The Crazy World of Air Travel

The return of crazy travel news. Sometimes serious, often strange, occasionally funny. Plus pictures and videos! Watch for frequent updates.

80 year old flight attendant: And that’s no joke, Bette Nash is indeed 80 (though she doesn’t look it) yet still works a daily flight on American Airlines from Washington, D.C. to Boston. Her passengers – her ‘regulars’ – seem to love her and she can’t quit them. She’s seen a lot over the years, especially numerous wacko uniforms; yes, she, too, once had to do the flight safety demo in hot pants and go-go boots. –posted Dec. 5

What?? Free meals in coach? According to Skift, Delta is testing – gasp! – free meals in coach. Don’t get too excited; we’re talking sandwich wraps and the like, but still – hey, it’s free. Delta is said to be “coy with the details” but they are experimenting with this right now on cross-country flights. If you get one, tell us if it was any good–posted Dec. 5

TSA is certifiably hip: The TSA’s Instagram account is totally cool, ranking in the top 5 of Rolling Stone’s top 100 Instagram accounts –better than Beyonce! – and the security agency can thank both its witty commentary and terrific photos of such things as bizarre & exotic weapons (see “unusual gas mask” below) plus mundane items like a potato (see “can you bring THIS on a plane” below). Here’s the latest (just below this post!), and you hot link lovers can begin celebrating right now. –posted Dec. 5

TSA - Hot Links are OK!
TSA – Hot Links are OK!

Please find this dog: Pamela Alvarez’ dog Mika went missing in the Mexico City airport and the Houston woman and the airline she flew (Interjet) have launched campaigns to find the 8 year old mutt (photo below). There is a reward. If you’re in the vicinity, look around and help this poor pupper get home. –posted Nov. 30

Mika photo from Pamela Alvarez and Interjet
Mika photo from Pamela Alvarez and Interjet

Strange delays: Two incidents relayed to me by passengers: The first involved a plane that was delayed because the seatback pockets were all saggy (???) and some had to be duct-taped back into place; the second plane was delayed because the pilot’s seat belt was broken (???). I have so many questions. Meanwhile, both of these anecdotes involved large U.S. carriers. Strange, no? –posted Nov. 30

Cyber Monday Sales! There are some real steals being offered today – see them here (and don’t delay). –posted Nov. 28

Ranting passenger: A man stood up on a Delta flight out of Atlanta (heading to Allentown PA) and proceeded to rant about the recent election. He used many bad words, and you can hear them all in the video posted on TMZ. According to media reports, the folks at Delta now say the passenger was disruptive and should have been removed. Oh, the power of viral video. UPDATE: Delta has since sent out an email saying it requires “civility on our planes” and adds that the ranter “will never again be allowed on a Delta plane.” –posted Nov. 28

Why travelers get in line early: The Daily Mail has an article on the psychology of why passengers get in line at the gate area to get on the plane long before boarding announcements are made and it involves how we feel “impelled to join” lines dues to “fear of missing out” blah blah. Possibly, says Prof. Rick Seaney of FareCompare’s University of Travel but he believes the vast majority simply want to grab some of that limited overhead bin space for their carry-ons. –posted Nov. 28.

Burning question of the day: One of our favorite social media accounts is @AskTSA because it’s just so fabulous. And informative! Latest in a series of examples: A photo of a carton of hard-boiled eggs (see below) along with the question, can these eggs go on a plane? Answer: Yes! However, as one of the killjoy commenters put it, “Only a %@#ing monster would bring hard boiled eggs on a plane. You should reconsider.” –posted Nov. 17 

Eggs on a plane!
Eggs on a plane!

Fake service animals? Gosh, apparently some passengers lie when they say they need their pet to travel with them, by claiming it is an emotional support animal. Does the expensive pet transport fee have anything to do with this? Who knows! We know you wouldn’t do this, but do you know anyone who does? [Photo below is our idea of the perfect emotional support pet] –posted Nov. 11

Now this is emotional support
Now this is emotional support

Fiery lawsuit: Maybe you recall that American Airlines plane that caught on fire Oct. 28 just before it took off from Chicago to Miami. The good news for everyone is all passengers and crew got out with no serious injuries. The bad news for the airline (and others) is some of those passengers are suing. According to their attorney, the incident affected their mental health and episodes of fearfulness and crying continue to plague the passengers. –posted Nov. 16

Sorry, so carry-ons allowed! That’s what some passengers will be hearing if they fly United’s new Basic Economy class in 2017. You get one (1!) personal item and that’s it. So if you have and purse and a laptop, you have to ditch one of them. You can fly with a very small carry-(and nothing else) but it must fit under the seat and stay there. –posted Nov. 11

Rick Seaney is going to LOVE this: A South African airline is waiving its fees for carrying golf bags on flights through Jan. 30. The only thing better than this is the name of the airline – Mango! Fun fact: Mango’s inflight magazine is called Mango Juice. –posted Nov. 4

Airline’s weekend deals go MIA: You know the weekly staple of our Deals Blog, the Weekend Getaway Sale from United? It’s gone, poof, vanished! At least, the sale has been missing from United’s site for at least three weeks. We reached out to the airline (“reached out” = “sent them an email”) asking what’s going on but @United has so far declined to comment. If you find out what’s going on, please tell us – we miss those deals! –posted Nov. 4

Unusual gas mask found: This was discovered in a bag at a security checkpoint in Miami International. Do not miss the TSA Instagram description that follows. Whatever this TSA writer is paid, it’s not enough. –posted Nov. 2 

Post-apocalyptic gas mask
Post-apocalyptic gas mask

Descriptions don't get much better

Halloween dad of the year: A man’s 3 year old daughter missed out on Halloween fun because they had to catch a flight from Boston to San Francisco. This made dad sad so he improvised by passing out candy to fellow passengers so they could give it to the little girl as she went trick-or-treating down the aisle. Such a good dad. –posted Nov. 1

Plane proposal: You’ve heard of passengers proposing on planes before (I even know a couple who sealed the deal that way) but this time it was the pilot doing the proposing – over the PA system – before coming out with a bouquet of flowers for his intended and of course she said yes. Fortunately, the Qantas co-pilot was not so overcome with emotion that he couldn’t fly the plane and all lived happily ever after. Or so we presume! –posted Nov. 1

New photo: Yes, yes, I managed to work a dog into the main Crazy Travel photo, above — yet again! — but it is a pretty fall picture, right? –posted Nov. 1

Robots at the airport: California’s San Jose Airport now has three robots to assist you! They hold touchscreens and help with directions, that sort of thing, and are named Norma, Piper and Amelia in case you felt the urge to greet them by name (see photo). Why yes, this is the home airport for Silicon Valley. –posted Oct. 27

How.May.I.Assist.You.
How.May.I.Assist.You.

Coolio, gun, airport: Don’t do what rapper Coolio did, as reported by the AP, which was bringing a concealed handgun through LAX; he got three years probation for the Sept. 17 incident and 45 days of community service. –posted Oct. 27

Ex-reality show stars sue Virgin America: According to Reuters, former Real Housewives of New Jersey star Jim Marchese was arrested back in April when he allegedly attacked his wife Amber. Jim was pulled off the plane but the couple says they did nothing wrong and are now suing for defamation and more. Any writers/producers out there in need of a new storyline? –posted Oct. 27

Duck on a plane: That would be Daniel the Duck – who is not just any duck – oh, no, Daniel is an emotional support duck. He traveled with his human on an unnamed airline recently from Charlotte to Asheville while a fellow passenger tweeted, “His gentle quacking eases the sadness of leaving.” In case you were wondering, Daniel wore a diaper. –posted Oct. 20

Sorry, not Daniel, just a regular duck
Sorry, not Daniel, just a regular duck

Halloween is coming: So we changed the image up top. If you want to go someplace, here’s some ideas. Meanwhile, hope you get lots of candy. –posted Oct. 19

Urgent question about gator heads: Has this ever happened to you? You want to fly, but just aren’t sure how to pack your gator head* (photo below). Solution: Ask the TSA! That’s what one guy did and learned that gator heads are allowed in carry-ons. –posted Oct. 19 

*We assume the gator in the photo succumbed to old age.

Gator heads like to fly, too
Gator heads like to fly, too

New Delta uniforms: These new uniforms shown below actually seem kind of zippy to us (fashion-challenged as we may be!) but what do you think? By the way, the color is called “passport plum”. –posted Oct. 19

Not bad, huh?
Not bad, huh?

