The surreal experience of flying during a pandemic

"[F]lying during a pandemic turned out to be more stressful—and surreal—than I’d planned for," writes McKay Copkins in The Atlantic. After two months of social distancing Copkins went on a reporting trip that required a plane flight. He was looking forward to the trip, but as soon as he got on the plane he realized that air travel is no fun during a pandemic.

I arrived at my assigned row, and found a stocky, gray-haired man in the seat next to mine. When I moved to sit down, he stopped me. “Sit there,” he said gruffly, pointing to the aisle behind us. “Social distance.”

Not eager for a confrontation, I decided to comply. Within seconds, though, a flight attendant materialized and ordered me back to my assigned seat. My recalcitrant would-be seatmate, vigorously objecting to this development, responded by blocking my entrance to the row with his leg.

Photo by Ethan McArthur on Unsplash Read the rest

Gentleman on EasyJet flight began eating his phone, forced landing

A gentleman on an easyJet flight from Manchester to Iceland apparently began disassembling and chewing up parts of his mobile phone, causing the battery to smoke and alarming passengers. Prior to this snack, Matthew Flaherty, 44, was simply acting like a drunk asshole violently threatening passengers and crew. The pilot diverted the plane to Edinburgh Aiport. Upon Flaherty's arrest, he screamed racist remarks to the police. The incident happened last year and Flaherty was just in court to face the music. From The Scotsman:

Solicitor Richard Souter, defending, said his client was “aghast at his behaviour” on the flight and had little recollection of the events due to mixing alcohol with painkillers he had taken for a trapped nerve.

Mr Souter said the combination of medication and alcohol had “an adverse effect on his behaviour”.

Sheriff Thomas Welsh QC said Flaherty had carried out an “extremely serious offence” and deferred sentence to next month for the preparation of reports.

The sheriff added: “This is an extremely serious case and you should prepare yourself for custody.”

image credit: Adrian Pingstone (public domain) Read the rest

Passenger who tried to open plane door during flight given 2-year sentence

Last June, Chloe Haines (26) was on a flight from Dalaman in Turkey. She suddenly got out of her seat and shouted to the 206 other people on board, "I want to die" and "I'm going to kill you all" as she lunged at an exit door handle. The crew and passengers were able to restrain her.

This week, Chelmsford Crown Court court found Haines guilty and sentenced her to two years in prison, reports The Standard:

Judge Charles Gratwicke, sentencing the 26-year-old at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday, said: "Those that are trapped in the confined space of the aircraft will inevitably be distressed, frightened and petrified by the actions of those who in a drunken state endanger their lives.

"For some it will be their worst nightmare come true."

(Image by dayamay from Pixabay) Read the rest

Social media influencer who falsely claimed to have coronavirus during flight is arrested after plane made emergency landing

Potok Philippe, a 28-year-old self-styled social media influencer, was charged with mischief after he told fellow plane passengers, "Can I get everybody’s attention please. I just came back from Hunan province, the capital of the coronavirus. I’m not feeling too well. Thank you." The plane made an emergency landing and Philippe was arrested.

From Metro UK:

He later said "it was simply a joke" and that he had hoped to go viral on Instagram with the prank, which saw him being escorted off the plane in a mask and gloves that airline staff made him wear. Potok was arrested and charged with mischief after the WestJet plane was forced to turn back and a second flight was also cancelled as a result.  The aspiring musician, who calls himself Potok Philippe and has more than 30,000 Instagram followers, told City News in Toronto: "It would be something else if I said 'hey guys I have a bomb strapped to me, I have a weapon on me,' people blew it out of proportion. To me it was simply a joke. About mid-way through the flight I stood up, pulled my video camera out – I was going to post it to Instagram, send it to 6ixbuzz so it goes viral." He said he was shocked when nobody laughed and said within 15 minutes cabin crew staff were wearing masks and put him in a mask and gloves as well.

Philippe's remoreless, narcissistic self-promotion reminds me of the Imperial Stars, an execrable music group that shut down a major freeway in Los Angeles to play a set to a captive audience sitting in stalled cars. Read the rest

United Airlines reports "significant decline in demand" for flights to China

United Airlines announced it would be canceling scheduled flights to China beginning in February, citing a "significant decline in demand," reports CNBC.

″We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will adjust our schedule as needed,” United said in a statement. United operates about 12 flights a day from the U.S. to mainland China and Hong Kong, and the changes will cut that number by three or four per day. The changes reduce flights to Hong Kong from San Francisco and Newark; to Beijing from Washington Dulles, Newark and Chicago; and Shanghai service from San Francisco, Newark and Chicago.

Meanwhile 20 US airports will soon start screening for coronavirus symptoms, up from five airports currently checking.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash Read the rest

If everyone hates Spirit Airlines, how is it making so much money?

Everyone likes to make fun of budget airline Spirit, which charges extra for almost everything besides a small hard seat. And yet it is very profitable. In his new role as a Medium columnist, the inimitable Rob Walker explains why the derided brand is rolling in cash. The short answer: Spirit might not be an enjoyable way to travel, but passengers know what they are getting into.

Spirit is successful, Engel suggests, “because it is grounded in honesty.” By this, he means the carrier is quite clear about its value proposition and who its target customer is, and there’s none of the “brand confusion” a customer experience when a mainstream carrier suddenly offers a bare-bones experience. “Their customer proposition is easier to understand, and in some ways has more integrity, than the offering from many other airlines,” he says. “It’s just that the product offering is not attractive to all customers.”

Spirit has delivered on what it actually promises — not on what somebody else suggests it might have promised. The brand might be a joke to pop culture but not to its customers, and it’s the latter that counts. “There’s a sizable market segment who is willing to forgo the frills for rock bottom price,” Engel says.

