Not Your Average Travel Stories + Video: Week Ending Sept. 6

This week: Crazy gadgets, celebrity scandal, hungry goats. And a darn nice video, too.

LISTEN: FareCompare’s Alex Williams and Anne McDermott with bonus fun facts!

Strange, Weird, Unusual, Odd!

How to look cool on a plane: Just wrap what’s called a “B-Tourist” gizmo around your seat and voila! Instant privacy. Sort of. This is wide band of elastic fabric (see it here) that stretches from your seat to the seat in front of you, isolating you from – well, seatmates, for one – and considering some of the lulus we report on here, that can be a good thing. Of course, if you have to get up to use the bathroom, unhooking this thingie could prove tricky.

Flyers don’t like fees: Shocking, we know but according to a new poll, a lot of travelers don’t like the extra steps involved in paying a bag fee, for example. Our advice: Don’t pay at all, use a carry-on (except if flying Allegiant, Frontier or Spirit, all of which charge for carry-ons).

Attention Spirit lovers, haters and bloggers: If you’ve ever wondered how to get the words naked, celebrity and scandal into a single blog post title, wonder no more. Thanks, Spirit Airlines!

Malaysia Airlines faux pas: The airline has come under fire for a contest about favorite destinations called, “My Ultimate Bucket List”. As we all know, ‘bucket list’ is a term for things you wish to do before you die and in light of the two deadly disasters the carrier suffered this year, the contest is – uh, shall we say – inappropriate? [Malaysia agreed and all references to ‘bucket list’ are gone]

No legroom? No problem: If your laptop is ever slammed shut by the reclining seat in front of you, here’s a couple of rational, common sense solutions. Plus info on the bad passengers who prompted us to come up with solutions.

Forget reclining seats, worry about birds: Last year, 96% of all plane vs. wildlife incidents involved birds but airports are fighting back and doing a pretty good job. Want to know if the Wright Brothers ever got hit by bird strikes – or Air Force One? Check this out.

Pssst – wanna buy a plane? Boeing is having a tough time unloading its early version of the Dreamliner aircraft – the 787s built when so many problems were reported – or so says the Wall Street Journal which suggests the company may have to offer steep discounts.

Monster bugs: Oh, dear. Customs agents at San Francisco’s airport seized 20 live giant millipedes (these guys are a foot long). Fun fact: Some people keep giant millipedes as pets and they can live to be 10.

O’Hare’s goats return: Goats – and sheep, llamas and burros – have returned to O’Hare to cut the  grass and eat the poison ivy and other ‘unwanted vegetation’ that will help the airport limit the use of toxic herbicides. By the way, these hungry creatures are far away from the planes so as USA Today notes,we shouldn’t be hearing any stories about take-offs or landings being delayed at O’Hare by a jackass running around on the runway.” No, they’re usually on the planes. Which brings us to our next item.

Bad passengers: The inventor of the Knee Defender doesn’t seem to blame the passenger who used the gadget last week to prevent the seat in front of him from reclining (which prompted a fight and diverted the flight). He blames the airlines for not giving people’s knees enough room.

Amusing pre-flight safety video: Now it’s United’s turn to unveil a snappy video instead of the boring fasten-your-seatbelt speech (see below).

VIDEO: We like the kangaroo scenes best (at 2:30).


Updated: November 7, 2014