What’s it like to work as a TSA officer: Are people yelling at you all the time? Oh, it happens but there are plenty of travelers who are nice and polite. In case you were wondering, the mantra for TSA employees is “be effective, be fast, be courteous.” Do they always succeed? You tell us. –posted Oct. 13

Best business class perk: We (and USA Today) like KLM’s small ceramic miniature hotels, which are Delftware (see a couple of them below). The fact that these little freebies are filled with gin did not influence us at all. –posted Oct. 13

KLM's Mini Hotels
KLM’s Mini Hotels

Yet another way to get kicked off a plane: Try this – be disrespectful to the flight attendant as she gives the safety-demo and yell things like, “Ooh, sexy!” When the male passenger was admonished by the flight attendant for his comments, he reportedly said, “C’mon, I’m just playing with you!” Apparently she didn’t want to play and the man was told to gather his things and get off the flight. A female passenger who witnessed the incident applauded the guy’s ouster in a Facebook post. –posted Oct. 12

Southwest’s new video: “Yes” is the name of this ad (see below). I was waiting to hear Roundabout or something along those lines but no, the song is Yeah Yeah by Willy Moon. Watch and see the glory of free bags. –posted Oct. 10  

New Southwest Airlines ad

Happy birthday to an old airline: KLM just turned 97! It’s the world’s oldest airline still operating under the same name (and for those who are math challenged like me, it began flying in 1919). How does KLM celebrate? With an airfare sale, of course, which you’ll find in over in Deals. –posted Oct. 10

Another excellent entry in Bad Passenger of the Year awards: A 24 year old man from Glasgow, Scotland was arrested after his British Airways flight to Orlando was diverted to Boston; the pilot deemed this a prudent move because, as the Daily Mail put it, the lad kept “trying to get off the plane in mid-air.” It is believed that our hero consumed more than his share of intoxicating beverages. –posted Oct. 10

Flight attendant slams bad passengers: An NBC report quotes a flight attendant as saying, “For every person who gets thrown off a plane, there are probably 20 others who should have been taken off,” but doing this is costly (diverted flights, late arrivals, angry passengers) so “it’s easier to let it go instead of waiting on authorities to meet the flight. We put up with so much nonsense it’s unbelievable.” –posted Oct. 10

About those new American Airlines uniforms: The airline has reportedly set up a call center to field complaints about the new duds worn by flight attendants and others – a call center! According to the Chicago Business Journal, gripes include “hives, headaches, swelling around the eyes and itching” that may or may not be related to the new uniforms (hope it’s not catching). The outfits, which debuted in late September, don’t strike us as particularly revolutionary, style-wise (one of AA’s Facebook commenters called them, “so incredibly bland, boring and cheap”) but judge for yourself in the ‘behind the scenes’ video below. –posted Oct. 7

Passenger weigh-ins: Goodness! A couple of businessmen are suing Hawaiian Airlines because they reportedly weighed passengers flying to or from Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa – including these two travelers. An airline rep told the UK’s Telegraph that this was part of a six month-long survey, now ended, that was undertaken because “our fuel burn on Pago Pago flights was consistently much higher than projected, indicating that our weight assumptions were inaccurate” and the newspaper helpfully notes that American Samoa ranks #1 in world obesity rates. You may be surprised to learn that weighing passengers isn’t exactly new; Samoa Air began doing it more than three years ago when they inaugurated pay-by-the-pound pricing. –posted Oct. 6

Pay by the pound? Eeek!
Pay by the pound? Eeek!

Can you bring THIS on a plane? The TSA is always coming across exotic knives and other weapons which they dutifully take pictures of and post on Instagram as examples of what not to pack. The TSA gets lots of questions too, like, “Can I bring this on the plane?” Here’s a recent query from a tuber fan (photo below!) who learns that “potatoes are good to go”. –posted Oct. 5

Can I bring my potato?
Can I bring my potato?

New VIP lounge: You’ll find it in Washington D.C.’s Dulles International and this swanky Turkish Airlines lounge offers a place to take a shower, lots of fancy  food and what appears to be a very well-stocked bar. –posted Oct. 5

Hey – anybody seen Joe lately? Someone noticed a cargo worker at Lisbon’s airport was missing, so, colleagues dutifully reported his absence and good thing, too; the fellow was trapped in the cargo hold of a plane flying from Portugal to Angola. He is now trying to warm up after being treated for hypothermia. –posted Oct. 3  

Terrorist threats: An employee at Sioux Falls Regional Airport (in South Dakota) has been arrested after reportedly telling a co-worker “he wanted to shoot people at the airport” and investigators determined he did indeed have access to firearms. At his initial hearing, he spoke up to ask, “Can I say one thing?” No, said the judge. –posted Oct. 3

Stalking pilot: A 62 year old ex-United pilot pleaded guilty to internet stalking after posting online nude photos of a woman he once dated. Understandably, she did not appreciate this, and the former flyboy was sentenced to 41 months in a federal prison. –posted Oct. 3

Discrimination at 30,000 feet? A thoughtful story from the Orange County Register –Mary Campos was just about to board a United flight at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif. when she was told she was being moved because two men could not be seated near a woman (they were Buddhists). Campos complied – since the plane was about to take-off, she really had no other option – but then began to think about it. She spoke to the female flight attendants on her plane who apparently told her they were not allowed to serve these men and weren’t thrilled about the situation either. As far as we know, there’s been no lawsuit from Campos; after complaining in-person to a United rep, she was offered a $100 voucher which prompted her to say, this wasn’t about money, “It’s about treating everyone fairly.” The Register contacted United and a rep gave the usual we-have-zero-tolerance-for-discrimination answer along with, “Our goal is to provide safe and comfortable travel for all of our customers.” So – was the airline just trying to balance the needs of various passengers, in a failed effort to make everyone happy? Was Campos right to feel slighted? What should have happened? –posted Sept. 29

Google Translator to the rescue! A cop at LAX helped save a suicidal man hanging off the edge of a five story parking structure at the huge airport. When he realized the depressed fellow spoke Korean and he didn’t, he used a phone app to help him figure out what the poor guy was saying and it worked long enough to distract him so the officer who pull him to safety. The would-be suicide was then taken away to a mental health facility. –posted Sept. 28

JFK doctor peddled drugs to patients: A physician who had the job of clearing pilots to fly at the big New York airport pleaded guilty to “more than two dozen counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance” including oxycodone. He lost his medical license and will do community service. The story doesn’t say who he sold drugs to or if he okayed any pilots to fly that he shouldn’t have (but we think it would have mentioned that if such was the case). –posted Sept. 28

New photo: Getting close to pumpkin time so we changed the image above, but stand by! As we move into October, we’ll go full-on Halloween. –posted Sept. 22

How’s your airport’s connectivity? Well, let’s put it this way: If you’re downloading something in Oakland or Milwaukee, you’ll probably say, “Gee, this is working great.” If you’re in Austin or Southern California’s LAX, you’ll probably say something unprintable. See the list from Rootmetrics here. –posted Sept. 22

Headline of the Day: From CBS News – “Could lost luggage become a thing of the past?” HAHAAHAHAHAAAAA –posted Sept. 22

Pig on a plane: Southwest Airlines played host to Sammo Hog (see photo below – it’s from his Instagram account, naturally) who appears to have charmed most of the passengers on his recent flight to Los Angeles, according to the UK’s Daily Star which carried the slightly misleading headline, “Passengers shocked to discover THIS beast on their plane.” But pity the poor pig who was on a US Airways flight a couple of years ago; that 70 pound porker (name unknown) reportedly got kicked off his plane because he was ‘disruptive’. Apparently, the pig howled [howled – a pig?], but even worse, “the big brown pig stank up the cabin of the tiny D.C.-bound aircraft and defecated in the aisle.” Oh, dear. Our Sammo, on the other hand, was said to have behaved “immaculately.” –posted Sept. 21

Sammo the Flying Pig
Sammo the Flying Pig

Heroes over horror: The new Clint Eastwood-directed Tom Hanks film Sully continues to do well at the box office. You remember the story of Capt. Chesley Sullenberger; he’s the guy who safely landed his US Airways plane in the Hudson River back in 2009 after a goose attack. Anyway, so far the movie has grossed almost $94 million worldwide. Horror is not doing quite so well, if Blair Witch is any indication; its opening weekend was described as a disappointing $9.7 million; on the other hand, it was cheap to make since they probably didn’t have to pay any Hanksian-level salaries. –posted Sept. 19

Air rage quadruples: At least it did on UK airlines, in 2015 – or so says the BBC (and if they say it, you should believe it). The BBC post quotes a blogger who claims to be a flight attendant who said bad behavior by passengers is typically fueled by drink and drugs [yeah, no kidding] and some “behave like animals.” The blogger then added, “We’re getting to the point where we’re having to be bouncers.” Fine, but – you can’t exactly throw them out of a plane, can you? –posted Sept. 19

Big mess: The Wall Street Journal’s must-read Scott McCartney has another good one on the messes that are LaGuardia and LAX and how looong it takes to navigate these airports. [preaching to the choir here, pal]  It will get better, but but not for awhile. Do we hear Burbank, Long Beach, JFK and Newark chortling in the background? –posted Sept. 15

More Passenger-of-the-Year contenders: According to the Daily Mail, four 20-ish women were tossed off a Monarch flight from Manchester to Ibiza this week for allegedly making threats to other passengers, a row that may have begun with an argument about Nike trainers (sneakers, to us non-UK types). According to witnesses, the young ladies in question supposedly said “they would wait until the seat belt signs went off and then start fighting with all the passengers who had asked them to be quiet”. Oh my! Another witness stated, “They told me ‘you don’t know who you are dealing with and you’ll get dealt with’.” Dealt with! Remind you of anything? Like – high school? –posted Sept. 15

Trashing hotel rooms: When we saw the headline, Trashing a Hotel May Soon be Protected, we immediately thought of the good old days of rock ‘n roll and pictured The Who going to town on a Holiday Inn. Alas, that’s not what Skift was referring to; they meant travelers’ legal right to make derogatory comments on sites such as TripAdvisor. But back to old rockers – they weren’t completely irresponsible! As the Daily Mail reports, Mick Jagger once said, “Be considerate of other hotel guests; trash your room by 10 p.m.” –posted Sept. 13

Two mistakes: A fellow came through the security checkpoint in Baltimore’s airport with two no-nos – a concealed gun and a concealed dog. Both were found via the X-ray machine, and as a TSA spokesperson put it, “It’s difficult to say which of the two was more surprising—the X-ray image of the gun or the image of the dog’s moving skeleton.” Unfortunately, we could find no picture of the dog, so we had to improvise with a stock photo (see below); notice the Beagle pup’s rather prominent side-eye. –posted Sept. 12

Someone's not happy!
Someone’s not happy!

