Showing posts with label air travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label air travel. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Airlines consider offering standing room in lieu of seats

By Jack Brummet, Aviophobia Ed.

The New York Times reported yesterday that Airbus has been very discretely trying to drum up interest in a standing-room-only option to Asian airlines.

Passengers would stand against a padded backboard, held in place by a harness. In short, we'd have a plane full of papooses!

The airlines have already been squeezing passengers further (is that even possible?) by ordering new seats, with far thinner backs. Instead of adding an inch or two of legroom, they are, of course, adding additional rows of seats.

One airline was even considering a proposal by Boeing to essentially forgo seats and seatbealts in favor of a system where passengers stand so snugly together that they insulate each other from any turbulence or jostling. One proposal included the option of having passengers travel nude, using Crisco or another emollient to reduce friction and chafing. "Essentially, we would be taking a leaf from the penguin's book," explained Sheila Houlihan, a vice-president with Boeing's Public Relations group, "I mean, you saw March Of The Penguins, didn't you? These guys know how to huddle!"

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Aviophobia (fear of flying), Part 5

By Jack Brummet, Aeronautics and Travel Ed.

I'll never love flying.  But it seems to get me where I want to go and I've learned to live with it. I've gone in the last five years from being completely terrified, and needing to be knocked out like BJ Barackus, to barely ambulatory/seriously medicated walking down the jetway, to mostly OK with it. All those trips across the country and Europe I made for work a couple years ago (75 flights in one year alone), along with our own travels to Mexico, Europe and Asia, somehow have made it, at least tolerable.   On our recent trip to South America, between coming and going, and doing a couple of in-country flights, we were on nine flights.  That would formerly have left me as a basket case for the entire trip, not only for the actual flights, but the anticipation of them...

I still take a Zanax, but I am no longer really a white knuckle flyer.  I'm still sometimes feel as crazy as a latrine rat on flights, but somehow I've managed to modulate it.

In fact, I've actually come to love both taking off and landing (especially landing), which are, of course, two of the most dangerous things you do while flying.  I've even come to liking it when those white stripes (the takeoff zone) pop up as we turn onto the main runway. . .


Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Friendly Skies: it's safer than ever before to fly (well, maybe except on The Dreamliner)

By Jack Brummet, Aviophobia Ed.

  • The past 10 years have been the safest in the country's aviation history, with 153 "just" fatalities. That translates to two deaths for every 100 million passengers on commercial flights, according to an Associated Press study of government data.
  • All fatal crashes in the U.S. in the past decade occurred on regional airlines.
  • Ten years ago--which was the the safest air travel had ever been--passengers were 10 times as likely to die when flying on an American plane. The risk of death was even greater during the early years of jet travel, with 696 people dying (133 out of every 100 million passengers) from 1962 to 1971. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

The New New Patdown & The TSA uproar

By Jack Brummet
All This Is That Social Mores Editor

I've written quite a few times over the last three years about TSA and their various security procedures. Mostly I've probably been dismissed (perhaps rightfully) as a crank. 

I've flown about 170 times in the last four years, and every single time (except two--both at John Wayne Airport in Orange County), I've set off the metal alarm in the scanners because of the stainless steel femur that was installed in my leg 15 years ago. [Note: this doesn't apply to my travel in Europe and Asia, where I have never been singled out]. Setting off that metal-detection alarm means you are subjected to a close personal inspection.   I've been patted down a couple hundred times times now.  First, they would go over your whole body with a wand.  And then they would give you a close pat-down, focusing on theareas that set off the alarm on the wand (like your hip, and the zipper on your jeans). 

No one really thought a lot about it when it was just those of us with joint replacements getting pulled out of the security line and frisked.  But now...the uproar has begun because it's everyone.  You either need to pass through the machine that sends an image of your naked body to a friendly TSA guy or gal, or if you would prefer not to be seen naked you get to have a close personal pat-down.

I just had the opportunity to undergo the "new New NEW pat-down" the day after the revised and aggressive security regulations took effect.  Look, it's not not actually invasive, but it is extremely close, and they've have very definitely Cranked Up Their Act.  They've seriously ratcheted up the pat-down we've had to endure these last ten years.  On the other hand, they now forgo the wanding...which always seemed a particularly inept follow up measure.   And as a side-note, they've also become extremely friendly and apologetic about the procedure.  To be fair, I've always just grinned it and beared (Bore?) it, and avoided getting visibly cranky about it.  The TSA guys didn't make the rules, and in all my dealings with them, they've been pretty OK.  Normally I smile and say no problem and try to get through it as quickly as possible, since I almost never arrive at the airport more than 45-60 minutes before my plane leaves! 

