lost baggage go up to $3,000 per person, per passenger, and yet at the same time the airlines gets to dictate what your value, your merchandises, that you lost. I don't see any purpose in that either. But in his case right now, I just say that I don't believe if somebody wants to keep me on the runway for more than two hours, I'm not very happy. I guess the only way we really could find out what's the limit is we could take a whole plane of congressmen and put them out there and see how long it takes them to get off, okay?

BROOKS: See how long it takes them to propose legislation?

Mr. PARSON: Yes. I want to say who wants off now? One hour later? Okay, we're going to make it a one-hour limit and then we start penalizing the airlines, just like this. But if they keep us on the planes after a certain set of time, maybe two hours, two and a half hours, then I think if they need to keep us out here, fine, but it's going to cost them 100 bucks an hour for everybody on the plane, maybe the first round is 200 and you double it for a couple of hours and then I want you to give me $1,000 when I go off the plane. They won't do that too often in the future, I promise you.

BROOKS: Right.

DAVID: What rights does an individual actually have?

Mr. PARSON: You don't. You don't have any right. You are at the mercy of the captain of that airplane. And if you try to interfere with the flight attendants or the captain, they'll throw you in jail.

BROOKS: Mm-hmm. David, thanks for the call.

DAVID: You're welcome.

BROOKS: David Field, did you want to…

Mr. FIELD: Yeah.

BROOKS: …chime in on this?

Mr. FIELD: Tom is absolutely right. You don't have any rights. There was a pretty famous case a decade or so ago. A senator from the Dakotas, Jim Abourezk, actually tried to sue Northwest Airlines, claiming they had kidnapped him and falsely imprisoned him for keeping him out of runway for an obscene amount of time, and the case never went anywhere. Passenger bill of rights that Tom was talking about will address it. But no, right now, you don't have any rights. And if you talk to the crew, be real polite and don't go anywhere near the cockpit.

BROOKS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. PARSON: Can I bring up one more thing?

BROOKS: Yeah. Go ahead. Sure, Tom.

Mr. PARSON: Just bring up your - everybody make sure to keep your cell phone fully charged and then you call every newspaper, every media guy in the neighborhood and tell them that you're being held hostage. And I promise you that when the airlines starts getting phone calls from NPR or the Washington Post or New York Times, I promise you, it just happen to be in your favor, it's okay, and just start hitting them. And then you can do live interviews. They'd look for folks like you all day long…

BROOKS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. PARSON: …especially if you're out there for three or four hours.

BROOKS: We're talking about how you can prepare for the coming travel season, how you can avoid being held hostage. With us is David Field, Americas editor of Airline Business magazine and Tom Parson, publisher of

And we're taking your calls at 800-989-8255. Let's go to Liza(ph), who's calling from Jacksonville, Florida.

Hi, Liza.

LIZA (Caller): Hi there. Well, in addition to all of the media phone numbers that you want to keep plugged into your phone, also make sure you have the airline's number - the number of the airline, the 800-number that you're traveling on - plugged into your phone. Because this summer, when I was traveling and they canceled the flight and herded 250 passengers over to a ticket counter, it was the gentleman in front of me who quickly got on his cell phone, called that 800-number to U.S. Airways, and was able to make very quick changes to his ticket…

BROOKS: Just sitting right there in the airplane, right.

LIZA: …while the rest of us sat in line, right.

BROOKS: Interesting. Okay, Liza. Thanks a lot. Good suggestion.

LIZA: Thank you.

BROOKS: Appreciate it. I guess that makes sense, David. I mean, there is this possibility - you're sitting right there, you're delayed, you can redo your travel arrangements right there.

Mr. FIELD: You can, and some of the airlines have actually been proactive on this. Delta, in particular, has banks of phones in its big hub down Atlanta Hartsfield, where you just go up and you're automatically connected with an agent. Of course, you'll have to wait on hold and so on, but Delta and other airlines are doing that.

Mr. PARSON: The other thing I think they need to do too, though…


Mr. PARSON: …is they - you know those little key houses we see on the way into the airport?


Mr. PARSON: They need to put them behind the security, too. Therefore, when they have all these cancelled flights, they can automatically start rebooking people inside the computer reservation systems quicker than we can talk to that human behind the gate. Then, all we had to do is take our previous flight, then put on our ID through it again, swipe it, and now get the new boarding pass. We won't have to stand in those lines. And I think if we see more that behind the scenes, we'll see a lot more faster system.

