Snake on a plane! A Delaware man was arrested for doing it with himself on a Southwest Airlines flight from Philly to Denver. The Smoking Gun obtained an criminal complaint alleging that 34-year-old computer programmer Murali Nookella was fiddling around in his underwear beneath a blanket pulled up to his waist. The unnamed woman seated next to him said his eyes were closed, when she began to see movement under the blanket. When she got up to change seats, she saw him holding his erect penis.
She also described hearing a “swishing” sound and thought she saw him “wipe” something with a napkin. Hey lady, the last time a passenger was seen playing with himself under a blanket, he nearly brought down a jet. But those passengers took action. They beat him down. All you did was try and change seats. (Granted, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had to light his testicles on fire first.) But it’s people like you that could have prevented 9/11. If you see something, say something!
For our part, we were curious to see what kind of seemingly ordinary man would commit an act of biological terrorism aboard an airplane. Call it exposing the exposer. Plus, how many Murali Nookellas can there be? So we googled him, and what we found was a Linkedin profile of a guy in the computer biz, from the Greater Philadelphia Area (you’ll recall the flight originated in Philadelphia). That’s his photo up top. The only clue his profile gives us is that he spends a lot of time in front of the computer. (he’s trained by SAP in SAP-APO DP and SNP Modules!) This probably means two things: He’s addicted to porn (aka masturbation) and his social radar has been devastated by a life spent interacting with binary digits. Yeah, it’s definitely him. And if it isn’t, then to this other Murali Nookella, uh, we’re sorry?
Update: It was the wrong picture after all. As we said above, sorry!
Uh Oh. Actor-Director Kevin Smith was removed from a Southwest flight Saturday for being too fat, and then Smith took out the Twitter gun. To fly from Oakland to Burbank, he purchased two tickets, in accordance with the airline’s “Guidelines for Customers of Size” which states “Customers who are unable to lower both armrests and/or who compromise any portion of adjacent seating should proactively book the number of seats needed prior to travel.” He then tried to hop on an earlier flight standby, but that flight had only one seat for him. So, Southwest removed him from the plane. Smith was none too happy about this and raged on via Twitter.
The Twitter rage began with the tweet “Dear @SouthwestAir – I know I’m fat, but was Captain Leysath really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated?” It quickly devolved to “So, @SouthwestAir, go fuck yourself. I broke no regulation, offered no “safety risk” (what, was I gonna roll on a fellow passenger?)” and “fuck your apologetic $100 voucher, @SouthwestAir.” In addition to the aforementioned voucher, the airline tweeted apologies like “@ThatKevinSmith Again, I’m very sorry for the experience you had tonight. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do.” Southwest also posted an apology on their blog under the headline “Not So Silent Bob.”
Meanwhile, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is calling for a Southwest boycott, but did the airline do anything wrong? They simply enforced a decades old policy similar to that of most other airlines, it just so happens they enforced it on a fanboy icon with a Twitter account. Would they be so apologetic if this had happened to a less notorious passenger? Maybe we should all make a deal: Kevin Smith can fly in a single seat if he promises to stop making his lame movies.
Another baby was born mid-air, this time on a Southwest flight from Chicago to Salt Lake City on Friday. The mother went into premature labor, diverting the flight to a unexpected landing in Denver, where mother and baby were met with medical crew.
The baby, a boy, has not yet been named, but suggestions are flying around the interwebs: Sky, Midway, Turbulence, Peanut, and Southwest’s suggestion; TJ Luv, after the airlines’ own mascot. No word on what (if anything) the child and/or mother will get from Southwest, though I’m sure they are hoping for something a la Asia Air, who recently gave a lifetime pass to a baby born mid flight.
In a move that might make the Supernanny proud, Southwest Airlines sent a two-year-old (and his mother) to a time out, kicking them off of a flight from Amarillo to San Jose last week. It seems that the rowdy toddler was making such a ruckus that the rest of the passengers could not hear the preflight safety announcements. The kid’s mother says that she was sure his screams of “Go plane go!” and “I want Daddy!” would have subsided once they were in the air, but the flight crew were not as confidant and ended up taxiing the plane back to the gate and booting the twosome off the plane.
Though Southwest has since apologized and issued a refund and $300 voucher, the incident stirred up quite a bit of emotion surrounding cranky kids on flights. According to an MSNBC poll, a full 76% of people take Southwest’s side in the matter, applauding the removal of the offending toddler. The consensus on the Southwest side is that kids his age probably should not fly, and that perhaps the mother was not parenting well enough. On the families’ side, many parents chimed in with words like compassion and understanding. There was also talk of an “adults only” airline. Now that sounds promising, in a variety of ways.
Southwest threw the first punch in this round, lowering prices to a ridiculous $25 a seat in their football-themed “4th Quarter Sale.” If you’re flying distances under 374 miles — like, say from Los Angeles to Las Vegas or Los Angeles to San Francisco — it’s really only $25 each way. Prices go up in mile increments, so it’s $50 from Los Angeles to Reno, $75 to Salt Lake City, and then $100 to New Orleans or Chicago.
