Not Your Average Travel Stories (and Video): Week of Jan. 13

This week: Cheap fares, big whales, large layoffs and – underwater video!

Save money: Have you checked out the Deals Blog lately? You’ll be glad you did. The time to fly is now.

Airline Economics 101: Last week, United reported “strong revenue for December.” This week, they announce 600 flight attendant layoffs.

World’s strangest looking airplane: That’s what CNN calls Airbus’ Beluga because it looks just like the dome-headed friendly-looking whale. [Note: If you see people run screaming from the room at the mention of “beluga”, be nice to them. They are parents of twenty-somethings and once endured endless renditions of Raffi’s Baby Beluga until they lost their minds]

Private TSA: A Florida Republican says airport security is a mess and should be privatized. We’re staying out of this but what do you think would be better – the TSA or private rent-a-cops? As they say, tell us on Facebook!

Wrong airport Part III: Turns out there was a third person in the Southwest cockpit and the question is, did this person – a company dispatcher – distract our wayward pilots? As another adventurer who took a strange journey once said, curiouser and curiouser.

Los Angeles, meet Jamzilla: That’s what they’re calling the 80-hour long planned partial closure of the 405 over President’s Day weekend (Feb. 14-18). Why should you care? It’s a main route to LAX. If you’re flying that weekend, consider leaving now (we know LA traffic).

Wrong airport Part II: The FAA is not amused. It is now investigating Southwest’s wrong airport landing and the cockpit crew is on paid leave. These aren’t amateurs, either; the captain has been flying for 14 years, the first officer for 12.

No pants rides: Earlier this week, commuters around the world celebrated the annual “No Pants Subway Ride” by – well how do you think? – by not wearing pants. Don’t worry, vigilant airline gate agents work hard to see that pants are worn on planes – and that they do not sag.

Wrong airport Part I: A Southwest flight from Chicago to Branson, Missouri, somehow misses Branson but does land in a Missouri airport (hey, they were only 7 miles off-target). Inconvenient, yes, but as long as Southwest continues its no change fee policy we’ll be OK with, “Close only counts in horseshoes AND Southwest landings.”

Sochi alert: As you probably heard, the U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. If you’re heading there, do yourself a favor and read the complete ‘alert’ here, it’s filled with useful information.

Headline of the day: From the Huffington Post – “Where to Travel Based on Your American Girl Doll.”

Safest airline: According to news reports, that would be Qantas. And see the video below on the Great Barrier Reef – that’ll really make you want to go to Australia.

VIDEO: An undersea world of wonder, from National Geographic (so you know it’s good).

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Published: January 13, 2014