Thursday, April 07, 2005

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Airport faeces up to awful situation
By Linda Smith

A BLOCKED toilet caused chaos at Hobart Airport yesterday when baggage handlers mistook a putrid toilet smell for a dangerous gas leak and evacuated the building.Around 30 passengers and airline staff were rushed from the Qantas domestic airport terminal as a precaution after the stink was noticed just after 1.30pm.
The Aviation Fire and Rescue Service and Tasmania Fire Service attended the scene and discovered that the foul smell was not inherently dangerous, but was actually seeping from a blocked toilet.
Tasmania Fire Service station officer Shane Batt said investigations found the smell from a waste pipe was being drawn into the air-conditioning system, filling the Qantas Club lounge with a rotten gas smell.

Mr Batt said after consultation with onsite builders the area was reopened after about an hour and no one was injured.
Hobart Airport chief executive Wayne Tucker said the incident occurred during a quiet period and was all over in a few minutes, with no flights disrupted.
"It was largely staff, it was a quiet time and there were very few passengers involved," Mr Tucker said.
"I can't help giggling about it really, if it wasn't potentially serious."

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

James Wysong

How to get kicked off a flight

Everyone in this life has their little pet peeves. Even flight attendants. The average passenger is usually unaware of how they are irritating us.

Not to worry. I?m here to bridge that gap. Or maybe I should say, to connect that jetway. Here are my top 10 ways to annoy your crew:

  1. Press the flight attendant call button repeatedly. It will send a tone into the galley that will drive us mad after a while.

  2. Tap us on any part of the body, or snap your fingers to get our attention.

  3. Pile the dishes and trash on your meal tray in such a way that when it is collected, everything falls all over the floor. Then sneer at us as if it is our fault.

  4. