building19 airline slide The gift for the traveler who has everything: Your own aircraft evacuation slide

(Click to enlarge)

A couple months ago, I was in Massachusetts and saw this newspaper insert for the regional discount chain Building #19 in the weekend paper.

Unfortunately, the ad headline is woefully out of date (“Many years ago, we sold these airplane slides…”) and the slides are NOT available for sale. But I still love the idea that a local store was selling airplane escape slides for personal use.

I wrote to Jerry Ellis, the proprietor of the retail chain, asking if anyone wrote in with stories of how they enjoyed their slides. Ellis replied, but alas, apparently no customers have sent in their tales.

Just think of the possibilities. You too could re-enact your own passenger evacuation procedures! Or grab a couple beers and pull a Steven Slater!

Categorized in: bizarre

The great American road trip: The open road. The breeze in your hair. The drive-thru that serves tequila shots…

Wait, what?

I’m hardly a teetotaler, but selling hard liquor in a styrofoam cup to drivers just doesn’t seem appropriate. But here it is:

I’m not sure what’s worse, though: The fact that drunk driving is actively encouraged this way, or the fact that the guy in the video neither called his brand, nor drank the drink he paid for. Amateur.

(If you’re reading this in a feed reader, you might not see the video. Click here to visit the site to view the moving pictures…)

Categorized in: booze, travel

Downgraded: Reptiles and amphibians
A German reptile collector was caught trying to smuggle 42 endangered lizards and skinks out of New Zealand. In his underwear. For once, I’m in favor of full-body scans, if only to see what this looks like on the monitor.

Upgraded: Advice for worst-case aviation scenarios
No one wants to think about what they would have to do in the case of an inflight accident. But if you were to survive such an event, make sure you’ve read this guide to surviving a 35,000-foot fall.

Downgraded: Machu Picchu
Sad news: The train line that provides access to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru has been washed away, destroyed by recent flooding. This not only has devastating consequences for tourism in the immediate vicinity of the ruins, but for Peru as a whole:

Whether the fault of a mafia-like Cusco tourist industry, simple laziness by foreign and local tourism companies who slap an image of Machu Picchu on advertising and say “that’s Peru”, or the ignorance of cash-rich tourists happy to hand over money and be taken to where they are told – the result is the same. A Peru without Machu Picchu, despite there being dozens of equivalents across the country, is a country with a tourism industry in trouble.

See here for more amazing photos and videos of the destruction. Also here, for a sense of the breadth of the humanitarian disaster in Cusco.

train line to machu picchu1 Upgrades and Downgrades: Carry on lizards, Machu Picchu, Kayak, business traveling cats

Upgraded: Kayak’s hotel deals
Kayak, the leading fare aggregator, is following the online travel agency trend and pushing harder into the hotel space. Not only are they offering metasearch capabilities, which they have long done, but they’re now branching out and offering “private sale” rates. Though they’ll be technically sold directly by the hotel, it’s direct competition with the online travel agencies.

Upgraded: Hotel booking advertisements
Upgraded: Japanese business-cats

I don’t speak Japanese, but I suspect that this is an ad for a travel booking engine targeted at business travelers. Or at cats who travel on business. (Anyone who speaks or reads Japanese is invited to help with the translation. What’s on the business card??) The awesomeness of these 13 seconds cannot be overstated.

Categorized in: bizarre,

thanksgiving travel Upgrades and Downgrades: Pre Thanksgiving Edition

Upgraded: Knowing what to do when you’re traveling for the holidays
Before you head to the airport, consider this post on five ways to get an edge on other travelers during the holiday season. The TSA has also published an updated list of do’s and don’t’s for bringing items through security, which includes references to the infamous issue of pies. Don’t let anyone say you weren’t warned.

Downgraded: Your health in the sky
Contracted H1N1 or another nasty contagion? Got travel plans? Unless you’ve got good travel insurance, be prepared to pay a fee if you want to change you flights if you’re sick. From several reports (see here and here), it’s clear that being contagious doesn’t make you any less desirable aboard America’s airlines. Medical waivers be damned! Give them your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to cough up a lung onto their seatmates. It guess that’s freedom.

