25 December 2009

Christmas Giving

As its Christmas day and the dog woke me up - I have decided that this Christmas I will give to the usual round of charities that my family supports. I thought I would share with you what they are and suggest that you do the same.

Our interest has always been in supporting 4 basic principles:

Free Speech
Helping those to help themselves

To this end here are the ones I recommend you join me in supporting:

1. NPR - National Public Radio in the USA.

2. TerraPass (headed by my former colleague Erik Blackford). This is a paid form of guilt but I recommend you do it anyway.

3. Animals. I am a dog person. So there are three that I support. All of them are in the UK. These were favorites of my Mother so I do it in her name. The Dog Trust, the Guide Dogs for the Blind and German Shepherd Rescue. I particularly like this one because the initials are GSD (not GDS get it!!!)

4. Finally my favorite for bang for the buck is Kiva.org. So far I have seen a 100% return on my donations. So please give generously and get involved in your giving.

I have made it easy for you so all you have to do is to click on the links and you can gift in less than 30 secs. How easy is that!!!!

Cheers and Merry Crimble

24 December 2009

Whose On The Favorite List At American?

I just went to see "Up In The Air" its a great movie. While I am not quite of the same league as George, I can empathize with a lot of this. I recognize many people I have met in the story, and apart from George may even resemble one or two of them. However it is rather a long advert for American! Even Sam Elliott's appearance is a little over the top. But its a great fun watch.

Recently I have written a fair amount about American Airlines and its new direct distribution approach.

So now its probably appropriate for all of us to look at the list of who is "approved" so far. While I have had the list for nearly two months - I think now is a good time to share.

So for those of you who are really keen to see this you can find the link here:




The Oughts Trend of The Decade

So as we enter the holiday season - I have been reflecting on what would be the trend of the decade.

Wow what a decade it has been. Consider all the good and not so good things that have occurred over the past 10 years. Remember that this time ten years ago people were preparing for the IT meltdown of all time - Y2K. Remember that?

So what has been the Trend of the Decade. Some might argue that Social Networking is the trend. I would agree it has been tremendous and the boom occurring late in the decade coming to the fore largely in the last quarter has radically changed the collective consciousness. Nope that is not quite my nominee.

How about mobile. As the decade opened - I was heavily involved in mobile apps with the promise of geo-location. Nope Mobile didn't quite make it as the killer app for the oughts. However the general adoption of advanced devices is astounding. Now if ONLY THE CARRIERS would let us have reasonable annual contracts...

How about Google? This has certainly been their decade. Look how they have managed to replace Microsoft as the guardian of the IT flame. In doing so they have avoided the hatred of MS. However they now exert more power and control, and they know more about our innermost thoughts than anyone ever has. Their power is frightening. If you are not in real fear by now of the allegedly benign giant - then you should be. But no not these guys.

So Give UP???

The answer in my humble opinion is Digital Junk - The Trend of the Decade is eTrash. The mindless pushing of digital bits of data into the ether. This is truly the decade when the ability of our puny brains to comprehend the amount of data out there finally ran out.


23 December 2009

The Professor's Christmas Greetings

Christmas is coming,
The GDSs are getting fat,
Please put some XML
In the old legacy hat.
If you haven't got any XML,
HTML will do,
If you haven't got HTML,
Then let's hope God'll bless you.

Christmas is coming,
The markets are going free,
Spruce up your marketing for everyone to see.
If you you haven't got merchandising,
Some selling will do;
If you haven't got any clue,
I'm really sorry 4 U!

Christmas is coming,
The season of good cheer,
Let's all sing about our open new year!
If you are happy to sing,
Then a little practice will do;
If you haven't got a jolly song,
Then May God... bless... you...!

The Professor, his Elves and fellow Professors around the world would like to wish you wherever you are peace hope and understanding. May this spirit of hope and good cheer last all through the year. Please keep your emails, comments (and yes even Tweets) coming. I promise to do my best to keep providing you with some insight and information. Hopefully we will all be a little wiser and richer in mind by this time next year. So thank you for reading and may you and your families have a great one.

Cheers, and may your God go with you

The REAL 2009 Travel Awards Show

Don't listen to cheap imitations - for the real scoop listen to Professors, Braniff, Sabena and Mrs O'Leary dish the real dirt on 2009


Enjoy our annual roast


LH and Amadeus FINALLY Come To Terms

So the deed is done. Effective March 1st 2010 LH and Amadeus have a full content 3 year deal.

