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  • July 31, 2009

    Battle of the “Robot” Customer Service Reps

    Filed under: Airlines — mike @ 1:00 pm
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    Today, we ask the burning question: Who is more virtually pleasant, Alaska Airlines’ Jenn or Continental Airlines’ Alex?

    Both virtual assistants want to answer all of your booking and travel questions, and both seem to genuinely like you. Meet Jenn and Meet Alex, and visit the FareCompare Facebook page to tell us who you prefer.

    July 29, 2009

    The Never Ending Story: Don’t Drink on Planes

    Filed under: Arrested,Drunk,Flight Attendant,Pilots — anne @ 10:49 am
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    A California businessman on a flight from Hong Kong to LAX last year got into a bit of a scuffle (the AP story doesn’t name the airline) – and may be heading to prison.

    He’s been convicted of interfering with a flight crew – a felony – and could face 20 years. Prosecutors said the man had been drinking when he punched an off-duty pilot (who was trying to restrain him) and then punched a flight attendant for good measure.

    The convictee is now looking for a new trial – his lawyer says he had “a violent reaction to what he thought were sleeping pills purchased from a Chinese pharmacy, but the pills turned out to be Ambien.” Does that make sense? Anyone?

    C’est dommage! Worst Airport is…??!!

    Filed under: Uncategorized — anne @ 9:48 am
    Comments (0)
    UPDATE: Some of the quotes cited below are a couple of years old, but there are plenty of recent comments from the website that are just as bad.

    Wow. Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris has some reputation – a stinking reputation, if you go by the comments on the website “Sleeping in Airports”.

    I discovered “Sleeping in Airports” after reading an item in USA Today about the site’s poll on best/worst airports to sleep in.

    Top 5 best airports (based on amenities, friendly staff and comfy seating) included Singapore Changi, Seoul Incheon, Amsterdam Schiphol, Olso Gardermoen and Hong Kong.

    The worst was de Gaulle – which surprised the heck out of me – I’ve been there and don’t remember it being so bad, but whoa! Keep reading for some of the blowtorch comments:


    “Want to live dangerously? Travel via CDG! Want to live even more dangerously? Order a meal at the filthy food-court underground at the old terminal.”

    “All the terminals were full of homeless people who smelled bad [and] touched themselves in inappropriate places.”

    “The guy at the counter said that he would not speak to us because we had the wrong attitude and he would only speak with the passengers with the right attitude.”

    “I was propositioned not once but twice by the same man asking me for casual sex.”

    “I could not believe the filth from hell.”

    And that’s just what the French had to say! Okay, okay, I’m kidding. But one self-styled Frenchman did say he felt “shame and anger” that foreign tourists had to see this.

    Enough with the negative – now let’s hear from people who had GOOD experiences de Gaulle. I know you’re out there!

    July 27, 2009

    Guy Tries to Get Arrested – Breaks Law – Doesn’t Work

    Pity poor Mytchell Mora, a 39-year-old “freelance entertainment news producer.” This guy can’t get arrested!

    Literally. Mora traveled to Cuba, breaking the U.S. travel ban there, and upon his return, ‘fessed up to the Customs folks, and – nada.

    He didn’t even get his purchases confiscated – including his red-and-green souvenir Che Guevara beret!

    His point, of course, is to challenge the travel ban, and I suppose, do away with it. However, this is the fourth time he’s apparently broken the law by traveling to Cuba, with little to show for it. Apparently, no one cares – or else the feds got bigger fish to fry.

    July 24, 2009

    Why Go on Vacation – When You Can Just Lie About Going?

    Filed under: Mystery,Weird — anne @ 11:02 am
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    Gadling, you have the best stuff.

    Like the item about the “European trendwatcher” – who says “an increasing number of people” are planning, not vacations – but liecations.

    That’s where you lie about going away – lay low at home – and I guess go out to a tanning salon where nobody knows you. Add a dash of photoshopped vacation pix, and voila – the perfect liecation!

    Except – flights are so cheap – to just about anywhere these days (and here’s my plug for FareCompare’s Deal Finder, which I really like).

