From the moment you check in, to boarding the flight, to arrival, its nice to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Flying is nothing fun or interesting, it's just a way to get from point A to point B. I have flown to many places around the world and have experienced the best and the worst. The first point people must realize, airlines are customer service orientated, there to service the customer yet often this isn't the case. For example once I was on a BA flight from Heathrow to LA. I kindly asked the flight attendant when the next meal would be served yet in reply I was asked why I hadn't eaten before boarding the flight. The reason for this, I was flying on economy class and I looked like a tourist. To make the flight pleasant, everyone wants an upgrade yet very few receive it. I have been upgraded from an economy seat to a first class business seat costing worth at least 4 times the value. Airlines never upgrade groups or couples, only people on their own. Secondly, you must look professional and you must look rich. No trainers and no rucksacks. They're not upgrading people for free just to be nice, they're upgrading them as an incentive to buy a business class seat the next time they travel. If you don't look like an executive you won't be upgraded. My third piece of advice, for whatever country you are flying to and from make sure you speak their local language at the check in. For example if you're at HK airport and you check in with a British passport you have to speak to them in Chinese. You must speak the language with confidence; acquiring basic language skills to do a simple check-in shouldn't be difficult. Also carry a newspaper in the local language. They will either assume that you are a diplomat or an entrepreneur. I have followed these steps and have had fairly good success rate in being upgraded.
Continental Airlines from Scotland gives me a speedy way of crossing the Atlantic. However the following have to be noted :- I do not mind the fact that : 1. There are no personal videos. 2. The cabin staff do not supply water during flight. 3 Lunch was served at 10am UK time ( 5am USA time) having left Edinburgh at 9am. 3 That alcohol has to be paid for. 4. No inflight snacks available. But I do object to Continental Airlines allowing hand baggage to be placed under the seats in the emergency exit seats. I have travelled on most major airlines, and this is the only airline I have ever know to allow this. I have tried on several occasions to speak to staff on board about this but to no avail. This is a safety issue for emergency exits for all airlines which has to be addressed Please listen to me Continental Airlines.
I have never found an airline carrier I am entirely happy with as a wheelchair user and trust to carry my wheelchair. Also, as my legs do not bend very much this can sometimes be a problem when flying. Things I have learnt from my experience: ALWAYS pre-book any additional assistance you need, making it clear what assistance you need at what stage. If you require special seating or to be seated with your companion, state this at the time of booking. Be prepared to put your equipment back together or travel with someone who can do this. The American companies seem best, as their disability laws are the most stringent in the world.
Singapore Airlines is the best airline I have personally encountered. Their service is still way beyond any other airline, in my opinion. I have travelled with SIA a 5 times in the last few months, just me and a little baby. I expected a bit of help from the staff, but I didnt' expect them to really go all the way to help me out. Firstly the ground staff helped me with my bags, wrote out the luggage tags for me and got me a good seat. Then in the air, the air stewardesses helped me with just a bout everything. Even on disembarking, they helped carry my baby while i got my stuff settled, opened out my pram for me and helped me get my luggage off the carousel.
As far as price is concerned, airline passengers in Europe have never had it so good. Every few months seems to bring a new no-frills operator offering flights to the continent for less than it would cost you to take the train between two English counties. Since Ryanair re-launched itself in 1991, copying a business model started by Southwest in the U.S.A. twenty years earlier, no-frills airlines have mushroomed in Europe, and have now spread to Australia, South America and Malaysia. Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) really cashed in with the deregulation of the air business in the EU six years ago. They now carry 15,000,000 passengers every year between 85 destinations and have plans to add another 50 routes. They fly to some interesting destinations - Sicily, Sardinia and Oslo for example - but they are arguably the worst offenders when it comes to the distance of the airport from the city you've booked to go to. What's advertised as Barcelona, for example, is actually Girona, Brussels is really Charleroi, Paris Beauvais and Frankfurt Hahn. This is usually reflected in the price however. They tend to have better punctuality figures than easyjet - my last two flights with them landed fifteen minutes ahead of schedule - but they also seem to have attracted the most negative publicity over the years, not least when they took over buzz earlier this year. Their main rivals are easyjet (www.easyjet.com), founded in 1995. I don't think there's that much to choose between the two, although easyjet seem to have a few more frills than ryanair. For instance, ryanair's check-in staff at Newcastle Airport are sub-contracted from Servisair while easyjet have their own uniformed personnel. Also, easyjet have an entertaining in-flight magazine while ryanair's just lists the tax free products that are available to buy. Easyjet's takeover of Go has bequeathed them some interesting routes such as Prague and Naples; in all they operate 105 routes between 38 airports. Prices are sometimes a little higher than ryanair but when you book a flight to Barcelona or Paris you land at the same airport as British Airways. Both airlines are currently eyeing up destinations like Warsaw, Tallinn, Krakow and Riga, which will be inside the EU from next year. OTHER OPERATORS Now (www.now-airlines.com) Now aims to revolutionize the no-frills business by offering every seat on each flight at exactly the same price. This will raise the cheapest fares but lower the most expensive ones, giving easyjet and ryanair something to think about. Flights start from October from Luton, though they do seem to be having a lot of teething troubles at the minute. Destinations are grouped in six zones, with flights in each zone costing exactly the same fare. The destinations are Manchester (Zone A; £35), Jersey (Zone B; £40), Dusseldorf and Hamburg (Zone C; £45), Ibiza, Rome and Valencia (Zone D; £55), Lisbon (Zone E; £65) and Tenerife (Zone F; £75). British European (www.flybe.com) Allow you to change tickets up to two hours before departure (minimum charge of £25) and fly from a number of UK airports including Bristol, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Belfast, Heathrow, Exeter, Leeds-Bradford, Birmingham and Luton. Destinations include Paris, Bergerac, Milan, Alicante and the Channel Islands. Jet2 (wwwjet2.com) They only fly out of Leeds-Bradford at the moment with destinations including Faro, Malaga, Alicante, Geneva, Nice, Prague, Amsterdam and Barcelona. Virgin Express (www.virgin-express.com) Took over the hub airport of Brussels when Sabena collapsed. Unlike other no-frills airlines they allow you to book a single journey between two European airports with a connection in Brussels (usually no-frills operators offer what they call a point-to-point service. You can't book an onward journey as part of the same transaction, and if you miss a connection be cause your first plane was late they refuse all liability). Flying out of London City, onward destinations from Brussels include Lisbon, Athens, Stockholm, Madrid and Copenhagen. bmibaby (www.bmibaby.com) The no-frills arm of British Midland flies from Teesside, Manchester, East Midlands, Cardiff, Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh to Prague, Amsterdam, Brussels, Pisa, Nice, Ibiza, Salzburg and Geneva. Volare (http://w3.volareweb.com/index.html) An Italian operator flying from Gatwick to Venice and Rimini. Prices start at 10 euros. Sky Europe (www.skyeurope.com) A Slovakian no-frills airline with flights from Stansted to Bratislava and Paris. Prices start at 25 euros. Air Berlin (www.airberlin.de) The best known of the German no-frills airlines. They fly from Stansted to Vienna and several destinations in Germany including Hamburg, Nuremburg, Berlin-Tagel, Dortmund and Hanover. Air Scotland (www.air-scotland.com) The new kids on the block currently fly from Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Newcastle to mainland Spain and the Canaries. They have big expansion plans. MyTravelLite (www.mytravellite.com) From Birmingham to Geneva, Rimini, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Paris. These are just a few of the no-frills airlines operating in the EU at the moment. www.attitudetravel.com/lowcostairlines has details of them all. Also worth looking at are www.whichbudget.com, www.skyscanner.net, www.airlinequality.com/Airlines/low_cost.html and the travel section of www.guardian.co.uk. HOW TO GET THE BEST FARES Book as far in advance as you possibly can. Around 10% of seats are sold at the lowest quoted fare. Prices begin to rise as soon as they are sold. If you book at the last minute you could find yourself sitting next to someone who's paid less than a tenth of your fare. When you see a fare that you like book it immediate ly. The longer you wait, the more expensive it's going to be. Sign up for the email announcements offered by each airline. They will let you know about the latest offers before they are available online. Be flexible. Try to avoid mid-morning and late-afternoon flights if you can, as these are usually the most popular. The cheapest time to fly is midweek. Book over the internet rather than by phone. Easyjet offer a £5 discount on each one-way flight for on-line bookings. Use a debit card like switch to pay for your flights as the charges are a couple of pounds less than for credit cards. HOW NO-FRILLS WORKS Most no-frills airlines are completely ticketless. If you book on-line, you'll be given a reference number. You quote this at check-in and are given your boarding card, which is sometimes handwritten. Even the offices are paperless. Easyjet's operations are 100% IT based and the vast majority of bookings are taken on-line. No-frills airlines negotiate much cheaper landing charges based on their quick turnaround times. A flight from Barcelona to Bristol will take off again for Prague half an hour later. Time is of the essence: the plane is tidied by the flight attendants before you land with rubbish deposited in black bin liners, in-flight magazines are handed out and collected in mid air and there is usually no seat allocation - the first sixty people to check in get to board the plane first, then it's a scramble for the remaining seats. There are no expensive air walk connections between the boarding gate and the aeroplane so you'll have to walk across the tarmac or get a bus out to a far corner of the runway. With a few exceptions, most of the airports served by no-frills operators are secondary ones which are smaller, cheaper and further away from the actual destinations than the main airports. On-board catering is expensive. People are free to bring their own food and drink but most people seem happy enough to pay £3 for a sandwich once they're on the plane. Not me though! The airlines also make a lot of money from tie-ins with coach and bus operators, travel insurance, hire cars, hotels and just about everything else you can imagine. Lots of no-frills airlines are cashing in on the post 9/11 recession by ordering new aeroplanes at greatly discounted prices. Ryanair have started selling advertising space on the exterior of their planes. Don't expect compensation for delays, lost luggage or cancellations. You might get something but it'll usually be a lot less than you would get with bigger airlines like KLM and British Airways. THINGS TO CONSIDER No-frills airlines are often misleadingly called low-cost airlines. This doesn't mean that the prices are always going to be lower than the big airlines. Unless you're booking a long time in advance you might find that British Airways' fares are just as cheap. Before you book your flights do a background check on the airport you'll be flying into. Your ticket might only cost £20 but you'll be paying a lot more in time and money if you're landing two hours from where you want to be. Most airlines allow you to change your date of travel but you'll usually have to pay around £30 for this plus the difference between the fare you booked and the lowest price that is currently available. You probably won't get any refund on a cancellation unless there are very special circumstances. Look carefully at all the terms and conditions before you book. Don't assume that you'll be covered if your flight is cancelled. Remember that those £1 fares exclude taxes, fees and charges. If a route isn't making money it'll be axed very quickly. There are stories of people buying holiday villas only to find that flights to the local airport are scrapped shortly afte rwards.
I’ve taken a fair number of flights. It’s a round number, too: 50. An average of 6 per year, and rising – last year I stepped on and off 10 planes. This year I’m only on 2 so far, but I’ve another 9 booked between now and September. I’m used to flying, I like flying, and I know how to fly, something which, if my experience is anything to go by, not everyone does. Hence the op. Busses leave from bus stations. Trains from train stations. And planes? From airports. The location of your airport is important, and it’s not as easy as it seems. Since Budget airlines took off, both literally and figuratively, there have been a few more planes in the sky, and they all need places to land. Add this to the fact that obscure airports are often cheaper for the airlines, and you find yourself getting off a plane a stupid number of miles from where the name suggests. Frankfurt airport? About 20 mins from Frankfurt. But Frankfurt Hahn? About 2 hours and 30 mins, the price you pay for choosing Ryanair over Lufthansa or BA. This isn’t always a bad thing – you might live near that obscure little airport, for example – but it’s something to watch out for. If your destination airport has a word or two after the town you’re aiming for, be on the same side and have a look on the net to find out exactly where it is you’ll be landing. In some cases it might even be in a different country. Yes, really. All airports, diddy or not, have transport links of some sort. Even Blackpool airport, little more than a shack in a field, has bus and (sort of) train links. Again, before you fly, look on the net to find out the best way to get there – if you’re flying solo, it’s often a lot cheaper to jump on a train than drive yourself and pay the long-stay parking fees. However you’re getting there, check your terminal first, either when you book your flight or later online if you forgot. Manchester Ringway has 3 terminals, and T2 is a fair walk from the others, especially with luggage. Most airports have more than one terminal these days, and some, a la Heathrow, have millions, so check beforehand. Generally speaking, airlines fly from the same terminal for all flights: fly BA at Manchester and you’re leaving from T3, fly KLM and it’s T1, no matter where you’re off to, so with regular traveling you should start to learn where you need to be. Checking in as soon as you’ve arrived is vital. It guarantees your place in a world where overbooking is rife, and increases your chance of seat preference on scheduled flights. The official times are 2 hours in advance for long haul (or charter) and 1.5 hours for Europe / Domestic, but I’m always there at least 2 hours in advance. And I always get my choice of window or aisle seat. If you’ve flown a few times and aren’t bothered about looking out at the clouds as you fly, I’d recommend the latter – they make trips to the loo and general DVT-preventing strolls much easier. When checking in you’ll be asked how many bags you’re taking. They ask this so they can print it on you luggage receipt, not because they think you have too many. Your weight allowance (normally 20kg for scheduled) goes on just that – weight, not quantity, so if you want to take 40 small bags weighing 0.5kg each, fine. You might get some funny looks, but they won’t stop you (unless you’re flying on a charter flight and they’re being fussy, as they sometimes are. A very good reason to avoid charters…). Luggage should preferably be locked with a padlock, and all buckles and buttons done up securely. If you feel the need, many airports now offer a plastic-sealing service, which will wrap your luggage securely in a see-through coating to prevent things like drugs being put into your belongings. It also protects your bags a bit, but given the roughness of many baggage handlers, this is usually of little or no use. Airport shopping is under-rated. People claim it’s expensive, the choice isn’t good and you shouldn’t bother. These people are wrong. Airport shopping rocks! But you need to be careful. I usually buy books and magazines at the airport because this way they don’t have to fit in my luggage, and with rrp’s you pay the high street prices for them. One thing to avoid though