Time to get serious for minute: This is from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration – “In light of recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung about its Galaxy Note 7 devices, the Federal Aviation Administration strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage.” –posted Sept. 9

Don’t do this! If you’re ever in an emergency situation and ordered to evacuate your plane, DO NOT attempt to take your laptop and/or carry-on with you. Yes, sometimes you can get away with it, as folks did during the Miracle on the Hudson flight – but if you look at this picture, you’ll notice the plane is pretty much kind of sinking while everyone stands on the wings with heavy bags in hand – not a good idea! What is a good idea (at least according to a lot of critics) is to see the movie based on the incident, called “Sully” starring Tom Hanks – here is the trailer. [Yeah, we included it in an earlier post, but heck, let’s do it again!] –posted Sept. 8

Bad passenger of the week: Who knows, this guy might even take top honors for all of 2016 (check back with us in December!). Anyway, our hero was on a United flight from Cincinnati to Houston when the pilot was forced to divert the plane to Nashville because (according to the police report): A.) the guy broke one of the plane’s bathroom doors; 2.) he threw up in a sink; 3.) he began speaking loudly in Arabic and whatever he said was probably hard to understand due to his distinctly slurred speech. Upon landing, the 26 year old man told the Nashville cops he was a student at Texas Southern University (go Tigers!) and had 8 drinks before boarding (“lemon drop shooters” by one account). He was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. –posted Sept. 17

Amusing Southwest ad: Thanks to USA Today for pointing us toward the funny ad shown below – and nice work, Southwest – but we can’t help but remember a great Gary Larson cartoon that was very, very similar. –posted Sept. 6

Butterflies in baggage – and much, much worse: A California man was stopped at LAX for allegedly trying to bring a bunch of dead insects through security – including many endangered butterflies – that he sells to collectors. Heck, that’s nothing! We’ve written about a guy who tried to smuggle mammals in clothing which led to one of our all time favorite headlines, Primate in Pants (the primate being a wee slender loris). Then there was that other fellow who put a bunch of lizards in his underwear. Why? Unclear! But how that guy planned to endure a flight with a bunch of geckos jumping around in his Fruit of the Looms is beyond us. –posted Aug. 31

A happy gecko
A happy gecko

Cheap flights: Hey, if you haven’t seen the new and improved Getaway Map, you’re missing out. Seen it? Then check out the Deals Blog, there are some real gems this week. –posted Aug. 31

Best dog airport: If you are traveling with a canine (see explanatory photo below), these airports have the best ‘facilities’ (i.e., water, grass, fake fire hydrants): JFK in New York, Dulles in D.C., Denver, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Reno, San Diego. –posted Aug. 29

This'll melt your cold cold heart
This’ll melt your cold, cold heart

Two more allegedly drunken pilots: The men were removed from a United flight from Glasgow to Newark on suspicion of being intoxicated. Yeah, such a thing is incredibly rare but but (see below) it happens. We’re just glad whoever spotted them spoke up. Passengers, meanwhile, had to wait hours for another crew to show up. –posted Aug. 29

Free meals in coach?? Well, on certain Hawaii routes, says Bloomberg, citing American and Delta, but best of all was this quote from a travel analyst: “When you’re an abused animal, even a tiny pat on the head can make you feel like you’re loved.” Cue the Sarah McLachlan video. –posted Aug. 29

Chocolates for flight attendants: Just saw a story titled, “11 ways to treat flight attendants for a smoother trip” and one way is to bring them a box of ‘quality’ chocolates (see fine quality candy below). The author implies that this could get you some kind of special treatment – who knows? More questions:

1.) Is it legal to bribe a cabin crew?

2.) What’s wrong with a big Hershey bar?

3.) Is it OK to open the box, steal all the caramels, wrap it back up and then hand it to the flight attendant? –posted Aug. 26

"Oh, you shouldn't have!"
“Oh, you shouldn’t have!”

Happy Birthday: The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary (signed into being by Pres. Woodrow Wilson on Aug. 25, 1916). To celebrate, we suggest you visit Yellowstone because it’s even older (144 years) and because it is wonderful. –posted Aug. 25

Mr. Bison says, "Welcome to Yellowstone."
Mr. Bison says, “Welcome to Yellowstone.”

Drunken pilot? John Maguire was pulled off an American flight in Detroit before take-off to Philly after TSA agents got suspicious (apparently they smelled alcohol). As ABC News reported, authorities said his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit for pilots and after pleading no contest, the man was sentenced this week to probation and community service. On the bright side, he reportedly “accepts responsibility” and hopes to fly again. Okay! –posted Aug. 25

Did you fly Hawaiian between July 31-Aug. 12? Might be a good idea to get tested for Hepatitis A because a flight attendant who served food and drink on four flights during that period had it. Although the risk of transmission is reportedly “extremely low”, better safe than sorry, right? –posted Aug. 24

Sully, the movie: It was a big, big story back in 2009 when Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his crippled US Airways plane on the Hudson River without losing a single life; now it’s a big, big movie starring Tom Hanks. See the trailer below and see it in theaters Sept. 9 [yours truly will be there]. –posted Aug. 22

Tipping hotel staff – yes or no? According to a new survey, people in the U.S. aren’t sure whether to tip hotel workers or not. For an expert’s opinion, the LA Times asked the great-great-grandaughter of Etiquette icon Emily Post (who literally wrote the book! – see below) and she said she particularly tips the folks who clean the rooms, “between $2 and $5 a day on the nightstand or a desk, along with a note, thanking the worker for his or her effort.” –posted Aug. 22 

Emily Post's Etiquette
Emily Post’s Etiquette

“My toddler threw up on my shirt”: Poor Raj Purohit; his toddler threw up all over his wife’s shirt on a recent American Airlines flight from Washington, D.C. to LA. The couple tried their best to mop up the worst of it, with other passengers handing them napkins and tissues, but by all accounts, the sodden shirt was completely “unwearable”. So, Raj took off his own shirt so his wife would have something to wear but the flight attendant said, you can’t do that. Eventually a kind passenger lent Raj a T-shirt and life went on, but – sure sounds like a flight attendant who has no clue about traveling with kids, right? –posted Aug. 18

The good old days of air travel: Take a look at the 1963 promotional video for Los Angeles International Airport below for old airlines (Western, PSA, Continental), smiling flight attendants and innovations like baggage and passengers reaching the carousel in a “dead heat.” The men wear snap-brim hats while women favor fur coats. It’s a lot of fun. –posted Aug. 18

Want to make a ton of money? Fly for China, or so says a Bloomberg report which says U.S. pilots are being bombarded with “wads of cash” with some offers as a high as $318,000 a year. –posted Aug. 18

Too sexy for Burbank? TMZ reported that a billboard advertising Mariah Carey’s upcoming shows in Vegas was banned by Southern California’s Burbank and Orange County airports because the singer is not wearing much (just a sparkly-gold cloth as you will see here – and sorry, but it’s a wee bit racy for us to post). But as USA Today notes, neither airport banned it – Burbank just wants more clothes on Ms. Carey and OC is good to go with the billboard as-is. Let us hope no pilots are distracted. –posted Aug. 17

Get ready for ‘private pods’: The Delta One business class suites or pods (32 per plane, see below) arrive next year when Delta gets its first Airbus A350 and will include big TVs, lie-flat seats and doors that close. Heaven only knows what it will cost to become one of these pod people but if the boss is picking up the tab, who cares? –posted Aug. 16

Oooh, cozy!
Oooh, cozy!

