Man Steals Bus, Drives Around Airport Tarmac

Perhaps wanting to relive one of the most climatic moments from the movie “Speed,” a Texas man allegedly stole an airport bus and drove it around the tarmac this weekend.

Police say David Cooper Thurmond snuck onto the Easterwood Airport runway early Saturday morning, stole the 22-person passenger transport and drove it around for an undisclosed amount of time before he was confronted by airport staff. Homeland Security probably won’t be relieved to know Thurmond was apparently able to enter the airport through an unlocked pedestrian gate on the south side of the general aviation terminal.
Thurmond may have been attempting another sort of joyride; after police arrived, it was determined the seal on an American Eagle passenger plane had been broken, causing a three-hour delay later that day.

After his arrest, Thurmond was charged with assault, criminal trespassing and theft greater than $20,000 but less than $100,000.

News reports have yet to disclose if the 54-year-old Texan was intoxicated or otherwise under the influence at the time. Anyone willing to place a wager on this?

Looking For Holiday Airfare? Better Hurry

When to buy holiday airfare is often the most difficult part of the process. Deciding where to go, when we want to fly there and who we might travel with is easy. Knowing when to pull the trigger on buying airfare seems to require a crystal ball. Since most of us don’t have mystic forecasting abilities, we look to what or who we believe are qualified sources for guidance. Experts seem to agree, the best time to buy is sooner than later.

“You don’t have a moment to lose,” said Rick Searcy, CEO of FareCompare in an ABC News report, cautioning travelers, “Holiday flights are going to be expensive.” Searcy believes that prices will be up to 70 percent higher than normal pricing, depending on routes, and those looking for direct flights can expect up to a 20 percent premium price.

So when to buy?

Those who have not bought flights for Thanksgiving travel are already too late for the best pricing. Looking at Christmas travel, Searcy suggests buying before November 10 for the best pricing and consider traveling during off peak times.Other ways to save on airfare?

Try a travel agent- Expect to pay a fee of $20 to $50 per person on top of the airfare but that fee can quickly become a great investment if a travel agent finds great flights at a lower price in less time than we might invest on our own surfing websites.

To get the best results with a travel agent, have very specific but flexible travel plans. Establish what agents call a “travel window,” basically a period of time within which you are able to fly. Note the time you need on the ground for holiday plans and throw in any hotel, car rental or other needs at the destination.

Also, send along past guest/frequent flyer numbers and available points to that agent to have on file and take advantage of if possible.

Pay attention to airline promotions- I got one today via email from American Airlines doubling miles every time I fly on American Airlines, American Eagle or the American Connection carrier from November 16, 2012, through November 26, 2012. Those miles might mean a lot to me and swing my vote toward American if two options come up roughly equal.

Regardless of what airline we fly, what airport we use or when we go, it’s clear that this year prices will be up and availability down as airlines trim fleets to fly full planes.

[Photo Credit- Flickr user matt.hintsa]

2011 Airline Quality Ratings – AirTran at number one

The 2011 Airline Quality Ratings (AQR) were just released, and AirTran topped the list at number one. The Atlanta based air line got top marks in the study that accounts for on time arrivals, mishandled baggage, complaints, and other metrics. The study only includes airlines in the United States and provides interesting statistics about the overall quality of domestic air travel.

The main form of complaint involved flight problems, followed by baggage. While overall complaints went up about 30% from 2009 to 2010, overall quality rating also went up marginally. This could be due to the communication channel widening to include new forms of customer feedback. AirTran handled baggage the best with only 1.63 bags mishandled per 1000 passengers. American Eagle was at the other end of the spectrum with 7.15 bags mishandled per 1000 passengers. Of all the airlines listed, Hawaiian Airlines topped the list in on time arrival. Over 92% of their flights landed on time. The full report can be viewed here.

AQR Rankings – Domestic Airlines
16. American Eagle
15. Atlantic Southeast
14. Comair
13. Mesa Air
12. United
11. American Airlines
10. Skywest9. Frontier
8. Continental
7. Delta
6. U.S. Airways
5. Southwest
4. Alaska
3. Jet Blue
2. Hawaiian
1. AirTran

flickr image via Bob B. Brown

Galley Gossip: Flight attendants trained to spot human traffickers at the Super Bowl

What do hundreds of flight attendants, thousands of under-age prostitutes and the Super Bowl all have in common? Dallas. On Sunday they’re all traveling to Texas. American Airlines, American Eagle, Delta, United, and Qantas hope to help stop human traffickers from pimping out women and children by holding training sessions that will enable flight attendants volunteering their time on the ground to help spot signs of trafficking. According to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot in an article posted by Reuters, the Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States. During the previous two Super Bowls fifty girls were rescued. This year with authorities, child welfare advocates, and the airline industry all collaborating to fight under-age sex crimes, even more lives could be saved.

