27 November 2009

FAA Tapes Show Efforts to Reach NWA Flight

(AP) - After a Northwest Airlines plane flew past Minneapolis last month, air traffic controllers asked the pilots repeatedly for explanations about why they didn't heed radio calls, according to transcripts released on Friday.

The Oct. 21 flight had been out of contact for 77 minutes before the pilots responded. The pilots told controllers right away that they had been distracted, but didn't give details, according to the transcript of their radio conversations released by the Federal Aviation Administration.

After almost 90 seconds of conversation about the route they should take to Minneapolis, the controllers said, "I just have to verify that the cockpit is secure."

"It is secure, we got distracted," one of the pilots responded. The transcript says the pilot then said that they never heard a call from the ground.

A different controller took over and, after five more minutes of directions about routes and altitudes, asked, "Do you have time to give a brief explanation on what happened?"

"Cockpit distractions that's all I can say," was the response from Northwest Flight 188.

About 12 minutes after contact had been re-established, the same controller asked, "is there any way you can elaborate on the distraction?"

The pilot said that they were dealing with some company issues, and that's "all I can tell you right now at this time," according to the transcript.

Air traffic controllers ultimately had the pilots perform several turns to verify that they were in control of the plane. It landed safely in Minneapolis, and was met at the gate by police.

The FAA has said that after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, controllers have been told to alert the military when a plane goes out of contact for five to 10 minutes. They waited for 69 minutes in this instance, a delay that FAA head Randy Babbitt has called "unacceptable." The agency has said it will strengthen procedures for alerting the military when controllers lose contact with planes.

The transcripts also show controllers checking that the flight, which originated in San Diego, had enough fuel. The pilot responded that they had about two hours' worth of fuel on board and that it wasn't a concern.

The pilots have told the National Transportation Safety Board that they were discussing their company's complicated new crew-scheduling program over their laptop computers as their plane flew past Minneapolis by 150 miles. Northwest was bought by Delta Air Lines Inc. last year and the company has been working to integrate its computer systems.

The FAA has revoked the licenses of the pilots, Timothy Cheney of Gig Harbor, Wash., the captain, and Richard Cole of Salem, Ore., the first officer.

19 November 2009

Best airports to get stuck in

Hello All BlkAv8tor2003 Checking In!!!

So here is a little something I found from the Seatguru about some of the better airports in the US to get stuck in! If your stuck somewhere you need something to do and some way to keep yourself entertained for the time that your stranded!

So here is a list of the 5 best airports to get stuck in and roughly what is available to you if you get stranded for whatever reason!!!

Have a good flight and remember to "Be Proactive Not Reactive!!!"


Terry Maxon/Reporter

In which airport would you like to get stranded over the holidays? SeatGuru.com, the Web service that gives advice on which seats are the best and worst on each airline's airplanes, has come up with five.
Without comment and reprinted verbatim, here's SeatGuru's list. See how it compares to your own observations:

San Francisco International Airport (SFO). SFO's highlights include the famous Boudin's Bakery (and their sourdough bread), upscale shopping at Burberry, Coach and Gucci, XpressSpa services including massages and facials, museum exhibits throughout, shower facilities and a play area for children.

Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). Among other offerings, SLC offers free Wi-Fi throughout the airport, views of the Wasatch Mountains, numerous restaurants and has won awards in pollution prevention, recycling and as the best on-time airport for departures in the past.

Portland International Airport (PDX). Named Nation's Best Airport by Conde Nast Traveler three years in a row, PDX is eco-friendly (new solar panels produce electricity and the Best of Nike store is powered by 75% solar energy), has free Wi-Fi, no sales tax and local restaurants have a strong presence with eateries such as Pizza Schmizza, Rose City Cafe and Laurelwood Brewing Company calling it home.

McCarran International Airport (LAS). In addition to countless slot machines, LAS also boasts an aviation museum, massage locations, free Wi-Fi, the Jose Cuervo Tequileria, storage lockers to stash belongings, an oxygen bar, hotel souvenir shops, room check in for the MGM Grand and for long delays, it's just 5 miles from the strip.

Miami International Airport (MIA). At MIA, travelers can get manicures, pedicures, massages and even spray tanning at the JetSetter Spa, view ongoing art exhibitions, enjoy a hair cut at the salon, rent a mobile phone, and for members of the U.S. military, there's an Armed Services center for personnel that serves food and refreshments. There are also 30 dining choices including cuisine from Cuba, the Caribbean, Japan and more.

ATC problems on East Coast (Computer Failure)

Thu, Nov 19, 2009 Eric Torbenson/Reporter

Looks like a computer equipment failure at the Federal Aviation Administration has caused some problems at airports around the country, but mostly concentrated in the Northeast where airlines and airports are dealing with bad weather to boot.

So far little impact at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love field according to both Flightstats.com and http://www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp. But the northeast airports are sort of lit up like a Christmas tree in terms of yellow and red delay status.

Terry got an update from American Airlines:

American Airlines Inc. spokesman Tim Smith said "the FAA issues had slowed American's operations somewhat, but serious. "I think we're doing pretty well, actually," Smith said.

He said American had been informed that the FAA computer problem had been resolved. With that, American and other carriers will simply have to catch up from the earlier problems, he said.
"Our longest delay... was just over an hour," Smith said. As he scanned American's schedule, "I saw nothing extreme. I saw some flights that were on time, a few that were early and others that had a 10-minute delay, 15 minutes, 25, all well under an hour," Smith said.
Smith said that American's D/FW Airport arrivals had averaged 94 percent on time at that point.

FlightStats.com indicated that as of 9:50 a.m., 64 percent of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport's flights had departed on time, and 88 percent of arrivals were on time or within 14 minutes of schedule.
More on the problem, ATC controllers union and FAA responses after the click:

The problem, according to wires:
Flights nationwide were delayed this morning after a mysterious nationwide computer glitch hampered a key Federal Aviation Administration flight processing system.
The system electronically inputs pilots' flight plans to computers, telling air traffic controllers the anticipated route and altitude of each flight after taking off. Controllers reached by ABC News say they have had to enter those plans manually, resulting in a slowdown of takeoffs and landings.

