Do Your Overhead Bin Habits Incite Psychotic Rage in Flight Attendants?

It was July 2004, and my wife and I were on an Olympic Air flight that had just touched down in Athens, about to begin our Greek island honeymoon. The wheels were barely on the ground, but a Greek woman seated to my right – whom we still refer to to as the Elephant-Assed Woman – couldn’t wait another moment to retrieve her black rollaway bag from the overhead bin. She unbuckled her seat belt and stood right on up – turning her ample, grey-shorts-clad posterior to my face – to wrangle the bag out. It was a dangerous situation, as we were still speeding down the runway, brakes applied, flaps up, bouncing and rolling, and she didn’t look all too steady on her feet. Seeing what was happening, a flight attendant got on the intercom and, in a terse tone, announced in Greek what might reasonably be translated as “Sit the fuck down, you elephant-assed moron.”

It’s a scenario that’s repeated countless times every day, and it makes not a shred of sense to me. What could the Elephant-Assed Woman possibly gain by removing her bag before the plane reached the gate? When the seat-belt light goes off, everyone immediately stands up, creating an instant queue that mirrors the seating assignments. People exit the plane more or less in the order they are seated, and everyone has a chance to get their carry-ons from the overhead, because it’s not like the people behind you can squeeze past. Yet some people simply must lay their hands on their precious duffels, totes, and backpacks early, or else … what?

There are conflicting stories about what, exactly, set off Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater, who famously deployed an emergency slide and got off his flight in a hurry after arguing with a passenger – and possibly being struck in the head – over a piece of luggage in an overhead bin. But it’s clear that the overhead bins are a flashpoint of conflict, the Gaza Strip of the airline world. And if one could actually gain something by the early liberation of their bag, I’d understand it. But it’s a pointless act of idiocy that does nothing but piss off flight attendants who may or may not lose their shit over the incident.

Of course, I also question the wisdom of standing up once the all-clear is given and having to bend your neck 90 degrees while waiting five minutes for the exit line to start moving, but hey, it’s your life.

And as for the Elephant-Assed Woman, I imagine she does the same thing on every flight she’s on, to the same fruitless end.

Entering the Bermuda Triangle

With summer suddenly upon us, there’s no reason not to start fantasizing about weekend getaways. Besides, once the brutal heat starts casting a constant glare on the city pavement, you’ll be wishing you followed through with all the brilliant ideas that popped into your head daydreaming in your cubicle. Brilliant idea No. 1: Cambridge Beaches in Bermuda.

The British territory is a two hour flight from New York. (Surprising, right?) And Jetblue flies from JFK, with one-ways starting at $63. After a quick mid-flight slumber, you’ll be transported to a tropical paradise with pink sand beaches, potent Dark & Stormy cocktails, and a population of incredibly friendly folks who speak with an Elizabethan English-inspired accent that might sound a bit bizarre at first. Don’t worry, you’ll acclimate quickly.

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Cambridge Beaches is situated on a 30-acre peninsula at Bermuda’s western edge, 30-minutes by cab from the airport. It offers the ultimate seclusion for those who like peace and quiet and an abundance of activities for the rest of us ADD-suffering city types. Enclosed by four private beaches and its own coral reef, you’ll have your pick of 94 airy rooms in pink stucco cottages (très Bermuda-style).

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If you’re in the ‘ultimate vacay splurging’ frame of mind, inquire ahead of time about the pool suites. They’re one-bedroom cottages that include a private infinity or plunge pool and a spa-worthy bathing area. Did we mention that all of the rooms are equipped with Bose surround sound? And, you’ll be handed a Dark & Stormy as soon as you walk into the Palm Beach country club-inspired reception area. Ah, yes, this is a good fantasy trip so far.

Here’s a dreamy sample itinerary for a Friday-to-Monday excursion:

Friday Night: -The Cambridge staff will escort you to your room or villa in a mondo golf cart (you can keep your drink, don’t worry). -Take a stroll down to the beach and have a bite and a tropical libation at casual open-air restaurant Breezes (think Tom Cruise’s backdrop in Cocktail, minus the prowling cougars) on the cove, or sit out under the stars next to the infinity pool at Shutters. Eat, drink, and be merry.

