Tag: Airport Hell

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How to Keep Calm When You're Stuck On The Tarmac for 12 Hours

January 6, 2015 at 4:26 PM | by | ()

Over the weekend, Etihad Airways kept passengers bound for San Francisco trapped on the Abu Dhabi tarmac for 12 hours due to heavy fog and apparently, an overcrowded airport that had no room for the passengers to disembark.

Even worse, another Etihad flight, EY23 bound for Dusseldorf, was also delayed over the weekend, this time for 13 hours. Then after takeoff, that plane had to make an emergency landing because a man died during the flight. (There's no way to determine that the extended delay on the ground, stuck in the airplane, accounted for his death but we're sure it didn't help.)

So how can one stay calm during a torturous delay like this?

Simply put, YOU CAN'T.

Unless you've brought a bucket of Ambien and a flask of vodka on board, you have every right to lose your sh*t in a situation like this.

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Oh, Fun. JFK Security Workers Vote to Strike Over Holidays

December 17, 2012 at 3:56 PM | by | ()

You're a non-union employee responsible for some security at an airport, and you're trying to win public support on a controversy involving, first, your immediate working conditions and, second, your broad campaign to unionize. You need to walk the fine political line between asserting your rights and showing that you can be responsible. So what do you do?

If you're about 100 workers at JFK Terminal 3, apparently you vote to strike over the holidays starting December 20. You do this while your union supporters proudly retweet stories about disrupting family holiday plans. We're not experts in the travel industry or in public campaigning or anything, but it doesn't seem like they've thought their brilliant plan all the way through.

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Misbehaving Child on a Flight? Alaska Airlines Ain't Having That

June 4, 2012 at 5:53 PM | by | ()

As we have repeatedly confirmed and often mention, and with the exception of the "overweight passengers in seats" screaming match, there is absolutely nothing that gets travelers riled up like the "kids on airplanes" debate.

Of the many reasons we have an entire travel with children category, there's the plain fact that everyone has an opinion—and almost always a strong one—about the controversy. Either you have to do it and you don't understand why people won't make allowances for you and your children, or you loathe traveler parents and can't stand the little crotch flowers they drag along with them. There are enough people in the latter group that Malaysia Airlines has evaluated the market and started banning children from huge sections of their airplanes.

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Heathrow Immigration Lines Going from Totally Disastrous to Funny Disastrous

June 1, 2012 at 6:21 PM | by | ()

It's not just that London's Heathrow airport sucks, although of course it very much sucks. The runways are inadequate, the facilities are derelict, and the passport control queues in the world's self-declared "most cosmopolitan capital evuh" rival Soviet Union bread lines. BAA has been unable or unwilling to fix LHR's most visible problems and British tabloids, in their inimitable style, have taken to endlessly shredding airport officials. "Heathrow Hell" gets over 9,000 Google hits.

But the point about Heathrow is that when things go wrong they go spectacularly wrong, to the point where you almost have to marvel at the combination of aggressive incompetence, bureaucratic malaise, and sheer bad luck. We still remember how in 2010 Bulgaria had to send rescue planes to Heathrow to pick up their snowed-in citizens, as if London was some kind of Third World war zone.

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The World's Worst Lines at the World's Worst Airports

June 1, 2012 at 9:54 AM | by | ()

There's something jarring about partaking in the miracle of heavier-than-air flight, of literally dining in a chair in the sky as you fly across an ocean, and then - upon arriving at your destination in mere hours - having to stand in some horrible airport's interminable passport control line. Really? We can build commercial jets that break the sound barrier but we can't figure out how to efficiently stamp people's passports?

Here's a list of three of the worst wait time offenders. We're hoping that - all other options having been exhausted - maybe sustained public shaming will get through to them. Two are in so-called Alpha++ and Alpha+ global cities, so you'd think they'd try something now and again, and one is in West Africa, because we just can't get over how bad it is.

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(Another) Immigration Agent Strike in London Will Affect Travel This Thursday

May 7, 2012 at 9:58 AM | by | ()

If you have had the displeasure of traveling through London-Heathrow, you understand that long lines to get your passport stamped is a very common occurrence. Airport officials are well aware of the impact this will have on this summer's Olympic games and have taken steps to reduce the headaches.

For the sake of easing traveler frustration, the debate on how to reduce waiting time through immigration continues, and, frankly, hasn't resulted in much progress toward a solution. All of these debates will cause the ultimate airport hell: a strike.

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The Wackiest TSA Tale of 2011 Is...

December 30, 2011 at 1:51 PM | by | ()

It's that time of the year again, the time when the year just plain ends. Alas, we can't just let 2011 go that easily, especially since travelers spent it both up in the air and up in arms over a crazy range of topics, encompassing everything from nudie scans to tarmac delays. Needless to say, we're ready for 2012, but first we're taking a brief look back at the best of 2011 with the Jaunted Travel Awards,—or as we fondly refer to them—The Jauntys.