How did the airlines even come to be involved in human trafficking? It all started with Sandra Fiorini, an American Airlines flight attendant based in Chicago. Because of Fiorini flight attendants now know what to look for and who to call if they see something suspicious on board a flight. This after Fiorini tried to report a situation and no one responded. It involved an eighteen year-old boy on a six-hour flight carrying a newborn infant with its umbilical cord still attached. No wife. Just one bottle of milk and two diapers stuck inside his pocket. In 2007 Fiorini met Deborah Sigmund, founder of the organization Innocents at Risk, and soon they began working together with airline employees to become the first line of defense against human trafficking.

Flight attendants aren’t the only ones who can help. There are more frequent fliers now than ever before. Passengers should also be aware of what to look for while traveling.

Warning Signs

1. Someone who doesn’t have control over his/her own identification

2. Someone who has few to no possessions.

3. Someone who is not allowed to speak for themselves, or is made to speak through a translator

4. Someone who isn’t sure of where he or she lives or is or has no sense of time

5. Someone who avoids eye contact or appears fearful, anxious, tense, depressed, nervous, submissive.

6. Someone who rarely is allowed to come and go independently and may be accompanied by someone who controls their every movement

7. Someone who may be dressed inappropriately regardless of weather conditions.

Number to call

Human Trafficking Hot line 1-888-373-7888.

(Don’t wait until it’s too late. Put that number in your cell phone now!)

There are more slaves today than any other time in human history. A person can be sold several times a day for many years, opposed to drugs that can only be sold once. Because of this human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, only second behind drug trafficking. It generates 32 billion annually for organized crime. Each year two million women and children become victims. 300,000 children within the United States are being trafficked each year. Most are forced into a life of prostitution and pornography in large urban areas such as Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Florida. If it can happen on my flight, it can happen on yours. Open your eyes. Get involved. Write that number down!

Photo courtesy of The Consumerist

Galley Gossip: Flight attendant training – which airline to pick?

Next week I’m to start flight attendant training for American Eagle. But today I got a call from Delta and they want me to go for a face to face interview two days after I’m to start training! If I go to the Delta interview, I’ll forfeit American Eagle completely and won’t ever be able to reapply, as this is my second chance to go to training with them. I’m giving up my good paying but burned out retail management job and changing my life to do my long lived dream job as a flight attendant. I’ve been waiting to get a call back for over a year due to training cancellations last year. American Eagle training is three weeks long, but doesn’t pay, while Delta pays for six weeks of training. I’m afraid to give up American Eagle to go to a Delta interview and possibly not make it and then I’m out both! What should I do? – Laura

Dear Laura,

Have you tried to delay your training class with Eagle? If not, give the airline a call and see if you can push it back a few days, meaning you’d like to start in the next available training class. I’m sure they have a couple of them lined up. This way you can go to the Delta interview without forfeiting a shot at Eagle. Most airlines hire on the spot, so you’ll know the day of the interview if Delta is interested or not. If they send you to “medical”, congratulations, you made it! If they say they’ll contact you soon, that’s code for thanks but no thanks. Move on. And

If Eagle won’t let you change your class date, I suggest sticking with Eagle. Initially I had planned on telling you to hold out for Delta, which is also what most of my coworkers suggested after I ran the scenario by them, but after weighing the pros and cons I think it would be foolish to put all your eggs in one basket. The simple fact is a bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush . Before I was hired by a major US carrier, I was passed over by one of its biggest competitors. I tell you this for two reasons; you never know what’s going to happen and you should never give up on your dreams. I’d also hate to see you lose a wonderful opportunity because you chose to go to an interview instead of training.

Working for a regional carrier is a great place to start. You’ll gain seniority quickly and get travel benefits, as well as experience on the job. A little experience is always better than none, especially if you don’t speak a second language and you’re interested in interviewing for a major carrier like Delta. Who knows, you might love working for Eagle. I know a lot of flight attendants who do. But if you don’t, simply quit and apply to another airline offering better pay and international layovers. That’s exactly what I did three months after Sun Jet, a low cost carrier, hired me fifteen years ago.

FYI: I’ve heard through the grapevine that you can try to transfer to American after a year on the job with Eagle. I’ve also heard American will be hiring soon.

Ultimately the decision is yours, Laura, because only you know what’s best for you. Good luck! Make sure to write back and let us know what happened.


UPDATE 1/27: I’m excited to report that Laura held out for Delta and got hired yesterday! Only 8 out of 125 people made it through. FYI: Laura is NOT a speaker. I’m so excited for her!!! Now why did she decide to hold out for Delta? It migh have something to do with another question she asked right after this post went live. Stay tuned for another upcoming Galley Gossip post inspired by Laura


Photo courtesy of DavityDave