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Jetblue Mint

A few weeks back we told you JetBlue would be rolling out new U.S. transcontinental premium passage beginning next summer. Let’s flesh out the amenities the low-fare/high-frills carrier will be offering up front, in the pointy end of its new A321s as of June 2014.

The effort is dubbed Mint, and the seat is the center of it all – the sine qua non around which the effort revolves. It’s a fully lie-flat 6′ 8″ affair, one that JetBlue claims is “the longest in the U.S. domestic business class market.” At 22.3″ wide, the carrier also contends it’s the widest in that category. The seat is fitted with adjustable air cushions, has a massage function, comes with dual 110 volt power outlets and a pair of USB ports and is fronted by a 15-inch flat screen monitor delivering 100 channels of DirecTV.

Then there’s the food, glorious food. Prep for the airborne repast with a pre-departure drink. If you’re in the mood, follow it up with a cocktail and amuse-bouche once aloft. Then comes the main course, one curated by Saxon + Parole, a popular New York City eatery. No mere chicken, beef or fish triad here. JetBlue wants you to “customize” your meal by choosing from among five “comfort food with a twist” offerings. They’re served tapas-style. Desert follows, along with a cappuccino or espresso.

The most mouth-watering part of the whole equation is the airfare. It starts at $599, one-way. JetBlue’s premium pitch is that your wallet too will arrive on the other end of the continent in comparatively Mint condition.

JetBlue’s betting that rate is going to help it rake in a larger share of the hugely competitive U.S. transcon premium market, a market heretofore in which it’s competed with six-abreast A320s configured, in part, to offer more leg-room. The arrival of Mint to the market signals JetBlue means business. It will be fascinating to see how the move affects the competition.

More shuttles

Shuttle service may have lost some of its luster since the heyday of the fabled Eastern Shuttle, which once linked New York LaGuardia to both Washington National and Boston Logan. Once-upon-a-time, the high and the mighty made the trip, high-profile people from politics, media and the business world. It wasn’t uncommon to find yourself sitting next to a network television anchor absorbed in their script for the evening news.

Nowadays shuttle service is, perhaps, a bit less lustrous, more taken for granted. Still, the convenience of predictable, practical air passage when you want it most hasn’t lost its intrinsic appeal. Far better to be cruising at 30,000 feet as the traffic winds below on Interstate 5 than be down there battling it out with deranged drivers.

That fact of life set the stage for new Delta Shuttle service between Los Angeles International and San Francisco International airports. 76-passenger, dual-class, Brazilian-built E-175 regional jets have begun making the 347-mile trip 14 times a day. Flights depart hourly, Monday through Friday, beginning at 7 a.m.

Turn-on-a-dime business travelers who demand flexibility should find the flights useful You can check in as late as 30 minutes prior to departure, and do so at dedicated check-in counters. The Shuttle gates are close to security. And there’s in-flight Wi-Fi.

Amenities? How about free copies of The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and such.

Aloft, food and drink are complimentary: LYFE Kitchen good-for-you snacks, Starbucks Coffee, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company beer, and Wente wines.

SkyMiles members will rack up at least 500 miles for the Shuttle sojourn.

How does 1.6 million euros worth of gold bars go missing on a plane?

According to, Air France says it has filed a complaint after gold bars worth about 1.6 million euros ($A2.2 million) were stolen from a plane bound for Zurich from Paris.


“We hope the investigations will allow us to quickly determine the sequence of events and identify those responsible,” a spokesman said.


The gold bars, weighing about 50kg, were placed inside the plane at Paris’s Charles-de-Gaulle airport last Thursday by employees of the US security firm Brink’s.


It is as yet unclear how the theft happened, but an airport source said the robbers had ‘probably made use of airport accomplices’.


This kind of shipment takes place every day, and Brink’s employees always stay on the tarmac until the plane takes off.

Over 29,000 new aircraft required in the next 20 years

According to Airbus’ latest Global Market Forecast (GMF), air traffic will grow at 4.7 per cent annually over the next 20 years requiring more than 29,220 new passenger and freighter aircraft.

The total of aircraft will be valued at nearly US$4.4 trillion.

Economic growth, growing middle classes, affordability, ease of travel, urbanisation, tourism, and migration are some factors adding to the required increase to the fleet.


