Airplane Food Just Got Worse: Air China Serves Expired Food On Domestic Flight

Air China meal food poisoning
Flickr, bfishadow

Over 20 passengers on an Air China flight were sick after eating expired beef pancakes on a domestic flight to Beijing. One passenger shared a photo of the out-of-date food on Chinese social network Weibo showing the expiration date of October 2, four days before her flight. An official statement by the airline claimed that incorrect packaging was to blame for the “misunderstanding,” and that any leftover or expired food is regularly discarded. The passenger claimed that flight attendants refused to acknowledge the issue or warn anyone eating the bad meals.

Food poisoning is fortunately rare on airlines, but it does happen. Earlier this summer, Delta passengers on an Istanbul-New York flight suffered possible food poisoning and were met by medics on arrival at JFK. A Miami family sued American Airlines in 2011 after a man died allegedly due to food poisoning on a flight from Barcelona.

Read our advice on dealing with food poisoning while traveling, in the air or on the ground.

Man In Legal Wrangle With Airline Over Beverage Service And Unflushed Toilet

An Italian man has launched a lawsuit against Virgin America after a mid-air clash over a drink order and a lavatory visit led to the passenger being detained by police.

Salvatore Francesco Bevivino was travelling from Philadelphia to San Francisco when he pressed the call button so he could order a soda. However, after the flight attendant arrived, she told Bevivino to use his touch screen to place a drink order through the plane’s automated system. The 52-year-old apparently refused to do so and asked again for a drink to be brought to him.

The flight staff obliged, but upon landing in San Francisco Bevivino found himself being carted away by police. The airline said it alerted authorities because the passenger was cursing and refusing to follow instructions from the crew. They also claimed Bevivino left a bathroom stall without flushing the toilet.

The passenger denies using profanities or doing anything wrong (his lawyer referred to the unflushed toilet as a “non-event”) and says he feels humiliated by the incident. He’s suing Virgin America for $500,000 in damages.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Daquella manera]

La Paz’s Urban Rush Introduces Rap Jumping To South America

urban rushAustralia and New Zealand are generally accepted as having cornered the market on bizarre adventure activities, especially in urban areas. Unsurprising, then, that Alistair Matthew, the Kiwi founder of La Paz’s ginormously successful, groundbreaking Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking, has brought a bit of the Antipodes to Bolivia’s capital city.

A year ago, inspired by a similar enterprise in Melbourne, Matthew launched Urban Rush. The sport, also known as rap jumping, entails rappelling – preferably face-first – down the side of a 17-story building in central La Paz (the view, FYI, is spectacular; it’s across the street from the colonial stunner that is the San Francisco Church), and provides views of the tenaciously perched brick houses of El Alto. The kicker, however, is that the final six stories are in free fall (that’s me, above, about five stories before taking the plunge).

It’s not as sketchy as it sounds. In addition to your own power (meaning you have a brake and a guide hand), there’s an experienced guide belaying you from below, and another controlling you from the top. So even if you were to let go completely, you’ve got two ropes as backup.

The aforementioned building is the Hotel Presidente, La Paz’s finest. That only makes for more fun, as costume-clad, thrill-seeking, dirtbag backpackers traipse through the stylish 15th floor restaurant and bar in order to access the small penthouse space where suiting up and training take place.

Costumes? Si. In addition to the standard bright orange jumpsuits, you can leap out of the hotel dressed as Spiderman, Captain America, Santa Claus or Cat Woman, masks included. Why? Who cares?la pazI serendipitously found myself watching a Spiderman launch himself out of the penthouse yesterday afternoon, while out with Gravity’s office manager, Jill Benton. She had a hunch this would be right up my alley, and sure enough, I soon found myself zipping up a jumpsuit (no heroic attire; I just wanted to survive the experience; the view from the top, at right).

In all seriousness, Gravity’s guide/instructors are experienced employees and the equipment is all top-of-the-line. I’ve done a bit of climbing and abseiling, but never have I contemplated a face-first rappel, let alone in the middle of a bustling city. In fact, I have a deathly fear of jumping off of or out of things in urban areas (because, you know, death hurts less when you’re out in nature).

After strapping on my helmet and having my harnesses fitted, instructor Andrea didurban rush some practice maneuvers, first on the ground and then on a six-foot wall (right). When I felt ready to bail out that window, it was at first tentatively, and not very gracefully. Having hundreds of spectators on the ground didn’t do much to increase my performance anxiety.

While my technique may have been a Fail (I weigh just under 100 pounds, and that made it difficult for me to hop my way down, rather than roll), it was a total blast. The free fall was definitely one of my adventure activity lifetime highlights: few things can beat plummeting at warp speed upon the Easter shoppers of La Paz.

