Thursday, April 9, 2009

Travel Agents May Go On Hunger Strike. . .

Yes, you heard correctly. Apparently Indian travel agents are so incensed about foreign airlines withdrawing their commission for selling tickets, the latest being Singapore Airlines who have taken away their 5%, that 5,000 of them may take this unprecedented action sometime next year.

How long before travel agents cease to exist throughout the world and everything is booked directly and online?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Flydubai to Beat the Credit crunch?

According to wire reports The Gulf emirate of Dubai announced today that it is to launch its first budget airline. It will be called flydubai and will start with flights to the Lebanese capital of Beirut on June 1 and to Jordan's capital Amman on June 2, chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum told reporters. Flydubai will operate two next-generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft on both routes and apparently this is all happening, "despite the global financial crisis."

Maybe that's why they need a budget airline?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Flying Blind?

A lady was flying from Seattle to San Francisco. Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sacramento along the way. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes.
Everybody got off the plane except one lady who was blind. The man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the lady was blind because her Seeing Eye dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight.

He could also tell she had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached her, and calling her by name, said, "Kathy, we are in Sacramento for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?" The blind lady replied, "No thanks, but maybe Buddy would like to stretch his legs."

All the passengers who had disembarked and were waiting in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a guide dog! The pilot was even wearing sunglasses. There was mayhem in the gate area as people not only tried to change planes, but tried to change airlines!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Drunk and VERY Disorderly at 32,000 feet

We’ve said it often but it seems that some people never learn. Booze and flying just don’t mix. This time it was a drunken passenger who began punching and kicking the windows of a Thomson holiday flight from Egypt to Cardiff, at 32,000ft has found himself in court. Apparently Gareth Jackson downed 11 beers and a quarter of a litre of vodka before getting on board. As a result the 34-year-old was jailed for eight months after he admitted being drunk on an aircraft and interfering (no not that way!) with cabin crew.
Cardiff Crown Court heard that Jackson caused 'near panic' among the 230 passengers on the five-and-a-half hour flight. It started when he became aggressive and abusive to his now heavily pregnant partner Emma Hall, passengers and cabin crew. Parents even resorted to putting headphones on their children so they could not hear him shouting and swearing at one point the captain, William Darroth, considered diverting to Venice.

Instead the pilot sped up the flight and authorised the use of restraints on Jackson; while Jackson was in the toilet, some male passengers agreed to help cabin crew restrain him. He at first broke free from the plastic restraints but they managed to secure him with the child seatbelts, although Jackson continued to shout for the rest of the flight before being arrested at Cardiff Airport.

Sentencing Jackson, Judge Neil Bidder QC said: 'It's fair to say you engendered near panic on the flight.'

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bit of a Giveaway

Nil points to the would-be illegal immigrant who was caught at Manchester airport last week. The Mexican man was doing well with his story that he was visiting a friend in the UK until customs officers spotted a 'Good Luck with your new life in the UK' card in his luggage. He didn't really have much of a case from that point on and, having admitted his real intentions, was deported the next day.

Casting Aspersions

Full marks for creativity go to the Chilean gentleman who was arrested at Barcelona airport last week for attempting to smuggle cocaine into Spain by ingenious means. The 66 year old had a genuinely broken shin. What was less pukka was the cast he was wearing; it was almost entirely of compressed cocaine! Not content with that he also has six fake beer cans and two hollowed out stools, all of which were packed full with 'showbiz sherbet' too.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Flamboyant Pilot is not an oxymoron

There's news today about a pilot who lost his job from My Travel the UK charter airline after allowing a footballer onto the flight deck on a return flight with the Blackburn Rovers. It was apparently to help allay the players fears of flying but it was against company regulations and it got the pilot sacked for breaching anti-terrorist regulations. While the footballer in question my have had a bit of a reputation as a hard tackler it seems to be stretching credibility to use the inflight hijacking rules in such a way. Read on in the reports and the pilot in question was on a final written warning from the airline over an incident at security in Birmingham airport. He stripped to his underwear after what appears to have been an over zealous security check. No one complained but the airline handed out a written warning but has now agreed he had been provoked by the security people.

On the plus side he had received more commendations from the public than any other pilot in the company. It seems that the ex-RAF fighter pilot is certainly larger than life but where's the harm in that? In a world where regulations are suppressing all the colour out of life it's just one more nail in the coffin of flamboyant characters – the airline industry was once full of them. . .I must be getting old.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Guaranteed Upgrades?

