April 7th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Has airline travel become more pleasant?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Airline travel may be improving; and that's a good thing because it couldn't have gotten much worse. A private study based on government statistics found the rates of lost bags, late arrivals, passengers bumped from overbooked flights, and consumer complaints all declined in 2008; and the industry actually had its best overall performance in the ratings in 4 years.

Half of all complaints involved baggage or flight problems like cancellations or delays. And the average on-time performance was three percentage points better than 2007; although almost a quarter of all flights were still late.

One expert says the improved performance isn't surprising because 2007 was the worst year for airlines in the study. It's believed that in 2007, the air transport system had reached capacity with 770 million travelers. Last year, that number was down to 741 million and airlines are reporting weak demand for the first quarter of this year.

But even if airline travel is improving, there are still issues. High fuel costs and a sluggish economy forced many airlines to reduce schedules, raise ticket prices, and tack on fees for everything from luggage to pillows.

The most outrageous fee probably comes courtesy of Ryanair - the CEO of the Dublin-based airline wants to charge passengers to use the toilet in-flight. He's asked engineers at Boeing to design toilets with doors that open only if you swipe a credit card. He'll change his mind when people start going in the aisles.

Here’s my question to you: Has airline travel become a more pleasant experience lately?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Airlines
April 7th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Willing to relocate to find a job?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As millions of Americans pound the pavement looking for work, turns out they may have better luck finding a job in certain parts of the country than others.

No doubt the national unemployment situation remains bleak - with more than five million people losing their jobs since the beginning of 2008. Last month the unemployment rate jumped to 8.5 percent, the highest in 25 years.

But the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that some places are faring better when it comes to jobs. A study of 372 metropolitan regions shows that 20 areas had unemployment rates below five percent in February: including Ames, Iowa; Manhattan, Kansas; Lincoln, Nebraska; Lubbock, Texas and Lafayette Louisiana.

A Harvard economics professor describes how some places can weather an economic downturn better because of specific characteristics of that area. For example, he finds a strong correlation between a skilled workforce and lower unemployment. Research shows the higher the level of education in an area, the lower the unemployment rate. Also - there's a link between unemployment and manufacturing - which is why old industrial cities like Detroit or Youngstown, Ohio have double-digit jobless rates.

Of course, not everyone can simply pick up and move for a job. Family considerations or being locked into a house you can't sell can often keep people in a certain geographical area. But if you're mobile, there are some opportunities out there.

Here’s my question to you: Are you willing to relocate in order to find work?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Economy
April 7th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should U.S. trust Muslim allies less than other allies?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

During his first visit to a Muslim nation as president, Barack Obama declared that the U.S. "is not and will never be at war with Islam."
The president addressed the Turkish Parliament and called for a greater partnership with the Islamic world.

President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tour the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

He also focused on building a stronger bond between Americans and Muslims; and portraying terrorist groups like al Qaeda as extremists who don't represent the majority of Muslims. President Obama talked about listening to each other, respecting each other, and showing our "deep appreciation for the Islamic faith."

No doubt Mr. Obama has his work cut out for him when it comes to mending fences with the Muslim world. Many Muslims grew to disrespect if not downright hate the U.S. after President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. Many also felt the entire Muslim world had been unfairly blamed by the U.S. for the 9/11 attacks - which were carried out by Muslims.

And - President Obama may also have a lot of convincing to do here at home. A new CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 51 percent of Americans say the U.S. should trust Muslim allies, like Turkey, the same as any other ally, but 48 percent say the U.S. should trust Muslim allies less.

Mr. Obama called Turkey a "critical ally," and strategically that's true. But when it comes to the issue of trusting Muslim allies, almost half of Americans remain wary.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. trust Muslim allies less than other allies?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: U.S. Global Image