Talmon Marco is the founder of social VoIP and free texting app Viber. On a recent Delta Air Lines flight, Marco was told by a flight attendant that he couldn’t use the voice part of Viber, citing FAA regulations. In fact, FAA says it doesn’t have any regulation specifically covering VoIP, adding it’s more an issue with airlines. The flight attendant then told Marco he was violating the terms of service of Gogo, the carrier’s inflight Wi-Fi vendor.
Marco took to Twitter complaining about a regulation that doesn’t exist, and was told by the airline that they had called the police, who would be there when he landed. They were, but let him go when they realized that he hadn’t broken any laws.
I won’t go off on a tangent about how flight attendants like to throw around the phrase “FAA regulations” when they want passengers to do — or not do — something. Technically, Marco wasn’t breaking any rules. But if I’m flying in a metal tube sitting next to or near him, I do NOT want to hear him gabbing away via VoIP.
Back in May 2009, AirTran Airways made a big announcement — it had installed Gogo inflight Wi-Fi on its entire fleet. As part of the announcemen, a group of us reporter types were invited on a flight to nowhere to give it a whirl. One of those reporters was NBC’s Tom Costello, who did a live broadcast on the flight for the “Today” show. Below is my picture of him doing his report. Enjoy!
OK, so I’m here in Baltimore stewing in my own bitterness because all my cool aviation friends are at one of two places — the Singapore Air Show or Heli-Expo 2012. But the news still continues no matter where we are, so let’s get going with this week’s stories.
Before and after American Airlines officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, rumors were flying over whether the carrier would merge and if they did, who will it be with? And now, American’s unsecured creditors say they want to see the airline talk with Phoenix-based US Airways about a potential merger, reports Reuters. of course, these creditors want to have some hope of recovering money after the carrier emerges from bankruptcy. But American’s management seems to be firm about not merging. It will be interesting to see what happens.
In 1997, I flew down to Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, where the Embraer ERJ-145 was built, to take delivery of an aircraft for Continental Express. On the way home, we spent a day and a half in Martinique. At the airport as we waited for our ride to the hotel, we saw passengers boarding a CorseAir Boeing 747 to France. Our customs agent asked us to guess how many seats the plane had. No one guessed more than 400. But it was 24 in business class and 558 in coach — all the way back to France. So I didn’t raise an eyebrow when I read that Philippines budget airline Cebu Pacific will cram 400 seats onto its Airbus A330s, which normally seat 300, reports the APEX Editor’s blog.
Back in 2009, I flew AirTran Airways to and from Orlando to attend the National Business Aviation Association convention. On my flight home, I decided to expense the $12.95 for Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi. I used it to post the last of my show news stories and catch up on email. But would I have paid for it myself? Probably not, and that’s the dilemma outlined in a story in ComputerWorld, entitled “Wi-Fi in flight has yet to soar.” The article notes that only 7% of passengers pay for the service because they don’t want to shell out the money and many times, they don’t know a plane is Wi-Fi equipped.
Regular readers know that Southwest Airlines is my carrier of choice, because it gets me from Point A to Point B safely, quickly and at a good price. That good price includes being able to check two bags for free. But those who can’t or won’t fly Southwest Air have come up with clever little ideas to avoid paying bag fees on other airlines. Some of the ideas outlined in the New York Timesincluded: vacuum-seal bags in a carry-on; Scottevest clothing that holds everything from clothing to an iPad; and signing up for an airline-branded credit card that allows for one free bag to be checked.
On the one hand, I like the fact that I can buy into Delta Air Lines’ Sky Clubs (my favorite U.S. airline lounge) for $50. And the airline did a deal on Groupon where it offered half-price day passes or five passes for $89. On the other, if I were a Diamond Medallion member or someone who had paid $450 for a year of access, I’d be a bit cranky (like Brett Snyder) too, as outlined in the Star-Tribune.
