Airline Madness: Lack of free food vs. Cold cabins

Airline Madness is Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances. You can catch up on all of the previous tournament action here.

Continuing the first round of Airline Madness, #3 seed Lack of free food/prices for food battles #14 Cold cabin/no blankets. Remember when we were fed on every flight, even if it was a quick domestic jaunt? Sure, the food was chewy and covered in mystery sauce, but it was ours and it was free. Now? A mini-tube of Pringles costs as much as a first class upgrade and the only entree options are pre-made sandwiches that more closely resemble door jams. Meanwhile, the cabin feels like a meat locker and blankets cost $8 (when they have any blankets at all).

Which one of these airline annoyances makes you cuss more? Learn more about both and then vote for the worst below.#3 Lack of free food/prices for food
Look, it’s not that we expect a fine dining experience to be including in the price of our tickets. We’d be happy with a decent meal, a fresh sandwich or even a bag of peanuts that’s larger than a walnut. Sadly, these days, there really is no such thing as a free lunch (or a reasonably priced snack, for that matter). It’s bad enough getting gauged at the airport for a $9 bottle of water; could we at least be offered a deal in-flight when we’re flying through mealtime?

#14 Cold cabin/no blankets
Just because the cabin smells like death doesn’t mean that it has to be as cold as a morgue. Even if you’re flying to a tropical paradise, it’s recommended that you bring a parka on the plane since it’s bound to be frigid. Want a blanket to keep you warm? Be prepared to shell out a few bucks, presuming that they haven’t run out of blankets in economy before the flight has even taken off. How many blankets do they start off with these days? Our guess: one (and someone in business class already has it because they asked for an extra).

Which airline pet peeve has you pulling out the most hair: the lack of free food or the blanket-less freezer cabins? Vote for the bigger annoyance now and debate this match-up in the comments!
First round voting ends at 11:59PM EDT on Friday, March 16.

More Airline Madness:
#1 Annoying passengers vs. #16 Disgusting bathrooms
#2 Legroom vs. #15 Inefficient boarding procedures
#4 Baggage Fees vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats
#5 Lack of overhead space vs. Inattentive parents of crying babies
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #11 Lack of personal entertainment/charging for entertainment
#7 Rude airline staff vs. #10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing
#8 People who recline their seats vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats
Hotel Madness: Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances

Catch up on all the Airline Madness here.

Airline Madness: Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances

It’s that time of year again! All around the country, people are filling out their brackets and arguing over match-ups. That’s right; it’s March Madness Airline Madness! Just like last year’s Hotel Madness, we’ve compiled a list of travel pet peeves. Only this time around the competition is for the title of Worst Airline Annoyance. Our selection committee vetted the pool of candidates and chose the 16 worst offenders. Now it’s time for you to vote. Over the next two days, all of the first round match-ups will be posted here on Gadling for you to weigh in. The winners will advance to the second round, then the Final Four and so on until we crown an Airline Madness champion.It’s going to be an exciting few weeks of debates, arguments and rants about cry babies, overhead space and baggage fees. We know you’ll have some opinions to share and we hope that you’ll speak up in the comments.

Below is a list of our first round match-ups that will be up for voting later today for the first four match-ups of the first round. The second half of the first round will be open for voting tomorrow, so keep checking back for all of the action! [Update: The first round has ended and voting is closed.]

#2 Legroom vs. #15 Inefficient boarding procedures

#3 Lack of free food/prices for food vs. #14 Cold cabin/no blankets

#4 Baggage fees vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats

#5 Lack of overhead space vs. #12 Inattentive parents of crying babies

#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #11 Lack of personal entertainment/charging for entertainment

#7 Rude airline staff vs. #10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing

#8 People who recline their seats vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats

Welcome to Airline Madness! It’s up to you to pick the champion (because everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy)!

Catch up on all the Airline Madness here.

10 bars in new york city that serve free food

Dining in New York can get pretty expensive, even when eating at cheaper restaurants. Use this list to help you navigate through New York and find some of the best free food that the city has to offer.

Dell’ Anima
38 8th Ave., West Village

Because aperitivo is such an important part of the culture in Italy, Dell’ Anima brings the tradition to New York by offering a free buffet of starters, such as grilled veggies, olives, and pastas, when you order a drink on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 4PM-6PM.

