British Airways asked their pilots for their favorite views from up above. The Northern Lights took the top spot, while other favorites included the London skyline, Mont Blank, Sydney Harbour, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Check out the full list from the Daily Mail here.

Sydney Harbour

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“Surprise, some passengers order a wheelchair to try to game the system and board first. Those people are jerks”  Now, I’m not saying that everyone who orders a wheelchair is faking, but I can’t begin to count the times people have boarded the plane in a wheelchair, but by the time we arrive they’ve been miraculously cured of their ailment. It’s a joke between wheelchair attendants and crew members. As we’re getting off the airplane, they’re all lined up with their empty chairs in the jetway as we tell them all the passengers are gone … they were “healed again.” This, folks, is known as the “Jetway Jesus.” Praise be unto him.”

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

Throughout my career I’ve seen more miracle cures than the pope. It never fails to astonish me how often sick people are instantaneously healed in the process of flying. (Maybe it’s all that ginger ale or maybe it’s the vitamins in the Bloody Mary mix.)

Take this incident I witnessed the other day: I was at the security screening area when a passenger in a wheelchair and her wheelchair attendant moved to the front of the line. I was in my uniform, and I never mind letting a person in a wheelchair go in front of me.

Most people who order a wheelchair actually need assistance or simply can’t walk long distances. Bully for them, they also happen to get on the plane first, typically snagging the best spots to stow their luggage as well. (You can imagine where I’m going with this.)

So this lady hops out of her chair and whisks through the detector and quickly starts walking away. The wheelchair attendant yelled to her, “I have your boarding pass!” He then rolled his eyes at me and said: “Look how fast she’s walking. She’s practically running.”

After I had my heels back on and started down the concourse, I saw the wheelchair attendant pushing manically after the woman down the long concourse, attempting to catch up with her — so she can get back into her chair to board the airplane first.

It’s actually a diabolical plan, because you can’t tell by looking at people if they are indeed disabled. Illnesses and disabilities affect all types of people, of many different ages. And no one in their right mind would accuse someone of faking a disability. … I mean, who on Earth would do such a thing!

But how much do you want to bet that this woman will indeed board the airplane first as a person who needs assistance — but will most definitely not be waiting for her wheelchair at the end of her flight. And why? People in wheelchairs may be boarded first, but when the airplane arrives at its destination, they’re typically kept on board until last so they don’t hold up everyone else who is disembarking.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone who orders a wheelchair is faking, but I can’t begin to count the times people have boarded the plane in a wheelchair, but by the time we arrive they’ve been miraculously cured of their ailment.

It’s a joke between wheelchair attendants and crew members. As we’re getting off the airplane, they’re all lined up with their empty chairs in the jetway as we tell them all the passengers are gone … they were “healed again.” This, folks, is known as the “Jetway Jesus.” Praise be unto him.

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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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“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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“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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Last October I sadly posted about American Airlines canceling their long running JFK-Barbados flight - American Axes One of my Favorite JFK Routes – Caribbean Left with Just a Few Flights. I lamented that this was one of my favorite JFK-Caribbean flights on AA for a bunch of reasons:

  1. Barbados always seemed to be less touristy than the other Caribbean locals with direct NYC based flights (less US tourists anyway…very big with the UK). Friendly locals,beautiful uncrowded beaches, and a great Hilton as well.
  2. Award availability was fantastic. My family of four flew Dec 24th returning December 30th two years ago, all on MileSAAver awards at35K. We’ve done that to several other Caribbean location each and every year on AA for 11 years now!
  3. Since award availability was so fantastic, there was always Avios availability as well. I was able to avoid a NYC blizzard last year and escape to Barbados last minute using an AAdvantage MileSAAver award booked via British Airways Avios. The total cost was $47.50 in taxes and only 12,500 Avios points (instead of 17,500 AA miles) each way!

That left AA with non-stop Caribbean service from JFK to only Antigua (ANU), St. Kitts (SKB) once per week, Port-au-Prince (PAP), San Juan (SJU), St. Maarten (SXM), and St. Thomas (STT). A far cry from the days when we’d sit down at the table and look at AA’s “Where We Fly” map to pick our next Caribbean winter vacation spot, always a new destination.

