Not Your Average Travel Stories: Week of June 24

This week: All the elements for a great thriller – movie stars, fistfights,  missing millions and some laughs

Great gate sign: Those scamps at Southwest are at it again; the sign at a gate in Phoenix said the flight to Austin would be departing “now’ish”. Not quite as good as the Virgin America sign greeting passengers arriving in Vegas that said, “Let’s get our story straight: We’re all in Cincinnati, right?”

“We did not run out of toilet paper.” So says United [see our toilet paper item below]. So what was the story? Forbes reports, “When the plane landed five [of the nine] lavatories still had toilet paper.” I’m no math whiz but it still sounds like some passengers were left high and (un)dry.

Pilot punched: In an obscenity-filled rant, an apparently drunken passenger berates a United pilot over flight delays in a gate area at Dulles. Then, he is seen on video punching the pilot. Yes, he was arrested. Be interesting to see if he’s ever allowed to fly again.

Bad bumping: The Dept. of Transportation has fined Delta Air Lines $750K for bumping passengers either without first asking for volunteers or without telling them they were due cash compensation. If you’re ever bumped know your rights!

New uniforms: United employees – from flight attendants to gate agents – are now wearing brand new outfits. The airline says it’s a ‘contemporary, sophisticated look’. Others find them boring – especially compared to some of the outlandish get-ups of good old days.  

Fly like a celebrity: Want to travel like a movie star? Me, too. Here’s how.

Cell phone arrest: Never mind the never-ending debate on whether cell phone use on planes is dangerous, it is definitely a problem if you don’t turn it off when the flight attendant tells you to, as a kicking and screaming US Airways passenger found out to her (presumed) sorrow.

$1.2 million missing: A Swiss Air flight carrying tons of cash destined for a U.S. bank came up a little short – like more than a million short. According to the feds, the cash container was really, really heavy so presumably cops are on the lookout for suspicious persons with forklifts.

And the winner for best CEO is Delta: Richard Anderson gave up his seat to a standby passenger who’d had flights canceled on her all day due to bad weather. The guy even helped with her bag! It really is a lovely story.

Wild goose chase without Wild Turkey: Reporters chasing self-proclaimed leaker Edward Snowden boarded an Aeroflot plane to Cuba, thinking he was on it. He was not. Nor were cocktails. Aeroflot flights to Cuba do not serve alcohol.

No toilet paper: Alright, only one lavatory on the United flight from San Francisco to London ran out of toilet paper – but if that was your lav, well, you get the picture (and if not, here’s a picture). In other news, the latest customer satisfaction survey ranks United dead last.

Southwest grounded: A computer failure Friday grounded more than 250 Southwest flights for hours before the system was de-glitched. Later, in what can only be described as a show of touching optimism, the carrier thanked passengers for their patience.

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Published: June 24, 2013