Air traffic control

Surprised by Santa at Munich Airport

While I’ve had my share of long waits,  I’ve thankfully never been one of those passengers held hostage for hours on end on a plane waiting to take off or deliver passengers at an airport

So, last night, when the captain of my Lufthansa flight on a small plane heading from Munich Airport to Geneva – a one hour trip – announced we’d be sitting on the ground for at least an hour because snow removal had closed two runways, I thought “OK, now it’s my turn to be stuck on an airport for ten hours.”

I wasn’t prepared.  Neither my cell phone nor my laptop was fully charged. For food, I had a bag of licorice I’d bought as a gift.  And my book was in the carry-on suitcase I’d stuffed into the overhead bin.

I stole a look at my seatmate and at the people around me.  Were there kids or babies bound to start crying; who was likely to be traveling with good food or snacks; and were these going to be interesting people to be held hostage with on an airplane?

Luckily, I didn’t have to find out.

Within minutes of the pilot announcing our delay, flight attendants appeared with water and juice and trays of white cloth bags, each with a jolly embroidered Santa Claus on the front.

 

Inside each bag was a mandarin orange, a cheese sandwich on dark bread, a package of good cookies and a tiny chocolate Santa.

“Classy,” I thought. “Definitely not the bag of pretzels passengers would be getting if they were stuck on an airplane in the U.S.”

I immediately ate the chocolate Santa and half the sandwich. Then, already thinking like an airplane hostage, I  carefully re-packaged my snacks for later.

I didn’t end up having to swap that orange for a sweater, something to read  or the use of a charged cell phone to call my family or the hotel. After about an hour and a half of sitting out there in the snow, we were indeed on our way.

Good job, Lufthansa and Munich Airport. And thank-you, Santa!

 

 

 

Reagan Airport: self-service landings?

Even more alarming than the video of Snoop Dogg and my furry friend Rico
is the audio of two American Airline pilots chatting with each other about the fact that there was apparently no one home in the air traffic control tower at Reagan Washington National Airport early Wednesday morning.

Here’s the audio from Liveatc.net that the Washington Post put on its website this afternoon.


 

And here’s more information about what officials say did – and did not happen.

Sort of scary….

All eyes on Japan

Like everyone else, I’ve been holding my breath waiting for news – and hoping for bits of good news – about the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan.

I’ve also been watching – over and over – the incredible footage of the tsunami racing over the land. Especially the footage captured from Sendai Airport.

Some flights to and from Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports are resuming, but getting back to ‘normal’ is still a long way off.  Narita’s website has a very brief update about the Influence of the Earthquake on the airport. Haneda’s website is showing some international flights departing and arriving, but no updates on the status of the airport facilities have been posted.

Look for Santa at Indianapolis International Airport

North Pole ice santa

You may still be eating Thanksgiving leftovers at your house, but at Indianapolis International Airport they’ve already moved on to Christmas.

On Saturday, Santa Claus will arrive at the airport at 11 a.m. and hang out for a few hours in the airport’s pre-security Civic Plaza.

While he’s there, he’ll pose with kids for free digital pictures.  There will also be a cookie and ornament-decorating station as well as a chance to enter to win tickets for entry to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and other attractions. And everyone who enters the contest ‘wins’ free parking.

Get airline miles for airport purchases

You’re spending that money anyway, so even if you’re not a frequent traveler, it makes sense to enroll in at least a few miles and points programs associated with airlines, car rental companies and hotels.

If you can’t cash your miles or points in for a free flight, a free rental day, or a free night’s lodging, you can at least take advantage of some of the complimentary amenities these programs provide.

So here’s one more program to join. And one more way to accumulate airline points:

The Paradies Shops – represented at 65 airports nationwide – have partnered up with Thanks Again for a program that awards airline miles for purchases made in airport stores.

Participating airlines include Alaska, Continental, Delta, United and US Airways.  The Paradies Shops include CNBC News, PGA TOUR Shops, Brooks Brothers, Brighton Collectibles, Harley-Davidson, and The New York Times Bookstores.

Sign up for the Paradies Thanks Again program – it’s free – and make at least a $10 purchase in one of the stores before June 30, 2010 and you’ll get a kick-start of 100 bonus points.