Worried about the 787 and the one-butt ashtray

Boeing, the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), airlines and all manner of interested parties are worried about the fate of the 787 Dreamliner.

And I am too.  For all the reasons everyone else wants all the problems to be resolved but also because I’m worried about the fate of the one-butt ashtray.

LAN 787 lav

While smoking is prohibited on airplanes, there are still some knuckleheads who will go into an airplane bathroom and light up. And in an effort to keep these smoking scofflaws from disposing of a lit or still smoldering cigarette in a trash bin filled with paper towels, there are regulations in place requiring that there be ashtrays in airplane lavatories and other spots.

On most airplanes, you’ll spot the square metal ashtrays many of us are familiar with from the old days when there were ashtrays in every airplane armrest.

But for the 787 some smart designer has come up with a charming and elegant little ashtray that works just like a flip out coat hook and will hold no more than a single cigarette butt.

So for that reason, I say “Save the 787.” It may save some butts.

Travel Tidbits: private screeners & fish


Later this month, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was scheduled to send out requests for proposals (RFPs) for private security screening firms to replace federal screeners at Sacramento International Airport (SMF) in California and Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB) in Florida as part of the Screening Partnership Program (SPP). The contract for private screening services at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), which was one of the first airports to be part of the program, is also going out for re-bidding.

Sixteen airports are currently part of the program, which was set up under the Aviation Transportation Security Act (ATSA) of 2001 and requires private contract companies approved by the TSA to adhere to the agency’s standards.

Some airport administrators believe private screeners do a better job than their federal counterparts but, as you might imagine, the union that represents federal TSA employees – the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) – isn’t too happy with the prospect of some of its members possibly losing their jobs.

In California, the union has been lobbying against the move to have Sacramento International Airport join the Screening Partnership Program and on Tuesday the Sacramento County’s board of supervisors voted to back out of the program.


Meanwhile, at Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS), which has been the site of some 787 Dreamliner problems, there’s some news on the fish front:

On Wednesday, January 9, Legal Sea Foods, which has been a welcome dining amenity at the airport for almost twenty years, is moving the first of its four airport restaurants from its pre-security location in Terminal C to a new, snazzy post-security spot that will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The new restaurant has a fish sculpture at the entryway, a digital board displaying flight information, a 54-person dining room and a 27-seat bar with stools designed to store carry-on bags underneath.

What could LAN do with all that extra 787 room

LAN’s new 787 thrice-weekly flight from LAX to Santiago leaves at 2:30 in the afternoon and arrives at around 6 a.m. the following morning. Even with the five hour time difference there’s plenty of time in the air.

And while I was a flying (as a guest) in the premium business class cabin on the airline’s first 787 flight on that route earlier this week I had plenty of time to stand-up and contemplate what sort of in-flight activities the airline might host during the flight in the large space between the two seating areas of the premium business section.


This area doubles as the entry “hall” to the airplane and not all airlines leave this space on their 787s so wide open. But LAN does and while I was up stretching during the flight I was tempted to use this space for practicing forward rolls or to do some light jogging, but was too shy to do that in front of the people seated in the second half of the premium business section.



So I stood there and thought about some activities the airline could offer in that space during a flight that wouldn’t be so disruptive. Here’s what I came up with:

Yoga or organized stretching sessions;

Dancing classes

Board games

Speed-dating “happy-hour” (for business or social contacts)

I’m going to suggest that to the airline, but in the meantime – what activities would you like to see offered in this nice extra space on LAN’s 787 airplane?

LAN 787 Dreamliner: LAX to Santiago


I am delighted that my first 787 Dreamliner flight was on LAN Airlines, which on January 2 became the first carrier to offer international service on the 787 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with non-stop flights to Santiago, Chile three days a week (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) and with daily flights to Lima, Peru beginning in February.

In addition to pre-flight festivities that included short speeches and a ribbon cutting, there were snacks:


During the mostly night-time flight, we experienced just a few examples of the airplane’s LED lighting options, but before “real” passengers boarded, a full light-show was underway while press visitors and special guests toured the plane.