24/7 Wall Street‘s / Yahoo‘s “10 brands that will disappear in 2015” actually lists Alaska Airlines as a potential company that might not be around after 2015…what hogwash! Alaska management has said multiple times that they are not interested in selling the company nor do they need to in order to effectively compete. The article doesn’t even provide any new facts to make their case. Instead, it notes the fact that Alaska is one of the last independent carriers, larger airlines have been acquired in the past, and Alaska’s profits and customer service make it a great prize. Additionally, Delta’s desire to gain Alaska’s West Coast routes is mentioned.

Alaska Air Group Inc. is one of the few remaining independent airlines in the United States that is not owned by one of the four larger carriers. Even larger airlines have been acquired: Northwest was bought by Delta, Continental merged with United and U.S. Airways joined with American Airlines. The recent consolidations in the industry have been successful, leading to significant cost cuts. Alaska Air, with its profits and customer service reputation, is the last real prize left. There has been speculation that Delta might buy Alaska Air for its West Coast routes. The rumors have pushed Alaska Air shares higher. Alaska Air is particularly strong in the busiest West Coast markets, especially in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Seattle. It has also begun to challenge carriers in East Coast markets, including several cities in Florida. Revenue and net income have risen steadily over the past five years. And Alaska Air often ranks highest in customer satisfaction among traditional carriers.

On to a few more reliable Alaska / Delta stories…

TheStreet reports that Alaska is countering Delta’s assault with their secret weapon – unified employees (thanks to Mark from Yahoo! for sharing with PMttP readers):

For Alaska the reality of being under assault by a stronger adversary sank in at the end of July, when the carrier reported earnings that beat estimates — yet watched its shares fall 9% as analysts worried about capacity increases in key markets. But Delta’s effort to build a Seattle hub on top of Alaska’s Seattle hub is also having a positive impact for the airline, in that it is further uniting Alaska’s approximately 10,200 workers, 83% of them unionized. It has not escaped the workers that Delta is a largely non-union carrier, one that strongly resisted efforts by the International Association of Machinists and the Association of Flight Attendants to organize its workers following the 2008 merger with Northwest. IAM and AFA are the two largest unions at Alaska. The employees “know Delta is anti-union,” said Tom Higginbotham, president of IAM District Lodge 142. “Their focus is on making Alaska work better than Delta. “The company is definitely doing everything it can to bring everyone together for what it believes is a war,” Higginbotham said. “Our relationship with Alaska over the last five or six years has been very good, and this has strengthened everybody’s willingness to cooperate with each other.” The IAM represents about 3,100 employees, including 2,500 agents and 600 ramp and stores workers. Jeff Peterson, president of the Alaska chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants, said, “Considering Delta is one of our closest code share partners, Delta management isn’t playing very nice. “Many of Delta’s flight attendants seem to have the impression that Delta is going to buy us or run us out of business,” Peterson said. “That opinion must be coming from their management [but] I can assure you that’s not going to happen. Delta does a nice job, we don’t begrudge their employees anything, but we’re here to stay.”

Check out the full article from TheStreet here.

The Seattle Times shares Delta CEO Richard Anderson’s thoughts on the “Seattle Wars” (thanks to Jenny from ST for sharing with our readers):

Some analysts see Delta exerting pressure for an endgame in which the giant Atlanta-based enterprise swallows its smaller Pacific Northwest rival. Anderson deflects talk of that possibility and insists Delta is here “to be successful unilaterally” in a rough-and-tumble industry. “There’s no drama. It’s just business,” Anderson said. “Is Airbus tough with Boeing? Is Apple tough on Microsoft? It’s a competitive marketplace.” Recently, Delta inaugurated direct flights from Seattle to Hong Kong, bringing to 10 the number of its daily international nonstop routes out of the city, six to Asia and four to Europe. Anderson said that adding such destinations from Seattle is “huge for the economic and cultural development of the community.” Delta’s expansion requires building up its base at Sea-Tac. Anderson said the airline has about 2,800 employees based here now and will soon grow past 3,000. “We’re in the process right now of hiring 1,400 flight attendants and 600 pilots,” he said. “A lot of those will end up based here.”

