Just part of our service

Ah, the things you can do to pass the time aboard a commercial jet: snooze, read, watch a movie, chat with the person next to you, work on a laptop computer, vote for president. Vote for president? Yup, at least if you're flying on Austrian Airlines. Austrians are due to go to the polls April 25. But, as in any other election, not every voter will be able to do so. Some, for example, will be on airplanes that day. For their benefit, the carrier will make its flight attendants available to serve as legal witnesses as the passengers fill out their special absentee ballots. There's only one condition: The deed must be done outside Austrian airspace.

Low-fare airlines score with quality, not extras

No-frills airlines are growing in popularity, statistics show - and not just because they're cheaper to fly. Travelers also appear satisfied with the service they provide. In the latest annual airline quality rating, announced earlier this week, low-cost carriers produced some of the best on-time records. JetBlue, ranked No. 1, had both the second-best on-time performance (86 percent) and the second-lowest rate of customer complaints (0.31 per 100,000). Using Department of Transportation data, airlines were ranked on these and 13 other factors important to consumers by the University of Nebraska-Omaha Aviation Institute and Wichita State University's School of Business. To be ranked, an airline must carry at least 1 percent of commercial passengers. Four low-cost carriers met that threshold for the first time last year. The airlines with the 10 best quality scores in 2003:

1. JetBlue Airways
2. Alaska Airlines
3. Southwest Airlines
4. America West
5. US Airways
6. Northwest Airlines
7. Continental Airlines
8. AirTran
9. United Airlines
10. ATA
- Associated Press

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