Guns, guns, guns: Last week, the TSA found 78 firearms in carry-on bags. Since the Olympics are currently underway, I suppose we should note that this is a record-breaking number but please don’t try to outdo it since you will probably miss your flight and worse. BTW, 68 of the guns were loaded and 21 had a round chambered. Yikes. –posted Aug. 16

Explosive dogs: Or canines that are trained to sniff out explosives, as you will see in this recent training film from the TSA. We noticed a couple of Labradors among the trainees which makes us wonder how they taught these particular dogs not to destroy everything within reach (for the pure joy of doing so, of course). –posted Aug. 17

Brace yourselves: Reuters reports more airline outages are on the way because carriers have not overhauled technology systems for years – systems which date back to the 1960s. –posted Aug. 15

Did you die? From an NPR interview with Peter Greenberg on what constitutes a ‘terrible trip’: “Question number one: At any time during the flight, did you hit a mountain? No, you didn’t. And question number two is: When you landed, did the wings cartwheel and explode into flames? You didn’t have a terrible trip, you had the best trip ever, because you’re alive.” For what it’s worth, travel expert Rick Seaney has been saying more or less the same thing (albeit more delicately) for years. –posted Aug. 15

And the number one item sold in airport stores is: Water, but you knew that. CNN reports  the Hudson Group says five different brands of bottled water topped their best-seller list (with Dasani at #1). The rest of the top 10 includes Diet, regular and Zero Coke plus one candy bar (M&M Peanut, yes!). The only ‘non-edible’ to crack the list: The Wall Street Journal which came in at #10. –posted Aug. 5

Rio scams: According to Skycure, if you visit Rio for the Olympics, be careful which WiFi network you connect to because there are a lot of scammers out there setting up malicious hotspots to steal your info. The number one piece of advice: “Avoid connecting to WiFi networks with the word ‘Free’ in its name”. –posted Aug. 5

Love hurts: The BBC says a 41 year old man flew from Holland to China to meet up with the girl of his dreams (a woman he met a mere two months earlier, online) then waited for her in the airport for the next TEN DAYS before being hospitalized for exhaustion. The BBC story includes a photo of Mr. Lonely which we don’t have the heart to run here. Surprisingly, the no-show girl friend actually existed; when an intrepid reporter tracked her down, she said she couldn’t meet her Dutch suitor because she was out of town having plastic surgery. –posted Aug. 4

Hot coffee lawsuit: A report from those scamps at the ever-vigilant TMZ: “American Airlines just got sued by a passenger who claims she was severely burned when a flight attendant spilled scalding hot coffee on her – which begs the question – when did airlines start serving hot coffee?” You have a point, Harvey. –posted Aug. 4 

Pilot takes down passenger: Looking for a hero? Check out the way this American Airlines pilot takes down a passenger after he appeared to shove a flight attendant, argue loudly and more. You will not be surprised to hear the fellow may have been over-served. Video here. –posted Aug. 2

Kicked off plane over Trump – true or false? We stay out of politics but apparently Southwest passenger Kevin (no last name given) does not; on a recent flight he sported a T-shirt adorned with the F-bomb followed by the Republican nominee’s name. Ultimately, Southwest kicked him off the plane and Kevin seemed to think it was due to some sort of nefarious political reasons (which the airline denied). If only Keven had read Southwest’s Contract of Carriage before he dressed for his flight, he would have seen that the airline can refuse to transport “persons whose conduct is or has been known to be disorderly, abusive, offensive, threatening, intimidating, violent, or whose clothing is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.” –posted Aug. 1

Out of work? Check with the airlines: But first, learn to fly. According to the Los Angeles Times, Boeing predicts the airline industry will need 617,000 new commercial pilots and more than 679 maintenance techs. The good news is there’s plenty of time to polish up the ol’ resume since these positions need to be filled “by 2035.” –posted Aug. 1

Drunks on planes: The U.K.’s aviation minister says he doesn’t want to “kill merriment” but he will look at alcohol sales in airports, and here are a couple of recent examples that explain why (and we thank the BBC for this info):

  • “A female passenger punched an Easyjet pilot in the face after being ordered to leave an aircraft before take-off from Manchester.”
  • “Six men on a stag party were arrested by German police after a mid-air brawl caused a Ryanair flight from Luton to Bratislava, Slovakia, to divert to Berlin.”

This is no way to start a trip. –posted July 29

Stories from the Great Southwest Outage: Where were you when the system went down? Ashley O’Bannon McClain and spouse quickly figured out their flight out of Dallas was never going to take off so they drove 12 hours to make a wedding in Denver. And what do they get for their trouble? According to the Dallas Morning News, “Southwest is offering affected customers a 50% off voucher for a future round trip domestic flight.” So tell us, affected customers – you feelin’ the LUV? –posted July 28

Don’t pack like this! The Los Angeles Times reports customs officers at LAX found crystal meth in the lining of a suitcase belonging to a passenger just arrived from Guadalajara – more than 11 pounds! Which could lead to costly overweight baggage fees but in this case, simply led to the passenger’s arrest. –posted July 28

Mummified head through security? No problem! Someone asked the TSA if they could bring the mummified head of philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) through a checkpoint and the answer was, of course (see below). Don’t hold your breath hoping to see him, though; the head is in London and has no plans for any vacation getaways. As far as we know. –posted July 27

TSA on Instagram
TSA on Instagram

United’s Olympic’s ad: This is a terrific video from United Airlines (below) is so good, you may want to go to Rio with them. –posted July 27

Airfare war? Maybe – at least that’s what one travel expert calls the duel between Southwest & JetBlue at the little airport in Long Beach, Calif. (just down the road from mighty LAX). If you want to see what that means for ticket prices, check out the Deals Blog where you’ll find flights out of Long Beach from $39 one-way. –posted July 26

Foodie news: Or at least news for people who like to eat. Its seems Zagat will be changing its “quirky 30 point scale” system to simple one-to-five point ratings. As long as they continue to churn out reviews of overloaded cheeseburgers, we’ll be happy. –posted July 26

New picture: Yes, we changed our top image (again!) in honor of the dog days of summer. Feast your eyes. –posted July 25

Another great air safety video: And another great job by Air New Zealand. This one stars Anna Faris and Rhys Darby but the Chihuahua steals all the scenes. –posted July 25

Europe: USA Today quotes an American Airlines exec speaking in broad terms about demand: “We do expect Europe to get worse” which might explain why we’ve seen so many good deals to Europe. –posted July 25 

Travel nightmare: It was if you were flying Southwest yesterday – and it could still be a nightmare today! Here is the latest. –posted July 21

Best airport for – parking? That would be Salt Lake City (though parking isn’t exactly cheap there). Is it just us, or is this like saying Hawaii is the best destination for finding reasonably-priced flip-flops? –posted July 21

Snake not on a plane: A 3 foot long non-venomous snake named Bread (fuzzy image below!) was enjoying a peaceful train ride in Australia when his owner decided to show him off. This being Australia, people were not worried about themselves but about the health of the snake so they contacted police who confiscated Bread. Said the Brisbane Waters Police Commander, “If I could give one piece of advice, don’t get your snake out on a train.” Words to live by. –posted July 20, 2016

"I was just minding my own business..."
“I was just minding my own business…”

The brutal truth about coffee pots on airlines: Not that the coffee stinks (hey, I drink it), the New York Times just wants you to know that coffee makers on planes are sometimes to blame for flight delays. Partly it’s because of the complexity of these gizmos which have to be built to withstand turbulence. As a plane repairman quoted in the story points out, “You can’t just put Mr. Coffee in an airline” but Joe DiMaggio might disagree. –posted July 20 

American raises club prices: If you like airline VIP lounges, here’s news from American – the airline is raising the price of its Admirals Club membership. Says USA Today, as of July 25 individual memberships (for those without miles status) rise from $500 to $550 annually and family memberships from $825 to $925. Don’t feel bad, prices are also rising for elite members. Worth it? Well, they do offer tasty, free snacks! –posted July 18

How to get an airline to give you the flight you want: First, become chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey like David Samson used the be. Step two as reported by the Washington Post: pressure United Airlines into reinstating an unprofitable route to Columbia, S.C. where Samson just so happened to have a vacation home. He pleaded guilty to a corruption charge this week and could get up to two years in prison but at least he got to enjoy a lot of flights with a lot of empty seats. –posted July 15

“Sryacuse” Airport: Well, that’s what the highway sign said on an on-ramp near the Upstate New York town which is a shame considering how many fine scholars attend the wonderful university there. [Where did I go to school? Why do you ask?] –posted July 15

Farewell, D.B. What? You never heard of D.B. Cooper? Back in 1971, the mystery man hijacked a Northwest Orient plane, demanded $200,000 in cash, then parachuted out over the wilds of the Pacific Northwest and vanished forever. A lot of people think he died; maybe his parachute didn’t open or he didn’t survive the landing but there have been occasional Elvis-style sightings over the years. However, the FBI is now officially closing the case on Cooper probably because they’re sick of chasing down leads that go nowhere. –posted July 13

Sketch of DB Cooper from FBI
Sketch of DB Cooper from FBI – call us if you see him

And the best airline in the whole wide world is: Emirates, or so says the Skytrax World Airline Awards. Qatar was number 2 and Singapore won third place. USA Today says the best a U.S. airline could do was Virgin America in 25th place. –posted July 13

Free dogs: These free canines are either TSA retirees or flunked out of training, so they may not be the sharpest tools in the shed but they’re all Certified Good Boys (OK, we made that up). The dogs are large and “very active” so put on your walking shoes, grab a leash and send an email to AdoptaTSAcanine@OLE.tsa.dhs.gov but you will need to go to Texas to pick up your pup. See more info in this press release (dated last November but we’re told it’s still in effect). –posted July 11

Just an excuse to post a stock photo of puppy
Just an excuse to post a stock photo of puppy

New service to Caribbean island has everyone all excited: Eight airlines have just been given permission to fly to Havana. See the list, and see which U.S. cities the Cuba flights will originate from. We expect the airlines will go nuts later this summer trying to outdo each other with special sales to Havana so keep your eye on our Deals Blog. –posted July 8

Dreamliner news: American Airlines says its snazzy new-ish Boeing aircraft is coming to Dallas in November (and from there flying to Madrid and Sao Paulo). What’s so snazzy? How about very big windows with light dimmer switches at every seat? No more ugly plastic shades, or so we’re told. –posted July 8

Bummer, no Uber: Actually, no Uber and no Lyft either at the following airports (according to the Wall Street Journal): Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Orlando and Philadelphia. But you probably already knew that. –posted July 7

Worst airports: Worst for summer delays, that is, and according to a study by Milecards.com, you’ll spend more time cooling your heels waiting for a flight to take off in JFK or LaGuardia. Most miserable airport overall (supposedly!) is lovely Newark, while the two airports offering the best experience are Portland, Ore. and San Jose, Calif. –posted July 5

Happy Fourth: To our friends in the U.S., Happy Independence Day. If you don’t celebrate the 4th of July, celebrate something because you deserve it and here’s a video of fireworks to get you in a festive frame of mind. –posted July 1

Syringes in underwear: The TSA noticed something suspicious: about a woman coming through the checkpoint in Burbank, Calif.’s airport: syringes in her undergarments. [I must say, the last place I’d hide needles would be my underpants]. Officers also found some drugs so yes, this passengers definitely missed her flight. By the way, here’s a list of surprising things you can take through security. –posted July 1.