So behind all the backslapping and other wonderful words that will be spoken - there is a clear set of expectations of what can only be described as "huh?"

Most people reading the Press Releases will just gloss over a few terms. But there is enough here to drive a truck through. LH has clearly won some major concessions in both price and conditions.

Gentlemen (airlines and ladies) - start your engines - time to re-examine your GDS contracts!


Grupo Marsans Should Probably Stick To Buses

Another Grupo Marsans Airline bites the dust. This time its Air Comet its Spanish based company that was grounded by Spanish Regulators after a court gave permission for a German bank to seize the fleet for non-payment of loans.

This marks the second time a Grupo Marsans airline has gone out of business or been taken over by the Government as was the case with Aerolineas Argentinas.

According to Wikipedia: Grupo Marsans operates as a tour operator in Spain. It has operations in Spain, France, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina, as well as representations in Latin America. The company was founded in 1910 and is based in Madrid, Spain. Grupo Marsans is a subsidiary of Autobuses Urbanos del Sur, SA.

So perhaps in future they should stick to buses.

This is also bad news for Airbus as Grupo Marsans had many Airbus products on order including 10 A350s and 4 A380s. Earlier this year some of the white tails at Toulouse were revealed to be A330s originally destined for Air Comet.


22 December 2009

Not A Great Day For AA/OneWorld

All humour aside, OneWorld received two bits of bad news yesterday.

Firstly from Asia came the news that the Japanese Government is unlikely to provide a full bailout for JAL. JAL's stock in recent days has risen on reports that Delta has won the dance card of the old lady JAL.

Then today the US Dept. Of Justice nixed the BAAABI (BA, AA, Iberia) Alliance. However this is last one may not be that bad. The DoJ also tried to nix the CO/Star Alliance partnership. The DoT is the ruling authority in the case. They could well do the same and rule in American's favour.

Finally our hope is that the injuries sustained in the accident to AA 331 are minimal - so far there are reports of injuries but no fatalities. The aircraft (Boeing 737-800) whose route was DCA-MIA-KIN, broke in three pieces after a landing overrun tonight in what was pretty foul weather. So far 40 injuries have been reported and 3 possibly serious. The aircraft has been reported to be one of the older 738s in AA's fleet.


787 #2 flies


3 Hour Rule: Is It Enough & Will It Work?

With much heralding the US DoT has implemented effective April 2010 a new rule that limits tarmac delays of more than 3 hours. While itself a victory for Kate Hanni and her FlyersRights group, it doesn't do a lot of things.

Firstly it is not a law. Let's hope the Boxer/Snowe Bill becomes law this session. Secondly international is not subject to this. Effectively letting JFK and the Transatlantic carriers off the hook. Thirdly this is far from a comprehensive Passenger Bill of Rights that many (me included) have been seeking. The Boxer/Snowe bill from the fine Senators from California and Maine must pass. Event then it is not as comprehensive as the EU legislation.

Being a frequent flyer and at the same time working within the industry, I have perhaps a more heightened awareness to the issues of operational nature that affect flight operations. The US Air Transportation System is a finely tuned animal moving 3/4 of a billion people annually on its scheduled apparatus. Europe's traffic (as represented by the ECAC countries) is now approaching a similar size and has a far more complex infrastructure due to the national jurisdictions that it covers. However the EC has been able to pass and implement a far more comprehensive set of rules than the USA. For which successive Administrations must accept responsibility.

For a comprehensive set of rules and how to implement them as an example - I suggest dear readers you go and visit the Relevant European Community Transport Website - Passenger Rights

As to whether it will work, I am somewhat skeptical due to the nature of some airports and the ways in which some airlines have the peaks and hub banks. Like all services - there needs to be a better way to manage these peaks and the onus needs to go back to the airports to implement this. Today they have a vehicle for collecting a passenger head tax - PFCs some of which are used to line City Coffers rather than directly related to services provided. Each airport has the right to charge a peak slot time price. What the DoT has failed to do here is to make the policy have greater teeth by only putting the onus on the airlines. The airports too must be part of this equation as indeed must the DoT itself through its management of the FAA.

For regular readers of this column - I am still angry (make that livid) at Secretary LaHood's recent screw up over the BA India Fare debacle. Perhaps he is trying to deflect attention away from that by announcing this "Rule" now.

