Sequester Downs Nation’s Air Shows

Congress’ long-running budget battle with President Barack Obama claimed another casualty this month as dozens of air shows across the country were canceled.

The long-running Indianapolis Air Show was the first major show to skip 2013 after event headliners the U.S. Navy Blue Angels bowed out, citing the sequester. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Army’s parachute demonstration team, the Golden Knights, also suspended upcoming performances.

With the Department of Defense looking to slash $46 billion from this year’s budget, per the Los Angeles Times, air shows were an easy mark. In a news release, Col. Barry Cornish, 99th Air Base Wing Commander at Nellis Air Force Base, said the move “prioritized combat readiness over other activities, and air shows have been canceled as a result.”

With Congress and President Obama unable to work out a compromise, other major air shows, including large events held in Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia and Arizona, announced their cancellations this week.

Other tourist-friendly activities promoted by the government, such as White House tours, have also been cut because of the sequester, while reduced manpower means longer lines and more headaches for national park visitors.

The acrobatic air squadrons are major draws for air shows, bringing a 25 percent larger audience, according to the New York Times. Without those draws – and the additional military support each show receives – it didn’t make financial sense for the shows to go on.

In 2011, the Dakota Thunder Air Show cost the air force base about $200,000 in expenses, including more than 87,000 gallons of air fuel, supplies, security and lodging for visiting aircrews.

At least two major air shows without a major military presence historically – EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and Wings Over Houston – will go on as planned.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user Sebastian Bergmann]

Galley Gossip: The Worst, Funniest and Most Common Bad Airline Passengers

Photo credit: Telstar Logistics

From time to time I get asked questions about bad passengers. I thought I’d share a few of them here.

What’s the worst passenger behavior you’ve witnessed?

I’ve caught passengers taking other people’s luggage out of the bin to make room for their own bags. I’m not joking. They’ll pull out a bag, drop it on the floor and walk away leaving it in the middle of the aisle for the passengers behind them to crawl over. Have you ever tried stepping over a 21-inch Rollaboard? Not easy. Happened three times last month!

The funniest?

Recently a woman tried to stow her suitcase in that, oh, what do you call that spot? Crevice? Crack? Between the overhead bin and the ceiling? There’s like a millimeter of space there! I don’t care which airline you’re traveling on, that’s not going to fit. Then there are the recliners and the anti-recliners. One anti-recliner got upset at a recliner because she couldn’t get her tray table down. I suggested if maybe she removed the gigantic fanny pack from around her waist it might go down. She looked at me like I was the crazy one! One man actually called me over because the passenger in front of him had reclined his seat. I had to point out that, uh … his seat was reclined too!

What’s the most common bad passenger behavior you’ve seen?

These days, people are so self-absorbed multitasking as they board a flight they don’t even say hello to the flight attendant greeting them at the boarding door. They’re too busy talking on the phone, typing on their laptops, listening to music and texting as they walk down the aisle to notice their backpacks and duffle bags are whacking people in the head. Recently a passenger got mad at me – ME! – because I wouldn’t help him lift a heavy bag. That’s because he couldn’t get off the phone to improve his one arm bag swing. Two arms always work better than one when it comes to getting those bags into the overhead bins.

What are the rules for dealing with bad passengers?

We can’t call the police or the fire department at 30,000 feet. That’s why it’s a good idea to take care of problem passengers on the ground before we depart. Before we kick someone off the plane, we’ll do everything we can to make a bad situation good again. Usually, it involves doing the following:

  1. Getting Down: Literally, we get down on one knee in the aisle at the passenger’s level. This position is less threatening to passengers.
  2. Listening: Most passengers just want to be heard. That’s it.
  3. Keeping Calm: We try not to raise our voices. Staying calm and in control will diffuse most situations.
  4. The Facts: We might ask what the problem is and then have the passenger suggest a solution. This way we’re all on the same page.
  5. Walking Away: A new face is new energy. If I’m not getting anywhere with a difficult passenger, I’ll remove myself from the situation and ask a coworker to step in. Even though a coworker may tell the passenger the exact same thing I did, they could get a completely different response.

If that doesn’t work, and we’re in flight, we might issue a written warning signed by the Captain. All this means is if a passenger doesn’t stop doing whatever it is they were doing, authorities will be called to meet the flight. That’s why I say if you’re going to freak out, might be a good idea to wait until we’re safe and sound on the ground and parked at the gate. No one wants to divert a flight. Plus you don’t want to end up in jail far away from home where no one can rescue you.

Some Of The Many Ways To Get Kicked Off A Plane

planeWhen getting ready for take-off of any flight, we can take our seat promptly upon boarding the plane, stow our gear, be courteous to our fellow travelers and use electronic devices until instructed to power them down. Those activities are all just fine. On the other hand, smoking in the lavatory, joking about bombs or otherwise disrupting operation of the aircraft are serious matters that can get us kicked off the plane. But what other actions taken on board a commercial airliner can get us in trouble?