With all of the time I've spent with TSA folk (including two times when I got the total invasion, about which, see below), I have been able to ask questions...and I usually try to get them talking about dry runs or how they profile people, which is of course about the last thing they will talk about.  I've always had the best luck with them asking for their cranky customer stories.  And they all have millions.  I've seen dozens of tantrums and shocking disrespect towards the TSA guys--and you know, in my experience, there is roughly a 90-10 ratio of good guys to assholes in the TSA--which may well surpass the ratio among the citizenry at large.

The total invasion consists of a mortifyingly close evaluation of all your gear (and your whole act..the people I've talked to those two times definitely seemed like profilers), which happens all at random according to the TSA stooges.  I had three books.  They thumbed through each and every page, and shined a flashlight down the spine of the hardcover.  They took out my iPad and brought it back to a special area, along with my BlackBerry, a Nintendo DS, and two USB flash drives.  They turned every piece of clothing inside out, squirted fluids from liquids I had (contact lens solutions, witch hazel, SFP 15 sun blocker, India Ink --for drawing)  for what?  testing?  They invite you to repack, once they've inspected every item, inside and out.

This article has links to about a dozen earlier stories of life and times with the TSA.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spirit Airlines to institute pay toilets and seat belt surcharges on all flights

By Pablo Fanque,
All This Is That National Affairs Editor
Fact checking and research by Jack Brummet

As you may recall, All This Is That has recently been researching a story on airline surcharges and fees.  Pablo Fanque received a call (and tip) from a senior manager at Spirit Airlines Monday afternoon.  The manager, who had been a source for Fanque on aspects of the articles on airline fees, called to tell him that Spirit Airlines recently decided to impose additional fees and charges on its passengers.  

"As you know," the source told Fanque, "we have positioned ourselves as the 'ultra low-cost' airline (ULCC).  It wasn't much of a leap to go from charging for carry-on bags to charging for other, well, services."    The source disclosed that Spirit Airlines is about to impose a modest ($5.00)  fee for seat belt rentals on all flights. 

In addition, the airline will begin charging a fee for use of the toilets on their aircraft.  On all flights lasting longer than two hours, patients will be given a voucher card, good for one visit to the restrooms.  After that "complimentary" visit, all passengers will be required to use debit cards to unclock the toilets.  While the fee is also modest ($1.00 for five minutes), the manager did indicate they expect pushback from the public. "However, even our $45 carry-on baggage charge has met with far less resistance than we expected.  We ARE the cheapest airline in the country. . .and we intend to keep it that way."  Since receiving the call from our source, we have verified the story with two other highly placed executives, as well as a member of the Spirit Airlines Board of Directors.

Calls--and nine emails--placed to three other major airlines, asking for comment, were not returned. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Travel Pals - 2+ weeks traveling with Keelin, Claire, and Colin - pictures of us on the road

What a great bunch these three were to travel with. We had a great time, and saw far more, and met more people than we ever hoped for. I will write more soon. . .I've just arrived home after a 28 hour road trip, and two long long flights from Bombay to Seoul, Korea and four hours later Seoul to Seattle.

Anyhow, thank you Claire, Colin, and Keelin. Click all pictures to enlarge...


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bombay calling! Getting there

We left Seattle at around 2pm Sunday.  We arrived in Bombay sometime around 3:30 am Tuesday. It took about 24 hours to get here on a Boeing 777...ten hours to Seoul Korea and a couple of hours there, then a nine hour trip from Seoul to Mumbai-Bombay. 

At the airport we took a wild ride (note: they are all wild rides!) to our hotel.  You ride through the famous slumdog slum, dodging may pope dog and other cars and taxis, beeping the horn whenever you near another vehicle or person.  There were maybe thirty red lights on the way; we did not stop for one.  More about traffic here later.  I wonder if any gringo is crazy enough to actually rent a car...

I walked around outside at 5am, and discovered literally dozens of people on our block, sleeping beside their stands or their trike-rickshaws.  As I discovered later, they mostly arise around 7 am, and begin their day.  More soon!  jack

Friday, January 29, 2010

Travel shots: getting poked for health

I stopped in at the Dr. yesterday for eight shots in preparation for my trip to India in March (Mumbai, Aurangabad, Pune, Hyderabad, and Udaipur). I was pocked with eight various vaccines: Polio, a seasonal 'flu shot, H1N1, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Whooping Cough, and Tetanus. And I still have to go back for a couple of booster shots before I leave, and fill two prescriptions, one for Malaria, and another antibiotic for intestinal disorders.

