Some sad breaking news, not many details are known yet, but here’s what is being reported so far:

  • MH 17, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200,  flying from Amsterdam (AMS) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) with 280 passengers and 15 crew, had its transponder signal disappear while flying over the Ukraine.
  • Malaysia Airlines has confirmed via Twitter that they have lost contact with the jet.

Malaysia Airlines Tweet

AP Malaysia Airlines Flight Shot Down

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“Cool Ranch” flavored Doritos are known as “Cool American” in Europe. Burger King in Australia is Hungry Jack’s. Cocoa Krispies are Choco Krispies in Mexico, Coco Pops in Australia, with different mascots as well. As frequent travelers you’ve probably seen many of these, but check out this video from Yahoo! and presented by BuzzFeed for a full rundown. Thanks to Mark for Yahoo! for sharing.

Cool-American-Doritos

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Could someone please tell me how an Alaska Airlines flight between Salt Lake City and San Jose, Ca. is going to make money? Because I can’t see it. In fact, if you believe in that flight, don’t read this column, where the assumption is that the flight is ridiculous.

Forbes contributor Ted Reed outlines why he thinks Alaska needs to make nice with Delta in order to avoid an “unwinnable battle” and to benefit from the future revenue that Delta’s international flying while bring to its Seattle partners.

Here’s a snippet of the article, check out the full text here. What are your thoughts?

Of course Alaska wants to fight back against Delta, the arrogant intruder from the South.  And who can resist backing the relatively small airline with deep community ties that it built up over 66 years? The problem is that the battle has pushed Alaska to act like an angry kid, telling Delta that if it doesn’t stop, Alaska will hold its breath until it turns blue. The fact is that Delta has no choice but to build a Seattle hub. Delta is one of three global U.S. carriers and it needs to offer Asia service – particularly China service — from a West Coast hub, where it can gather passengers from the states to the east, all 45 of them. The best U.S. West Coast hub is San Francisco, where United is long established.  For years, that has left Delta and American, as well as United, fighting it out at LAX, a place where nobody can win.

It is easy to forget that Alaska and Delta are partners in a code share agreements.  I don’t know all the details of why they enabled their relationship to break down. My sources say that the accountants who run Alaska understandably insisted on squeezing every last penny out of the relationship, rather than backing down a little bit on price and rather than giving Delta passengers preference over passengers from other partners.

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In last week’s “Arrivals” newsletter, AA management provided employees with the latest status of the fleet repainting for both AA and US. Here are those details which will see the final new livery repaints (B737-800) occurring at the end of 2017:

AA Repaint Schedule

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“Sometimes on a plane we have to use our wits to find solutions to problems that arise with limited resources just like MacGyver used to on the TV show. Ever jerry-rigged a stuck door with butter? Become a fashion stylist — for babies — at 35,000 feet? Read on!”

Betty continues spilling her secrets. Thanks to Mark from Yahoo! for sharing a new weekly series called “Confessions of A Fed-Up Flight Attendant” written by “Betty”.  Below is the seventh entry from the series, you can check out the full post here and a new one each Monday.

Problem: Stuck Door
Solution: Butter and a Maxi Pad

One day the bottom of the first class lavatory door was sticking, and it was sticking really badly, so that one person on the inside had to coordinate with another person on the outside — one pushing, one pulling — in order to get the door open. Needless to say, it was really inconvenient.

What we really needed was some lubricant, but we don’t carry any WD-40 on board. So I started thinking of what he had available that would act as a lubricant in a pinch. It was a morning flight, and we breakfasts to serve…. Butter! I didn’t want to just spread it on the floor of the bathroom for fear someone would slip, and then we’d have a whole new problem.

So I got a maxi pad out of the lav. I spread the butter all over the maxi pad, peeled off the adhesive strip, stuck it to the bottom of my shoe, and then used my foot to rub the door jamb back and forth. I kept on rubbing in order to blot up most of the butter. And, sure enough, it did the trick!  When we de-planed and a new crew came on board, I told an incoming flight attendant, “If the door sticks, just put butter on a maxi pad!” Yes, they looked at me like I was nuts.

Problem: Dripping Air-Conditioner
Solution: Maxi Pads

When I was laughing over the butter story to a male flight attendant, he told me he uses maxi pads all the time to catch the drips from the air conditioning units that trickle down through the overhead bins and drip on the passengers. He told me, “People give me the strangest looks when they see me coming out of the lav with maxi pads in my hands!”

Problem: No Diapers
Solution: Maxi Pads (do you sense a trend?)

People constantly pack things in their checked luggage that they really need to pack in their carry-on — like diapers. (Some parents are super smart.) Usually when that happens, I look for another parent who’s traveling with a baby and ask if they have a spare diaper. This time, there were no other babies on board. So I pulled the synthetic pillowcase off a pillow and ripped two holes for the legs in the bottom of it. I put a maxi pad in between the leg holes — and voilà — it worked really well. It’s amazing how many uses we find for them.