Ohio goes into orbit: Well, no, the state does not exactly go into orbit but it did name the airport in Columbus for astronaut (and former U.S. senator) John Glenn. He’s 94 now but still hopes to inspire young people to dream big. –posted June 29

Oh, Spirit, you crazy airline: Which leads us to our headline-of-the-day, “American’s most hated airline wants to fix one thing: being on time”. Bet Spirit’s passengers would like to see that fixed, too. –posted June 29

Kitten: We have bowed to demands from the Cat Lobby and replaced our ‘puppy in suitcase’ image with new ‘kitten in suitcase’ image. Goodness knows what’ll be next. –posted June 27 

Best airport for summer: And the winner (according to Travel Weekly) is Honolulu. Is the airport all that great? Maybe. But maybe the deciding factor was, the airport is in Hawaii! –posted June 27

Just happy to be in Hawaii
Just happy to be in Hawaii

Only passenger on the plane: Due to a somewhat complicated tale of delayed flights and rebookings, Steve Schneider found himself all alone on his Delta flight from New Orleans to Atlanta. OK, he wasn’t all alone. There were some flight attendants and a pilot or two (always useful). Best part of the story was Delta’s response to a reporter’s question: “We’re glad this customer enjoyed a somewhat rare solo experience.” Somewhat rare? Yeah, somewhat rare like an airline saying, “You know, we’re making too much money from bags fees, let’s just drop them.” –posted June 27

Brexit fallout: Tourists, it seems, just won big. Bloomberg says Yanks will get a bigger bang for their buck in Merrie Olde England (as will most visitors). UPDATE: Latest on what Brexit could mean for frugal flyers everywhere. –posted June 24

Slimmer seats: United Airlines wants to make more money and we’re all going to help by losing weight so we can fit in their new airplane seats! As the Denver Post reports, “Cost-savings will come from efforts such as installing slimmer seats and ‘upgauging’ to increase aircraft capacity.” In case you’re unfamiliar with upgauging (I had to look it up), it means shoving more seats on a plane. Oh joy. –posted June 22

New Southwest uniforms: What do you think? The airline gets its first complete redesign of its uniforms since 1996 [photos below!] and if you notice any cabin crews looking unhappy, they have only themselves to blame since employees helped design these things. –posted June 20

New Southwest Uniforms
New Southwest Uniforms – for men
New Southwest Uniforms, Women
New Southwest Uniforms – for women

Walrus watch: A press release from the FAA says the agency is “working to address concerns that low-flying aircraft could cause walruses to stampede and kill their pups or harm humans on the Alaska Peninsula” thanks to changes in Arctic sea ice which is “causing walruses to temporarily leave the water or haul-out’ on land rather than on ice as they have in the past.” –posted June 15

Breaking news: Man sues for small amount of money! That was our biggest take-away from the story of Hooman Nikizad who reportedly filed a lawsuit against the TSA because long lines at security caused him to miss his flight. All he’s asking for is the price of the ticket and the $75 court fee for a total of $506.85. By the way, Mr. Nikizad is acting as his own lawyer. –posted June 14

Flight attendants being trained to be nice: The Wall Street Journal says Italy’s Alitalia is undergoing a ‘charm offensive’ because crew members allegedly lack the customer service gene. One analyst quoted in the piece said, “If you asked for something, like a glass of water, they seemed annoyed.” The no-longer-annoyed flight attendants are even learning to refer to passengers as “guests.” Question: What did they used to call passengers? If you know, be our guest and clue us in. –posted June 13

Bad flight attendant? That’s what one business class traveler must have thought during a recent trip when an American Airlines flight attendant told him, “Shut up and don’t talk to me again, OK?” The dust-up had to do with the meal service; as passenger Ra Nath told ABC News, he wanted the pasta, but they ran out. Bad enough if you’re paying business class prices, but Nath’s main complaint was how come his second row section was served last when there were other rows behind him? In other words, someone else should have gone gluten-free. The only thing the makes us wonder about this pasta predicament – which Nath captured on video! – was Nath’s admission that, “Maybe I could have asked in a nicer way.” –posted June 9, 2016

Interesting bag, excellent video: Watch these two guys in the video (below). It’s an ad for a new Barracuda bag that includes a swivel handle AND pop-up tray table. Best part: the guy without the Barracuda is forced to watch as his pal’s snazzy bag mesmerizes a Kim Kardashian look-alike. –posted June 8

Moving to Canada? Apparently some U.S. residents are considering it because of something that might happen in November. Air Canada wants to help! If you’re on the fence, see the airline’s new video, below. –posted June 6

Sharks on Planes! Southwest has put pictures of sharks on one of its planes (see the video below) to help promote the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week in late July. This will include, promises Southwest, “jaw-dropping” content. –posted June 3  

Puzzled shark
Puzzled shark

Burlesque clothes banned: A dancer who goes by the name Maggie McMuffin (described on her website as the Pelvis of Justice) says JetBlue forced her to change outfits before boarding a flight out of Boston last month. According to the Boston Globe’s photo, the outfit consisted of very short shorts, a sweater with a tiger on it and some striped, thigh-high sock-type things (none of which offended our moral sensibilities so much as our sense of style). We note the Salt Lake Tribune also reported on this story but chose not to include a photo; make of that what you will. –posted June 1

Tapamania: Get ready because June 16 is World Tapas Day. Not city day, not country day, but world day. And if you want to learn more and see the link to delicious tapas recipes, you need to check out Eventurist. And listen to this quick podcast.

LISTEN: Famous travel expert & gourmand Rick Seaney has more.

Kevin Smith returns to Southwest: Back in 2010, we told you how the actor/director/writer Kevin Smith was booted from a Southwest flight for being too big for a single seat (what Southwest likes to refer to as a Customer of Size). He swore he’d never fly them again – well, until now, since it was the only airline going where he needed to be. –posted May 23, 2016

From @ThatKevinSmith
From @ThatKevinSmith

Airline buildings explode on camera: Don’t worry, American Airlines did this on purpose – blew up old buildings at its Ft. Worth HQ to make way for some new ones. –posted May 23

Video from the Dallas Morning News via YouTube

Airport Dog: The FAA just released another in its series of safety videos but none feature dogs keeping runways free of birds which struck us as a grievous omission and that’s our excuse for ending the week with a video featuring Piper the Border Collie aka Wildlife Control Canine. –posted May 20

Man quits job to travel with cat: Richard East decided to travel around Australia in a campervan last year and he’s still traveling with his cat Willow (adopted from a shelter). Here’s a picture from their Instagram account.

Traveling Cat

Instagram image: vancatmeow

Now, let’s stir things up: Willow appears to be a very nice pet, but – would you rather travel with a cat or a dog? [photo of wannabe travel dog below] –posted May 19

Traveling Dog

Stock photo of WHO’S A GOOD BOY??

Find a drone: Want to know if any of your neighbors have a drone? Or if they do, if they registered their drone with the FAA as they’re supposed to do? See this newly released searchable database from the government that finds registered drones by city and zip code. Found one in my neighborhood; maybe you’ve got some too! –posted May 19

Best TSA monster screening ever: That’s our opinion after seeing this zombie monster go through the security checkpoint in Atlanta (photos below!). The sinister-looking fellow was actually quite docile but then he’s a prop from a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. Don’t worry, you won’t be sitting next to this guy but if your dog is traveling in cargo, might want to warn him. –posted May 16

Thanks, #TSAonthejob
Thanks, #TSAonthejob

Monster plane: Notice a theme this morning? A really big plane, the Antonov AN-225 landed in Perth over the weekend and fans of large aircraft turned out in droves. Said one woman, “Some people drink, some smoke, but I just love planes.” [Is this anything like trainspotting?] The plane is bigger than an Airbus 380 and holds more than Howard Hughes’ old Spruce Goose but it’s for cargo only. See the video here. –posted May 16

Unhappy Southwest pilots: Pilots are reportedly unhappy because they say they haven’t gotten a raise in five years but now they’re really unhappy because Chicago won’t allow them to put up a billboard at Midway airport (a big base for guess which airline). The pilots say they were told the billboard could be considered ‘offensive’ as it depicts a uniformed pilot holding a sign reading, “Shareholder returns: $3.1 billion; Pilot raises: $0.” –posted May 13

Looks like these file photo pilots DID get a raise
Looks like these file photo pilots DID get a raise

Violence & hugs: The AP reports a Portland, Ore. man has been indicted for threatening violence against Alaska Airlines flight attendants who refused to serve him a beer last March, prompting the pilot to divert the plane. But that’s not all! The prosecutor alleges the 32 year old passenger also locked himself in a lavatory, pounded on the door while screaming, then demanded hugs from the flight attendants. Hugs. The seemingly mercurial fellow is free on bail while awaiting trial. –posted May 12

The airport? Such a circus: The San Diego airport plays host to the Fern Street Circus troupe this summer (a handful of dates). Look for stilt-walkers and jugglers roaming around. And clowns at baggage claim – which sounds like the perfect plot for Stephen King’s next novel. –posted May 12

Just a file photo clown
Just a file photo clown

And the best airlines are: This is a highly respected analysis – from J.D. Power and Associates – and Alaska and JetBlue both came out winners. –posted May 11

Bye-by bag fees? Two senators from New England want the airlines to ban baggage fees. And it’ll happen when?

