A Delta passenger spent two nights in jail after he grabbed the arm of a flight attendant while rushing to use the restroom. Apparently the aisle was blocked, and when the passenger asked if he could use the business-class restroom, he was denied. He then pulled the flight attendant's arm as he tried to get into business class. The FBI greeted him upon landed and put him in jail for two nights.
The moral of the story? Be patient. More interesting, though, is that the passenger was denied use of the business-class restroom. The Wall Street Journal's Scott McCartney did some digging, and found that TSA regulations restrict passengers to the restrooms in their seating class. So the flight attendant who prevented the passenger from using the business-class bathroom was simply following the rules.
So the next time you have to use the restroom on a plane, don't run, and certainly don't push, pull or otherwise move the flight attendant out of your way. And maybe if you ask nicely a sympathetic flight attendant will let you use the forward cabin's bathroom. Maybe.
It may have taken awhile to get off the ground (pun intended), but the dream of in-flight Wi-Fi is fast becoming a reality. Most of the major U.S. airlines—including American, Continental, Delta, JetBlue, and Virgin America—are now online in the skies to some degree. The only problem is: Airplanes are public places, and the Internet is chock-full of smut. But rest assured, the airlines are handling the situation in a balanced way.
Whatever prurient websites you may enjoy in the privacy of your own home is your business. But when you're innocently looking up soup recipes on your laptop in 18A and your neighbor in 18B is salivating on his keyboard, someone has to step in. With American and Delta both offering the Gogo service from Aircell, it's not surprising these two airlines have decided to ask Aircell to include porn-blocking software in Gogo. (Presumably the airlines are installing Wi-Fi on their planes to bring in extra revenue, so it would be interesting to see if any of the carriers is tempted to offer an "upgraded" service whereby the porn-blocking software is turned off. Only in first class, of course.) I'm assuming the other carriers will follow suit.
There's no word yet on what actions airlines will take to stop passengers from viewing illicit photos or videos stored on their hard drives, but my guess is flight attendants who see computers displaying such imagery will confiscate the offending machines faster than you can say "first amendment."
One issue lost in this debate is the privacy of those who aren't looking at dirty pictures. While some of the people surfing on the plane may want to share the contents of their computers with you, you may not want your fellow travelers watching you conduct online banking transactions or writing that break-up email to the person you just left behind at the airport.
I'd rate this latest move by airlines to maintain an air of civility in the cabin as neither too permissive nor too draconian. It won't be a cybercafe in Amsterdam's red-light district, but it won't be North Korea either.
The image of a jumbo jet pulling up to the gate is not unlike that classic movie poster from Jaws, which features the massive shark's teeth rising menacingly toward the swimmer—but in a good way! It's hard to say why exactly, but I've always been partial to jumbo jets. My earliest flying memory is of a transatlantic crossing on an Aer Lingus 747, and the behemoth planes have held a certain allure for me ever since. Which is why I'm somewhat saddened that USA Today is noting the decline of jumbo usage by Delta and other U.S. carriers.
According to the article, on an average day, U.S. airports see 143 flights on wide-body jets like Boeing 747s and 767s, almost a third fewer than just one year ago: "Delta and American have scheduled the most wide-body service, with 65 and 54 flights per day, respectively. On average, United scheduled 22 flights per day, US Airways two, and both Continental and Northwest none."
Obviously, the trend doesn't look good, but let's not forget some of the advantages of the big birds:
Business travelers love 'em. They've got more quality seating than smaller planes, which means there are more chances at an upgrade.
There's just more of everything. Higher ceilings mean no bumped heads for taller folks, more lavatories translate to less knee-squeezing, and greater overhead bin space results in fewer bag-cramming injuries.
Two aisles! Yep, these double-barreled beauties keep passengers moving smoothly at all times.
On the downside, and this is especially true for older models, jumbos burn through fuel faster than their pipsqueak peers. USA Today quotes MIT engineer Bill Swelbar as saying, "The average wide body has 248 seats and burns 1,937 gallons per hour, while the average narrow body has 148 seats and burns 876 gallons per hour." With airlines still reeling from high fuel prices, the last thing they want to do is guzzle more gas. And given the raised awareness of how global warming is affected by air travel, airlines don't want a carbon footprint any bigger than it has to be.
It's not that jumbos are being hunted down like some great white shark that's got a fondness for water-skier flesh. These noble beasts still have their place in the skies, but perhaps we are witness to their slow decline. All I know is that when the last 747 makes its final runway taxi, I'll be waiting at the gate, nose pressed to the glass, waving goodbye.