We let the TSA off the hook as 2011's Biggest Travel Villain—the agency finished as a runner-up after dominating the category in 2009 and 2010—but obviously they were going to make at least a couple more appearances this year.

TSA's airport security officers are, after all, responsible for the vast majority of airport hell stories (especially when you take out first-world complaints like "the plane was stuck on the tarmac for 25 extra minutes and it was the worst. thing. ever").

But as much as there are genuine concerns about TSA and civil liberties; and TSA and individual privacy; and TSA and private property; and TSA and outright criminal behavior; and TSA and surreal douchebaggery—as much as there are genuine problems in all of those areas, the vast majority of TSA officials and officers and even politicians aren't bad. It's just that so many of them are kind of bumbling and incompetent, and unfortunately they've been put in charge of a task that requires precision and competence.

So when we were choosing 2011's Worst TSA Tale, we looked for something that accurately represented the essence of TSA. Which is to say, borderline-comic incompetence.

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140 Travelers Stranded for a Week in World's Sketchiest, Most Out of Reach Airport

January 26, 2011 at 3:49 PM | by | ()

Tenzing-Hillary Airport, a small, beautiful airport better known as Lukla and nestled into the mountains of eastern Nepal, is notable for a few things. First, it really is kind of pretty. Check out the full panoramic shot here. Second, it's where most people start their hikes up Mount Everest. Neat! Third—and as we've warned you over and over again—it's arguably the world's sketchiest airport, and is actually kind of a death trap. Last October saw another crash that killed everyone aboard, and then in December a plane ran into a wall after losing its brakes.

Now that you have a mental picture of what the facilities are probably like, imagine being trapped there with no way out, like the 140 international tourists who have been there since last week. Hollywood makes horror movies that start like this.

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We Slept on the Floor at JFK Last Night, Thanks to Weather and the Tarmac Delay Law

September 17, 2010 at 4:39 PM | by | ()

You've watched us move on tarmac regulations from reserved enthusiasm through deep skepticism to outright disdain. We've been predicting unintended consequences for months, and we elevated our forecast to "complete crapshow" last May when we had our first personal brush with Congress's new three hour rule, which imposes on airlines $27,500 per passenger left on the tarmac over three hours.

Now that we've had another run-in with the law, we can report very graphically on how these kind of misguided regulations play out. Specifically, they play out with us spending a night at JFK, and creating a total security breakdown along the way.

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UK Airport Worker Strike to Shut Down Most British Airports

August 13, 2010 at 3:46 PM | by | ()

The last Monday of August is a Bank Holiday in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and roughly a million Brits accordingly use the extended weekend to vacation out of the country. If the BAA employees at London-Heathrow, London-Stansted, Glasgow, Southampton, Edinburgh and Aberdeen make good on their threat to walk out, the loss of firefighters and security staff would force the airports to close, functionally stranding anyone who wants to get in or out of Britain (with the exception of London-Gatwick, London-City airports).

When British Airways employees tried this stunt last year they got slapped down by a judge, because timing your strike to wreck the UK economy violates British fair play or something. Nice to see that the Unite union, which represents both the BA employees and the airport employees who are threatening to strike at the end of the month, is willing to trot out the same routine again. To their friends and family it probably demonstrates admirable spunk. To the rest of the UK, to anyone who needs to fly through the UK, and to anyone at any airport anywhere in the world that will be affected by UK cancellations, it's just obnoxious.

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Singapore Sets Up In-Airport Mailing Service to Save Confiscated Items

June 15, 2010 at 5:00 PM | by | ()

We've long since given up any hope that TSA will adjust their seemingly arbitrary and often moronic carry-on confiscation rules. You'd think that the knowledge that they're uselessly defending us tomorrow from yesterday's attack, coupled with the realization that scrutinizing lotion bottles is causing them to sometimes miss upwards of 90% of hidden weapons, would change their focus.

Instead they just announced that summer travel is going to be hell because they don't have enough staff to juggle all their new useless scanners and all of the bags that need to be hand-search for orange juice or whatever.

Which brings us to the experiment being run at Singapore's Terminal 1. SIN and the Singapore Post have launched a two-month pilot project to deliver potentially confiscated goods back to people's homes or ahead to their destinations. Dubbed Speedpost@Changi, the joint service is targeted at people who unknowingly try to carry valuable contraband items through checkpoints.

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The Top Five Easiest Ways to Survive a Tarmac Delay

March 16, 2010 at 1:13 PM | by | ()

The storm of last weekend, which brought winds of over 60 mph and driving rain so bad that it stung your face, cancelled and delayed more flights than we care to know. For some, like our friends waylaid at DTW with a 2-day delay, they were lucky in only having to spend three hours onboard the plane before being cancelled. But flights like Virgin America's ''16-hour Flightmare" weren't nearly as lucky, and found themselves stranded on the tarmac at unfamiliar airports, rationing Pringles and water.

The winter may be mostly over, but the storms of spring are only now on their way in. So to save you from starvation and frustration, we've prepared this guide to the Top 5 Easiest Ways to Survive a Tarmac Delay.

Check it out, after the jump!

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