Problem: Soiled Baby Clothes
Solution: Pillowcase

When a toddler threw up all over himself and his shirt, the parents didn’t have any spare clothing with them. So I pulled a pillowcase off a pillow, poked a hole for the head and two for the arms, and that kid looked downright stylish in his pillowcase shirt!

Problem: Toxic Bathroom
Solution: Vodka

And no — the solution wasn’t to drink. (Though I wish I could have.) Here’s the scene: Flying from Los Angeles to Kona, an older man was in the first class lavatory for a really long time. When he finally exited there was a foul smell, but that unto itself is not out of the ordinary.

My male flying partner, who was investigating what another passenger called an “unholy mess,” bending over and saying “I think I may throw up!” after looking in the lav — now that’s unusual.

I looked inside and was equally horrified to see number two smeared on the toilet, on the seat, and all over the door. Now I only had a few choices at 35,000 feet. I could lock off the bathroom, but it’s a 5-hour flight and on the 757, the other lavatories were all the way in the back of the airplane. Since there’s only one aisle that’d mean when we were out with the carts no one in the front of the airplane would have access to a lav. This didn’t seem fair to the passengers.

So I took some deep breaths, got latex gloves out of my bag, and hesitantly entered the “brown zone” — how in the world did he get poo everywhere?! I assumed he had an accident in his pants and was trying to clean himself up and kept getting it everywhere, or he was really disturbed and was doing some sort of painting from hell. I was in there a long time. It was revolting. And in the end I used vodka to sanitize the area.

It’s instances like this you may never know are happening while you’re settled in watching your TV. So the next time we’re saying thank you as you exit the airplane… maybe you should say “thank you” right back!

Hope your flight is fecal free!

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These are some pretty fantastic views of Lake Michigan, but the view will be even better for tonight’s 4th of July fireworks celebration. I checked in and was upgraded this morning before 9am to a room on the 32nd floor (no suites were available). Pretty sweet vista upon entering…those boats are snagging spots for tonight’s show:

W Chicago Lakeshore09 W Chicago Lakeshore10 W Chicago Lakeshore11 W Chicago Lakeshore12 W Chicago Lakeshore13

The trip was planned last minute so I didn’t even realize that the fireworks are set off right near the pier directly across the street. Even if your room has no view, the hotel has set up a special viewing area with a BBQ and cash bar for tonight. You can even bring up to two guests!

The room is great as well and the hotel just completed a $38 million dollar redesign…

W Chicago Lakeshore06 W Chicago Lakeshore03 W Chicago Lakeshore01 W Chicago Lakeshore07 W Chicago Lakeshore08 W Chicago Lakeshore04 W Chicago Lakeshore05

Full trip report coming soon…

It’s actually a miracle that I even arrived. My flight yesterday afternoon from LGA to ORD was canceled as was almost every other flight to ORD by any carrier from any NYC airport…this is for another post but persistence pays off and I’m also shocked by one airlines lack of notifications and irregular ops recovery when compared to their two largest competitors. Anyway, instead of flying all day on this routing -> NYC-MCO-ORD, I was happy to secure myself a direct LGA-ORD flight at 230am for a flight less than 5 hours later. More on that next time.  Happy 4th to all!

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Cathay Pacific opened The Bridgethe airline’s sixth and newest passenger lounge at Hong Kong International (HKG) last October. The lounge is located on Level 5 of the West Concourse near Gate 35, and is open to both First and Business Class passengers. Cathay says the lounge offers “understated luxury”.

The Bridge consists of North and South wings, each extending from the central Reception area. The North Wing features The Bakery, which offers freshly baked bread and pizzas, as well as sandwiches, pastries, Asian and Western soups, and fresh salads. The North Wing also features the iconic Long Bar together with a television lounge and general seating area. The South Wing features The Bistro, a self-service area where you can enjoy a variety of high-quality Asian and Western hot dishes and cold food selections, including desserts and salads. At the Coffee Loft, you can obtain freshly brewed coffee and specialty tea, as well as freshly baked muffins, pastries and cookies. The nine Shower Suites located in the South Wing are furnished with natural Travertine stone, complemented by oak slat walls.

The Bridge is open to First and Business Class passengers, Silver or above Marco Polo Club members, and Sapphire or above oneworld members departing or transiting in Hong Kong. Opening hours are from 5:30am until the last departure.

