Oct 28th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized, musings | No Comments »
These little notes from America’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) show up in my hold baggage every time I fly back home from the states. I don’t get it. They put my bag though a giant X-ray machine (I see that part), but then once the bag is out of my sight they open it up and mess around with my packing job? I’ve never had anything go missing or break, but certainly scared me when a laptop nestled between clothes showed up at the top of the bag wide open for damage. If they are going to poke through my stuff, when can’t they do it with me there? The anonymity of having a stranger dig through my personal belongings is just so invasive. Does that make anyone feel safer?
Oct 26th, 2009 Posted in musings | No Comments »
Heathrow is the worst airport in the world according to a poll of airline lounge loving business travelers. This is then reported as people who fly all the time hate Heathrow. I think this is bull. Heathrow isn’t even the worst airport in London, that distinction clearly goes to Luton. It’s tiny and impossible to get to. But the folks who are flying on business likely aren’t using Luton, so they wouldn’t know.
Also, I’d wager that the folks that are paying up to £259 a year to use airport lounges aren’t super concerned with public transit access to the airport. With the tube and Heathrow express running to Heathrow, it is undoubtedly the most accessible airport in London. If you compare that to something like DC’s Dulles you realise just how nice we have it:
That’s a map of the 30 mile drive to Dulles. Or you can take a train and change to a bus. Any way you slice it, it’s a hard airport to. And once you’re there you have to deal the ridiculous security and the strange vehicles that drive you from the terminal to the gates.
So for us mere mortals that don’t have town cars that take us too and from the airport or a lounge to relax in before the flight, I’d say there are far worse airports than Heathrow. I’d put Luton near the top of that list. What’s your least favourite airport?
Oct 25th, 2009 Posted in musings | No Comments »
All the airline talk the last couple of days is about a couple of Northwest Airlines pilots that “weren’t asleep” when they overflew the destination by 150 odd miles. The guys were on a fairly short flight about half way across the US, and yet all signs other than their denials point to them nodding off at just the time their attention was needed most. It seems there is a pretty clear case for letting pilots take a nap at times while the planes are on cruise control:
International carriers including Air France, British Airways and Qantas allow pilots to nap, but sleeping while flying is prohibited at U.S. airlines by the Federal Aviation Administration. Just last month, the Air Transport Association again pressed the FAA to allow controlled cockpit napping, citing NASA research that found a mid-flight snooze significantly reduces the risks of overall pilot fatigue.
The NASA study begun in 1989 allowed one group of pilots flying across the Pacific to take a 25-minute nap while their co-pilots flew the planes, while a control group was required to remain awake for the entire flight. Those without the naps nodded off five times as much — including while on the approach to the airport — as those who got some sleep.
This seems a bit silly. While I don’t like the thought of my pilot sleeping while were in the air, it only makes sense that on long flights in a dark, quiet cockpit, there is a good chance that someone will doze off. You might as well plan it so that sleep when the plane is cruising along just fine rather than when it should be landing.
The whole incident leaves me wondering just how many times my pilots have fallen asleep on a flight. It is a bit unnerving to think about.
Oct 20th, 2009 Posted in musings | No Comments »
The world’s best current comment (Far Side RIP), XKCD, uses humour to make a good point about airline security: it’s a farce. As the Atlantic clearly demonstrated, with a little level of effort, you can get around security measures. Sometimes it wouldn’t even take effort – once this year I even cruised through and airport without a single person looking at my photo ID. But even more basic than that is that what security measures there are (take off shoes, liquids in a little bag) are simply in place because there were major news stories around people using either liquids or shoes to cause trouble. It seems that if airport security were actually interested in safety, the world would follow Isreal’s controversial model. But in the mean time, can you knock it off with the shoe thing and preventing us from carrying our own water. It’s just silly.
Oct 2nd, 2009 Posted in Trip Ideas | No Comments »
His trip is almost up, but I just learned about Terminal Man, a fella named Brendan who was sponsored by Wired to fly just about everywhere JetBlue goes in a one month. It sounds like a pretty wild ride. He’s getting a bit of a raw deal though in that he has to stay in the airports, but if you took the basic trip idea – flying an airline’s route map – and give yourself a bit of time to see the sights it could make for an great adventure
At first I thought that JetBlue was a perfect candidate for this type of trip. Since they fly all over the US it seems like you could just hop around anywhere. After clicking through their route map though, it looks like everything has you bouncing through Boston, JFK, and Orlando. If you’re going to end up going to the same places, why not extend your scope a little bit and fly the Emirates route map or fly around the US on Southwest that doesn’t require you to keep skipping back through hubs. They may not offer JetBlue’s all you can fly pass, but I’m sure that if you if you talked to them about it as an advertising opportunity then you could work something out.