In the long run there is no substitute for a comprehensive set of rights and rules that can be justly applied. There are no arguments that can be levied by any of the supply side players (Airports, Airlines, FAA etc) as the EU's code has been implemented and has shown a materially improved level of service to the travelling public.

So to answer my own question. The answer is No and No. But it is a move in the right direction. Let's hope it is not the only move.


With thanks to the Brisbane Times for the most appropriate picture.

767: I'm Not Dead Yet!

While the 787 has been stealing a lot of the limelight (and not all of it complementary) the 767 the plane that the Dreamliner was supposed to replace had garnered only 2 orders and 5 cancellations for a net of -3 orders on the year. But today ANA (the launch customer for the 787) redressed the insult and put the 767 back into positive territory. (Unlike the other Seattle Team - the Seahawks who had a disgraceful showing yesterday).

With the certification process now underway for the 787 and a target of nearly 9 months to obtain approval - the Chicago based plane maker needs to keep things positive. The 787 after one of the most aggressive sales programs in history and a very healthy order book actually experienced a net loss of 70 orders this year. Airbus correspondingly gained 22 orders for the year for its A350 family.

I suspect we may see a resurgence in orders for the 767 as a stopgap to replace existing short falls of 787. But the likely continued winner will be the A330. The Airbus wide twins (OK and the smattering of 240s) have a backlog of nearly 900 aircraft.

And with an acknowledgement to Mr Idle and Company for the image and quote.


21 December 2009

Stansted Sale Halted On Technicality

In March the UK Competition Authority ruled that the UK major airports authority should divest itself of two of its three London Area airports.

As a result Gatwick has been sold and Stansted has become the battle ground for BAA vs the authorities.

The technicality is that one of the members of the investigation team was also an advisor to a group of pension funds who owned a chunk of Manchester Airport one of the bidders in the Gatwick sale. As a result of this "bias" the divestiture process has been halted.

For a full report on the Tribunal's assessment and ruling click this link.

Clearly this has disappointed at least one of Stansted's tenants. Its largest is Ryanair whose CEO was quick to blast the decision.

So this is another story that will play and play


Who Blinked? BA or Amadeus?

BA and Amadeus have signed a three year extension to their existing contract which will now expire in 2013.

Both parties seem pleased with the deal which BA's John Mornement, head of selling and distribution at British Airways, said the agreement reduces the airline’s distribution costs. Amadeus was also pleased as it extended the ability of the GDS subscribers to have access to full content.

So the answer is they probably both blinked. Let's hope that they all read the fine print carefully. Look for increased costs for the intermediaries as a result of this agreement.


Travel Weekly's Nadine Finally Retires

Perhaps not the most flattering of headline I could write - but Nadine Godwin, long time Travel Weekly (US) Editor and staffer has finally hung up her formal pad and pen for the last time. TW has done a nice piece on her. Have a read although it hardly does justice to her career.

Knowing Nadine for more than 20 years - I am sure she and the cats will not go quietly.

I had the chance to say good bye earlier this month at the Farelogix SPRK symposium. I hope we gave her a good send off.

Cheers Nadine. Best of luck and keep writing.

EC Investigates Taxes and Fees. Doesn't Like What It Sees - Likely To Legislate

One thing you can say about the European Commission (EC) when it doesn't like something - it acts pretty quickly. With the powers of judge jury and executioner, the EC has broader powers than those of the usual sovereign state authorities.

The Commission formed a committee to investigate airline fees and taxes. his Project Study group has just released their findings. The 25 page report is clear and concise.

"The investigations that were conducted in relation to this Common Activity involved an examination of 281 flights and contact with 34 airports and 24 airlines. These investigations and contacts form the basis for the conclusions reached in this report."

The conclusion of the report should give a clue as to how the EC will act in the future:

"The practical knowledge gained by the participants during the course of the Common Activity has fostered a new understanding of the airline industry within the respective consumer authorities. As such, the completion of this report represents a starting point for increased consumer protection cooperation across Europe, clearer guidelines for airlines on how to present air fares to consumers and, most importantly, more transparent transactions for consumers purchasing flights."

The study itself surprisingly had small amounts of representation. only 10 of the 29 EU nations were included. Under the direction of Norway's Consumer Ombudsman, the group did not include participation from the two major travel markets of UK or Germany.

