Saturday, December 21, 2013

Travel gets delays - but this is ridiculous

I have many stories about several different reasons for flight delays that I or others I know about have suffered:

  • When your airline declares bankruptcy 
  • Country shut down by a volcano (to be posted) 
  • 6 Hours on the tarmac (to be posted) 
  • Blizzards
  • Thunder Storms
  • Sand Storms
  • No equipment (plane late getting in to take you)
  • Plane is broken
  • Woman bumped head, and needed to be taken for medical treatment (had to wait for her bags to be removed)
But this is the strangest story I have heard:

Seems that the pilot for a flight to New York from Allama Iqbal International Airport, in Lahore, Pakistan refused to take off until his food order from a local hotel could be delivered. 

As reported in The Nation:

The catering department served approved menu, including lunch, peanuts, chips and biscuits. But Flight Captain Noushad asked the catering department to serve him sandwiches. The catering staff expressed their inability to serve anything beyond the approved menu and also informed him of the sensitivity of the flight’s departure time. The staff told him that sandwiches could only be arranged by placing an order to a five-star hotel in the city, which would take more than two hours. The captain remained adamant about his demand and said no matter how much time it would take and that he needed sandwiches at any cost.
The catering department contacted the PIA head office in Karachi and brought the matter into their notice. The management directed the catering department to meet his demand. Sandwiches were arranged from the hotel concerned and the flight could depart at 9:15am with the delay of two and a half hours.
So most of his passengers not only had to wait for 2.5 hours, many missed their connecting flights in Manchester or New York so he could get his sandwiches. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Electronic allowed on flights - wait the rules differ by airline and plane type

We have recently see the good news that  use from gate to gate as published: FAA to Allow Airlines to Expand Use of Personal Electronics 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta today announced that the FAA has determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight, and is immediately providing the airlines with implementation guidance. 
In general this means
The new rules generally add the ability for passengers to use their smartphones, e-readers, electronic games and tablets during taxi, takeoff and landing as long as they have the device in airplane mode with cellular service disabled. Voice calls will still be prohibited and laptops will still need to be stowed for taxi, takeoff and landing.

But, as an article on Yahoo FAA ruling on personal devices in flight leaves troubling safety questions points out:
Each airline will have to consult the FAA on tolerance testing, so eventually, regulations may vary not only by airline but by airplane type. Some devices will be allowed, but cell phones and other PEDs will not; some at certain phases of flight, but not at others; some modes may not be acceptable at all. Confused yet?
Trying to make this easier, NBC published this article Which airlines now allow electronic devices? showing the current status on American based airlines. But a quick look shows that the Yahoo article is correct it is still a bit confusing. Takeing a selection from the NBC article shows

  • will now be permitted to use small PEDs during all phases of flight
  • new rules on all domestic mainline flights arriving or departing within the 50 states
  • portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet on mainline U.S. domestic flights
But in all cases regional airlines that provide branded service to the major ones are still on a case by case bases. So do not presume that because you could use your device on one segment of your trip that you will be able to on other segments.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

More innovation in in-flight safety videos

Virgin America has come up with their own way to get people to pay attention to the in-flight safety video.

Nice to see some innovation happening

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Surviving a Plane Crash - hints from the sea

ABC world has a serious story  about How to Survive a Plane Crash based on
The impact of an airplane crash into the sea today on the Indonesian resort island of Bali snapped the jet into two pieces, but somehow all 108 people on board survived and had no serious injuries, according to a hospital official.  Watch the video at ABC

Now the story goes on to describe something that sounds like it should have been done by the MythBusters, but was actually done by its sister show Curiosity. Wikipedia describes the test:
On April 27, 2012, a team of scientists staged an airplane crash near Mexicali, Mexico. An unmanned Boeing 727-200, fitted with numerous cameras, crash-test dummies and other scientific instruments, was flown into the ground. The exercise was filmed for television. 
ABC describes the test as:
Discovery TV had a Boeing 727 equipped with more than a half a million dollars worth of crash test dummies, 38 specialized cameras and sensors, and a crew of incredibly daring pilots. The pilots, who'd donned parachutes, bailed out of a hatch in the back of the aircraft minutes before the huge jetliner careered into the ground in a horrific crash that tore the plane apart.
The photos from that test are at:  and they include this one:

Now this makes me realize that most of us do not actually watch or listen to the safety announcements on flights. This prompted Air New Zealand to put out this unique safety video

But after seeing the results of this Bali crash I think I will watch them a little more closely in the future.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Airline Seats: Priced per pound

In the past people complained at the idea that Ryanair passangers would have to pay to use the bathrooms on an airplane, and again when airlines reduced allowed checked luggage, charged for food/snacks on short flights.