From the National Air Traffic Controllers Association:
WASHINGTON - There has been a major, nationwide air traffic control computer system outage this morning, and it is having a severe, negative impact on air travel across the country. Here is what we know thus far:

The NADIN system (National Airspace Data- Interchange Network), which is the computerized system for processing flight plans and information for every flight in the country, has failed in both of its locations - Atlanta and Salt Lake City. We do not yet know the technical reason for the failure. We have some reports that the system is coming back online, which is good news, but there will be flight delays throughout the day due to the "ripple effect" of this outage.
The NADIN- failure has created a domino effect of problems throughout the country, starting with the inability of FAA automated ATC systems at major regional facilities to process flight information, forcing the manual input of information by air traffic personnel. Air traffic controllers are without electronic decision-making tools and cannot keep up with the sheer numbers of flights -- resulting in delays.

FAA's statement so far:
This is the Federal Aviation Administration with all the information we have at this time about this morning's equipment outage that has been affecting flights nationwide. My name is Elizabeth Isham Cory.

We are starting to see systems come back up (approx 8:34 a.m. local). We are still seeing some delay as the correction works through the system, so we recommend you check with your carrier before flight today.

Early this morning (NEW time, approx 6 a.m. Chicago), one of the two centers that handles the filing of flight plan information nationwide had a problem with the electronic system that files those plans. The other center picked up as much as possible, and any surplus flight plans were entered manually. Flight plans are filed before flight - they include information about the flight - including planned destination, route and fuel on board, among other things.

Any delays we saw today were at the gate. Flights in the air were safe - we could always see planes on radar and talk to them. Again, the planes that were affected today were on the ground at the gates.

Again, the system is back up, so we should see any remaining delay work its way through the system shortly. The FAA is working to determine the source of this problem.

Air Canada is going to start charging extra for preferred seats

Hello All BlkAv8tor2003 Checking In!!!

Well folks it's hit North America and I fair warned you! Paying for premium seating on your next airline flight is in your near future. Air Canada is going to charge you to be a little more comfortable on their flights! It's only a matter of time before the US carriers do the same! Exit row seating or bulk head seat assignments are the primary seats that are preferred and sought after.

So as we cruise into this holiday season, keep your ears and eyes open for added charges when making your next flight arrangements because there may be some added fees!

From what I can tell so far this fee is only added (your charged) if you "choose" to sit in the exit rows or wherever the airline designates a preferred seating location. If your just automatically assigned upon check-in you will not be charged. I will break down the seating advantages at a later time and date because it can be somewhat lengthy!

Just an FYI for things to come this holiday season!!!

Remember to "Be Proactive, Not Reactive" and Enjoy Your Flight!!!

The Canadian Press
Date: Friday Nov. 13, 2009
MONTREALAir Canada has been busy spending lots of cash on stuff like iPhone Apps, in-flight WiFi, and snazzy software for your Blackberry. This stuff all costs money, and like all other airlines, the money probably isn’t just pouring in up in Canada.

So the country’s flagship carrier is opening up the fee and charge toolbox in hopes of finding a good way to boost revenue. Air Canada is going to start charging extra for preferred seats with extra legroom including emergency exit rows and bulkhead seats.

Fees start at $14 per one-way trip for those wanting specific exit rows or bulkhead seats at the front of airplane sections.

Costs will vary by length of flight, fare class purchased and the customer's Aeroplan status. Fees can be waived or reduced depending on a number of factors including fare class purchased or a traveler’s status with the airline.

However, for most of us, this means that we are going to need to open up the wallet yet again at the airport. All these fees are certainly getting old, but we love airplanes and where they take us, so we’ll just have to ask for a second piggy bank for Christmas this year.

The service will be available on any Air Canada or Jazz flight.
Canada's largest airline is attempting to find $500 million in additional revenue and cost savings as part of its effort to improve its profitability.

It wasn't immediately clear how much money is expected to be raised from the new fees.

18 November 2009

Animated Video With Audio Tracks of US Airways 1549 Crash In The Hudson River

Hello All BlkAv8tor2003 Checking In!!!

Here is why pilots love what they do and how cool and level headed they are during an emergency! This is professional airmanship at it's finest and I think all pilots strive for in aviation excellence!!!

Good job to exosphere3d for their work on this video!

Remember to be "Proactive and not Reactive" and enjoy your flight!!!



This video presents the alternate audio tracks and does so by splitting to L and R channels. The audio presented is: LaGuardia ATCT Cab Coordinator, LaGuardia ATCT South Terminal Control, New York TRACON South Control, and Teterboro ATCT Local Control positionRadar data is displayed in the upper right quadrant with aircraft identification and altitude (100's of feet).

The audio transcripts of the aforementioned audio tracks are displayed on screen for nearly all communications from the mentioned audtio recordings. Continuity is maintained with the audio transcript display, however the audible tracks are faded in and out and selected based on perceived importance to the accident timeline.

This combination of information is not a likely candidate for final presentation because of information overload. However, it does illustrate the usefulness and capabilities of a fully integrated reconstruction technique.

Alternate Video Link

Flight 1549 Alternate Audio, Multi-Perspective Composite Animation

Cell Phone Conversation Delays Flight FAA to investigate

Hello All BlkAv8tor2003 Checking In!!!

As usual I have to chime in on this one! My comments are in italics and this is stupidity on the passengers part and I am surprised that other passengers didn't get upset or assist the crew during this incident. (as it's been reported so far)

So here we go, a passenger cause a flight to be delayed and eventually returns to the gate! I guess his cellular phone conversation or texting was more important that the passengers on the flight getting to where they were going to. People feel the need to be privileged when they do things without the concerns of others and then have the nerve to get upset when someone calls them out on it!

Well this passenger may catch hell on the backside from the airline for causing the Captain to turn the airplane around after pushing away from the gate and then returning to the gate when he would not comply with the flight crews request to turn off his electronic device! (It's in the announcements) I don't feel bad for him in the least bit and it sounds like the airline may try to prosecutor him in some fashion even though the FAA who mandates the use after a certain point on all airline aircraft doesn't plan to prosecute or really investigate the incident!

