The fascinating history of the first commercial jetliner

The de Havilland Comet, unveiled in 1952 to great acclaim, was beset with technical problems that grounded the entire fleet by 1954. One of the big design flaws? Square windows. Read the rest

Former Facebook exec Randi Zuckerberg "disgusted & degraded" by harassment on Alaska Airlines flight

Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook's former spokesperson and sister of founder Mark Zuckerberg, was told by Alaska Airlines flight crew to put up it when a fellow traveler sexually harassed her. She described herself as "disgusted & degraded" in an open letter to the airline's brass.

CNN:

Zuckerberg said the flight attendants offered to move her to a middle seat in the back of the plane, but she said she refused because she didn't feel she should have to give up her seat when she was the one being harassed.

Zuckerberg said she also learned that the comments were not unusual and that the flight attendants had previous conversations with the male passenger about his behavior. She said they told her "don't take it personally, this guy just doesn't have a filter." According to Zuckerberg, the man continued to make sexual comments throughout the flight.

The airline apologized and banned the harassing passenger. Moral of the story: if you're a woman and don't want to be shushed by a flight crew indifferent to the leering alcohol-soaked asshole in the next seat over, be powerful and famous enough to ruin their bosses' day.

Photo: Monika Flueckiger / World Economic Forum (CC) Read the rest

Flights From Hell: online documentary of unruly passengers and crewmembers

Airplane travel is not much fun these days (unless you are very rich). It's made worse by drunken passengers, sociopathic flight attendants, and mechanical issues. “Flights From Hell: Caught On Camera” is a cheap, sensationalistic documentary that compiles the best of the worst flight incidents in recent years.

Via One Mile at a Time. Read the rest

Casey Neistat videos his Lufthansa first class flight

Vlogger Casey Neistat used miles to fly Lufthansa on first class. "Everybody's so nice!"

They have nice showers in the lounge and they even have a whole closet for his skateboard. Read the rest

Delta Airlines kicks man off plane for urgent need to use the restroom before takeoff

There have been times when I've had a strong urge to pee while sitting on a plane that's waiting for takeoff. Fortunately, I wasn't punished for it. But one poor guy on Delta flight wasn't as lucky. He urgently had to pee. The plane had been sitting motionless on the runway for 30 minutes. He got up to go to the restroom, but a Delta airline attendant told him to get back in his seat. He obeyed the order, but his bladder wasn't happy about it. He got up again, and this time he used the restroom. Shortly after that, the pilot announced that he was pulling the plane back to the gate. Everyone had to get off, and then everyone except the man who peed was allowed back on. The FBI then arrived to speak with the man. Delta allowed the man to purchase a very expensive same-day ticket to fly home to see his kids.

I guess Delta would rather have let his bladder burst.

From YouTube description:

After waiting on tarmac with no foreseeable information that we would take off anytime soon, passenger quickly used bathroom (less than 1 minute). Delta determined to return to the gate (not too far away!) and remove the passenger. This is the first Delta employee who came on (Horatio) speaking not very kindly to the passenger.

One fellow passenger on the flight has created a blog called Frustrated Passenger, to express he displeasure with Delta for the way they treated the man:

Dear Delta:

On Delta flight # 2035 this week, I observed the most outrageous treatment of a paying customer that I have seen in my two decades of flying.

Read the rest

American Airlines employee appears to hit woman with baby stroller, challenges passenger to 'hit me'

Et tu, American Airlines?

Just weeks after a shocking video surfaced of a United Airlines passenger being violently dragged off a flight for refusing to give up his seat, a new video shows an intense confrontation between American Airlines employees and passengers, including a woman holding a baby stroller.

Surain Adyanthaya is credited with capturing the video, and says it happened on American Airlines flight 591 from San Francisco to Dallas.

The video was posted to r/dallas, and started to go viral even before the flight landed at DFW.

The original Reddit poster says he was told it started over how a flight attendant dealt with a young mother who was trying to store a stroller in an overhead bin.

Jalopnik watched it, so you don't have to:

The video starts with the woman already crying at the front of the airplane, holding a child in her arms and asking for her stroller back. You can hear another upset passenger say he’s “not going to sit here and watch this...” before making his way to the front of the plane to confront the flight attendants and ask for the name of the employee that allegedly hit the crying woman.

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Designing airplane interiors to feel bigger than they are

A commercial airline is no Tardis ("bigger on the inside") but designers and engineers do use several techniques to reduce your claustrophobia in the sky.

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The hidden lever to raise aisle seat armrests on commercial planes

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

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?

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'

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

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

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

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.

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

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)

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

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