Checking in with Law.com‘s legal blog watch, the list is long.

  • Stripping naked or saying the F-word can get you escorted off the plane.
  • Get into a fist fight with the passenger in front of you who reclines their seat in the air and the pilot may turn the plane around and return to the airport, escorted by a pair of F-16 fighter jets
  • Pretending to be a soldier to get a complimentary upgrade to first class can not only get you kicked off the plane, but result in being arrested. The charge: second-degree impersonation.
  • Inhaling from an electronic cigarette or throwing bags of snacks at flight attendants can result in a charge of “interference with the flight crew,” a federal offense that will cause the FBI to greet you when the plane lands.
  • Take a photo of the name tag of a less-than-helpful flight crew member can get you on the No-Fly list, if not arrested.
  • Dress code violations like wearing short denim shorts that make it unclear whether ladies are wearing panties, especially when those shorts are worn with a baggy T-shirt can get you kicked off the plane.
  • Breastfeeding and children can be a problem. Breastfeeding without being covered up can result in public humiliation and threats of removal from the plane. In the same folder we find that children must behave. Throwing a fit on the plane may result in a return to the gate and the child’s entire family being removed from the plane for the safety of all customers and crew members on board.
  • Be careful what you watch on electronic devices. Passengers are not allowed to view what might be deemed “horrific” child pornography on their laptop during the flight. Do so and be apprehended by police upon landing and charged with possession of child pornography.

“You might think that after (21 volumes) of Things You Can’t Do on a Plane, that we’d have exhausted the list of things you can’t do on a plane,” says Legal Blog Watch. “Nope! The list grows daily.”

American Airlines, U.S. Airways $11 Billion Deal



[Photo credit – Flickr user Nigel Horsley]

Dubai International Shows Off New Facility

dubai

Dubai International Airport (DBX) has just completed the launch of Concourse A, part of a $7.8 billion expansion plan aimed to increase airport capacity to 90 million passengers by 2020. Home to Emirates airline’s Airbus A380, 20 gates have been equipped to handle the airline’s current fleet of 31 planes and with more on order, they’re going to need the space.

“With a current fleet of 31 A380s and a further 59 on order, Emirates is the largest operator of this aircraft in the world, and it is only fitting that we have a world class facility that meets this need and represents our leadership in this regard,” said Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline in a Breaking Travel News report.

Each of the A380-equipped gates, along with Emirates First and Business class lounges take up 28,000 of the 528,000-square-meter facility. The upscale lounges feature kitchens, conference rooms, business centers, a spa, entertainment areas, smoking areas and children’s play areas. First Class lounge passengers also have a duty free shopping area and a wine cellar.

%Gallery-178512%

Like U.S. airports that have spent billions on expansion and updates, Dubai is looking to the future with a solid plan in place to be a bigger player in international travel.

“Concourse A is a vital element of our $7.8 billion investment in the continued expansion of Dubai International, which will see it become the world’s busiest airport for international passenger traffic by the end of 2015,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

Want to see more of the new expansion? Check this short video:


[Photo Credit- Dubai Airport]

Galley Gossip: Can Passengers View Pornography on the Airplane?

From time to time I get questions from readers who want to know what the rules are regarding viewing pornography in flight now that Wi-Fi is available on board most airplanes. Thankfully, it hasn’t been much of an issue (knock on wood). But planes are crowded, personal space barely exits, and when passengers do things they shouldn’t, well, they usually get caught.

Last week on a flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale, a coworker had to ask a 10-year-old boy to turn off the erotica and to fasten his seatbelt. On either side of him sat his younger brother and sister. Across the aisle were his parents who had no idea what was going on until we informed them why he may have been holding the computer screen so close to his face. On a different flight another passenger was caught reading a Playboy Magazine. Next to him sat his young son. What gave this man away was the opened centerfold he was eyeing up and down. When a flight attendant politely asked him to put it away, he yelled at her for embarrassing him.

How common is it to see someone watching something rather risqué on a laptop, iPad, tablet or even the in-flight entertainment system in the air? I can only think of a few instances I’ve seen something that might raise a few eyebrows. When this happens, I’ll gently inform the passenger that there are children on board and remind them that other passengers seated nearby might find what they’re viewing distasteful. Nine times out of ten they’ll either fast forward through the scene or turn it off – end of story.

Do passengers ever complain about the content of something that a different passenger is watching? I’ve never had anyone rat someone out for watching pornography in flight. But I do get a lot of complaints about kids watching movies or playing video games that are too loud. Most parents forget to bring headphones for their little ones. I always hate having to tell a nice family to turn it down, but rules are rules and they apply to everyone, even those under 2 feet tall.

Is there a firm policy on how to handle passengers who are watching adult content openly? Pornography is not allowed on the airplane. If a flight attendant does come across it, we’ll discreetly ask the passenger to put it away. If that doesn’t work, we might issue a written warning. The warning informs the passenger what will happen if they choose not to comply. Refusing to obey crew instruction is a federal offense.