Check out the full Seattle Times article here. 

Related - 

Posted by Adam | 2 Comments

After a Moody’s analyst last week suggested that United reconsider its hub operations to improve its financial position, United is clarifying that they have “full confidence in IAH”.

“Houston is a vital part of United’s network,” the airline said in a statement. “We’ve continued our commitment here and are excited about partnering with the Houston Airport System as they rebuild Terminal D to further strengthen IAH’s international connectivity.”

The Moody’s article stated that:

“If United determines that its choice of hubs is contributing to the underperformance, individual hub airports could come under pressure.” “There are a lot of questions,” said analyst Earl Heffintrayer, lead author of the Moody’s report. “We expect United will adjust their operations. We don’t know how that will look going forward.”

Speaking of the popular “what’s wrong with United” topic, have you checked out Cranky Flier’s post - Blaming United’s Problems on Continental (or Vice Versa) is Exactly the Problem? Makes a lot of sense! Also, don’t skip over the 232 comments from the armchair CEOs ;-) !

So how do we fix this? I don’t know the full answer. Of course, I don’t work there and I certainly don’t know where the bodies are buried. But the real problem is that management doesn’t seem to know how to fix it either. What I do know is that as long as people are publicly blaming the Continental side or the United side, United is going to struggle.

Recent United posts -

Posted by Adam | One Comment

What was the most expensed airline, hotel, and car rental company during 2Q14? What about the most expensed restaurants? For those of you who travel for business, you’ll definitely find the latest SpendSmart report from Certify really interesting.

Leading cloud-based travel and expense management software provider Certify announced the results of its latest business spending report, covering the second quarter of 2014. The report, now in its sixth quarter, tracks spending across major categories such as food, airlines, lodging and car rentals. The most-expensed vendors from last quarter include Starbucks, Delta, Marriott, National Car Rental, as well as Costco, Shell and Amazon. Meals constituted 21% of all travel and entertainment (T&E) receipts, followed by airlines (16%), hotels (13%) and car rentals (5%).

Top movers from last quarter include Subway, which gained the third most-expensed meal vendor spot, beating out Panera; Chick-fil-A, upending Jimmy Jones for the top-rated restaurant; and Seamless, which replaced Starbucks as the most-expensed restaurant vendor in New York City. Fast food continues to rule with business travelers, who submitted most of their receipts from Starbucks and McDonalds. Hyatt earned the top-rated hotel spot, while Hilton was rated as the third most-preferred hotel: neither chain made the list in Q1. Finally, Southwest regained its heady stature as the people’s favorite (though not most-expensed) airline.

This quarter’s analysis for the first time reveals top vendors in the General Expense category, defined as products and services such as cell phone, gas, groceries, office supplies and taxis. Costco topped the General Expense category, winning 7% of those expenses but followed closely by AT&T and Shell, both at 5%.

Some interesting regional data also surfaced this quarter. The top cities for business travelers as represented by percentage of total receipts were Chicago (4%) followed by Houston (3%), New York and Dallas (tied for 2%) and Los Angeles and Philadelphia (both at 1%). The cheapest place for dinner on the road is Philly, averaging $37, while the cheapest lodging is in Dallas at an average $205 per night. The priciest town for dinner and hotel is, as always, New York at an average $71 for dinner and $422 per night for hotel, while Houston came in as the next highest city at $315 per night. The best deal for dinner and lodging over a 24-hour period was Dallas, at $245.

The quarterly Certify SpendSmartTM Report analyzes vendors, expense amounts and satisfaction rating data on business expenses collected directly from end users. Certify SpendSmart reports on millions of receipts and expenses, delivering valuable insights to Certify clients and the business travel and expense industry at large. Certify has been tracking corporate travel and expense data since 2009 and uniquely offers integrated travel booking, travel and expense management and reimbursement in one system.