The carriers investigated were:
*Aer Arann
*Aer Lingus
*Air Berlin
*Air France
Austrian Airlines
British Airways
Brussels Airlines
Czech Airlines
Estonian Air
Iceland Express
Malmö Aviation
Polish Airlines LOT
Travel Service/Smart Wings
Note those with the * chose not to cooperate.
34 Airports were also evaluated.

Ths study showed that of the Fees and Taxes charged (TFCs in the EC's speak) only 41% were directly levied by a government body or airport. Of the remainder more than half was attributed to Fuel Surcharges. Given that the study was done at the end of 2008 - it is likely that the percentage of TFCs has grown since then and the proportion of non Tax levied charges has also increased.

The Study group found that many of the airlines were not in compliance with EC rules. It specifically states that to be in compliance an airline has to ensure that its charges as represented on the website should be:

To be in accordance with Article 23, government taxes and airport charges must be:

clearly distinguished from other charges and
correspond with the actual amounts levied by airports and governments.

A follow up of the airlines in June and July this year showed that several airlines are still not in compliance. Also a noticeable exception - "Optional services – for example food/beverages, seat reservations, insurance or luggage – have not been scrutinized in this project."

The project study group made a number of direct recommendations. Here are the main two:

"The project group therefore recommends that all air fares should be comprised of the following elements: the basic air fare, airport charges and government taxes which are levied per passenger and the total price. All other unavoidable TFCs should be included in the basic air fare.
Further fees should only be added to the ticket price provided these are genuine optional fees and not mandatory costs all passengers are obliged to pay."

"The project group consequently recommends that passengers travelling in Europe should have a clear legal right to be refunded all airport fees and government charges which are not due. If the ticket for air transport is not used we believe that passengers should be entitled to repayment of all prepaid taxes and charges imposed on passengers by airports and governments and collected by airlines."

I believe that Article 23 regulation will be revised soon to address these issues. This will make the display of information simpler but will impose a set of conditions on airlines that will be hard for their systems to comply. The study while applauding the ability of the consumer to shop (presumably via the Search and OTA sites) did not address how they may also be required to display this information.

So chaps you have been warned. Offer airline products for sale and you will need to be pretty explicit.


PS If you want a copy of the study - please ping me.

20 December 2009

Airline Traffic Nov 2009 Figures Reveals Interesting Dilemma for US Carriers

We have two pieces of interesting data from sources that normally match.

The data sources are the US ATA - Air Transport Association, and the Airlines Reporting Corporation - ARC.

ATA measures total traffic for US airlines. So taking like for like - there are two sets of metrics. The table looks like this

November 2009 year vs year previous activity.

ARC Transactions up 8.64%
ARC Sales up 6.86%

ATA Passengers down 1%
ATA Sales down 7%

Even accounting for approx a 21 day advance purchase average and some date skewing due to Thanksgiving - this shows us that there is perhaps an interesting phenomenon emerging. I believe be that the percentage of travel booked via Intermediaries is actually rising and significantly.

PhocusWright and others have been predicting this for some time. The Professor believes this to be the case. We have seen that the effect of the Fee removal on OTA sales has been pronounced, with significant revenue increases since September - most recently in November the Y/Y growth was 20%. In addition even the TMCs are reporting better at 6% growth. The remaining category of "other" namely retail and tour operator/wholesaler based sales were flat in November. While it will be some months before we see formal numbers out of the GDS companies - we can be sure that the big 3 are showing increases that seem to counter the airlines continued downward trend.

It will be some months yet until the BTS (official government stats) are reported but we have a pretty good proxy now with the numbers we see from ARC and the ATA.

For the airlines this trend represents an interesting dilemma, and perhaps a clue to their recent behavior. With all the positive talk of airlines enabling Intermediaries to sell ancillary products via new tools this can only be positive. However there is a lurking issue. The legacy GDSs will also benefit from this swing in sales from Direct to Indirect.

Thus the airlines will need to look to the agency community as a class to swing them away from the legacy GDSs if they are to be successful in reducing distribution costs. If not then there is a risk that the GDSs will gain power and force concessions (and therefore higher costs) from the airlines. As we have seen even in the recession gripped down market - the GDSs have been able to boost yields.

As I have noted before - this is a war with many battles.


