The Solar Storm

From the Wall Street Journal online:

Delta Air Lines Inc. said Tuesday that it was rerouting some transpolar flights between Asia and the U.S. to avoid the impact of the largest solar storm in almost a decade.
The Atlanta-based carrier said some flights to Detroit from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul took a more southerly routing on overnight flights, though a spokesman said planes flew faster to keep schedules intact. Tuesday departures from the U.S. were expected to follow similar routes.

The solar storm has been the topic of a great deal of interest here at the AMS meeting (see below).

Worse Than ORD Terminal F, EWR Concourse A or IAH Concourse B

It seems that airports are the blog’s theme of the day. Fox News tells this story of the passengers of a British Airways flight who were awakened at 3am by two announcements telling them they were going to ditch at sea.

So, I guess there are worse places to land than those terminals.

By the way, I was on a plane that made an emergency landing (i.e., evacuated the plane in the middle of the runway with fire trucks and ambulances surrounding us). The crew made all of the announcements during that incident. Since British Airways has mistakenly played these recorded announcements before, perhaps they should go back to the crew handling emergencies.

My Favorite U.S. Airport

Should have included this in the posting below.

Which U.S. airport is my favorite? Easy: Harrisburg, PA. Friendly people (even the TSA is very professional in my experience), good services, easy to get around.

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The Worst Airline Terminals

USA Today published an article about the best and worst airline terminals in the world.

Here are my nominees for the worst:

3. Houston Bush Terminal B. Dark with perpetual chaos. Employees call it “the ghetto.”

2. Newark’s Terminal A (mentioned in the article). Old, shabby, and rude about says it all.

1. — the worst — Chicago O’Hare Terminal F. As travel writer Joe Brancatelli so aptly describes it, “it is where the Fall of Saigon is reenacted daily.” Walking outside in the pouring rain and snow with no cover, total inability to get a flight off on time at the advertised gate, rude people, nowhere to sit.

Notice something in common? All belong to United Continental Airlines. UA is my favorite airline to fly. But, they really, really need to do something about these three terminals.

8:40am CST Winter Storm Update

click to enlarge

Snow is now falling in some of the Chicago suburbs and it will start at the airports shortly if it hasn’t already. The temperature is now 33° but will drop into the mid- to upper 20′s by noon and winds will steadily increase during the day.

Winter Storm Update

Blue = winter weather advisories. Pink = winter storm warnings (the more serious condition) as of 6:45am CST. Green = flood advisories.

Currently, there are 30 minute delays at LaGuardia and Philadelphia from the rain moving through those areas. The snow has not yet reached the Chicago airports where no delays are currently reported. That will change later this morning, however.

AccuWeather regional radar at 6:50am shows snow moving toward Chicago and increasing in the Northeast.

I was supposed to change planes in Chicago late this morning and have rerouted myself through Houston to avoid major problems. You can, too, as airline waivers are in effect which allows you to change your trip or reroute at no charge.

Tornado Watch Atlanta and Northwest Georgia

Right now the airports with delays are LaGuardia and Newark with averages of 16 and 45 minutes, respectively. That will likely change as strong thunderstorms approach Atlanta. A tornado watch has been issued for the area:

Below is AccuWeather’s regional radar at 4pm EST. There is a small thunderstorm just north of the Atlanta airport with strong thunderstorms moving in from the west. Expect major delays when the storms move in.

Airline Crisis Survival Guide is here.

Today’s Flight Delays

AccuWeather regional radar at 7:30am CST

We have flight delays at O’Hare, Philadelphia, and Charlotte due to low clouds. With the rain moving through the East, delays will multiply as the day progresses. So, pack some extra games for the kids and an extra magazine for you.

And, talk a moment to read the Airline Survival Guide.

UPDATE: 8:52am. Average delays of 1 hr. 15 min. were posted at Newark and 25 minutes at LaGuardia.

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Why People Get Sick on Airplanes

I’m one of the people who, too often it seems, gets sick from airplanes. Here is a very educational article about why:

One well-known study in 1979 found that when a plane sat three hours with its engines off and no air circulating, 72% of the 54 people on board got sick within two days. The flu strain they had was traced to one passenger. For that reason, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an advisory in 2003 to airlines saying that passengers should be removed from planes within 30 minutes if there’s no air circulation, but compliance isn’t mandatory.

These days, with airlines pinching pennies, they do not power the auxiliary power unit (APU) and no air circulates. The article suggests bringing it to the attention of the flight attendants but, given the state-of-mind of today’s flight attendants, it is probably futile.

Details from The Wall Street Journal. Ahh-Choo!

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Way to Go, Alec Baldwin!

Alec Baldwin and I have almost nothing in common except for one thing: Utter disgust with American Airlines’ flight attendants.

I have accrued more than a million miles and have lifetime Million Mile status with AA. It used to be my favorite airline. However, I have flown them less and less in recent years due to their arrogant, “chip-on-their-shoulder” flight attendants. Until Friday of this week, I had not flown them a single time in 2011.

Coming back from our vacation Thursday, United cancelled our flight. About the only choice was American, so I said OK and was hoping for better things, especially in view of AA’s Chapter 11 earlier in the week. I happily Tweeted before boarding that there were two survivors of Pearl Harbor on AA Flight 72 and that the passengers game them a hearty round of applause.

To make a long story short, it was another awful experience. And, while the captain apologized to me (saying the FA’s were under “extreme pressure” because the flight was late), I’m back to doing everything I can to avoid AA. I simply do not have anywhere near the number of problems with other airlines’ flight attendants that I do AA’s.