This sounds weird to me because this could be viewed as obstructing a crew from performing their safety duties and that is a federal offense. We shall see what happens on this one! If it wasn't for the tremendous amount of bad PR AirTran would get for suing him, I'd be inclined to sue him for the costs of the flight delay - fuel, crew times, missed connections (if any), etc. Not that I'd expect him to ever be able to pay those costs, but it might be enough to scare people into complying more with crew member instructions!

People please remember the crew members are only doing what they are required to do and if you can't comply with that and allow the crew to make sure that you have a safe flight then you should really rethink you mode of travel!!!

Here is the story as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Remember to be "Proactive and Not Reactive" and enjoy your flight!!!

An AirTran passenger, who was traveling with 12 others, was using his cell phone before takeoff, an airline spokesman said.

It’s unclear whether he was talking on the phone, snapping photos or texting, AirTran spokesman Christopher White said. But to airline officials and flight attendants, it didn’t matter. The plane had pulled away from the gate, and the phone was on, White said.
“Passengers are required to follow instructions of the flight attendants," regional FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

AirTran reported the incident to the FAA, Bergen said.
The federal Transportation Security Administration will not handle the incident, saying it is a customer-service issue between the passenger and the airline, a TSA spokesman said.
Houston-bound Flight 297 was scheduled to leave Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday.

The Boeing 717 was taxiing on the runway when a crew member asked a passenger to turn off his phone, White said.
“Flight attendants were telling him, ‘Turn off the phone, turn off the phone,’” White said.
But the man didn’t speak English, which complicated the matter, officials said.

Once the pilot learned of the issue, he turned the plane around and headed back to the gate. The man was asked to leave, White said.
“We can’t taxi with the cell phone on, and we certainly can’t take off,” White said. “Language barrier or not, you start to butt up against interfering with a flight crew.”

Another person in the group – someone who could speak English – got off as well to act as an interpreter, White said.
So, why didn’t he leave his seat to help in the first place?
“He told flight attendants that he could have helped during the taxi time, but he didn’t want to get up,” as passengers are to be seated at that time, White said.

The remaining 11 passengers in that group followed them off the plane as well, White said.
“It’s a fine line that we have to play,” White said. “Is there any safety or security reason to bring the plane back? Yes, there was a safety reason.”
AirTran gave the 72 other passengers on the plane the option to stay on that flight or switch to another one without paying any fees, White said. Of the remaining passengers on the plane, 12 decided to take another flight.

The 11 others in the 13-passenger group got back on the plane, which took off for Houston, White said. TSA officials spoke to the man with the cell phone as well as the other person who was acting as an interpreter, and they took a later flight to Houston, White said.
White declined to identify the passenger. No charges were filed. And, for AirTran, the case is closed.

“Once we determine there is no other problem, it’s our responsibility to get everyone back on and get the plane taken off as quickly as we can,” White said.

Alaska Airlines Unveils Apolo Ohno Airplane, Gives Out Faux Facial Hair

Alaska Airlines and Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno unveiled a specially-themed Boeing 737-800 Tuesday (Nov. 17th) at Sea-Tac Airport, painted with a larger-than-life image of the celeb athlete and telling people to “follow Apolo.”

To celebrate Ohno’s race for gold, passengers boarding the “Follow Apolo” jet received Ohno trading cards, copies of Ohno’s signature bandana and press-on faux facial hair (faux facial hair??? dang…now we’re sorry we missed this photo op!).
While we certainly don’t know any humans who’ve actually sprouted wings and can fly on their own, the unique design features a huge painting of the Seattle native on the aircraft’s fuselage and also promotes his new Alaska Airlines-sponsored website www.followapolo.com as he pursues winter gold in Vancouver, BC during the upcoming Winter Olympics

“It’s an honor to be featured alongside Alaska’s trademark Eskimo and have the support of my hometown airline for the most important race of my life,” said Ohno, after seeing the plane for the first time.

A team of Seattle-area youth speed skaters aspiring to follow in Ohno’s path accompanied the athlete onboard the aircraft as it was unveiled at Sea-Tac Airport Tuesday. The skaters are members of Pattison’s Team Extreme and train at Pattison’s West Skating Center in Federal Way, where Ohno trained as a teen:

Apolo Ohno and members of Federal Way's Pattison's Team Extreme.

A native of the Seattle area, Ohno began his speed-skating career at age 14 in Seattle and Vancouver. He went on to become the youngest skater to win a World Cup event title in December 1999. Ohno has since won 11 national champion, 18 world champion and five Olympic medals.

If you’d like to “Follow Apolo,” you can either grow wings and attempt to fly behind (or alongside) his cool new airplane, or you can just click here and check out his website.

(Some Photos courtesy Alaska Airlines and Airliners.net)

11 November 2009

Pilot charged after UK airport arrest

Hello All BlkAv8tor2003 Checking In!!!

Well this is again a sad move on the part of a professional airline pilot. Drinking and flying or at least almost is wrong in all senses of the words! Do I hear true alcoholic in the cockpit? Well if that is the case he should have gotten help along time ago. I'm happy that this was not found out in flight. I hope this captain gets the help he needs! I don't condone what he did especially with what a pilot has to go through to obtain a pilots license, ratings and of course the coolest dream job on the planet!

I'm glad that an employee reported it and although this is very serious at least it didn't turn out as an accident. This gives pilots a bad name and not all pilots do something this stupid! If he can't control himself after drinking on a layovers then he should not be doing it! (said from experience and self control on layovers)

As a pilot and former flight attendant, who all follow the same strict alcohol rules I think we are held to a higher standard because what we do can harm many people. Our careless disregard for others is not acceptable and it's our job to help main the safety of our passengers!

I hope he gets the help he needs and hasn't thrown away what took a lifetime of sacrafice to obtain!

Remember to "Be Proactive, Not Reactive" and enjoy your flight!


LONDON, England (CNN) -- British police said they stopped a United Airlines pilot from flying while intoxicated earlier this week, pulling him from a Boeing 767 aircraft before boarding plane, police say at London's Heathrow airport and charging him with being on duty while his blood-alcohol level was over the limit.

