The hidden lever to raise aisle seat armrests on commercial planes

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My friend, the brilliant Pam Grossman (What is a Witch, Phantasmaphile), posted the following discovery on her Facebook page. You are undoubtedly already familiar with the fact that the armrests on plane seats can be raised and lowered, all expect for the aisle rest. Turns out, that one can also be raised, if you can find the lever. It's under the armrest (if it exists on your model aircraft) and probably looks something like the one above. Pam describes her squee in finding it to be a for-real feature:
I have been taking a lot of flights of late, and so I have garnered a few tips to offer re: how to make things *slightly* less horrid when doing so. But holy horses, this one changed my life on this last go-round. When I tried it - and it worked! - it was all I could do to keep from leaping to my feet and crowing about it to my fellow passengers like some sort of zealous banshee.
In the responses on her FB page, someone asked about the other "few tips" she alluded to. I asked Pam's permission to include her reply here. There may be a few useful ideas in here for you. I have recently become a convert of 1 & 2:
Oh, not secrets. Just silly little tips. Here are a few more: 1. TSA Pre-Check is highly worth it and makes everything so much better. 2. Buying a carry-on wheelie bag with 4 wheels that go in all directions is worth it 3.
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Build your own private gyrocopter

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Frequently seen in the pages of 1950s-era Popular Mechanics magazines, the Bensen B-8 was a small gyrocopter that was in production until 1987. Download the plans and build your own two-person gyrocpter fleet to compete with Uber and Lyft!

(via Weird Universe)

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Why did the Concorde supersonic plane fail?

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The Concorde is a supersonic commercial airliner that took people from New York City to Paris in around 3.5 hours. It's heyday was in the 1970s and it finally stopped operation in 2003. Learn why in the Vox video above and in Lawrence Azerrad's magnificent Boing Boing classic feature "Flight of the Concordes!"

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TSA head of security 'removed from his position'

Kelly Hoggan, former head of security for TSA.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration asked its head of security to turn in his badge and bright blue gloves. Kelly Hoggan has been 'removed from his post.'

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Flyover Country is an app that makes the window seat worth it

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Smithsonian Magazine reviews a free smartphone app called Flyover Country that makes it more fun to be in the window seat. No Wi-Fi needed.

Flyover Country uses maps and data from various geological and paleontological databases to identify and give information on the landscape passing beneath a plane. The user will see features tagged on a map corresponding to the ground below. To explain the features in depth, the app relies on cached Wikipedia articles. Since it works solely with a phone’s GPS, there’s no need for a user to purchase in-flight wifi. Sitting in your window seat, you can peer down on natural features like glaciers and man-made features, such as mines, and read Wikipedia articles about them at the same time. If you're flying over an area where dinosaur bones have been discovered, you can read about that too. Curious about why the river below you bends the way it does? The app will tell you that as well.

[via] Read the rest

Blizzard shuts down Denver International Airport, impacting air traffic across country

pic: weathernationtv.com

Officials shut down Denver International Airport on Wednesday, canceling over 1,000 flights after a mega snowstorm temporarily knocked out power and created conditions unsafe for plane takeoffs and landings unsafe.

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Lithium batteries should be banned as cargo on passenger planes, says UN aviation watchdog

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Planes that carry passengers should be prohibited from carrying large quantities of lithium batteries in cargo, a United Nations aviation watchdog says.

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You think holiday air travel sucks? Try flying while disabled. On American Airlines.

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Air travel is degrading, stressful, and humiliating enough as it is, so imagine doing it when you can’t get up and walk off the plane.

United Airlines sorry they forced disabled man to crawl off plane to use bathroom

D'Arcee Neal (Facebook)

A man with physical disabilities was forced to crawled off a plane at Reagan National Airport in Arlington VA, when United Airlines failed to provide him with help disembarking.

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The Concorde will fly again! (maybe)

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Fans of the iconic supersonic Concorde aircraft hope to bring the plane back into the skies in the next few years. Club Concorde, a group of enthusiasts including pilots and frequent fliers, has more than $250 million they will use to buy one of the planes for display as a London tourist attraction and to purchase and restore another for air shows, special events, and private charter. The last flight of a Concorde was in 2003. From The Telegraph:

(Club Concorde president Paul) James will be well placed to cater to that demographic. During the aircraft’s heyday, he worked as a tour operator and chartered Concorde 19 times for luxury trips. A particularly extravagant excursion was a one-day visit to the pyramids in Cairo in 1982; priced at £780, it was marketed as the most expensive day trip in the world. He suggests that this future incarnation of the plane could be used, for example, to take groups from London to Monaco for the Grand Prix...

Jonathan Glancey, author of Concorde: the Rise and Fall of the Supersonic Airliner, believes the group could well succeed in their efforts. “So many people miss Concorde [and it] could certainly fly again given both financial and technical wings, while from a technical point of view there is nothing a team of expert and motivated engineers can’t tackle. For the moment, we should support it."

And of course, don't miss designer Lawrence Azerrad's Boing Boing feature about his love for this very special aircraft. Read the rest

Man charged with urinating on other flight passengers

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A 27-year-old man on a JetBlue flight allegedly stood up and "began urinating through the crack between the seats in front of him - and onto the passengers sitting there," according to AP. When the plane landed, Portland police came aboard and had to wake the man, who had fallen asleep, before arresting him. He was charged with criminal mischief and offensive littering, and released on his own recognizance.

Thomas La Mela / Shutterstock.com Read the rest

United rewards security researchers with air miles

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The BBC reports that after two "hackers" spotted security holes in its website, United rewarded them with a million miles each.

One security expert said the scheme was a big step forward for online security.

"Schemes like this reward hackers for finding and disclosing problems in the right way. That makes the internet safer for all of us," said security consultant Dr Jessica Barker.

"Bug bounties are common in tech companies as they tend to understand online security a bit more, but other industries are catching up," said Dr Barker.

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Anti-gadget flight attendants lose in court

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A lawsuit, filed by the Association of Flight Attendants claiming that the Federal Aviation Administration acted improperly in allowing passengers to use gadgets during takeoff and landing, was killed by a DC appeals court.

If it seems odd that flight attendants would hate passenger-mollifying entertainment boxes, Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar explains that it was really about how much leeway the FAA has to change fight rules without consultation. From the AFA's filing:

"When an agency proposes a controversial change in a rule that affects public safety, it must be made through the proper rule-making process, with the opportunity for public notice and comment. In this instance, Respondent circumvented the rule-making process and in doing so, failed to provide clear policyor guidance for securing and stowing [personal electronic devices] and failed to provide a study showing that PEDs held in hand or held in a seat back pocket would remain secure." Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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