Upgraded: Regulation of frequent flier miles?
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York is pushing for an inquiry into frequent flier programs, with particular attention to the phenomenon of expiring miles. Airlines, of course, argue that an inquiry is unnecessary by the government in the affairs of private business. Much like Congress is looking to regulate credit card fees and other business practices of the banks, this could get interesting.

Downgraded: Lufthansa intra-European economy seating
Lufthansa is shrinking the legroom in its economy cabin on shorter flights within Europe, to jam in more people. Thankfully, they’re leaving the big birds that fly across the oceans as they are, for now.

Upgraded: Communing with animals while you travel
A man with 15 lizards strapped to his chest was caught at LAX. For those keeping score, it was two geckos, two monitor lizards (!) and 11 skinks.


Downgraded: TSA
Upgraded: Airports with independence

Near Glacier National Park, in Kalispell, Montana, Glacier Park International Airport is hoping to boot the TSA off its property and replace the government security agency with private contractors. What?? I had no idea this was possible, but sure enough: Under the Screening Partnership Program, an airport can apply to reprivatize security, generally if TSA isn’t meeting the airport’s needs. The issue for Glacier was staffing: The TSA calculated staffing levels based on October traffic levels — when August is the peak travel time for the area. About 15 airports, including several in Montana, have opted out of the TSA’s domain.

Upgraded: Efforts to keep convention business. ANY convention business
Hotels need business. So, is there any problem with hosting a convention of swingers as a Holiday Inn in upstate New York did? The annual spouse-swapping event, “Entice the Falls” (link not entirely safe for work), featured some exciting events like “Flogging 101″ and a (canceled) body painting party. But how many bonus points do you earn for a weekend of debauchery?

Downgraded: Chrysler at the rental counter
The Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group is slashing its purchases of Chrysler vehicles. Their fleet is currently 76% Chrysler, but Ford will nearly tie Chrysler for new purchases (34 and 30%, respectively).

Upgraded: Luxury in Mecca
Downgraded: Raffles Hotels’ management’s common sense

Islamic pilgrims to Mecca who aren’t feeling particularly pious, but who are looking to live large, may be pleased to hear that Singapore’s Raffles Hotels are planning an enormous luxury hotel that will cast a shadow on the Muslim world’s holiest site. But what on earth is the hotel chain thinking? I’m sure some will find the uber-luxurious hotel an affront to the religious meaning of the site; are they painting a giant target on all the hotels in the Raffles brand?

Raffles Mecca Upgrades and Downgrades: TSA booted out, swingin conventions, Mecca hotels, mileage runs, more

Upgraded: Recliners!
The dip in travel has been a boon for furniture makers. What? Yes, according to the industry, sales of reclining chairs are up, as Americans travel less, stay home more, and look for greater comfort in their living room.

Upgraded: Spotlights on mileage running
I’ve been known to go on a mileage run or two (though not for a few years now) in order to bump up my elite-qualifying miles to the next tier, but I’m nowhere near the big leagues that these guys play in. Check out this 20-minute documentary on mileage runners, and the OCD spirit that drives them to collect miles and points with a singleminded focus:

charlotte airport restrooms Airlines eco request: Please urinate before your flight
In an effort to reduce their fuel burn and carbon emissions, Japan’s ANA, a fine airline in most every regard, politely requests that its passengers visit the loo before their next flight. The more you leave on the ground, the lighter the plane, the lower the fuel burn, and the happier the planet.

Airline staff will be present at boarding gates in terminals to ask passengers waiting to fly to relieve themselves before boarding, The Independent reported.

ANA hopes the weight saved will lead to a five-tonne reduction in carbon emissions over the course of 30 days.

The airline began the policy on October 1, according to Japan’s NHK television.

Although it is intended as an experiment lasting one month and 42 flights, the trial may be extended if it is well-received by passengers and if results are positive.

Based on an average human bladder capacity of 15oz, if 150 passengers relieved themselves on board an aircraft, this would amount to 63.7kg of waste.

…and that’s just the bladder… No word on the weight savings for performing other human activities on terra firma. Must be Japanese politeness that’s limiting discussion to #1.


Categorized in: airlines, bizarre