Obese Toddler Kicked Off Plane For Not Turning Off Cellphone

No fat babies April Fools 2012A family traveling to Orlando this week had to make other plans after their son was taken off the plane by airline staff for throwing a tantrum that delayed departure from Houston. The boy, aged 20 months, had been screaming for ice cream and had been given a cellphone to pacify him. When a flight attendant asked the parents to turn the device off, the toddler refused to end his “Words with Friends” game.

“Given the fact that the boy was rolling over the arm rests, we assumed he was over the lap child age,” said a flight attendant, who asked not to be named. “I don’t think he needed that ice cream he demanded either,” added a passenger seated next to the family. “It’s time for the parents to buy him his own seat, maybe two.”

The family was removed from the flight as a safely precaution, and given a voucher for an airport ice cream shop.

[Photo via Flickr user Mykl Roventine.]

Photo Of The Day: Ten Billion Dollar Bill

A ten billion dollar bill? Must be another one of those crazy Gadling April Fool’s Day posts, right? Except it’s real. Today’s photo comes to us from a store in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where I recently came across this framed ten billion dollar bill from Zimbabwe. Back in 2009, as the Zimbabwean economy was in free-fall, the country started printing 50, 20 and 10 Trillion dollar notes in an effort to keep up with rampant hyperinflation.

Taken any great photos (hilarious or otherwise) during your recent travels? Why not share them with us by adding them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Trend-Spotting: Backpacker Food Gets Hip

In the midst of a challenging global economic landscape, many travel lovers aren’t able to globetrot like they once did. Some innovative entrepreneurs have sensed an opportunity and are finding new ways to bring the world home, and restaurants are setting the trend. Restaurateurs have long sought to recreate world cuisines in other parts of the world – hence the popularity of Japanese cuisine in San Francisco, Indian in London. Now some cutting-edge restaurants are going one step further and are attempting to bring the travel experience itself to diners.

At New York City’s Vegabond in the South Bronx, open for less than a year but already drawing a crowd of younger foodies through word of mouth, diners are digging into what looks a lot like backpacker food, but with a modern high-concept spin.

Dishes are produce-heavy, often with an Asian street food influence, and notably spare: portions are modest, garnishes non-existent. The regular menu item ‘instant ramen with powdered vegetable broth’ looks much like a version that might be found in Styrofoam bowl from a vending machine, but the instant noodles and powdered broth are both prepared in-house by Vegabond chefs and cooked table-side. ‘It was a eureka moment,’ says owner and chef Zach McReady. ‘Making a perfect vegetable broth and then turning it into a uniform powder is no easy feat.’Not surprisingly, McReady’s food was influenced by his own travels. ‘When I spent a year backpacking around the world after culinary school, my eyes were opened to a wide range of new foods, simpler foods, even foods I used to think of as abominations created by an industrial food complex gone haywire. What I had learned at school was a very restricted, pleasure-centric view of the culinary world. Most western cuisine is focused on providing an experience of artificial abundance and luxury to diners, but it completely misses the deeper joys that one can experience through challenge and deprivation.’

But never fear, Vegabond diners won’t leave hungry, especially if they’re clever. ‘There’s a social gaming element here much like you’ll find in a real-life travel experience,’ McReady explains. ‘When you’re on the road with very little money, you have to treat each meal like a puzzle. How do you maximize your resources? Your drink for the evening might come from a half bottle of wine left on another table, or you might get a bit of something free by ingratiating yourself to a complete stranger or haggling like you might at a hostel. We encourage this type of intimate engagement with the meal, and most diners leave feeling like they’ve done something vibrant and exciting.’ He smiles, ‘But you have to be fast, leftover wine won’t last long here.’

Frequent Vegabond diner and world traveller Jasmine Toole makes the trek from Hoboken whenever she can beg a ride from a friend. ‘I don’t mind coming up to SoBro for this. The food here isn’t that delicious, sumptuous food you might find at one of the Michelin rated places,’ she says dismissively. ‘It’s more real than that.’

