American Airlines will offer double pay to almost 200 pilots who say they were improperly scheduled to work on Christmas.
According to the Allied Pilots Association, an estimated 198 high-seniority American pilots were scheduled to work on Dec. 25, while more junior pilots were given the day off.
The issue stems from the preferential bidding system American employees use to request shifts. The company is changing the complex formula it uses to award shifts — which balances operational needs with employee requests and seniority — as it continues integrating since the 2013 US Airways merger.
The situation was complicated by the busier-than-normal holiday flight schedule and the large number of pilots requesting Christmas off.
Friday evening, American and the pilots’ union announced that the two sides had reached an agreement that will provide double pay for the 198 affected pilots if they work their Christmas shifts.
“We obviously recognized some of our pilots expressed concerns about the results of the December bid, so since it was released we’ve been working closely with those pilots and APA,” American spokesman Matt Miller said. “Ultimately it’s a win-win for American and for our pilots.”
A man has been arrested for assaulting several flight attendants and and disrupting an international flight from Mexico to Germany.
The passenger on the international flight forced the plane to make an emergency landing at Jacksonville International Airport, Florida, USA on Wednesday.
Oliver Charlie Halliday Gee was reportedly unruly prior to the arrest and prevented several flight attendants from doing their job because he was hurling insults and obscenities and other passengers.
The 34-year-old Mexican, nearly 90 minutes into the flight, threatened to kill another passenger, hurt a 3-year-old and then removing his clothes to expose his genital. The charging affidavit from the FBI says it seemed like he was about to urinate in the plane’s cabin.
It was at this point that a passenger who said he was skilled in martial arts stepped in to help get Gee to the bathroom got slapped several times across the face with an open hand. A flight attendant was slapped twice as well – once in the face and once in the thigh, both times with an open hand, the charging affidavit says.
Gee was eventually subdued by the flight attendant and the passenger trained in martial arts. He was removed from his seat just before the flight touched down at the airport.
The charging affidavit mentions that the crew was worried about keeping Gee on the flight, because it was from Cancun to Frankfurt and most of it would take place over water. They weren’t sure they would be able to stop and get the man off the plane while over the Atlantic Ocean.
Gee was taken into custody by Jacksonville Aviation Authority Police and is charged with assault or intimidation of a flight crew. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
He made his appearance in federal court on Thursday and will be detained until his formal detention hearing November 7.
By Larry Miller, WGRZ – You’re already getting pinched for just about everything at the airport, from the bags you check at the counter to the comfy seat with the extra leg room.
But consumers can fight back and nab big savings.
Ben Mutzabaugh, a travel expert with USA Today, has seen the deals firsthand.
Airfares fluctuate considerably and purchasing cheaper tickets is an inexact science, according to Mutzabaugh. Airfare prices depend, in part, on where you fly, when you’re traveling and how you purchase the ticket.
He says Tuesday tends to be the best day to buy a ticket statistically.
“Airfares change on the dime all week long,” he says. “Friday might have the average highest fare and Sunday or Tuesday might have the average lowest fare. If a fare sale comes out on a Wednesday and you’re not looking, you’re going to miss it.”
Online travel sites like flyertalk.com, milepoints.com, or boardingarea.com provide some of the best deals and insight on upcoming airline deals. Also, try to get your ticket as early as you can. Usually, 60 days prior to your travel date works best on domestic flights.
“Two months is the window you really want to be looking but considering this fare looks pretty good maybe I should lock it in now and bet it’s going to go up down the road,” said Mutzbaugh.
You can’t bring water on your flight anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wet your beak. At least if you’re flying Delta, where efforts to ease passenger tension in this age of check-in delays and cavity searches have turned to that time-tested panacea: designer booze. Well aware that a buzzed flier is likely a happier one, the airline enlisted nightlife mogul Rande Gerber to create a special cocktail list, which will be available on Delta flights starting next year. To promote this, and for reasons we don’t begin to comprehend, last night the airline gathered a trio of former James Bond girls (Delta is adding a direct New York–to–London flight later this month, and yes, Bond is British, but that’s a tenuous connection at best) and a gaggle of guests — mostly men, most old enough to prefer Pussy Galore to Christmas Jones — at Gerber’s Stone Rose, which is in the Time Warner Center and thus far from any airport, to drink to drunkflying.
Grace Jones — perhaps you know her as May Day from A View to a Kill — was clad in a shimmering vintage Issey Miyake number replete with a hood and definitely could use that drink. “I actually have to fly back to London tomorrow at 8 a.m.,” she said. “Not on Delta, though. I need me a sleeper bed, so I’m flying BritishAirways.”