is the other stuff places like WH Smith sell. Postcards. Drinks. Sweets. These will be overpriced, and not worth buying. Interestingly, though, Boots stores at airports charge the same prices for these as they do in towns and cities throughout the country, so it is worth going to the 2 different shops to get all the things you need. Electronics at airports can be cheap, and free delivery to UK addresses is often provided. Duty Free shops only offer true duty free if you’re off outside the EC, but many are offering duty free *prices* these days. It’s like when Tesco offer VAT free CDs. They aren’t really VAT free, they just reduce the prices to the amount they would be if they were. Tobacco, alcohol and perfume can all be found reasonably cheaply in airports. The expensive area of airside (and landside for that matter) is the eateries. They’re convenient in their location and opening hours (often 24 hours) but they’re let down in their quality (food’s often been sitting there for ages) and prices. Only eat at airports (in the UK – abroad’s different) if you absolutely have to. Otherwise eat before you get there, or take a sandwich. You may be assigned your gate on check in. You probably won’t if you’re flying from the UK. This means, once you’ve gone through passport control, you need to keep an eye on the big monitors, which tell you where you’re plane’s leaving from. In T1 at Manchester airport , for example, there are at least 3 main “wings” which house the gates, and you could be leaving from any one of these. When you get to the gate, sit down. That’s what the seats are for. Don’t form a queue at the door when there’s no member of staff in sight. On scheduled and charter flights with regular airlines, your seat is assigned. Look, it’s there on your boarding pass. No one can sit there but you, so you really don’t need to be the first person on the plane, do you? When I flew from Manchester to Amsterdam in August, the queue was stretching down the corridor as far as the eye could see, as those seasoned travelers among us sat there smugly on the comfy seats, exchanging knowing glances with each other. When boarding, they will usually call a few rows at a time. Listen to what they say. When the call for children and those requiring special attention, that doesn’t mean you, you able bodied middle aged couple, you. When they ask for rows 35 to 60, and you’re sitting in row 21, don’t try and barge your way onto the plane. Be patient. Budget airlines are a bit different, but not entirely. You won’t be assigned a seat, but you get a pass with a number on it. They will call for a set num of passes, say numbers 1 to 20, to board first. Then 21 to 40, 41 to 60 and so on. Let these people go, and don’t go until it’s your turn. If you couldn’t be bothered to turn up at a reasonable time (boarding numbers are allocated on a first come, first served basis when you check in), why should you get to board first? And unless you’re traveling with a group of a dozen or so, there’s a very high chance you’ll get to sit together anyway. On board you can take one piece of reasonably sized hand baggage. See those funny frames in the check in area? Those are for putting your bag in and making sure it fits. If it doesn’t, it’s too big. Please don’t be so annoying as to take mini-suitcases on board. There’s always someone (usually a middle-aged Japanese woman) and in the 10 mins it takes to accommodated the bag, the rest of the passengers have usually bonded over a mutual hate for the person involved. As well as this small (or large) bag, onto most scheduled flights you can take, and I quote “a coat or cape, a stick (for beating the air hostesses with if they don’t offer you the complementary peanuts?), a handbag or briefcase and a blanket. No one ever has, to my knowledge, but you could take them all. I usually have a haversack, a vanity case (filled, cunningly, with books, my light little toiletries being in the weighed hold luggage) and whatever airport shopping I’ve done. When you’ve found your seat and stowed your luggage, sit down. Wait for everyone to board. Wait for a staff member to pass through the cabin counting heads (to ensure everyone has come on board, and no one has checked in a big bomb containing bag has now done a runner). Wait while they go through the safety demonstration, either in person or on the TV screen. You know you need to take off your high heels when using the big yellow inflatable escape slide, and you know you should put on your oxygen mask, should the need arise, before helping others. You know life jackets, stowed under your seat, should not be inflated until you have left the craft, but humour them, and just wait. Then wait until you’ve reached your cruising altitude and the fasten-seatbelt sign has been switched off. Now you may get up and wander. Not that there are many places to go, but hey, now you’re allowed. Just try not to need the loo as they start to bring round the food. Getting past those carts can take some work. Take off and landing are the only times most people have problems with flying, due to the sudden increase / decrease in altitude. Ears hurt. Boy, do they hurt. But the pain can be relieved. The usual a dvice is to chew or suck something on lift off and landing, but I find drinking works better. I always take a 2 Lt bottle of water on board with me, drinking a liter slowly but constantly each time, and this usually leaves my ears ok. In the air if your flight is more than an hour and a half, you’ll usually get a meal – on shorter flights it might just be a couple of biscuits and a drink. Airlines aren’t renowned for their gourmet cuisine, but bits are usually edible. If you’re on a specialized diet, you need to book a meal in advance, although doing this is free. Then confirm when you check in that they have your choice of vegetarian, vegan, kosher, etc. It’s now also possible to book children’s meals. Budget airlines don’t usually provide free food, but snacks are available to buy on board. Drinks on scheduled flights are free. The meals usually come with juice or water, and tea or coffee is brought round afterwards, but before any of this, a drinks trolley will usually make its way through the cabin. There are limits, but you can have more than one – asking for a mini bottle of wine and some water is perfectly acceptable. On Scheduled flights (the type you get with package holidays) drinks are not usually free. On longer flights, in-air entertainment is provided. Only the most modern planes have seat back TV screens – most have large communal ones up in the air every half dozen rows or so. Unless you are sitting right in the middle, behind short people who are slumping in your seats, you might not have a perfect view, but most people will still watch it as a way to pass time. No one knows why, but comedy programs are the usual choice for flights these days – Friends, Ab Fab, things like that. You need headphones to hear what’s going on, and these can be bought on board. They aren’t all that cheap though, and on most planes you can simply plug in a pair of your own to liste n in. It’s usually scheduled flights where you need an adapter of some sort to make this work. Reason number 2 million why scheduled suck. If you must take photos on board, so so quietly. There's no need for the whole plane to know what you're up to. If you want to tilt your seat back, check to see who is behind you, and a courteous notification of your plan never goes amiss. Don't try to pinch the air hostess's bum everytime she goes past. Don't drink too much and become rowdy. Air travel dehydrates the body due to the air in the cabin. You're advised to drink more, but they mean water - not something like coke which also dehydrates you, and not alcohol. Gameboys are fine, but play them quietly. Not everyone on board needs to hear the bleeping. And as long as you're in economy, even if you're a member of a premiership football team, you've no perogative for acting up. They know who they are, and if the rest of you don't, there's a British Airways op just crying out to be read. Once you’ve landed safely, stay in your seat until told otherwise. It’s amazing the number of people who think the words “Please remain seated with your seatbelt securely fastened until the captain has switched off the seatbelt sign” are airline code for “ping open your seatbelt now, get up, and start getting down your luggage form the overhead lockers”. It has a domino affect – one person does it, then their neighbour does, and soon the whole plane is doing so. Does sticking to the rules hurt that much? While we're on the subject, there's no need to clap wildly when the plane lands either. So please don't. It screams "never been on a plane before".... Don't fret if the captain announces they're putting on the autopilot for landing. Sure, it probably means he