    I mean, why lie – when you could ACTUALLY GO SOMEWHERE AND HAVE SOME FUN?


    July 23, 2009

    New Con-Man on the Block? Kid Pretends to be Airline Exec, Fools Brits

    Filed under: Airlines,Celebrities,Europe,Pilots — anne @ 1:01 pm
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    You remember “Catch Me if You Can” – the movie/book about Frank Abagnale, Jr – a one-time teen con-man who pretended to be an airline pilot? Sure you do – think, DiCaprio.

    Anyway, a 17 year old lad from Yorkshire, England persuaded some British aviation officials that he was about to launch his own airline. He set up “virtual offices”, held meetings, wrote articles for industry publications and – was eventually found out.

    Turns out the kid suffers from a form of autism that (according to his dad) gives him the “ability to recall the exact detail of every airline’s flight schedules” – plus he is a very “enterprising and creative individual”. However, this also tends to make the boy’s behavior “highly challenging.” I guess so.

    Wouldn’t it be great if he could somehow harness all that energy and really make it work for him? I hope he does own his own airline someday. If anyone could do it – and do it right – I suspect it’s this kid.

    July 22, 2009

    Scorpions on a Plane!

    Filed under: Animals,Pests,safety — anne @ 7:44 am
    Comments (2)

    If you like creepy critter stories, you’ve come to the right blog! See our previous posts about “pests on a plane” which include snakesticksmicecrocodiles – and soap-swilling drunks.

    A family flying Southwest from Phoenix to Indianapolis got a surprise during the flight – the dad was stung by a scorpion.

    In case you’re wondering, he told ABC News that it felt “like being stung by 30 to 50 bees all at the same time”. Owwww.

    Nobody’s sure how these scorpions (there were a few of them) got on the plane, but there are suspicions that they might have arrived via the family’s luggage – they are certainly common enough in Arizona – but nobody really seems to know.

    Southwest arranged for medical treatment for Dad on arrival in Indianapolis – and he is reportedly going to be fine. But still – yuck.

    July 21, 2009

    A Belated Salute to the Moon Men

    Filed under: Aliens,Celebrities,Space Travel,Weird — anne @ 1:23 pm
    Comments (2)

    Just wanted to say thanks to the astronauts of the first moon landing – it was spectacular – and nuts to all the hoax believers out there (kind of hard to keep a conspiracy secret for 40 years, don’t ya think?).

    I’ve enjoyed reading the “where are they now” items about all the folks who trod the lunar surface – for example, Alan Bean became a painter (nice); Harrison Schmitt became a U.S. Senator from New Mexico (one term); and Neil Armstrong is as gabby as ever (okay that’s a joke – he is famously publicity-shy – and I think that’s just swell).

    Then there’s Edgar Mitchell – who made a moon landing in 1971 – and who has since championed the cause of aliens. Aliens from outer space.

    Mitchell has been quoted as saying the following:

    “I happen to be privileged enough to be in on the fact that we have been visited on this planet, and the UFO phenomenon is real. It has been covered up by governments for quite some time now.” -Edgar Mitchell, July 2008

    Where did Mr. Mitchell grow up? Why – Roswell, New Mexico. If you ever find yourself there, be sure to try the UFO burger – it’s alieny delicious!

    July 20, 2009

    Fly to Bahamas, Swim with Pigs!

    Filed under: Animals,Destinations,Water — anne @ 11:12 am
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    Here’s what we know about pigs:

    1. Pigs are cute

    2. Swimming pigs are cuter

    3. Swimming WITH swimming pigs is cutest

    By now you’re probably thinking, “How can I swim with these amazing pigs?” Easy: just go to Pig Beach on Big Major Spot Island in Exumas of the Bahamas. Got that?

    Here’s the location explanation from the Bahamas tourism website:

    “A highlight for many vacationers is the famous swimming pigs at tiny Major Cay, a short boat ride from Staniel Cay. Not only is it a great place for snorkeling and beach bumming, it’s a hoot to frolic in the surf with the pigs. Remember to bring a snack for the swimming swine.”

