Helsinki Airport Opens Free Lounge With Real Beds

If you’ve ever tried to sleep on one of those hard airport terminal chairs as announcements blare over the PA system and passengers jostle into you with their luggage, you know how hard it is to get any decent rest while waiting for your flight.

Skift reports Helsinki Airport is giving travelers a reprieve by opening a relaxation lounge where travelers can sleep, rest or work in peace. The lounge has pod style chairs and even real beds, so passengers can choose the relaxation option that best suits them. The walls and ceilings are designed with acoustic technology to ensure a quiet environment, and the décor is meant to reflect the calming Finnish landscape, with ice and northern light motifs incorporated into the design.The relaxation area is open to passengers 24 hours a day, and here’s the best part -– it’s absolutely free. While we’ve seen a number of airport terminals incorporate mini hotel suites and pod sleeping areas in recent times, most charge by the hour for the privilege. Thankfully, in Helsinki that’s not the case. There’s no need to be a member of an airline loyalty program or fork over any exorbitant fees to get some shut-eye here.

Delta Punished For Breaking The Rules On Passenger Bumping

Delta has received a slap on the wrist for failing to properly compensate passengers who were bumped from their flights. The government handed the airline a $750,000 fine, saying the carrier had routinely mishandled overbooked flights by bumping passengers without asking for volunteers or compensating travelers.

Airlines regularly overbook flights since many passengers end up cancelling or changing their travel plans. If flights are still full when departure time rolls around, airlines typically ask travelers to volunteer for a later flight in order to avoid having to bump (and compensate) any passengers. However, not all travelers realize that they may be entitled to cash or understand the rules about it works.In general, if the alternative flight a bumped passenger is placed on arrives within one hour of when the original flight was scheduled to land, airlines don’t have to pay them anything. But according to U.S. federal regulations, passengers who are involuntarily bumped and will have their travel plans pushed out by more than an hour are entitled to at least 200 percent of the one-way fare to the destination (with a cap at $650). Compensation for longer delays maxes out at $1300.

This isn’t the first time Delta has been penalized for bungling how it deals with overbooked flights. The airline was fined back in 2009 for the same infraction.

Galley Gossip: The Worst, Funniest and Most Common Bad Airline Passengers

Photo credit: Telstar Logistics

From time to time I get asked questions about bad passengers. I thought I’d share a few of them here.

What’s the worst passenger behavior you’ve witnessed?

I’ve caught passengers taking other people’s luggage out of the bin to make room for their own bags. I’m not joking. They’ll pull out a bag, drop it on the floor and walk away leaving it in the middle of the aisle for the passengers behind them to crawl over. Have you ever tried stepping over a 21-inch Rollaboard? Not easy. Happened three times last month!

The funniest?

Recently a woman tried to stow her suitcase in that, oh, what do you call that spot? Crevice? Crack? Between the overhead bin and the ceiling? There’s like a millimeter of space there! I don’t care which airline you’re traveling on, that’s not going to fit. Then there are the recliners and the anti-recliners. One anti-recliner got upset at a recliner because she couldn’t get her tray table down. I suggested if maybe she removed the gigantic fanny pack from around her waist it might go down. She looked at me like I was the crazy one! One man actually called me over because the passenger in front of him had reclined his seat. I had to point out that, uh … his seat was reclined too!

What’s the most common bad passenger behavior you’ve seen?

These days, people are so self-absorbed multitasking as they board a flight they don’t even say hello to the flight attendant greeting them at the boarding door. They’re too busy talking on the phone, typing on their laptops, listening to music and texting as they walk down the aisle to notice their backpacks and duffle bags are whacking people in the head. Recently a passenger got mad at me – ME! – because I wouldn’t help him lift a heavy bag. That’s because he couldn’t get off the phone to improve his one arm bag swing. Two arms always work better than one when it comes to getting those bags into the overhead bins.

What are the rules for dealing with bad passengers?

We can’t call the police or the fire department at 30,000 feet. That’s why it’s a good idea to take care of problem passengers on the ground before we depart. Before we kick someone off the plane, we’ll do everything we can to make a bad situation good again. Usually, it involves doing the following:

  1. Getting Down: Literally, we get down on one knee in the aisle at the passenger’s level. This position is less threatening to passengers.
  2. Listening: Most passengers just want to be heard. That’s it.
  3. Keeping Calm: We try not to raise our voices. Staying calm and in control will diffuse most situations.
  4. The Facts: We might ask what the problem is and then have the passenger suggest a solution. This way we’re all on the same page.
  5. Walking Away: A new face is new energy. If I’m not getting anywhere with a difficult passenger, I’ll remove myself from the situation and ask a coworker to step in. Even though a coworker may tell the passenger the exact same thing I did, they could get a completely different response.

If that doesn’t work, and we’re in flight, we might issue a written warning signed by the Captain. All this means is if a passenger doesn’t stop doing whatever it is they were doing, authorities will be called to meet the flight. That’s why I say if you’re going to freak out, might be a good idea to wait until we’re safe and sound on the ground and parked at the gate. No one wants to divert a flight. Plus you don’t want to end up in jail far away from home where no one can rescue you.