couldn't land the plane himself in the given conditions, but it's not unsafe. The smoothe st landing I've ever had (in that I didn't even realise we'd touched down until 5 mins later) was done on autopilot during a snowy week here. Much more convenient that being flown back to Rome, or diverted to a nearby airport in a non-snowing country. When you disembark, head for the terminal building. If you need the loo, go on the way to passport control. The ones in the baggage claim area will be packed. Have your passport ready as you begin to queue up. Show it to the nice man. Smile to show you’re not a terrorist (terrorists very rarely smile cheekily, you know). Go through to hall and look at the screen to see on which convey belt your luggage will appear. Get a trolley if you need one, but don’t ram it against the belt sideways. That takes up far too much room, and will annoy your fellow passengers. Parents, don’t let your kids sit on the belt or play near it. Read the signs, or pretend to read them if you’re somewhere you don’t speak the language. I guarantee they’ll be a notice forbidding it. If you’re transferring, your luggage might well have been checked though to your final destination. Ask the person on the desk if you’re unsure. If this is the case, follow the transfer signs. You’ll be directed to your new gate, and it will all start again. If in doubt, ask. Much as it pains me to admit it, people will speak English. They always do. If your luggage has not been checked though – perhaps because you booked your flights separately and with 2 different airlines, you need to collect it, do through to arrivals and then follow the signs to departures at the relevant terminal. Not hard. Get your luggage, check it’s yours, and head towards the multicoloured exits. Green means nothing to declare. Red means something so obvious to declare you can’t even think about trying to go through green. Blue, if there is one, is like green, but for EU members. You ’re now in the arrivals hall, ready to start your holiday, or make your way home. See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
From behind the cockpit door…Part One As a Captain for the world’s largest airline I’d like to thank those who have made previous ops regarding air safety. Anything that puts the good people behind me a little more at ease is of benefit to us all. I’m going to touch on a few points (the ones I hear about the most) and shed some light upon the concerns our passengers have. We’ll start with the highlights and make additional ops depending upon your response. YOUR SECURITY – 9/11 hit us all very hard. I lost friends and colleagues that day. As pilots, the sanctity of our cockpits was taken from us and our airplanes were used to commit unspeakable atrocities. So where do we go from here? My best answer is “forward”. The airlines have committed enormous sums of money to strengthen security. The aggravation of security checkpoints is an unfortunate but necessary byproduct. I do believe this process will become more efficient and streamlined over time. Our training has become far more detailed and intensive, as have our resources in averting problems long before they happen. That training extends to both sides of the cockpit door. Although I can’t go into specific detail for obvious reasons I can make a few “unclassified” points. Our cockpit doors already have security bars and will soon be replaced by reinforced structures. There are air marshals on many of our flights to assist if the passengers don’t pummel the scumbag(s) first. Specific passenger pre-screening is far more intensive and the likelihood of someone falling through the cracks let alone being able to cause any real damage is far more remote. Training is better, resources are better, and security has vastly improved. Terrorists gravitate toward weak or defenseless targets. The airlines have vastly fortified their defenses. YOUR SAFETY – Maintenance – What’ s going on with your airplane? The preventative and normal maintenance checks our aircraft undergo are truly intensive. Different levels of checks are performed on a daily basis from pilots‘ originating preflight inspections, to the maintenance originating and general safety checks, to intensive heavy “C” checks. The aircraft evens sends data while it is airborne to alert maintenance to engine trends and performance data. Problems can be headed off long before they ever occur. A maintenance delay…these are never fun. An airplane typically has more than a million parts. Luckily they are not all critical. The beauty of an airliner is it’s redundancy. Take for instance the Boeing 767 (where I make my living). It has two normal electrical generators – one on each engine. Then there’s an APU or auxiliary power unit which has a generator capable of powering all electrical systems. Then there’s a hydraulic driven generator to back up essential systems in case the other three all were to fail. Then there is standby battery power to back that up. Most essential systems have multiple backups, most of which are seldom or never used. Here’s the gig, though. On an overseas flight typically all these systems must be working – and are preflight checked – even if we won’t be needing them. It maintains our large margin of safety. We carry what are called minimum equipment lists. They describe the essential or “deferrable” items and the “non-deferrable” items. Here’s an example of the difference. You’ll notice aircraft wings have “navigation lights” on the wingtips. Each light casing contains two bulbs. If one light is burned out the other still provides plenty of illumination. That’s deferrable and there’s no reason to take a delay. It will be fixed after the airplane arrives at it’s next destina tion. Now lets imagine an altimeter goes out of tolerance or inoperative. Although there are three of them they are considered essential and “non-deferrable”. We regret the delay but it has to be repaired. Here’s the good news. Most major airline carriers have major maintenance capability at their hubs and general maintenance capability at their out-stations. That means in all likelihood the inoperative part is “in stock” at the maintenance area and it is simply a matter of repairing the discrepancy, testing it to insure the problem is resolved, and completing documentation. The documentation is actually quite important because it can also indicate trends on the aircraft components. It’s all to insure you the safest possible flight. ***Part 2 can now found under Airlines in General. This category would not allow two ops and I wanted to keep this one posted.***
Cool op by zOOm on this - but there are one or two more things you can do to make your flight easier. Ask your travel agent if you can do seat reservation when you book your ticket. Certainly get to the airport early, ( I always do) but also - no matter HOW appalling your trip to the airport/paking hassles/headache/travel agent have been be nice to the staff. Be polite and friendly at the check in, smile, say hello, (you know, manners) ask if there's any problems at the airport today. If they like you - they DO know and may even tell you. Say thank you. Don't get on their case or argue with them if your luggage is overweight. It's like being rude to waiters in a restaurant - you can't win. Idiots dont get bumped up - they tend to be the first to be bumped off. Dress neatly - casual but comfortable, If you have a really comfortable suit you dont mind wearing for up to 24 hours, wear it. It sounds old fashioned, but it works. Pack as light as you can - get out all the clothes you will need, and halve it. Take out one or two more items, and you're about ready. No matter where you're going, clothes will be cheaper there than in your average British High St, so if you have left anything behind, buy it there. Don't arrive drunk. Don't get drunk at the airport before the plane leaves. You can (and and often will) be refused onto the flight. Rightly so. Don't get drunk on the plane. If you're REALLY sensible ( and who is really?) dont drink at all on the plane. Airline travel is cheaper now than it has ever been. ( My first one-way ticket to Australia in 1977 cost me £392 - now the fare is £365 one way). More people are flying than ever before. That is why planes get delayed so much. I dont know if it's luck or management, but I havent had many delays in my 27 years flying. The only time I have it was a charter flight. No-one will tell you, but scheduled flights tend t o be sent off on time, at the expense of charter flights. (This is an observation, I have no empirical evidence to back this up). Enjoy your flight. Don't complain how long it's taking - you know how long it's going to be before you get on board. If your flight is pleasant, your holiday (or succesful business trip) will have already started at the airport.