Following the incident of the severely anguished passenger who missed her flight at Hong Kong in early February it’s caused quote some consternation at Cathay Pacific, the airline whose plane the lady missed. The airline has apologised because it was one of their workers who filmed the video, they’ve since been disciplined, although it was someone else who actually posted the video on Youtube.
Apparently the woman was shouting "They have no compassion. The plane hasn't even left, and they've shut the gate. They're crazy! They're crazy!" Cathay have apologized to the woman "for the inconvenience and embarrassment she may have suffered as a result" and offered to upgrade her seats on her next trip and reimburse her for frequent flyer miles she used for upgrades on recent flights.
So if nothing else we now at least have a fool proof method of securing an upgrade.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Safety Pays

In the wake of Ryanair's plans for pay toilets on board their aircraft, those witty spoofsters at have come up with a most excellent vision of the possible future with this fake emergency safety card...

Monday, March 2, 2009

What's in a Word?

In a time long ago, in fact WAY back in the last century, a time when aeroplanes had propellers there was a very odd thing happened to an aircraft called a York. It was a derivative of a World War 2 bomber; it looked it, flew like it and was very noisy even with the door shut.

A flight engineer called George Savage was on the flight deck of a York along with a Captain named MacKenzie – he later became chief pilot of British United Airways (what do you mean you've never heard of them! -Ed). George was a miserable old sod and half way down the runway Captain MacKenzie turned to George and said "cheer up George." George thought he said – gear up George. The rest is history as one very sad York sank back on the runway with very bent propellers. (with thanks to Roy Saxton)

That's a York in the background with me aged 14, and my little sister Sue. I was about to go and sleep in it as I was learning to glide with the Scouts. It had that wonderful smell that all old aeroplanes have!

Friday, February 27, 2009

A £ to Spend a Penny on Ryanair

Michael Gerard Joseph Mary O'Leary gave a stellar performance on the BBC this morning defending Ryanair's decision to get rid of their airport check in facilities and charge people £10 for hold baggage. Under attack from the BBC presenters who suggested it was iniquitous to charge this he managed to attack BAA, BA, all of his competitors, governments and possibly the only one not to get a mention was Barack Obama who is still too early in his presidency to have upset Mr. O'Leary.

The fact is he's right. Their business model is their business model. No one is forcing anyone to fly Ryanair and most airlines are jealous of his ability to get free PR and continue to make money. The fact is that Mr. O'Leary is a master at the smash and grab and so far so good. There's always arguments that say he may have got some of it wrong, but hey as long as it keeps working what the heck. Interestingly there's no sign of his promised standing down from Ryanair. They probably cannot afford him to go.

His other nugget this morning was to suggest spending a £ to spend a penny on Ryanair. They have and are considering charging passengers to use the toilet.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What's In Your Pants?

The variety of ruses used by would-be smugglers is quite amazing. We've chronicled a few in the past, but a 23 year old man added a new one when he was rumbled in Melborne airport a couple of weeks ago. We're not sure how the customs officers spotted him (the bulging calves? the coo-ing noises coming from his trousers?) but when they took him to one side they found he was wearing a pair of tights stuffed with two pigeons. The birds had survived the ten hour flight from Dubai unharmed. The real mystery is...why? The birds were not a rare breed and the man didn't give any clear answer when asked what he was planning to do with them. We think the other aspect of the story, looking at those hairy legs, was possibly that he was also smuggling a gorilla, and the birds were a decoy? We'll leave it to you to decide...

Pressing the Call Button

Our favourite source of quotes has been at it again. Michael O'Leary, the wonderfully direct head of Ryanair, launched the carrier's first flight on which mobile phone use is permitted this week. He did so with his customary elan and willingness to get to the heart of the matter. Dressed for the occasion as an enormous mobile phone (how many captains of industry would be similarly game?) he noted:

"Anyone who thinks Ryanair flights are some sort of sanctuary where you can contemplate your navel is wrong."

Not that many travellers on their service will have left with the impression that they had been on some sort of retreat, we suspect, but full marks to the lad for not taking things too seriously.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Runway Hotel

Fed up with the usual airport hotels offering at best adequate comfort and service? Keen to avoid the 20 minute taxi ride to the airport for the first morning flight when the hotel appeared to be right beside the terminal? Those cunning Swedes have come up with the solution. Book into the Jumbo Hostel in Stockholm and you're sure to have only a short hop to the terminal, and you'll already be in the aviation mood.