“Oh, whoops,” she continued. “Was I not supposed to say that? Whatever, I don’t give a fuck. These American airlines have to get their act together. Corporate cannibalism, this is. They took all my makeup on my way over here — lip gloss, powder, everything. Like I’m gonna blow shit up with someeyeliner.”
Lip glossed or not, how does she feel about Daniel Craig as the next Bond? “I just want to see him coming out of the water in short shorts,” Jones said. We concurred — Mr. Craig is quite dashing — but what of the fact he reportedly had to be taught to drive stick shift for the role? She laughed. “It’s funny they let that leak out. That’s cute. Driving stick is very phallic. I hope he’s picked it up bynow.”
A Delta representative interrupted to remind Jones that her presence was required to judge a martini-making contest. (The booze-plane-London-Bond series of connections was taken seriously, even if it was incomprehensible.) It’s unclear which bartender actually won the event — all were wearing short black cocktail dresses and thigh-high boots, and, for the most part, were indistinguishable, but the Bond-girl judges smiled dutifully. Except for Jane Seymour — Live and Let Die’s Solitaire — who seemed to have other things on her mind. “I can drive stick,” she mused. “Maybe I should beBond.”
The rewards of long-haul travel can be wonderful. I’ll never forget a couple of years ago waking up at 4am in St Lucia and hearing the dawn chorus as the sun rose above the Pitons, knowing that back home it was a bitter, murky February day. Or the sheer excitement of threading through the cloud-capped Andes to land at Quito airport, the first time I visited South America. And it seems I’m not alone. This year’s Telegraph Travel survey revealed that our readers’ list of favourite destinations was dominated by faraway places. Only one of your top 20, Italy, was in Europe.
Of course, there is a potential downside to visiting these fascinating places; to get there you have to sit on a plane for hours on end. And while there have been some improvements for long-haul fliers – the introduction of the highly rated Boeing Dreamliner, for example – other news, such as this week’s revelations that BA is to cram even more seats into some of its planes, isn’t so encouraging. But there is still a lot you can do to make long-haul flying more affordable and more bearable.
Here we have set out the best strategies for planning and booking your trip. First among them is the importance of talking to a knowledgeable specialist travel agent before you book. Buying long-haul flights is not the same as picking up a return fare to Europe – especially to destinations in South America, Asia and Australasia. There are many more options regarding your choice of airline, timing and itinerary. Fares are also structured differently, and agents have access to rates and deals you can’t get by booking directly with the airline. It’s also one of those areas where talking through your plans with an expert can pay dividends beyond the simple cost of the flight. They will have ideas and insights that you probably haven’t thought of, and which you could never track down by surfing online. They may even suggest a routing via a country you hadn’t even considered visiting, but which might make the journey more bearable and the holiday more enjoyable.
All the fares quoted in this article were provided by Trailfinders (020 7938 3939; trailfinders.com), which, over many years, has consistently topped our annual readers’ survey. They are all return fares from London airports, are normally subject to booking by a certain date, and are valid for a particular time of year – often in this case May 2017. Please treat them as indicative – fares change all the time, and offers are ended, extended and introduced at short notice. As ever, talking to more than one company is a good idea and will give you a better picture of what is going on. You are probably spending a lot of money, and it never hurts to get two or three competitive quotes. Other agents that still offer a good customer-focused service include Dialaflight (0330 100 2220; dialaflight.com) and STA (0333 321 0099; statravel.co.uk). And specialist long-haul tour operators – Kuoni (0800 144 8156; kuoni.co.uk) for example – are useful if you want to book a hotel or resort-based holiday.
Choose the right airline
￼The first point to consider when booking a long flight is which airline you prefer to fly with, though you might be choosing for two different reasons – price and comfort. In terms of overall experience, the top three airlines for long-haul travel, as rated by Telegraph readers in our latest annual travel survey, were Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand. Just because they are good doesn’t necessarily mean that they are expensive. Currently you can get to Perth, Australia, with Emirates (via Dubai from Gatwick) from £499; and good fares in business class with Singapore Airlines and a round-the-world bargain with Air New Zealand are listed below. Be wary, though, of code-share arrangements which mean that although your ticket is booked through one airline, you may actually be flying with another – and it isn’t always easy to tell from your booking details.
Another key point to consider is the type of plane. There is a general consensus that flying on one of the new Boeing Dreamliners is a vastly more relaxing and enjoyable experience than on, for example, an old 747. More and more airlines now offer them on flights from Britain: including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, United Airlines, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways, Aeromexico, Avianca and Air India. And some charter flights are also operated on Dreamliners – Tui, for example, flies them. But they only fly on certain routes and at particular times, and working out which is also difficult without advice from an agent. The Airbus equivalent to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the A350, which has recently started flying to Britain with Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair and Ethiopian Airlines.
