Airlines did a better job of getting passengers, their bags to destinations on time last year
WASHINGTON (AP) — Flying is getting better. Honest.
For airline passengers grappling with fare increases, canceled routes and a seemingly endless parade of new fees, "better" may not be the first word that comes to mind. But based on more traditional yardsticks — lost bags, delayed flights, lousy service and bumpings from full planes — airlines are doing a better job, say private researchers who have analyzed federal data on airline performance.
Airlines are slowly, steadily recovering from their meltdown five years ago, when, under the strain of near-record consumer travel demand, their performance tanked. Industry performance for all four measurements was slightly better in 2011 compared with 2010, according to the report being released Monday.
"Airlines are finally catching up with what their promise is, which is getting you there on time 80 percent of the time with your bags," said Dean Headley, a business professor at Wichita State University who has co-written the annual report for 22 years.
"They realize that people are paying a lot more money, and the system is more complex than it was, and they have to do a better job," he said. "To their credit, I think they are doing a better job."
Amid fragile recovery threatened by high energy prices, Obama convenes North American leaders
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is convening a summit with leaders from Mexico and Canada on Monday that aims to boost a fragile recovery and grapple with thorny energy issues against a backdrop of painfully high gas prices.
The session at the White House is a make-good for a planned meeting last November in Hawaii on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific summit. Obama ended up meeting just with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper when Mexican President Felipe Calderon's top deputy was killed in a helicopter crash.
Sure to feature prominently in Monday's Oval Office session: Mexico's role as a major oil exporter and the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada that Obama has shelved pending further review.
Republicans denounced Obama's move as a blow to job-creation and U.S. energy needs. But he maintains GOP leaders in Congress forced his hand by insisting on a decision before an acceptable pipeline route was found.
The pipeline would link Alberta's oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, but environmentalists fear both its local impact and a major uptick in greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
Living history: More than 21 million people could find themselves in 1940 US census records
NEW YORK (AP) — When the 1940 census records are released Monday, Verla Morris can consider herself a part of living history.
Morris, who is in her 100th year, will get to experience the novelty of seeing her own name and details about her life in the records being released by the U.S. National Archives online after 72 years of confidentiality expires.
"I'd be happy to see it there," she said. "I don't think anything could surprise me, really."
Morris is one of more than 21 million people alive in the U.S. and Puerto Rico who were counted in the 16th federal decennial census, which documents the tumultuous decade of the 1930s transformed by the Great Depression and black migration from the rural South. It's a distinction she shares with such living celebrities as Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman.
Morris, who has been working on her family history since 1969 and has written six books on its branches, said census records were essential for her genealogical work because oftentimes people don't want to give their personal information.