Best Airline-Inspired Products For Home And Travel

Airline design Bordbar beverage carts
Courtesy Bordbar

Most souvenirs remind us of travel to a specific place, but how about products to remind us of the journey? Some crafty designers have made home and travel products inspired by (or even made of) airplane designs.

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Baggage tag: You can use your initials or your favorite airport code on the baggage tag design of this messenger bag ($129).

Beverage cart: Ever thought those narrow beverage carts would look cool in your home? Bordbar has vintage and new customized beverage carts from 329 euro for a small galley box, 979 euro for the full size trolley.

Boarding pass: With mobile phone check-in, paper boarding passes might soon be a thing of the past. Take your laptop out for security in this snazzy sleeve, which you can customize with your name and flight info ($28.95-32.95).

Flotation device: The same designer as the belt below has taken flotation devices and fashioned them into sleeves for the iPad and iPhone, but we still wouldn’t recommend getting them wet (49-69 euro).

Remove before flight tag: Rather than wear one of those funny-looking neck pillows, use one made with an aircraft tag, complete with a loop for carrying. Don’t feel you have to follow the “remove before flight” instructions though, it works perfectly on a plane or at home ($25).

Safety card: You shouldn’t actually take the safety card from the seat pocket, but you shouldn’t leave your passport there either. Keep it safe with this $20 passport holder (slim wallet also available, $18).

Seat belt: Stay buckled in for safety with a white belt made with a real airplane belt (79 euro). Keep in mind you’ll likely still have remove it for TSA security.

Plane Answers: Seatbelt sign compliance and a question about packing for long trips

Welcome to Gadling’s feature, Plane Answers, where our resident airline pilot, Kent Wien, answers your questions about everything from takeoff to touchdown and beyond. Have a question of your own? Ask away!

Shane asks:

What are the official FAA regulations regarding passengers being up with the seatbelt sign on? On every flight, prior to the sign being turned off, passengers get up to use the washroom and rarely to do the flight attendants ask them to return to their seats. Is there discretion allowed here? Thanks so much for the knowledge and please keep it coming.

Hi Shane,

I answer a lot of these questions while on my crew rest break in the back of the airplane since it’s impossible to sleep on the first break during the meal service.

I mention this because both times I read through your question the flight attendant came on with a reminder over the PA that the seatbelt sign was on and that she would appreciate it if the passengers who were up and about could please return to their seats. The irony gave me a chuckle.

She handled this in the way the FAA requires. If people are up with the sign on, flight attendants are required to make the passenger aware that the sign is on and that they should be seated with their seatbelts fastened.

But if you’ve really got to go, it may be necessary to ignore the sign. I didn’t give you permission, and neither did she, but if you have to go, you have to go. Smile and say “I’ll be careful. It’s an emergency.”

She’s not required to force you into your seat, but she may continue to warn you of the sign. Just don’t let it get to a point where you’re ignoring a direct request from a flight attendant. There are specific rules against that.
Johannes asks:

Hey Kent,

I love reading your blog, it gave the final push for me to write an application to the German airline Lufthansa to study to become a pilot. It’s been my dream for my whole life through – I even tried to get my PPL-C, but had to quit, since it took so much time that I couldn’t afford it (I have to work on weekends, and the training is only on weekends).

I think Germany is the only country in the world where the airlines pay the whole education (you only have to pay 60k€ back after finishing the training and only when Lufthansa offers you a job within 5 years after finishing the whole license.)

So my question:

I’ve been wondering how much clothing you have to carry around with you. And who does the laundry during long trips?

You’ve written about a 14-day tour with only one day off in Paris. When I do the laundry, washing, drying and iron my clothes takes about 4 hours. I can’t imagine that you carry enough clothing for 14 days with you, but the fact that you have written about breaks and layovers shows me, that there is not much time to wash your stuff.

So, how do you manage that ?

Hi Johannes,

I hope I didn’t leave you with the impression that we’re on the road for the entire 14 days. In my case last year, those Paris trips were made up of three-day back-to-back trips. So I’d fly to Paris one day, layover for 24 hours there and then fly home on the third day.

Once at home, I’d have another 24 hours until heading back to the airport again to do it all over. So there’s plenty of time for laundry and a little time left over to see the family.

That 14-days of flying was very unusual though. We had a mechanical problem that caused our three-day trip to turn into a 5-day trip, which did present a slight laundry problem. I usually pack a few spares of everything on my trip.

I understand there are some airlines, such as FedEx and other international carriers that do fly some pretty long trips. I suspect Lufthansa has a number of three-day trips though.