Having flown quite a lot in the past I kind of find myself thinking, I can write something about that, I must have some knowledge to pass on to others. As you might have read in an earlier op, I am not the biggest fan of flying (well taking off and landing to be more precise) but I look upon flying only as a means of getting somewhere quickly. So these are my top tips for flying in comfort. 1. Don\t always buy the cheapest tickets. You always get what you pay for and paying peanuts for a long haul flight is not a wise idea. Unless you know the airline you are pertaining to buy cheap tickets from, then think before you buy. Why are they so cheap? What kind of seat am I going to get? And is there a stop over, where is it and how long is it for? These are all questions you should ask before you commit your hard-earned cash for a cheap seat. Its all right paying next to nothing for a seat on the plane but if that seat is going to cripple you for the entire time your sat in it then not much point. Remember that not all airlines cater for the European chunky butt! So one of the other reasons the ticket might be cheap is there is a stop over. An example of this, last time I flew to Japan we go a price on Turkish Airlines, who where nearly 100 pounds cheaper than anyone else. However there was a 2-day stop over in Istanbul on the way there and on the way back. So not exactly a bargain if you loose 4 days of your holiday. 2. When you have your flight details check them with a fine tooth comb, nothing spoils a holiday as much as finding out you and your wife are going on the same flight but your booked on separate flights on the way home, Don't scoff I have had it happen. I was due to return to Manchester and my wife's tickets where return to London! 3. When leaving for the airport do it with plenty of time to spare. If you're early then you can be first in line, but if you're late then you might miss your flight and at best get the worst seats. There is an ulterior motive to arriving early and that's first come first serve. I have arrived for an adjoining flight with 6 hours wait in between flights and having gone straight to the Ticket Clerk and managed to get an upgrade to business class as I was one of the first to check in. So sometimes it pays to be early. Another reason for arriving early is shopping but that's the subject of another OP :) 4. If you're a nervous passenger, Like me, then preparation is everything. Maybe nothing to eat for the day before is a good idea. Or maybe a smoking a full packet of ciggies before you get on the plane is another. Seriously though, if you are nervous then you have to find what is best for you to calm you down. Getting drunk is not a good idea and neither is taking certain drugs as they can have the adverse effects. Having to much to drink is one of the most stupid things to do on a long haul flight although it may help you sleep it will dehydrate you and also lower your bloody pressure. If this happens it can make you more susceptible to things like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). This is when you get a blood clot inside your body, coupled with the constant sitting can be fatal. You must have heard of horror stories of people getting off a plane a dropping dead within minutes. This is what happens with DVT. It's a killer. Some of the Japanese airlines are taking this so seriously, there is a big thing about DVT in Japan at the moment, that the airlines are supplying instructions on how to prevent DVT with your airline tickets. They are even informing men and women to wear tight fitting surgical stocking on your legs for the duration of the flight to keep the blood from collecting in the legs. I am not saying alcohol causes DVT bit it can attribute to it because of dehydration. Which is another reason not to drink alcohol on a long haul flight! 5. Drink load s of fluids (not alcohol). Its important to drink loads whilst on a long flight as its very easy to get dehydrated as first and foremost the strain on the body during a long flight is quite high plus the air in the cabin is quite dry as its constantly recycled. 6. Get up and walk around as often as possible. If you can that is! If you penned in by other people then you should get up and walk around for an extended period. The stewardesses might give you grief if their serving food but a complaint about stiff legs will usually stop them. Its important to stretch occasionally as it can help circulation (DVT again) but it also stops you getting stiff (Stop it!) I mean stops your muscles aching!! Plus it will help you relax if you can get up and walk around for 5-10 minutes. 7. Take something to keep your mind occupied. If your like me and cant sleep on the plane then you need to take something to keep your brain occupied. This ideally should be something that is small and can be stored in the pocket in front of you. Something like as paperback book or a Gameboy, (this is not always a good choice as you cant always use it in certain light conditions). A book is usually a good idea, but choose something that is interesting to you and wont distress you, Its no good taking the 101 worst plane disasters with you as this is not exactly ideal reading material. Taking a Walkman with you can sometimes be a bad idea as well, especially if your flight is a night flight. Your fellow passengers will not appreciate the noise from your Walkman if they are trying to sleep. Also some airlines will now not allow you to use them as they claim they disturb fellow passengers. Another thing that is a bad idea to take if you have one is a laptop. Imagine how distressed you would be if the batteries on a fellow passengers laptop where running out and the laptop started beeping loudly. 8. Wear loose clothing, and wear something that suits the flight (If you don't know if it's a night or day flight then ask) by this I mean if the majority of the flight going to be in the dark or light? If its going to be night then wear something warm and vice versa. Also on the subject of clothing wear natural fabrics as man made materials might make you sweat in places you really don't want to. They will also make you feel and smell bad as they don't allow your skin to breathe properly. 9. If you need something ask! Don't wait for the stewardess to come to you either press the button or get up and go and ask. You'll usually find the stewardess more receptive if you go to them. If anything it's a chance to get up for a walk about and you might even get to have a decent chat with the stewardesses. 10. Don't be an idiot. I say this as a friend of mine was on a flight back from the US and there was a man and his wife on the plane fighting. Unfortunately this was about 30 minutes after they had taken off and the pilot just diverted the plane to the nearest airport where they where ejected from the plane then arrested. It added extra time to my friends journey and the couple got the chance to stay in the US for a few extra days courtesy of the US police. This is especially not a good idea in the current climate, as any such behaviour will not be accepted. Well that's enough my brain hurts, my fingers are sore and I can think of anything else to say, other than have a nice flight, have a safe flight and most of all enjoy your flight. © copyright 2002, Mike Porter.
There must be many folk out there who were frightened of flying, even more so now in the light of September 11th, however having just returned from another trip to the USA I have to say to you that transatlantic flying is even safer, with increased security, and tighter controls at both the departure and arrival airport, and on top of all this to most folk the art of flying a Jumbo Jet is still a mystery, how does it get off the ground..well in this Op I will give you a basic idea of how Civil aircraft fly...( I fly frequently and am a member of the Aviation Society at based at Manchester Airport)...... ........sit back and enjoy the flight !! Flying phobia?s?roots are usually centred around the feeling of being out of control and in the hands of someone else (the Captain) usually fuels this fear, in addition not understanding what all those sounds whilst on board are or mean, so in writing this account I am attempting to dispel in very basic terms (so experienced aviators don?t have a go at me here thank you!!!) the basics and myths of flying, what goes on at the airport and how the aircraft maintains flight for the layman?.... ~~~ o0o ~~~ The Aircraft ~~~ o0o ~~~ Most of us will be flying in a twinjet (Boeing 737, 767, 777 and the Airbus series of Aircraft except the A340) or four engined jet aircraft (Boeing 747, Airbus A340 BAe 146) , additionally some of us may also be flying in an aircraft with twin propellers (Fokker F27, Fokker 50 Shorts 360 and the ATR 42 & 72 and Dash 8) the twin propeller aircraft are usually used on UK and European short haul flights such as the links between Leeds/Bradford and Amsterdam and other regional airports, and the type of engines used on these aircraft although they look ancient can be thought of as jet engines with propellers on the front?..some aircraft look small from the terminal area but when the time comes to board them inside you will find that they are quite spacious inside wit h seating configurations on most long haul flights being 3-4-3 ( three seats by the window, four in the middle and three by the opposite window) this type of configuration can be found on the Boeing 747 and the Boeing 777, in other long hauls Aircraft like the Airbus A340, A330 and the Boeing 767, Tri-Star and MD11, DC10 the usual configuration is 2-4-2? ~~~ Why is the trend now only 2 engines rather than 4 engines?? ~~~ With modern technology, engines are becoming lighter, quieter, more powerful, greener and more reliable than some of the older engines on the 4 engined aircraft, in fact the 2 engines on the Boeing 777 are more powerful than all 4 of the engines on the 747 put together, aircraft operating across the Atlantic and Pacific have to prove that they can fly for 210 minutes on a single engine in the event of the shutdown of the other engine, this is called EROPS ( extended range Operations), This amount of time is long enough for them to reach the safety of the nearest airfield if they happen to be half way across the ocean.. On films that show flying sequences, we often hear the co-pilot (first Officer) call V1 and V2 on the take off run?V1 relates to the point at which the aircraft is committed to taking off, V2 usually follows a second or two later and is the point whereby the Flying pilot will pull back the control column and the aircraft will take off, safe climb out from the runway is V2 plus 10 knots which is when the undercarriage is lifted up into the belly of the aircraft? ~~~o0o ~~~ The Airport?.and our Flight ~~~ o0o ~~~ Lets pretend we are on a flight from Manchester to Orlando in Florida?.so we check in, show our tickets and passports get our seats allocated, have our baggage taken from us, and off we through security and passport control to the airside shopping facilities to get the pre-flight bits and pieces?..our baggage has been taken off us to go through various scanner and security checks and eventually ends up in containers designated for the flight and type of aircraft for our flight which just happens to be a Boeing 747 ? 200 for today? ~~~ o0o ~~~ The Flight Preparations ~~~ o0o ~~~ Flight Operations somewhere down in the bowels of the airport have all the information relating to our flight, our proposed route ( flight plan) has been filed with Air traffic Control for their approval and we are waiting for that to come back, meanwhile the Captain and First Officer have decided for this outward flight to Florida who is going to be the Flying Pilot and who will be the non flying Pilot, because both have different roles to perform, and whoever is the non flying pilot on the outward leg will be the flying pilot on the return leg so the workload is equally shared ?both pilots will cross check ALL the paperwork and calculations, Cargo to be carried, number of passengers, aircraft details, fuel, weather conditions over the whole route, nominated diversion airports in the event of an emergency or bad weather at our destination?once a final weight figure has been calculated, the Captain can work out how much aviation fuel he needs to have uploaded on the aircraft and the first officer will have cross checked the calculations making sure that both agree, also on this particular aircraft we have a third member of the flight deck he is the engineer, who is responsible for monitoring the fuel, engines, Hydraulic Systems and various other systems on the aircraft?so all three having studied the paperwork and agreed on the final loading details, are armed with the flight plan now approved by Air Traffic Control ( ATC) are all ready to walk out to the Aircraft?.. Meanwhile we are all having coffees, buying newspapers and feeling a bit anxious abut the flight?.. The crew meet the Cabin crew discuss any operational issues, flight time, weather conditions and then the flight crew board the aircraft, whilst the cabin crew prepare the cabin to receive everyone which today will be around 370 passengers, as it is raining the engineer has drawn the short straw, to walk around the outside of the aircraft to a visual inspection , checking the flying control surfaces ( flaps ), undercarriage, radio aerials, engines, noting anything irregular so as he can report to the captain on his return to the flight deck, whilst the engineer is outside the Captain and First Officer have been programming the Flight Computers ( all three of them ) with the route, passenger loadings and generally preparing everything for the flight.. ~~~ o0o ~~~ The Flight ~~~ o0o ~~~ With all three crew members on the flight deck and the aircraft pre-flight checked passengers are all on board and the doors are just closing the Non flying pilot calls control tower for permission to push the aircraft back and start engines whilst in the push ( called Engine start and pushback) this is given and the Captain releases the brakes, a small powerful tug connected to the nose wheel of the Aircraft powers into life and the aircraft gently begins to move backwards away from the Terminal, the engineer opens the fuel valves, the Captain starts No 1 engine and as fuel begins to flow the engine spools up to life and stabilises, this happens in sequence with the other 3 engines, so by the time we have pushed back and lined up with the taxiway the Aircraft has all four engines ? ticking over? and the tug is disconnected and moved away, the ground engineer puts his thumbs up to signify all is in order and the ground equipment is all clear of the aircraft, the Captain asks the First Officer to radio for taxy clearance to the main runway, permission is given with an exact route to the threshold or holding point, the Captain powers up the engines to a taxy speed, and we begin to move, meanwhile the cabin crew give us our safety talk?in your own interests and the interests of other passengers, this is the point when y ou should SHUT UP LISTEN and pay attention, even if you are an experienced flyer