“Results from our Q2 analysis show that even as the economy improves, value remains important to companies and employees, given the high percentage of receipts coming from low-cost convenience restaurants and discount retailers such as Costco,” says Robert Neveu, CEO of Certify. “Stark differences in food and lodging costs across major US cities should also help companies prioritize travel by location, when they can.”

Delta really seems to have increased their corporate business, the #1 most expensed airline, though with a lower average cost than UA.

Most Expensed Airlines Most Expensed Hotels Most Expensed Rental Car Companies Most Expensed Restaurants by Meal Most Expensed Restaurants

Related - 

Posted by Adam | One Comment

uberX allows anyone with a car to begin a driving career in under two weeks. All you need to do is be at least 21, have a license, personal insurance, and a four door car in “good condition”. Then there’s the background check where you provide your address, driver’s license number, and social security number. If you pass the check, it’s on to the online training course that covers standard operating procedures, how to get five stars, and what not to do. Upon completing the course, Uber sends you an iPhone.

9to5Mac yesterday had an unboxing of  the provided phone:

First off, the packaging is surprisingly great. The presentation made it feel like I was unboxing a high-end product. Very Apple-esque. The first thing you’ll find is an “Uber Driver Guide” which will get you up to speed on using the “Driver” app and best practices when picking up customers. Next up, you’ll get an iPhone. In this box, we were presented with a 16GB iPhone 4s, but it may differ for everyone. Uber also left a small welcome card next to the iPhone. In some areas, Uber includes a “driver light” that can be stuck to a car window, but due to laws and restrictions in certain areas, this package didn’t come with one. Finally, you’ll find a small accessory kit. It’s nothing special, but inside of the kit you get an auxiliary cable, dual-USB car adapter, 6 ft. 30-pin to USB cable, and even a dash/windshield mount for the iPhone 4s.  Speaking of the iPhone, that thing is locked down. Uber is using special profiles to disable most of the iPhone’s features, but you are left with a handful of stock iOS apps. Unfortunately, you won’t find the App Store, iTunes, or Safari as they have been hidden and restricted. Also, even though the Phone and Messages apps are available, they aren’t functional. I’d assume that these restrictions are in place because Uber wants its drivers to do their job, instead of play around on the phone. The only app you’ll actually need on this phone is called, “Uber Driver.” This is the app that you will use to conduct all driver business with Uber. Once signed in and “live,” you will be able to accept rides as they are requested from customers through the driver app.

Last May, Uber ran a driver campaign noting that half of its New York City uberX drivers earn more than $90,000 a year and that those in San Francisco were earning up to $70,000 a year. Yahoo! and Business Insider report on a Washington Post article that claims those figures are almost impossible to actually hit.

It turns out Uber’s data is based on a sample of uberX drivers who drive over 40 hours per week. That figure also excludes the cost of gas, insurance, parking, maintenance, repairs, and paying for tolls. For example, one uberX driver in New Jersey who drove 12 hours in one day says he made $180 in gross fares. So that’s $15 an hour. But accounting for tolls, Uber’s 20% cut, gas, car insurance, vehicle financing, and self employment taxes, the driver really only made $54.50 for 12 hours of driving. So that’s just $4.54 an hour — far below minimum wage. If you want to make a living off of Uber, you’re going to have to drive an insane number of hours. In order to make $75,000 a year driving for uberX in San Francisco, you’d have to work 3,000 hours per year, which is effectively a 58-hour work week, financial journalist Felix Salmon concluded. “I would have to work 80-120 hours a week to make ends meet,” an uberX driver wrote on Quora . “But at least Uber gives me the opportunity to work that much. Most companies will only hire you for low pay at only 35-40 hours a week.” Being a part-time driver for uberX sounds like a much more attractive option than being a full-time driver, even though there’s no way you’d ever earn $90,000 a year. “If you have a Monday-to-Friday day job, but it’s not enough to make ends meet, then you could probably earn an extra $400 per week, net of gas, by working 16 hours a week on Friday and Saturday nights,” Salmon wrote on Medium. “That’s $20,800 per year.”

