Artists redition of a projuct with the Airbus A380 – It is not yet in service. (Yan Baczkowski)
EasyJet is investigating Arabic graffiti found on the fuel tank covers of four planes in France.
Airline staff were informed after the discovery of ‘four aircraft in France with written inscriptions on the inside of the fuel panel, and toilet door in Arabic script.’
Arabic graffiti was also found on a Vueling plane.
Three of the aircraft were found in Lyon and two at Charles de Gaulle, reports AFP news agency.
It added that the words ‘Allah Akbar’ were found on one plane at Charles de Gaulle airport.
The discovery came as it was reported that the security passes of 86,000 workers at Charles de Gaulle airport will be reviewed after 57 employees with access to aircraft were found to be on a terror watch list.
A spokeswoman for easyJet said that none of the graffiti was making threats and that it was not considered to be a security related issue.
She said: “EasyJet assessed this issue, each time working in full consultation with the authorities, and is entirely satisfied it is nothing more than graffiti.
“EasyJet takes very seriously any security related issue and would not operate a flight unless we are entirely satisfied it is completely safe to do so.
“EasyJet operates its fleet of aircraft in full compliance with all regulations. The safety and security of its passengers and crews is always easyJet’s highest priority.”
The airline said that crew and pilots are all involved in security checks of an aircraft and would not board unless they were completely satisfied that it was safe to do so.
Airbus might have uncovered the fastest way to board a plane, and definitely the most creative.
According to Wired, Airbus recently filed a patent for a detachable cabin module complete with floor, walls, seats, and even a cargo compartment that would be lowered to the gate so that passengers could board, stow their luggage, and take their seats. Then, the compartment would be lifted and secured back in the frame of the aircraft itself.
The idea is that when the plane arrives at its destination, ground handlers would remove the compartments so that passengers can deplane and immediately reload new compartments that would already be pre-loaded with passengers and cargo.
This “aircraft pod” concept would save time on the ground and boost the amount of hours that planes could be in the sky. Since planes make no money when they are not in the air, boarding and deplaning are key elements in the effort to reduce the precious turnaround time.
Safety concerns of the individual pods are likely to pose hurdles to the idea’s implementation, as is the necessity to rebuild airports to be able to handle such a module. Of course, entirely new planes would have to be designed to handle these detachable cabins, so we doubt this will ever get off the ground. But the concept is pretty awesome.
China’s upcoming Daxing District airport in Beijing is intended to eventually take the mantle of the world’s largest airport. While the completion date is still years away, airport officials are beginning to spill the beans on what makes the project so special. Here’s what we know so far:
It’s designed to look like a Phoenix. Iraq-born British architect Zaha Hadid chose the phoenix motif in part to contrast with Beijing’s current dragon-inspired Beijing Capital International Airport airport. The phoenix effect may be lost on those pulling up to the departures curb, but anyone coming in for a landing is sure to spot the firebird in all of its aerial glory.
Service will begin in 2019. According to china.org, 45 million passengers will be served by the airport’s first four runways to open in 2019. By 2025, another two runways will open, bringing the total annual passenger count up to 72 million.
Expansion will make it the world’s largest airport by 2040. Granted, similarly grandiose airport projects in the Middle East — or even London — may knock Beijing off of its perch before it ever stakes its claim to the world’s largest title, but current projections expect the phoenix to process 100 million annual passengers by 2040.
It will be seriously speedy. Customs-to-boarding gate times are set to take just 8 minutes. And the baggage claim process is promised to set travelers back only an additional 13 minutes. Zoom zoom!
It has already been called a Wonder of the Modern World. The Guardian has this “megastructure” on its global watch list, already bestowing the modern marvel title on the new airport.
This does not explain why New York’s La Guardia or JFK airport look and function like something out of the developing world.
From passive scanners to seamless corridors, airport security technology is on a rapid evolution to both increase accuracy and reduce inconvenience. The latest technology is one of our favorites: a scanner that actually determines the composition of materials rather than trying to see through them. Basically, it can tell the difference between a harmless object and a potentially dangerous prohibited item.
