Tag: joe sharkey

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The Titanic Awards Lets You Say, 'Yes, This Travel Experience Is The Worst'

June 23, 2009 at 6:11 PM | by | ()

Over here at Jaunted, we see all kinds of travel surveys on nearly every part of the travel experience. There are surveys about the worst airline food and the meanest flight attendants and the hottest destinations and so forth. Heck, we've even created some of our own. But there's a new sort of survey site on the scene called The Titanic Awards. Here is the site's mission statement in its own words:

If you’ve ever wedged yourself into an airplane seat, checked your luggage or checked into a hotel, you know there are few perfect trips on this planet. Something invariably goes wrong. At times, very wrong. It may be a computer scheduling glitch you can almost understand. Or something bizarre, but entertaining. Even outright incompetence at almost incomprehensible levels.

The Titanic Awards seeks to take a different approach to these often spectacular underachievements in the travel industry… by celebrating them.

more ›

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"The Devil at 37,000 Feet"

Where: Brazil
December 10, 2008 at 5:00 PM | by | ()

The main event--for us anyway--in the January issue of Vanity Fair* is a piece called "The Devil at 37,000 Feet," about the incredible mid-air collision over Brazil in 2006 that killed 154 people and sucked survivor and aviation journalist Joe Sharkey into an incredible vortex of storytelling, xenophobia and international finger pointing. William Langewiesche, who is, in an interview about the article on vanityfair.com, cooler than the other side of Barack Obama's pillow, wrote the piece.

Perhaps garnering as much attention as the story itself are the cockpit tapes from both aircraft, hosted on the magazine's website. While VF says the voice recordings are newsworthy, the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations says such use of cockpit voice recordings "for public entertainment" is an outrage.

* Owned, like Jaunted, by Conde Nast.

Related Stories:
· The Devil at 37,000 Feet [VF]
· The Recordings from the Gol Boeing 737 [VF, MP3]
· The Recordings from the ExcelAire N600XL [VF, MP3]
· Pilots Outraged by Release of Recordings [AP, via Google]
· 2006 Travel Awards: Joe Sharkey for the Best Travel Media Story of the Year [Jaunted]

[Rendering of the collision: Wikimedia]

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Adventures of Link: Hating on Fees Is So Easy to Do

May 27, 2008 at 5:45 PM | by | ()

So, yes, that American Airlines first-checked-bag fee is sticking, and just about everybody hates it. Frequently miffed business traveler Joe Brancatelli doesn't mince words:

This fee is going into the Airline Stupid Hall of Fame.

Getting his back is Joe Sharkey, who also frequently hates whatever it is airlines are doing these days. The New York Times writer turned over his column today to aviation consultant Michael Boyd, who promptly announced:

Airlines need to realize that they have to get the customer on their side, and you don't do that by making them line up longer at the counter checking bags.

Fair enough. But there is at least one person out there who isn't upset by the new rules. Jeff from Beat of Hawaii actually doesn't mind the $15 checked bag charge--because unbundled extras will keep fares low. As so many airline execs would tell us: Why pay extra for a service you're not using?

Related Stories:
· A Bad Bag Idea [Portfolio]
· More Travelers, Costlier Oil and More Commotion [NYT]
· Why AA's $15 Checked Bag Fee Is Fair [Beat of Hawaii]
· American to Hike the Price of Onboard Snacks [Airline Biz Blog]
· Airline Fees coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo: Joi]

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First-Person Flight Reviews: Virgin America's First Class

March 19, 2008 at 2:30 PM | by | ()

It's true. We enjoy Virgin America. The airline's got high-quality entertainment, fun-but-classy crews, low prices and, most importantly, flies where we do. But enough about us. What does grizzled airline reporter Joe Sharkey think?

I was in no mood for a bad trip when I left for a 7 a.m. Virgin America flight to New York. And I didn't get one...The biggest surprise was the seat, which had 55 inches of legroom, compared with the typical 40 inches or less in first-class cabins on most domestic narrow-body flights

The in-flight service was excellent...The in-seat entertainment system had live television and on-demand selections that included about three dozen movies.

Beyond the run-down of the first class experience, Sharkey reports that in-flight WiFi won't be available until fall. Also coming this year are two cities "east of the Mississippi." Let's see: Chicago, Boston and Miami. That's three cities isn't it?