    Just watch where you step (not a good time to forget your flip flops). And thanks, Jaunted.

    July 15, 2009

    Parole Granted for Guy Who Escaped Prison (briefly) via Helicopter

    Filed under: Arrested,Crime,Family,News — anne @ 11:09 am
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    Don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Freddie Gonzales, but he was news back in 1989.

    That’s when Freddie, a convicted armed robber, and a colleague (okay, cell mate) escaped from prison in a helicopter that had been hijacked by his wife.

    Of course, they were later caught and everyone went back to prison (the missus, too) – but you’d be surprised how many people go the escape-from-prison-by-helicopter route. Wiki has tons of examples – including my favorite, a Miami prison break that failed because too many guys hopped aboard and the overloaded helicopter crashed in the yard. Oops!

    There have been a few movies on the subject, most notably I suppose, 1975′s “Breakout” with Charles Bronson. Can’t go wrong with Chuck.

    Meanwhile, Freddie Gonzales is a pretty lucky guy – he’s out of prison and he’s only 41 years old (his wife is out now, too, but I don’t know if they’re still together). However, Mr. Escapee must still undergo another ten years of “intensive supervision.”

    Crime – it does not pay.

    July 14, 2009

    AA Opens Toilet for Pets at JFK, Cats Complain about Hydrant Shape

    Filed under: Airport,American,Animals,Pets — anne @ 12:23 pm
    Comments (2)

    Good news for those of us who will be traveling with pets through the American Airlines Terminal at JFK: the carrier has installed a new “Pet Relief Area”.

    It’s a grassy patch of…well, grass…located on the departure level and it includes a lovely red fire hydrant and a “Mutt Mitt” dispenser (and trash barrel) for getting rid of Sparky’s work product.

    Don’t you love PR-speak? A sample: “Pets that travel have comfort needs, too.” The press release goes on to say this gives our “canine or feline friends a final chance to relieve themselves” before hopping on the plane.

    Have you ever tried to get a dog to go? Taken Sparky outside at midnight – and begged him to hurry up because you were desperate to get to bed? Of course you have. And did he go? Of course he didn’t.

    July 13, 2009

    What’s this Flight Attendant “Red Dress” Craziness Really All About?

    Filed under: Beauty,Delta,Flight Attendant,Spirit — anne @ 9:59 am
    Comments (4)

    You’ve seen the story – Delta’s new “red dress” uniform for flight attendants. It sure is getting a lot of attention, but not because of the way it looks (it’s pretty nice) – nope, it’s getting attention for the sizes it comes in. Or doesn’t come in.

    It seems the red garment is not available in sizes above 18 – although apparently it is available in in navy blue. And the union that represented flight attendants at Northwest, who of course now work for Delta, say – that’s not right. They maintain the red should come in bigger sizes, too.

    However, the union will not say how many flight attendants need the red dress in larger sizes or how many larger-sized flight attendants even want this dress in red (not many, would be my guess).

    Strikes me as a union power play – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But here’s what I don’t get:

    According to the Associated Press, “red dress” designer Richard Tyler says, “I want them to look sexy and great.” Now what do the flight attendants think about that? After all, they are constantly drumming into our heads that they’re there for our safety – and they sure got upset over Spirit Airlines’ “sexy” ad campaigns.

    Flight attendants – what is the deal?

    July 10, 2009

    Doctor Helps Patient on Air Canada Flight, Gets Paid for it

    Filed under: Medical,Money — anne @ 12:28 pm
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    A patient on board an Air Canada flight from Montreal to Park became ill. Dr. Henry Coopersmith offered to help, but was told another doctor had the matter in hand. Coopersmith goes to sleep.

    Then a flight attendant wakes him up, saying she didn’t trust the other doctor, and wants Dr. Coopersmith to take over. He does, and gets the passenger settled down. Coopersmith goes to sleep again.

    The flight attendant wakes him up again, saying he has to fill out this form and that form, and with a sigh, he begins this chore. Coopersmith cannot get back to sleep.