The Halo technology still uses X-rays to build the image, but it can process an object’s “material signature” to determine what it’s made of. Current technology can only mark whether an item is plastic, metal or organic, which leaves plenty open to interpretation. Marijuana and food, for example, are both organic, and there aren’t always obvious differences between explosive metallics and non-explosive metallics. Given those limitations, security screeners must physically inspect suspicious items. This new technology could theoretically eliminate many of these manual searches, as screeners could inspect items without opening the bag.
The Halo uses what’s known as X-ray crystallography, which is a technique that analyzes how a particular material scatters X-ray particles to determine its composition. By looking at the unique pattern that the particle scatter creates, the machine can then make determinations on what the object is made of. The Halo engineers then had to create a faster way of making this happen, and so deployed tubular X-ray beams which amplify a material’s signature.
In comments to The Engineer, Halo’s chief technology officer Paul Evans said:
“Our beam intersects the object, and concentrates the signal, so we can place various detectors inside the hollow beam, and see these unique patterns of diffracted radiation. Our aim is to ultimately produce a device that will not only produce signals, but also reconstruct three-dimensional images from these signals.”
These 3D images would then be matched against a library of materials, in order to make the determination of what materials are in any given bag.
The technology is also made to be automated, meaning that no humans would be needed to monitor the images. Halo will create an alert whenever a supsicious material is detected for further human inspection. So not only is there more accuracy and efficiency but there’s lower cost as well! Sounds like a rare win for airport security.
Delta will no longer accept pets as checked baggage, the airline said this week in a blog. The change will be effective March 1, 2016, and will affect anyone who has already paid for their animal to travel as checked luggage. Delta will be reaching out to those passengers to inform them of the change, as February 29th is the last day of the old policy.
The airline will continue to allow pets under 30 pounds to fly as a carry-on in all classes but Delta One, and will offer exceptions to its new No Pets as Checked Baggage rule to active-duty military traveling to new posts, and for certified support animals.
For those passengers who still want to fly with their pets, Delta Cargo will be the only way to ship pets within the United States. But brace yourselves, because the cost will be greater than that of checked bags. Although there is no price data currently available, a similar program – United’s PetSafe – can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000 for shipping, depending on the animal’s weight and destination.
It’s also far less convenient, as passengers must drop off pets at least three hours before departure time at an area away from traditional passenger check-in. The airline also will not guarantee that pets will fly on a passenger’s schedule, potentially complicating travel even further.
For the past decade, Delta actually had the worst track recordrelating to animal safety. According to statistics from the Department of Transportation, 74 animals died on Delta flights between May 2005 and September 2015, almost 25% of all recorded airline pet deaths. This might explain why the airline has decided to completely transfer the operational burden of transporting pets to a different division, one more focused on cargo that also has dedicated areas of the airport that could prevent accidents, should a pet escape its carrier before or after a flight.
Delta offers the following guidance for travelers bringing pets under the new rules:
A separate booking from their flight itinerary is required. Additional fees and charges may apply.
A pet shipped domestically via Delta Cargo cannot be booked until 14 days prior to departure.
Pets are not guaranteed to be shipped on a customer’s same flight or flight schedule.
Shipping a pet requires dropping it off at a Delta Cargo location at least three hours before departure time at a location separate from passenger check-in.
Picking up a pet will also occur at a Delta Cargo location.
Delta Cargo will only accept international pet shipments from International Pet and Animal Transportation Association members.
NEW YORK – Air France confirmed a drop in demand following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, but said it’s too early to gauge the full impact.
“We have noticed some decline in our bookings,” Air France-KLM CEO Alexandre de Juniactold USA TODAY in an interview Thursday. He described the drop-off as “in line with what our competitors have faced in very similar situations,” referring to the impact on local carriers following terrorist attacks in London in 2005 and in Madrid in 2004.
Air France was not directly targeted in the attacks, thought to inspired by the ISIS terror group. But industry observers had been watching to see if travelers have become spooked about flying after the Paris attacks.
“We see an impact on Air France, but no impact on KLM,” de Juniac added. “So it has clearly impacted (France as a) destination.”
KLM is the Amsterdam-based Dutch carrier that merged with Air France in 2004 to create Air France-KLM. Each carrier continues to operate flights under its own brand.
Still, de Juniac cautioned “it’s a bit a bit early at this stage to make a precise estimate” about how much or how long the dip in demand might continue. “We’ll have clearer and more precise figures in the coming weeks,” he said.
Even with the fallout from the attacks, de Juniac said Air France-KLM “will still be profitable this year, as planned.”
He pledged to carry on with the company’s daily business, saying that offers the strongest rebuke to those who attacked Paris.
“The best behavior we can all have is to stand firm and maintain our plans and live normally,” de Juniac said. And he issued a resounding invitation to visit France.
“Are Americans saying they don’t want to go to France in the wake of the attacks?” Kaplan said, noting the U.S. market had been a bright spot for the carrier even as it posted losses during the past several years. “The one thing that’s still working pretty well for Air France right now is trans-Atlantic. If this impacts that demand, that wouldn’t be helpful.”
Kaplan suggested that Air France faces a delicate balance with marketing and sales efforts in such a sensitive environment.
“It’s different than when something happens specifically to the airline,” Kaplan said about how the Paris attacks might affect the airline. “Right now, when you say ‘France’ to someone, the first thing that comes to mind may not be a lie-flat seat. It’s definitely something complicated for them to deal with.”
DeJuniac said “it’s legitimate that people would raise the question” about whether they should still travel to Paris in the wake of the attacks. But the answer is “yes, go.”
While acknowledging the company “must be cautious,” he says management opted not to suspend any of Air France’s current marketing and sales campaigns.
“We think that the strongest blow we can do against terrorists and on people who are doing these kind of attacks is to tell them that it is has no influence on individual behavior and on our values,” de Juniac says. “We strongly encourage people to come to France.”
It won’t come as much of a surprise to hear that not all airplane seating configurations are created equally. But deciphering the differences can sometimes feel like an impossible task when what sets them apart is measured in inches instead of feet. Still, anyone who has ever flown across the Pacific knows that every precious inch matters when buckling into a seat for most of the day. Thanks to a little sleuthing by Condé Nast Traveler, here are the airlines with the most – and least – legroom.
U.S. Carriers with the Most Legroom
JetBlue: The roomiest of the roomiest major American carriers, JetBlue’s main cabin configuration gives passengers a generous (or depressing, depending on your state of mind when reading this) 33 inches of space between seats.
Virgin America, Southwest: Virgin and Southwest round out the top three with 32 inches of pitch, the distance from one seat to another, commonly referred to as legroom.
U.S. Carriers with the Least Legroom
Spirit: The most miserly of the major American airlines, Spirit packs passengers into planes that average just 28 inches of pitch. Worst of all, Spirit’s seats are locked into position and don’t allow passengers to recline.
Frontier: Like Spirit, Frontier crams its cabins full of seats just 28 inches apart, but at least you can recline. Or more likely, you’ll have to recline if the seat just 28 inches from you invades your tight quarters by reclining first.
Allegiant: Pushing back out of the 20’s thankfully, Allegiant’s seats are 30 inches apart.
The remaining major U.S. carriers – American, Delta, United, Alaskan and Hawaiian – all have 31 inches between rows. Though most flights operated by these airlines now include several rows of economy plus seating, where you can pay extra for a few more inches of legroom.
International Carriers with the Most Legroom
Aeromexico: The roomiest coach cabin in all the world, Aeromexico gives passengers a positively plush 34 inches of pitch.
South African Airways: Another surprisingly generous airline, SAA barely trails Aeromexico with 33.5 inches between rows.
Asiana, Air India, Air Tahiti Nui: Tied for third, these three allow passengers to spread out across 33 inches – the same amount of space JetBlue offers.
International Carriers with the Least Legroom
AirBerlin, Austrian Airlines, Aeroflot: The 30 inches of space afforded to passengers aboard flights from these three honestly doesn’t sound so bad after learning about Spirit and Frontier’s 28 inch seats though, does it?
American Airlines announced Tuesday that it will start doling out frequent-flier miles based on the fare customers pay and not on the distance they fly. American’s move closely mimics changes already made by Delta and United, the USA’s two other big traditional carriers.