Related Stories:
· A Cross-Country Flight That Can Cure a Bad Mood [NYT]
· Virgin America Flight Reviews [Jaunted]
· Flight Reviews coverage [Jaunted]

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More Coachless Flights Crossing the Atlantic

January 2, 2008 at 12:20 PM | by | ()

The passengers hung out to dry by Maxjet's bankruptcy may not agree, but the all-biz-class airline sector is booming. While Eos, Silverjet and L'Avion were likely popping champagne corks when the competition went belly up, they won't be as happy to hear that British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are joining the fray.

BA's secret plans--known as Project Lauren--could be introduced by next week, with transatlantic service between the New York area and a European city starting by May. Thanks to the Open Skies agreement, it's hard to say which city it might be, though Joe Sharkey at the New York Times says Paris is a possibility. (That'd put British Airways in direct competition with L'Avion.)

While Virgin is at work on something, details are still a bit sketchy. In the meantime, the existing boutique carriers are acquiring more planes and looking to expand, making a stylish flight to Europe more available than ever.

Related Stories:
· Despite One Failure, Growth Is Seen in Coachless Flights [NYT]
· Maxjet coverage [Jaunted]
· Eos coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo: Martin Third Av'n]

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Cruise Travel: Mutinies Are In for 2008

December 17, 2007 at 12:00 PM | by | ()

Speaking of cruises, sounds like starting a mutiny is the new calling customer service. New York Times writer Joe Sharkey is tracking the "trend" of organized passenger resistance after a recent Sapphire Princess cruise that had to skip many of its scheduled stops when typhoons whipped up seas.

Passengers angry with the unplanned diversions started cooking up schemes, says passenger Carolyn Spencer Brown, who also happens to run the influential site Cruise Critic:

First there was a group of what I'd call rabble-rousers, led by a lawyer. We were missing all of these ports, and they felt they weren't getting the truth...[at one point, assembled in the ship's theater] the attorney jumped up and grabbed the microphone away from the assistant cruise director and said: `We're taking over the stage! We have a petition!'

List of names notwithstanding, officers on-board were able to retain control, and Princess Cruises gave everyone some free spending money and a discount on another cruise. Let that be a lesson for you instigators: Just because you organize a mutiny doesn't mean you won't be invited back to sail again!

Related Stories:
· Growing Rebellion on the High Seas [NYT]
· Cruises coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo of the Sapphire Princess: SqueakyMarmot]

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Adventures of Link: So Long, Tony

October 3, 2007 at 4:45 PM | by | ()

Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair died yesterday at the age of 71. His airline, which started with one small plane 23 years ago, revolutionized the way Europe travels, even if sometimes it only seems good for ferrying Brits to southern Spain. And, strange as it is to heap praise on anyone involved with airlines these days, even the Prime Minister of Ireland had nice things to say about the billionaire:

The establishment of Ryanair and its subsequent rise to become one of the leading carriers in Europe is one of the greatest Irish economic success stories and will be rightly regarded as perhaps his greatest legacy.

While Ryanair and its founder are glorified, though, airlines in the US are taking a beating. Mostly because only 72% of flights arrived on-time in August, barely better than they did in June and July. How long until there's a "congestion" surcharge next to the fuel surcharge on our tickets?

The rest of the day's airline news:
· Tony Ryan's Obituary [IHT]
· More Airline Delays in August [AP, via Google]
· US Airways Slashing Service to and from Pittsburg [PRNewswire]
· Virgin America Launch Has Sparked a Major Fare War [Reuters]
· Brazilians, Not Americans, Responsible for Mid-Air Collision [NYT]

[Photo: Aidan Crawley / EPA file]

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Another TSA Snow Job

January 5, 2007 at 11:15 AM | by | ()

Well, today we wanted to bust on USA Today for writing a piece on the mancation. Not just because everyone's covered it before but because it's such a silly concept. (And because USAT cites "a $499 'Tough Guys' spa outing in Key West." Riiiiight.)

We were going to cover that. Instead, we'll bust on the TSA like we always do. You know, liquid bans, Best Villain of 2006 Kip Hawley and now--apparently--a ban on snow globes. Yes, snow globes, which as you can imagine are in lots of luggage this time of year. Turns out, even if they're under the 3 oz limit, snow globes don't fly. But they do brighten up the airport:

Just after Christmas at an airport security checkpoint, where a half-dozen festive snow globes -- like the ones with Frosty the Snowman in a liquid-filled glass globe that simulates snowfall when you shake it -- were lined up on a counter.

Wasn't that nice! The Transportation Security Administration had decorated the checkpoint! But as it turned out, Frosty and his co-conspirators had actually been busted -- confiscated from passengers' carry-on bags

How festive!