Scotland Yard said that Erwin Vermont Washington, 51, was taken off the plane just before take-off Monday. Washington, of Lakewood, Colorado, has since been released on bail.
United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said that "the pilot has been removed from service" during an investigation.

The departure to Chicago was "imminent", with 124 passengers on board and 11 members of crew, when police arrived at the airport.
Passengers were put on to other planes after the flight was cancelled but they were not told the real reason why.

A source said the pilot was on board the Boeing 767 when he was told that police wanted to speak to him. He was then breath-tested once he was off the plane, out of view of the passengers.
A BAA Heathrow spokesman said: "He was reported to police by United Airlines staff. I believe departure was imminent."

"United's alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry, and we have no tolerance for violation of this well-established policy," she said. Megan McCarthy says the pilot has been "removed from service" during investigation.

Washington remains in the United Kingdom, Scotland Yard said.

10 November 2009

Alaska Airlines Launches Hawaii Service From Bay Area

Media Release:
OAKLAND—Alaska Airlines today will inaugurate four-times-weekly service between Oakland, Calif., and Kahului, Hawaii, on the island of Maui, and tomorrow will begin thrice-weekly service between Oakland and Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

“Known for its beautiful beaches and stunning sunsets, the Hawaiian Islands are among our most popular leisure vacation destinations,” said Alaska Airlines’ President Brad Tilden. “Customers will enjoy Alaska’s low fares, convenient schedule and award-winning service.”

Summary of flights
Start date City pair Departure time Arrival time Day of week
Nov. 9 Oakland-Maui 7:45 a.m. 11:05 a.m. Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat
Nov. 9 Maui-Oakland 12:05 p.m. 7:10 p.m. Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat
Nov. 10 Oakland-Kona 7:45 a.m. 11:15 a.m. Tues, Thur, Sun
Nov. 10 Kona-Oakland 12:15 p.m. 7:30 p.m. Tues, Thur, Sun
All times based on local time zones

“Travelers will start their vacation with a smooth departure from Oakland International, where they can park close to the terminals and quickly access their flight,” said Deborah Ale Flint, the Port of Oakland’s acting director of aviation. “Oakland’s on-time performance record allows passengers to easily begin their Alaska Airlines experience,” she added.

Flights are available for purchase at alaskaair.com or by calling 1-800-ALASKAAIR
(1-800-252-7522 or TTY/TDD line 1-800-392-0228).

The new flights are operated with Boeing 737-800 aircraft, accommodating16 passengers in first class and 141 in the main cabin. All flights to Hawaii offer Hawaiian-themed beverages and meal service. Customers in the main cabin are offered complimentary Mauna Loa macadamia nuts and a complimentary Mai Tai or POG juice, as well as a Hawaiian-themed meal-for-purchase option for $6.

Inflight service includes Alaska Airlines’ digEplayer, a personal entertainment system offering a variety of movies, television shows, music and other features.
Alaska Airlines Vacations offers a full line of vacation packages for travel to the islands of Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii. Packages include air transportation, hotel accommodations, ground transportation and tours. For more information about Alaska Airlines

Vacations, visit alaskaair.com/vacations.

United Was Wrong to Deny Track Suit Guy His First Class Seat, But Still, a Track Suit?

Hello All BlkAv8tor2003 Checking In!!!

So I guess the airlines, specifically United is questioning how there customers dress when riding in first class. To a point I can see their (United) point but I still believe you have to deal with certain situations on an individual basis. A gate agent who did not feel that a customer was dressed appropriately for first class travel gave a upgraded passenger a little bit of a hard time because he was wearing a sweat suit.

I posted the story as it was written from the news reports but a few things seem sketchy at best. The agent a contract employee working for Air Wisconsin (United express Carrier for United) was working a mainline United flight. Air Wisconsin must pull double duty working United flights out of Dulles as well as United Express flights during their day.

After everything happened a United spokes person said the employee thought the passenger was a company employee. This would not be true because when they upgraded the passeneger his ticket info would have indicated if he was an employee or at least traveling on some type of industry pass, his boarding priority would have indicated this right away.

When employees travel they are required to dress a little different compared to the regular traveler. Employees, parent and kids are required to almost dress like your going to church especially if there is a chance of getting put into first class. This is somewhat adjusted depending on the destination too and if an employee is upgraded and not dressed appropriately (gate agents discretion) then they will be asked to change clothes before boarding.

So most employees will dress nicer in the beginning just to avoid the last minute hassle or trying to change clothes during the last part of the boarding process where employees are usually given their seat assignments.

Now this regular passenger was mistaken for an employee, I doubt that but it will be a quick fix for the airline in the eyes of public opinion. Passengers do dress pretty bad or what the airlines would consider inappropriate. Southwest removed a passenger for dressing risque' (exerpt: a few months ago waitress Kyla Ebbert (who works at Hooters, where scantily-clad is a good thing) was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight from San Diego to Tucson because her outfit -- a miniskirt, tank top, and cropped sweater -- was too revealing (I don't see any cleavage and she was wearing a bra). She put up a fuss and was eventually let back on the plane after a lecture on her dress, or lack thereof. http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2007/09/05/passenger-too-sexy-for-southwest-airlines-luv-miniskirt-gets/) and they eventually changed their minds and let her travel.

The days off dressing up when you fly have been gone since the 70's but at the rate we are going we may see a change on the horizon. I have a feeling the ways of the past are slowly coming back where you dress to fly, hat and coats are your carry-on and the last thing you wanted to do was give a flight attendant a hard time!

I don't think this situation was very good for United and hopefully they will verify before the upgrade another passenger what kind of passenger they are upgrading. This time I think they got off lucky (so far anyway) and no legal troubles have popped up yet but we shall see what happens in the next few weeks. The passenger (Mr. Alvarez) is a corporate executive and the airline should and usually knows when they are ona any given flight (their reservation will indicate it at check-in) and they should have extended him the standard corporate executive courtesies but this went way wrong.

The airlines' bread and butter is the business traveler because they pay high fares, travel on short notice and they fly alot so, United needs to pay attention because word of mouth advertising still works very well and keep this kind of activity up and you will hurt yourself in the long run when you start losing major travel accounts and business travelers starting using someone else for their corporate travel.