BROOKS: Mm-hmm. We're talking about how best to prepare for the coming travel season, given the delays we saw over the summer. Give us a call: 800-989-8255.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

Here's an e-mail from David(ph) in Charlotte, North Carolina. And I like this suggestion: My wife and I have thought long and hard about how to make our holiday travel easier and finally came up with a perfect solution. We have ordered several bottles of wine, a smoked turkey and a metric load of movies. Our longest trip will be to the store at the end of the road if, heaven forbid, we run out of beer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BROOKS: Yeah, right. There we go.

Mr. PARSON: That's deregulation for you.

BROOKS: That's deregulation for you.

Let's go to Catherine(ph), who's calling from Syracuse, New York.

Hi, Catherine.

CATHERINE (Caller): Hi. I'm an Episcopal priest. I travel sometimes for business and less often for pleasure because I can't afford it. But I've discovered that paying bottom dollar for our tickets really doesn't pay. I'm - for some reason, I feel like I'm more likely to run into a cancellation or a delay or something like that. So I go ahead and go with a non-discount airline, believe it or not. And I also make sure that I'm always - that I don't change airlines at the stop.

BROOKS: Mm-hmm. So that you're on one airline all the way through?

CATHERINE: Yeah. I had a couple of bad experiences.

BROOKS: All right, Catherine.

CATHERINE: It has - that's when you're going to lose your luggage, and if you don't leave enough time (unintelligible) or either.

BROOKS: Right. Okay, Catherine.

CATHERINE: That's, you know, like a chiller.

BROOKS: Well, let me put that suggestion to our experts here. David, does that make sense to, if - whenever possible, to stick with one airline?

Mr. FIELD: Oh, yeah, absolutely. If you're doing it, what we call an interline flight - it's a wonderful opportunity for one airline to blame the other over your lost back or your misconnection. Stay on the same airline. And if you're a frequent flyer and a week-level flyer on a particular airline, you'll probably get treated better. Although, I'm a little bit upset to hear that an Episcopal minister, an Episcopal priest needs help.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BROOKS: Sorry, we lost her. We lost our caller. But thank you very much for the call.

Last call, we have just a short - just a few seconds left, but let's hear from Heidi(ph) in Portland, Oregon.

Hi, Heidi.

HEIDI (Caller): Hello. Hello?

BROOKS: You're on the air.

HEIDI: Okay. I go to travel to twice a month at a minimum business airline traveler. And I think that the thing that slows down the lines the most is people who just don't know how to get through the line fast.

Mr. FIELD: Bravo.

HEIDI: So I suggest people bring a bag that they can quickly pull stuff out of and put it back in like your laptop and your liquids.

BROOKS: Mm-hmm.

HEIDI: And then dress the part, which means slip-on shoes and no belts and, you know? Bring layers, but don't bring your monster coat that you have to carry as a third item.

BROOKS: I think - what do you wear, Heidi, when you travel?

HEIDI: I wear slip-on sneakers, sweats or jeans, a T-shirt, a sweater and then I always bring a pashmina shawl instead of those airline blankets.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BROOKS: All right. Well, good. Good suggestions. Tom Parson, does that make sense to you what Heidi is suggesting?

Mr. PARSON: And also…

Mr. PARSON: …yeah. And also make sure - you know, you're allowed to bring lighters back now, but the propane ones are not. But - like the one lady, though, was talking about - the high-cost airlines - I think she might be wrong because Southwest Airlines actually has one of the best historical, on-time performance in this country. And, again, the number of lost luggage is less with them too. And the ones that had the worst record for on-time performance this year were the Legacy Airlines, the one you paid more money to go on.

The second thing - if you are traveling, you have to check this holiday season, you got a bunch of folks. What you might want to do is - and this is what I do, when I fly with my wife: We mix our clothes up. She gets half I get half. And yes, we lost our luggage twice this year. We were checking stuff to the Caribbean and I got all mine and have hers. So she was happy and I was happy for at least the 24 hours until everything showed up.

BROOKS: Well, gentlemen, I want to thank you both for coming in and talking about the…

Mr. PARSON: Thank you.

BROOKS: …challenge of the coming travel season.

Tom Parson, publisher of He joined us from member station KERA in Dallas, Texas.

Thank you.

Mr. PARSON: Thank you.

BROOKS: And David Field, with us right here in Studio 3A is Americas editor of Airline Business magazine.

Thank you, David, for coming in.

Mr. FIELD: It's my pleasure.

BROOKS: And happy holidays to both of you.

Mr. FIELD: Thank you.

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