    Since nap time was a total loss, Dr. C decides to ask Air Canada two free transatlantic tickets in executive class. I don’t know if Air Canada laughed in his face, but they countered with frequent flier miles – 10,000 of them. So he took the matter to small claims court – and won a $1,000 judgment (less than a third of what he asked for). The judge noted that another doctor was already working on the patient, and hadn’t asked for Coopersmith’s help – so he deserved something.

    The incident, by the way, happened in 2006. The good doctor was not about to let this one go, was he?

    Postscript: The doctor says he’s going to donate the grand to charity.

    Sharon Stone Did Not Have Air Rage, Says Her Publicist

    Filed under: Beauty,Celebrities,Luggage — anne @ 10:40 am
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    The San Francisco Chronicle reported that on a flight from Montana to Salt Lake, actress Sharon Stone by some accounts, had some baggage issues, i.e., allegedly bringing too much on board – and the paper went on to note that a fellow passenger said, “She made a scene during the entire flight.”

    But the Chronicle, a fair-minded publication, also points out that Stone’s “high powered publicist” Paul Bloch said the whole thing was a big misunderstanding, that a flight attendant “shouted” at Stone, and “it was his client who was the victim.”

    The Chronicle, by the way, used to be run by Stone’s ex-husband. Not for awhile, though.

    July 9, 2009

    Laughing Drunk Hands Out Free Money in Airport

    Filed under: Airport,Drunk,Europe,Mystery — anne @ 12:38 pm
    Comments (1)

    My nominee for Man of the Year:

    A 59 year old Brit flew from Manchester to Palma de Mallorca – but didn’t go to the beach. Instead, he hung out at the airport and handed out thousands of dollars (okay, euros).

    This we know: the man was laughing continuously – and was really, really drunk (we know this because the cops said so, plus he was, uh, filthy – let’s leave it at that).

    Spanish police say our hero apparently had just come into an inheritance – and when they detained him, he had about $72,000 on him – but no one knows how much he gave away – or why. Hope he didn’t start out with a million, or that’s gonna be some hangover.

    The cops put him on a plane and sent him home.

    July 8, 2009

    When United Airlines Breaks Your Guitar, Trash Them in a Music Video

    Filed under: Celebrities,Chicago,Music,United,Video — anne @ 10:47 am
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    An eye for an eye is so boring. That’s why I love Dave Carroll (he and his brother Don make up the Canadian band, Sons of Maxwell). When this guy is wronged, he gets even - creatively.

    It seems Dave and Don were on tour last year – and while in Chicago, sitting aboard their United plane, one of the guys spotted baggage handlers tossing guitars in the air. Their guitars – including Carroll’s $3,500 710 Taylor guitar.

    So, Carroll, who seems like a pleasant and engaging fellow, begins the process of getting reimbursed for the damage to his instrument. A process that goes on for weeks. Then, months. Bottom line? Nothing. United won’t cough up any money. (And United, if you’d just respond to my email, I’d be happy to give your side of the story).

    [UPDATE! According to the Los Angeles Times, United spokesperson Robin Urbanski has made contact with our hero, and said "This should have been fixed much sooner". Duh.]

    Eventually, Dave says the heck with it (but I gotta say, he hung in there a lot longer than I would have), but at least he gets a little payback. Take a look at this Sons of Maxwell video called, “United Breaks Guitars”. Terrific song, lots of zingers and – best part – watch for the guitars flying through the air!

    And check out the Sons of Maxwell website here – load up on some of their tunes, they’re terrific.


    July 7, 2009

    Attention Twitterati: Can You Tweet Once a Minute – for 3 Days?

    Filed under: Australia,Twitter,Virgin — anne @ 2:51 pm
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    If you can tweet every minute for 3-days straight – you could win a round-the-world ticket from V Australia.

    Bad news: you kind of have to be based in Australia to enter (which explains the delightful kangaroo at left) – or, you could just play along for the sheer fun of it!