Still never tried Uber? The current sign up offer is a $30 credit for new riders when being refereed .  Additionally, the person who refers you will receive a free trip up to $30. This is my referral link if you want to use it, as always your support is greatly appreciated!

Related - Google Maps Adds Uber Access for iOS and Android

Posted by Adam | 3 Comments

Who needs room service ;-) ! This is pretty awesome, who would have thought and the final products look delicious too! Egg omelet sandwich, broccoli, hot dogs, pizza, and s’mores. Just watch out for the yolk in the steam holes.   Thanks to reader Liz M for sharing this very cool article with us courtesy of BestReviewsNOTE THAT the pictures below (besides the hot dogs) are in their raw state. You must click on the link above to see the final cooked product..it’s worth it!

We have heard a rumor that some guests use hotel irons to prepare simple meals. Allegedly, it’s the convenience, cost savings, and special diets that drive the behavior. To get to the bottom of this rumor, we took a standard iron and tried to prepare food on it. We started with a hot dog since the cooking requirements are pretty straightforward. Because most hot dogs use pre-cooked meat, all we needed to do was to heat up the dogs. We used the cotton (highest) setting and surprisingly, the iron did a fantastic job of heating up our meal quickly and efficiently.

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Next, we moved over to slightly a more involved task – cooking a non-readymade cheeseburger. We prepared the iron using the linen setting for 5 minutes and then laid out the ground beef onto the base of the iron. We turned on the cotton setting and watched as the meat slowly turned brown after about 15 minutes. While the iron wasn’t able to produce the handsome grill marks that usually come with a barbecued burger, the end product tasted just as juicy as if it were made the old-fashioned way.

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But could an iron prepare a more difficult meal? We tried making one of our favorite breakfast meals: an egg omelet sandwich. We put the egg on the base of the iron and watched it fry. It was a bit disgusting to see the yolk seep into the steam holes on the base of the iron and drip off of the edges, but we carried on.

Using the linen setting on the steam iron, the egg cooked quickly, and we turned our efforts to preparing the ham and cheese for the sandwich. All in all, the final product came out quite tasty, although the toast did seem to burn a little bit more than we would have liked. We recommend heating up the toast with the wool setting (300ºF) to prevent burning.

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Next, we decided to use the steam iron for a make-shift pizza oven. It seemed like a no-brainer. After all, the base of the steam iron perfectly matched the shape of a pizza slice.
We began by spreading out a triangular shaped piece of dough over the iron and then rolled it back to create a crust edge. We couldn’t quite toss the dough like we’re used to with a circular pizza, so we had to stretch it out with our hands instead. We then used the cotton setting of the steam iron to pre-bake the crust for 6 minutes so as not to get “doughy crust” that usually kills most homemade pizzas. From there, the rest of the procedure was pretty normal as we spread the sauce and the toppings onto the pizza and watched it bake. It took slightly longer to finish than usual, but the crust began to turn brown after around 16 minutes, and the cheese fully melted around the 20 minute mark. In the end, the pizza came out of the “oven” in tip top shape. We couldn’t resist taking a bite!

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Steamed broccoli seemed like another logical meal to prepare. After all, we need to put that “burst of steam” button on our iron to the test. We placed an individual broccoli stem onto the iron and switched on the cotton setting. We used the iron’s steam button, and the broccoli slowly began to turn bright green. Some irons don’t allow the steam function to work if the iron isn’t in the proper orientation (pointing down), but the iron we tested managed to have no problem with it upside down, and after several refills of the water tank, the broccoli was ready to go!

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Finally, it was time for some dessert. What better way to use the steam iron holes than to have them double as marshmallow stick holders? The holes were actually just deep enough to have the marshmallows close to the base of the iron and get the proper amount of heat from the iron.

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From there, making the actual s’mores was a cinch. The highest setting on the iron was a good substitute for an open bonfire, and within 10 minutes, the melted Hershey’s milk chocolate was beginning to seep into the base of the iron.

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We don’t know how common hotel-iron-cooking is, but it certainly is feasible. With some ingenuity and a few creative uses of the iron’s settings, you can re-create pretty much any homemade kitchen meal.