“American Airlines has spent the last two years being singularly focused on integration. Now we’re at a point where we can begin to look ahead and lay the foundation for the future of the AAdvantage program to ensure we’re rewarding our most loyal customers with the benefits they value the most,” Suzanne Rubin, president of American’s AAdvantage frequent-flier program, says in a statement.
Starting sometime in “the second half of 2016,” non-elite American customers will earn 5 miles per every dollar spent on the base fare and “carrier-imposed fees.” Elite customers will earn more, with Gold members earning 7 miles per dollar, Platinum 8 miles per dollar and Executive Platinum 11 miles per dollar. The earning levels closely mirror how Delta and United award miles.
Making sense of Delta’s frequent flier changes
United: Fliers earn miles based on fare, not distance
American detailed several other changes, including changes to the miles needed for many frequent-flier awards. Unlike “redeemable” miles that can be cashed in for free flights, miles that count toward earning elite status on American will still be tied to distance flown. But the carrier is tweaking that too, making it easier for customers buying expensive fares to rack up those miles even faster. American customers earn elite status by accumulating at least 25,000 miles in a calendar year.
But it’s the change in how American awards “redeemable” frequent-flier miles that appears to cement a fundamental shift in the nature of loyalty programs at U.S. airlines. Launched in the 1980s – first by American and quickly matched by most others – airline frequent-flier programs have since become commonplace among American consumers.
For decades, the programs run by the big traditional “legacy” carriers handed out miles based on the distance their customers flew. But that began to change last winter.
Delta became the first of the big carriers to tie mileage-earning to fares rather than distance. United followed Delta’s lead about three months later, making nearly identical changes to its loyalty program.
Low-cost carriers — including Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin America — already employ a “revenue-based” system of earning frequent-flier points. Still, it’s been the change at Delta, United and now American that’s being viewed as a fundamental shift among the three big network carriers that control much of the U.S. market.
American stood pat with its traditional set-up for more than a year after its rivals changed. Still, it was widely expected that the airline would eventually follow suit once it had finished the heavy lifting in its merger with US Airways. US Airways made its last-ever flight last month, among the last moves in a merger that has left American as the world’s largest airline.
“I definitely think it’s because of the merger. And they’ve basically said as much,” says Brian Kelly, who tracks airline frequent-flier programs via his The Points Guy website. “To their credit, they’ve handled the merger beautifully.”
American’s switch to fare-based earning will begin sometime in the second half of 2016, though Rubin said in a call with reporters that the exact date has not been determined.
Despite that uncertainty, Rubin said American wanted to detail some of its planned frequent-flier program changes now because the carrier is “eager to be transparent” and to give customers advance notice.
Once the changes to earning miles begin in 2016, Alaska Airlines, Spirit and Frontier will be the last big U.S. carriers left to still tie redeemable frequent-flier miles to distance flown.
But while American has followed Delta and United in tying frequent-flier miles to fares, it did not match one other big change made by its rivals since 2014.
Delta and United now require customers to hit minimum spending thresholds to attain elite status. Previously, fliers on those carriers could earn elite status simply by flying a minimum of 25,000 “elite” miles in a calendar year. Now, both those carriers require customers also to spend a minimum of $3,000 in airfare — or spend $25,000 in an airline-branded credit card — to attain the lowest level of elite status.
American did not add such a requirement in its latest program change.
When asked if the carrier might add such a requirement down the road, Rubin said only that American would “continue to study that element of the program.”
Kelly said he thinks American may not be quick to add it.
“Now would’ve been the time to do it,” he says. “This will be a differentiator for them.”
Overall, however, “most of the changes are not good,’ Kelly adds about the changes announced by American on Tuesday. He says appears to have shifted more awards into higher-mileage categories. With the proliferation of airline credit cards, “billions and billions of miles have been pumped into the system. There’s going to be inflation” in the cost of frequent-flier award tickets, Kelly says.
But he’s quick to add that “there are a couple of bright spots” to the changes.
“I really like the changes for EQMs (elite-qualifying miles), Kelly says, saying American now offers “richer” elite qualifying options than both Delta and United. Beyond that, the changes are likely to help corporate travelers but work against bargain-seeking leisure customers.
“For passengers buying expensive tickets, they’ll likely get more miles under the new system,” he says. “Most leisure fliers will earn less.”
