Tag: Air Travel

Watch: ‘Drunk on a Plane’

Sometimes, when you’re out road-tripping, all your radio gets is country music. And sometimes, you just give in to whatever that turns out to be. I started laughing at the first chorus of this tune and made a note to look it up as soon as I got home. The video? Even funnier than the song.

All my flights are just like this. 

Watch: Louis CK Puts All of Your Air Travel Complaints Into Perspective

This Louis CK rant isn’t new, but it never gets old, either. As one person commented: “They should play this looped in the terminals and on the aircraft all day 24/7.”

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Interview with Brendan I. Koerner: Love and Terror in ‘The Skies Belong to Us’

Interview with Brendan I. Koerner: Love and Terror in ‘The Skies Belong to Us’ Photo by Will Star

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, hijackings in American skies were routine. Eva Holland talks to the author of a new book about one young couple's wild long-distance heist.

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The ‘Airport’ Movies: The ‘Best Kind of Guilty Pleasure’

Gerardo Valero finds the cheesy disaster movies of the ‘70s had something important to say.

There’s nothing quite like the movies if you want to learn what people’s hopes and dreams were during the period in which they were made. Take for instance the recent “Up in the Air”. In the present when air travel has turned into something to be endured, George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham showed us how it can become an enticing way of life. The same subject was also portrayed extensively, under a very different light, some forty years as the “Airport” movies dealt with our fears of dying in new and horrible ways, while glamorizing our dreams of flying first-class, surrounded by a movie star in every seat. As the trailer for one of these features once put it: “on board, a collection of the rich and the beautiful!” They also marked the advent of a new genre (the Disaster Film) as well as the “Ark movie” which Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary defines as “mixed bag of characters trapped in a colorful mode of transportation”. How many films can claim to this kind of impact?

I made a similar point in my look back at the 25th anniversary of “Airplane!”

Happy 50th Birthday, In-flight Movies

Fifty years ago today Trans World Airlines screened By Love Possessed starring Lana Turner on a Los Angeles to New York flight. It wasn’t easy. Given the technology of the time, it took David Flexer three years and $1 million to make it happen. Writes Angela Watercutter:

The airlines weren’t Initially interested in Flexer’s wares. But then TWA, which at the time was looking to increase its profile, agreed to give Inflight a shot. Flexer and his team took a Boeing 707, fitted it with their equipment and spent the early part of 1961 flying around and fixing bugs.

In July of that year TWA began offering films to first class passengers. The response was extraordinary, and soon flyers were paying huge fees to get into first class to catch the show. Before long, in-flight movies were everywhere.

Think You Lead a Green Life? Your Travels Say Otherwise.

A study out of Norway has some troubling results for travelers who take pride in living a green lifestyle at home. Melinda Burns breaks it down:

People living in dense cities with no backyards typically consume more energy on their time off than people in cities with a little more greenery because they undertake longer getaways by car and by plane. It’s called “compensatory travel.” Environmentalists who drive less during the week tend to fly more on holidays than the less environmentally active. And the Internet, while allowing people to work at home, is promoting cheap weekend getaways—by plane.

“Thus, while green individuals strive to act in an environmentally responsible manner in their everyday lives, they seem to have a conflicting need to cast aside their environmental concerns when traveling for leisure,” the study says.

Via The Dish.

‘Airplane!’ Picked for 2010 National Film Registry

And thus Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s tour de force performance as a knee pad-wearing pilot will be preserved forever by the Library of Congress. “Airplane!” was one of 25 films added to the registry Tuesday. From the press release:

Characterized by a freewheeling style reminiscent of comedies of the 1920s, “Airplane!” introduced a much-needed deflating assessment of the tendency of theatrical film producers to push successful formulaic movie conventions beyond the point of logic. One of the film’s most noteworthy achievements was to cast actors best known for careers in melodrama productions, e.g., Leslie Nielsen, and provide them with opportunities to showcase their comic talents.

It’s been an eventful but sad 30th anniversary for one of the greatest travel movies ever made. Three of the film’s stars passed away in 2010—Leslie Nielsen, Barbara Billingsley and Peter Graves

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen

The actor starred as Dr. Rumack in one of the greatest travel movies ever made, “Airplane!” As Russell Brand tweeted, “Shirley, he will be missed.”

The New York Times and The Globe and Mail, among many, remember the native Canadian. The Telegraph picks his top 10 lines from “Airplane!” and beyond. Nielsen was 84.

Slate Goes to 30 Airports in 30 Days

Slate’s latest Well-Traveled series follows Chadwick Matlin, newly unemployed and newly single, on a quest to visit 30 airports in 30 days. Here’s Matlin’s explanation of his “unnecessarily idiotic” mission:

Airports are universally reviled. They’re full of bad food, arbitrary security rules, and stale air. The planes are little better—uncomfortable seats, no personal space, and yet more stale air. No person has felt better getting off a plane than they did getting on.

But if unemployment is supposed to be good for anything, it’s for chasing dreams we otherwise couldn’t. And for reasons far too masochistic for even me to understand, going to 30 airports in 30 days had become my dream.

The series continues all week. So far it’s a solid mix of insight and humor, with some fun graphic treatments of the trip’s numbers thrown in.