Good luck with the application process at Lufthansa. I know it’s extremely competitive but it’s a great deal if you can get it.

Do you have a question about something related to the pointy end of an airplane? Ask Kent and maybe he’ll use it for the next Plane Answers. Check out his other blog, Cockpit Chronicles and travel along with him at work.

Plane Answers: A pilot’s seatbelt sign philosophy and aircraft accident odds

Welcome to Gadling’s feature, Plane Answers, where our resident airline pilot, Kent Wien, answers your questions about everything from takeoff to touchdown and beyond. Have a question of your own? Ask away!

Caroline asks:

Can someone tell me why the pilot sometimes turns on the seatbelt sign but it’s seemingly for no reason? I recently flew Dubai to London and he (or she) kept putting it on however nothing happened. Especially annoying as I needed the bathroom at the time?

Hi Caroline,

There are a couple of possible explanations for a seatbelt sign that turns on and off frequently.

Occasionally we’ll get reports from airplanes in front of us warning of turbulence ahead. It’s best to get the seatbelt sign on if we get a report like this to prevent any injuries to passengers standing in the aisle.

Deciding when to turn the sign on after experiencing some un-forecasted and unreported bumps can be a challenge. Some pilots don’t mind turning the sign on and off as the conditions permit and some will turn it on, only to forget about the sign when the ride improves, thus making every passenger feel like a criminal for using the lavatory for the rest of the trip.

There are some pilots who are concerned enough about the liability involved when turning the sign off that they’ll insist on keeping it lit for the duration of the flight. This actually creates a riskier situation since passengers will disregard the sign, even during periods of turbulence, completely eliminating the point in having a sign in the first place.

There’s another explanation that might surprise you. Pilots have been known to get calls from flight attendants asking for the sign to be turned on so they don’t have to deal with people becoming stuck in an aisle between their carts or otherwise getting in the way of the service.

And occasionally there can be a rather large group of people congregating around the galleys chatting it up. One of the ways to disperse this crowd had been to use the seatbelt sign. This isn’t exactly what the sign was intended for, of course.

Jen asks:

Hi Kent,

In light of the Air France crash, I am curious to know if it is indeed true that passengers pass out first, due to loss of cabin pressure, even before a plane hits the water (assuming it didn’t explode in the air)?

What are the odds of this happening to me? Are the odds of this happening greater or less than winning the lottery?

P.S. This is my take: when I get on the plane, my odds are 50 / 50 : 50% chance that I live and 50% chance I don’t. (haha, ok, joking…)

Hi Jen,

If the flight were to depressurize, and assuming the passengers couldn’t get to their oxygen masks during the descent, then there is a limited amount of time until they will pass out. This time of useful consciousness varies depending on the altitude.

At FL350 (35,000 feet) that time is only 30 to 60 seconds. However if the airplane is descending rapidly, the lower altitude will likely wake people up.

It’s a morbid thought, for sure, but since you brought up statistics, let’s look at the odds of dying in an airline accident a moment.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the odds of losing your life in any given year is 1 in 502,544 and over an entire lifetime, it drops down to 1 in 6,460.

That’s much better than the 1 in 84 odds over a lifetime that a person could be killed in an automobile accident. It seems to me the most effective way to save lives on a large scale would be to improve auto safety.

The odds of winning the lottery are reported at between 1 in 18 million for a state lottery to as low as 1 in 120 million in a multi-state contest. So, in fact the odds of an airplane accident are greater than the average person’s odds of winning the lottery.

But the automobile odds show that driving is really the risky activity – 77 times riskier than flying, yet it’s unusual to hear of anyone afraid of driving.

Do you have a question about something related to the pointy end of an airplane? Ask Kent and maybe he’ll use it for the next Plane Answers. Check out his other blog, Cockpit Chronicles to travel along with him at work.

Australian driver buckles a case of beer (not a 5-year-old child)

Oh, my beloved Australia scores again!

An Australian has been fined after buckling in a case of beer with a seat belt but leaving a 5-year-old child to sit on the car’s floor, NY Times reports. Police said they were ”shocked and appalled” when he pulled over the unregistered car Friday in the central Australian town of Alice Springs and saw a 30-can beer case was strapped in between two adults sitting in the back seat of the car. The child was also in back, but on the car’s floor. The driver was fined 750 Australian dollars ($710).

”This is the first time that the beer has taken priority over a child,” said the police officer in charge.

I hate to break it to them, but I am quite certain this is–sadly enough–not the first nor the last time beer has taken priority over a child.