Other highlights from Tuesday’s announcement:
New low-mileage award for short flights: American create a new award category for flights under 500 miles. It’s “MileSAAver” award for those flights will now by just 7,500 miles each way, down from the current 12,500. The new awards will become available in March. Examples of sub-500-mile flights include Washington Reagan-Boston; New York JFK-Cleveland; Philadelphia-Montreal; Charlotte-Orlando; Chicago O’Hare-Memphis; Dallas/Fort Worth-Kansas City; Miami-Savannah, Ga.; Phoenix-San Diego; and Los Angeles-San Francisco.
Changes in earning elite status: In changes beginning Jan. 1, American is phasing out its system of “points” that count toward elite status but will enhance how members earn “elite qualifying” miles. Customers who buy “full fare” first and business class tickets will earn 3 “qualifying miles” per mile flown while discount first and business-class tickets earn 2. Full-fare coach tickets earn 1.5 miles while discounted tickets earn 1 mile.
So, for example, a customer buying a full-fare first class ticket on a 1,500-mile one-way route will earn 4,500 miles that count toward elite status. The same flight in discounted economy would earn 1,500 qualifying miles.
The points system is being discontinued, but customers will still be able to qualify by “segments” — which are equivalent to a single flight. A round-trip flight with a connection in each direction woudl be the equivalent of 4 segments. Fliers earn status be flying 30 (Gold), 60 (Platinum) or 120 (Executive Platinum) in a calendar year.
Mileage award levels changing: American will roll out a new award chart, increasing the miles needed for routes between some regions while reducing them on a handful of others. The changes will take effect in March.
Premium tickets on trans-Atlantic routes and cross-country routes are among those seeing increases. First-class tickets on American’s three-cabin cross country flights will now go for a minimum of 50,000 miles each way, up from the current minimum of 32,500.
Rubin says the routes are being “adjusted to match increased customer demand, including routes that feature our world-class A321T and 777-300ER aircraft.” American has rolled out cabin upgrades to those aircraft, including first and business class cabins that feature lie-flat seats.
At the other end of the spectrum, tickets to Mexico and the Caribbean will now be available for as little as 30,000 miles round trip in coach – a decrease of 5,000 miles round trip (or 2,500 miles each way).
Upgrades: Beginning Jan. 1, members who qualify for Executive Platinum status for 2017 and beyond will receive four “systemwide upgrades,” down from the previous eight. However, they’ll be able to two more (up to a total of four additional) for every 50,000 elite miles they earn beyond the 100,000 it takes to earn Executive Platinum status.
Upgrades (2): American’s Gold and Platinum elite members will now earn four 500-mile upgrade certificates for every 12,500 elite miles earned, up from the current 10,000. American says it increased the earning requirement to coincide with its increased elite-mile multipliers for high-fare tickets.
Paris’ major tourist attractions remain closed today as the country entered the third day of mourning following the deadly attacks on Paris carried out on Friday evening.
French President Francois Hollande declared three days of national mourning on Saturday.
The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower remain closed until further notice but French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin said museums would reopen following a one-minute silence today at 11am.
Disneyland Paris will remain closed until and including Tuesday November 17 in light of the attacks.
“We mourn those lost to the horrific attacks in Paris. We pray for the injured and we hold them all in our hearts,” said Tom Wolber, president of Euro Disney.
The rock band U2 postponed its concert planned for Saturday night. The group said they would reschedule it to take place ‘at an appropriate time’.
Motorhead, scheduled to perform on Sunday and the Foo Fighters, due to perform on Monday, have also called off their concerts. Coldplay called off a live stream of a concert ‘out of respect for the terrible events in Paris’.
The Paris Tourist Office said almost all tourist sites and activities were closed: museums, department stores, parks and gardens over the weekend.
It added: “Public transport is operating as usual. At airports and at Gare du Nord (train station for Eurostar arrivals and departures), please anticipate longer procedures due to police controls.”
It is the bane of travelers getting on a plane for both business and pleasure—difficulty falling asleep in a seat, especially in coach, and the attendant horrors of jet lag after landing. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can decrease brain performance by 20 percent, so it’s crucial to anyone crossing time zones to rest as much as possible during the flight. Washington, D.C.–based clinical sleep educator and RN Terry Cralleshared her tips for powering down (and getting at least a power nap) on a flight.
