Travel Win and Travel Fail of the Week

Boy Finds 5-Carat Diamond In State Park

Travel Win: Arkansas and Michael Dettlaff

Dettlaff, a 12-year old boy who was vacationing in Arkansas with his family, found a 5-carat diamond while exploring Crater of Diamonds State Park. Actually, it was 5.16-carats, if you want to get technical. What does that mean? estimates this diamond could be worth $12,000 to $15,000, and the park allows visitors to keep whatever diamonds they find.

So young Dettlaff takes the cake for vacation win this week, though we have a feeling that Arkansas’ tourism numbers are also going to enjoy a nice little boost from this one as well.

Travel Fail: American Airlines and US Airways

Well that was a surprise. The merger between American Airlines and US Airways was challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice and a few states this week, causing the brakes to screech to a halt on the airline industry’s newest mega-consolidation.

This merger was going to be the solution to American Airlines’ bankruptcy issues, and was central to US Airways’ strategy for the coming years. Now it might be back to the drawing board.

American Airlines, U.S. Airways Merger Challenged By DOJ, States

What’s Up With Celebrities Behaving Badly On Airplanes?

We all know that some celebrities don’t seem to know how to behave in public and that the list of celebrities removed from airplanes is continually growing. The most recent addition to this list is Soulja Boy, who was kicked off of an American Airlines flight on Friday when he wouldn’t return to his seat when asked to do so. Soulja Boy seemed apologetic about the incident when he spoke to TMZ saying, “It was a bad night and me and the flight staff didn’t see eye to eye. In hindsight, I’m extremely sorry for all inconvenience caused to the passengers and employees of the airline.”

Other celebrities who have been removed from airplanes:

  • Alex Baldwin for not turning off an electronic device
  • Naomi Campbell for losing her temper over lost luggage
  • Christian Slater for trying to board a plane with an unlicensed pistol
  • David Hasselhoff for being under the influence
  • Courtney Love for refusing to sit down and throwing a tantrum

And the list goes on.Woman Kicked Off Plane For Singing... Way Too Loud

What Are The Rules For Breastfeeding On A Plane?

It has happened yet again: a mother breastfeeding on a plane was allegedly treated poorly by an airline staff member. The mother was breastfeeding on an American Airlines flight last month while sitting in a window seat next to her husband. Since American Airlines has publicly stated that breastfeeding is allowed on their flights during all stages of flight and that flight attendants should not place restrictions or requirements on breastfeeding mothers, the mother felt free to breastfeed. However, a disgruntled flight attendant requested that she cover up, citing that there were kids present on the plane at the time.

The couple refused and the flight attendant later returned to their aisle, telling a girl seated in the aisle next to the husband that her seat was going to be changed, projecting that the girl was uncomfortable despite the fact that the girl hadn’t complained about the breastfeeding. According to the couple, the flight attendant did not offer service to the couple for the remainder of the flight.

American Airlines responded to the complaint filed by the mother in a letter that was posted to Facebook by a friend of the mother. American Airlines stated in the letter that they believe it is reasonable to request that a mother cover up and that breastfeeding be conducted with modesty and discretion, despite the fact that the manual states that mothers should be able to breastfeed without restriction or requirement and the fact that 45 states allow mothers to breastfeed in any public or private location.

United Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and others have stated that breastfeeding is not prohibited while on the plane. Whether a breastfeeding mother should be required to cover up, however, seems more ambiguous. What are your thoughts on requiring or requesting that breastfeeding mothers cover up?

The Issue of Breastfeeding in Public

I Slept In The Conference Room At Comfort Inn O’Hare

My evening of July 9 was filled with the kind of mundane frustration that can come only from delayed travel. My husband and I were set to fly from New York City to Chicago and Chicago to Marquette, Michigan. Our flight out of New York kept getting pushed back and, despite receiving a seat on a plane leaving earlier than our original flight to Chicago, we still missed our connection in Chicago – the last flight to Marquette for the day. Since the delays were weather-related, we received a coupon for a hotel rather than a voucher. We found the shuttle and lugged our bags toward the long line at the Comfort Inn O’Hare. Once we had our key, we went to our room and opened the door only to find that we’d been placed in the hotel conference room.Just beyond the gigantic oval table and whiteboard was a normal hotel bed. My husband called the front desk to make sure there hadn’t been a mistake. They said we got the last room in the hotel because many passengers had been stranded in Chicago that evening and received airline coupons for the hotel. I wasn’t at all perturbed. Having to wait around all day for delayed and missed flights only to be put up in an airport hotel is boring. This, on the other hand, was new.

A follow-up call with the hotel manager revealed that this “Conference Room Suite” is always available for guests to rent and that under normal circumstances, it costs more, too. Although I didn’t see the room as a booking option on their website, business travelers occasionally choose this room over others. Distressed passengers typically stay in the room only if the hotel has been hit hard with delayed and canceled flights and has nowhere else to put guests.

Aside from the leaking ceiling and distance between the bed and television, I was happy to stay in the conference room. Not only did it give me a roof over my head for the night, but it gave me a good story, too. Have you ever been placed in an unusual hotel room?

[Photo Credit: Ben Britz]

Plane Veers Off Runway at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago

American’s New Boarding Process Could Probably Maybe Not Speed Up Boarding

Fly For Fun, Flickr

Airlines are constantly experimenting with new, more efficient ways to board airplanes. A faster turnaround time on the ground means more on-time flights, which translates to better revenue for the carrier. So anything that they can do to speed up the process is in their best interest. Oh – and if it makes the process easier for the passengers then that’s a decent side benefit as well.

Back in March, our friend Johnny Jet was the first to report on a new strategy that American Airlines was testing to hasten the whole boarding process. Coming soon, passengers without overhead bags will be allowed to board the plane prior to other (but after preferred) passengers. With no bags, they can quickly disburse onto the plane and into their seats without clogging the aisle. The next batch of passengers with bags will hopefully then be less hindered when loading.

The policy is being widely implemented and reported right now. How much will it speed up the process? American claims that this will save about two minutes a flight, though that average is spread across thousands of flights in which millions of permutations of boarding issues (full overhead bins, surly passengers, surly crew) can occur. Given the wide statistical nature of the process, passengers probably register much of a difference in timing.

What they will notice is a slight modification to the boarding zones, though this change still wont relieve the gate lice congestion. If American could come up with a solution for that problem, we’d be impressed.