A new breed of no-frills, low-cost long-haul airlines is also offering a growing number of long-haul destinations – especially in the United States. Try Norwegian (norwegian.com) and Wowair (wowair.co.uk), which flies via Reykjavik. Finally, if you want to research more deeply into the quality of seat and service offered by other airlines, there are useful details on the amount of legroom and ratings for all carriers on websites such as airlinequality.com or seatguru.com.
Take advantage of special offers
￼You will almost certainly also want to choose your flights according to price. This is where the long-haul market becomes really complicated and a good agent’s advice can pay off. Offers come and go, and may be on airlines or routes that you might not immediately think of, but, if you don’t mind a longer journey, can be exceptionally good value. So, for example, you can currently get to Sydney with China Eastern airlines (via Shanghai) from £611. There is a fare to Johannesburg with KLM and Air France, changing at Amsterdam on the way out and Paris on the way back, at £475. And the cheapest ticket to Bangkok is with Air China (via Beijing) at £361. When speaking to an agent, it is also always worth asking about “IT” fares. These are special deals that reduce the cost of your ticket by including a hotel as part of a “package” price along with the flight. It sounds counterintuitive, but it is one of the ways that airlines offload spare capacity on flights they know won’t sell out and so get around formal rules on pricing. So, for example, you can fly to Sydney with Malaysia Airlines and include five nights at a three-star hotel on arrival for £699 (per person, based on two travelling together and sharing a room).
Plan a stopover
￼If you can plan your trip to include a stopover for a night or two, you might not only enhance your holiday experience but also make the journey much more bearable, and very possibly – because of IT fare rules (above) – cheaper too. So, for example, Trailfinders has what amounts to a flexible package to New Zealand which, for £1,639, gives you three nights in a four-star hotel in Los Angeles on your way out, and two nights in a three-star Auckland hotel on arrival, then eight days’ motorhome hire in New Zealand. You can then extend your trip in whatever way you like.
Planning a stopover may also help you to avoid what I think is the real killer on a long-haul journey – the night flight. Not everyone agrees: some can sleep on a plane without a problem and see it as a time-saving advantage. But for me, they are a guaranteed way to lose sleep, and a stopover may allow you to recalibrate your departure times to reduce the amount of night flying. For some destinations, there is not much you can do. Flying to Cape Town, for example, it is overnight both ways. On a few routes, however – notably Boston and New York with BA – you can fly both out and back during daylight, with the added advantage that daytime flights are often less popular with businessmen who are short of time, and so they are likely to be cheaper and less crowded.
Fly east to west
￼This strategy obviously only works if you arrange to fly round the world (RTW) rather than out and back. But, if you are particularly susceptible to the effects of jet lag, it is a plan worth considering for trips to Australia, New Zealand or even Hong Kong. The idea is that you avoid the worst effects of jet lag because your body tends to adjust more easily to the new time zone if you travel in a westerly direction. When you arrive, you can sleep in for longer, rather than find yourself lagging behind the clock, although the time you gain on each leg will be lost the moment you cross the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean. Suddenly an entire day will be wiped out. It’s only when you travel the other way, like Phileas Fogg, that you will gain a day – though it comes at the cost of losing out on each leg.
The round-the-world option works particularly well for travel to New Zealand. One of the cheapest RTW tickets is the Tiki fare with Air New Zealand, which would allow you, for example, to stop in San Francisco en route to Auckland, then return via a stop in Hong Kong for £1,115. This compares with a normal standard return price of about £1,000.
Other options via Australia are a ticket with Qantas and British Airways routing from London to Sydney via Los Angeles and returning via Dubai from £1,414, and you can add extra stops in Auckland and certain Asian cities relatively cheaply.
￼The less crowded the flight, the better the chance of good service, the more space and the more “fresh” air you will get during the flight. In theory, working out the busiest times is complicated – especially if your itinerary involves more than one leg. However, it is generally worth avoiding weekends and particularly Mondays, which is the busiest flying day of the week. But in practice, the rule is a simple one – because fares are priced according to demand, the cheaper the fare, the more likely it is that there will be fewer people on the plane.
Bag the best seat
￼If you are stuck with flying in economy, you can improve the experience by making sure you get a decent seat. There is a huge difference between stretching your legs out by the emergency exit and being squashed into a middle seat in the back row by the loos. The problem is that almost every airline has a different policy and most now charge for the better seats, or just the privilege of selecting your preferred option. British Airways, for example, charges £20 per person for an economy-class standard long-haul seat request, or £50 for an economy-class exit seat. And Emirates charges for economy-class seat requests on special offer and saver fares but not other fare types – the charges range from £10 to £30 depending on flight duration. They do not charge for exit-seat requests; however, this can only be done at the airport and is at the discretion of the airport staff.
