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Monday, November 28, 2011

Why does the airline make me turn off my electronic devices?


Is this flight at risk?
Millions of Americans who got on a plane over the Thanksgiving holiday heard the admonition: “Please power down your electronic devices for takeoff.”

And absolutely everyone obeyed. I know they did because no planes fell from the sky. No planes had to make an emergency landing because the avionics went haywire. No planes headed for Miami ended up in Anchorage. We were all made safe because we all turned off all our Kindles, iPads, iPhones, BlackBerrys and laptops, just as the Federal Aviation Administration told us to. Realistically speaking, I’m going to bet that a handful of people on each flight could not be bothered, or forgot to comply.
According to the F.A.A., 712 million passengers flew within the United States in 2010. Let’s assume that just 1 percent of those passengers — about two people per Boeing 737, a conservative number — left a cellphone, e-reader or laptop turned on during takeoff or landing. That would mean seven million people on 11 million flights endangered the lives of their fellow passengers.
Yet, in 2010, no crashes were attributed to people using technology on a plane. None were in 2009. Or 2008, 2007 and so on. You get the point.

Surely if electronic gadgets could bring down an airplane, you can be sure that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, which has a consuming fear of 3.5 ounces of hand lotion and gel shoe inserts, wouldn’t allow passengers to board a plane with an iPad or Kindle, for fear that they would be used by terrorists.

New technologies are often greeted with fear and that is certainly true of a disruptive technology like cellphones. Yet rules that are decades old persist without evidence to support the idea that someone reading an e-book or playing a video game during takeoff or landing is jeopardizing safety.
Nevertheless, Les Dorr, a spokesman for the F.A.A., said the agency would rather err on the side of caution when it comes to digital devices on planes.

He cited a 2006 study by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics, a nonprofit group that tests and reports on technical travel and communications issues. The group was asked by the F.A.A. to test the effects of cellphones, Wi-Fi and portable electronic devices on planes.
Its finding? “Insufficient information to support changing the policies,” Mr. Dorr said. “There was no evidence saying these devices can’t interfere with a plane, and there was no evidence saying that they can.” I’m not arguing that passengers should be allowed to make phone calls while the plane zooms up into the sky. But, why can’t I read my Kindle or iPad during takeoff and landing? E-readers and cellphones can be easily put into “Airplane Mode” which disables the device’s radio signals.

The government might be causing more unnecessary interference on planes by asking people to shut their devices down for take-off and landing and then giving them permission to restart all at the same time. According to electrical engineers, when the electronic device starts, electric current passes through every part of the gadget, including GPS, Wi-Fi, cellular radio and microprocessor.
It’s the equivalent of waking someone up with a dozen people yelling into bullhorns.
As more and more people transition from paper products to digital ones, maybe it’s time to change these rules.

Michael Altschul, senior vice president and legal counsel for CTIA, the wireless industry association, said a study that it conducted more than a decade ago found no interference from mobile devices.
“The fact is, the radio frequencies that are assigned for aviation use are separate from commercial use,” Mr. Altschul said. “Plus, the wiring and instruments for aircraft are shielded to protect them from interference from commercial wireless devices.”

Mr. Dorr reluctantly agreed. “There have never been any reported accidents from these kinds of devices on planes,” he said.

Related Article.  Are Cellphones safe on airplanes?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thailand - Bangkok Travel Advisory

Bangkok has been hit by severe floods. All districts have been placed on high alert, however, the worst-hit areas are the northern and eastern districts, most notably Sai Mai, Khlong Sam Wa, Bang Khen, Nong Chok, Min Buri, Lat Krabang and Khan Na Yao. Traveling to those districts is highly discouraged. The authorities have advised the locals there to move their valuables to higher grounds and be ready for a swift evacuation.
In other districts, including Central Bangkok, the water has risen to ankle or knee-level. While life continues relatively as normal, the situation is in a state of flux and could change overnight. Basic supplies like drinking water, tooth paste, toilet paper, batteries and candles are scarce or unavailable as many convenience stores and supermarkets have closed.
Rail travel is severely strained — the Northern Line to Chiang Mai is completely out of order, while the Northeastern Line is rerouted via Chachoengsao (expect significant delays). Bus travel is still possible, but many lines are rerouted causing heavy delays. Plan your trip carefully and follow the news for ongoing developments.

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Check back later for more info, and meanwhile, check out this article about Bangkok

"Bangkok as seen from the SkyTrain, appears a jumble of oxidized hovels, clotheslines, and satellite dishes, above which gathers a typically ruined Third World sky, while in the far and middle distances, a new postmodern cityscape of luxurious condominiums has seemingly been airlifted from Miami’s Brickell Avenue."