[Photo: @ skunk]

Related Stories:
· And You Thought... [NYT]
· Need to get Away? Make it a Guy Thing [USAT]
· Jaunted's Mancation Coverage [Jaunted]

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2006 Awards: Best Travel Media Story

December 28, 2006 at 12:41 PM | by | ()

We consume travel media every day--hell, we ARE travel media. Podcasts, newspaper columns, magazine articles, blogs, you name it. And of course that includes the New York Times, which we check regularly.

While we were probably most jealous of Matt Gross (a.k.a. the Frugal Traveler) this year, we found Joe Sharkey's reporting from Brazil the most fascinating. Sharkey, a business travel writer for the Times, was caught in a mid-air plane collision over Brazil; his private plane landed without incident, while the large jet it collided with tragically crashed.

Mid-air collisions are rare as is. What were the chances that the Times' business travel reporter would be caught in one and live to tell about it? A harrowing experience for sure.

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Running for Miles

December 13, 2006 at 12:30 PM | by | ()

Is it that time of year already? No, not holiday shopping and tree trimming time. It's time to book "mileage runs" to bump your frequent flier mileage up to where you'd like it to be. At least, that's what Joe Sharkey tells us in his latest On The Road column.

Here's the deal, says Joe. If you want to retain elite status--silver, gold, double-super platinum elite, whatever--you need to fly a set number of miles in a year. (Usually at least 25,000 for the lowest status, which can net you early boarding, free upgrades and smiles from gate agents.) Credit card purchases and the like that accrue miles normally don't count: You've actually got to put your butt in the seat. That means Joe and his buddies have been known to fly back and forth to Guam--twice--to boost their mileage. Our fave part of the article, though, comes when Joe chats with a shadowy figure in the frequent flier world known only as Viajero Joven:

"Some people want to do over 50,000 miles, which is not possible in a single trip because of the size of the planet," he said. "So they do multiple trips, consecutively."

Now that's our kind of guy.

[Photo: Mareen Fischinger]

Related Stories:
· End of Year. Short on Miles. Coach Class, Here I Come [NYT]
· Jaunted's Business Travel coverage [Jaunted]

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More On the Sharkey Collision Fallout

Where: Brazil
November 21, 2006 at 1:15 PM | by | ()

Joe Sharkey was put in a unique position when he found himself in the middle of a tragic airplane collision but survived to write about it for the New York Times. The private jet he was traveling on collided with a much larger Boeing 737, yet the smaller plane remained virtually unharmed, while the larger one crashed, killing all on board.

Today, Sharkey reports on the fate of the private jet's pilots, Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, who are still being detained in Brazil. We know, "detained in Brazil" sounds like an excuse for a Carnival hangover, but this is serious. The pilots work for ExcelAire Service, a New York charter company. The plane they were flying when it collided with the Gol Airlines 737, a new Embraer Legacy 600, was meant to be delivered to ExcelAire as a new addition to its fleet.

Lepore and Paladino are holed up in a hotel in Rio (no word which one), amid rumors (refuted by Sharkey) that they were performing "illegal aerial stunt maneuvers to show off the new plane when the collision occurred." Sharkey and others suspect that Brazilians are "dragging their feet" to avoid blaming their own air traffic controllers for the tragic incident. The pilots could be detained for as long as an additional ten months, and United States investigators are not allowed to release their findings until the Brazilians do the same.

Related Stories:
· Stuck in a Bureaucratic Jungle After Landing a Crippled Jet [NYT]
· Joe Sharkey's Harrowing Jet Tale [Jaunted]

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Cottage Cheese and the Good Ol' Days

November 14, 2006 at 9:44 AM | by | ()

Joe Sharkey is nostalgic for the good old days of air travel, and he's using a story about cottage cheese to prove it.

Today, he tells us the tale of Zelda Stern, a cottage cheese devotee stopped dead in her tracks by airport security. The angelic Ms. Stern recently traveled through Newark Airport, where she encountered a bit of a road block. Though she claims to strictly follow TSA rules, right down to the 3 ounces and the Ziploc baggies, she also likes to stow cottage cheese in her purse. And on one fateful day at Newark, she was caught white-handed.

Sharkey thinks it was a travesty; we say that cottage cheese is an already awkward food that only becomes more awkward when you start carrying it around. Not that we're much more likely to commiserate with Sharkey's other interview subject, Donald Bain, author of the '60s stewardess novel Coffee, Tea or Me? It's flight attendant now, you know.

[Photo: MoscowJase/Eva Fort]

Related Stories:
· The Cottage Cheese Caper, and Flying as It Used to Be [NYT]