You gotta wonder just a little what your body really thinks about the eight new vaccines swimming around in your system. Are there other cooties in there, going oh man, I can't even remain dormant with this stuff coming at me? Is there actually like a war of he bugs going on in your body? I mean the vaccines have to have something to do, right? Or do they just keep a benign watch, waiting for a polio or tetanus virus to sneak in?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I've been patted down 150 times to maintain the illusion of safety

Since 9/11, I have been patted down at airports here and abroad around 150 times. My stainless steel femur sets off the metal detectors every time I pass through them, except once in Eugene, OR. Here is an interesting sidebar to that story: when I didn't sent off the alarm, I told the TSA guy:

"Hey, this is weird...I always set off the alarm. Something's wrong with your machine."

He essentially told me "don't worry about it, and be on your way."

It's the only time in 9 years that I HAVEN'T been patted down!

Having been through it so many times, I am not unsympathetic to everyone who feels embarrassed or invaded. For my part, I am pretty inured to it now. Actually, I am probably just numb to it all. You just answer their questions and get through it as quick as you can. It takes two minutes usually, three at the most. I will admit, I have been tempted more than once when they give their little speech about searching you, to say "Hey, I actually like it, 'bro. . .it's kind of hot!" But the TSA guys are not the most humorous bunch of people I've ever met.

Since I had arthoplasty, I get to experience this close-up and personal shakedown every single time I ride an airplane (and twice, or more, if it is an international flight and you have to pass out of the "sterile" zone). Anyone who knows me could tell you I am the least likely candidate in the world to take down an airplane, due to a nearly maniacal fear of flying.

Finally, I would point out that the frisking is never that invasive...even when you get the special treatment and they look in every article in your bags (including looking at every page in every book, and turning on each iPod, camera, phone, and computer you have). In fact, they seem to go out of their way to not touch your "privates" or butt (or should butt be part and parcel of the privates?..certainly it's more private than public), which may be one reason the Christmas day crotch-bomber slipped through screening.

X-raying a crowd

Nearly everyone who has ever "examined" me has been professional and friendly, and even appreciative that I am petty sanguine about the whole operation. It's hard to get mad at them. . .they're earning $16 an hour the hard way. I have never met one of these guys who wasn't extremely nice. I watch other people become angry over the invasion, but it's really not worth the oxygen. As usual, the big problems lie further up the food chain. I don't mind the searches, but as recent events show, this may not be making us as safe as we once thought. One expert says the only really change since 9/11 is reinforced cockpit doors.

Other TSA/airport stories from All This Is That:
Aviophobia: Pilot's gun discharges on US Airways flight
Blown by the TSA again/Aviophobia once again
Aviophobia, Part 26 Airport Screeners Miss Fake Bombs 75% Of The Time
Aviophobia, Part 22
Poem: Landing, or, Aviophobia, Part 26
Aviophobia Update
Hello Austin! Goodbye Fear of Flying!
A confession: How I slipped through the NSA metal detectors. . .with some heavy metal!
Fear Of Flying, Fear of Dying
Poem: Falling
Poem: Notes On Flying
One More Reason Why I Am Scared Sh**less To Fly: Video Of Fixing A Jet's Wing With Duct Tape
Airline passenger restrictions, hip replacements, and why the Executive Branch goes unmolested, while I am scanned, probed, poked and patted down

Monday, March 02, 2009

Two years on the road slows to a trickle

I have retired the list I kept in the sidebar "Where is Jack," which was helpful the last couple of years as I flew around the country, and other countires, every week. But it seems unnecessary now that I travel far less. I did want to keep a copy of the now retired list and make it a link. Here are most of the places I've been over the last two years:

Eugene, Oregon 1/21 - 1/23/2009
Berkeley/Emeryville, CA 12/9-12/10 2008
Vancouver/Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Nov 7, 8, 9, 2008
Berkeley/Emeryville, VA 9/11-9/12 2008
Eugene, Oregon August 6th, 2008
Athens-->London-->Vancouver, B.C., Canada-->Seattle, July 18th, 2008
Athenai, Hellas July 14-17th 2008
Naxos, Greece July 11th-13th:2008
Santorini (Thira) Greece July 10-11th 2008
Sitia, Crete, Greece July 6th-9th 2008
Rhodes, Greece, July 4th-6th 2008
Datca, Turkey July 1-4,2008
Selcuk Turkey July 29-July 1, 2008
Ankara, Turkey June 28-29th 2008
Gorem, Cappadocia, Turkey June 25-28th,2008
Istanbul, Turkey June 19-June 25th 2008
Seattle-->Calgary, Alberta-->London-->Istanbul, June 18th
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada June 3-4: 2008
London, England May 2-May 4, 2008
Sheffield, England April 29-May 2, 2008
London, England Apri 29th, 2008
Irvine, Orange County, California Apr. 22-23 2008
Irvine, California Apr. 15-18th 2008
Oakland 3/11 - 3/13/2008
Puerta Vallarta 1/22 - 1/29 2008
Oakland 3/11 - 3/13
Los Angeles 1/22 - 1/23 /2008
Austin Jan 14th-16th, 2008
Irvine, California Jan 7-Jan 7th, 2008
Eugene 11/1-2/2007
Los Angeles 10/30/2007
LA/Irvine 9/18-19 /2007
LA/Irvine 8/7/2007
Eugene 8/1/2007
Austin 7/19-21/2007
Boston, Massachusetts 7/-18-19/2007
Eugene, Oregon 6/21/2007
Oakland 6/20/2007
NYC 6/5 - 6/11, 2007
Boston, Massachusetts 6/4-6/5, 2007
Newport Beach, California 5/29 -5/30/2007
eugene, oregon 5/9/2007
Oakland, California 5/7 - 5/8/2007
Newport Beach, California 5/6/2007
Eugene, Oregon 4/5/2007
Newport Beach, California 4/4/2007
Oakland, California 2/28 - 3/1/2007
Eugene, Oregon 2/21 - 2/22/2007
Newport Beach, California 1/15/2007
Newport Beach, California 12/3 - 12/4/2006
Oakland, California 10/3 - 10/4/2006

Sunday, July 06, 2008

On the move again,from Rhodes to Seteia, Crete

We're kind of in the phase of our trip like "If it's Tuesday, it must be Rome." After two days on the island of Rhodes, we are flying to Seteia on the island of Crete tomorrow afternoon. A lot of these flights are costing an incredible $3o USD (pretty amazing when you consider that gasoline, and presumably, kerosene (aka jet fuel) costs about $11 USD a gallon (quit your belly achin' America). When we refilled out rental car with 7 gallons, the tab was $75 USD.

The trip on the ground, in the air, and on the water so far::::::::::::::: fly Seattle--> to Calgary-->to London-->to Istanbul (stayed a week)--> fly to Izmir-->drive to Selcuk (stayed three days)-->Drive from Selcuk-->to Datca (stayed three days)-->Drive from Datca-->to Marmarise-->sail to Rhodes, Greece (stayed two days)-->fly to Seteia, Crete, Greece.

From Seteia, we will take a bus to Heraklion, Crete and visit the famous, awesome, and controversially reconstructed ruins at Knossos (where Icarus and Daedalus flew their ill fated mission) and the home of King Minos, anwhich Keelin and I visited previously in 1982. From Heraklion, we will sail to Naxos, and then to Santorini, and finally to Piraeus (which is the port for Athens). After a couple days in Athens visitd all the bull worshipping. After visiting the great ruins there, we will board a plane for home. Wah.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Arriving in Istanbul Thursday night

Our itinerary: Depart Seattle 3:00 pm Wednesday. Arrive Calgary 5:00. Wait for four hours. Fly to London overnight. Wait two hours. Fly to Istanbul, arriving 11:00 pm local time.

I'll write and send pictures when I can...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Full body scanners cranking up at Baltimore, Denver, Albuquerque, JFK, Dallas, Detroit, LAX, Vegas, Miami, and Wash., D.C. airports

Courtesy of the TSA, body-scanning machines that scan beneath your clothing are installed or are being installed in 10 of the nation's busiest airports. Los Angeles, Reagan National Airport, Baltimore, Denver, Albuquerque and JFK airports are already checking out random travelers. Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas and Miami will be added this month.

"It's the wave of the future," said James Schear, the TSA security director at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, where two body scanners are in use at one checkpoint.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Welcome to Japan!—complimentary marijuana given to tourist

A traveler arriving at Tokyo's Narita airport over the weekend went away with an gnarly souvenir from customs -- a bag of cannabis.

A customs official hid the reefer in the Hong Kong passenger's suitcase as part of a training exercise for drug-sniffing dogs. Unfortunately—or maybe because he had dipped into the bag himself—he lost track of both drugs and suitcase during the practice session, a customs spokesperson said.

"The dogs have always been able to find it before," NHK quoted him as saying. "I became overconfident that it would work." Standard Operating Procedure calls for the tests to be run using specially marked luggage.

Somewhere in Tokyo, a tourist is either horrified or overjoyed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Off to the motherland!

I leave Seattle at 6:30 and arrive in England at around noon (UK time) tomorrow.