Increasing urbanisation will lead to a doubling of mega cities from 42 today to 89 by 2032, and 99 per cent of the world’s long-haul traffic will be between or through these.


Traffic growth has led to average aircraft size ‘growing’ by 25 per cent with airlines selecting larger aircraft or up-sizing existing backlogs.


A focus on sustainable growth enabled fuel burn and noise reductions of at least 70 per cent in the last 40 years and this trend continues with innovations like the A320neo, the A320 Sharklet, the A380 and the A350 XWB.


“By 2032, Asia-Pacific will lead the world in traffic overtaking Europe and North America.


Domestic flights are also set to rise strongly with domestic India growing at the fastest rate (nearly 10 per cent), followed by China and Brazil (seven per cent).


The attraction of air travel means that passenger numbers will more than double from today’s 2.9 billion, to 6.7 billion by 2032, clearly demonstrating aviation’s essential role in economic growth,” said John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer – Customers.

Grand Final Flights

Perth to Melbourne Flight Options for the 2013 Grand Final

Airline                                  Wednesday 25                  Thursday 26                       Friday 27

Qantas  Direct                       $1013                               $1113                               $1013

Qantas Business                    $1859                              $1859                               $1859

Qantas Via Sydney                 $650                                $1207                               $1234

Virgin                                    $805                                Sold Out                            $805

Virgin Business                      $1019                              Sold Out                            Sold Out

Virgin Via Syd/Bris                  $925                                $1012                               $1085   

Jetstar                                 $723                                 Sold Out                            $743

Jetstar Via Sydney                 $638                                 Sold Out                            Sold Out

Tigerair                                $589                                 Sold Out                            Sold Out

Flights with Tigerair and Jetstar are basic cost only. Baggage and food will be extra.

Prices correct as on Sunday 22 at noon. 

TCAS on show

The loss of separation incident involving two Qantas A330s near Adelaide Australia on Friday September 19 serves to highlight the multiple levels of safety built into the airline industry today.

Qantas Flt 576 was heading from Perth to Sydney at 39,000ft when the Airbus A330’s pilots received an alert from the aircarft’s Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS).

It climbed to avoid Qantas Flt 581, which had been given an instruction from air traffic control to climb.

Flight 581, also an A330, was heading from Sydney to Perth at 38,000ft when its pilots asked for permission to climb.

That permission was given by Airservices Melbourne Air Traffic Control centre but was rescinded shortly afterwards when the error was apparently detected, but not before the TCAS alerts were activated.

Airservices ATC system also has an alert system called Short Term Conflict Alert but it is yet known if that activated.

While the aircraft came within 700ft of vertical separation it is yet to be determined what lateral separation they had.

The standard in Australia is 1000ft (305m) vertical and 5 nautical miles (9km) lateral.

Initially it was reported that the aircraft were on reciprocal tracks but some sources tell that the aircraft may have been 1nm apart.

Qantas confirmed the incident and said its pilots followed ATC instructions.

Qantas chief pilot Phil Green said the airline was “full of praise for the pilots involved”.

“These pilots have years of experience and handled the 8situation exactly as they have been trained to,” Capt. Green said.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau the country’s crash investigator called the near miss “serious” and has started an investigation.

Australia has had 53 serious loss of separation incidents in the past 10 years.

TCAS was developed through the 70s and 80s and became mandated in the 1990s.

All commercial aircraft seating more than 30 passengers (In some countries 19) must have TCAS fitted.

To read how it works see here.

Incredible stunt

Arguably one of the most spectacular aircraft stunts ever was performed by Canadian Rick Rojatt dressed up as comic book super hero the Human Fly. (See the video clip below)

In the early 1970s Rojatt teamed with famous US pilot Clay Lacy to ride atop a four engine Douglas DC-8.

The stunt was performed several times at speeds of up to 300mph (480km/hour), mainly in California.

Lacy, number one pilot for United Airlines when he retired is one of the most experienced pilots of the modern era and flew the DC-8 as low as 200ft in a high speed pass that thrilled crowds.

Very few pictures exist of the various events and till very recently no video was available.

However Clay Lacy Aviation has recently released a 23 minute video of one of the several stunts which you can see below.

The whole video is well worth watching.