So think twice next time you use your hotel’s steam iron. The last thing you want is to show up to your morning business meeting with pizza sauce all over your dress shirt!

Posted by Adam | 4 Comments

Life at 30,000 feet in the air isn’t without its own set of questionably sexual moments — between the crew and the passengers. “There are two flight attendants having sex in the first-class galley!”

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 ninth entry from the series, you can check out the full post here and a new one each Monday.

Flirting with disaster

I was flying to Hawaii and working in the middle galley restocking beverage carts when a woman tapped me on the shoulder. I was in the process of lifting heavy drawers, so I said, “I’ll be with you in one moment.” She poked me harder, so I figured it was something important and set down the drawer and turned around to see her wide-open eyes as she pointed to the first-class galley and exclaimed, “There are two flight attendants having sex in the first-class galley!”

This was a first.

Dubious, I replied, “I’m sure that’s not true.” But she was insistent. So I walked up front and was surprised to see the galley curtain totally shut. Could it be? The male and female flight attendants were both single. I hesitated for a second but then knocked on the wall and slowly opened the curtain.

The female flight attendant was sitting on a carrier (the metal boxes that contain glasses and such), and the male flight attendant was giving her a back massage with a water bottle. I told them that a passenger told me they were having sex in the galley, and they looked about as stunned as the excited passenger had been. So the male flight attendant calmly walked to the concerned passenger and said, “We weren’t having sex in the galley. … We save that for the layover.”  He was joking — but she walked away looking appalled.

We never did figure out why she thought they were having sex in the first place, although perhaps a closed curtain and an involuntary little massage-related moan could lead a hyped-up imagination astray.

You want me to do what?

I am a single flight attendant, and boy have I seen some bad flirting!  Sometimes it’s so weird that you are not even sure it’s flirting.  To this day I’m still not sure about this one.

On international flights we get time for crew rest — on larger planes in a facility upstairs or downstairs, or on smaller planes four passenger seats blocked off by a curtain. I was on a flight to Europe, and it was time for my hour-and-a-half crew rest. A female flight attendant was at the window and I was at the aisle with the curtain closed. As we were getting settled, the female flight attendant that I had met only once before said, “You can just snuggle up to me.” I thought she was joking, and I did a little uncomfortable fake laugh, “hee hee hee hee.”

She said “I’m not joking — just snuggle up to me!” What the heck, I thought. I don’t snuggle with women I barely know — actually I don’t snuggle with anyone at work! All I could think to do was just fake laugh again, “hee hee hee hee.”

And yet she continued, “I’m not joking, either. You snuggle up to me, or you sit at the window and I’ll snuggle up to you.”

All together now: “Hee hee hee hee (uncomfortable) hee.”

Smooth move survivor

During boarding I was walking through the cabin when a male passenger said, “I think you’re sexy.” I looked down and recognized him as Jonny Fairplay, a popular villain from the reality TV show “Survivor.” He said, “Yeah I’m talking to you.” I didn’t know what to do, so I just smiled politely and kept walking.

I told my fellow flight attendants in the galley, and none of them knew who he was. He was scruffy-looking and disheveled, and when I pointed him out to the crew, they asked, “You mean the homeless-looking guy?” Every time I went by him, he would say the same “I think you’re sexy” thing, and it was pretty uncomfortable. Then as we were deplaning I was standing at the boarding door saying my buh-byes, and here he comes walking toward me. Time slowed down because he keeps getting closer and closer, and I begin to realize he is going to try to kiss me. I was thinking, “No, no, no. What are you doing? This is crazy” — and then he gets close enough for his baseball cap to hit me in the eye.

It hurt, but it saved me from an unwanted and uncomfortable kiss. I was shocked and holding my hand over my injured eye. To his credit he looked ashamed that he poked me in the eye, apologized, and said, “Smooth move” before continuing off the airplane.

Isn’t this romantic

On a 767-400 airplane there are jump seats at the exit doors that face the passengers, meaning flight attendants using them have to be aware of their feet placement because you can literally touch knees with the passengers opposite you. These are the least popular positions and usually go to the most junior flight attendants, because you are forced to chat with the passengers you are facing. (Let me count how many times you’re strapped in and forced to endure a 15-minute gripe-fest about air travel. Actually, let me not.)