Read on and see if the passenger was right or wrong or was it the airlines fault on this one.

As always remember "Be Proactive, Not Reactive" when you fly and enjoy your flight!!!


Did you hear the one about the guy who was denied a first class seat on a United Airlines flight because he was wearing a track suit? It's a corker. Armando Alvarez (not pictured), an executive at Best Buy, used his frequent flier miles to upgrade to the front of the cabin for a flight from Washington Dulles to Connecticut on October 26, but the gate agent refused to let him enter the cabin, WTTG-TV, Washington, reported Thursday.

The gate agent took one look at his Puma getup and deemed him unworthy of the fancy seats, insisting he sit in coach with the riffraff instead. "I was handed a first-class boarding pass and then it was pulled back out of my hand," Mr Alvarez said.

Mr Alvarez was wearing a Puma track suit with white trainers when he was stopped by the gate agent. He said he checks-in his suits to stop them from getting wrinkled and travelling in a track suit just makes sense.

Mr Alvarez said he complained to United Airlines Customer Service Department and the airline's board of directors, but hasn't received a response. United has come out and said it was all a big misunderstanding, and that the agent apparently thought Alvarez was an airline employee - and thus required to follow a dress code - but not before the story became the latest example of the inhumanity of airlines today.

Alvarez said the agent told him he was dressed too casually for first class.
"I was humiliated. I was embarrassed and when some of the passengers were boarding behind me they said, 'Hey, what just happened?' And I said the agent just said I wasn't properly dressed to go in first class today. And they said, 'Was he kidding?' I said obviously not because I'm boarding and not getting in first class," Alvarez said.

United Airlines said the gate agent, a contract employee who works for Air Wisconsin, is being interviewed and security footage is being reviewed as part of a probe into the incident. Officials said United's dress code only stipulates that passengers wear clothes and shoes.

I agree that United was wrong to treat a paying passenger this way, and they have admitted as much, but the incident reminds me of just how much air travel has changed since the glory days of the fifties, sixties, and seventies. People treated flying like a special occasion back then, and dressed for the part.

When I was a kid in the seventies, my parents made me wear a jacket and (clip-on) tie for every flight. Of course, we were an airline employee family, so those dress codes applied to us, but it seemed like everybody around us at least made an effort to look decent.

07 November 2009

Airlines Must Ask For Volunteers First, Pay Those Unwillingly Bumped

Hello all BlkAv8tor2003 checking in!!!

Here is a story written not by me (DAVID KOENIG, AP Airlines Writer) but one I read online and I added my own comments and tips in italics and it's just to give you the traveler a heads up in advance! If you have questions and I can go into great detail, hit me up and I'll do my best to help you out and steer you in the right direction!

Remember when traveling "Be Proactive, Not Reactive" and enjoy your flight!!!

DAVID KOENIG, AP Airlines Writer

DALLAS - Airlines are operating fewer flights this year, meaning that planes are packed even with the slump in travel.Often the airlines sell more tickets than there are seats on the plane. (usually 10% of the capacity of the particular aircraft) Last year, more than 63,000 passengers were bumped, according to government figures, and this year is shaping up as more of the same.
So what should you do if you get bumped? What if your flight is delayed so long that you miss your niece's wedding?

You should have had a back up plan and proper planning will help in these cases!
Before bargaining with the gate agent over travel vouchers and upgrades, it pays to know your rights and the airline's responsibilities.

All airlines have these rules available to every passenger and they usually post them somewhere on their websites too! Seek and you shall find! If you don't look before you fly or ask for a copy then your at the airlines mercy when you run into an oversold flight!

The federal government sets rules on bumping and occasionally fines airlines for breaking them. This month, the Transportation Department fined Delta Air Lines $375,000, although it may waive about half if Delta improves its procedures for handling oversold flights.Now airlines must ask for volunteers first, and pay passengers who are bumped against their will.

Payment can be in many forms from meal vouchers, hotel vouchers and ground transportation compensation. This is before they even get to travel certificates! So be prepared to barter and know when to stand your ground or when to bite. Use the airline against itself to get what you need to get where your going and a little payoff on the backside. Cash payouts happen very rarely but in some unique cases they do happen!

If you are flying on Southwest Airlines then things are a little different because Southwest does not deal with the other airlines like the other airlines deal with each other so be prepared and i will give you some of the scoop on Southwest. Don't worry it's not bad but it will be a different experience!

If you are bumped from a domestic flight, the airline must pay you the price of a one-way ticket up to $400 cash if you are rescheduled to reach your destination between one and two hours of the original arrival time. The maximum doubles to $800 if it takes longer.

Now if you don't know this in the beginning then they already have got you! Again you at their mercy because most people who ride the airlines don't have a clue of what to do in an oversell situation and they just take what they get handed to them even if their is a little yelling and screaming but that what get you much it just usually makes things worse!

Some passengers with time to kill don't mind getting bumped. They hope to get cash, travel vouchers or an upgrade to first-class in exchange for taking a slightly later flight.

Get food vouchers, upgrades or travel certificates and vouchers and get the max! Make they airline give you CONFIRMED SEATS WITH SEAT ASSIGNMENTS! If they can't do that first and foremost then don't give in because it can put you in a bad situation on your next flight! also remember just because you have a confirmed reservation on a flight...That doesn't mean squat without a seat assignment! That's just a product of the potential oversell situation and you could be in the same boat as your previous flight. So have your plan, back up plan and a contingency plan just in case because whatever part of the plan you miss the airline will exploit that to its advantage, especially if you have a sharp airline employee! Trust me even though you may not run into them they do exist and they can help you or burn you but that depends on what ammo you have in your arsenal!

Chris McGinnis, a travel consultant in San Francisco, says the best flights to haggle over are late-afternoon or evening ones popular with business travelers who can't afford to be stranded overnight. Airlines are likely to offer more for passengers who give up a seat on a New York-Chicago run than on a flight full of vacationers from Atlanta to Orlando, he says.