American Airlines came out fighting, offering up its own $25 flights on the same routes as Southwest. The AA sale isn’t quite as organized as Southwest’s, and you’ll have hunt and peck to figure out where the deals are. Your best bet? Find a route you like on Southwest, then click to AA to see if they beat the ticket. You should hurry to take advantage of the final months of travel sales … 2009 was the year of the deal, but 2010 doesn’t hold the same promise.
Southwest Airlines knows a marketable trend when they see one on their Twitter and stuff. Hence their new eco-plane (well, it’s actually four years old, but it’s eco-ness is new). The aircraft’s first greeny flight was Wednesday evening, tracking a route from headquarters in Dallas up to rainy Seattle. The plane is not fueled by natural gas, like the eco-plane from Qatar; its environmental makeover is, sadly, entirely cosmetic.
The inside of the 737 was given a facelift that included 100% recycled carpeting made from a completely carbon-neutral process. The heavy, canvas life vests have been swapped out for lighter versions, and the aluminum seats have been switched out for plastic. The leather seat covers have been are now faux leather — man-made and twice as durable. These changes lighten the plane about five pounds per seat, which saves fuel in the long run. In addition, Southwest has come up with some company-wide green initiatives, such as banning Styrofoam cups and using a chemical-free engine cleaner that has zero runoff and reduces fuel burn. Plus, November 1 marks the kickoff of the airline’s new onboard recycling program. Next thing you know, the Southwest uniforms will be made exclusively out of hemp! That should totally offset the thousands of gallons of aviation fuel consumed by each flight of the “green” plane.
Labor Day has come and gone, taking with it all the white clothes (and shoes) and most of the fanfare of lazy summer days. However, summer isn’t officially, officially over until September 21 — even though Starbucks is already trotting out that damn Pumpkin Spice Latte. In case you didn’t get a chance to get away for the long weekend, or in case you did and it was such a blast you need a vacation from your vacation, you’re in luck. My favorite trifecta of airlines all launched sales this week, designed to inspire travel lust in those hoping for a last weekend fling, or those ready to plan fall trips already.
JetBlue has its hands full with the pass-holders riding around the country this month, but they’ve managed to launch an “R&R” sale with flights starting at $29 each way. Long-haul flights are running about $109 each way. Purchase by September 10 for travel through December 16. Southwest has flights for $49 each way through Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego; $94 each way for longer trips. Again, purchase by September 10 for travel through December 17. Virgin America is throwing up deals like $39 each way in California, and $99 each way for cross-country trips. Purchase by September 22 for travel through November 18, December 2-16, and January 6-February 10.
Southwest Airlines is sure toeing the line in regards to their “no hidden fees” promise. They’ve now added a fee to their check-in process that, although not mandatory, might as well be. However, if the fee does what it promises, I’d be happy to cough up the $10 they’re asking for the “EarlyBird Check-in” . This new fee allows passengers to board immediately after Southwest’s Business Select and Rapid Rewards A-List customers, meaning no rushing to wait in the A/B/C lines. As it stands now, if you want to coveted “A” boarding line — for those of you not familiar with the fun cattle call that can be Southwest flying — there are no assigned seating, and so the earlier you check in, the better your chances are for getting a non-middle seat.
The “A” line is usually filled with folks who set their alarms and checked in online right at the 24-hour mark (I’ve gotten up at 5am to do this deed). For those who get in around the 12-hour before-flight mark, they get a “B” card, and everyone else gets a “C.” Clearly those in the C line get middle seats and a shortage of overhead bin space. This new fee will allow you to jump the line and get an automatic check-in 36-hours before the flight, and allowing you to cut the ABC game all together. If only a select group of fliers take advantage of this perk, the $10 will definitely be worth it. However, if everyone pays this extra fee, it’s not going to be worth much, but to not have it will kill your chances for a good seat onboard. Your bags, however, still fly free!
Worse than snakes on a plane, some scorpions hitched a ride on a recent Southwest flight from Phoenix headed to Indianapolis (where were you on this one, TSA?). Seems that an entire family of little stingers took nest in Doug Herbstommer’s carry-on luggage. Mid-flight, one of the scorpions made a break for it and ended up falling on Herbstommer, who initially thought the creature was an errant seatbelt. The arachnid in question quickly scurried up Herbstommer’s pant leg (my own personal nightmare, BTW) who then tried to brush the “seatbelt” off and got stung between his fingers. Fortunately the scorpion was of the Arizona Bark varietal, whose stings rarely cause death. The errant scorpion met his maker shortly thereafter, courtesy of Herbstommer’s flip flop.
Upon closer investigation, five more scorpions were found hanging out next to Herbstommer’s luggage in the overhead bin, some alive, one dead, all babies. Once those were dispatched, the plane was summarily fumigated. Though Herbstommer and his ten-year old son took it in stride, the rest of the passengers were not so zen about the whole thing, many climbing on top of their seats and (my guess) squealing. No one is taking responsibility for the rogue scorpions, though they are mainly found in the southwest. Why, here’s a video!