Again, this is something that it is worth taking advice on from an agent who knows the different policies and can see at a glance if, for example, an exit-row seat is available and what it will cost.
If you are choosing a seat, your preferred option will probably depend on the type of plane, and the configuration of the seats. You can check this on the airline’s website or on a useful specialist site, seatguru.com. Its interactive seating plans highlight individual seats with most legroom, and flag up those with particular disadvantages.
You won’t always be able to bag the best seats – they may have been taken already. But you can make sure you avoid the worst. Ones to avoid in particular are bulkhead seats: those are the ones near the front of each section in economy class. These are where parents with very young babies are often seated – not ideal on a night flight. Those in the last row often don’t recline. And any seat near a lavatory is likely to suffer from disturbance, as passengers queue to use it.
Upgrade if you can
￼On a flight of any length, travelling business – or club – class makes a huge difference to how bearable the journey is, especially if you are flying overnight. You have much more space, you can usually lie flat if you want to and the food is much better, with more choice over what and when you eat. You have access to the lounge before departure and you can be – if you so choose – last on, and first off the plane. You also get a more generous luggage allowance. But the price difference is, of course, very significant. Currently, for example, you could fly to Sydney with BA for £715 return in economy class, but you would have to pay more than five times more (£3,705) to fly in club. With Virgin to LA, you would pay £631 in economy, and £2,982 in business class – again about five times the price.
There is a middle way. Several airlines offer premium economy, which gives you a bigger seat, less-crowded cabin and a bit more legroom, and for that the extra cost is more moderate – £1,084 for the LA fare just quoted, though £1,913 for Sydney fare. Part of the problem is the very high rates of British departure tax applied to travel in business and premium economy class – £150 for a flight over 2,000 miles. You can get around these, and reduce the fare a lot, if you book the outward leg in economy and the return in club or premium. So that fare to Sydney reduces to £2,202 if you fly out in economy and back in business. Do it the other way around – out in business, back in economy – however, and because of the way that tax is applied, it will cost you £2,277.
Again, look out for special offers – British Airways is offering a return to Lima with an upgrade to premium economy on the way home for £145 extra; Malaysian Airlines is offering return flights to Perth, Australia, for £2,299 in business class (via Kuala Lumpur); and Singapore Airlines has a business-class offer to Sydney from £2,739.
On the flight
￼Everyone has their own ways of coping with a flight. Olympian Greg Rutherford recommends noise-cancelling headphones to dull the continual roar of the engines, for example. I prefer to bring snacks and water rather than rely on cabin service; an iPad rather than a laptop – easier to use, at least in economy class; and a neck pillow – vital to prevent cricks and cramps.
If someone traveled to 50 countries, we’d be impressed. If they traveled to 100 we’d be super impressed. But if they traveled to every single country in the world, and became the first documented female, youngest American, AND fastest traveler to visit all 196 countries on the planet….well, that would leave us pretty amazed indeed.
But that’s exactly what Cassandra De Pecol is doing. The 27-year-old from Connecticut has already visited 181 countries since July 2015, and with only 15 countries remaining and 40 days to go, she’s well on course to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest person to travel to all Sovereign States (plus an additional 11 countries). Her amazing journey is called Expedition196 and she’s traveling as an Ambassador for Peace on behalf of the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism. We might not be able to follow in her footsteps, but we can at least follow her inspirational journey via Instagram. Go Cassandra!
Ever wanted to travel to every country in the world?
Well that’s exactly what Cassandra De Pecol is doing!
Her amazing journey is called Expedition196
She started off in Palau back in July 2015
And she’s already visited 181 countries since then
She’s hoping to become the first documented woman to travel to all 196 countries
Cassandra only has 15 more to visit in the next 40 days
If she does it she’ll break the Guinness World Record for the fastest person to travel to all Sovereign States
She’s traveling as an Ambassador for Peace on behalf of the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism
The trip has cost almost $200,000 so far but the costs are covered by sponsors
She also uses her Instagram as a platform for advertising in exchange for free accommodation
She’s only 27 but she’s already seen more than most will see in a lifetime
From meeting lion cubs
And skiing in the mountains of Colorado
To relaxing on the beach in Kiribati
And taking in beautiful sights like this view of Mostar bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina
To deal with its longstanding pilot shortage, the US military is looking not at new recruitment drives, but at robots.
The Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) is currently deep into developing two types of robotic copilots, Defense News reports. And the robots won’t simply be able to operate planes’ flight systems – they’re also intended to be able to give advice to human pilots.
The Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS), the name of the robot copilot program, is intended to reduce the numbers of crew needed on manned aircraft, going first from two humans to one, but “then possibly down to zero,” Jean Charles-Lede, program manager of DARPA’s tactical technology program office, said, according to Defense One.
The ALIAS program is working toward delegating procedural tasks associated with flying to computers, which can often perform them better, according to the developers of the systems. Right now, ALIAS uses an open-interface software combined with a pilot-operated touchpad and speech recognition software, Scout.com reported. Pilots can speak or tap commands to the aircraft to perform some functions on its own.
ALIAS developers list things like checking engine status, altitude gauges, lights, switches and levers among those that computers can do more quickly and safely than humans.
Two contractors, Aurora Flight Sciences and Sikorksy, demonstrated their solutions in test flights in several types of aircraft in October. DARPA will select a single vendor for the final phase of the program.
Mark Cherry, president and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, said, “The ALIAS system is designed to be able to take out those dull mission requirements such as check lists and monitoring while providing a system status to the pilot. The pilot can concentrate on the broader mission at hand,” according to Scout.com.
Aurora’s system actually fits into the form of the copilot’s seat. It uses a robotic arm to physically fly the plane, leaving human pilots to take care of messier problem solving or troubleshooting tasks, Jessica Duda, Aurora’s ALIAS program manager, told Defense News.
The system is designed to operate much like a human would. Machine vision cameras take in information a human pilot would see, and ALIAS software uses that data to make flight decisions. “[W]e kind of work within the physical bounds of a human. We have eyes, like a human has eyes, we have the ability to interface with the controls as a human would … and we actually fit within the form factor of one of the seats,” Duda told Defense News.
Sikorsky’s system is more customizable and could eventually eliminate the need for any human pilot at all, Igor Cherepinsky, director of Sikorsky’s autonomy programs, told Defense News. The system offers options of having pilots in the cockpit, in the back of the plane, or not in the air at all, but controlling the machine remotely.
Sikorsky’s system physically moves the aircrafts controls, but uses small elements in instrument panels and floors, rather than a large arm, and thus leaves room for the option of a human copilot.
“One can imagine, as these vehicles are now smart enough to plan their routes, avoid obstacles, and stick landings, you can pick missions that have that as their core competency,” said Cherepinsky. In the future, cargo, reconnaissance or even medical evacuation flights could be operated remotely by a human monitoring several self-flying aircraft, he said.
John Langford, Aurora’s chairman and CEO, told the Daily Mail, “It’s really about a spectrum of increasing autonomy and how humans and robots work together so that each can be doing the thing that it’s best at.”
“The robot carries in them the DNA of every flight hour in that system, every accident,” he said. “It’s like having a human pilot with 600,000 hours of experience.”
Using machines to fly planes, is, of course, nothing new. Commercial airline pilots routinely rely on autopilot systems. But Keith Hagy, the Air Line Pilots Association’s director of engineering and safety, points out that so far only humans are able to deal with the unpredictable.
“Those are the kind of abnormal situations when you really need a pilot on board with that judgment and experience and to make decisions,” Hagy told the Daily Mail.
In addition to avoiding the extra processing time, there are a few other good reasons to renew your passport now. An increasing number of countries now require that you have at least six months left before your passport expiration date to grant entry. If it’s less than that, you could be denied boarding or even turned around at customs.
Finally, as if all that wasn’t challenging enough, passports are now being issued with just 28 pages as standard, down from the 52 pages we used to get. While that’s happened, some countries have instituted a minimum blank-page regulation for entry. And you can no longer add pages to your passport; you have to get a new one.
So if your passport is due for renewal next year, even if it’s toward the end of next year, renew it now. Luckily, that process is both straightforward and affordable.
If you have the time, renewing by mail is just $110. Fill out this form online, print it, attach a to-spec photo, throw your old passport in the envelope, send it off, and you’ll have a new one within six weeks.
In a rush or not comfortable going sans passport for that long? Expediting the process adds $60. You can do it either by mail (two to three weeks) or in person at an agency (five days). Requesting a 52-page passport is free, so it’s a good idea to go ahead and do that up front, regardless of how often you think you might travel.
Never had a passport before? Get one! It’ll open up a literal world of possibilities and costs the same $110 renewal fee.
Last week, we received a huge response from readers when we posed the question of whether or not pilots hop in bed with flight attendants regularly while flying together. My friend, Pilot Mike said he’d never really witnessed it, but many of you replied and said otherwise. Let’s look at some of your responses.