In any case, Delta yesterday announced the launch of their flights from ATL and JFK, though they will only be operated twice per week. Here’s that press release:

Barbados and Delta Air Lines (DAL) today announce a collaboration on new nonstop service this winter to the Caribbean island. Travelers from the Eastern and Central regions of the U.S. now have a new reason to head to the sun-drenched island, with nonstop flights beginning on December 4, 2014, twice weekly between Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown and both New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where connections to cities across the United States are available.

Flights will operate Thursdays and Saturdays, and two flights will start simultaneously, one from New York into Barbados and then onto Atlanta; and then a second one originating in Atlanta, traveling to Barbados and on to New York.

Available for purchase now, round-trip flight times from JFK and ATL to Bridgetown, Barbados are as follows:

Delta Barbaods Schedule

The two spacious Boeing 737 aircrafts have a seating capacity of 160, consisting of 16 business class seats, 18 economy comfort seats and 126 economy seats on each flight. The 737 offers travelers amenities including complimentary personal television programming with 18 free channels from DISH Network, comfortable leather seats and up to 4 more inches of legroom with Economy Comfort.

Not unsurprisingly award availability is a bit different than AA’s. There is absolutely no Saver award availability for the entire schedule loaded in economy or first.

DL JFK-BGI Dec 2014 Award Availability

Well, at least a direct NYC flight to Barbados that is redeemable with points has returned. The majority of my SkyMiles were obtained on the cheap, so I could consider a standard award for 55K miles depending on how bad I want to escape winter. Note that JetBlue currently operates JFK-BGI as well and flights can be redeemed using TrueBlue points…though I don’t have many.

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One time, on an early morning flight, a woman spilled coffee on her silk wrap-around dress. She went into the lavatory and took off the dress to rinse the stains in the sink.  One of the straps was dangling precariously over the toilet seat….
Betty continues spilling her stories. Thanks to Mark from Yahoo! for sharing a new weekly series called “Confessions of A Fed-Up Flight Attendant” written by “Betty”.
Wrap it Up
One time, on an early morning flight, a woman spilled coffee on her silk wrap-around dress. She went into the lavatory and took off the dress to rinse the stains in the sink.  One of the straps was dangling precariously over the toilet seat. When she flushed the toilet  the entire dress got sucked right in and flushed right down.  She didn’t know what to do.  She just stayed in the bathroom mortified in her underwear.  Near landing the flight attendant knocked on the door demanding she come out and take her seat.  Sheepishly she said “I can’t come out I flushed my dress down the toilet!”  They gave her two blankets and she exited the plane sporting an airplane blanket toga.
Suck it Up
One time, an older gentleman came to the back galley with a strange problem.  His dentures had come lose while he was using the toilet and disappeared before he could catch them.  Here’s the kicker…they were really expensive and he wanted them back! It was a lengthily and very unpleasant process but the ground service crew was able to retrieve them. By that point, they were a less than pretty shade of blue.
Tricks of the Trade
Air crews can have some fun with these mega flush toilets. One thing we love is the  ”toilet paper trick.” That’s where you shove a wad of toilet paper in the toilet then slowly roll the rest of the roll out on the carpet the whole length of the airplane, hit the flush and it will go airborne like a wet noodle and disappear in a second down the toilet.  You can have races down each aisle, we usually only partake in these high jinks when the passengers are not on board. Usually.
You See the Craziest Things
Many countries have toilets that are just a hole in the ground. Sometimes those same folks get on the airplane and don’t know how to lock the door, or what to make of our “English” toilets so they climb up and put their feet on the toilet seat and squat.  Then, an unsuspecting  passenger opens the door to see this spectacle.  Sometimes we hit rough air and their precarious squatting position pitches them forward out the unlocked door and into the galley with their private bits on display.  So if you ever see footprints on the airplane toilet there was probably a person from another country doing a toilet balance beam act before you!

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