others may not be ? This of you close to the wings will be able to see the leading edges of the wings move and the trailing edges also move, this is done to about 20 degrees which increases the surface area of the wings in preparation for take off ?all moving controls are checked by the Flight deck crew whilst in the taxy and by the time we arrive at the runway threshold all final checks will have been carried out and the aircraft is in a state of readiness for the take off? Permission is given to ? line up and wait? that means to move onto the main runway which today is 24R face the aircraft down the runway and wait for permission to take off?this will be in a westerly direction, the cabin crew will have been told to take their seats and the Pilots are ready for take off?. ~~~ o0o ~~~ The Take Off ~~~ o0o ~~~ Permission comes through from the Tower?..climb level 50 to Wallasey VOR, clear take off.. this is giving the captain permission to take off toward Wallasey navigation beacon and to climb to 5000 ft, the engines are spooled up to take off power by the Captain and Engineer whilst the first Officer monitors the aircraft systems, the aircraft lurches forward and everyone is gently but firmly pressed into the backs of their seats by the thrust of the jet engines, we power down the runway to about 160 ? 180 MPH the First Officer calls V1???V2 lift off, positive climb ( V2 + 10 knots) Captain calls gear up and the aircraft settles into a safe climb out of Manchester runway 24R toward Wallasey below to the right we can see the M56 motorway and soon we'll be crossing over the M6 with the River Mersey on our right?. ~~~o0o ~~~ Gaining our Cruising altitude ~~~ o0o ~~~ As we gain our climb speed passengers with a view over the wings will notice that very quickly but in stages the leading and trailing edges of the wings are with drawn into the wings, as more lift is generated with the speed of the aircraft, and the engines are powered back to a gentle hum, once airborne we don?t need as much engine power to maintain flight, further permission to climb is soon given to altitude 190 ( 19000 ft) and we change course at Wallasey to head over the Isle of Man, Belfast. ~~~ o0o ~~~ The Oceanic Clearance .......and arrival ~~~ o0o ~~~ Just after Belfast we are cleared to 28,000 ft, and we continue to make our way across Northern Ireland and upon reaching the western coast line of Eire Shanwick ( that is the special control centre based in Prestwick Airport that controls ALL Atlantic Traffic ) give us our Oceanic clearance today we get the track we wanted and are cleared to 33,000 ft our cruising altitude for the Atlantic, we fly out over the Atlantic towards St Johns Point in Canada some 3 hours away?. and upon reaching the Canadian Coast we turn South to fly down the Eastern Seaboard of the USa and are given further clearance to ascend to 37,000 ft, with almost half the journey done we are well on our way to Florida?. ~~~o0o0o~~~ I have asked Ciao to create a new section for nervous flyers twice now and had no response so the next bit has been combined from another Op.... The approach and landing side of flying at your destination... OK.. we're cruising at 37,000 ft over the Atlantic on a flight, we are about 10 miles off the Eastern Seaboard of the USA flying down past the Carolinas (say around the Southern point of South Carolina) heading for Georgia State Boundary..our air speed is mach .84 (84% of the speed of sound) and with about 90 minutes to landing at Orlando... ~~~ o0o ~~~ The Cabin crew are serving the final snack of the flight (high tea..hot drinks and sandwiches) meanwhile on the flight deck the Captain gives an arrival/ approach briefing to the First Officer ( who is the non flying pilot on this flight) and the flight engineer ( on Boeing 747-200's there is a third member on the flight deck called the Flight Engineer) Captain is asking the engineer to monitor the engines through all stages of the descent and approach into Orlando and to monitor with the first Officer radio instructions from Air traffic Control (ATC), Captain says that he expects to be given a Runway 35 arrival at KMCO ( Orlando International) and that means that we will be making our approach in the vicinity of Orlando executive Airport some 10 miles North of KMCO... We will expect descent instructions shortly from ATC and our aproach to Orlando will be via kennedy Space Centre crossing the coast line at 11000 ft continuing to descend to 5000 ft over Orlando executive airfield turning onto the ILS beacon ( Instrument Landing system used by aircraft to make an auto landing or approach onto the runway centre line)... The Radio crackles into life Virgin 076 descend to flight level 21000 ft..the First Officer responds to the instruction and the Captain adjusts the altitude and speed control knob on the flight management system and the autopilot eases back on the engine throttles and puts the aircraft into a shallow descent the engines ease back in tone and the aircraft settles into a barely noticable slow descent from 37000 ft to 21000 ft which will take about 15 mins at a descent rate of 1000 ft per minute.... ~~~ o0o ~~~ The Florida coast line is now visable ahead in the distance to those folk on the right hand side of the aircraft, we have descended in stages to 15,000 ft the Radio crackles into life again Virgin 076 further descent to 10000ft to be level by Kennedy navigational Beacon, first officer acknowldges the instruction back to the ATC and once again the aircraft is eased into a shallow descent towards the navigational beacon just north on the space centre, the Captain has programmed the Flight management computer to mak e sure the descent is enough to ensure that the aircraft is flying level over the beacon at 10000 ft.. Upon arrival at the Kennedy Beacon ATC give us speed restrictions and vector routings to guide us towards the Southerly beacon at Orlando International Airport for Runway 17, so its a Runway change and we'll be making our approach from the south, the Captain adjusts the speed control to the instructed speed by ATC and instructs the First Officer to select the wing flaps in degrees of 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 degrees these stages happen at certain points on the Flying Pilots command,so as the speed of the aircraft is reduced and at the appropriate indicated speeds the flying pilot will ask for the flaps to be extended to the next flap setting in the sequence until we are almost at the threshold of the runway when the final flap setting will be called for, so if you are sitting along side the leading or trailing edges of the wings you can see the edges of the wings moving outwards and downwards as the flap settings are increased, doing this increases the surface area of the wings creates more lift and allows the aircraft to fly much more slowly and safely for the final approach to the runway and landing we are given permission to descend to 5,000 ft and to be level by the time we reach the southerly beacon, so upon reaching the beacon we are turned onto a right hand turn to fly towards the outer marker and eventually intercept the runway 17 ILS ... ~~~ o0o ~~~ Things occasionally tend get a little bumpy between Kennedy and Orlando as we descended through the various cloud layers, but then it is can be a little bumpy when flying through cloud..however, we are now lined up in the general direction of the runway at Orlando and have just been given permission to descend with the ILS when we've captured the radio signal, that means when we have intercepted the radio signal and are following a glide path down the runwa y centre line to the runway threshhold and a safe touch down..safely lined up with the ils captured the Captain asks for gear down..First officer pulls the gear down lever and a rumbling noise can be heard as the landing gear lowers and