At the end of the runway of Arlanda Airport (Stockholm's busiest) is an ex-Pan Am Boeing 747 which has been refurbished and converted into a hotel. Redolent of the glamorous heyday of flight, it's a monument to kitsch. The staff wear retro airline outfits, there's tinkling music in the top deck bar and you can even saunter out onto the wings with your coffee. Apparently the rooms aren't as cramped as you'd expect, which range from dormitory style beds (£29) to triples (£112) to the cockpit double with all cockpit controls (deactivated!) and en-suite for £275. Check out if you're ready for takeoff.

Russian To The Bar

It seems that the idea of a pilot being too drunk to fly the plane has been over stated. While the passenger's natural impulse if they were to hear a slurred pre-flight announcement by the Captain might be to run for the exits, we should be reassured - it'll all be fine. That's exactly what happened on December 28 2008 as an Aeroflot aircraft prepared to leave Moscow's Sheremetevo airport. The pilot got on the intercom and was clearly inebriated, however the airline confirmed that it was "no big deal".

When the passengers demanded that the New York bound Boeing 767 be flown by someone other than Captain Alexander Cheplevsky the crew told them to "stop making trouble" or get off the aircraft. This failed to placate the passengers and Aeroflot officials came aboard the aircraft. One calmed their nerves by saying "It's not such a big deal if the pilot is drunk. Really, all he has to do is press a button and the plane flies itself."

Despite this observation a new crew was found and after a few hours wait the flight left. Later on an Aeroflot spokesman noted that "The pilot was tested for alcohol and none was found." So that's OK then. But if he had been drunk then that would be fine too. Right?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Horny Story

This just in from the redoubtable Mike Kay – our man in Paris....

When I was working in the West Indies in the 60's for BOAC, I took the companies 'Mini Moke' to a 'mechanic' to get the brakes repaired, when I went back a week later he said 'I could not get the parts, so I have fitted another horn....

Monday, January 26, 2009

Please Sir, They've Stolen our Aircraft!

Aircraft are notoriously difficult to steal; especially airliners. That is unless you invade a country and set about removing them under the guise of 'war-booty'. Which is why the Iraqi government says it will pay $300 million in compensation to Kuwait Airways for claims related to Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of the neighbouring emirate; they apparently stole ten aircraft including two Boeing 767 like the one in the picture. An Iraqi Government spokesman says the Iraqi Cabinet "approved a final and comprehensive settlement" on Sunday. But a spokesman for the Kuwaiti Airways says the payment is by no means a "final" settlement as the airline's total claim is $1.3 billion including interest.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Whadya Think Mr President?

Two recent Presidents have had some interesting things to say about post-Presidential air travel.

The thing I miss about Air Force One is they don't lose my luggage. — President George Bush Sr.

I have to say that flying on Air Force One sort of spoils you for coach on a regular airline. — President Ronald Reagan

What do you think Gerge W. might have to say?

"It's OK, God's going to give me tickets."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Airline Giveaway

The passengers of the US Airways flight that 'landed' on the Hudson River last week are in for a bit of a 'windfall'. They are all being sent $5,000 checks by the airline to "assist you with your immediate needs," which might not include taking another flight for a while. US Airways is also reimbursing passengers for the cost of their tickets.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Too Overdressed to Travel

There was a time, long ago, when male airline staff had to wear a jacket and tie and female employees would be required to dress smartly, when travelling on a non-revenue ticket. However, it seems that the times-are-a-changin’. A US flight attendant is suing JetBlue Airways and Delta Air Lines, saying a male employee denied her a work-related flight because she wasn't dressed provocatively enough. 37-year-old Karin Keegan of Pittsburgh, works for Delta and her employer has an agreement for JetBlue to ferry its flight attendants to job assignments on a standby basis. Ms. Keegan's lawsuit states that a male JetBlue worker wouldn't let her on a flight in October 2007 because she wasn't dressed provocatively enough, then allowed other flight attendants with less seniority to board the plane.

"Keegan changed into more provocative clothes, but (the employee) told her she was too late to board the plane and should have dressed like that before," said the lawsuit, which was filed in Pittsburgh federal court last week. "He wanted her to change to a lower-cut shirt and tighter pants, and wear more make-up before letting her on the plane," according to Keegan's attorney. Delta and JetBlue officials refused to intercede when she complained, the lawsuit said. Apparently Ms. Keegan is losing income, because she has stopped taking JetBlue flights to job assignments so she can avoid harassment by the male employee.