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A Delta Air Lines program that whisks “high-value customers” from gate-to-gate in a Porsche has expanded to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. For the service, which started as a trial in Atlanta, a “Delta Elite Services representative” surprises select customers at the aircraft door and escorts them via a Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid vehicle to their connecting gate. Delta says it is looking for ways to “enhance the travel experience for our most valued customers.” In this case, that refers to Diamond Medallion members, most of whom have flown at least 125,000 miles. “We’ve found a unique opportunity to surprise and delight customers,” Delta says. Let’s hope those Porsche’s have horns so they don’t surprise other unsuspecting fliers in the process.
Three airlines have begun allowing passengers to use portable electronic devides throughout the flight in the past week. Delta and JetBlue implemented the change in policy on Friday; American followed suit yesterday.
Flyers with those airlines can now read e-books, listen to music, watch videos and work on documents (but not talk on the phone) from the time they get on the plane to after they land. Devices must be in airplane mode. The Federal Aviation Administration approved the policy changes. Before allowing any such change, the administration ensures planes can safety operate with devices turned on. Other airlines will likely make similar policy changes soon.
The FAA had long contended that the radio signals from electronic devices could interfere with an aircraft's navigation systems, a particular safety concern during takeoff and landing, but a panel convened by the FAA to study the issue found that most commercial planes can safely operate even with electronic gadgets up and running.
A dreidel spins in the aisle. Santa helps himself to an oxygen mask before assisting his neighbor, an elf. An oversized nutcracker stows his top hat in the overhead bin.
Delta is at it again, with a plan to entertain cramped and harried fliers with a new amusing in-flight safety video. The airline has produced a new holiday-themed video, which will take to the air in the coming months but can already be seen on youtube.com.
These vidoes are serious business, devised to convey vital safety information to fliers. Why the injection of silliness? No doubt, the airlines bring out their fun side in the hope that fliers will actually watch -- and probably as a way to say "happy holidays" to customers during a busy flying season.
I am one of the three percent. I fly American Airlines, which flies about three percent of the flights out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The airline does not have a big presence at MSP, but when it had a sysytem-wide computer malfunction on Tuesday, it grounded flights across the nation, including at MSP. The computer breakdown meant that the airline could not access its reservation system, but also could not print boarding passes, track bags or determine the weight on a plane. Fortunately, the outage lasted only a few hours.
United suffered similar computer problems last year, in August and again in November, after it combined its reservation system with Continental as a result of the airlines' merger. Combining computer systems can create loads of problems.
When I few American at Easter, from New Orleans back home via Dallas, a storm popped up in Dallas (as happens frequently in the South), threatening my connection. The kind flight attendants told me not to worry unduly. If weather was delaying our flight (which was taking a much longer route around the storm), it was certainly delaying others. They predicted I would make my connection, even if I got home a little later than expected. Then, almost on cue, the pilot announced the skies had cleared and we would be only a few minutes late.
Let's hope that when American merges with US Airways, no storm clouds hover over the merged computer systems.
How to use a seat belt. What to do if the oxygen masks drop. Where to find the emergency exits. Look around the cabin on your next flight when this information is shared and you'll see that most people would rather peruse the SkyMall catalog than attend to the tutorial. Sure, it's all very dull stuff. Unless it suddenly becomes vitally important. So kudos to Delta for injecting a dose of humor into their videos, a move that could boost brand identity as well as flier's attention.
In the safety video I saw recently aboard a Delta flight, a man adjusted his shoe tassels to help clear the aisle and a human-sized robot turned himself off when it was time to power down electronic devices.
Even the popular so-called "Deltina," the flight attendant reminiscent of Angelina Jolie who starred in a previous Delta video, made a cameo, wagging her finger at a man who had taken out a flamboyant pipe.
The best moment comes when a man leaves an aft bathroom just as everyone turns to find the exit row behind them. It can't compete with New Zealand Air's "Bare Essentials of Safety" video, in which flight attendants and a pilot appear in uniforms painted onto their naked bodies (it's discreet, really). But if it draws our attention, good for Delta (and us).
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