Yes, they do hook up:
Abacaxi:As a former flight attendant who recently resigned: Yes, they do hook up with flight attendants frequently. I can’t believe he said he has never seen it. Not only do pilots hook up with the attendants but also passengers they meet on the flights, random women at bars hotels etc. Same goes for flight attendants, quite a lot of whom have multiple guys they see in different places. We were warned in training how often this happens and that in smaller companies, assume everyone will know about it. Its a stressful lifestyle and a lonely one, prone to a lot of drinking on layovers. Also, it seemed like most of the pilots who were married- were actively cheating or trying to cheat on their wives. I learned that one airline, the pilots wives came together to pressure the company into booking different hotels for Attendants and pilots to avoid this.
MisterHippity: My brother is an airline captain and I spent a lot of time hanging out with professional pilots, and this has been been my impression. I shared an apartment with him and partied with his pilot buddies, and I can testify that these guys and flight attendants hook up all the time. As a general rule, they all liked to drink and have sex, a lot.
astrongcupofjoel: An ex got a job as a flight attendant for Delta about two years back. Said pilots and flight attendants were hitting on each other pretty openly. Most of the people she worked with were pretty old and we thought it kinda funny that so many of them partied so hard and sexed it up so much. Once while on the phone after one of her flights, I overheard her saying goodbye to the other attendants and pilots and one of the pilots told her to come to his room later for a drink. Sounded pretty out in the open to me…
VTECkickedinBRO:I’m betting the male/male flight attendant/pilot hookups happen waaaaaaaaaay more than the male/female hookups do.
kingcaii: I had a co-worker who became a good friend of mine. Her (now ex-) husband was a commercial pilot for a major company. She came to find out that he cheated on her, many times, with one of the flight attendants that flew with him. It was like a fictional story— when he and the FA in question landed anywhere except their home port of SeaTac, WA, they acted like they were a couple. Even in the airport. One of my co-worker’s friends happened to be at one of those other airports and informed her. So…. yeah, it happens.
Jesus Diaz:There’s plenty of pilots and flight attendants hooking up for both long term relationships and one-night stands in Iberia airlines. I’m told (by pilots) it’s the same for any other airline in Europe. There are also cases of pilots having double lives and two families (in Spain and in Miami or Cuba or some South American country) back in the days when the flight crews had to stay at their destinations for a few days. Neither family knew about each other.
toecutter: My mom worked housekeeping at an airport motel. A lot of pilots and flight attendants stayed there. She said it was like a Roman orgy.
J-box25: I worked as a driver for a Hilton hotel for a few years and let me tell u they definitely hook up lol. We would pick up the flight crews and bring them to the hotel. They are like kids on a school bus once the plane lands.
Flight attendants from various airlines at the Boeing 737 dedication. [Getty]
You said they also hook up with other strangers:
sorbo1980: They don’t hook up with the crew; they hook up with the hotel staff (usually a bartender or waiter) where they’re staying. Also, tends to happen with airlines with younger staffs. I write from experience.
TheTroof: You should have asked how often they have random hook-ups and one night stands during their overnight stays in different cities. If you live near a big airport, just troll the nearby hotel lobby bars, or local watering holes, and trust me…you’ve got a pretty good chance of banging a flight attendant that night LOL. 😉
TaterNutsAnon: In university I was in a crappy bar one night with a friend. Next table over was 4 flight attendants and a pilot. All in their uniforms and getting very drunk. We ended up joining our tables together and getting absolutely wrecked. I was looking to head back to the hotel with 1 (or 2! [Ahhh, youth]) of the ladies when the pilot suggested, why don’t we move this back to the hotel, I got upgraded to a room with a king bed and a Jacuzzi. The girls seemed interested, but it was just too weird for me. My buddy went with them, and passed out in the cab on the way to their hotel. They left him in the cab.
Reborn Pyrrhic: From personal experience I find that most of the hooking up by the flight crews is done with strangers over Craigslist.
TSZ2788:So some of these people are practically like pirates. Where every port they went to they had a girl to f**k with.
They may hook up, but it’s a bad idea:
Tony:Because you have to work with that person again. And it’s awkward if everyone knows you did the nasty and is trying not to comment on it and you’re trying to pretend that nothing happened. Just because it’s an office at 35,000 feet doesn’t mean it’s not an office!
gla2yyz:In my experience flying as a passenger on US regional carriers, hooking up with a member of the cabin crew wouldn’t be something to brag about. I’m sure they’re all lovely people who most definitely work in very challenging conditions but the photo above isn’t EXACTLY representative of who will be serving you pretzels and a thimble of Sprite on your typical Colgan or Comair flight.
Diesel: I saw a documentary about a pilot hooking up with his stewardess. It didn’t end well for either of them.