Now we have a new twist in the "make the passenger pay" business model of airelines. It seems that Samoa Airlines is now not only charging passengers bast on the weight of their luggage but of themselves.

As shown in this article from the originally reported in The Sydney Morning Herald 

Airline to charge overweight passengers more 

"This is the fairest way of travelling," chief executive of Samoa Air, Chris Langton, told ABC Radio. "There are no extra fees in terms of excess baggage or anything – it is just a kilo is a kilo is a kilo."

Under the new system, Samoa Air passengers must type in their weight and the weight of their baggage into the online booking section of the airline's website. The rates vary depending on the distance flown: from $1 per kilogram on the airline's shortest domestic route to about $4.16 per kilogram for travel between Samoa and American Samoa. Passengers are then weighed again on scales at the airport, to check that they weren't fibbing online.
(I presume that these are AU$:  Today (3 April 2013) $US1 equals 0.95 Australian Dollars)

Or reported in the NY Daily News where I saw it:

Samoan airline to start charging fat people more to fly: report 

Samoa Air, which flies small planes, will begin charging passengers based on weight. 'This is the fairest way of traveling,' the airline's chief says.

As if to confirm this Samoa Airlines website says:
Samoa Air, Introducing a world first:
'Pay only for what you weigh'!
We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh. You are the master of your Air'fair', you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fees, or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple.
The Sky's the Limit!
Additional reporting:
 Think  of this as another incentive to get down to that "beach ware" body before traveling to the South Pacific.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why didn't you post pictures on...

I recently got back from a trip to Spain, and the first two things my coworkers asked me was "How was it? Why didn't you post pictures on x?" Where x is their favorite social network. It usually is Facebook, but I have heard Google Plus, and Twitter.

Now, although I am involved with security (see my other blog about Telecom Fraud and Technologies if you are interested in that kind of thing) I am not really worried that someone will see that I am away and rob my house. So far I have yet to hear anyone admitting that "yes your honor, I robbed their house because I saw on Facebook that they were on vacation." If you have any documented (no anecdotal) cases I would like to hear about them.

While on travel I tend to be quite busy. Working for a small company travel is a big expense, so we try to cram as much work into a trip as possible. At conferences I am working from 8 in the morning until well after 11 at night, most of which is spent on my feet. When on vacation, I am paying for it so time spent in the hotel is time taken from fun and adventures (more on Spain adventures in future post - with pictures and clips).

Truth be told, although I take a lot of photos on most trips, I do not have time to get onto social media to post them. On this last trip my wife and I took in excess of 16 gigabytes of photos and short videos. So as you can imagine we were out having fun rather than sitting inside (even when it was pouring - don't believe the clip below from My Fair Lady, the Rains in Spain do NOT stay mainly on the plain, we got wet everywhere).

Now you can imagine that after 2 weeks away, and 16+ gigs of photos taken it will be a few more days before I have deleted, sorted, cleaned, cropped, etc. enough of them to start sharing. But I promise that once I do I will post them here in the blog, in my Facebook account, Google Plus account, and links in my Twitter account.

But until then, when I travel I will probably not be posting as I will be out doing.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

To Mars and back

Mars has always held kind of a strange place in the minds of humans and for years there have been tales of travel to Mars.

These include (not an all inclusive list but all worth reading if you have not done so):
Or the Movies and Radio:
 But now there is a chance that the Inspiration Mars Foundation may send such a mission during this decade there may be a chance for 2 people to go make a Mars flyby and return to Earth in 2018 that would take 501 days. It has been announced that the plan is for a "middle aged couple" to go as they hope that this will increase the chance of a successful trip while limiting the chance of genetically mutated children.