Airplanes have gotten a bad rap lately. Whether it's bloggers griping about cattle-car seating, columnists complaining about the latest checked-bag fee, or reporters investigating safety violations, the glory days of air travel seem to be behind us. But maybe, just maybe, there is a new hope. A way forward that would unite the titans of industry with the passenger in 6B.
What is this path, which has so much promise, yet has proven so elusive, you ask? Well, it's in front of you right now, and it's called the Internet. Yes, the World Wide Web into which we are all woven may just bring these opposites together—if Delta's exciting new venture comes to fruition, that is. The Atlanta-based airline is going "all in" by planning in-flight Wi-Fi for its 300 mainline domestic aircraft. Other airlines, including JetBlue, American, and Continental, have flirted with in-flight Wi-Fi, testing it on certain planes or certain routes, but Delta is ready to bring it to the masses, hoping the new service will bring the masses to the airline.
Of course, like any new service, Delta is counting on this to bring in some revenue. In-flight Wi-Fi will run $9.95 for flights of three hours or shorter and $12.95 for longer trips. It's not exactly cheap, but if you're using it for work, you won't get any raised eyebrows when you submit that charge on an expense report. If you're more of a recreational user, it'll cost you about the price of an onboard lunch box. Let's hope those of us in the media will give Delta credit for innovation, even if it comes at a price.
On your next Delta Air Lines flight, you could listen to the throbbing roar of 120-decibel jet engines. You might endure Mildred, sitting three rows back, who has a hearing aid and won't stop bleating about her favorite tuna casserole recipe. Or … you could tune into one of Delta's 30 new audio stations.
The Atlanta-based airline is upgrading its entertainment offerings with "a new line-up of 16 broadcast and 14 audio-on-demand channels." No details on what those channels will be playing, but they should make 3,500 songs available —enough to fill up a decent-sized iPod and certain to get you through a coast-to-coast flight. In addition to the tuneage, there'll be interviews with musicians and DJs. One other really cool feature is that passengers will be able to access the new system during boarding and disembarking. So while you're jamming to the latest from the Jonas Brothers, your seatmate may actually be trying to leave the aircraft. Expect a poke in the ribs, at least.
Delta, which worked with Pace Communications and DMI Music & Networks to bring to market what looks to be a solid addition to the airline's flight experience, is effusive in its praise for the new audio. According to Jake Frank, Managing Director of Global Product Development and Delivery at Delta, "The addition of DMI Networks' programming is a great complement to our current entertainment offerings and will provide our passengers with even more music programming choices than ever before." To which I say, "Bring it on!"
Are you eagerly anticipating some new sounds in the cabin, or will you miss the engine noise/recipe rundown of days gone by? Please comment below.
Have you ever gone out on a sunny spring morning without your jacket, only to realize how cold it really is? Now you have an inkling of what the paper tickets at Delta are feeling. The airline has decided to stop issuing ticket jackets altogether, leaving countless poor plane tickets with the chills and potentially jeopardizing the health of who knows how many more.
I, for one, am outraged. Who's going to stand up for the little guy here? Is this really any way for a civilized society to treat its plane tickets, which have taken us all over the world for more than a century? By ripping off their only clothing and pretending they'll be just fine without any outer layer at all?
Oh sure, Delta will say it's eliminating wasted paper so as to cut costs, and isn't it better for the environment, and 97 percent of travelers use e-tickets anyway, blah, blah, blah. That logic might fly down at corporate headquarters in Atlanta, but in the real world, we know that food, clothing, and shelter are basic human needs. Are we to deny paper tickets their humanity by stripping them of item number two from this essential list? Are we really prepared to go that far?
Let's take a step back here. Maybe Delta will listen to reason. Maybe it isn't too late to remember how cold it can get in some of the destinations these tickets may find themselves. Each of us can do our part. If you're in a knitting group, consider donating your time to create tiny woolen jackets for needy tickets. If you have carpentry skills, a simple pine box would at least keep tickets out of the wind. Got a voice? Sing a protest song in support of ticket rights.
The future (and possibly a fully-clothed plane ticket) is in your hands.
With airlines wringing money out of passengers like water from rain-soaked wool socks, it was most encouraging to stumble upon Delta's plan to create new, more commodious airplane seats for coach class.