locks into place, as we approcah the runway we are handed over to the approach controller and he gives us permission to land.. Just 100 ft above the runway we are on full flaps, gear is down, and the Captain is now flying manually, he pulls back slightly on the control column and the nose of the aircraft begins to flare up ( rise slightly) further slowing the aircraft and allowing the main wheels to touch the runway first..the nose wheel will touch down last, as this happens the captain selects reverse Idle (thrust)..this is not really a reverse mode, what actually happens is that a flaps or buckets built into each engine casing is moved into the jet thrust thus blocking the forward push and deflects the thrust slightly forward, this helps in slowing down the aircraft, in conjunction with the autobrakes, spoilers which kill the lift on the wings also pop up on touch down ( these are the little flaps on the top surface of the wings) they are also sometimes used as airbrakes in flight to slow the aircraft down or when starting a descent... So we are at the end of the runway, and have been given a route to take on the taxyways to our allocated stand number at the terminal, hope you have enjoyed your flight and you are a little wiser and happier about how a huge Jumbo Jet is landed safely at an airport ( the principal is the same for most aircraft.... Flying is still statistically the safest form of travelling 0o0o0o0~~~~~ THE END ~~~~~0o0o0o0
Go on, take your pick. You can have one of the above, maybe two, but not all three. Have a think about it. When given the chance, most people offer one of these three criteria as paramount. Be they Business or Leisure travellers, these are important to the paying customer. We should all understand the inherent safety in air travel. After all, Physics demands that a big tube with wings, full of people and fuel needs plenty of back-ups and complicated systems to keep it in the air. Also, airlines would much rather you got to your destination and became a repeat customer. I know the events of last week, indeed events of all previous accidents, deliberate or otherwise are worrying to people, but if you consider the sheer number of flights made, and compare it to the risks of other modes of transport then you can work out that relatively speaking, the plane journey is far safer than the countless trips up the M6 to see Auntie Maud, or trying to cross the road when the school run is in full flow. So we'll forget bargaining for safety. It's as good as it gets. Putting guards on the planes works for El Al, but if it happened on all flights, sooner or later there'd be a shoot out and the results would be the same as if no guard was there - plane goes crash. Comfort - have you seen Business or First thesedays? Cushy!! Flat beds, huge seats, proper individual customer service, food you can name, and nice lounges to avoid the masses in. Still, it's not cheap, and there are few business passengers who don't get the flights through a company account, usually with nice discounts arranged with their chosen airline. We in Economy (coach if you're american!), endure 31" seat pitch (meaning cramped), nosiy families causing havoc, the odd lager lout, busy staff rushed off their feet and little help before or after the flight with bags etc. We should lighten up tho - Airlines don't deliberately d elay planes,it's nowt to do with them, rather the number of planes at the airport causing congestion. Airlines also don't like you complaining, they do try to help, it's what they make money from after all. I'm fed up of seeing whingeing complaining ignorant passengers mouthing off at customer service staff. If the roles were reversed, wouldn't you try your best to help. After a long flight dealing with rarely satisfied passengers you can forgive cabin crew for being short with you - well i'd get pretty miffed! The problems are caused by the quest for the third - below... Value - well that's getting a cheapish flight at a reasonable time from your airport of choice! Perhaps also getting decent service and a comfy seat as mentioned above... Airline fuel is not cheap. True it's cheaper than LRP!, but when you think that most planes only do a few miles to the gallon, and how far they fly, you'd understand why entire airlines go under when they haven't got a decent hedging policy for fuel (buying fuel at a fixed set of prices to anticipate price changes). All the maintenance staff, the highly trained pilots, renting ground at the airport, buying time on a stand, buying the food, cleaning the planes, etc etc etc. The costs are dizzying. Only budget airlines who choose not to offer plenty of bonuses (food!, and business services) can offer good cheap seats. If people really want the service and comfort of Business class, maybe they should pay for it. Expecting more than what we usually get for a few hundred quid in Economy is presumptuous and ignorant. There are lapses in service, delays etc, but that's life, nothing is perfect. How many of us finish a week of work cursing an event no matter how small that prevented a certain task being completed quite as we wanted it?! Ease up! Try and enjoy your flight. Oh, and if you do fly Business, spare a thought for us at the back!!
Here's a little tip for anyone flying with British Airways who needs to order a vegetarian meal. Seeing as us veggies are in the minority, I don't mind the fact that we are expected to order a meal in advance so they only have to carry the number of meals neccissary on a flight. However, on a trip to America this summer, after ordering my meal months in advance, I was disappointed to find a Vegan meal placed in front of me. The thing is, with British Airways (I'm not sure if this applies to any other airlines), the specialist meal titled 'Vegetarian' is in fact a vegan meal. Meaning for my flights to and from the US I was given fruit instead of chocolate. Soya milk with my coffee and several other unappetising alternatives. If you wish to enjoy a normal vegetarian meal on board a BA plane, at the time of booking you should make sure you order a 'lacto-ovo vegetarian' meal. This the standard vegetarian fayre. Everything, but without meat or fish. It seems rediculous that something as simple as this can be made so complicated!
To set the scene, I'm male, just under six feet tall and about 16 stones. I've flown about 20 times, all as a package holiday customer. I've used Britannia, LTE (Spanish), Air Malta, Flying Colours, Monarch and some others I can't remember. All charter airline seats (mostly Boeing, I think) seem to be about the same width i.e. barely adequate, and I thought that the seat pitches were all very much the same. Until I went to Malaga in 2001 with JMC. Normally I can sit faily upright and have about 1 inch of free space between my knees and the back of the seat in front. The recess they build into the seat backs helps. However, on the JMC flight, even sitting bolt upright for take off and landing, my knees were touching the seat in front and the slightest movement caused me to poke the back of the person in front of me. The row we were in was about 2 thirds of way back down the plane and looked to be the same pitch as all the others. Bear this in mind if you're six feet or over and considering a JMC holiday.
I have been a regular traveler on airlines traveling to all parts of the world.I have yet to see any improvement in the seating of passengers giving extra leg room.I would recomend to any traveler wanting extra leg room to book their seat in advance asking for isle seats. these are usually the only seats with extra leg room. it will make your journey much more comfortable so that u arrive at your destination more refreshed.I would like the airlines to look again at taking customer comfort before profit.Barring that you would do well to take my advice especially on long journy's