Archive for September, 2007

Where Lost Luggage End Up Going…

Have you ever lost one of your bags while traveling by air? Arriving to a new airport (or finally back home) and just standing there next to the carousel and waiting for your favorite bag, or the one that had THOSE things which you definiately never wanted to lose?? And as minutes go by, the known faces from the plane slowly disappear (with their bags of course), but you just keep staring and staring at the carousel but yours isn’t there… And the worst moment is probably when they just stop it, and the screen is refreshed showing a new flight number arriving from another airport… And then new passengers start to gather around the plastic snake…

Usually you have to go through some paper-work, claiming that you indeed didn’t get it, and explaining how it looked like, what was inside, etc. And of course you have to claim that you indeed had your name and address on it. In most of the cases, the luggage then will be found based upon your explanation, and delivered to you the next day or a few days later. It happened to a friend of mine, that she was to change planes in Santiago de Chile, but due to bad weather her plane was diverted to her final destination directly. Agustina was very happy that she didn’t have to wait for her connection and take another flight, but then she had to go through the above described situation. The problem in this case was that the bag actually continued its originally planned trip to Santiago but as nobody claimed it there, it never made it to the connecting flight to Cordoba, Argentina as she was already home by then! She had to wait almost a week to finally get it. But some people are not so lucky. They start the bag-hunt, but their bags are never found… So where do they go? Do they end up anywhere? Is there a chance to get back the most important items?

 Unclaimed Baggage Center, Scattsboro, Alabama, USA

As I have learned from a BBC news article, they actually do go somewhere, they end up in a STORE! I know it sounds funny at first, and it did sound funny to me as well, but it actually makes sense (and a good business). The “Unclaimed Baggage Center” in Scattsboro, Alabama, USA buys those bags, resulting the vast majority of items in the store from unclaimed baggage which, after at least 90 days of intensive tracking by the airlines, are declared unclaimed. However, lost and unclaimed cargo is also now available in special areas of the store. They buy those bags, without knowing what’s inside, for a standard fee (maybe it’s depending on the size). (I was wondering whether if the bags are flown into Scattsboro and if they are, then what happens to them if they get lost on that trip – but then I realized, it doesn’t really make a difference, they would only end up here 3 months later…) Then they unpack them, and after sorting put out all the stuff from the bags in their store, which is basically a low-fare, low-cost department store! Yes, they hang the clothes, they lock up the watches, jewellery and cameras in small cabinets and then open the store, so anybody can go in and shop if they find anything that interests them. The goods are used and not handed over by the original owners for sale directy, but their faith is rather determined by luggage sorting/forwarding systems and the employees of the airlines and airports.

The discounted prices attract a large number of visitors every year, who are looking at this event as some sort of a Treasure Hunt, as they never know what they would find! One of them had bought a bag for peanuts, only to find at home that there was money hidden in the lining. The Store actually has a small museum with the most interesting finding they had ever come across, such as a 19th Century full suit of armour, and underwater camera from NASA, Egyptian artefacts and props from movies as well as an ancient map of Afghanistan.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center started when the founders began the business by buying lost luggage from the Greyhound Bus Company in 1970 – as a part-time business. In those days things were literally thrown onto a table and people sorted through, in search of a bargain, but 37 years later the centre is one of Alabama’s top tourist destinations. Over one million items pass through the store annually. About 60% of the merchandise is clothing with the balance of the store dedicated to cameras, electronics, sporting goods, jewelry, designer optical, books and of course, luggage. But don’t forget, they had earlier found a full parachute, an F-16 guidance system and even a 40.95 natural emerald just to name a few of their most interesting findings, so you never know what you may be able to buy over there for a discounted price!

I wonder if anyone had ever visited the store looking for their own belongings which were lost – and had actually found them!? I think if I would lose something really-really important on a flight departing or arriving in the US, and my bag would be classified as unclaimed, I may drop in to the Unclaimed Baggage Center for a “quick” view to look for it! But first of all, I will always make sure that the most important, unreplacable goods are in my hand-luggage, above my seat in the cabin, or underneath the seat in front of me – and this is my heartly advice to you as well!

Here are some of tips by the Unclaimed Baggage Center about how to make your bags recognizable.

by balint01

Friday fun – Quote About Fear of Flying

Earlier we pulished a post about aviophobia. The following quote is about this feeling:

“The world is divided into two kind of people: normal, intelligent, sensitive people with some breadth of imagination, and people who aren’t the least bit afraid of flying. ”

White Knuckles: Getting Over the Fear of Flying 

By Szafi 

Mesa CFO Deleted Files Relating to a Lawsuit While Purging Porn From His Computer

OK, i think this is the news of the day 🙂

Hawaiian Airlines sued Mesa Air Group this September for illegally using financial data to launch their new airline called go!.  Hawaiian had a bankruptcy case and Mesa appeared as a potential investor, therefore they gained insight to Hawaiian’s most sensitive financial data, but instead of investing into Hawaiian, they started a new airline.

