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Martin Schaedel, We’ll Miss You

January 30, 2009 | Posted in: Uncategorized | 3 comments

On Wednesday afternoon Martin Schaedel, a trusted family friend and colleague, was taken from us way too soon in a freak small airplane accident.

He was only 23 years old but had lived several life times in that short time span (traveling to more cities across the globe than I could manage in a lifetime).

I met Martin over 4 years ago on FlyerTalk when he sent me a private message after reading one of my posts in the mileage run section — we had our first chat on Skype (he in Tokyo, I in Dallas) and we quickly became friendly — even as I found it unbelievable how well-read this teenager from a small town in Sweden was.

A few months later, he came over to visit for a week and quickly struck up a relationship with my 5 year old daughter and her soccer team – while dissecting the intricacies of the U.S. Healthcare system with my wife (a consultant in the field).

That was Martin – one second describing Pele’s bicycle kick to a team of 5 year olds, and the next discussing the differences in global healthcare policy with experts.

And of course there was a fascination with fast cars — one of my buddies who sells high end cars let us borrow a souped-up Mercedes for a joy ride out on the backroads of Texas. I knew after that trip I would never again willingly ride with Martin at the wheel of a vehicle (although I did – but only once after that – and he almost ran down a Danish royal guard in the heart of Copenhagen in his newly purchased BMW 3 series).

When he came to visit on future trips and stayed with us, I would toss him the keys to my co-founder’s Boxster (he lives in Durango and left the car it my garage) and tell him not to be late. Our relationship became sort of a 1950′s version of “Leave it Beaver” with me as the clueless dad and Martin as an odd combination of Beaver Cleaver and Eddie Haskell rolled into one.

I recall one hilarious moment when we had some friends over for dinner and Martin joined us at the last minute — we all sat around the table and began to chow down and Martin asked our guests (whom he had just met seconds ago) – using a fake Swedish exchange-student accent – to “say grace” before we ate – and my wife and daughter couldn’t help but giggle as our friends complied, wanting to please the young European. Days after that, Martin would IM me with a hearty ROFLMAO recounting their expressions.

And Martin could spin a yarn with the best of them – truth be known, this international man of mystery – this teenage whiz kid – was just like so many other kids his age, trying find out where he fit in and struggling like so many of us do at the end of our college years, wondering what to do with our life.

Martin, you were taken from us way too early. Rest in peace my young friend. You will be missed.

Russians Cancel Orders for Boeing’s Delayed “Dreamliner”

January 30, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Delays | 1 comment

Difficult days for the world’s second-largest commercial plane manufacturer (after Airbus).

Russia’s airline, S7 – also known as Siberia Airlines – has terminated its contract to buy fifteen Boeing 787 Dreamliners – the plane that was supposed to rival the huge Airbus A380.

The now-dead Russian/Dreamliner deal was reportedly worth $2.4 billion.

The Airbus giant made its first commercial flight in Oct. of 2007 – while the Dreamliner has been plagued with delays. As a result – delivery has been delayed 4 times in the past 15 months. And the soured economy isn’t helping.

According to Boeing’s current schedule, the Dreamliner will be delivered to customers sometime in 2010. Maybe the Russians couldn’t wait…

JetBlue Inaugurates Orlando to Bogota Flight With Deals

January 29, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News | 0 comments

Today JetBlue began non-stop service from Orlando to Bogota, Columbia – with special airfares starting at $49 one-way.

That’s right. $49. Not including taxes, etc. of course, but still an incredible deal. You must book by Feb. 18.

There’s more: beginning Feb. 1, JetBlue begins non-stop flights from Orlando to Nassau, Bahamas, and beginning March 26, the airline will offer daily service to Costa Rica.

The Return of Customer Service? Airlines Keep Planes Cleaner

January 29, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick,United | 0 comments

Have you noticed cleaner airline interiors?

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, they’re working on it – and I think that’s just great.

