Jammed cargo door makes passengers walk

Posted in Air Travel, Air Travel News by Hank on the June 30th, 2009

Several travellers refused to fly on a Thomas Cook plane from Mallorca to Newcastle after being asked to move to seats at the rear to help balance the plane.

A cargo door on the plane was stuck, meaning luggage could only be loaded into the front of the plane. Thomas Cook said that balancing the plane was a routine procedure on all airlines, and there was no safety risk. The pilot himself came out of the cockpit to speak to the passengers, but 71 people weren’t convinced and left the plane. Many of them spent the night at the airport and caught a different flight the next day.

No mention was made of possible repercussions for the timid travellers, such as additional charges for the subsequent flight or resulting overstays at Newcastle Airport car parks, but surely some passengers were contacting Thomas Cook when they arrived home to express their displeasure.

A Thomas Cook spokesperson said, “It is standard for all airlines to ensure cargo and passengers are evenly distributed on an aircraft…this is a routine industry procedure and poses no safety issue. We are disappointed that, despite reassurances from the captain and crew, a number of passenger decided not to travel.”

Travelpad wonders, would you move seats to balance a plane if asked, or would you walk too? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

Hackers love Wi-Fi hotspots

Posted in Air Travel News, Airport Lounges by Hank on the June 23rd, 2009

Wi-Fi hotspots are becoming increasingly available in places like train stations and airport lounges. While they provide a very convenient means of checking email or even just doing a bit of surfing before a trip, a leading white hat hacker believes these hotspots are one of the easiest attack points for hackers who are up to no good.

In a recent speech, Chris Gatford, director of white hat hacking group HackLabs, said that most hackers “do their best research when they are bored in airport lounges on their way to a conference.” He went on to say that the reason for this is the lack of any encryption on data traffic in public places, due to the difficulty in providing such encryption for temporary customers.

Gatford recommends using a VPN (virtual private network) when connecting to the web from a public place. If a VPN is not available, he states that using the TOR anonymous network will help to eliminate some, but not all of the risk. Regardless of how you connect, you should always disable your Wi-Fi connection when it is not in use.

Further UK flight cuts due this winter.

Posted in Air Travel, Air Travel News by Jeff on the June 19th, 2009

UK Airports are set to see further reductions in the number of flights over coming months.

Delta Air France have announced that they will be reducing the number of flights that they operate between the US and the UK this winter, with the first reductions coming into effect September 2009.

A spokesperson for Delta Air France said “Customer demand for international travel has fallen significantly. This fall’s capacity will target routes that have experienced losses in the current economic climate and with higher fuel prices.”

The routes affected will be Edinburgh Airport to New York JFK, which will be suspended, and London Gatwick to Cincinnati, which will also be cut. Flights from Gatwick and London Heathrow to Atlanta, and Heathrow to New York’s JFK Airport will continue to operate.

Decrease in airport traffic not all bad

Posted in Air Travel, Air Travel News by Jeff on the June 18th, 2009

With all the doom and gloom news about the decline in both passenger and freight traffic across the world’s airports, an unexpected benefit of the downturn has emerged.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), as a result of a 9% decline in UK flight numbers from January to March 2009, and an 11% drop in total passengers during the same period, overall flight punctuality at many of the regional and major UK airports including Heathrow, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester has increased.

Overall on-time performance is defined by flights that arrive early to 15 minutes late. Of scheduled flights arriving at UK airports monitored by the CAA, the percentage deemed to be on-time has increased from 70% to 81% compared with the same period in 2008.

Increases in on-time performance is nothing but good news for travellers who need to collect their car from an airport parking facility within the booked time or who need to catch a connecting flight or train service.

Hong Kong International Airport reports drop in traffic

Posted in Airport Lounges, Airport News by Jeff on the June 16th, 2009

Hong Kong Airport have reported a year-on-year drop in air traffic, much in line with other major airports across Europe and the world.

Air cargo shipped through the airport dropped 17.6 percent year-on-year in May, as the on-going global downturn continued to impact demand for goods made in southern China. Much of the drop in air cargo via Hong Kong International airport has been attributed to the significant drop in demand for consumer goods in the United States and Europe.

Passenger numbers passing through the airport, one of Asia’s key transport hubs, also dropped 12.7 percent to 3.6 million in the same period. This drop in passenger numbers has undoubtedly had an impact on the local economy in terms of hotel trade, and indeed on services at the airport such as the three Hong Kong Airport Lounges that serve both the east and west departure halls.

Johannesburg Ready For Confederations Cup Opener

Posted in Airport Lounges, Travel by Jeff on the June 1st, 2009

Johannesburg has pulled out all the stops to ensure that everything is ready for the grand opening of the newly refurbished Coca-Cola Park stadium.

Formally known as the Ellis Park Stadium, the newly refurbished and modernised stadium will play host to the opening FIFA Confederations Cup on June 14th between Bafana and Iraq.  Organisers are expecting up to 64,000 people to attend the event and opening ceremony.

The capacity of the stadium has been increased from 60,000 to 65,000 with additional seating on the northern side in readiness for the  2010 FIFA World Cup games. Coca-Cola Park will host five group games, one second round game and one quarter-final of the tournament.

With the Coca-Cola Park stadium located near Johannesburg and a short distance from O.R. Tambo International Airport, it’s expected that the 2010 FIFA World Cup games will bring a welcome boost to the local economy. Local business and tourism related services (including hotels, restaurants and public transport networks) are preparing for the influx of visitors, as are airport services like the Airport lounges at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport, who will be taking care of passengers flying out of the country after the games.