Cathay Pacific commissioned world-renowned architectural firm Foster + Partners to design The Bridge. Developed with a more residential design intent, The Bridge makes passengers feel relaxed and “at home”, and is the ideal space in which to unwind before a flight. Cathay Pacific Chief Operating Officer Ivan Chu said: “The opening of The Bridge raises the bar for premium ground products and services even further. Our significant investments in offering the very best to our passengers on the ground and in the air will continue in enhancing their overall experience when flying with Cathay,” Chu added. The opening of The Bridge means that Cathay Pacific now has six lounges at its Hong Kong hub, offering passengers an unrivaled selection of lounges, each with its own individual identity.

This is part three of an eleven part trip report from my third and most recent trip back to Thailand.

Regionally Related:

The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report34 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report35 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report36 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report33 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report02

The South Wing

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The North Wing

The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report37 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report38 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report39 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report40 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report41 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report42 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report43 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report44 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report45 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report46 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report47 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report48 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report49 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report50

Shower Time

The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report54 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report55 The Bridge Lounge Cathay Pacific HKG Hong Kong Trip Report56

The lounge is extremely modern, clean, has excellent wifi, and multiple outlets at each seat. The staff are what you would expect with Cathay, someone came over to refill our drinks and to see if we needed anything every few minutes. The lounge was also quite empty, I counted 26 total other passengers in both wings.

Now, remember this lounge is for First and Business passengers. Looking for ultra luxury? Check out these First Class HKG lounge trip reports- Trip Report – Cathay Pacific Private Day-Break Room & First Lounges – Hong Kong & Cathay Pacific First Class  777-300ER Hong Kong (HKG) – Vancouver (YVR) – JFK

Need help planning an award trip? Consider Juicy Miles assistance for the best possible award pricing and routes using points and miles!

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“Don’t want your movie purchases to appear on your hotel folio? Now you can pay with your credit card via the mobile app. We can email you a receipt or arrange for you to pick up a paper copy at the front desk.” Hah, that was the update I received for my STAYConnect Mobile app when checking which applications were recently updated on my iPhone.

STAYConnect Mobile

Not a movie fan? Not sure what STAYConnect is? Check out this post - Never Touch that Dirty Hotel Remote Again – Great New App …if you are a frequent hotel guest this app is definitely worth a download!

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This week Betty shares 15 tips to keep ourselves, our fellow passengers and, most importantly, our flight attendants as happy as possible when we fly this summer.

Betty continues spilling her secrets. Thanks to Mark from Yahoo! for sharing a new weekly series called “Confessions of A Fed-Up Flight Attendant” written by “Betty”.  Below is a snippet of the sixth entry from the series, you can check out the full post here and a new one each Monday.

 1. Think about your outfit for your airplane trip. Not how you look but how you will feel! People get on airplanes dressed in ripped shorts, flip-flops, and a tank top and then complain that they are freezing?!? Whenever I fly, I always have a scarf or jacket I can put on if I’m cold or use as a pillow.

2. If you’re traveling with a pet you might want to ask your vet about a light medication for your animal. We call it “doggy dope.” It will lessen the stress on your furry friend and you both will arrive at your destination a little less harried!

3. I know it may sound basic but wear socks or shoes when entering the airplane bathroom. You’d be shocked at the number of passengers who go into the bathroom in bare feet. Men don’t have the best aim even when they’re on the ground; you can be sure that in a small space and with rough air, the bathroom floor is not exactly germ-free!

4. Airline tickets used to be booked by professionals. Today consumers do it themselves online, with price being the only factor they consider. Big mistake! When booking online, you need to consider another important factor: the time you have between connecting flights. If you only have 45 minutes or less to connect to another flight, you’re basically flirting with a very stressful running-through-the-airport situation.

5. My favorite packing trick is to bring clothes that are old or you’re not crazy about and then just leave them behind during your trip. Your closet gets cleaned out and you have more room in your suitcase for purchases. And as an added bonus, if you’re traveling to a developing country, you can give those items away! Now you’re thinking: “Lovely… you’re giving dirty old clothes away?!” That doesn’t have to be the case. Lots of times you buy something and it just doesn’t fit perfectly or it’s not your color. So it sits unworn in your closet. Why not just pack it, wear it, and give it away to someone who can use it? I once gave this green velvet shirt from the Gap to a woman in Morocco. She was so happy you’d have thought I’d given her gold!

6. Ohe best new trend I’ve seen is the preemptive baby apologies. I was on a flight a few months when I saw a passenger with a baby putting little bags of candy on the seats around her. The bags had a note attached that read: “Hi, my name is Jordan and I’m five months old. Sometime during the flight I may get hungry or fed up with sitting on my mom’s lap. So I may cry a bit. Just know that my parents are going to do everything they can to keep me happy and quiet so I don’t bother you!”

Check out the rest of the list using the link above!

