Monday, July 22, 2013

Do You Like Urine on Your Feet?

So we've blogged about etiquette before (check out that word cloud to the right), and we'll do it again.


We have a real problem with people who bare their disgusting, filthy, traveling feet in public. Airline lounges and clubs are a prime place to spot this repulsive behavior.

Here are two photos we've taken (in United Clubs) in the last few months.

This appealing young (gross) lady was at O'Hare...

Bare feet up on the furniture. Nice.

And this lady was in the International Terminal at SFO:

That's her loving husband ignoring her crass ways.

But we saw something on an ORD-SFO flight last week that was truly appalling. Across from us in 21D was a 50 year old dad traveling with his wife and two kids (scattered among nearby rows). He took off his shoes as soon as we pushed back, and was barefoot.

This is bad enough. However, it gets much worse.

Three times during the flight, he got up and used the lavatory. In BARE FEET.

It is beyond appalling to imagine knowingly walking into a space that is splashed with man urine. That's what airplane lavatories are, let's just face it. Even walking in wearing the socks from your BusinessFirst amenity kit is pretty horrific.

But barefoot?

Take a hint from us: Never - NEVER - display your bare feet in an airport or on an airplane.

And if you do, for God's sake – don't visit the lav in your bare feet?


Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Call Bullshit on Flight Pax Destination "Mix Up"

I was comparing notes on a news story the other day with Crosscheck. I think she sent it to me, I can't remember. Anyway, here's the story:

Airline mix-up sends passengers to wrong continent

Supposedly, this couple booked a trip from LAX to DKR - that's Dakar, Senegal, which is in West Africa. But they connected via IST and then – somehow – boarded a flight for DAC - that's Dhaka, Bangladesh, just to the right of India.

And it's not like they had the right tickets but boarded the wrong flight - they had purchased tickets to Bangladesh and didn't know it.

My take: Bullshit!

I don't believe this was the airline's fault. Here's why:

There are more than half a dozen places between planning a trip and boarding a plane where the destination's name - not just its airport code - is clearly listed. Let's walk through the process:
  1. Flight search: When you check for flights, you see the city and country name. 
  2. They may have used a travel agent - although there is a bizarre reference to leaving voice mail for the airline, about which more below. A travel agent or airline ticket agent would send or show or tell the customer an itinerary with the city pairs, country name, etc.
  3. Based on the pax approval, presumably, the agent or airline issues the tickets and sends them to the pax. The pax can look at the ticket - which has the city name - and make sure it's right.
  4. Tickets are accompanied by a final itinerary that shows the places to be visited. Again, it includes the city and country names, spelled out.
  5. They get the boarding passes, probably from a ticket agent at the airport. See below for a sample of Turkish Airlines boarding passes.
  6. When they get to IST they have to look at the departure board to find their connecting flight gate.
And finally, they have to look at the sign at the gate itself. City name listed.

By the way, have you seen a Turkish Airlines boarding pass? 

Check these out. Do you see the city listed anywhere?

Yeah. That was my reaction too.

So it would be tough to miss that it says DHAKA and not DAKAR. Best case scenario here is that yes, the airline somehow messed up, but these pax are still guilty of passenger stupidity.

The last weird thing about this story was that the airline supposedly searched its voice mail for a message from the couple - and then agreed to compensate them. I assume the compensation was to make the plaintiffs go away so the story wouldn't gain legs.

But who the hell books an airline ticket by LEAVING A VOICE MAIL FOR AN AIRLINE?


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Catching Flies in 12F

One thing about flying, you almost never notice bugs or insects of any kind in the cabin.

But you can't be too careful.

So I like to sit next to someone like this guy, my row-mate on an Air Canada flight last year.

This was duly noted in responses to my Seatmate Questionnaire....I'm posting this mostly for the benefit of my sometimes co-blogger Crosscheck, who abhors the public sleeper – and most of all the gape-jawed public sleeper, like this dude.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Entering enemy territory, or that one time I flew AA...

Picture it: Me. I’ve just flown on three different flights in as many days, I’m ready to end a 2.5 week trip and go home. One quick connection at EWR, then a long haul, and then I'll be home.

Yeah. Smoke in the control tower at EWR. 

And the delays begin. 

We all know the signs. And we all know when we’re about to get fucked over. I know I need to act fast and change my flights.

A wise and handsome man once told me, “never wait in line,” when you need airline customer service. “Always get on the phone.” And so I do just that.

Mrs. Whatever answers the 1k line and offers to back me up on a flight leaving EWR later than my ticketed flight. I’m certain I’ll miss it. "Can’t I be rerouted?" She says that IAD is overbooked, and there are no other options for that evening. I’m not satisfied with that. I thank her and hang up.

I go to the rep at the Club. I explain. She listens. 

She says, “My advice? Let me rebook you direct on American.”

As you might imagine, this fills me with fear. No miles! No status! No club! No early boarding privileges!! But I trust her judgement. After some hand wringing and a mini panic attack, I agree. She hands me a coupon. I am to take said coupon to AA to check in and get a boarding pass.

Walking out of the United terminal, past the security checkpoint, down the road and in to the American Airlines terminal is surreal. Everything is similar, but different. I am an outsider. I didn’t speak the One World language. And my Star Alliance Gold card doesn’t mean shit.

I get my boarding pass from the AA counter and join the mortals’ line for security. It took a while with more people in line, particularly people who are not frequent travelers (pillows? lace up boots? really?). Once I get through, I felt aimless. Where to go? No club would have me. So I find a quiet gate and made a few phone calls.

Then comes the humiliation of Boarding Group 4 and waiting for everyone else to board before me, hoping there is space for my carry on. The crush of humanity as we all try to dive in front of one another, putting on airs of politeness but secretly scheming ways of cutting off the people adjacent. 

