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Why a $19 Airport Salad Has Us Very, Very Worried

July 7, 2014 at 5:54 PM | by | Comments (7)

On Sunday, I was sitting in Terminal 4 at LAX, having a coffee at Campanile during a layover. I was seated in one of the last bar stools, right by the glass display case where sandwiches and salads are sold to go. I was enjoying this seat for the sake of people watching, but for the most part I was minding my own business.

Then, someone came up and bought a salad, and I almost fell off my bar stool. I couldn’t believe what the charge had been for the chicken Caesar salad, the one in the clear plastic take-away container. I also couldn’t believe the customer had gone through with the purchase after he heard the price. Ready for this? Including tax, $19 and change!

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New Investigation Discovers Rogue Drones are Buzzing Commercial Airplanes

June 24, 2014 at 4:42 PM | by | Comments (0)

Just posted online: part 3 of the Washington Post's "Hazard Above" investigative series on drones. Based on the premise that drones are "set to become a widespread reality in American skies," the Post spent a year investigating whether pilotless plane thingys will accidentally kill everybody. Over 50,000 pages of accident and other records were apparently examined and, indeed, it does turn out that we're all going to die.

We're paraphrasing and exaggerating for effect, of course, but not really.

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Visit This Website Before Your Next Trip Through LAX

June 17, 2014 at 2:30 PM | by | Comments (0)

We told you to expect some frustrations and disruptions at LAX over the next few years as it remodels, but the good news is that we're already starting to see the benefits of the modernization in the form of new restaurants, shops, lounges, aesthetics, and other conveniences, such as new checkpoints, baggage screening, and gate designs.

We've seen firsthand how nice the Tom Bradley International Terminal turned out to be, and if you'd like to know what's going on and what to look for next time you fly through, LAX has designed a website to keep you in the loop.

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First Impressions of JetBlue Mint, Now Flying Coast-to-Coast

June 16, 2014 at 9:17 AM | by | Comments (0)

After many months of coy reveals and growing anticipation, JetBlue's first premium seats have hit the skies. Named Mint, the cabin is now available on flights between JFK and LAX, and coming to JFK-SFO in October.

Ahead of the inaugural flight yesterday, JetBlue hosted a trial run on the ground at JFK. For this, we sent a JetBlue flyer who'd never seen the seats before and had an "empty slate" for first impressions.

There's a new plane on the tarmac at New York-JFK Airport, and it's shiny inside as well as out. We're talking about the brand-spankin-new Airbus A321s coming to JetBlue, and their "Mint" cabin of fully flat leather seating. The first of them, appropriately named It’s Mint to Be, is one of the 11 Mint-configured A321s due to be delivered to JetBlue in 2014.

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JetBlue's Gift to Economy Passengers? Snacks on Snacks on Snacks.

June 12, 2014 at 12:44 PM | by | Comments (0)

It's been a long flight; as you step out into the aisle for a quick trip to the lavatory and a stretch, you spot a glowing blue cabinet up ahead. Other passengers have been taking something from there all flight long, and now you're curious to see what all the fuss is about. The answer? A nook of free snacks!

This in-flight delight is brand new to JetBlue's Mint-equipped Airbus A321s. Why not a second Diet Coke while you're up there? It's all good, because these convenient treats are still part of JetBlue's generous complimentary snacks for customers in Economy.

The position of the cabinet at the front of the cabin is an extra perk for passengers purchasing the "Even More Space" seats; it's a far shorter trip up the aisle for another bag of Blue Chips or Popcorners, without the impatience of waiting for the flight attendants to pass them out.

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What's the Longest Route Flown by the Airbus A380?

May 16, 2014 at 10:38 AM | by | Comments (0)

As we round a week of chronicling the world's longest and shortest flights on the newest and most notable planes on the planet, it only makes sense to highlight which route is lengthiest for the whale of the skies, Airbus' A380. Some of these aircraft have showers for first class passengers, in-flight duty-free shops, and wider cabins for a bit more space to make spending multiple hours on the aircraft a whole lot more enjoyable.

Emirates is two-for-two on these top spots with their regular A380 service from Dubai to Los Angeles. EK 215 spends about 16 hours, 35 minutes making the 8,339 mile trek around the globe, which gives ample time to experience the world-class service for which Emirates is well known.

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Close Connection? United Expands Its Mercedes-Benz Transfer Service

May 16, 2014 at 9:35 AM | by | Comments (0)

Last summer, United launched a partnership with Mercedes-Benz at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and began picking up its elite flyers planeside and driving them to their connecting flights. It was not an industry first, but it was far from industry standard here in the States. Now, just a year later, United has expanded this service to its hubs in Chicago, Newark, San Francisco, and, most recently, Los Angeles, with no signs of stopping.