By the time most flight crews are done for the day, they’re too tired to have much fun. [pic by Sebastian Oliva on Flickr / Creative Commons commercial license]
These people are full of it:
LeeTunnell:As a pilot for one of the largest US airlines (probably the most hated too) Here is my version..Maybe I’m jaded from the years….Hookups…Ha Have you seem most crews walking around? That would make for the worst porn movie in the world. Here is what it would happen. Old pilot tells tales of his flying stories or high school football days “Glory Days” and flight attendant shows pictures of her cats. Then they fall asleep at 7 pm. I guess between our cat loving grandmas in the back and the grumpy old farts up front I don’t think much is happening but hey you never know throw a long layover in there with some booze.
colorfulyawn:Maybe I’m naive, but I expect flight attendants and pilots to behave in a professional and respectful manner toward each other, and would be surprised if the salacious cliches were true about them “hooking up” with each other.
figbash > colorfulyawn:You’re not really that naive. Most pilots and flight attendants are too damn tired when they reach their destinations to do any major hooking up, and even if they had the energy, they usually don’t want to hook up with the people they work with. They want sleep, not a roll in the hay.
Thanks to everyone who responded with anecdotes, either first-hand of from acquaintances. As you can see, there’s not a general rule here — but the lifestyle makes it possible to have frequent non-committal encounters, if you’re into that sort of thing.
As a former F/A I can tell you that all of the above answers are true. Some people tried to work with the same person as often as possible to act like a couple. Some people had someone waiting for them in almost every town. Some people got drunk and hooked up a lot (with crew members or random locals). Some people ate dinner or went out for drinks with their crews then went to bed, alone. Some people disappeared, got up to who knows what only returning at the last second [like the black kid in Summer School (starring Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley)]. And some people got carryout or delivery and just wanted to watch a TV show that their toddler did not pick out.
Absolutely…my now ex-wife who works for a Alaska out of Seattle, hooked up with not only pilots, but her “inflight boyfriends” as well—customers. “Larissa,” would come home from layovers (Florida, Hawaii, Mexico) and the proof was all over her face, clothes, etc. She thought everyone at her job loved her…Well, I knew enough people from her job that didn’t care for her and would tell me at the place I was managing when they’d come in. I heard it from both women FA’s and male pilots. She would rush upstairs to wash her clothes (panties) as soon as she got home from her LAY-overs. The nervous look on her face said it all. I know she hooked up with this one ugly Hawaiian troll co-worker of hers who used to live 5 minutes away from us in Orange County and who somehow mysteriously followed us back up to Seattle when we moved back up here as well. She would come home with, lets just say “sex marks” on her legs—hand prints. My ex craves the attention as an FA…because she is a shallow, manipulative, narcissistic child. She had guys in her rooms when I would call her and she would always deny everything. I would find cards in the car, gifts, etc…very naive person I married and luckily am divorced from now.
IT HAS BECOME one of our greatest national pastimes: bitching about flying. The discomfort, the hassle, the cost, the ineptitude of everyone involved, from the baggage handlers on up to the CEOs. We bitch on planes and off, in airports, on Twitter, on the corner, all the time. And when we do, we often hark back to a time when flying was humane and glamorous; when service was king and people were treated like creatures worthy of dignity and respect. It was, we like to think, the golden age of air travel.
Take Paula Clark. Her memories of working as a stewardess (they still used that title then) for Pan Am in the ’60s are bathed in that warm nostalgia. It was the Tiffany & Co. of airlines, she enthuses — a world away from the hectic Kmart experiences she says she endures when flying as a passenger today.
But then… she remembers how people were allowed to smoke on the planes. And how there was nothing to do on long flights. And how the engines were so loud you couldn’t carry on a conversation. And how the food before and between flights was inedible.
“You’d come home reeking of smoke,” she says. “We’d have one movie, take it or leave it. We didn’t have all those restaurants in airports.”
And that was the golden age of air travel? Good riddance.
This is the golden age of air travel.
OK, sure: we stipulate that the security lines are endless, the seats are cramped, the cabin attendants are surly, baggage fees are annoying, there’s never enough room in the overhead compartments, the onboard Wi-Fi is balky, the person packed into the seat next to you hasn’t bathed in God knows how many time zones, and the gate agent who’s taking forever to hook up the skybridge clearly tanked the parallel parking portion of her driving test.
But there are also more flights, to more places, more onboard entertainment, and — even if you have to pay for it — much, much better food. It’s safer. It’s quieter. It’s smoother. It doesn’t stink like 100,000 Lucky Strikes. And it’s crazy cheap.
You’re paying less than half as much to fly as you used to. In 1954, it cost $1,727 in today’s dollars, not including taxes, to fly from New York to Los Angeles, one way. That’s far more than you’d usually shell out for business class today. Roundtrip fares have fallen 64% since 1995 alone. The average flight today goes for around $250, according to booking website CheapOair, down another 12% from last year. The cost of flying is one of the few expenses that has gone up much more slowly than household income.