Rudy’s Bar and Grill
627 9th Ave., Hell’s Kitchen

This old-school bar not only has cheap beer and free hot dogs, but Rudy’s Bar and Grill also has a historical background, being one of the first bars in New York City to regain its liquor license after prohibition. In fact, the current owner, Jack, has been drinking here since 1943.

Crocodile Lounge
353 E. 14th St., East Village

A free personal pizza with every drink purchase at the Crocodile Lounge. And if you needed another reason to check it out, there is skeeball as well as a back patio.

Spring Lounge
48 Spring St., Nolita

Every Wednesday at the Spring Lounge from 5PM on, bar-goers can enjoy free hot dogs battered in a different beer each week. Hungover on Sunday morning? This bar serves free bagels from 12PM on.

Ballaro Cafe Prosciutteria
77 2nd Ave., East Village

Ballaro Cafe Prosciutteria is a rustic wine bar that hosts an aperitivo from 6PM-8PM each night. Diners who order a glass of wine or a pint of beer receive a complimentary spread of starters such as olives, cheeses, cured meats, and bruschetta.

Cucina di Pesce
87 E. 4th St., East Village

A contemporary Italian restaurant, Cucina di Pesce offers free mussels at the bar. This is very convenient at night when it gets busy and you want to order a drink while you wait for a table. They also have a buy one, get one free promotion on drinks and appetizers everyday from 4PM-8PM.

Iron Horse
32 Cliff St., Financial District

Come into the Iron Horse on Sundays from 12PM-10PM for free burgers and hot dogs with every drink purchase over $3. Want more than one? Simply order another drink.

The Cupping Room Cafe
359 W. Broadway, Soho

For those who love pub grub (chicken wings, anyone?), head over to the Cupping Room Cafe from 5PM-7:30PM, Monday-Friday, for free bar food.

Burp Castle
41 E. 7th St., East Village

Every Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, Burp Castle offers customers free pommes frites around 6PM until they run out. While French fries may not sound that exciting, these are not just any fries. Burp Castle orders them from Pommes Frites specifically, as they make authentic Belgium-style fries. Get there before they run out.

Mullane’s Bar & Grill
71 Lafayette Ave., Fort Greene, Brooklyn

When it comes to free bar food, Mullane’s Bar & Grill doesn’t mess around. Weekdays from 4PM-7PM bar-goers can enjoy a free buffet. While the fare changes weekly, expect items such as lasagna, quesadillas, French fries, meatloaf, and more.

Score Chicago deals and freebies with

Okay, the name induces a slight eye roll – I’m not broke and I’m certainly no hipster, I just love a bargain – but the premise behind one of Chicago’s best new websites is pretty awesome. BrokeHipster collects all the top upcoming deals, from happy-hour specials and dining discounts to promotional parties and boutique sales, and puts them all in one place.

On any given day some of the freebies and cheapies might include: a promo party with an hour of free cocktails, a free tequila tasting, free museum admission, $2 beers or $1 burgers. The deals are all around in Chicago, and especially in this slumping economy, every bar, restaurant and store is looking for more ways to pull in customers with enticing offers.

If you find a stellar deal, just remember that BrokeHipster doesn’t create the deals, it just eliminates the legwork for budget travelers and frugal locals by putting the information together. It’s always wise to check directly with the establishment to verify that the deal is offered. There’s no cure for the heartache caused by the $1 burger that wasn’t.

A Canadian in Beijing: Food is Free at KTV

I know that I already posted about the inevitability of karaoke here in China. What I haven’t told you about yet is the amazing KTV phenomenon. Here in Beijing, there are several locations of KTV, or “Partyworld” as it’s also called, where people come to sing karaoke as a social activity. I’m not talking about a bar here that has one karaoke machine.

This is a karaoke factory.

It seems like this is one of the most popular activities here. After going out to a bar and drinking several drinks, people often come to KTV and sing all night long. In fact, after midnight, it is significantly cheaper and a person can book a six-hour block from midnight until six a.m. And, many people do.

Not to mention the fact that food is free after midnight.

(Musician Rule #1: Go for the free food!)