This will come from experience and sometimes you will have to get a little burnt before you get the jist of how things work! First flights in the morning are the flights to do your best bargaining and if your schedule is not as tight as the business traveler then you can really rack up in payouts but remember to have a plan with back ups.

Gate agents may put out a sign or simply tell passengers that they're looking for volunteers to skip the flight. McGinnis says it's often best to ignore their first offer and wait until departure time nears. Learn to play poker and learn how to bluff and know when to fold because the agents will already be looking at the passenger list to see who has or what appears to have some flexibility. So if you have flexibility in your travel planes then use that to your advantage when you see they may be looking for volunteers! One quick option is get on the phone with your airlines reservations and see what the next flights are that are available and direct then with minimal connections. (Watch out for connecting flights in your snow cities like Chicago or Denver for United or Minneapolis for Northwest! If you can avoid connecting to flights through these cities during the winter months that would be the best thing you could do! Trust me, all you need is a medium sized storm to be moving through and the next thing you know your stuck for two days and there is no compensations for weather delays, cancellations and overbooking will be guaranteed to happen when weather is a part of the equation!

"The bidding gets stronger," he says. "That's when it goes from $100 off your next flight to maybe $300 and a business-class seat on the next flight out."
Play your cards right and listen to every announcement the agents make and if possible sit as close to the departure podium or counter that you can without standing in front of the agents and sometimes you can hear valuable info early (agents talk) and even 1 minute advantage for decision purposes can be monumental on an oversold flight!
Experts warn about accepting travel vouchers. They might be hard to redeem, especially at peak travel periods. Make sure you understand any limitations.

The agents should tell you in their initial announcements that the vouchers have blackout periods if any and you need to know if that will work for you or not and it could be a determining factor. Don't be fooled either, the blackout dates are not negotiable and you won't be able to get the airline to wave them just for you! Your not that privileged, know body is so don't waste your time trying to barter this fact! If an agent or supervisor tells you different it B.S.! They don't have that power to make that kind of promise!

Travelers are often baffled why airlines can sell more tickets than they have seats. Airlines oversell flights because some passengers buy costly fully refundable tickets on more than one flight and then only use one. Other flights are overbooked because the airline had to substitute a smaller plane with fewer seats.

If you wonder why airlines over sell flights its because not every passenger for a flight always makes it and they always want flights to depart as close to full as possible. It's the business they are in and the more people they have the better but sometimes everyone does show up and they have to deal with it! They are prepared to deal with the inexperienced traveler and will exploit that to their advantage! Don't get caught with your pants down or you will never sit the same again!

While there are federal rules on bumping, there is no sweeping requirement for airlines to provide hotel rooms and meals for passengers who are stranded overnight, even if it's the carrier's fault, according to the Transportation Department. But you can haggle.
"It's up to the discretion of the carrier and the (gate) agent," says George Hobica, who operates
airfarewatchdog.com. "Some airlines will do their best if you ask nicely and you ask privately you'll do better than if you make a scene." He says when a long delay appears obvious, you should ask to be rebooked on another airline.

Let the airline rebook you to another carrier because they will handle the bag transfers, seating, reservations and accommodations if those are necessary. If you get downline from the problem city where everything started the airline you were rebooked to will tell you to go to the your original airline to get any additional assistance if needed so be prepared to do this if necessary!

Charlotte, N.C., real estate broker Mathew Bessette says Delta put him up in a hotel after his flight home from New York was canceled and a second flight spent four hours on the tarmac. He says he gained bargaining power by knowing the cause of the problem with his first flight no flight attendants.
"If their plane breaks down or their crew doesn't show up, that's their problem and it's their responsibility to accommodate you within reason," he says.

Remember that if the airline can control the situation in a delay the airline is liable but if it is something God controls the airline is not liable to compensate or protect you in anyway! Argue it if you like but you will be wasting your breath! A good way to be prepared for these type of situations is know the weather where your starting, enroute and at your destination! Remember too that the weather may look fine at your destination and the airline can still end up in a weather delay situation.

Veteran travelers say if a long delay will cause you to miss the reason for your trip a wedding or business meeting, for example ask for a refund. However, there is no law requiring the airline to give you a refund.

In my opinion if you plan your travel so close to an event you want or need to go to then whatever happens you deserve! Do not depend on the airlines to get you from point A to point B on time, same day or with ease because there are way too many other factors that come into play that could wipe out "your" plans and cause you to be delayed and or miss your planned event! Plan ahead and the earlier you know about something the better!

Airlines and passenger-rights groups are fighting over how the carriers handle long delays, and Congress may settle the issue. This month, a Senate committee passed a bill that would require airlines to let passengers off planes that are stuck on the tarmac for three hours.The airlines say such a law would make things worse by forcing planes that might be near the front of the takeoff line to taxi back to the gate, then go to the back of the pack. More flights would be canceled, says David Castelveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, a Washington trade group for the largest U.S. carriers. Consumer groups aren't buying it."No one believes that the airlines will fix the problem themselves," says Kate Hanni, a California real estate agent who created a passenger-rights group after being stranded on a grounded American Airlines jet for more than eight hours in December 2006. "They haven't yet."

Since airline travel is often stressful, and summer always brings many delays, experts advise you have a Plan B. Know what flights are available if yours is canceled. If your flight is pushed back or scrubbed, hop on your laptop or phone to see if you can rebook.

Airline travel is going to be stressful and if you plan ahead and expect to be delayed, cancelled flights and getting there without your bags you will have less to stress about! Your preplanning will make your trip less of a problem and make your trip go a little smoother and you will be able to make adjustments on the fly!

"Prepare for the worst," says Hobica, the travel expert. "Bring a good book."

I can't say it any better....Plan For The Worst and Hope For The Best But Always Have A Plan!!!

The Top 10 Reasons They Missed MSP

Just like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, unraveling the real story behind the Northwest/Delta Airlines crew who forgot to land at MSP just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. Brings to mind the gap in the Nixon Watergate tapes. If that doesn’t ring a bell, just assume it has to do with people trying to cover something up. Unconfirmed reports from DC actually said the CVR tape on the Airbus was blank … as in erased.