When Pigs Fly

Maybe when pigs fly? –posted May 11

Checked-bag tip: When the plane lands, skip the bathroom break. According to a Terre Haute TV station, those few moments are when “many thefts occur” as it gives the bad guys time to grab your bag and exit the airport. [Aside: I’ve taken such breaks after landing but have yet to see any luggage when I eventually make it to the carousel! Though I supposed this could happen.] –posted May 9

Born on a plane: A little boy made his debut a couple of weeks ago aboard a JetStar flight out of Singapore (apparently mom did not expect this!); among those helping to usher the 6 lb. 7 oz. tyke into the world was customer service manager Saw Ler Htu. And the baby’s name? Saw Jet Star. My fantasy name: actress Sandra Oh assists in a birth aboard discount airline Wow. -posted May 9

Mom knows best, 1960s style: We love this vintage, blurry-looking American Airlines Mother’s Day ad urging neglectful children to visit their moms. Watch as Complaining Mom rails against no-good young people who think they can’t afford to visit but really can since airfare costs “next to nothing.” Hey, she must use FareCompare! –May 6

Posted on YouTube by builtfa

Veep star forgets ID at security: Stars – they’re just like us! They too forget their ID at airport security or at least actor Matt Walsh did (he plays the press secretary on Veep). So was he barred from the plane? Nope. They asked him a few questions, made a call and he was on his way (and that’s usually how it works for the rest of us). But – did Walsh’s celebrity play any part in this? Did he pull the “do you know who I am” card? No, he didn’t! Yes, he did try to show the TSA officer his IMDB page for identification purposes but was told, “Don’t show me anything I don’t ask for.” Walsh didn’t find that rude; he said the man was just being professional, just doing his job. –posted May 5

Thefts on planes: Wow – if you can’t trust your fellow passengers, who can you trust? CNN reports thieves aboard an Emirates plane stole $26,000 stolen from a carry-on in the overhead bin (plus a couple of expensive watches) during a flight from Turkey to Hong Kong. According to another report, thefts aboard Hong Kong-bound planes are soaring, possibly because Hong Kong law doesn’t cover “crimes committed outside Hong Kong airspace on planes registered elsewhere.” Another reason, maybe: too many passengers carrying too much cash, and bad guys know this. Remember what Rick says: Leave your valuables at home. –posted May 4

How many flights in a day? See for yourself thanks to a one minute video released by Flightradar24 (below) showing all the flights over the U.S. in a single 24 hour period. Nice music, too. –posted May 3, 2016

Stranded kid helped by cop: A 13 year old boy from Illinois was on vacation with his dad in Los Angeles when his father suddenly died (apparently of natural causes). Due to the ensuing investigation, the boy missed his Southwest flight home but a reserve LAPD officer stepped forward and gave the boy his Rapid Rewards miles so he could fly back to mom. The officer’s name is Drew Terenzini and thank you very much. –posted May 2

Eastwood, Hanks, Sully: Coming in September, a movie called Sully – about 2009’s Miracle on the Hudson – directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Tom Hanks, and, as Variety reports, “shot almost entirely with Imax cameras.” If you don’t remember the ‘miracle’, check out this excellent video from the Smithsonian Channel–posted May 2

Pilot surprises soldier son: United pilot Mario Lopes pulled off a cool surprise by agreeing to fly a military charter plane, the one bringing his son back to the U.S. from deployment in Kuwait. First Lieutenant Lopes, also named Mario, had no idea dad was in the cockpit until he emerged for an emotional hug (video below). At ease, soldiers, nothing to worry about – the co-pilot remained at the controls to fly the plane. By the way, dad is something of a veteran, too; he’s been a pilot with United for 40 years. –posted April 29

JetBlue pilot charged with drinking while flying: The incident happened a year ago when a JetBlue pilot flying from Orlando to New York was pulled aside for random testing and reportedly had an initial blood alcohol level of .111 (the FAA says no flying with a level above .04). According to Reuters, the co-pilot told authorities the man was drinking an “unknown beverage from a cup” both before and during the flight. The pilot resigned in May of 2015; he’d only been hired in February of that year. Memo to Mr. Co-Pilot: Next time, please speak up about any ‘unknown beverages’ before you take off, okay? –posted April 28

Wrong airport: A lass in the U.K. was preparing a big surprise for her boyfriend’s 30th birthday and it was a surprise alright! Her gift – a big trip to Las Vegas – never came off because instead of purchasing tickets departing from Birmingham, England, the woman mistakenly bought airfare departing from Birmingham, Alabama. We can hear you now: “Well, it’s easy to confuse the two” but to make sure this doesn’t happen to you, the Daily Mail has provided a helpful map (see below). –posted April 28

Daily Mail: Two Birminghams
Daily Mail: Two Birminghams

Passenger of the week: A middle-aged man from South Korean remains in custody after an altercation aboard a Korean Airlines flight to Guam last week. As USA Today reports (and remember, these are allegations), first he downed five beers, then smoked in the lavatory, then took issue with flight attendants who cut off his alcohol, then “threatened the supervising flight attendant, lunged at him, tried to punch him, then grabbed him and began dragging him through the aisle.” We can’t top the commenter who stated, “If you can’t go without a beer for a couple of hours you need to hitch-hike.” –posted April 27

Summer job of a lifetime: Iceland’s low cost carrier Wow Air is recruiting four individuals to travel across the world this summer – for FREE – and share their photos on Snapchat. If this sounds good, apply here. The deadline is May 8. Oh, one last thing; they want “creative, fun and interesting people.” [Editor’s note: I knew there’d be a catch!] –posted April 27

Flight attendant enters plea: Remember the JetBlue flight attendant who ran away from customs officials at LAX while barefoot after they began searching her bag which was allegedly filled with cocaine? [see previous stories below] She entered a not guilty plea on federal charges late last week in Los Angeles. If convicted, she could get up to 10 years in prison. –posted April 25

More guns than ever: The TSA just broke a troubling record – last week, they found 73 guns in luggage in U.S. airports, smashing October’s previous single-week record of 68 firearms. By the way, you cannot bring guns in carry-ons, only checked-bags and only if you fill out the proper permission forms. The TSA keeps hearing from folks who say they ‘forgot’ the gun was there, but that’s really getting old. –posted April 25

Denver airport gets train: Hurray! No more driving the 23 miles from Denver to DIA (which can take a whole lot longer than 23 minutes) thanks to a new commuter train that runs to/from the airport and Denver’s Union Station from 4 a.m. to almost 1:30 a.m. Bonus: power outlets on the choo-choo to charge your phones! –posted April 25

Prince is gone: How many of you listened to his music on a plane? We sure did. –posted April 22, 2016

Drunks on a plane? This time, it was EasyJet’s turn. Its plane, heading to Tenerife, had to go back to London’s Gatwick because a couple of young male passengers were allegedly drunk and using abusive language plus one of the guys reportedly assaulted a cop. As a commenter on the newspaper story said, “There’s a very simple answer to this. Stop serving alcohol in airports and on aircraft.” Huh – what do you think? –posted April 22

United gets slammed, ow ow ow: First, United appeared on a new Worst Airlines list (see below). Then, during its first quarter earnings call, a JP Morgan analyst asked, “Does mediocrity suffice?” According to Forbes, United’s CEO responded in general by asking for “more patience.” The call was described as one of CEO Oscar Munoz’s “worst days ever” which is saying something since this is a guy who recently had a heart transplant. –posted April 22

Another best/worst airline list: This one’s from WalletHub and it puts Virgin America at the very top. No surprise there but the big airline that came in last was a little unexpected. No, not Spirit! But the discounter did score a win for most complaints. –-posted April 21

Jet grounded: Which presidential candidate lost the use of one of his private planes because the $5 registration fee wasn’t paid? –posted Aug. 21

Bad attitude: What makes a flight attendant kick someone off a plane? According to the LA Times, it can be a simple matter of attitude: is the passenger cooperative or cursing? One example mentioned was the time Green Day frontman Billy Joe Armstrong was told by a Southwest flight attendant to pull up his baggy pants. His response: “Don’t you have better things to worry about?” That might not have gotten him the heave-ho but he also reportedly uttered a bad word or two. Justified or no? –posted April 20

Hell flights: See the 9 must-haves for any long-haul trip. OK, it might not turn a hell flight into a heavenly experience but it will give you something to do besides counting the number of bare feet on tray tables. –posted April 20

THIS is what we’ll miss: The UK’s Sun has some amusing photos of Virgin America departure boards (thanks to imgur user rootbeer1). No boring messages on these boards! One says, “Have a good flight, muggles” and another (our favorite!) is shown below. Once Alaska takes over, we doubt we’ll see this type of thing, alas, alas. –posted April 18

Virgin Prank Sign
Virgin sign from rootbeer1

Turtles in trousers: The BBC reports a Chinese man was stopped by Canadian border guards “who found 41 turtles taped to his legs and 10 hidden between his legs.” Hope none were snapping turtles! Although his lawyer in Michigan pleaded in vain that the suspect was hardly a sophisticated international smuggler (“hiding turtles inside trousers was not a good way to get them across the border”), the man ultimately pleaded guilty, was sentenced to jail time, then thanked those who nabbed him for putting an end to “the darkness of his greed and ignorance.” Said the judge, “We don’t have a whole lot of cases exactly like this every day.” —posted April 14

NOTE: Stock photo of non-trouser turtle.