That low price also gets you to a lot more places than it once did, more than ever of which are nonstop. There are 16,000 city-to-city connections now, or twice as many as there were in 1995, and more flights on those routes to choose from. Twenty-seven thousand flights per day, to be exact.
And that’s made flying much more democratic. More than 80% of us have flown commercially within the last 12 months, compared to only 15% who had in 1975, before deregulation changed the industry forever; airlines carry three quarters of a billion passengers per year, up nearly 40% since 1995.
“It’s gotten a lot cheaper, and there’s a hell of a lot more choice,” says Brian Pearce, the Geneva-based chief economist of the International Air Transport Association. “You can get directly to a lot more places for much less.”
Performing this juggling act cost the airlines $63 billion in losses from 2000 to 2010, a period during which they also had to grapple with minor hiccups like, you know, 9/11 and a 255% spike in oil prices. Even today, having squeezed their operating costs as tightly as your legroom and finally crawled back into the black, the airlines will make an average profit of $8.27 per passenger this year, a margin half that of the corporations in the S&P index. They also still have $66 billion worth of debt to pay off.
And yet — surprise! — those same airlines completed 98% of their flights in the last year, 80% of them on time or early, despite a biblical scourge of weather problems, according to the US Department of Transportation. A record 99.6% of passengers had their bags properly handled. While bitching about air travel is a national pastime, only about one in every 100,000 passengers actually files a complaint. And the last five years have been the safest in the history of American commercial aviation.
In short, says Mike Lombardi, the official historian at Boeing, “One of the great achievements of airplane safety is that people complain about the food.”
Or not. Now that the airlines get to charge you for it, the food is pretty good, especially compared to the unrecognizable reheated mush you used to get when it was free. In a survey last year by the Airline Passenger Experience Association, seven out of 10 passengers said they like the quality and selection of in-flight food for purchase. Virgin America sells Holly Baking Company chocolate chip cookies onboard, and Jet Blue serves up a grilled chicken, Brie, arugula, and cranberry mustard sandwich on a rustic roll. A rustic roll!
“When you only make food available to people who really want it, which is exactly what happens in a baseball stadium, you’re going to have a higher-quality product, says John Heimlich, vice president and chief economist at the industry association Airlines for America.
Of course, a lot of us — two thirds, in fact — buy food before we fly. And that has gotten better, too. Because so many people now spend so much time in them, airports have been cramming decent restaurants into their passenger terminals. You can get sushi when you connect in San Francisco, and oyster po-boys while you’re nursing your hangover waiting for your flight in New Orleans, or sidle up to food trucks in the passenger terminal in (needless to say) Portland, Oregon. And if you can’t get into the Frontera Grill in Chicago, you can just go to Rick Bayless’ restaurant at O’Hare.
Then there’s the onboard entertainment. In a far cry from the flickering TV screens showing movies somewhere at the far end of the cabin, and those grim hollow-tube plastic headphones, airlines offer live TV and movies you’d actually be interested in watching even if you weren’t stuck on a plane. Some are adding surround sound, touch screens over which their passengers can chat with people in other rows, and online business books and language courses. That’s not to mention the life-saving kids’ programming, video games, and digital shopping.
Meanwhile, the airlines are plowing their newfound profits into finally upgrading their tired fleets — putting into service, on average, one new plane per day, every day, all with that satisfying new-car smell and even more tech and amenities.
And yet, as we fly in shiny new planes, nourished with better food, watching better movies, all for less money, we still rend our garments at the unfairness of it all.
The fact is, if you’re that miserable with the state of air travel, you have only yourself to blame. Want to keep paying as little as you do to fly? The seats will stay small and you’ll keep having to pay extra to check bags and buy snacks.
“That’s what I tell people when they complain about their flights. I say, ‘You’re the problem,’” says Lombardi, the Boeing historian. “It’s not the airline. “You’re the one driving the price of the ticket down. What drives the market is what passengers want.”
And what passengers want is two things: cheap flights, and the ability to never stop complaining about them.
In his famous bit, Louis C.K. fantasizes about seeing passengers go back in time to meet the Wright brothers, just as they were about to take flight for the first time.
“They’d go, ‘Hey dude, I had to sit on the runway for 40 minutes,’” he says.
And Orville Wright, he says, “would be like, ‘Oh, shit. Well, let’s not even bother then.’”
Fortunately, they did, though. And so here we are, crossing the skies at 600 miles an hour in reclining seats and eating a sandwich on a rustic roll while hoping that our neighbor doesn’t see that we’re watching Fifty Shades of Grey. Marvel at the wonder and the progress. And then maybe stop moaning about the Wi-Fi.