Saturday: -Kayak or sail along the coast for a half day. (The view of Bermuda’s brightly-colored architecture from the water is mind-bending. Okay, no, but ridiculously stunning.) -Rent a scooter. They’re a lot less dangerous than they look and they’re the best way to navigate around the island and take it all in. -Ride the scenic route to Hamilton and stop in for a brew at Robin Hood on Richmond Road. Stroll around the city center for midday window shopping and perusing. -On the way back, drive on North Shore Road and stop at every beautiful public access beach you see. Jobson’s Cove is a standout where you can swim out to nearby rocks through the crystal clear water. -Check out roadside watering hole and cafe Swizzle Inn, which holds the unofficial accolade for best Rum Swizzle concoction on the island. Order a pitcher. -Once back at Cambridge beaches, down a few toddies and take advantage of the putting green and croquet lawn. A little healthy competition is good for any holiday. -Get out to Tavern by the Sea for waterfront dining and Indian/German fusion (sounds weird, we swear it’s good). The view is a huge selling point.

Sunday: -Stay local for breakfast and try the Tamarisk Room buffet at Cambridge Beaches, overlooking the ocean, of course. -Hop on your scooter and head down to the Royal Naval Dockyard. Remember, you must be selective about where you stop: many of the vendors here are cruise-ship friendly (not a good thing). Be sure to pop into the Bermuda Arts Centre at Dockyard, a non-profit contemporary art space with local goodies aplenty. -Choose from 100 different rums at the Veranda Bar in the picturesque Elbow Beach Hotel (fronting a favorite Bermuda beach) on your scooter ride back. Also, an extensive cigar selection is available. You’re on vacation, right? -Either dine at Colony Pub Steakhouse in Hamilton for your last hearty meal before heading back to your big, bad job and that thing called reality, or The Carriage House overlooking St. George’s Harbor. -Post your pictures on Facebook and force your friends to hate you.

Your Cash Is No Good At 20,000 Feet

Continental is the latest airline to convert completely to plastic-only, in-flight cabin services. Starting today, If you want to purchase alcohol, headsets or snacks on board, you have to hand over your credit card. The “cashless cabin” trend really gained traction this year, with nearly all the airlines going plastic: United in April, American Airlines in June, Delta in November and now Continental this December. JetBlue and Virgin America have been cashless for years now.

What’s up with this credit-only trend? People spend more when they pay with a card. When you don’t physically count out the dollars it’s much less painful to blow twenty bucks on booze and more booze. According to JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin, sales nearly doubled in the first few weeks after the company went cashless in 2007.

Cyber Monday Travel Deals

While Black Friday caters to those willing to wait in line at 4 am, Cyber Monday is the day for those who would prefer to click, surf and save — all from the comfort of their keyboard. The major players in this game are the airlines, though some hotels have gotten in on discounting too. First up is Virgin America. This is a sale I can get behind, with $39 one-way for short-hauls, like SFO to LAX, $69 for flights from LAX to SEA, and $109 for cross-country flights SFO/LAX to JFK. The best part about this sale is the timing. You can book from now until the 8th, and fly anytime from the 3rd through May 23rd. For those of you who’ve yet to book your holiday flights, or want to get out of town for New Year’s Eve, now’s the time to book on Virgin America. More deals after the jump.

JetBlue: Generally, JetBlue is pretty generous with their special sales, slashing fares across the country. This time, however, not so much. The sale is for one day only, and though fares are good, $39, $69 and $99 for one-way fares, the dates are not so great. You have to book by tonight and travel by December 17th. Great for those wanting to get away in the next two weeks, but not so great for anyone else.

There are also a few deals happening on the ground, like five-night cruises in the Bahamas for $399 here. Hotels.com is having a four-day sale with rates as low as 50% off, check it out here. Starwood Hotels is holding a 72-hour sale and Las Vegas is offering packages for ridiculous rates of $32 a person. These deals are running out within days, if not hours, so if you’ve got the travel itch, today is the day to scratch it.

One-Day Sale: JetBlue

JetBlue is at it again, with another one-day sale. This sale is hot on the heels of yesterday’s version courtesy of Virgin America, and it is full of great deals, so if you’ve got the inclination and a few extra bucks, get a seat while they’re hot.

Of course these sale dates are not valid on the days surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, but if you can think beyond those travel nightmares, you’re in the clear. If this was a contest between Virgin America and JetBlue, I call JetBlue as the clear winner if only due to the fact that JetBlue has several dozen more cities that they fly to than Virgin America.