"No trousers for me!"
“No trousers for me!”

Pilot does a really, really nice thing: A couple onboard an Etihad flight taxiing on the runway at Manchester suddenly learned their grandson had just been admitted to intensive care in a hospital. The distraught passengers managed to get the attention of a flight attendant, who then told the captain and he aborted take-off to bring them back to the gate. The grandparents were just in time, too, as the boy died the next day. As for Etihad – you went above and beyond. —posted April 12

Impossible fares exist: And when we find ‘em, we post ‘em (on the Deals Blog). That’s what we did with this ‘impossible’ deal from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand for $211 round-trip. Nope, it didn’t last long but you can find these things if you sign up for real-time airfare alerts and you act real fast. —posted April 12

Yoga rage on plane: Last month, the pilot of a United flight from Honolulu to Tokyo’s Narita airport turned the plane around and went back to Hawaii after a passenger became (allegedly) violent. Seems the fellow went to the back of the plane to “do yoga and meditate” but was told to return to his seat. He didn’t want to and “went into a rage” which involved an attempt to “head-butt and bite” fellow passengers that were trying to get him back in his seat. He also allegedly threatened to kill some passengers. Yes, he was arrested. —posted April 11

Lawsuit over Spirit fight: Remember that ugly fight on a Spirit flight caught on video? See “Passenger brawl” below. Now some of the ladies caught up in the melee are suing Spirit in part because – as the Daily News put it – the airline continued to serve the alleged aggressors “copious” amounts of alcohol even though they were clearly intoxicated. In the News story, Spirit says it didn’t happen: “It is not our practice to over-serve alcohol to anyone.” Considering what they charge for water and Coke ($3!) you’d have to be made of money to get over-served on Spirit. –posted April 11 

Skull in the sky: The headline pretty much says it all. “Airport Security Finds Human Skull in German Professor’s Luggage”. This took place in Rome and the professor (of anatomy? human sacrifice? The article does not say) reportedly claimed he bought it as a souvenir for $75. He was charged with illegal possession of human remains and the skull was confiscated so it could be sent to “scientific police” to determine its origin. –posted April 8

UFO sighting? According to a  blog report, an American Airlines pilot may have spotted a UFO – or something a little off – back in January over Utah. This is what we’re told is part of the transcript from the cockpit:

  • American 434: You wouldn’t happen to know what this bright orange square we are flying over is, would ya? [Sure sounds like an airline pilot!]
  • Tower: Uhhhh, no. That’s a good question. I am not sure.

The bright orange square then reportedly flew alongside the plane. Just so you know, the transcript was released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request made by the Mutual UFO network. –posted April 8

UPDATE on Quick-Exit-Flight-Attendant: The media reports the United flight attendant who exited her plane via slide ahead of all the passengers has been fired (see ‘Fast exit’ below). No, we still don’t know why she did this. A Houston TV station spoke to her family but all they learned was she is doing well and “prefers to keep the matter private.” Well, that horse left the barn some time ago. —posted April 7

Pilot delays flight for stupid reason: At least, it seemed stupid to us that an Air India pilot delayed a flight for two hours until he was allowed to fly with his favorite co-pilot. All the news articles make a big point of saying, “his favorite female co-pilot” so make of that what you will. At first the airline told him ‘no’ but when it was clear he was not going to make a move without her, they caved. —posted April 7

Happy Birthday, United: Actually, happy belated birthday since the big day was yesterday and may we say, you look great for your age. Which is 90. By the way, some of us (who shall go nameless!) really, really like the new Stroopwafel snack you get for free in coach – pictured below. —posted April 7

United Waffle Cookie

Fast exit from plane: A United flight attendant must have been in a real hurry when her plane landed in Houston yesterday. Before passengers could even start reaching for their carry-ons, she deployed the inflatable slide by the front door, jumped out and slid to the tarmac below. No one knows why she did it – she’s since been removed from flight duties – but it’s happened before! In fact, flight attendant Steven Slater’s slide exit from a JetBlue plane in 2010 was even more impressive because (bonus points!) he was holding a beer in each hand. –posted April 5

Best airline of the year: Oh, dear! The best airline is Virgin America – which is about to disappear! Rats. –posted April 5

Nasty, nasty: The LA Times reports that competition for new Cuba routes is getting so fierce, it’s starting to sound like a presidential campaign! Carriers are flinging “nasty” words to describe rivals including “absurd, capricious, disingenuous, false” and more. So far, though, no airline has insulted another’s spouse. –posted March 28

Drunk pilot? A co-pilot on an American Airlines flight was arrested in Detroit over the weekend on suspicion of drunkenness (he reportedly failed a breathalyzer). The man was first spotted by TSA officers who immediately notified airport authorities to check this guy out. They did, the flight was cancelled and law enforcement is said to be mulling charges while the airline has apologized to passengers. Note: Such behavior is extremely rare but it has happened. –posted March 28

Nice story: A traveler had to reschedule a flight at the last minute due to a death in the family, which meant a $200 change fee plus hundreds more because the fare had risen (and as everyone knows bereavement discounts are basically a thing of the past). While speaking to the airline rep by phone, our traveler idly mentioned the bereavement situation but quickly added, ” I know you don’t really do that anymore.” Whereupon the airline rep dropped the change fee and slashed the ticket price. We’re not sure we should mention the specific carrier but the moral of the story is, when in doubt ask [alright, alright! The airline begins with ‘d’ and ends with ‘a’]. –posted March 25

Headline of the week: Courtesy the New York Post – “Guy gets booted from flight for being a major league a–hole”. The gentleman in question poked a JetBlue flight attendant while on a lengthy rant: she should find another job, she failed in her duty to serve passengers blah blah blah. Got news for you, pal; a flight attendant’s main duty is safety and for the safety of the other passengers the guy was escorted off the plane by the cops. No arrest, though. –posted March 25

UPDATE – Flight attendant arrested: JetBlue’s Marsha Gay Reynolds was arrested in New York yesterday after being accused of dumping a suitcase containing nearly 70 pounds of cocaine at the Los Angeles airport. Two interesting facts have since emerged: She reportedly was runner-up in a Miss Jamaica beauty pageant, and when she escaped authorities at LAX she did so by running down an up escalator – while barefoot. –posted March 24

Kiwis vs. flag: Back in 2014,  some folks in New Zealand thought it was time for a new flag. Eventually a design called the Silver Fern (below, left) was selected as best replacement for the current flag (right) but first they had to vote. According to preliminary results – they’ve decided to keep the old flag. Okay, whatever! But no matter what flutters overhead, New Zealand is still one of the most beautiful places on earth to visit. –posted March 24

Flag images from NZ government
Flag images from NZ government

JetBlue interview questions: Tired of potential-employers asking where you see yourself in five years? Try JetBlue. The discount carrier’s VP of Talent Rachel McCarthy reportedly asks would-be employees two questions: 1.) “Where don’t you want to be and why?” and 2.) “What is a common misperception that people have of you and why?” Possible answers: 1.) I don’t want to be a performing skydiver due to fear of heights and 2.) Many believe I have patience for these kinds of questions but don’t. Tip: Don’t bother memorizing this; McCarthy says she’ll have to come up with new questions now. –posted March 24

UPDATE on Runaway Flight Attendant: Bet you heard about the female flight attendant who ran from the TSA at Los Angeles International leaving behind her Gucci shoes and 70 pounds (allegedly) of cocaine. According to numerous reports, she flew for JetBlue and is still on the run. Suggestion for the  cops: If she jumped into a cab at LAX, she’s probably still stuck in airport traffic. –posted March 23

Terror talk: A man was removed from a United flight out of San Diego for making “comments about terrorism” – no threats, just comments – which reportedly made some passengers nervous. He was not arrested because he didn’t do anything illegal, said authorities, but you could say the timing of his remarks was way, way off in the wake of the attacks in Belgium. –posted March 23

Drone danger: If you own a drone, do not fly it near an airport, got that? A Lufthansa jet nearly crashed into a drone at Los Angeles International the other day and according to one official, “It could have brought down an airliner.” Think that’s hyperbole? Think a drone is too small to do that kind of damage? Well, think about how small a goose is. Geese have brought down planes before, oh yes indeed.

Whoa! Scary moments aboard a SkyWest plane which lost its steering upon landing at Orange County, Calif.’s airport last week; fortunately the brakes worked. The plane had to be towed to the gate and the steering was fixed later. What we don’t know is how the heck the steering got ‘lost’ in the first place.