These establishments are like giant hotels. At least, that’s what they resemble aesthetically, but the rooms you are renting aren’t for sleeping; they’re for singing. Group after group file into KTV and then disappear into private sound-proofed rooms to hold a microphone in a death grip and belt it out until the wee hours.

You arrive into a marble lobby with plush chairs and staff in uniforms. They usher you upstairs to one of the floors with available rooms (and sometimes they’re all booked up!) and then you are given a private room that consists of several couches, tables, a television (on which the karaoke videos and lyrics are displayed), a closet for your things and sometimes even an adjoining bathroom. Oh, and there are also percussion instruments available just in case you want to bang along. Brightly coloured, they reminded me of kid’s toys and so I bounded over to them and made a racket for a few minutes in the spirit of my inner child.

Each room has a number on the door and a circular window so that the staff can peer in to make sure all is going well and you aren’t in need of any additional beverages. It almost makes me think of a ship, these circular windows, and it made me chuckle quietly to myself whenever a server’s head would pop up in the circular window with curious eyes.

But, last but not least, the number one thing about KTV is the free food after midnight. There is a huge cafeteria-style kitchen area and between midnight and one a.m. (I’m pretty sure it’s an hour long buffet, though it could be two hours?), the food is completely free and there for the taking. So, after the night of partying, this is the place where people come to eat and then continue partying! Alcohol is not free, but non-alcholic drinks are. Both can be delivered right to your room by placing an order with a server.

When I was there, the diversity of the other KTV attendees was astounding. There were groups of young teenagers and groups of businessmen in suits and ties. Everyone looked happy and full of melody. People were singing in the hallways and humming songs as they chose food around the cafeteria. Here, singing is normal and not something just done in the shower or in the shy privacy of one’s home. And singing well is not a prerequisite. On the contrary. I think the appropriate way to sing here is just with enthusiasm… and spirit. Yes, that’s exactly it.

When I walked back to our room with my loaded food tray, I was amused by all the different sounding songs I heard coming from the various rooms. These songs were in what sounded like the insulated distance because of the soundproofing, but outside of each room they could still be heard faintly.

As I was walking slowly along the corridor, one of the doors swung open and another customer exited their room. As the door widened, it was like a vacuum of sound had been released into my ears. I saw inside for that instant and caught sight of a middle-aged man clinging to his microphone with both hands and giving it all he had. He was bent at the knees and his head was thrown back, eyes closed and focused, shirt and tie dishevelled and loosened. He was singing in Chinese and he was pouring his heart into the words. When the door swung shut once more, the image was gone and the sound was muffled again. It was just a flash but this visual will stay with me and will forever be associated with the three letters: KTV.

It was his big moment. . .

I smiled and continued down to the hall to our room and my group of friends. When I came in, two of them were in the midst of a cheesy eighties duet and singing into each other’s eyes. The rest were sprawled on the couches or sitting on stools and watching either the singers or the videos with mild interest.

I say “mild” because these videos are terrible. They’re not the original videos, of course, and sometimes the cinematography is atrocious. Especially for the English songs, they are really outdated images showing non-Asian people dressed in eighties or early nineties fashions parading across the screen. The transcription of the lyrics, too, is often wrong. Sometimes it’s so wrong that it’s hilarious, rendering us unable to sing anymore because we are laughing so hard.

What a crazy experience.

Here is a place where people can pretend they’re performing for thousands of people in the way they deliver the lyrics and pose with the microphone, but it’s just your group of friends or family looking on as though this is normal. And, after a few moments, it is normal. Anything is normal if you let it normalize, right?! In the end, there is really no performance going on at all. It’s just about singing. It’s therapeutic. It’s cathartic.

It’s the release.

The eating, drinking and socializing is a sidebar. In fact, some of my friends like to sing for six hours straight and never get tired.

That’s not me.

After my food, I was ready for bed. I took my leave after singing a few cheesy tunes like “The Greatest Love of All” and “Somewhere Out There” with my friend (it’s a duet, of course!) The English language selection is wide but super cheesy. Despite being a lover of some cheesy eighties songs (ach-hem… like Air Supply’s entire catalogue, as mentioned), I can only listen for so long before I’m ready to move on.

I left humming a tune, of course. I’m not sure which song exactly, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that my vocal chords were being used and celebrated.

I always say that everyone can sing. It’s true. Everyone can.

KTV makes it possible.

And popular.