Clay Lacy Aviation is arguably the world’s leading producer of air-to-air video and still photography with cameras specially developed by Lacy to fit into corporate jet chase planes.

The stunts were not without incident. In one appearance in Dallas Lacy flew through an unexpected rainstorm and the rain left Rojatt badly bruised because of the speed of 200mph plus. 

We have edited a short clip of the stunt which is below.

The full 23 minute video can be found here.

Go to for more information on Clay Lacy

A350 XWB joins the fleet

Three widebody Airbus aircraft, the A380, A330 and the new A350 XWB, took off from Toulouse Thursday September 19 flying together for the first time before continuing on separate flights.

The A350 XWB is the latest aircraft from Airbus and is designed to replace the A330 and takeon Boeing’s 787 and 777 families.

To date Airbus has sold 682 A350 XWBs over three models. 


The truth behind being a baggage handler! interviewed a baggage handler who revealed the truth about his job and this is what he had to say.

For the full story:


What’s the most common cause of lost baggage?


The most common cause of lost luggage is when people check in their bags at the very last minute. Another common occasion is when people transfer between flights.


Sometimes it looks like bags get rough treatment – do baggage handlers ever break stuff on purpose?


Yes, sometimes we make a game out of it. In the hold of the plane we would throw the suitcases to each other, from the belt to stacking them up.


We throw them to each other as hard as we can.


We don’t want to break the bags or cases, but you can imagine it’s not exactly beneficial to the bag, so sometimes handles might break – especially as the more expensive suitcases, like Louis Vuitton, aren’t very robust.


What’s the worst thing about being a baggage handler?


The worst thing is loading planes in high temperatures in the summer. Because of the tarmac, it really feels like it’s 50C, but we still have to work even then. It gets especially hot when you’re in the hold of the plane and you have to be very precise with the way you stack the bags, to make sure that they all fit in the plane.


You have to imagine that an average suitcase weighs about 30 kilograms and that we normally have to load about 200 bags.


What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen someone trying to transport on a plane?


We sometimes handle unusual items, for example, a pole vault and a big canoe, but the strangest thing was probably a walking stick with a dagger hidden in it. After a thorough inspection by customs it was allowed to on the plane (in the hold).


How often do things get stolen from bags?


I have only experienced this once. We see quite a lot of professional football teams going through the airport for international Champions League and Europa League football matches and once the guys who loaded the bags into the plane got hold of a captain’s arm band of a famous club. Apart from that I’ve never experienced any instances of anything like that.


Do baggage handlers ever purposely put bags on the wrong flight?

No, I have never seen this happening (at least not on purpose).


What’s the best thing about being a baggage handler?

At the airport where I work there are a lot of young students, which makes it great fun. Furthermore it is a good opportunity to look at the ladies, especially in the summer. After loading a plane you have time for this …!

The most satisfactory part of the job however is making sure that you make the turnaround time of the plane. We have to unload and load a plane in a minimum amount of time, so to make the slots is very important. If you manage to do this with the team, it’s very satisfying.

I also enjoy working outdoors and working with sophisticated equipment and technology, like the aeroplane itself. Baggage handlers love planes.

British Airways launches panda plane

British Airways has announced that it will be flying to Chengdu in China, home of the giant panda, in style.

The Boeing 777-200 was painted to look like a smiling Giant Panda to mark the start of the new three times a week service to Chengdu on September 22.

Chengdu is the fourth British Airways route to China and the first new destination for the airline to the country, since flights were launched to Shanghai in 2005.

British Airways  will  be  the  only  UK carrier to offer a direct service between Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport and London Heathrow.

Keith Williams, British Airways’ chief executive, said: “Chengdu is a fascinating venue for leisure travellers, and is known around the world for its famous giant pandas and excellent fiery Sichuan cuisine.

“As one of China’s largest cities, Chengdu is also an economic power house, having expanded rapidly, consistently delivering double-digit rates of growth. This new route demonstrates the importance of mainland China to British Airways and our commitment to grow our presence there.

“We are confident that the new route between Chengdu and London will prove popular with customers travelling between the two major economic hubs.”

Reflecting the Chinese belief that eight is an auspicious number, the flight number for the service from Chengdu to London is BA88 and BA89 from London to Chengdu.





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