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

American Airlines - Launches Deal Finder 2.0

American Airlines launches Deal Finder as an alternative to Orbitz and Travelocity. 

The all new DealFinder 2.0 features a user friendly design, more search capabilities, and exclusive offers.

DealFinder is the customizable fare searching tool that you can download to your desktop, so you can easily have a personalized travel planning experience!

With DealFinder 2.0, you have access to:
  • Fare Search Alerts- Set up to 10 fare searches and DealFinder will alert you when your desired fare becomes available
  • News and Offers – Be among the first to know about the latest fare sales and news from
  • Exclusive Discounts – Receive exclusive offers tailored to your travel preferences
Whether you are using a PC, Mac or Linux operating system, DealFinder gives you access to all American Airlines travel deals.

Save time and gain more control over your travel planning with DealFinder.

To Download

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

James Dean Burial Site - Fairmount, Indiana

James Dean

Fairmount, Indiana.  This is no Pere Lachaise in Paris, France where Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf rest.

It is a small town between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.  Not a destination in itself, but if you are driving in the area, it maybe worthwhile to detour.

Off Route 31 you get the sense of why James Dean escaped to Hollywood.

When you walk into the Fairmount Historical Museum, you will be won over. 

The museum is full of the actual items owned by James Dean.  There are four rooms packed full of James Dean's own clothes, letters, photographs, school reports, motorbikes, toys and other memorabilia donated both by the local community and by his film star friends.

Park Cemetery itself is a big place, far bigger than you'd expect of a town with a population of less than 3,000, so the map they give you at the museum is essential. And there it is: a modest headstone bearing his name and the years 1931-1955. Nothing more. It's no different from the hundreds of other headstones here, just as Fairmount's no different from thousands of other towns in the Midwest.

The 2011 James Dean Festival will take place from Thursday, Sept. 22nd through Sunday, Sept. 25th. The festival's main attractions will be the Annual Museum Days and the Annual James Dean Run.

Museum Days, a four-day long remembrance celebration, will feature live music performed on the Main Street stage; free showings of "East of Eden," "Rebel Without a Cause" and "The Giant;" James Dean look alike contest, dance contests, and a number of other events and activities suitable for children and adults of all ages.

The James Dean Run will take place at Fairmount's Playacres Park and feature car judging, flame throwing contests, music, trivia and much more.

The James Dean Festival is the quintessential festival for fans that wish to honor and celebrate the young actor who personified what it meant to be "cool" - James Byron Dean.

Monday, July 25, 2011



Intramuros Front Gate
My office in 2009 through 2010, was in the port area of Manila, Philippines and right outside of this gate of the old walled city.  Intramuros is the oldest district of the present day city of Manila, the capital of the Republic of the Philippines. Nicknamed the "Walled City", Intramuros is the historic fortified city of Manila during the Spanish Colonial Period. Located then along Manila Bay and south of the mouth of Pasig River, its thick defensive walls were built by the Spaniards in the 16th century to protect the city from invasion. Its name in Spanish, intramuros, literally "within the walls", meaning a city enclosed by thick, high walls and surrounded by moats.

Old City Map

Often, I would go there to conduct business such as work permits and banking.  My fiance, now my wife, suggested we tour Fort Santiago.

Pearl at Fort Santiago Entrance

The fort was the site of several key battles over the years.  Built in 1571 it was destroyed in 1574.
Pearl at the cannon
Me at the cannon

Golden Foot Print of Rizal
1896.  A national hero of the Philippines, Jose Rizal, was held prisoner by the Spanish and executed nearby on December 30, 1896.  Moments before his execution by a squad of Filipino soldiers of the Spanish Army, a backup force of regular Spanish Army troops stood ready to shoot the executioners should they run awry. The Spanish Army Surgeon General requested to take his pulse: it was normal. Aware of this the Sergeant commanding the backup force hushed his men to silence when they began raising "vivas" with the highly partisan crowd of Peninsular and Mestizo Spaniards.  His steps are traced in gold.  It was powerful to see.

Unlikely Soldier
Later, after the Spanish-American War, Intramuros was the headquarters of the US Army.  The US trained Filipino soldiers and we got to try on their uniforms.

Pearl looks serious
In 1941, the Japanese invaded and kept many prisoners in the dungeons of Intramuros.

