Tag Archives: Flights

Best Airlines for Redeeming Miles

Which are the best airlines for redeeming frequent-flier air miles and points?  If you think they’re all the same, think again. They’re drastically different.

We were planning a trip earlier this month (decided on Copenhagen!) and looked at United/Continental, American Airlines, and Delta, and found drastic differences. United was great, and Delta was terrible. I thought these were just my personal experiences, but the Wall Street Journal just posted research from Switchfly – Best Airlines for Redeeming Miles, which supports that as an overall trend. Southwest was the best.

The worst among U.S. airlines: Delta Air Lines and US Airways. Those two had no seats available at the lowest mileage level on about two out of every three inquires, or worse

In our search, United was great, with tons of flight times and flights to CPH for just 30k miles. American Airlines had the same mileage threshold for some times but not enough – they made you burn a day on each side of the trip by flying to London at inconvenient times and not being able to leave same day. In the below chart, you’ll notice AA towards the bottom of the list, and Delta fittingly as dead last:

Could your cell phone really cause a plane crash??

“We’re flying in a Lockheed Eagle series L1011. It came off the line 20 months ago. It carries a Sim-5 Transponder tracking system. Are you telling me I can still flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?” – Toby Ziegler, West Wing

We’ve all heard the pre-landing announcement asking that we turn off electronic devices, and most of us have thought it sounded ridiculous (each time reminded me of the above rant from the West Wing pilot episode). But a new airline industry report says perhaps there’s a possibility there’s something  to it. Yes, seriously.

The International Air Transport Association studied survey responses from 125 airlines from 2003 to 2009 and found … “75 incidents of possible electronic interference that airline pilots and other crew members believed were linked to mobile phones and other electronic devices.” Twenty-six of them, a tad more than a third, “affected the flight controls, including the autopilot, autothrust and landing gear.” Another 17 hit navigation systems, with 15 affecting communication systems. It’s all according to an industry investigation shared by ABC News. The iphone just got that much more dangerous.

Scariest quotes from the report:

  • “Autopilot disengaged by itself”
  • “left GPS is not reading correctly”

6 Places Germs Breed In A Plane

If you ever fly, this is disturbing. It might make you want to take a shower right now. Did you think the water the flight attendant served you was clean?  That pillow that came wrapped in plastic might be gift-wrapped bacteria. This article addresses those, as well as tray tables, seat pockets, and even the food.

6 Places Germs Breed In A Plane: Beware of airplane water, tray tables, seat pockets, pillows and lavatories

We dug deep to identify the major germ zones on planes (and tips to avoid them). No, you’re not likely to contract meningitis, but better safe than sorry, right?

GERM ZONE: seat pocket
FOR: Cold and influenza A, B, and C viruses

There’s a familiar routine to settling in on a plane: Store your luggage in the overhead bin and deposit any personal items you want to be readily available in your seat pocket. But reaching into that pocket is akin to putting your hand in someone else’s purse and rummaging among their used tissues and gum wrappers. Toenail clippings and mushy old French fries are even nastier surprises that have been found in seat pockets. Consider that cold and influenza viruses can survive for hours on fabric and tissues, and even longer (up to 48 hours) on nonporous surfaces like plastic and metal — and you realize that you might pick up more than that glossy flight magazine when you reach inside.

Raiders Plane in Malaysia??

NFL to Asia??

One of the big challenges about traveling are the things you miss from home. My New York Jets (American football) were in the playoffs, but I was in Malaysia!  I was excited to learn that my NY Jets playoff run took them all the way to the AFC Championship game.  Unfortunately, I was set to arrive in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, one day before the game. It’s a region of the world without any NFL fans. None!

KL is a major city, so my plan was to investigate if there’s any tiny sports bar that might have it (spoiler alert – there’s not). So I was thinking it would be a challenge, but imagine my reaction as we landed right next to this:

Air Asia, proud sponsor of the Oakland Raiders! That’s puzzling to most people because american football isn’t remotely popular in Malaysia, and they don’t even fly to the U.S.

That’s right – This is an Air Asia plane, with a custom Oakland Raiders wrap/paint job. At first I thought it was just Raider colors, but a closer look revealed that the side of the plane featured the name, the logo, and even images of the Raiderettes!
Why would a discount Asia carrier have a jet that’s decked out in Raiders colors?  My first fleeting thought was hopeful, incorrectly thinking perhaps there’s a small NFL fanbase here that they’re catering to. There’s not. They don’t even fly to the United States.

Flight from Bahrain to Jordan on Gulf Air

After the craziness on my first flight on Gulf Air, they redeemed themselves with this wonderfully comfortable and uneventful flight.

This plane was modern and the seat design seemed very innovative – there was plenty of leg room because the area for the tray table and magazines was set higher than most airplane seats. Why doesn’t every airline do it this way?

The next post will be from Jordan – so excited for Petra!

7 Flights in 2 Weeks

For those of you keeping score at home, at this point of the trip I’ve been on 7 flights with 5 different airlines (Air Canada, China Air, Garuda Air, Air Asia, Gulf Air), and been through 8 airports (Newark, Vancouver, Beijing, Hong Kong, Denspasar/Bali (Indonesia), Surabaya (on Java, Indonesia), 2 in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Bahrain. Compared with our domestic airlines in the US (I’m talking to you AA & Delta!), when you fly international airlines the experience is typically sooo much better, even for comparable distances. So maybe this past one was my lucky #7.