If you’re in the military you can drive a van onto a runway. At least at Sea-Tac.

Last week in Seattle, retired Army lieutenant colonel Greg Alderete drove a van onto a runway tarmac at Sea-Tac airport. Alderete was supposed to be on the runway — he was picking up a general flying in from Portland — but what shocked him was that no one stopped to ask his name, check his ID, or search his vehicle. And you can’t make the excuse that he was dressed as a military officer; Alderete was in civilian clothes.

“We were sitting there, the engine idling, nobody around, when all of a sudden I realized: We’re out on the goddamn runway,” Alderete said. No inspection, no attention, and no screening made Alderete feel like there was a definite problem with the airport’s security, “with a van full of weapons we could have shut down the entire aviation system.”

Granted the colonel was picking up the general in the corporate jet area, where businessmen and government officials fly in and out of, but still, it makes you wonder just how tight airport security really is.

That was one crazy runway story. Check out these crazy airplane stories!

[Story via Boing Boing; image courtesy frischmilch]

New direct Beijing to Seattle route with Hainan Airlines

The Seattle Tacoma International Airport has been my starting point for many an adventure, so I am always partial to any news regarding the caffeinated city’s connection to the outside world. Well, add another point to Seattle’s cool list: China’s largest privately owned airline Hainan Airlines will begin flying a direct Seattle to Beijing flight starting June 9, 2008.

With four flights a week, this is Hainan Airline’s first service to North America. On top of it, if you end up traveling with the airline once in China you will get to play its Unexpected Fortune game. “What,” you may ask, “is the Unexpected Fortune game?” All domestic travelers receive a ticket (10 of them if you are seated in First Class) which has a mahjong tile symbol on it, and depending on which one you get, you might win some Chinese yen.

Despite the chances of winning some Chinese spending money, I am personally most excited about the in-flight seated yoga service; the 11.5 hour flight from Seattle to Beijing never looked so good.