But you know what? It is all fine! Once I get on board, I settle in without issue. I have an aisle seat, and an empty next to me. The plane is far from full. Plenty of space for my bag, and it went right above my seat! I steer clear of the food, as there was no way I could have requested a special meal in time. In the middle of the flight, I realize that there was no noticeable difference between sitting in coach on AA and sitting in coach on UA. For me, the benefit of Economy Plus is minimal at best.

I make it home safe and sane.

So being a stranger in a strange land isn't so bad. But I’m not giving up my Star Alliance status anytime soon.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Kid's Toy Delays Trans-Pacific Flight 90 Minutes

I was comfortably seated in business class on a Singapore Airlines 777-300ER recently, ready for an on-time departure from Hong Kong to San Francisco. Boarding was quick and efficient, and all was well...or so it seemed.

We sat waiting for pushback, and the Singapore Girls silently glided through the cabin, serving drinks, offering magazines and newspapers, and readying the aircraft....And we waited....

And we waited....

After 30 minutes, people switched on their electronic devices, and got up to use the lavs. After 60 minutes, I asked the FA serving me my second glass of champagne what was causing the delay.

Her reply:

"A child dropped a toy into part of the aircraft's ventilation system. The engineers are working on it right now."


Reason #284 not to bring young kids on the plane. Crosscheck and I have gone on record as being generally against kids on planes, especially long-haul routes. And I personally have taken flack about that on FlyerTalk, MilePoint, and on other blogs. Regardless of your position, you have to admit, there's something silly (and avoidable) about a little kid's toy delaying a trans-Pacific journey by 90 minutes. That was the eventual magnitude of the delay, when we finally landed at SFO.

But...we arrived safely, and (otherwise) uneventfully, and for that I am certainly grateful. Thank you SQ.

Disclaimer: For all I know, it was the parent who dropped the toy down the vent. I'm just telling you what the FA told the pax. Also, the model plane shown here almost definitely isn't the one that clogged up the vents on my flight...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

US Airways' Fair, Efficient, Consistent Boarding Process

Just kidding!

There's no such thing. 
After taking about ten flights this year on US Airways, in various markets, on different equipment from a number of airports (LGA, CLT, SFO, among others), we've come to the conclusion that when it comes to equitable, consistent boarding processes...US Airways has its head up its aviation ass. 
Here's how it goes when it's time to board a US Airways flight:
  • The gate agent announces that "We will begin boarding in 3 or 4 minutes."
  • 20 to 25 minutes later, we begin boarding.
  • The gate agent announces "We will board by zone numbers, which are printed on your boarding pass."
  • We board according to descriptive categories, and the zone numbers are never mentioned again.
    • Exception: Zone numbers are mentioned when people in zones 3 or higher are told to kiss their carry on luggage goodbye, because the overhead bins are going to fill up faster than an Aeroflot lavatory.
  • There is a mad cluster f*** as everyone rushes to the PreferredAccess lane and boards whenever the hell they want to.
  • The gate agents don't bother looking at anyone's boarding pass to see whether they are even remotely associated with the group supposedly authorized to board at that point.
    • Exception: The FAA mandates that there be one RALGA – Random Angry Lady Gate Agent – at each US Airways boarding zone. This agent will randomly stop a passenger from boarding, saying "We're not boarding your zone number yet! Listen for the zone numbers!"

      The passenger will point out that they haven't even called any zone numbers, just random agglomerations of status categories, like "Silver Gold Platinum Star Preferred Elite Access Premium VISA Card holders," and the passive-aggressive RALGA will say, "Fine, if it's that important, just go ahead and board," circumventing the lone attempt to enforce some rule at boarding time.
Maybe your experience is better than ours – but this is what we've seen every time.

At SFO, in fact, the boarding announcements are made by the disembodied voice of an invisible agent who is not even in viewing range of the gate that's boarding. This results in that awkward moment when the BP scanner stops working and nobody can board, but the agent keeps encouraging new groups to board every 20 seconds or so.

Way to go, US Airways.

Way to go.


Bonus: For a laugh, read SeatGuru's description of US's boarding procedure. Key word: RANDOM.

Double-Bonus: Humorous treatment of same topic from 2010, as seen on

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Post-Flight Questionnaire: Who Was Your Seatmate?

Co-blogger Crosscheck and I fly pretty often (both over 100,000 flight miles last year) but rarely are we traveling together (we live in different countries). So whenever one of us flies, the other always asks:

Who was your seatmate?

Every once in a while there are stories of the Person of Size, the guy with a sleeveless t-shirt (shudder), the teen with oversize laptop computer (more about that in a future post), the Global Services member who sells pistachios for a living, the off-duty pilot, or the hot chick (yeah!).

With that in mind, it occurred to me that there ought to just be a form we can fill out and e-mail to the other the one I created below...

What would you ask about your friend's seatmate?

Airline (and aircraft type):

From (airport code):
To (airport code):

My seatmate was:

_ Empty next to!
_ Male
_ Female
_ Honestly? Not sure

_ Small
_ Medium
_ Large

_ Clean
_ Dirty

_ Totally Quiet
_ Quiet except for "hello" or "may I get up please?"
_ Chatty in a harmless way
_ Flirting
_ Would not fucking shut up

_ Scary looking
_ Average
_ Hot!

_ Dressed casually but OK
_ In goddamn sweats
_ In business attire
_ Functionally? Practically naked.

_ Crying baby
_ Kid (<18)
_ Youngish (18 to 29)
_ Medium age (30s or 40s)
_ Freakin' old! (>40)
_ Old Timer

Probably works as a:   ______



Feel free to use it, and if you get anyone good - drop us a line at