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Imperial Capital analyst Bob McAdoo downgraded United yesterday, saying it will take the carrier years to catch up with its competitors and recommended that the Dulles hub be closed. His chief arguments are the overlap with Newark (EWR), located 230 miles north and the fact that “local passengers prefer flying from DCA”.  Hmm, 230 miles is a long way (5 hours with current traffic conditions on I-95) and I’d imagine the last thing anyone in DC wants to do is fly up to New York to make an international connection. DCA of course has slot and mileage restrictions (1,250 statute miles in any direction nonstop).  Anyway, here’s his viewpoint. What do you think? Courtesy of TheStreet:

“From a trading perspective, shares of UAL may continue to move upward as sector sentiment remains positive,” McAdoo wrote. However, he said, “United’s presentations and published plans (indicate it) will take at least four years to close $2 billion of the gap on American and Delta .”Importantly, during those four years, Delta and American will be similarly working to increase earnings,” he wrote. Year-to-date, United shares are up 10%, while Delta shares are up 43% and American shares are up 76%.
Regarding the presentation United executives made at the November investor day event, where they outlined a $2 billion program of cost and revenue improvements:

It “seemed more likely to be found in a typical operating department’s annual budget presentation than in a corporate presentation as to how United’s results would be lifted to record levels,” he wrote, noting that adjustments such as reducing overtime “will not close the gap with Delta and American.” What United should do, McAdoo argued, is to close the Dulles hub, given its proximity to the hub in Newark, N.J. Other airlines have realized synergies by closing hubs that are close together, he said, and United has already moved to close its redundant Cleveland hub. Moreover, local passengers to Washington generally prefer to fly to US Airways’ hub at Reagan National. McAdoo estimated that at best, Dulles flights can get only 20% to 30% of local traffic to Washington.”United would not operate two payroll departments, so we wonder why it would operate two hubs only 211 miles apart?” McAdoo asked. “Both hubs connect traffic from the eastern third of the country to Europe (and) connect north/south domestic traffic. By eliminating the smaller of the two hubs, United would see outsized savings and improved profitability across the entire United route network.”

The Washington hub was created to compete with Continental’s Newark hub. The two airlines merged in 2010, yet “almost four years after the merger, it is still competing,” McAdoo said. “Today the Dulles hub is the smallest in the northeast, carrying fewer passengers to Europe than Newark, than Delta at JFK or American Airlines/US Airways in Philadelphia.” In fact, Newark, with 32 daily departures to Europe, is the largest and strongest of the four. Yet curiously, United flies Boeing 757s on two-thirds of its flights to Europe. “Typically a carrier would place its largest aircraft in its largest hub, especially if the hub were slot-limited,” McAdoo wrote. “By upgauging these aircraft, we believe United would be able to move traffic currently connecting to Europe over IAD to EWR.

“United’s cuts in Cleveland set the standard for whether to unwind the Washington Dulles hub,” McAdoo noted. In Cleveland, he said, 17 markets with less than 10 local passengers per flight and 16 markets with generally 11 to 30 local passengers per flight were eliminated as of next month. Using the same metrics in Dulles, 65 spoke routes would be cut.

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Air France, taking a cue from Lufthansa, says their new business cabins will have seats capable of being swapped out for economy seats during the slower / more leisure driven travel periods like summer. Courtesy of Australian Business Traveller:

“We need to be flexible to maximize revenue,” said Air France-KLM Group Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac, who flew from Paris to New York last night on the inaugural flight featuring the new shell-style seats. “We wanted to be able to change the design quickly.” “In the summertime we have a drop in business class demand and we have more leisure demand. Until now we weren’t able to be flexible because the seats couldn’t be changed quickly.”

Of the 40 flat-bed business seats being installed  on the 777s, 24 will be able to be stripped out to accommodate 60 coach-class passengers, a net gain of 36 people per flight. Business cabins in 44 777s (about 40 percent of the long-haul fleet) will have the new seats by summer 2016. Each seat will cost $72,000, or almost double that including in-flight-entertainment systems. The business seats, which can be removed overnight by maintenance crews, will be arranged in a four-abreast 1-2-1 layout so that no passenger has to pass another to get get out, compared with the current seven-abreast 2-3-2 offering.

Air France New Business Class

Bloomberg reports that

Based on the Cirrus model from Zodiac Aerospace (ZC) SA also used in Delta Air Lines Ltd., American Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (293) jetliners, the seats were modified by U.K. designer Mark Collins to add more foot-room and fake leather instead of plastic. The chosen color-scheme is cream and gray, except for the red interior of a personal storage cupboard. Collins said the design aims to evoke a period in the 1950s and 1960s when French designers were experimenting with new industrial processes and Air France was seen as the ultimate in luxury. Lufthansa said it’s “version change” seat layout has been deployed across the long-haul fleet for a decade, though with the introduction of complicated entertainment systems berths are generally swapped around only for periods of several weeks or more, rather than as little as one day as in the past.

Business class not sweet enough for you? Check out - Air France Debuts New La Première Luxury Suite – Fresh High Def Pics

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