Image by Sunnya343 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link Modified Read the rest

Wuhan virus puts airlines on high alert around the world

Here’s a good explainer from Reuters on the airline industry’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak so far. If the virus spreads becomes a pandemic, this could impact world financial markets as did SARS in 2003. Read the rest

No more emotional-support animals on planes except specially trained dogs if these new FAA rules are approved

Whither the in-flight emotional support miniatures horses?

“Officials highlighted a few areas where they are most eager to get comments, including whether miniatures horses should continue to qualify as service animals”

Proposed new FAA rules would mean no more passengers bringing what are identified as emotional-support animals on airplanes, unless the animals are specially trained dogs that meet requirements. Read the rest

Passengers with mobile WiFi network named "Remote Detonator" removed from plane

At Detroit Metropolitan Airport, police removed two passengers from a GoJet/Delta Connection flight because they apparently wouldn't turn off a mobile phone that reportedly had a WiFi network name of "Remote Detonator." From the Detroit Free Press:

...Flight attendants announced that they’d be calling police if personal WiFi wasn’t turned off, (passenger Aaron) Greenberg said.

It was a nerve-racking moment when an estimated 10 emergency vehicles with flashing lights surrounded the plane, he said...

A flight attendant told him there was a personal WiFi called “remote detonator” that was never turned off.

(Wayne County Airport Authority spokesperson Lisa) Gass could not confirm the name of the WiFi hot spot, but said both removed passengers – a 42-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man, both from Quebec – were released following the incident, pending further investigation.

image: Kai Hendry/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) Read the rest

Technical problems — not missiles — may have downed Ukrainian airliner in Iran, say some intel experts

All 176 people on board died.

The Ukrainian airliner that went down just after liftoff in Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard, probably suffered a technical malfunction and was not brought down by a missile -- that's what various Western intelligence sources are now saying.

The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 dropped from about 8,000 feet to earth in a fireball shortly after take-off from Tehran. Read the rest

This $27,000 airplane "seat" is actually a shower, bedroom, and living room

Casey Neistat rode on the Etihad A380 The Residence, and made a video about it. The $27,000 ticket (which was comped) is basically a small apartment, which a private bathroom and shower (with a 10-minute meter, as if he was on Arrakis), a living room, and a private bedroom.

I like to imagine a rich person flying this way and being miserable because they can't afford a private jet. Read the rest

Immerse yourself in these stunning 4K airplane cockpit videos

Go full screen for this 4K video of an Airbus A380 landing at night at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. The YouTube channel, High Pressure Aviation Films, offers dozens of POV flight videos, from landings in Tahiti and Tokyo to the clip below of the Northern Lights seen from inside a Boeing 777 on its way from Los Angeles to Paris.

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What to do when random airport security screening isn't all that random

With the holiday season upon us, folks will soon be flying to see folks. Some people are able to breeze through airport security lines with nothing more than a removal of their shoes. Others? Not so much: they're seemingly chosen at 'random' for 'additional screening' every time they step foot in an airport. I'm one of those people. I know what it is about me that gives the TSA, CATSA and other Five Eyes nations aviation security professionals the no feeling when I travel internationally. While it slows my partner and I down when we're trying to get on with getting to our gate, I appreciate the effort that the security personnel at the airports I fly out of put into making sure that everyone has a safe flight.

I can only imagine that not everyone chosen for additional screening on a regular basis feels the same. If you're looking for an explanation for why you might be getting that extra pat-down and bag search Lifehacker's got your back.

From Lifehacker:

What then might influence whether you’re chosen for enhanced screening? Well, we’ll preface this by stating the obvious: The TSA isn’t forthcoming about its selection process. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, the details that make up its algorithm cannot be made public for “security reasons.” (What we do know is that TSA uses Secure Flight, a pre-screening process that involves identifying “low and high-risk passengers before they arrive at the airport by matching their names against trusted traveler lists and watch lists.”)

Read the rest

Airline passenger who tried to open jet door in flight given a £85,000 bill

Chloe Haines, 26, received a £85,000 (US$105,000) bill from Jet2 airlines after she was charged with beating a crew member and trying to open the plane door while in flight. As a result of her alleged antics, the pilot made an emergency landing while being escorted by two RAF fighter jets. In addition to the bill, Jet2 banned Haines for life.

The Sun has photos of Haines looking unhappy at her court appearance.

Image: NY Post video screenshot Read the rest

Qantas flies passengers around for 19 hours in the name of science.

At 19-hours and 16-minutes, the recent Qantas' non-stop flight from New York, 'Murica to Sydney, Australia is the longest haul to be had on a commercial flight. Currently, the this long-ass trek isn't an option for the traveling public to undertake. Rather, the flight seen in this video is one of three that Qantas is has planned, during which it'll be studying the physiological and physiological effects that being on an airplane for so long could have on a passenger.

Image via Wikipedia Commons Read the rest

JOHN WILCOCK: Visiting Japan on Five Dollars a Day

From John Wilcock, New York Years, by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall.

Greetings, Wilcock readers! The series will complete here on Boing Boing, in weekly installments, through the end of the year.

(See all Boing Boing installments)

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"Huge drug bust" at Gatwick Airport was actually vegan cake mix

Last week, police at London's Gatwick Airport turned up a suitcase filled with bags of white powder. Further testing revealed that the pile of evidence was actually vegan cake mix on its way to a restaurant in Brighton.

According to a statement from the British Transport Police, the bags "were soon reunited with the owner, who has promised officers and staff a slice of cake in return."

(CNN) Read the rest

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