Legacy GDSs Promote Fragmented Pricing Schemes

The recent distribution arrangement between Travelport and British Airways should come as no shock to anyone. As widely reported several weeks ago – BA is determined to adjust its distribution mode – the UK airline has re-signed with Travelport. It is also reported to be near an agreement with Amadeus (who also hosts the British Carrier). Despite being somewhat battered in the recent downturn – the British Carrier is driving to a beat where it lowers its costs for distribution. So lets briefly examine what is has agreed to with Travelport and what it wants to get from the other GDS companies.

Based on the current 3rd quarter Travelport numbers its (TP) average revenue per segment it gets largely from the airlines is near to its record highs of $6.00 (actually $5.82). While there has been an unbundling of the GDS segment fee lets use this number as a way to illustrate the relative deal with BA.

With approximately 60% of its revenue coming from the home market of the British Isles (again rounded for the sake of this illustration) the arrangement with BA is that BA will charge an opt in fee of three pounds per segment. In Dollar terms this is $ 4.50 per segment, which means that BA has set a price of net $1.32 per segment it will pay for distribution. In Ticket terms that translates into $3.04 per ticket (using 2.3 segments per ticket an industry norm). BA is of course not the only airline to charge a home vs away market model. A few years ago Amadeus announced a home vs away market pricing scheme in an effort to stem opt in contracts. The differential it proposed was vastly different with a home market discount of approx 50 cents per segment. A far cry from BA’s $4.50 opt in charge.

However this is not all. BA in the UK home market uses the service of Lime Management to issue discounted tickets (typically the lowest yielding fares in the market) at a per ticket charge of 13 pounds. That translates into a fee (note this is paid by the agent) of $19.50. Given BA’s recent losses – the achievement of this revenue for its discounted tickets can and does have an impact on its bottom line.

British Airways is not alone. KLM is quietly introducing a 6 Euro ticketing fee via the legacy GDSs in January in many markets.

The push pull of the legacy GDSs and the network carriers on the issue of the fee continues to be a battle royal. The war is only in its early days. Many battles will be fought. The outcome however has a certain degree of inevitability about it.


Great signs we have missed since we gave up smoking...

A Public Service Message at Rio de Janeiro International (GIG) Airport

Rational Thinking - An Oxymoron Concept For Airlines

The conventional wisdom says that brand accounts for something. Indeed there is a signicant amount of balance sheet value attached to brands.

Not just for today but in the future and definitely in the past. Yet brands have a habit of going away fast.

Hands up those who remember PC Travel, Preview Travel and Pointcast? Three major brands with some reference to Travel in early days of the web. Or more interestingly great consumer brands like Sam Goody, Tower Records and Photomat. Brands that are now consigned to the scrapheap of history.

My point here is that airlines have always tried to get you to make irrational decisions about their products.

Have a read of Gerry McGovern's blog this week.

While he makes two incorrect assertions - Ryanair is not yet charging for toilets and it is not the world's largest single branded airline yet (that honor goes to Southwest), he makes the point that rational people will pay for the extras and put up with the crap from Ryanair. They wont do that for airlines that promise more charge more and fail to deliver the greater "value". this is akin to the David Ogilvy's classic ad about the Rolls Royce loud clock. In that instance a RR owner is going to make a lot more noise about the clock not working than a Pinto Owner worrying about his door opening.

Southwest set expectations low and over delivered for years. Ryanair sets expectations low and consistently delivers the fundementals - IE low cost transportation.

Is that rational behavior? I don't know - just ask the people who complain about no seat assignments when they paid the average fare of 32 Euros that FR charges.

Think about it.


The Red Bag Story

Or How I got home on Friday despite all the odds.

On Friday (December 18th) I had a salutory lesson on travel. What ever could have gone wrong went wrong. But also its a lesson in how knowing the system and actually the generosity of customer service people can thwart the obstacles and get you what you want.

The ingredients are simple. An expensive coach ticket Berlin to Seattle. DL flight numbers AF operated metal (code share). Bad weather across Europe. Incompatible systems AF and DL.

Knowing in advance that things were going to be bad (last friday of the year for travel) I decided to go to the airport early. Just before leaving - I checked my itinerary on DL and found that they had changed my flight to a connection over NYC on DL rather than the AF code share over Paris. OK - I accepted that. (ESP since I received an upgrade). But it meant hanging around for 6 hours at Tegel Airport. Surely there was a better way. Arriving at the airport - I was met with at least 100 people who had the same idea. After a 90 minute wait in line - I made it to the front of the queue. Sorry your AF flight is cancelled and I cannot help you. Go to DL (Who opens in another 30 mins). Schlepping between gates in the snow became a fun exercise.