During the lawsuit a new swerve came, when it turned out that Mesa misses files necessary for the legal procedure as CFO  Peter Murnane deleted them during purging porn from his computer.

Here is the full story on ATW online.

By Szafi

Music and Flying I – Rammstein or Ramstein?

Now that many people know we are running this blog, we always get good hints what to write about. I myself never looked at the relationsip between music and flying, but there is. So as music is my second hobby besides flying, I loved the idea to write a series of articles about this relationship.

The first relationship we are looking at is about a band that was named after an air crash. Ramstein is a city in Germany. Before the union of the 2 parts of Germany, it gave a home to an American air force base. In 1988 the biggest accident happened there in the history of air shows.

Italian fighter planes (the formation is called Frecce Tricolori) performed some stunt flying, when during a figure (called pierced heart) one of the planes came a second earlier and it collided with another plane and hit 2 more. 3 planes hit the ground immediately after exploding in the air, but the one that missed the figure flew in another direction and after the collision it fell on the crowd. At that moment the air show scene became hell. All in all 75 people died and 326 got seriously injured.

The following video is a report about the accident including interview with survivors and an official who was in charge of the rescue works. The video is very shocking and emotional, but it is a nice commemoration.

Getting back to Rammstein, the band the first question is why they spell their name with double m. In interviews I found no special reason, but emphasizing the name using double m for putting a stress on that part of the word. The word means ramming stone, so by emphasizing the word ramming, they can show some agressiveness. They said their name was chosen as a memorial to this horrific event.

They even have a song with the same title. The lyrics are the following:

A body burns
Rancid flesh fills the air
A child dies
The sun shines
A sea of flames
Blood congeals on (the) concrete
Mothers’ scream
The sun shines
A (massive) grave
There’s no escape
Not a bird will sing
And the sun shines

As a result, air shows were banned in Germany in the next 3 years. In 1991 the ban was lifted, but there were much more serious regulations about the distance between spectators and the air space and rules still forbid stunt flying figures towards the crowd. A memorial website can be found here with links to blogs of victims’ families.

By Szafi 

British Airways Orders Airbus A380’s And Boeing 787’s

Airbus A380 in BA colors - by Airbus



British Airways has announced today what the airline industry has been looking forward to for a long time: the first orders to replace their long-haul fleet.

BA that has been using Boeing 57 B747-400’s and 43 B777’s and 14 B767-300’s for long-haul travels, have decided to place firm orders for 12 Airbus A380 superjumbos and 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners to replace 34 of their older planes (20 B747 jumbojets and all 14 B767-300’s). This also means an increase of 2 planes in the fleet. The order includes options for a further 7 A380’s and 18 B787’s.

BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh told reporters the airline would use the A380 superjumbo to make best use of its limited take-off slots at London’s crowded Heathrow Airport and will be the first long-haul Airbus BA would ever use. It will fly on routes from London to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa (Johannesburg) and the west coast of the United States (Los Angeles and San Francicso) and possibly to Indian destinations as well. The 24 mid-sized 787 Dreamliners, will be used to open up new routes and increase the frequency of flights on existing ones. The two types of new aircraft will be delivered between 2010 and 2014, with the first 787 joining the fleet in 2010 and the firs A380 in 2012.

He denied the company had experienced political pressure to buy the superjumbo, the wings and engines of which will be built in Britain. “There was absolutely none,” he told reporters. “There was no contact, be it formal or informal. The decision was made in the best interest of British Airways. In the engines, the choice of Rolls-Royce was because British is best.” He also added that environmental concerns were a critical consideration: “These aircraft set the gold standard when it comes to environmental performance. . .[and] will contribute significantly to our target of improving fuel efficiency by 25% between 2005 and 2025.”  BA took delivery of its first B747 jumbo on April 22, 1970, becoming just the fifth airline to get one and had used all types of the largest Boeing aircraft. That tradition will be broken now, as even though the new B747-8 is out on the market (and Lufthansa has ordered a few pieces of it as well), BA chose the A380.

BA said it was considering aircraft to replace a further 37 Boeing 747s and is examining the Boeing 777-300 ER, the Airbus A350XWB, as well as a stretched version of Boeing’s 787, the 787-10, which the planemaker has yet to launch to replace the remaining 747-400s. A follow-up order should not be expected before 2010 according to BA.

by balint01

Air France-KLM Preparing Bid For Iberia

Following earlier indications by British Airways, who are joining a consortium to bid for Spanish Flag-carrier Iberia, Air France-KLM has yesterday admitted that they are preparing to launch a bid for Iberia together with several Spanish companies, Madrid’s Expansion newspaper reported. The consortium likely would include investment firm Torreal and publishing house Grupo Planeta, which currently is the largest shareholder in Vueling Airlines (a Spanish low-cost). The AF KLM offer would keep 51% of Iberia in Spanish hands, allowing it to maintain its traffic rights for non-EU and US routes. In recent weeks, as Airlineworld has reported as well, AF KLM Chairman and CEO Jean-Cyril Spinetta has stated several times that the group is “studying” the Iberia dossier, while admitting that they will be open to Alitalia as well, would the Italians decide to talk to them.