Apparently, United got tired of seeing their airline interiors rank poorly in customer service surveys – and they decided to do something about it: starting last fall the airline “overhauled both how it tackles dirt and stains on its jets and how often it does so.” This new system began at O’Hare and is now being used at 13 other airports.

American is among other airlines cleaning up again, and has seen complaints about dirty planes fall by 40%.

You’re all on the right track. Now, can we talk bag fees?

American: Life Rafts Should Be Able to Hold All Passengers

January 29, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Travel Safety | 0 comments

Read the title of this post again – sort of a no-brainer, isn’t it?

It seems American Airlines recently discovered that, when its Boeing 767-300 planes are full (236 people, passengers and crew) – there’s not enough room in the life rafts for everyone.

There’s only room for 228. This was determined, according to reports, during a “routine audit”. But from now on (or until they get bigger life rafts), the airline is going to restrict the total number of passengers and crew to – 228.

Good call! Especially since the 767′s owned by American (they have 58 of them) often fly across the Atlantic.

However an American spokesman said, there was never any reason to worry, because passengers were never in danger: “In addition to the life rafts, all passengers and crew on these aircraft also have access to two different flotation devices,” said the spokesman.

One of those “flotation devices” wouldn’t happen to be a seat cushion would it? I can just picture myself now, hanging onto that seat for all I’m worth as I bob along aimlessly, somewhere in the Atlantic…

Southwest vs. Virgin America, Etc: The Great California Airfare War!

January 29, 2009 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News,Southwest | 1 comment

First up is Virgin America: earlier this week, I blogged that starting April 30, Virgin America begins flights between Orange County, California and San Francisco. Special introductory price — $59 one-way.

Enter United and American: they match the upstart, offering $59 one-way fares from April 30 through June 10.

And here comes Southwest: the king of cost-cutters ups the ante when it starts its Orange County-San Fran flights on May 9 – airfare on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will go for a mere $49 one-way.

The winners are the passengers: a year ago at this time, United and American were charging about $125 one-way for these flights – the fare war has brought prices down by more than 50%!

Will the Goliaths prevail? Or the little guys? And which one – Southwest with its loyal customer base, or will Virgin’s mood-lighting win the day?

Fare wars – what’s not to love?

UPDATE: The Latest on Virgin’s “Complaint Letter of the Year”

January 28, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick | 0 comments

Write a complaint letter to some airlines, and you may never get a response.

But if you write the complaint letter of the year, to Virgin – and it’s a long, nasty and witty letter – why, you get a job offer. And guess what you’ll be doing?

It’s all covered in this post on sister-blog Standard Upright Position – read it, and learn more about that dead hamster.

Flight Attendants to Spirit Airlines: “Quit Degrading Women”

January 28, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Flight Attendants | 7 comments

Flight attendants of Spirit Airlines say — they’ve had enough.

According to a press release, they are sick and tired of their airline’s promotional fare ads that they believe are demeaning to flight attendants – ALL flight attendants at all airlines – and women in general.

They decry the “not very subtle innuendos” in the ads, and if you’ve ever seen one of those Spirit ads, you know what they mean. Example: one ad proclaimed, “We’re Proud of our Double-D’s!” – which supposedly refers to, deep discounts (and you can see more of these “raunchy ads” in this post on our sister-blog, Standard Upright Position).

Here’s what an official with the flight attendants’ union had to say:

“I feel as though I have entered a time warp and am reliving the battles for respect and justice for women that we fought for 40 years ago.” –Patricia Friend, Association of Flight Attendants

The latest outrage (according to the press release): a management proposal requiring Spirit flight attendants to wear inflight aprons adorned with the logo of an alcoholic beverage company.

SPIRIT’S RESPONSE: Misty Pinson of Spirit’s Corporate Communications said the aprons are an onboard advertising sales component to ultimately help lower operating costs and allow the airline to continue to offer low fares – plus, Spirit consulted the flight attendants’ union about them, and received no objection. HOWEVER, on the subject of those questionable ads, Spirit offered no response at all…

Readers, your thoughts?

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