Airline Service, As Different As Night And Day, Literally

Purely from an airline passenger‘s point of view, I’ve always thought that the international flight crew on any given airline was better than their domestic counterparts. If for no other reason, settling in for a long-haul flight, those international veterans have more time to take care of business. Short domestic flights kept flight crews busy and important safety-related duties take precedence over casual chitchat. I get that. Still, what an international crew does with all that time can be as different as night and day.

Surely, logic would explain that not as much in the way of service will be offered on longhaul, overnight flights. After all, most passengers are asleep at one point or another so their needs are few. Water us, feed us, put us to bed then wake us up for breakfast before touchdown, as the choreography goes on flights from a U.S. airport to many European locations. But the dance takes on a whole different tempo during a day flight, as I found out on a recent return from Amsterdam to Atlanta – or at least it should.

I’ve been on international flights bouncing back and forth across the pond a lot lately and in a short amount of time. Comparing and contrasting the experiences is easy.

On Delta flight 70 from Orlando (MCO) to Amsterdam (AMS) on a late night flight, the mood was relaxed and while the basics were taken care of, this was a crew that was nice to passengers because they had to be. Lackluster. Nothing to write home about. Dial-up speed.

Charged with DSL-speed power, the return day flight could not have been better for a number of reasons. Let me count the ways.Delta flight 33 inbound from Amsterdam to Atlanta was longer and went through more turbulent skies. As with just about any flight that might end in a magical Orlando vacation, 33 had the usual complement of excited/rowdy/demanding passengers too.

But a flight crew that covered the cabin of that aircraft like they had roller skates on took care of business. After we were initially fed and watered I thought that would be about all we see of them for a while. Wrong. Back they came, again and again, caring for passengers in a truly, dare I say, inspirational way.

Next to me, a passenger who wanted to sleep could not get his chair to recline. The first crew member to stop by said, “I’m sorry but we have a full plane and there is no place to move you to,” thanking Sleepless for telling her. I thought “Yeah this was too good to be true, here we go.” But before that thought was complete, a senior crew member came by, asked Sleepless to get up, took the seat apart and fixed it.

Impressed, I later wandered back to the crew area, related my neutral experience on the outbound night flight and posed the question, “Do you guys work together a lot? You seem to cover a lot of ground in a very short amount of time, like a well-oiled machine.” Miss Handy Crew Member replied, “Most of us have been with the company for 20+ years. There’s not a lot we haven’t seen or done.” She explained that international day flights are normally staffed by the best of the best on most airlines and that “it’s a seniority thing.”

Senior, junior or any crew members in-between I have to give credit where credit is due. This was a Delta flight, in a very old plane, filled with a whole lot of people not used to having nine hours on their hands and that crew did a magnificent job.

There were no mechanical problems with the aircraft, flight delays on the tarmac forcing a return to the gate or any of the other challenges faced in my account of a United flight saved by quick-thinking crew members in “Bad Flight Saved By Airline Crew, New Laws, Amiable Travelers.”

But often it is the day-to-day heroes of the air who go about their business of providing a safe flight, done right, that deserve a bit of praise from time to time.

Speaking of heroes in the air, check this video that tells of a man posing as a pilot who made it all the way to the cockpit before being discovered:

[Photo credit – Flickr user steveleenow]

Galley Gossip: Can Passengers View Pornography on the Airplane?

Photo courtesy: Bekathwia

From time to time I get questions from readers who want to know what the rules are regarding viewing pornography in flight now that Wi-Fi is available on board most airplanes. Thankfully, it hasn’t been much of an issue (knock on wood). But planes are crowded, personal space barely exits, and when passengers do things they shouldn’t, well, they usually get caught.

Last week on a flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale, a coworker had to ask a 10-year-old boy to turn off the erotica and to fasten his seatbelt. On either side of him sat his younger brother and sister. Across the aisle were his parents who had no idea what was going on until we informed them why he may have been holding the computer screen so close to his face. On a different flight another passenger was caught reading a Playboy Magazine. Next to him sat his young son. What gave this man away was the opened centerfold he was eyeing up and down. When a flight attendant politely asked him to put it away, he yelled at her for embarrassing him.

How common is it to see someone watching something rather risqué on a laptop, iPad, tablet or even the in-flight entertainment system in the air? I can only think of a few instances I’ve seen something that might raise a few eyebrows. When this happens, I’ll gently inform the passenger that there are children on board and remind them that other passengers seated nearby might find what they’re viewing distasteful. Nine times out of ten they’ll either fast forward through the scene or turn it off – end of story.

Do passengers ever complain about the content of something that a different passenger is watching? I’ve never had anyone rat someone out for watching pornography in flight. But I do get a lot of complaints about kids watching movies or playing video games that are too loud. Most parents forget to bring headphones for their little ones. I always hate having to tell a nice family to turn it down, but rules are rules and they apply to everyone, even those under 2 feet tall.

Is there a firm policy on how to handle passengers who are watching adult content openly? Pornography is not allowed on the airplane. If a flight attendant does come across it, we’ll discreetly ask the passenger to put it away. If that doesn’t work, we might issue a written warning. The warning informs the passenger what will happen if they choose not to comply. Refusing to obey crew instruction is a federal offense.