We got excited when we saw a headline (sans photo) imagining an eccentric, aging hotel mogul having an old-person meltdown on a transatlantic flight. Sadly it wasn't to be, not least because the gentleman in question died in 1979 (it says on Wikipedia). I mean, the rantings of an elderly gazillionaire would at least have had some semblance of quaint charm. Less so when it's just torrents of abuse being distastefully ejected from the mouth of one of his more objectionable descendants, also named Conrad Hilton.
Among the delights from the 20-year old airborne charmer were the following verbal emissions:
- "If you wanna square up to me bro, then bring it and I will f*cking fight you."
- "I am going to f*cking kill you."
- "I will f*cking rip through you."
- "I will f*cking own anyone on this flight; they are f*cking peasants."
According to gossip-monging website TMZ, witnesses told officials that Hilton grabbed a flight attendant's shirt and informed him, "I could get you all fired in five minutes. I know your boss. My father will pay this out. He has done it before. Dad paid $300k last time." The sleepy little lamb then passed out, which was a cue for flight staff to promptly handcuff him to the seat. Reports say he was so out of control and aggressive that children (peasant children, presumably) on the flight were crying.
Recalling the 2002 protests of similarly wealthy flier Peter Buck (of REM fame), a rogue sleeping pill was allegedly the culprit, these little air-rage-bombs apparently the bane of celebrity flying. Buck famously attacked the flight crew on his flight with yoghurt (did any newspapers at the time go with the headline 'Everybody (yog)Hurts"? and if not, WHY not?). Presumably the HIlton millions will keep young Conrad out of official legal trouble, though as to his claims that he "buried" the flight attendants? Sure you did, bro...sure you did.
The key word for this week’s most notable travel stories is: ‘abandonment’.
First off, let’s look at the astonishing nonchalance shown by this British mother, who sneaked off for a routine six week jaunt to Australia to hook up with a gentleman she’d met on the internet. Nothing wrong with that, you might think – single mums deserve internet romance too, and you’d be a fool and a Communist to think otherwise. Right on.
Only there WAS the trifling matter of leaving her six children behind, and not only not that, but telling them that she was “just going to the supermarket” and then hotfooting it to Heathrow Airport. She may technically not have been lying, though granted the supermarket in question could have been in Randwick or Glebe.
Single mums deserve holidays more than anyone, really – especially with six kids under 14, but conventional channels do tend to result in a few less six-month suspended prison sentences.
The other #brave #travel #hero this week is someone we’d love to have featured in our Passengers We Love blog, but he’d need a section to himself called Passengers Who Love Themselves And Then Try To Escape At 35,000 Feet. In short, this chap was apprehended self-abusing, and he then made for the emergency door.
Again, no judgements here – it’s natural instinct to want to try and play for the Irish goodbye having undergone the ignominy of being caught ransacking your own dignity with nary a thought for your fellow passengers. Just, air authorities do tend to take a dim view of doing that whole “doors to manual” thing while the plane is still an hour from its destination.
We can only hope the Virgin Airlines pilot announced the unscheduled stop as being due to spontaneous onanism. Is there an official airline euphemism for this? Suggestions, as always, are welcome.
If you've ever traveled in London and taken the tube from Leicester Square to Covent Garden, you'll know from bitter experience that you should have walked because of all the locals that will tell you that you should have walked because it's only one stop and it's actually quicker to walk, actually and YOU SHOULD HAVE WALKED YOU KNOW-NOTHING CRETIN. In short: you should have walked. Well, the next time anyone tells you that they got the tube from Mansion House to Canon Street, you can tell them with no small amount of smugness: "Oh, you should have sprinted with such lung-busting effort that you got to the station marginally slower than the tube but with just enough time to collapse through the doors in an exhausted heap YOU REALLY SHOULD HAVE SPRINTED." That said, this is still pretty cool.
Following the announcement that renegade sky profiteers RyanAir are going to launch a Business Class product, including, presumably, free bottled water, unfettered toilet access and use of the, er, airport terminal, rivals EasyJet have entered the fray with some A-list celeb endorsement.
In the flashiest TV star-coup since Premier Inn bagged Lenny Henry to fake contented snoozing for money, the Orange Crusaders of the Air have snapped up none other than Oxbridge funnyman turned US-medical malcontent Hugh Laurie. EasyJet have announced flexible tickets, allocated seats, fast-track boarding and higher frequencies to "boost its business-friendly credentials", giving RyanAir the biggest budget airline executive class competition since Moses.
Apparently Mr Laurie will be playing some kind of white rabbit-wrangler, a shame than EasyJet didn't have the wherewithal to have him reprise his role as Stuart Marsh, Executive Firebrand and the turbo-charged son of a mass retailer.
Cut to: INTERIOR, EASYJET CHECK-IN DESK.
Stuart: So it's straight through to the Executive Passenger Lounge?
Check-in attendant: There's only one passenger lounge, sir.
Stuart: Yes, and it's the EXECUTIVE check-in lounge...
Forget the sweary ice bucket challenge toddler and mind-traumatising ISIS war terrors, the news story that matters today is the one of the United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver, which was diverted after two passengers got into a real, physical altercation on a loaded plane.
In case you’ve been asleep or working as a living statue for 22 hours straight, what happened was that one passenger (a man) was using his laptop computer for an unspecified activity, and had employed a crafty device called The Knee Defender. This accessory attaches to the tray table and stops the seat in front reclining. Passenger two (a woman), tried to recline, spotted his subterfuge and got a flight attendant to ask him to remove it.