06 November 2009

Police sort through belongings of stolen bags

Locked safes, medical equipment, guns, piles of clothes among items
PHOENIX - Locked safes, medical equipment and clothing piled from floor to ceiling were among the hoards of personal belongings sorted by police on Thursday after a couple was arrested on charges they stole luggage at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Clothing from nearly 1,000 stolen bags took up entire rooms at the couple's home in Waddell, where police served a search warrant Tuesday. Police also uncovered about 25 guns at the residence, although it was unclear if the weapons were stolen from the luggage, said Sgt. Giogi Chiampo.
Keith King, 61, remained held Thursday in a Maricopa County jail on a $25,000 bond. His wife, Stacy Lynne Legg-King, 38, posted bond and was released from jail, according to police.

The couple was arrested Monday at their home about 20 miles northwest of Phoenix and were booked on suspicion of burglary and possession of stolen property. The arrests were part of an ongoing airport burglary operation.
Police said surveillance video showed Keith King parking in an airport garage and walking to the baggage-claim area to steal luggage. They said the two had been taking luggage from the airport over a period of a year or more.
Neighbors also reported seeing a trailer full of material arriving to the home in the middle of the night, which they described as suspicious. One told detectives that the couple frequently held garage sales to sell a variety of merchandise, including luggage.

Detectives are trying to track missing items, which include electronics like laptops, video games and cameras. Other items recovered at the Kings' home included GPS devices .
Phoenix Sgt. Giogi Chiampo said detectives were in touch with some victims of the Sky Harbor heists, but that returning stolen items to victims would be difficult because the bags had been stripped of identifying information.

“A lot of the baggage is very similar in nature,” she said. “The likelihood of matching everything we have is at this point slim. Most of what we have is empty luggage.”
Airport officials said they will discuss security measures, such as reinstituting routine baggage-claim checks to ensure bags are picked up by the correct passengers. Checks were eliminated several years ago to cut costs.

Pieces of stolen luggage at the Phoenix home of Keith Wilson King and Stacy Lynne Legg-King.

FAA tracking planes that flew over house hit by ice

Blue Ice Balls From Mars??? Maybe!!! lol
Sean Dowd, 11, (left) holds ice chunks retrieved from his family's yard overnight. At right is roof damage caused by a falling ice chunk. (Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune)
The Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation into a large piece of ice that fell from the sky and damaged the roof of a North Side house Wednesday night.

The home -- on the 4200 block of North Wolcott Avenue -- is about 10 miles from Runway 28 at O'Hare International Airport, and lies under one of the airport's flight paths.The FAA intends to look into whether any planes approaching O'Hare at the time of the incident may have leaked water.
"We heard a big boom. The whole house shook," said Paul Dowd of the unexpected encounter with the ice chunk. "And I looked outside. I thought it was the "L," or something that, I don't know, exploded, or whatever."His family heard a bang about 7:52 p.m. and rushed out of the house, where they found remnants of a large piece of ice that had struck and damaged their roof.

"There was no one else outside and our tenant in the basement was out, and he's like, "Some ice hit the house."FAA investigators' first step will be to review radar data from the time of the impact to determine which planes were overhead. Runway 28, an east-west runway, was used for landing Wednesday night by a variety of planes from around the country.

Once those planes are identified, investigators will seek to determine if any of them reported a leak -- providing the simplest possible answer for the source of the ice.Still, it is not the only answer, Molinaro said. Though the skies over Chicago were clear Wednesday evening, airplanes that flew through damp clouds anywhere en route to the Midwest could have accumulated structural ice that gathers on surfaces and around gears, struts and tail sections of aircraft.

In either case, as aircraft descend into warmer air, the heating makes it possible for attached ice to melt loose and fall. Occasionally, even as a large chunk. "It happens every so often," Molinaro said of falling ice. "Here in the Midwest, I might deal with it three times a year." He added it was extremely unlikely such a chunk might strike a house or a person. Nevertheless, he said, the FAA does not keep detailed statistics for falling ice. The family has filed a police report and contacted their insurance company.

Bird Strike near Show Low, AZ Injures Pilot and Damages Aircraft

On 4 November 2009, an Ameriflight Beech C-99 aircraft (N330AV) was cruising at about 11,000 feet in the vicinity of Show Low, AZ (KSOW) when one or more birds struck the aircraft and penetrated the windscreen.

The pilot, who was the lone occupant of the cargo aircraft, sustained minor injuries to his face and shoulder and was able to land the aircraft without further incident at Show Low, AZ. The blood in the accompanying photos is from the bird.

Date: 04-NOV-2009
Time: 7:50am
Type: Beechcraft C99 Airliner (cargo mod.)
Operator: Ameriflight
Registration: N330AV
C/n / msn: U-230
Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Airplane damage: Substantial
Location: In the vacinity of Show Low, AZ - United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature: Cargo
Departure airport: Phoenix - KPHX
Destination airport: Show Low - KSOW

Caution Pics May be considered graphic.

Photos by Mike Pflueger

AirTran Airways and Baltimore Ravens Unveil Custom Painted “Ravens 1”

ORLANDO, Fla. (October 27, 2009)

AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AAI) and the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens today unveiled a custom-painted, purple and black Boeing 717 dubbed, Ravens 1. "Our partnership with the Ravens is now literally flying high and we are so excited about adding this great looking aircraft to our fleet," said Kirk Thornburg, AirTran Airways' vice president of maintenance and engineering. "We are happy to demonstrate our commitment to this great franchise and thriving city with this beautifully painted aircraft.

"Millions of people will see the plane as it serves cities on AirTran Airways’ route network of more than 60 destinations. “The Baltimore Ravens are excited about the arrival of Ravens 1,” said Kevin Rochlitz, vice president of national sales for the Baltimore Ravens. “We look forward to seeing the Ravens and AirTran Airways brands flying together throughout AirTran’s network, emphasizing their commitment to the Baltimore Ravens and the community.” To celebrate the unique livery, AirTran Airways and the Ravens challenged staffers from Franklin Square Hospital, which is supported by Ravens tight end Todd Heap, to pull the aircraft for charity.

