Guest Editor Joel Chusid
From Buffalos to Birds
Once again, airplanes and animals have crossed paths, and not always in a good way. From large to small, here we go… A dangerous situation occurred when a fully loaded Spicejet Boeing 737 took off from the Indian city of Surat and struck a buffalo grazing on the runway. There were no serious injuries, although the buffalo didn’t make it, and the plane was damaged. Then there was the incredible story about the woman on the day before Thanksgiving who was permitted to board a US Airways flight at Hartford with her large pig, which she claimed was needed for emotional support. Passengers thought she was carrying a duffel bag on her shoulders as she proceeded down the aisle. But the animal immediately began doing its “business”, to put it nicely, causing a big stink. It got worse as the woman tried to clean up the mess, and both she and the pig became vocal. They were both ordered off, since airlines can reject emotional support animals if they believe they could be disruptive. A few weeks earlier, a shipment of crabs got loose in the cargo hold of another US Airways flight at New York’s LaGuardia Airport bound for Charlotte causing a thirty minute delay. It took five hours for crews to find a stowaway mouse in the cockpit on a Norwegian Air flight ready to depart Oslo for New York. That could have been more serious since rodents can chew through wires. As they say on TV, “on a lighter note”, a woman who was booked to travel for Christmas from Seattle to Phoenix on US Airways (sorry, US Airways again) was informed she could not travel with her lovebirds even though she’d been booked for months. The airline had changed its policy and could only offer a refund. Alaska Airlines came to the rescue after the story aired on local TV news and offered the woman and her lovebirds free tickets to Phoenix. Nice job, Alaska.
Passengers Behaving Badly, Again
The same week as the famous “Korean Air nut” incident (it got wide publicity, so I won’t go into it here), some Chinese passengers on a flight from Bangkok to Nanging were upset at not being seated together. They proceeded to throw hot water and noodles at a flight attendant, and the plane returned to Bangkok. Many passengers filmed the incident, which escalated beyond just noodles. The Chinese government was not amused, and they threatened to “severely punish” the offending Chinese nationals. Good!
Crews Behaving Badly, Sadly
It’s sad when crews can’t get along. In fact, it can be downright dangerous. In Cairo, 150 passengers were evacuated from a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight when a pilot and steward got into a fight which resulted in both being injured. The flight was delayed six hours. A Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Dubai was delayed ninety minutes when both pilots got into a heated argument. No injuries on this one. It’s good that these disagreements, sad as they are, occurred prior to the flights becoming airborne.
ANA Takeoff Mode
Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) has introduced a “takeoff mode” app to calm passengers who get apprehensive on takeoff. The app features a game to keep the user involved, and it changes based on the ambient noise inside the aircraft. New US DOT regulations allowing the use of cell phones, at the airline’s discretion, during takeoff make this app possible. It’s available for i-Phones only at this time.
Airports as Gyms
As airlines squeeze more and more seats onto airplanes, personal space has shrunk. One can barely open a laptop “safely” or stretch out normally without going into contortions. Taking a stroll around the cabin to “stretch one’s legs” is limited to a trip to the lav, so you’re pretty close to remaining stationary for the duration. A good idea is to try and get some exercise before, after or during a connection, at the airport. There are certainly enough concourses to walk, some by necessity if you’re changing planes. But Phoenix, Philadelphia, DFW and Boston Logan, among others, have risen to the occasion to address the sedentary life of a passenger. Philadelphia Airport has replaced rocking chairs with 30 stationary bikes in the waiting areas of the airport. Reaction has been very positive. San Francisco has yoga facilities and Milwaukee table tennis. In Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, a two mile fitness trail, with nice views of the surrounding area, has been marked out through the concourses, complete with water bottle filling stations. (I’ve seen the latter in several airports as drinking fountains go the way of pay phones.) DFW also has a marked path, with long staircases in Terminal D in place for some step exercises as well as a yoga location. Boston’s Logan Airport has walking paths marked, along with stations where passengers can check their weight, height and even body mass index. More airports are expected to follow.