Wednesday, May 02, 2007

trying to keep this thing me....

I will post something soon, I promise...

Delta is out of bankruptcy...with a terrible new paint scheme.

Skybus is coming into the picture...without a website...

Airtran is still the man... :-)

Lots to talk about...

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Evan, Temporary Kiwi

I refer you to Evan's blog, LifeintheFens, for regular updates on his current trip to New Zealand. Sounds like he's having an incredible time--warm temperatures, scenic views, kiwi wine and delicious food. He'll be posting tons of pictures soon, so stay tuned.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Jet Blue Fiasco

By now you've all heard about the debacle that last week tarnished JetBlue's formerly stellar reputation indefinitely. Leaving passengers stranded on planes for eleven hours, canceling flights after promising a regular schedule, failing to provide customer service representatives both in person and over the phone: these add up to an unprofitable quarter, a public relations disaster and promises from the CEO that JetBlue will now offer a Bill of Rights guaranteeing passengers compensation when such failures occur. Whether this dramatic--let's hope not merely nominal--response can stop the bleeding remains to be seen.

A recent NY Times article made a good point: under smooth operating conditions, JetBlue's organization worked well. Employing fewer customer service reps than the legacy carriers (most of JetBlue's reps are stay-at-home moms who field calls from the comfort of their living rooms in Salt Lake City--an unconventional arrangement, to say the least. Perhaps the women work in trios; okay, I've been watching too much Big Love), the airline could afford to offer lower prices and more amenities. But in a crisis, this lean system collapsed; the airline had no way, contractually, of making the stay-at-home moms work beyond their shifts, and no company can generate more employees overnight. JetBlue also lacked a system for coordinating scattered crews and summoning employees who were at home or on vacation. This explains the long duration of the airline's cancellations--far after the snow melted and the runways cleared; and far after competitors restored full service. JetBlue gambled and lost. Its management figured the storm would fizzle out and pass quickly, so it canceled no flights in advance. Consequently, it was left with tons of angry passengers crowded in airports believing their flights would leave soon. Of course, they did not, and a crying CEO is but little consolation to a passenger who might have returned to the comfort of her home rather than spending the night, with false hopes, in a dirty airport.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Shuttle Bus Disaster

I'm surprised this story hasn't received more attention. Two people, a passenger and a driver, died yesterday after shuttle buses collided at Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. It appears one of the buses crossed the center-line and struck the other bus head-on. Fortunately, there weren't many passengers aboard either shuttle. I've always worried about such shuttle buses; particularly crowded ones where passengers are forced to stand, often awkwardly astride their luggage, sometimes pressed against doors, poles or the front windshield.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

...or is this blog dead?

In attempts to jumpstart this forum back to life...

First, snakes on a plane, then scorpions on a squirrels on a plane.

It was reported that an American Airline flight from Tokyo to Dallas was diverted to Honolulu after pilots reported that they heard a rodent skittering above their heads in the cockpit, amidst a field of wires and controls behind the cosmetic paneling. The perpetrator, a squirrel, was later captured. It has yet to be revealed how the animal gained access to the airplane in the first place.

Sounds like a good call to me. Considering the cause of SwissAir Flight 111's crash in Nova Scotia almost 10 years ago, electrical issues and failures are nothing to play around with on commercial airliners.

Perhaps these stories validate a recent dream of mine being trapped with a nest of Black Widow Spiders on a plane...yuck!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Pilot is Dead

A Continental Airlines flight departing from Houston succumbed to an emergency landing yesterday after its pilot died. Fortunately, the co-pilot took over and flew the plane to safety. A new crew later steered the plane to its Mexican destination. No word yet on what the crew told the passengers; it's also not clear precisely when the pilot died or why. But Continental seems convinced his death owed to natural causes. A stark reminder of why we need multiple pilots aboard a plane!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Trots On Your Trek

I hesitate to introduce such an unsavory topic as food poisoning, but a recent outbreak of Norovirus at a Hilton hotel near Dulles airport compels me to do so. If you're like me, your biggest travel fear is falling sick, particularly on an airplane, train or cruise-ship, where the bathroom facilities typically leave a lot to be desired. Many of our fears center on food that's undercooked or served past its expiration date. But norovirus poses a unique threat. It's transmitted from employee (whether chef or server) to customer via the improper handling of food. In a classic case, the person preparing the food fails to wash his hands after using the bathroom, and then contaminates the food he's preparing with the virus. In the case of Norovirus, the preparer needn't be sick; he may be a mere--and yet mere is not the right word!--carrier of the virus.

More so than most forms of food poisoning, Norovirus is highly infectious; it explodes through a population. In this Hilton example, over a hundred people at the hotel fell sick in a short space of time--forcing a shut-down and the redirecting of guests to nearby accommodations. Norovirus also made a recent appearance at an Olive Garden in Indianapolis, sickening 370 people. Although it passes quickly, the virus generates projectile vomiting, diarrhea and, if one isn't careful, dehydration.

Yours truly knows Norovirus firsthand. A couple years ago I was socializing at an evening wine and cheese when I began to feel quite sick--seized by stomach cramps and a growing pressure in my chest and throat. I escaped the party and made it home just in time to begin a horrendous stretch of vomiting that lasted until the wee hours of the morning, when, afflicted with cramps so bad I could barely walk, I awakened my roommate Kristen, who kindly and dutifully drove me to the emergency room, where I convalesced thanks to the restorative power of intravenous rehydration. Unfortunately, the projectile vomiting--and in particular, the vomiting of red wine--inflamed my esophageal lining and gave me an overnight case of acid reflux disease that plagues me to this day, albeit in attenuated form. The health department later determined, after surveying scores of other students who fell sick, that our vomiting owed to Norovirus transmitted via salsa at a Mexican restaurant. Needless to say I haven't returned to that establishment.

Thankfully I was near home when the nefarious Norovirus inflicted its damage. I shudder to think how I might have felt had the cramps hit me on a long-distance flight or a week-long cruise (Norovirus is famous for spreading like wildfire through cruise ships). When feasible, you might consider eating at home on the day before you travel (Norovirus usually takes 24-36 hours to replicate sufficiently to cause illness) and packing your food for the journey. Peanut butter sandwiches work well, as do crackers, chocolate bars, dried fruit and cereal bars. Not the most glamorous fare, I concede, but surely preferable to being bent over an under-sized toilet on a turboprop making a mess of things as a rambunctious child and his impatient mother stand outside, tapping on the door and asking, "what's taking him so long in there?"