What? No more feedlot fun with 200 of your closest strangers? No more olfactory guessing games about which of my seatmates had the onion soup for lunch? No more need to request an annulment from the guy in the middle seat if I want to use the bathroom?
dvice, the new seats are called "fixed cocoons" and will be installed in Delta's Boeing 767 and 777 economy-class sections by 2010. The unique shape and position of these seats will let you rest your head to the side without fear of drooling on your neighbor's shoulder. The staggering of the seats means the dude behind you won't be tempted to employ the Knee Defender to counter your recline. Heck, there's even a footrest, not to mention space for all to exit.
This might just be the best news to come out of the airline industry since JetBlue started offering DirecTV.
In case you've been living under a rock for the past 24 hours, let me get you up to speed on some big airline news: Delta and Northwest have agreed to merge, thus creating the world's largest airline. The deal is still pending government approval and, like any other unfathomably large business transaction, it will take years for the whole thing to be truly finalized. It's worth something like 20 bajillion dollars, and there are other very large numbers involved as well.
In honor of the day's news, I think it's worth listing off the five greatest mergers of all time. As you'll see, these mergers are not limited to any one category (unless you know of a way to connect innovations in fine dining to mythical creatures), but each of these has, in some way, changed life as we know it. Here we go!
5. Breakfast for Dinner There is nothing in the world like a big stack of pancakes or French toast at 8 o'clock at night. Throw in some bacon and eggs and coffee, and you have a dinner fit for a king. It's difficult to say why breakfast for dinner is so indulgent, but it is, just like eating ice cream for breakfast or watching daytime television when you're home "sick."
4. The Minotaur The merger of man and bull was brief, thanks to Theseus, but how cool would it be to have Minotaurs roaming the lands? It would be terrifying, of course, because the Minotaur devoured Athenian boys and girls offered as sacrifice, but I think you'd be okay so long as you stayed out of sketchy looking labyrinths (which is generally good advice anyway).
3. The Twinkie-Wiener Sandwich Allegedly created by Weird Al Yankovic in his (very underrated) film "UHF," the Twinkie-wiener sandwich is about as American as a sandwich can get. Processed pastry-like substance meets processed meat-like substance to create a delicious, remarkably unhealthy gastronomic masterpiece. Seriously, do you have any idea what you're actually putting in your mouth when you eat one of these? Does it matter? No, and no.
2. The Traveling Wilburys This merger resulted in the supergroup to end all supergroups: Tom Petty (!), Roy Orbison(!!), George Harrison (!!!), Bob Dylan (!!!!), and Jeff Lynne (…?). Okay, I admit I had to Google Jeff Lynne when I read his name (he was in Electric Light Orchestra, which penned the classic tune, Evil Woman, and which should not be confused with Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem), but still, what a lineup. And seriously, Jeff Lynne is a talented guy.
1. The smart car One part automobile, one part golf cart, one part Rascal motor scooter, this merger is all about gas mileage. And being small. And that's about it. Still, while I'll happily poke fun at this little runt of a vehicle, I firmly believe in the smart car and its value to society. Unless you're moving a couch, a baseball team, or several large boulders, you really don't need a Yukon Denali, OK? All the average commuter/grocery shopper/Sunday driver needs is something about the size of a smart car. Which is also about the size of a Radio Flyer Wagon. Or a shoebox.
I can’t believe it. Here I am, seated at my desk on terra firma, and I just finished watching an airline safety video. I don’t even watch those when I’m at 30,000 feet, much the less at 5th-floor-office elevation. What gives?
Well, the Internet is abuzz with Delta’s new video, thanks in large part to the flight attendant who stars in it. She’s affectionately being called “Deltalina” due to what some say is a striking resemblance to Angelina Jolie. After hearing about throngs of earth-bound Internet surfers watching an airline safety video, I had to check it out.
Well, that’s 4 minutes and 37 seconds of my life I’ll never get back. Yes, Katherine Lee, aka, Deltalina, is an attractive woman with high cheekbones, a long, slender nose, and full lips, but Angelina Jolie? Brad and I don’t think so.
The highlight of the video is about a minute and fifty seconds in when Deltalina tells you that smoking “is not allowed” on any Delta flight. Sounds innocuous enough, but she accompanies this message with a naughty finger wave that apparently makes dirty old men feel like mischievous young schoolboys.
Personally, I like the moment about four minutes in when a significantly less-attractive flight attendant (“we employ all kinds!!”) shows you that your seat can be used as a floatation device and his teeth give that Orbit gum twinkle. More finger wagging and special effects would have made this video something passengers might actually watch rather than just an Internet phenom about a woman who bears a slight resemblance to another woman.