DL said great yes you are confirmed but no we cannot issue the boarding passes because we need the ticket. Eventually after much tooing and froing - back I go to AF. Cutting in line (it was still about 100 people long) I managed to get them to write a FIM (these are great - its essentially a get out of jail free card). Back to DL who then issued my ticket.

The rest of the journey was very fraught as it was late and there was a huge storm headed to NYC. But with 45 mins to spare at JFK - I managed to get my bags - check in for the next leg and then race across the 2 DL terminals just as the last few passengers were boarding the connection flight to Seattle.

I knew my bags would not make it despite the smiles of the JFK baggage team. Sure enough arriving in Seattle they didn't. And yes the possibility of bags showing up became remote as the day went on. With the East Coast largely shuttered by the storm - the thought of my bags not making it because more and more a fear. However yes - my bags were on the van on its way over. Hurray!!! And yes there were 2 bags and yes the second one was red. Disappointment. The assumption that the second red bag was mine was just too easy.

However by 9PM (now 24 hours later) my trusty red bag showed up.

So no morals here other than some advice.

Here goes:

1. Hardcopy EVERYTHING!!!
2. Be polite and nice and get the person's name at each stage. AND YES THEIR INTERNAL PHONE NUMBER.
3. Always thank them
4. Trust them to know their jobs.
5. A FIM (when your trip is interrupted) is a wonderful thing. Get one no matter what.

And above all...

Be PERSISTENT - it is a required skill in Travel

As a special thanks - I would like to thank Daniela (DL Customer service in Tegel). Her counterpart at AF - Anita. The DL team in NYC for protecting me. And also to DL's baggage service and their contractor in Seattle Bags Inc.

I am now home and the Xmas presents made it also


The 2009 ITM Study On Use Of Technology - Some Observations

The Beat recently did a piece on the UK based ITM's study on the Use of Technology in the travel process. The report is wide ranging and contains a lot of trend information.

However picking through the data to obtain valuable nuggets on what lessons can be learned is not that easy. So allow me the indulgence of picking on one area. IE the need for broader content availability.

If by now you have not surmised that the Professor is clearly biased in favor of multi-content platforms - then you have not been paying much attention. But it is not my bias really - rather it is an acknowledgement that fragmented content has existed for a very long time. The options for access to fragmented content were few and far between. Now that is changing and changing fast.

With the airlines starting to flee the one-size fits everything (aka via the GDS) they join the other sectors such as hotels and ground transportation that have had this issue for years. The acknowledgement that content is full fragmented and that the aggregation of content is a valuable service, players are changing how they source and what they source.

it should never be underestimated that Travel Technology vendors tend to accentuate the positives, there is now a general acceptance that the current generation of technology has indeed improved the lot of the user community as represented by the ITM members. I would guess that the vast majority (ie in excess of 95%) of all the PNRs generated by ITM members are indeed touched by a third party (read non-GDS) system. The ITM study states that the most commonly used type of technology among those polled was online self-booking, at 70 percent.

But more interesting for me was the demand for access to Non-GDS content with over 60% of ITM members stating this as a requirement. This is a pointer to the changes coming. The term full content is already a misnomer. The legacy GDSs can no longer provide full content. Not that actually they ever did. The caveats in the definition in GDS contracts are wide enough to drive a truck through.

Use this information wisely.

You can purchase the study from the ITM directly. Members will get free copies in about May 2010.


BA Quietly Compensates Loyalty During Strike Threat

BA has quietly compensated those people who didn't cancel or rebook their flights during the recent strike threat.

As the Professor understands it from several people the grading is as follows:

Per passenger
Per number of legs on BA
Per leg type
Per status of membership

So a family of 4 would receive for a European leg 2500 miles each resulting in 10,000 miles bonus that is automatically added to the account.

This seems very generous and sets a dangerous precedent for BA in the future. Oh yes and if you didn't get the offer perhaps you should ask for it.


Deep Breath - Office 2010 Beta

After some initial hicoughs I am now using Office 2010. So far its faster and has more functionality. I am getting used to all the features.
I can say that it is indeed very interesting and probably will be worth the upgrade.

check it out