A half-hour later, still trembling with adrenalin (which is why my photo of the hotel, below, is crooked), I was headed back to my hostel across Plaza San hotel presidenteFrancisco, an uncontrollable smile on my face. Bolivia certainly has no shortage of outdoor adventure sports, but should you find yourself with a little afternoon downtime in La Paz, you’d be simply crazy not to take a flying leap out of the Hotel Presidente.

Urban Rush, 1-5 p.m., daily; book in advance or just drop by the hotel, at Potosí St., 920. It’s just $20 for one drop, $30 for two (note that due to fluctuating exchange rates these prices may change).

[Photo credits: Jill Benton/Laurel Miller]

The New Reno: Yes, Virginia, There Is Gentrification

renoI’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that Reno has historically not been one of my favorite places to visit. But I spend a fair amount of time passing through, because my brother and his family live nearby, in the ski town of Truckee. Flying into Reno is convenient for anyone wanting to visit Lake Tahoe.

For years, my brother, Mark, has been telling me that Reno is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, what with the implementation of Wingfield Park – the city’s kayaking park that runs through downtown – and the Truckee River Walk with its galleries, cafes, and brewery. But don’t worry: Reno is still The Biggest Little City in the World, rife with the requisite prostitutes, crack houses, tattoo parlors, pawn shops and all the unsavory characters one would expect to find.

Yet, I discovered a younger, gentler, hipper Reno over Thanksgiving when I was in Truckee. Reno is trying to dial down its hard-core gambling, all-you-can-eat, come-all-ye-societal-fringe-dwellers rep. The most noticeable change is the gentrification underway along the South Virginia Street Corridor, the major north-south business artery. The street is paralleled to the east by a mix of decrepit and charmingly restored Victorian and Craftsman homes. Housing, Mark says, is ridiculously affordable.

I did a book signing over the holiday off South Virginia at a bustling new cheese shop, Wedge. A lovely addition to the area, Wedge has an excellent selection of domestic and imported cheese, as well as house-made sandwiches, specialty foods and primo charcuterie. Want a good, affordable bottle of wine, some soppressata, and a hunk of award-winning, Alpine-style cow’s milk cheese from Wisconsin? Wedge has it.

When Mark and I arrived at the shop, he commented on how much the area was changing, citing the soon-to-be-open wine bar, Picasso and Wine, next door. The employees cheerfully agreed that there were lots of exciting developments underway, but that “there’s a crack house just two doors down.” They weren’t joking, either. We were parked in front of it.renoClose to Wedge is Midtown Eats, an adorable, farmhouse-modern cafe, and Crème, a sweet breakfast spot specializing in crepes. Get lunch at popular soup-and-sandwich spot Süp, imbibe (and eat) at Brasserie St. James brewery, Craft Beer & Wine, and mixology geek faves Reno Public House, and Chapel Tavern (over 100 whiskeys on shelf!). Making dinner in your rental ski cabin or condo? Visit the Tahoe area’s only Whole Foods.

If you’re in need of some sweet street-style, hit Lulu’s Chic Boutique or Junkee Clothing Exchange. If it’s your home that’s in need of an inexpensive upgrade, Recycled Furniture is the place. As for those tats and street drugs? You’re on your own.

Future plans for the South Virginia Corridor include greater emphasis on facilitating more pedestrian-friendly walkways, public spaces featuring art installations, fountains, and benches, and street-scaping. Gentrification may not always be welcome, but for Reno, it’s the start of a whole new Big Little City.

[Photo credits: Reno, Flickr user coolmikeol; bike path, VisitmeinReno.com]

Judge Rules Airlines Must Stand Trial Over 9/11 Negligence Claims

9/11 A U.S. judge has ruled AMR Corp’s American Airlines and United Continental Holdings, Inc. must face trial over claims of negligence relating to the September 11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center in 2001.

Almost eleven years ago, 19 terrorists from the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger jets, including American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, which were intentionally crashed into New York’s Twin Towers, American Airlines Flight 77, which was flown into the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93, which was meant to crash into the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., but was unsuccessful. Almost 3,000 people were killed.

According to NBC News, in July 2001 World Trade Center Properties, LLC (WTCP) purchased 99-year leases to four World Trade Center buildings from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Inc. for $2.805 billion. In a lawsuit against United Airlines and American Airlines, WTCP is claiming, “the terrorists could not have boarded and hijacked the aircraft and flown them into the twin towers” if it hadn’t been for the airlines’ negligence, according to a New York court filing.

While WTCP wants $8.4 billion to cover damages, Judge Alvin Hellerstein has limited the amount to the $2.805 billion paid for the leases. In their defense, the airlines say they should not go to trial because WTCP has recovered $4.091 billion from insurance companies. However, Judge Hellerstein has said that at this time he cannot reasonably determine the insurance money covered the damages.

[Image via Anthony Correia / Shutterstock.com]