Many jumped to the conclusion that Alec Baldwin was completely in the wrong and, perhaps, he didn’t turn off his phone as quickly as he should have. But, based on comments from Oscar De La Hoya who was seated near Balwin on the same flight and witnessed the incident, what likely occurred was one of AA’s rude flight attendants approached Baldwin the way they approached me and Baldwin reacted defensively.

So, it is with great pleasure I present AA’s “apology” to Alec Baldwin from last night’s Saturday Night Live:

Judging from their reaction, there were a lot of American Airlines’ customers in the audience.

P.S. While I am on the subject, I want take this occasion to thank the Continental Airlines’ FA’s on Flight 1 two weeks ago today. Both Kathleen and I thought they gave outstanding service with great attitudes.

UPDATE: Monday morning…  The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) also wants Baldwin’s hit TV show 30 Rock to be removed from the airline’s in-flight entertainment selection, the New York Daily News reported. 



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Today’s Holiday Weather Outlook

Here is the severe weather outlook for today:

The highest tornado probabilities, which are of moderate value of 5%, is right over the the same area that suffered so much on April 27.

Delays are already being reported in Philadelphia and Houston where ground stops are in place.  The Airline Survival Guide is here.

 Thunderstorms today are likely to cause delays at the Atlanta and Cincinnati airline hubs.

Winter Storm
Today’s winter advisories (pink = winter storm warning).

The major Northeast airports will have major problems tomorrow.


Update: 7:21am… As I was posting this, a ground stop due to low clouds was put in place for Chicago. Please read the airline survival guide if you are planning to travel by air today or tomorrow, especially to Atlanta today. If you can take an earlier flight, you might save yourself a lot of trouble. 

Thanksgiving Travel Outlook

According to AccuWeather, 42,500,000 are going to travel for Thanksgiving this year. And, while the drought relief is vital, adverse weather is going to inconvenience many people and be dangerous for some. So, I want to give a comprehensive overview so you can better plan your week.

Tornadoes and Severe Thunderstorms


I’m really worried about this one. As we saw in the Carolinas last week, out-of-season tornadoes can be especially deadly. People don’t associate tornadoes with November and/or people celebrating Thanksgiving from parts of the nation where tornadoes are rare don’t know how to get the information they need then react accordingly.

The tornado and severe thunderstorm threat is geographically limited today.

The threat grows in size tomorrow (Monday):

and spreads east Tuesday.

Please view these as relative probabilities: 30% is a big deal 2 and 3 days out! These storms have the potential to cancel flights and disrupt already packed flights.

So, if you are flying in these areas, PLEASE read my Airline Survival Guide! All of the compliments I have received from fliers who have used the Guide are very gratifying…this advice works. So, put this advice to work for you. Airline hubs in Dallas, Houston, Nashville, and Cincinnati are going to be affected by these storms.

Flooding

If you are traveling by auto, flooding may be a problem both early this week and again next weekend in the area indicated below in both shades of green. There is the potential the flooding area will enlarge for next weekend over what is indicated here. All extra time and carry a road atlas in case you have to reroute. 

There is also a concern that some flooding may develop in parts of Washington and Oregon late in the week.

Snow

There is some good news: Outside of the Sierra passes — where it will be very heavy — snow will not be a big problem prior to Thanksgiving day. That will likely be a different story for the return home. I’ll post on that in a day or two. Please check back.

Safe travels and enjoy Thanksgiving with your family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for.

Ten Things the TSA Should Change on Its Tenth Anniversary

Agree with every one of them.

However, I would add #11:  Abolish the agency altogether and go back to the private sector people we had before September 11. This would preserve security, greatly decrease costs and stop much of the institutional arrogance.

Many are starting to agree — from Republicans in Congress to George McGovern.

According to Rep. Paul Broun,
Americans have paid $60,000,000,000 funding the TSA and they are no safer than before 9/11. 

Rep. John Mica goes on to say,
We are safer today, but not because of the TSA. It’s because the American people will not allow an aircraft to be taken over…


No one ever envisioned 4,000 administrative personnel in Washington, D.C. 

For more, go here. I believe the future of the TSA should be an issue for the 2012 Presidential candidates.

Northeast Snow Storm

I’ve not said much about the developing Northeast snow storm because AccuWeather is doing its normal outstanding job covering it.

As of this moment, there are no significant flight delays. However, that will likely change this afternoon as the storm approaches the area. The accumulating snow should begin late tonight.

Airport Survival Guide

Got a call Saturday afternoon from a friend headed to Munich telling me how vital my Airport Survival Guide was to getting him out of a real jam. It is the 6th most popular posting in the history of this blog.

If you’ve never read it, click here. Print it out and keep it with your travel kit.

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Severe Weather Threat Northeast and Midwest

A slight risk of thunderstorms with hail ≥1″ or winds of 60 mph or more in the yellow areas. There is also a slight chance of tornado in the NJ-Mass forecast area.

AccuWeather regional radar at 1:47pm EDT shows scattered thunderstorms across the region. These are expected to intensify during the afternoon.

At 2pm EDT, flight delays of 30 min. or more are reported at Newark, JFK, LaGuardia, and Philadelphia.

Airline Flying Today

With “Pan Am” making its debut last night, we got a look at the era when flying was fun. I’m not a person who pines for the past, but I’d love for that era to return.

Regis had a bad airline experience over the weekend, which seems to be the norm these days. He was stuck on the tarmac for an hour then there was a delay getting to the gate. Regis presented his plan for improvement:

You can watch their dialog here.

Today’s Speed Bump comic is about the state of the airlines.

I suspect that cartoonist Dave Coverly does not fly very often as the airline depicted looks pretty good, especially compared to the regional jets. There is no one in the center seat, there is plenty of legroom, and the stone seats are at least as comfortable as RJ seats.

More Speed Bump here.