@davesniadak of the HDHubby blog says: Gogoinflight Wi-Fi has absolutely revolutionized travel. I find I’m now extremely productive when I fly, even when I’m jammed in the middle seat between two other people (mind you, I’m 6’5″ and try my best to stay within my seat). Seeing as how I’ve never been good at sleeping on planes, airborne wi-fi helps the long legs go by faster.
Smarter Travel has released its list of 10 destinations to watch in 2012. I’ve been to six of them, and most I’d return to in a heartbeat. One I haven’t been to is Cuba, and that’s near the top of my list of places I really want to visit. My frienemy Brett “Cranky Flier” Snyder has been. He let me sip the rum, which was divine! Also check out Budget Travel’s top budget travel destinations in 2012.
Back during the Christmas holidays in 1998, I went to Oberpfafenhofen, Germany, to work on a story about the now-defunct aircraft manufacturer Fairchild Dornier. As part of that trip, we got to go to Munich and visit the Christmas market on the Marienplotz. Some advice: when they ask if you want peppermint schnapps in your Glühwein, JUST SAY NO!! Lonely Planet offers five more great Christmas markets in Europe.
I love airports almost as much as the writer of this blog post in the Irish Times. And my heart was warmed by one of my favorite travel writers, Christopher Elliott, who writes in the Washington Postabout holiday travel kindnesses.
I’m proud – but also kind of sad – that my six-year-old daughter goes through the airport security checkpoint better than most adults.
It’s the week before the Paris Air Show, and every aviation journalist worth their salt — including me — has been in full frenzy mode, whether we’re going or not (I’m not). But I have to take care of you, my loyal readers, so let’s go!
I would be remiss if i didn’t lead you to the link — here – for Aviation Week’s full coverage of the show, including news, blog posts, photos and Twitter. And if you want to keep up with the show via your iPhone, there’s an (AvWeek) app for that, here. Commercials over!
One of my journalist friends sent me a tweet with a link to this Middle Seat Terminal blog post on Airbus’ vision of what planes will look like in 2050. While I love all this stuff, I also know the likelihood of us seeing it on an actual plane is slim and none. But I love engineers who dream!
In a topic near and dear to my heart, my airport soul sister Harriet Baskas uses her At The Airport column for USA Today to ask a good question: Should you pay for Wi-Fi? She writes about how airports are considering offered tiered service–free for a limited time, then paid. On the one hand, I know airports are trying to boost their non-airline revenue as carriers continue to cut costs, and Wi-Fi helps with that. But on the other hand, travelers are spoiled by airports including Phoenix, San Francisco and Boston that offer free Wi-Fi, compared to those who don’t, like my hometown Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
I just love listening to the Airplane Geeks podcast, and Episode 150 (congrats guys!) was one of the best ever, with aviation legends John & Martha King as the guests. Did you know they can fly blimps? Cool, huh?
Speaking of fees, the general media were abuzz after the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported that U.S. airlines collected almost $5.7 billion from baggage fees and reservation change fees in 2010, reports ABC News. Having worked for two airlines, I know why they charge these fees — because you, dear traveler, refuse to pay the higher fares they want to charge you. But I enjoyed this article in the Atlantic on the top 12 most annoying fees.
I’m a business traveler. I’m also a mother who started flying my daughter around the country when she was only 10 days old. Which is why I enjoyed this article from BBC that asked the question: who’s more annoying: business travelers or babies? I vote for business travelers, because babies do eventually tire. I was lucky, because my daughter always slept, uh, like a baby on flights. And as she got older, she was so used to flying, I still get compliments about her behavior, even now at 5 years old.
It would not be Friday without this week’s episode of “Strange But True Aviation News,” complete with a different sexting scandal, an unusual airline fee and what happens when you have a potty mouth on the plane.
And finally, for those of you living in the Washington, D.C., area, I hope you can come out to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles Airport for the annual Become a Pilot Day and aviation display on Saturday, June 18. My favorites — the Airplane Geeks — will be reocrding their podcast, and I’ll be out there with my daughter (the self-dubbed Princess of Planes) to support them. One of the geeks, Rob Mark of Jetwhine, has more details here. Please come by and say hello if you’re out there!