Pilots: Leading the Charge Against Full-Body Scans

A couple weeks back, we wrote about a lone ExpressJet pilot who faced down the TSA over the new full-body scans. Now a union representing 11,000 American Airlines pilots has joined the fight. Here’s the Allied Pilots Association president, Captain Dave Bates, in a letter to his members:

While I’m sure that each of us recognizes that the threats to our lives are real, the practice of airport security screening of airline pilots has spun out of control and does nothing to improve national security. It’s long past time that policymakers take the steps necessary to exempt commercial pilots from airport security screening and grant designated pilot access to SIDA utilizing either Crew Pass or biometric identification.

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Is This a ‘Golden Age’ for Air Travel?

USA Today’s Ben Mutzabaugh makes the case, arguing that—despite the many complaints about air travel today—low fares, new technology and an array of service choices could mean flying has never been better.

Meanwhile, a quick browse through our archives reveals that we may also be enjoying the golden age of American family vacations, the golden age of green travel, a new golden age of train travel, the golden age of British indie bookstores and the new golden age of the cross-country road trip. Travelers of the 21st century, count your blessings.

Qantas and Singapore Airlines Ground All A380s

Qantas and Singapore Airlines Ground All A380s REUTERS/STRINGER Singapore
Wing damage seen from inside the plane (REUTERS/STRINGER Singapore)

The two airlines made the decision after a Qantas A380 engine exploded above Indonesia earlier today. The plane landed safely, and investigations are ongoing. The much-hyped, long-awaited super jumbo jet debuted three years ago, and according to the New York Times story about the explosion, there are 37 of them currently in use.

‘We Miss the Peanuts Too’ and Other Pilot Secrets

Reader’s Digest has put together a fascinating collection of revelations from mostly-anonymous working pilots. The tidbits range from the worrying (“I’m constantly under pressure to carry less fuel than I’m comfortable with”) to the practical (“I may be in uniform, but that doesn’t mean I’m the best person to ask for directions in the airport. We’re in so many airports that we usually have no idea.”) and are arranged thematically. A stand-alone comment listed as a “parting thought” is my favorite:

Here’s the truth about airline jobs: You don’t have as much time off as your neighbors think you have, you don’t make as much money as your relatives think you make, and you don’t have as many girlfriends as your wife thinks you have. Still, I can’t believe they pay me to do this.

A Call for Airport Outlet Etiquette

Jennifer Saranow Schultz, the New York Times’ Bucks blogger, thinks it’s about time for some ground rules:

At many airports, it seems as if there is an unspoken first-come, first-serve policy with no time restrictions. To me, this doesn’t seem right. With outlets in such short supply, I’d like to see use limits, say 15 to 20 minutes, become the accepted unspoken norm. Or, at the least, I’d like to see people only use the outlets for quick charging or for work they have to get done and not just to watch a movie.

I don’t see things changing anytime soon. Several NYT commenters on the post point out that packing a power strip is a good interim solution.

ExpressJet Pilot Refuses Full Body Scan, Has Job Put ‘On Hold’

Jalopnik has the pilot’s firsthand account. Money quote, describing a conversation with a TSA investigator who eventually arrived on the scene:

He told me he had been advised that I was refusing security screening, to which I replied that I had willingly walked through the metal detector with no alarms, the same way I always do when commuting to work. He then briefed me on the recent screening policy changes and, apparently confused, asked whether they would be a problem for me. I stated that I did indeed have a problem with the infringement of my civil rights and liberty.

His reply: “That’s irrelevant.”

How Airplane Background Noise Affects our In-Flight Taste Buds

New research suggests that the white noise of airplane cabins could be contributing to the infamous blandness of in-flight meals. Here’s the Independent’s Steve Connor:

White noise consists of random collections of sounds at different frequencies - such as the muffled noise of aircraft engines - and scientists have demonstrated that it is capable of diminishing the taste of salt and sugar.

The findings could explain a phenomenon well known to airline companies: passengers tend to lose their sense of taste when they are in the air.

Interesting stuff—but I’m a little surprised to find researchers putting serious time into studying airplane food, considering the in-flight meal is nearly extinct.

My U-Turn Over Greenland

I was flying home to Los Angeles from Germany this week when, mid-way, the pilot made an announcement: We would be turning around and flying more than an hour back to Iceland to drop off a sick passenger. We weren’t told much about the elderly passenger; I saw him stand before he was led off the plane, which I took to be a good sign. In any case, it made for what I imagine to be a rare sight on the seat-back flight tracker:

Photo by Jim Benning

Are Air Traffic Control Errors on the Rise?

According to the Washington Post, the raw numbers suggest they are. The FAA’s response? The increase, they say, is due to improved reporting procedures. (Via Gawker)

The Fight Against Online Ticket Fraud

Airlines have been losing big bucks to people exploiting security holes. One poll “estimated total losses at $1.4 billion in 2008,” according to USA Today.

“Common sense on this issue limits a discussion of what we do to track, prevent and seek prosecution of such occurrences,” says Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines. “We’re just not interested in providing a ‘how to’ lesson on the subject.”

Still, Smith says, “I can tell you, in a very broad sense, that we have seen some increase in fraud and attempted fraud the last couple years.” The airline’s corporate security team deals with credit card fraud, he says, and often works with financial services companies and law enforcement when making inquiries.

In the travel sector, companies such as Orbitz were hit first and hardest by fraudsters, resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue a month.

After those companies took action to plug their holes, criminals took aim at airlines.

World Travel Watch: Penalties for Touts in Delhi, Tourist Tax in Lisbon and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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