    Anyway, you go to the V website, and they’ll explain how you tweet about why you want to enter – and then you are sent to Los Angeles, where you vie against other Twittering teams (not sure why you have to go there to do it – sort of blows the whole point of a trip to LaLaLand). Anyway, the winning team gets the round-the-world trip.

    Of course, by this time, you’ve probably used up all your available vacation, and will no doubt have to pass the trip along to some deserving person (she said, humbly and earnestly). Get going, it all starts this month.

    July 6, 2009

    Phone App May Someday Book Flights, Do Check In, Call You a Cab

    Imagine have a phone app that would basically take over your life for you – at least when you’re going on a trip.

    The people at quote an airline tech guy as saying, “if you are getting out of your car at the airport, the app that has the details of your flight realizes you have not checked in and lights up and asks you whether you want to check-in.” That has always been my spouse’s job, but I think he’d give it up.

    Want more? The article says such an app could “detect when a traveler misses their connection after an incoming flight has been delayed, and then automatically books a seat on the next onward flight”.

    They say this could be a reality in another 12 to 18 months. Could be.

    Well, that’s good enough for me. Heck, I don’t even have an iPhone, but I’d get this app.

    July 3, 2009

    Here’s a Weird One: Woman’s Silicone Implant Explodes on Plane

    Filed under: Aeroflot,Beauty,Weird,Women — anne @ 12:44 pm
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    Oh, my. Last month, a woman on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to LA was experiencing pain in her chest, and collapsed just as the jet began its descent.

    Turns out one of her breast implants burst.

    Now, ladies, before you get all uh, bent out of shape, doctors said that while the pressure differential may have had something to do with the woman’s predicament – the main problem seemed to be that her implant had been “damaged” before the flight. That’s according to reports I saw (and the woman is said to have recovered nicely).

    Some bloggers have noted that the woman came to the right place. Yes, I know some of you will say, “South America is the capital of plastic surgery!” but we know Los Angeles is THE place for plastic. Good and bad.

    July 2, 2009

    “Naked Man on Plane” Story Not as Funny as First Thought

    Filed under: Arrested,Nudists,Passengers,US Airways — anne @ 11:52 am
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    It starts off like a real hoo-hah – a passenger onboard a US Airways flight from Charlotte to Los Angeles- a 50 year old man from the Bronx – decides to take his clothes off. Every stitch.

    This is where one would normally make a reference to Air New Zealand’s TV ad featuring crew members wearing nothing more than a coat of paint.

    However…it seems pretty clear this guy was mentally ill. He later told the FBI in Albuquerque (where the plane diverted because the fellow would not put his clothes back on) that he hadn’t taken his medication, and he had no memory of anything he’d done on the flight.

    Something else to consider: before the flight took off from Charlotte, a “flight service supervisor” with US Airways saw this man “dancing in a crowded boarding area” but determined he had not been drinking, ergo he was good to go on the flight.

    I realize flight crews/gate agents are not trained psychologists, but I might dig a little deeper if I saw some poor guy dancing (and presumably making a spectacle of himself) in public. Should he have flown? Clearly not. But who was watching out for this guy? No one.

    July 1, 2009

    Complain about LA Airport Noise! But Will They Do Anything About It?

    Filed under: Airport,Frustration,Gadgets,Sleep — anne @ 1:08 pm
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    Sure, Los Angeles’ LAX is noisy – it’s an airport, for pete’s sake!

    And it’s also noisy at Van Nuys (private planes) and Ontario, too. But too much noise is bad, so – thank goodness for WebTrak!

    WebTrak is “a new online noise complaint system…for resident living near the [LA area] facilities”. According to a local wire service, it’s an easy way to report your complaints.

    Well…not all that easy. It took some doing to find this new WebTrak on the Los Angeles International website – so here’s the link to the LAX info, save you some time – but once there, you get a cool map with little planes on it, showing them merrily take-offing and landing. Nice.

    Problem is, I can’t figure out what they do with complaints. It doesn’t say. Surely, someone reads them. Hope so, but…somehow, I figure the residents of Torrance and Playa Del Rey and Inglewood aren’t going to be getting any decibel relief anytime soon. Hope I’m wrong.