The airline rewarded their successful attempt with a $10,000 donation to the hospital. Ravens 1 marks the second team-themed aircraft in the AirTran Airways fleet.

Two weeks ago, the airline unveiled Falcons 1 and will introduce Colts 1 in the coming weeks. AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AAI) and a Fortune 1000 company, has been ranked the number one low cost carrier in the Airline Quality Rating study for the past two years.

AirTran is the only major airline with Wi-Fi on every flight and offers coast-to-coast service on North America’s newest all-Boeing fleet. Its low-cost, high-quality product also includes assigned seating, Business Class and complimentary XM Satellite Radio on every flight. To book a flight, visit www.airtran.com.

05 November 2009

Little X-Plane Pushes Bottom Edge of the Envelope

Flight test programs at Edwards Air Force Base and NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center usually are off-limits to outsiders, but we got a peek at one of its coolest programs, the X-48B, when the Air Force recently threw open the gates for an open house.

The X-48B is the latest in a long line of experimental X-planes, and the joint venture between NASA and Boeing’s Phantom Works is unlike most that came before. The blended wing-body aircraft isn’t some sort of sierra hotel fighter jet, it doesn’t have a pilot on board and it’s not even full-size. Despite being an unmanned scale model, the test pilots who fly it say all the challenges of experimental flight are still there.

Boeing test pilot Dan Wells and the X-48B

“We try to fly very precise data points,” Boeing’s Dan Wells, one of three test pilots flying the X-48B, told Wired.com. “It still requires precision flying; you just don’t have those motion cues. You still feel like you worked hard when you fly it.”

Winglet and control surfaces on X-48B

The X-48B comes in for a landing. Photo: NASA

Pilots and engineers often describe an airplane’s capabilities by referring to the edges of its performance plotted on a graph. These boundaries on the graph define the flight envelope. With the entire aircraft adding to the lift side of the equation, the blended wing-body design provides greater efficiency at high-altitude cruise speeds. But the challenge according to Wells are the airplane’s flying characteristics at the other end of the flight envelope.

“It’s great that it’s more fuel efficient at 35,000 feet,” he said. “But can you land it?”
Airplanes tend to be most challenging to fly at the lower speeds encountered during takeoff and landing. Here an airplane is at risk of stalling, a condition where the smooth flowing air over the lifting surface no longer flows so smoothly. The result is a loss of lift. In order to be safe to fly, an airplane should have good, or at least manageable, stall characteristics allowing a pilot to recover and maintain control. Wells says flying wings typically don’t have good stall characteristics, so the challenge is creating an airplane that will be safe and controllable at low speeds.

Here is one of the X-48B's three small jet engines.

To examine the low-speed characteristics, the team is examining the X-48B’s behavior at a high angle of attack similar to how it might fly during takeoff or landing. With more than 70 flights completed so far, the X-48B has demonstrated the design can overcome some of the challenges that have plagued similarly unusual aircraft.

“This platform and our flight control system allow us to go to a much, much higher angle of attack,” Wells says (an alpha of 23 degrees for you aerodynamics geeks). “So far we’ve shown that we have very good low-speed handling qualities and that’s the whole purpose of this program — to show that this design of an airplane will fly in the low-speed environment.”

Next up for the X-48 team is the transition to the X-48C model. The newer design will have two engines that are more efficient, allowing the crew to conduct longer test flights. But don’t hold your breath waiting to see anything bigger. So far there are no plans for a full-size test vehicle. Aviation analysts say before a company like Boeing would be willing to invest the money required for a full-scale version, oil prices would climb into triple digits to assure a sufficient demand for the fuel-efficient airplane.

Until that happens, Boeing and NASA can continue to push the edge of the envelope with a modest investment in the little X-48B.

First and second photos of the X-48B: NASA. All others: Jason Paur/Wired.com.

A close-up of X-48B cockpit shows all the detail of a full-size airplane.

Call to NORAD delayed until after Northwest Airlines plane overshoots airport

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was notified and fighter jets were prepped to go if needed. This morning, CNN questioned why the FAA didn’t notify NORAD sooner. NORAD was notified approximately one hour after Flight 188 lost communication, but not until after the plane overshot the airport.

After September 11 many security issues have changed, especially when dealing with the FAA, airports and planes. CNN stated that perhaps after this investigation is complete that laws concerning air traffic safety may still need to change.

7:56 pm EST – Flight 188 lost communication
8:58 pm EST – Flight 188 overshoots airport and continues for 150 miles
9:14 pm EST – Contact with Flight 188 is re-established

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Fighters from two North American Aerospace Defense Command sites were put on alert Oct. 21 for a Northwest Airlines commercial airliner that was not responding to radio calls from the Federal Aviation Administration. Before the fighters were ordered airborne, FAA re-established communications with the pilots of the Northwest Airlines commercial airliner and subsequently, the NORAD fighters were ordered to stand down. NORAD does not discuss locations of alerts sites. No further information will be provided as the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are continuing their investigations.

NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American command that is responsible for the air defense of North America and maritime warning. The command has three subordinate regional headquarters: the Alaskan NORAD Region at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska; the Canadian NORAD Region at Winnipeg, Manitoba; and the Continental NORAD Region at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The command is poised to provide a multilayered defense to detect, deter and prevent potential threats from flying over the airspace of the United States and Canada.

NORAD's mission is carried out in close collaboration with homeland defense, security, and law enforcement partners.

The FAA announced the revocation of the pilot's licenses.
The press release reads: "The Federal Aviation Administration has revoked the licenses of two Northwest Airlines pilots who overflew their destination airport on October 21, 2009 while operating Flight 188 from San Diego to Minneapolis.
"The pilots were out of contact with air traffic controllers for an extended period of time and told federal investigators that they were distracted by a conversation. Air traffic controllers and airline officials repeatedly tried to reach them through radio and data contact, without success.

"The emergency revocations cite violations of a number of Federal Aviation Regulations. Those include failing to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating carelessly and recklessly.
The revocations are effective immediately. The pilots have 10 days to appeal the emergency revocations to the National Transportation Safety Board."
Is anyone surprised?

Video Shows a How a Laptop Blocks Instruments on Airbus