The man refused, the woman threw a glass of water over him, and they were both taken to Chicago, where they were ejected from the flight and left there to think about what they’d done. Reports that the incident sparked an unlikely but passionate romance are yet to surface, but wouldn’t that be cool?
The Right to Recline debate has spectacularly sidetracked the internet. Should anyone on a plane be allowed to recline their seat and just sprawl out like we’re in our third hour at a Chinese opium den? Or should we all sit as God intended, straight-backed and with heads held high, so as to be closer to heaven?
Shandy Pockets are at last plunging into the debate, having weighed up the arguments for literally an amount of time. And we come down heavily (just like the back of our seats onto an unsuspecting pensioner) on the RIGHT TO RECLINE.
Listen, sonny Jim, we’ve (usually) paid for that seat, so damn skippy we’re going to use it to its full potential, and manipulate the full range of kinetic variables at our whim, come hell or holy water. And there ain’t no computer nerd going to get in our way with their gadget sneakery. So we get into a fist fight and are ejected from the plane? Well, jokes on you, knee boy, because I DON’T HAVE A PROPER JOB AND I CAN GET THROWN OFF AS MANY PLANES AS YOU CARE TO BE STUBBORN ON.
And the moral objections to reclining your seat? There’s a tall guy behind you: listen bud, all the women on the dating sites I frequent all want men over 6’3”, so you win some, you lose some, and it’s time for your chin to reacquaint itself with your knees. Small child or, say, a Peruvian dwarf behind you? Reclining your seat puts otherwise unreachable items – the tray table, the touch screen entertainment centre – right into their sweaty grasps and they should be thankful. Let’s cut the bullroar and just cut to the quick: it doesn’t matter who’s behind you, because the beauty is that THEY CAN ALSO JUST RECLINE THEIR SEAT and we can all fly together in a semi-recumbent orgy of slouch, no water, laptops or unlikely romances necessary.
Just back that thing back up when we’re all eating. It gets messy and consuming food while not bolt upright is a bit, you know, continental for our taste.
Among the more spurious surveys that pop onto the Shandy Pockets radar was this one, carried out by travel compensation-garnerers, refund.me. Air passengers were asked which characters form the big screen they would like to see in their cabin crew, the winner by a sizable nose (no offence), being the character of Maverick from Top Gun, played by thespianic colossus, Mr Thomas Cruise, esq.
Yes, the majority of the great flying public would choose an emotionally unstable, borderline sociopathic risk-taker with a gung-ho military mentality as the pilot of choice for their charter plane to Majorca. Presumably because he looks good in uniform. Forget your chances of survival and the person responsible for them being one step above Howlin' Mad Murdoch from The A-Team, as long as our man has a winning smile and lustrous hair, we'll take our chances, thank you very much.
Among the other preferences expressed were Little Leo DiCaprio from Catch Me If You Can (borderline sociopath engaged in massive fraudulence with no formal training but good looking) and Dishy Denzel Washington from Flight (borderline sociopathic substance abuser, albeit a heroic one, though even more albeit: very good looking).
Among the female dream crew were Catherin Zeta-Jones (Terminal), Kirsten Dunst (Elisabethtown) and Ellen Pompeo (Catch Me If You Can), a list containing a noticeable lack of sociopathic risk-takers, partly because you can better imagine being offered chicken or beef by them, but mostly because Hollywood has yet to give out those kinds of parts to women. Who would you like to see showing you how to orally top up your life jacket?
Boarding a plane has got to be one of the least exciting processes ever. It's essentially just a series of queues of slightly varying sizes, from the gate to the jetway to the cabin itself.
There's also little variation in how it's done, and only three versions really spring to mind - the grouping system, the seat row system and the mighty free for all that has made many a budget airline boarding process SO enjoyable, as long as you enjoy passive-aggressive (or just aggressive) elbow up in your business of a morning.
It probably comes as no surprise to find that none of these systems are particularly effective or efficient, although surprisingly, it's when people are left to their own devices that things speed up. According to this article, we don't need our movements micro-managed by the airlines, and letting us choose our own seating destiny can shave up to ten precious minutes off the boarding time. It goes on to detail random, outside-in and theoretical methods that save even more time, and asks just why airlines aren't even deviating from the standard method, show to be by far the least efficient.
Seems to us no matter which way you want to get onto a plane, some things will always hold true. The privileged will always get to board first, and sit comfortably in their sky thrones as the rest of us stumble on, some parents will always try and get on with their ten year olds when 'traveling with infants' is announced and even if the main body of the passenger list boards in a seamless ballet of efficiency, chances are that some genius is still dawdling in Duty Free and will hold the whole plane up for ten minutes anyway. Still, it's nice to dream.
You may remember last week that British people are being told to stay home and think about what they've done thanks to the chaos at the passport agency. Well, that punishment looks even more cruel given the context of the power of the British passport.
We came across this great infographic, which shows you which countries have the most powerful passports in terms of which other countries you can go to without having to get special visas, write lengthy begging letters to the government, sneak in in someone's hand luggage, etc.
At the front of the VIP section and being waved in under the velvet rope of immigration are Finland, Sweden and the UK. Their perennial plus-ones include Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg (sneaky little devils) and of course, everyone's entitled young cousin, the USA. Over 170 countries welcome all these nations with open arms.
Looking rather like their dance card is empty are the countries that virtually no-one will let in without a severe pat-down and police background check are places such as Pakistan and Somalia (32 countries), Iraq (31) and poor old Afghanistan, which has visa issues with all but 28 friends on this planet.
Of the big economies, it's surprising that China is so far down the list - just 43 countries lay out the welcome mat for them, though given the stories we've heard about trying to get visas to get INTO China, they might want to show a little willing to get invited to the cool kids' parties.