Pearl in the Dungeon

Pearl in front of Casa Maynila
After touring Fort Santiago, we headed over to Casa Maynila.  It is a reproduction of how people lived in the 1800's Reproduction because, during the Battle of Manila in 1945, every building was destroyed.  Not many pictures on the inside because it was forbidden to take photos.  We would have done it anyway, but the guards haunt you.  I guess they get a bonus if they catch you.

Pearl at the garden of Casa Maynila

I highly recommend the Carlos Celdran tour.  We caught the last bit of this one as we had to go work an overnight shift.   Carlos Celdran is not only knowledgeable but he is hilarious and some of routines make the history come alive.  You can book him here.  Overall, the tour of Intramuros was inexpensive and historical.  We made a lot of our own fun.  We went in January so it was cooler than usual.  But still beware the tropical sun and drink plenty of water.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Philippines Travel Guide - Palawan

Palawan Province

The history of Palawan may be traced back 22,000 years ago. The discovery of bone fragments of the Tabon Man in Quezon, anthropologists believe they came from Borneo. Known as the Cradle of Philippine Civilization, the remains of the ancient man were found along with his tools and a number of artifacts.

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To Do:

Puerto Princesa Underground River

Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

Underground River on Palawan

A bottomless cave under the rocky marble and limestone sea cliff of Mt. Saint Paul  is also present on the Island, where an 8,000 meters underground river course exists.  It is known as one of the world’s wonders and also considered as the longest underground rivers in the world. The special feature of the park is to ride a boat and go inside the cave with a flashlight exploring the beautiful religious- like images of stalagmite and stalactite, which are all breathtaking views. 



Take the Sabang Beach Adventure Tour.

Overall great place to explore whether you are visiting the Philippines or already live there.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

SOUTHWEST Update - Working through cancellations

Southwest Airlines is experiencing relatively few flight delays and cancellations while they are proactively inspecting some Boeing 737s.  For more information about these inspections.

If your flight is delayed or canceled and you would like to reschedule your trip in accordance with Southwest accommodation guidelines Online Rebook

For Customers who did not purchase their ticket via, please call 1-800-435-9792 to rebook your travel plans without paying any additional charge.  Also, Customers holding reservations for a canceled flight may request a refund for an unused ticket/travel itinerary.

Link to ehow article on Southwest Cancellation policy.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Southwest may cancel 300 flights Sunday 4/3/2011

Southwest may cancel 300 flights Sunday 4/3/2011

Southwest canceled hundreds of flights over the weekend as it inspected 79 aircraft from its Boeing 737 fleet after one of its planes with a gaping hole in the fuselage made an emergency landing, the airline said on Saturday.

The airline said was canceling some 300 flights on Saturday, a day after the emergency landing, and could cancel around that number again on Sunday.

"We don't at this time know what the impact will be, but it's possible that it could be in the 300-flight range again tomorrow," Southwest spokesman Brandy King

Travel Tips - Postponing or Canceling

If your flight gets canceled or postponed, see if it can be rescheduled.  Getting a new date may be better than hanging around the airport for an indefinate period.

* If you decide to travel at a later date, call your travel agent or your airline as soon as possible for details on how to reuse your ticket.  Generally, tickets must be used no later than one year from the date of purchase.  Some changes may require a fee and/or an additional fare payment.

* If your originally scheduled flight was canceled and you decide not to travel, you can receive a full refund.  To arrange for a refund, call your travel agent or call Southwest Customer ServiceSouthwest Airlines 800-435-9792 update - (This number has been ringing busy) 

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

American Airlines in battle with Online Booking Sites

Expedia Cancels Relationship with American Airlines Over a  Price Dispute

Expedia Inc. removed American Airlines’ airfares from its travel website today.  They claim the new pricing model from AA is “anti-consumer and anti-choice,” making it harder to compare American ticket prices and options with those of other airlines, the online travel agency said in an e- mailed statement.

American doesn’t expect a “significant” drop in sales from Expedia’s move, said Ryan Mikolasik, a spokesman for American Airlines. On Dec. 23, Expedia omitted American fares from prime search displays on its site, though customers could still buy tickets. This widens the conflict between online travel agencies and airlines, such as American, that seek to drive more consumers to their own websites. Fort Worth, Texas- based American, owned by AMR Corp., has developed a system called Direct Connect that provides fare pricing and options directly to larger online travel agencies.

Last month, American pulled its listings off Orbitz Worldwide Inc., while Delta Air Lines Inc. notified three online travel sites --, and -- that it terminated them as authorized travel agents.

American spokesman Mikolasik said that while consumers can’t buy American tickets on Expedia anymore, the airline’s fares and schedules remain on Egencia, Expedia’s corporate travel website.