If you're not familiar with the service, what United and other airlines have now started doing is meeting its most favored flyers on the tarmac when they land and escorting them to their connecting flight. In United's case at LAX, it picks up its Global Services members and United Global First customers in a Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC SUV.

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What's the Longest Route Flown by the 787 Dreamliner?

May 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM | by | Comments (0)

Yesterday, we highlighted the shortest flights flown with a Dreamliner and, with its duration just at a tease at under 1 hour, we had to look at the other end of the spectrum and share the world's longest Dreamliner flight.

With so many advanced bells and whistles, this aircraft is in its element on long-haul routes, when there's plenty time to play with the self-tinting windows, self-closing toilet seats, and still catch some Zs in a quieter cabin. If you're looking spend a chunk of time sitting in one of the seats of these Boeings, look to book a flight from Washington-Dulles to Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines, since they're running the longest flight on the 787 right now.

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The FAA Crash That Shut Down Southern California Could Have Been Much Worse

May 13, 2014 at 4:47 PM | by | Comments (0)

Sorry. We know that we're beating this thing into the ground, but it's one of those travel news things that begins as an off-beat story and evolves into a bona fide airplane security firestorm. Of course we're seeing more and more of those stories, but this one is kind of special. Without giving away any details, the most recent Reuters expose includes the phrase "the same vulnerability could have been used by an attacker in a deliberate shut-down," where the thing getting "shut down" was a part of America's air traffic control system. There's a reason people are still talking about this incident.

Just to catch folks up. Two weeks ago something caused the FAA to issue a ground stop across four airports across the greater Los Angeles area, including at LAX, for about an hour. Reporters asked the agency to explain the order, and got more or less nowhere. Another way of describing that move: the FAA shut down most of Southern California's airspace and declined to explain why. Later journalists found out that the military was flying a U-2 spy plane in the area, and that its flight plan caused the FAA's flight tracking server to crash. Cue the batshit crazy conspiracy theorists, who declared that alien signals from the U-2 had beamed autism-filled vaccines into their kids (or something; we didn't read very closely).

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LAX Construction Disruptions Will Only Get Worse Before They Get Better

May 13, 2014 at 9:45 AM | by | Comments (0)

Summer is synonymous with vacation, but apparently the warmer weather also brings plenty of airport construction. We’ve already mentioned that both Newark and San Francisco will have their share of delays thanks to upgrade ands and improvements, and it looks like the construction crews are on the move once again—this time they’re headed over to Los Angeles and LAX.

The airport is in the middle of billions and billions of renovations, and airport officials recently admitted that traveling to or through the airport over the next few years might just be a pain. Even getting to the airport is going to take a little extra time and patience, as crews will be repaving and resurfacing the roads in and around the property.

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The Convoluted Tale of a US Spy Plane and an FAA Ground Stop

May 6, 2014 at 6:32 PM | by | Comments (0)

When last we left off, the FAA had just gotten over imposing a ground stop on four Southern California airports - LAX, Burbank, Ontario, and John Wayne - because of unnamed "technical issues." Or maybe it was because of mysterious "computer issues." Or maybe because of "the system" that managed the airspace for a particular air traffic control center. The agency wasn't exactly being helpful or clear on why they decided to ground, delay, or divert hundreds of flights. That frustrated at least one local outlet to the point where they kind of snarked that the FAA was sending journalists to functionally useless websites.

We'll remind you that a ground stop is a big deal. It's not just that planes get frozen on the runway at whatever airport gets slapped with the stop. It's that any plane anywhere in the country bound for the ground-stopped airport also gets grounded. These things cascade very, very quickly.

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This Wasn't Exactly a Banner Week for the FAA and TSA

May 1, 2014 at 4:46 PM | by | Comments (0)

What is it about the various government agencies charged with overseeing American travel, do you think, and how they're gratingly bad at what they do? We assume there are parts of the federal government where bureaucrats get things done roughly as well (or not) as they would if they were working anywhere else. But hot damn, do the FAA and TSA screw things up occasionally.

The FAA is an agency that is - literally and metaphorically - standing in the way of the future. It's not just that it took them two years to even draft a policy on in-flight electronics, to the point where the FCC had to initiate a formal procedure to ask them what the hell was taking so long. These are people who are so incompetent that they might end up delaying futuristic private spaceflight just because, hey, they're not sure what they think about all that yet. But at least they keep the planes in the air, right?

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