One evening we were flying to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and I had to sit in one. This creepy-looking, strangely dressed guy was sitting across from me. For takeoff I managed pleasant small talk with him. For landing I strapped into my jump seat, and the guy says, “Isn’t this romantic. … It’s dark with all the twinkling lights outside and it’s just you and me.”

I was thinking this was anything but romantic.

I looked over to my co-worker in a similar seat across the aisle, and she was rolling her eyes and swallowing her laughter. And then I looked at my watch and realized I had about 12 more captive minutes.

Casanova says what?

Another time I was saying “hello” to the passengers at the boarding door and I was wearing our uniform dress. Key point: It’s form-fitting. This first-class passenger in a suit leans in to me and says in a low voice, “That dress is a real ball burner!” and kept going down the aisle.

I was left thinking, “Huh?!” First of all, I had never heard that saying before, and even though I think it was a compliment, it sure was borderline offensive. I probably could have caused a fuss, told him it was inappropriate, and so forth.

But instead it became the joke of the day among the crew. “Oh that coffee is a real ball burner” and “This trip is a real ball burner.” If the gentleman thought that was flirting, I bet he doesn’t get many dates.

Related -

Posted by Adam | 2 Comments

In my opinion this is certainly more likely an attempt to commit fraud at the expense of the missing passengers…but it’s fueled the flame of conspiracy theorists. From the AFP / Emirates 24/7:

Malaysian police have arrested a bank officer and her husband over allegations they stole more than $30,000 from the accounts of four passengers aboard missing flight MH370, an official said Friday. The couple have been held in police custody since Thursday on suspicion of withdrawing 110,643 ringgit ($34,850) from the accounts of two Malaysian and two Chinese MH370 victims, said Zainuddin Ahmad, a district police chief in Kuala Lumpur. Police are also looking for another suspect, a Pakistani man, who is believed to have received part of the money in his account through an online transfer, he added. “We believe he is still in the country. But as to the full particulars of the case — it’s all still under investigation,” Zainuddin told AFP. Zainuddin declined to name the bank, where the woman in custody reportedly worked at for the last 10 years. The Star daily reported that the four bank accounts were with HSBC and quoted HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd saying in a statement that the matter was referred by the bank to the police, declining further comment. HSBC officials could not immediately be reached.

Current theories include: MH370/MH17 being the same plane, a hijacking mission gone wrong, a CIA cover-up, alien abduction, and more.  You can read all the craziness here.

Posted by Adam | One Comment

I’m really not a huge fan of cruises. I’d rather use my miles to get me to a location, spend more than a few hours or a day there, stay at a nice property, and then if I want to visit somewhere else, I can work that location into my mileage itinerary or buy some cheap domestic flights. Anyway, several PMttP readers are big fans of cruising and so for them…10 Cruise Traditions that  Have to Stop Now, courtesy of Fox News:

  1. Embarkation Photos
  2. Lifeboat Drill
  3. Early Morning Disembarkation
  4. Formal Dress Codes
  5. Singing Waiters
  6. Optional Tipping
  7. Tipping for Room Service
  8. Bingo
  9. The Baked Alaska Parade
  10. Bargain Shopping Day

Check out the full article for why each of the above made the list. MJ what say you??

Posted by Adam | 5 Comments

The Secure Message Center on the AMEX and Chase websites were great for multiple reasons. They both offered an easy way to communicate with customer service and often receive a more positive response than you would on the phone. Be it asking to be matched to a new or better sign-up offer, waiving a recently charged annual fee, asking for a credit line reallocation, canceling a card without speaking to the retention department, or even receiving a retention or goodwill gesture bonus. Of course, they could also assist with billing and statement related questions, travel notifications, etc.