Plan ahead. “Planning ahead, though it sounds simple, can be much harder in practice. However, it can make a huge difference in your ability to sleep well before a flight and on it,” says Cralle. If you take the time to do things like pack, plan your transportation to the airport, and organize the things that need to happen at home while you’re away in the days leading up to a flight—not the night before—you will not be nearly as stressed-out, and sleep will come more easily.
Meditate. “Recently, guided-meditation audio apps have been gaining a lot of popularity, and rightly so,” says Cralle. “It has been shown that these gentle talks help the brain to relax quickly, especially so when the listener is prompted to imagine they are using all of their senses. Say, if you are guided to a beach-side scene where you imagine hearing the waves, watching the sky, and smelling flowers and the salt air, it really helps you to disengage and fall asleep.”
Pack lavender oil. “I’m a big fan of lavender oil, it’s so calming, and is a great, simple thing to bring along on a trip,” says Cralle. “A small study was recently done that shows that people who inhaled 100 percent lavender oil before and during sleep had decreased blood pressure and deeper sleep patterns than those who didn’t.” Put a few drops onto your travel pillow, apply it to your temples and wrists once you’ve settled into your seat, and prepare to dream.
Ignore in-flight entertainment. No matter how much you want to see the latest blockbuster, Cralle says, “Skip the movies and TV—the end result of staring at a screen during much your flight means that light is hitting your retinas, and telling your brain and body that it’s daytime, and sleep will be much tougher to achieve.”
Make to-do lists. To train your brain not to race and worry when it’s time for rest, Cralle recommends a simple daily practice. “Write down your to-do list well before bed. You want to get any obligations and important tasks out of your mind and onto paper during the day so that the mind is clear at bedtime.”
Bring something comforting. To get great shut-eye on a plane, Cralle says, “You want the environment to be as comfortable and predictable as possible. If you have a travel pillow you love, always pack it when traveling. Its scent and familiarity will give your brain and body a behavioral cue that it’s time to relax and let go.” The same effect can be achieved by a cozy scarf or sweater.
Cover your eyes. “Wear a good-quality eye mask on your flight,” says Cralle. “There are many different models, so even if you think you hate them, if you shop around you’ll likely find one that’s comfortable for you. That little bit of light from a fellow passenger’s iPad two rows up can ruin your ability to fall asleep. The blue light from modern devices is very alerting to the brain, and absolute darkness prompts your body to produce melatonin.”
Step away from the Scotch. While a relaxing adult beverage may be tempting, Cralle advises, “Avoid alcohol. Having a drink in an airport lounge or on the plane is a reflex for many people, especially those who have anxiety around flying. However, it really messes with the quality of your sleep, so, close to bedtime, be conscious about drinking booze and caffeine, of course. Hydrate as much as possible.”
Decrease the decibels. “Though you’ve likely heard this before, earplugs are very important to have for your flight and your hotel stay while you’re traveling,” Cralle explains. “Make sure to pack them in your carry-on, and, again, try different brands and designs until you find the ones that feel good to you.” There is so much ambient noise on a jet—which is something airlines are working on muffling now—that you truly need to block out that sound, as well as screaming babies and unnecessary alerts from the cockpit.
Incorporate cardio. “The relationship between exercise and sleep is very exciting—we are finding that the connection between the two is bi-directional; i.e., if you get enough of one, the other comes much more easily to you,” says Cralle. “The reality is that 40 percent of Americans are sleep-deficient. If you work to add an extra hour of sleep at night, you’ll be much more apt to exercise, and, when you do—especially before a flight—you will be able to doze off much more easily.”
Bank sleep. If in-flight snoozing is simply not an option, due to your utter inability to rest on a plane or because you simply must work while traveling, Cralle points out that a little bit of prep work can help you stave off jet lag. “You actually can bank sleep,” says Cralle. “Prioritize your sleep before a flight, and spend a little extra time sleeping or napping in the week before you depart. Lack of sleep really effects your immune system—and the last thing you want on an important business trip or a long-awaited vacation is to get sick. Banking sleep beforehand will also mitigate the bad effects of jet lag.”