New hotels for Cuba: Marriott and Starwood Hotels (soon to merge) are working on deals to open some new properties in Havana, which could use the extra rooms thanks to all those U.S. airlines wanting to go. –posted March 14

Bathroom blues: A Republic Airlines pilot reportedly left his bag ‘unattended’ in the Philly airport while using the men’s room and wouldn’t you know, someone stole the gun from his bag (they arrested a janitor). The presumably red-faced pilot was authorized to carry as part of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program but apparently never heard those endless PA warnings about unattended bags. –posted March 14

Best airport food: The little JetBlue-dominated facility in Long Beach, Calif. won first place in USA Today’s 10Best list of airport dining followed by Denver, Toronto, Dallas and San Francisco (see full of the winners here). Restaurants at Long Beach include McKenna’s Burger Bar where Yelpers rave about the thin crisp-cut, shoestring fries covered in seasoning. Sounds good to us, better than the usual crap. –posted March 11

Awww: Southwest’s Rapid Response Team* does it again. They helped a guy quickly change flights and get on another so he could be at the hospital in time for the birth of his son (and if you like cute baby pictures, see little Carter here). *OK, there is no such thing – but the airline is fast & friendly. –posted March 10

Passenger brawl: Ladies, please. Some allegedly intoxicated female Spirit passengers got into a mid-air fight over a too-loud boom box [boom box??]. Authorities boarded the plane landed after it landed at LAX but interestingly there were no arrests. Video from station KTLA: –posted March 10

5 best airlines in the world? Qatar is #1 in AirHelp’s new ranking. KLM was #2, but the airline ranked #3 is one a lot of us have probably never heard of  (hint: it’s based in Latvia). The lone entry from North America was Air Canada at #6. –posted March 9

Blind man vs. TSA: Joe Nerney, blind since birth, claims at least one TSA agent was mocking him as he went through Hartford/Bradley security last week. Investigations are underway. –posted March 9

Quick, what’s the longest airline route? If you guessed Auckland to Dubai, you get the free pack of peanuts! The Dallas Morning News lists the others and Texas and California figure prominently (as does the Boeing 777). –posted March 8

JetBlue is looking for a few good pilots: If that’s you, check your wallet first. According to the Orlando Sentinel, tuition for the four year program at JetBlue University in Orlando will set you back about $125,000. However – every grad gets a job offer. –posted March 8

Headline of the Day: Wait for it – Why In-Flight Pajamas Still Matter. [We wouldn’t know!] –posted March 7

Flights to Cuba: These airlines want to take us there – American, Alaska, Delta, Southwest, United and JetBlue – but the decision rests with the Dept. of Transportation. Wanna go? See our useful Cuba Travel Guide. –posted March 7

Pilot makes threats: A year ago, an Italian pilot for an unnamed airline was stopped at Rome’s airport just before take-off after threatening to crash his plane with 200 passengers, if his wife left him. She immediately alerted authorities who nabbed the guy. Why this incident has been kept secret all this time, we do not know. –-posted March 7

Eventurist is here: I’m not much of an app person but I do like this one (yes, I know I work for the company, I’d like it if I didn’t). Don’t want to go anywhere? You’ll still like Eventurist for the gorgeous images alone [video below] but you might change your mind about travel once you see all those cheap flights. –posted March 4

Chocolate onboard: Air Berlin is hiding Lindt Easter bunnies on its planes [see photo]. That’s worth a trip. Or two or three. –posted March 4, 2016

Air Berlin Easter Bunnies
Air Berlin Easter Bunnies

And no one got killed: The Today Show’s Matt Lauer worked as an air traffic controller the other day. Don’t worry, most of what he did was in the simulator and “I managed to leave the simulator without causing any major accidents.” No word on minor ones. A lot of interesting info in the video below: –posted March 4

Best destination: We designate Orlando – in late April – because that’s where to find the National Pie Championships. One of last year’s winners was a dreamy concoction called Going Bananas Pie (photo below!) and in answer to your next question, here’s how to find a cheap flight to Orlando. –posted March 3

Going Bananas Pie
Going Bananas Pie

Smokin’ flight attendant: Well, metaphorically-speaking. A rookie flight attendant with American was arrested by the FBI for allegedly setting a fire in a lavatory during a Dallas to Detroit flight. According to media stories, the guy reportedly confessed – though no one seems to have a clue as to motive. –posted March 3

Smokin’ passengers: We know you can’t smoke on planes; now we know vaping is officially a no-no too. –posted March 3

Spring Break cheap/expensive: Some popular spring vacation spots are way, waaay up in price, but some are really, reallly cheap. We’ve got a chart! –posted March 2

So long, George Kennedy: The Oscar-winning actor (for Cool Hand Luke) starred in four Airport movies back in the 1970s which may have been the only time a film hero was an airplane mechanic. He died Feb. 28. Mr. Kennedy was 91. –posted March 2

Don’t wear these at security! The TSA discovered a pair of silver platform shoes (photo below) adorned with bullets and gun barrel stiletto heels. No, they weren’t Lady Gaga’s, they belonged to an unidentified traveler passing through Baltimore’s airport who was – surprise, surprise – delayed at the checkpoint. Tip: Even replicas of guns or realistic looking toys are a no-no with the TSA.

from Twitter: @TSAmedia_LisaF
from Twitter: @TSAmedia_LisaF

They made her move: An 81 year old female passenger did not take kindly to the El Al flight attendant who wanted her to change seats (so an ultra-orthodox male passenger would not have to sit next to a woman) but she moved anyway. They chose the wrong lady to mess with, it seems; Renee Rabinowitz, who escaped the Nazis with her family as a child, later became a lawyer and is now going to sue the airline. –posted Feb. 29

Kicked off plane: Dan Nykaza was told there was “too much weight” on his recent American Airlines flight from Chicago to Salt Lake City so they kicked the 175 pound man off the plane. Two mistakes: they offered him a $200 voucher for the inconvenience although he was due more under federal involuntary bumping rules (American reportedly did revise it upwards and apologized) and Nykaza says he has platinum status with the airline’s miles program and every carrier knows you don’t mess with those guys. –posted Feb. 29

Mac hack attack on plane: A stranger approached a USA Today reporter after both got off their American Airlines flight and said, “I hacked your email on the plane and read everything you sent and received.” Luckily, he was just showing off for the reporter, letting him know this kind of thing was possible which prompted another of the paper’s reporters to write a column, “Using public Wi-Fi is like posting on a Times Square billboard.” Beware. Wi-Fi on planes is public. –posted Feb. 26

Bathroom botch? We love the headlines in the New York Post and this one says it all: “Woman says United Airlines opened her luggage and peed in it.” United issued a vigorous denial (and the complaining passenger seemed to have no problem washing the allegedly stained clothes herself); nevertheless, the airline bought her a new bag anyway. You decide if it was a gesture of goodwill or to shut her up on social media. –posted Feb. 26

Pop goes the weasel ear tube: Why your ears pop on planes and how to fix it. Tip: Gum is good (but don’t stick it on my seat). –posted Feb. 24

Everybody comes to Rick: Including the LA Times because Rick Seaney knows all the airfare info, but as always he told FareCompare about the third successful fare hike of 2016 first. –posted Feb. 24

We’re getting fatter: When it comes to obese passengers, aircraft manufacturer Airbus says, let’s try one-size-fits-all bench seats! The story (on CNN) includes a chart showing how much wider average passengers have gotten over the years and yes it is depressing. –posted Feb. 24

Most hated airlines: Hated on social media, that is. According to Fortune the three most-reviled airlines are Spirit, Frontier and American. That last one’s a bit of a surprise and so’s the most-loved carrier, Korean Air. –posted Feb. 19

Cuba, si: USA Today reports that several airlines will apply to fly to Cuba (and here’s what to know about visiting Cuba). The question no one can answer, it seems, is when we can go. –posted Feb. 19

Airport paparazzi: Even wonder how photographers know to show up at certain airport terminals just in time to shoot movie star arrivals? According to the New Yorker, “At least one employee of Delta Airlines [sic] supplies TMZ with the names and itineraries of celebrity passengers travelling through Los Angeles and New York.” Hmm. –posted Feb. 18

The rich get richer: Sometime next year, American Airlines will serve “elegant and free restaurant-style meals” in its lounges but don’t get too excited; as Brian Sumers reports it’s limited to “travelers who buy the most expensive tickets” which disqualifies most FareCompare shoppers because we like cheap flights. Oh, well, at least we can avoid that crappy airport food. –posted Feb. 18

Can’t complain: A congresswoman from California says airlines make it too hard to file complaints and she wants legislation to make it easier. Apparently she has not read FareCompare’s post on How to File a Complaint for Any Airline or Security Problem. –posted Feb. 18

Hell flight: The New York Post called a recent Delta flight from the Dominican Republic to JFK a hell odyssey becaus the four hour trip took 30 hours. Problems including turblence or as one passenger put it, “I’d never seen someone use the airsick bags before, and I saw several use them on this flight.” Try un-seeing that.  –posted Feb. 18

The TSA stinks? That’s what comedian Hannibal Buress told Seth Myers on Late Night but quickly added, “The organization stinks but it’s [got] good people.” Hey, it’s not the TSA packing all those guns, knives and grenades in carry-on bags. –posted Feb. 18

Got a good story of your own? We’d love to hear it.

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Updated: December 5, 2016