There have been all sorts of analysis and comparisons to past journeys of exploration (even a set of hints "How to get along for 500 days alone together" based on the real world experiences of Explorer Deborah Shapiro, who spent more than a year with her husband in the Antarctic).

Yes, the pioneers of exploration would look at 501 days as a short trip and the conditions luxurious. The fact that this Mars mission would only allow sponge baths has been made to show how soft explorers have become.

The old time explores went off in all sorts of weather, with large ships, and large teams of people. These combined to make sure that no one was too crowded or had only 1 person to speak to for months on end. They worked hard to ensure their own (and the crews) survival on almost a daily basis.

Now consider the couple that will be going to Mars in a 12ft by 14ft capsule for 501 days with no privacy or separate space to themselves. The ship will more or less fly itself, there will be no chance to "go out and fix" anything as they are not including space suits (or even an air lock),  etc. Thus the biggest problems will be the constant interaction of 2 people in an enclosed place neither can leave.

Past exploration included lots of work for the explorers on a daily basis (this mission will not carry even experiments) and BOREDOM.  Internet will be out of the question (lag times can be measured in 10 of min. rather than seconds), they may be able to get some broadcast TV or movies (sending towards them will be easy), I am sure they will need to take serious numbers of movies and ebooks.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) report on Sleeping in Space that:
Astronauts are allotted 8.5 hours for sleep during each 24-hour period, but many report that they only need 6 or 6.5 hours to feel fully rested. Some believe that this may be the result of the body feeling less fatigued as a result of being in a microgravity environment.
A little math shows:
501 days x 24 hours = a round trip of 12,024 hours.
501 days x 6.5 hours (from the CSA report) sleep (at most) 3,256.5 hours of the trip.
Figure meals at 2.5 hours a day for 1,252.5 hours of the trip

This leaves 10,020 hours or 417.5 days.

I am even willing to say that 2.5 days will be used for setting things up after launch and preparing for landing.

What can you do for 415 days that will let you stay sane? A little exercise, reading, watching video, chatting at Earth (remember that long delays prevent actual real time conversations).

I love my wife, and we can speak for hours on almost any topic. But I would not want to put her through that many days where I am all she sees and the only one with whom she can hold a real conversation.

Thanks, but I will wait for commercial liners with lots of entertainment and other people, and even then I will think twice about going.

Monday, January 7, 2013

When your airline declares bankruptcy

Be careful when there are warnings that an airline may be going out of business.

A coworker of mine, +Leonid Notik, is currently stuck in the Ukraine trying to get home from Odessa, because “Aerosvit” apparently is in bankruptcy. Here is his story so far:

I needed to land Odessa we circled 5 times and then they would not approve our landing so the airline then flew us to Kiev (which is a distance of 900 km away). They left us at the airport and said “You will have to continue on your own.” We made a fuss and then they tried to fly us to Odessa once more failed so again we returned to Kiev.

Then they told us that they did not have an airplane that to land in weather conditions like these. So we were organized into a vehicle to travel 10 hours, at a cost of $40 each.

So we had a night without any sleep yesterday. Two days ago I saw that the flight board said the flight was okay so we rented an apartment for the day in Odessa. When checking with my travel agent she told us that everything is fine, but in the evening, when we were already in Odessa (and I suppose to leave the other day) I called her once more (having been taught by bitter experience) to check that everything was still fine and the answer she gave me was that “the flight is canceled”, and that we must to arrive to the airport to see how can they help us.

When we got to the airport yesterday they told us that they won't have an airplane this week and we have to fly to Kiev.

I checked and there were no seats on the bus to Kiev on the necessary dates and there are not places on the train in the necessary dates , by close to miracle we paid extra to a friend of my fiancé's father (he is a bus driver) and the friend canceled the ticket of one of passengers and accepted mine :)

So take the time to check out that your airline is not in trouble before flying, and if you used a travel agent ask them for help should something go wrong.

Photo by Leonid Notik, used with permission.