Snakes on a plane is a ridiculous movie concept, but the release of the movie has certainly helped us all to pay a bit more attention to real-life snakes on a plane scenarios. A Qantas flight from Australia to Japan was delayed for a full day recently when a Mandarin rat snake was discovered on board. Mandarin rat snakes are nonvenomous and small — adults don’t usually grow any longer than seven inches, though this particular snake was eight inches long. The snake was removed and eventually euthanized.
More than 1,000 chickens lucked into a peaceful retirement starting with a cross-country flight to upstate New York. The white Leghorn chickens are past their prime egg-laying days, too lean to be eaten, and would have been slaughtered if the Animal Place rescue organization hadn’t stepped in to find them new homes. On Wednesday night, 1,200 chickens were loaded onto a private cargo plane from California to Elmira, New York. Operation Chicken Airlift cost $50,000 and was paid for by an anonymous donor.
The poultry were just another example of animals transported by air:
After learning how overcrowded California animal shelters are with tiny dogs, airlines including Virgin America have stepped up with Operation Chihuahua, transporting dozens of dogs to New York for adoption. West coasters can help prep the dogs for flight with “bathing, caging and snuggling” with Project Flying Chihuahuas.
The Department of Transportation now recommends that U.S. carriers allow certain unusual animals in the cabin as service or therapy animals. This may include pot-bellied pigs, monkeys or miniature horses (!), as long as they don’t cause a “significant disruption” in service.
Last year, many internet users fell for an adorable hoax photo of a panda cub flying in business class. The fake China Airlines press release noted that Squee Squee ate bamboo, “with a side of bamboo, and bamboo mousse for dessert.”
EVA Air has announced it will begin flying a Boeing 777 featuring the popular cartoon character on its Taoyuan-Los Angeles route, immersing travelers in all things Hello Kitty during the 13-hour journey.
The Taiwan-based airline has been flying jets outfitted with Hello Kitty themed décor in Asian countries for a number of years, but it’s the first time such aircraft will be flown in the U.S.
The airline is still putting the finishing touches on the interior of the plane, but they have released a few details about what passengers can expect. Aircraft bathrooms will feature Hello Kitty branded soaps and lotions and cabin crew will wear pink Hello Kitty aprons featuring a large 3D bow and an image of the famous feline.
If the planes are anything like the ones operating in Japan, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, we can also expect to see Hello Kitty adorning the headrests, pillows, boarding passes, and luggage tags. But the most incredible part has to be the Hello Kitty themed meals, which feature intricately carved desserts and morsels of food shaped like the cartoon character herself.
The first Hello Kitty flight will debut in the US on September 18.
After completing a 26-hour flight in 2010 and going from Switzerland to Morocco completely under solar power last year, the Solar Impulse is set to take on its next challenge later this spring. The high-tech plane, powered completely be the sun, will attempt to fly coast to coast across the U.S. starting in May.
On Thursday, Solar Impulse pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg announced that they will take off from Moffett Air Field at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, on May 1 and intend to head east to New York City. Along the way, they’ll make stops in Phoenix, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and either St. Louis, Nashville or Atlanta. They expect the entire trip will take roughly two months to complete.
The Solar Impulse features a massive wingspan of 208 feet, most of which is covered in solar panels. Energy that is collected through those panels is stored in lithium-polymer batteries, which allow the plane to stay aloft even after the sun goes down. Because of its rather large size, the plane flies at a relative low altitude of just 6000 feet and at a cruising speed of about 43 mph. That may not sound like it’s very fast, but considering the entire aircraft is powered by clean energy, it is still pretty impressive.
Obviously we’re a long way from powering commercial airliners with solar power, but this experimental aircraft is a step in the right direction. If all goes well with this flight, the team intends to attempt a round-the-world flight in 2015.
Contorting your body to fit into cramped economy class airline seats is bad enough without the person seated in front of you invading your space. Reclining seats have been a point of contention amongst fliers for years and as seat pitch gets smaller, the problem has only gotten worse with some passengers even coming to blows over the issue.
Other passengers take a more passive aggressive approach. Remember this traveler who took matters into his own hands and rigged the seat in front of him so it would stay in the upright position? Or what about the Knee Defender, the invention we told you about last year, which is designed to keep airline seats from reclining?
Well, finally, someone has come up with a solution to the seat reclining dramas. The AirGo is an economy class seat designed by an engineering student for the James Dyson Award. Alireza Yaghoubi took first prize for his design concept, which aims to give fliers control over their limited seat space, even when the passenger in front of them reclines.The seats are designed with individual bulkheads, so each passenger has their own area to stow luggage. Suspended from this are the tray table and TV screen, which aren’t affected if fellow passengers recline. The seats themselves are made of a nylon mesh designed to minimize sweating and are fully customizable to suit each traveler’s posture.
While the seating concept does take up 16 percent more space than a regular economy class seat, hopefully the benefits will sway airlines to get onboard.