Unfortunately, AMEX has completely removed their Secure Message Center (Chase’s is still in place). I logged in last night and could not find the normal envelope icon anywhere on the site. My “contact us” options were only online chat and phone. Perhaps AMEX had enough of the frequently more generous secure message center responses and wants to provide a more consistent customer experience? No word, but here is what I did find:

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 10.24.31 PM

Yep, going forward you’ll only see the “Notification Center” if you have a new message. Otherwise you’ll have to chat online or via telephone. What a disappointment, this was such an easy to use and timely feature of AMEX.com.

Posted by Adam | 6 Comments

This is pretty hilarious, eleven annoying personality types you meet on a plane courtesy of Man Repeller:

The Frequent Pee-er Miles

Someone takes her Dr. Phil tips and Goop guides a bit too seriously, because while celebregurus love nothing more than to extol the virtues of water, Phil & Gwen definitely did not intend for the Frequent Pee-er to chug the entire Atlantic Ocean prior to departure.

The Freequent Pee-er earns her miles by getting up to pee on the half hour, every hour. You can guarantee that she will have to go during paramount moments in whatever movie you are watching, at the climax of whatever story you are reading, or while you’re falling asleep. Her bouts of “excuse me” and “so sorry” are not sincere because all she cares about is avoiding bloat. She’s selfish and she’s hydrated.

The Manic Snack Packer

This woman got on the plane with a diaper bag full of Ziploc bags which, in due time you will learn, are partitioned by food groups — and make no mistake, every group is accounted for. She’s got her grains, her tupperware full of fruit, the sliced crudite to be chased by cold cuts and then followed by the block of cheese that aisle 35 is complaining about. You’re seeing more food than the average human consumes in the span of 72 hours and yet, there it goes, all of it, into her mouth and down her throat. Mind you, this is a shuttle flight from LaGuardia to Boston.

The Coma Kid
At first you respect The Coma Kid. This dude got on the plane, buckled his seatbelt and passed the fuck out. Screw safety tips — he doesn’t need them. But after a solid three hours, when CK is still asleep, you start to worry: Is he alive? Should you poke him? Hold a mirror underneath his nose to see if he fogs the glass? You could, especially if you’re super bored, but if the Coma Kid wakes up to you hovering over his doubled chin to “make sure he’s still alive,” the rest of the plane ride is going to be really awkward.

Elbow Rest Warrior
You know this person. 6’10, 320. Cross-fit Master, crocodile wrestler. The Elbow Rest Warrior is stoic as a statue, kinder than a panda and yet completely oblivious to personal space. That or he, too, is selfish and can’t understand the elbow rest to elbow ratio. As in, if the person to your left or right is lacking, you must, for the sake of humanity, relinquish control of at least one throne.

The Team Player
The Team Player may have shared the womb with an attached twin at some point in their gestation because this person does not understand that whatever is yours is not actually theirs. Like the ERW, the Team Player sees no qualms in the other-seat-lean. Despite a properly working television set, they find yours more interesting, and if you’re reading a book they’re trying to skim the pages right along with you. If you glare at the TP they will stare right back. And 9 times out of 10, they smell like cottage cheese.

Paranoid Pete
A colonial woman on the wing of the plane is the least of this guy’s worries. He is freaking out, forgot his Xanex, and mark his words: you’re going down with him.

The Baby
But not the cute baby. Not the napping baby who wakes up to coo and smile then falls back into a lactose coma. No. The one with an ear infection and a devil possession and a dirty diaper and two parents who are just like, “Chill, man. You were a baby once too.” False. I was an angel, whereas that thing you’ve swaddled in too many blankets is 100% a shouting alien.

The Child
The Child may actually be worse than The Baby if you’re easily irritated as opposed to just hyper noise-sensitive. The Child is creepy. It stares at you menacingly through the partition of the two seats in front of you, and smiles like Chuckie and whispers shit like, “You’re next.” It kicks chairs and constantly reclines into your lap, and eats stupid snacks like Yogurt Chips and Cheddar Bunnies. When I was a kid, we ate Oreos, and we weren’t allowed on airplanes until we knew how to fly them ourselves.