Sample fares from JFK (one-way): * $89 to Austin * $49 to Chicago * $79 to San Francisco * $89 to Los Angeles * $99 to Las Vegas * 109 to Montego Bay, Jamaica

In-Flight iPods Take Flight

What’s next for airline in-flight entertainment? iPod hook ups! With the entry of in-flight WiFi, airlines seem to finally be “getting” it in terms of technology, and have decided to upgrade from the terrible days of having to watch the one in-flight film showing on the tiny screens that flip down from the ceilings. Virgin America and JetBlue have long been ahead of the curve, providing live televised programming in the back of every seat, and in Virgin’s case, outlets at every seat. Now, though, the innovators over at Rockwell Collins have created a system that would allow passengers to hook up their iPods (and other personal media devices) to an individual seat’s entertainment system.

Meaning, you could watch downloaded movies on the bigger screen on the back of the seat. This system debuted recently at the World Airlines Entertainment Association (WAEA) Conference, so it’s not available in real time just yet, but hopefully soon. In addition, this system will offer battery juice in the form of USB charging capability, “which is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano and other famous portable media devices.”

JetBlue One-Day Sample Sale

JetBlue is unloading seats at some great prices — but only today. Flights range from $29-$99 each way, but there are serious rules and regulations to these deals. First of all, the obvious — you’ve got to hit “purchase” by 11:59 tonight. Second, sale fares to/from destinations in Florida are valid for travel between October 6 and December 16, 2009, on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays for southbound travel, and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for northbound travel. For everywhere else, destinations are valid for travel between October 6 and December 16, 2009, only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

If that wasn’t enough, there are also blackout dates — no travel on October 13, and no traveling between November 20 and December 2, because that’s around Thanksgiving and prices will be going up! So if you can manage a trip that takes place on a Tuesday/Wednesday to another Tuesday/Wednesday sometime in the latter half of October or in the first half of November, this deal is for you. Best bets are between Boston and Baltimore, Burbank and Las Vegas, JFK and Pittsburgh, DC and Orlando. Check it out here.

JetBlue: The Do Good Airline

JetBlue has gone and done something pretty sweet for the Faust family in the Washington area. And the best part about it, is that they did it with little fanfare. It seems that their 14 month old baby boy was accidentally burned scalding water and suffered serious burns on 65% of his little body. This kind of damage needed treatment from a 440-mile away Boston hospital. The family was about to purchase one of the $599 all-you-can-jet passes for the month of September/October so they could get back and forth to the treatment center, but JetBlue went ahead and stepped it up with some real human kindness. Read on, in the family’s own words:

We experienced a real miracle earlier today. When we started this whole process almost one month ago, JetBlue Airways ran a one-day sale. For one set price, JetBlue offered unlimited flying for 30 days. We jumped on the offer knowing we would be traveling between DC and Boston frequently during this time. We talked at length with the JetBlue agent, explaining our situation to her, while we were trying to figure out our best options to navigate this time.

This afternoon, this same JetBlue agent, a kindly woman named Cheyenne, called us here in Boston. She said she was so touched by Adam’s story, and what he had to experience, she wanted to help us any way she could. On behalf of JetBlue, she offered us eight free flight vouchers from JetBlue.

I JUST CAN’T BELIEVE THIS!!!!

There is so much goodness in this life. Many people who care and want to give and help. Show love in anyway they can. So many people have reached out to us during these weeks. Sometimes, John and I look at each other in disbelief. We know we have lots of great friends and family. We are just seeing how truly great you all are.

Thank you JetBlue and thanks to all of you!

What a nice story JetBlue. Keep it up! Check out the progress for yourself on the Faust family blog.

JetBlue’s “All You Can Jet”

JetBlue has launched a neat program for the month of September, and they’re calling it “All You Can Jet.” Just like the “all you can eat” surf and turf joints in Las Vegas, the idea is that you can fill up your frequent flier account as much as you want during the month of unlimited travel, specifically September 8th to October 8th. The timing is definitely strategic, as they’re offering this great deal just after Labor Day, so not many people should actually be able to fly every week, but those that can, should.

The unlimited pass for the month costs $599, which if you cross the country just twice, the cost will be worth it. Make sure you’re planning to fly a bunch that month because the ticket is nonrefundable. You are, however, allowed to change plans, you can cancel or change a booking within three days of the flight and not suffer the $100 change fee or the fare changes. The pass is only on sale through August 21st, and though JetBlue has remained mum on exactly how many passes they’re handing out, the official word on the street is: “We are not disclosing a number,” said Bryan Baldwin, JetBlue spokesperson. “It is our goal that everyone who wants to purchase one can get one.” In addition, there are no blackout dates for the month, or a maximum of pass holders allowed per flight. You cannot buy them online or in person, you’ve got to call. The number is (800) 538-2583, and hit Prompt 4 to be connected with an agent. Happy jetting.