Similar things are afoot at San Francisco’s 4iJ (pronounced ‘forage’), more upscale but with a wry bent. An amuse bouche of truffled cashews and micro-cheese puffs comes sealed in a plastic pouch like you might find in an airplane meal or a gas station market. Starters include creative options like vacuum-packed hand-pulled string cheese, squashed ‘hotel lobby croissant’ crostini with confit of peppered beef jerky, and a fallen-fruit salad that has proven very popular with diners.

Chef de Cuisine Gilbert Lilly explains, ‘Fallen fruit is typically ignored and wasted, but it’s sweeter and more nuanced than perfect-looking fruit that’s picked under-ripe. Once you go bruised, you never go back. As any budget traveler knows, eating from local markets is a cheaper option than going to restaurants, but what’s a better bargain than free fruit from the ground?’

‘It might sound weird to some,’ says Lilly, ‘but think of it like this: if you can’t go to Naples, go to a Neapolitan pizza place. If you can’t backpack around the world scrimping on every meal, come here. Sure it might cost more, but the experience is very authentic.’

New ‘Retro’ Airline Air Wright Takes To The Skies

A new airline is shaking up the aviation industry today with its announcement of a new “retro” flight service concept. Called Air Wright after the historic flight pioneers, the new company is taking the current trend for all things vintage to the next level, offering passengers a new flight service based out of Kitty Hawk, N.C., and a chance to return to the glory days of aviation.

Looking to capitalize on passenger dissatisfaction for current air travel and the trendiness of all things retro, Air Wright has introduced a one of a kind in-flight experience. Instead of forcing travelers to fly in cramped seats, three passengers will be strapped to wings of each Air Wright biplane, allowing them to “feel the fresh air” and stretch their legs in comfort. In-flight meal service will include a selection of hand-mixed moonshine cocktails and a snack of pemmican and hard tack. And instead of a tiresome TSA security check, customers will be asked to settle all duels and grievances in Air Wright’s pre-flight dueling lobby.

Air Wright’s CEO Orville Lindbergh pulled no punches at the company’s inaugural press conference, laying out the reasons travelers have grown tired of the inconveniences of modern air travel. “In an era when travelers are hassled on other airlines like never before by endless security checks, cramped seats and stale airplane food, Air Wright is confident it will win customers with a flight experience that takes them back to a time when things were simpler.” Even though the airline won’t launch its inaugural flight until later this year, CEO Lindbergh has big plans for a range of “retro” travel businesses, including plans for a vintage cruise line called Melville Tours and a cross-country bus service named Donner Coaches.

Recycled Canvas Airsickness Bags Answer Fliers’ Eco-friendly Demands

Barf Bag hat on Ryan AirAirsickness bags have long provided a comfort and security for nauseated travelers.
Catering to those for whom turbulent airflow inspires gag flow, the easy-access (and decorative), paper bags are available beneath most airplane seat trays ready to conceal even the worst bile deposits of pukey-passengers – but at what cost to the environment?

Enter new, eco-conscious company Up, Up and UpChuck, which plans to roll out environmentally friendly canvas bags to aid air-sensitive fliers. The Upchuck airsickness bags follow suit amongst green companies switching from paper to canvas. “It was an obvious move,” says Founder and CEO Ronald Pearson in a release. “Clothes stores and grocery stores are banning paper and plastic bags to better the environment and it seems only right to answer this noble consumer demand in the air as well.”

The reusable Upchuck airsickness bags are made from 100 percent recycled cotton canvas and offer reinforced flat bottoms with overlapping seams. With nanotech-treated fibers, the material resists absorption as does any queasy traveler’s stomach lining. Designers have even partnered with Up, Up and UpChuck to offer on-trend totes for chunks (the 2012 debut line features graphics by Ed Hardy and Zac Posen).

There are a few hiccups (and belches) in the UpChuck release, however, as some early testers have noted the inconvenience of the canvas airsickness bags being labeled “dry clean only.”

“Our eco-minded passengers have different priorities,” counters Pearson. “We are hoping our customers will adopt new mottos — ‘fly clean only’ and ‘fly green only.’”

Look for the airsickness canvas bags in airports at the end of this month.

[Flickr image via gthills]