The Stoic Sitter
Paranoid Pete should never, ever sit next to the Stoic Sitter because she boards the plane with a Chapstick and a smile then doesn’t move for the rest of the ride. Where is her purse? Where is her book? Where is her OK! magazine or her iPod or her friends? What is going on inside the Stoic Sitter’s mind that enables her to sit still for four hours and do not a SINGLE THING? Has she peed yet? Is she meditating? Is she sleeping with her eyes open? Is she…dead? Like Angelica Pickles used to tell Tommy and co: if you have to ask, you’ll never know.

iWork at Google Guy
This dude has too many things to do that require a charger. He has an iPad. He has an iPod. He has an iPhone, a vintage MP3 player, a Google phone, a Blackberry, a Kindle and a Droid. Despite your inability to get in-air wifi, he has been tweeting the whole time from his personal hot spot, has posted three pictures to Instagram and checked in “Over Hawaii.” If the plane goes down due to an issue of mechanic miscommunication, there is a 47% chance it is his fault.

Activity Annie
Activity Annie will not leave you alone. But it’s not on purpose — she’s studying. She’s highlighting. Then she puts her textbook away and now she’s writing. Now she’s texting! And now she’s back in her bag, rummaging through her purse, looking for headphones and then suddenly it’s time for a walk! After 20 minutes, Activity Annie gets antsy, which is when she turns to you and — against your will — tells you all about her breakup. Pay attention. There will be a quiz upon landing.

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Posted by Adam | 3 Comments

Earlier this week Finnair shared pictures of the interiors of their new Airbus A350XWB jets. The cabin will feature 46 lie-flat business class seats (1-2-1 layout) with 16 inch IFE screens, 43 Economy Comfort seats, and  208 economy seats (31 inch pitch and 3-3-3 layout). All economy seats will have an 11 inch IFE touch screen. Finnair plans to begin operating its first A350s in the second half of next year, initially serving Shanghai, Bangkok and Beijing, with Hong Kong and Singapore A350 service to be added in 2016.

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From the PR:

As the European launch customer of the next-generation Airbus A350 XWB (extra wide body) aircraft, Finnair has completed the cabin design of its new flagship longhaul product due to enter service next year. Created by top Helsinki firm dSign Vertti Kivi & Co, also the designer of Finnair’s new Premium Lounge at Helsinki Airport, the A350’s bright and spacious cabin features large panoramic view windows and comfortable seating arrangements in both classes. Gradual changes in dynamic ambient LED lighting ease customers into a relaxing flight experience and help create a calming and fresh atmosphere. All Finnair A350s will also be equipped with Wi-Fi for greater passenger enjoyment and connectivity.

The Airbus A350 also features an advanced pure air filtration system that changes the air in the cabin every two to three minutes. Draft-free air management, adjustable multiple temperature zones and a lower cabin-altitude pressurization also enhance the well-being of passengers and crew.

The 297-seat configuration includes 46 seats in Business Class in a 1+2+1 layout, ensuring direct aisle access to all Business Class passengers. The Zodiac Cirrus III seats convert to fully flat beds, while a 16-inch touch-screen inflight entertainment system comes programmed with films, TV shows, music and other digital content on demand in numerous languages. Seats in Business Class also come equipped with AC and USB power outlets.

The Economy Class cabin features comfortable Zodiac Z300 slim-line seats with a 31-inch seat pitch in a 3+3+3 layout. At the front of the Economy Class cabin are 43 Economy Comfort seats, with comfier headrests, high-quality headphones and four extra inches of leg room. All seats in Economy include an 11-inch touch screen inflight entertainment system and USB power outlets.

Finnair plans to begin operating its first A350s in the second half of next year, initially serving Shanghai, Bangkok and Beijing, with Hong Kong and Singapore A350 service to be added in 2016. Finnair has 11 firm orders and 8 options for A350 aircraft, which will form the backbone of the company’s long-haul fleet and drive expansion plans.

The eco-smart design of the A350 also brings more than 25 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and operating cost over the previous generation of aircraft in its class, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of Finnair and its passengers.

Posted by Adam | 2 Comments

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