British Airways is also planning a potential merger with Iberia though a consortium which would also probably leave 51% in Spanish ownership for the same reasons (flight rights) as AF-KLM.

It is really interesting to follow this story, that includes several players: Iberia – the bride, with fellow oneworld member BA and bigger rival AF-KLM in the role of the potential grooms! But knowing that AF-KLM is also considering proposing to the ripped-off Italian girl: Alitalia if she would express her interests… What a love-circle! 🙂

by balint01

Sukhoi Superjet Revealed

As we have promised in our previous article on the Sukhoi Superjet we are here to inform you about the rollout of the first Sukhoi Superjet 100 which is ready to fly. The ceremony took place earlier today in Russia’s Far East, where part of Sukhoi’s massive Komsomolsk plant has been converted from sleek fighter jet production to civilian use with a target of 5-6 airliners a month by 2010. This is the first rollout of a new Russian passenger airplane since the Soviet Union collapsed, and thus marked as a historical event in Russia. The city of Komsomolsk was once sealed off from the world, as a nerve centre of Soviet submarine and fighter production. Now it will be revitalized in a real international way, with the help of this new production line.

Sukhoi Superjet Revealed - by Reuters

The Sukhoi Superjet is the first regional jet to be unveiled in the 21st century, and is claimed to be the most efficient and most environmentally friendly jet in its category on the market (78-98 passengers). The rollout ceremony was attended by representatives of three participating countries: Russia, France and Italy. Mikhail Pogosyan, Sukhoi Company’s CEO, said: “Sukhoi Superjet 100 is a child of thousands of people around the globe, committed to the project success with their hearts and souls. It took us all six and a half years to get here, overcoming skepticism and finding our way in translation of international rules of play to Russian aerospace industry and incorporating world industry standards in it. Have a look at the aircraft – I’m sure, it was worth it.

The revealed aircraft airframe is basically ready for the flight tests: the fuselage, the wings and the engines are attached together, all the major systems are built-in, the avionics blocks installation is under completion while the pilot cockpit already holds all panels, indicators, side-sticks, thrust levers and pedals. In the coming two months the aircraft is due to be ready for flight tests, but during that time, the static tests being performed in TsAGI (Zhukovsky) should be completed. Among the most important strategic partners of Sukhoi in this project are: Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company and Boeing (fulfilling a consultant role since the launch of the program).

Russia aims to secure at least 10% of the world airliner market with the new passenger jets and to take third place among aircraft-producing countries by 2015-2018.

As Reuters reported, while targeting the world market, the Superjet will replace Russia’s fast ageing Soviet-made fleet of Tupolev Tu-134 and Yakovlev Yak-42 planes on domestic routes with a longer range of 4,550 km (2800 miles). Having pre-sold 73 aircraft mainly to Russian airlines, it aims to lift the order book to 100 planes with a catalogue value of $2.8 billion by the end of this year, which Sukhoi hopes will include at least one more Western Operator (besides Italian ItAli Airlines with an order of 10 planes).

Sukhoi Superjet Revealed - by Reuters

Ultimately it aims to sell 1,000 planes with 700 of them going to global export markets and it hopes to get European and U.S. certification during 2008. That would put Sukhoi in direct competition with Brazil’s Embraer and Bombardier of Canada, which dominate the 70-100 seat aircraft market today. The maiden flight is expected before the end of the year, Sukhoi said and so far they have been on schedule, unlike Airbus’ A380 and Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. It says the Superjet will have 10-15 percent lower operating costs than either Bombardier or Embraer models.

According to Reuters, Russian President Vladimir Putin is merging civilian and military aircraft makers into a state-controlled umbrella company called United Aviation Corporation (Ilyushin and Tupolev are already included) and hopes to rival European Airbus and US Boeing by 2025.

Sukhoi hopes the development dollars and civil technology of its outside suppliers will attract Western airlines who may otherwise be reticent about buying a Russian aircraft. It is also under-cutting rivals with a price of $28 million per plane, which is lower than a CRJ from Bombardier or an E-Jet from Embraer. But there could be other “silent” supporters of Sukhoi’s entry to the Western Airline Market, such as Mr. Boris Abramovic of AiRUnion, who has a controlling stake in Malev Hungarian Airlines as well, which operates in the EU. According to reports in the Hungarian Media today, Mr. Abramovic (present at the unveiling ceremony) has expressed at the event that Malev is already looking into the possibilty of purchasing 15 Superjets. Replacing the regional fleet of Malev with one type instead of the two types operated at the moment (Fokker-70’s and CRJ-200’s) sounds like a rational step, and knowing that AiRUnion has already ordered 15 of the smaller (75 seat) version of the SSJ-100, it forecasts that such a decision may be expected in the first half of 2008 from the Hungarian airline.

by balint01

Blog calendar

September 2007