Airline food's better days

In this clip from Smithsonian's "I Was A Jet Set Stewardess" feature, flight attendants from the 1960s reminisce about the multicourse meals during the golden age of jet setting.

US to airlines: disclose all fees hidden in ticket prices to customers

The US Transportation Department today proposed air travelers be given detailed information on the fees they're being charged for each checked bag, advance seat assignments, and carry-on luggage.

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What's climate change ruining today?

Okay, sure, jet travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions (this is situation where a small percentage is actually a really big number, fyi). So this is maybe more ironic than tragic, but it turns out that some scientists think changing climates could have an effect on air turbulence. Specifically, one model suggests it will increase the ferocity and frequency of surprise areas of turbulence that pilots can't see coming.

How safe is safe?

The precautionary principle comes up a lot when you're talking about the side effects of technology in the real world. When you don't have evidence that something is dangerous — but you suspect it might be — you could cite the precautionary principle as a reason to ban or limit the use of that thing. It's a messy idea, though, and I'm still not sure what to think about it. On the one hand, technology is often available before data on the wide-ranging effects of that technology are available. Do you use it or not is a legitimate question. On the other hand, following the precautionary principle in a blind sort of way can lead to things like this.

JetBlue planning free in-flight Wi-Fi rollout in early 2013

The Verge reports that US-based airline JetBlue will "roll out high-speed wireless networking in the first quarter of 2013," and that the service will be free for passengers. Instead of GoGo, "which Jetblue derides as slow and unsatisfactory," the airline will use supplier ViaSat.

Solar Impulse plane lands, completing world's first intercontinental flight powered by the sun (photos)

Photo: REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

The Solar Impulse plane project president and pilot Bertrand Piccard lands after a 19-hour flight from Madrid at Rabat's International airport, June 5, 2012. The plane landed in Morocco on Tuesday, completing the world's first intercontinental flight powered by the sun to show the potential for pollution-free air travel.

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Solar-powered airplane "Solar Impulse" attempts transcontinental flight

Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

A Solar Impulse aircraft takes off at Payerne airport May 24, 2012, piloted by André Borschberg. The Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype aircraft, which has 12,000 solar cells built into its jumbo-jet-sized wings (about 200 feet long), attempted its first intercontinental flight from Switzerland to Morocco with a few days for a technical stop and a change of pilot in Madrid. This flight will act as a final rehearsal for the 2014 round-the-world flight.

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Flying the Hello Kitty skies (photo)

Almost as much fun as the "Unicorn Chaser" plane Boing Boing named for Virgin America airlines! A passenger looks out of an Airbus A330-300 aircraft of Taiwan's Eva Airlines, decorated with Hello Kitty motifs, in Taoyuan International Airport, northern Taiwan, April 30, 2012. Taiwan's second-largest carrier, Eva Airlines, and Japan's comic company, Sanrio, which owns the Hello Kitty brand, collaborated on the second generation Hello Kitty-themed aircraft which was launched on October 2011. There are currently three Hello Kitty-themed Airbus A330-300 aircrafts flying between cities such as Taipei, Fukuoka, Narita, Sapporo, Incheon, Hong Kong and Guam. More photos here, and we've previously blogged about the earlier generation of the Hello Kitty planes on Eva. (REUTERS/Pichi Chuang)

Naked Portlandian man protests TSA screening injustice through nakedness

A bearded gentleman in Portland, Oregon who was upset about being "harassed by airport security" took off all of his clothes while in the TSA screening lane Tuesday evening. He was arrested, taken to jail, and held on $4,000 bail.

According to Portland police, John E. Brennan took off his clothes while going through airport screening at Portland International Airport just after 5:30 p.m. and stood naked before other passengers, including children. Two screening lanes were closed as a result. Some passengers covered their eyes as well as their children's and retreated from the sight. But others laughed and began snapping photos.

(...) Said Brennan's father, also John Brennan, when reached by KATU News Tuesday night: "This is quite a shock. He hasn't been under any stress that I know of. He's never really under any stress. He works for a computer company in California. He does something with the Internet, which is just kind of mystical to me. This is quite a surprise."

Interviewed today by a Portland TV news program, Mr. Brennan (who has participated in Portland's Naked Bike Rides before) says he felt it was "the right thing to do." He is a frequent flyer who must travel often for his job (in San Jose, CA, I gather?), and he is tired of the TSA's junk-touching ways.

Oh, laugh all you want. And, sure, it's been done before. But this dude is my hero.

Photo: Brian Reilly, via KOMO News

FAA to review in-flight gadget policies, maybe, eventually

The US Federal Aviation Administration today announced it is exploring ways to make it easier for airlines to allow travelers to use connected gadgets like phones, iPads, and tablet PCs during plane takeoff and landing.

A statement released today says the FAA is “exploring ways to bring together all of the key stakeholders involved” (airlines, plane manufacturers, consumer electronics producers, and unions representing flight attendants) to discuss the possibility of testing devices to determine if they are safe for passengers to use during the most critical phases of flight.

“No changes will be made until we are certain they will not impact safety and security," read the statement. FAA rules currently require fliers to shut down their electronic devices when the plane's altitude is below 10,000 feet.

Snip from Nick Bilton at the NYT's Bits blog:

Abby Lunardini, vice president of corporate communications at Virgin America, explained that the current guidelines require that an airline must test each version of a single device before it can be approved by the F.A.A. For example, if the airline wanted to get approval for the iPad, it would have to test the first iPad, iPad 2 and the new iPad, each on a separate flight, with no passengers on the plane.

It would have to do the same for every version of the Kindle. It would have to do it for every different model of plane in its fleet. And American, JetBlue, United, Air Wisconsin, etc., would have to do the same thing. (No wonder the F.A.A. is keeping smartphones off the table since there are easily several hundred different models on the market.) Ms. Lunardini added that Virgin America would like to perform these tests, but the current guidelines make it “prohibitively expensive, especially for an airline with a relatively small fleet that is always in the air on commercial flights like ours.”

More at the New York Times, Associated Press, and Wall Street Journal.

Photo: "Person Holding a Business Phone While on a Plane," Jim Lopes, Shutterstock.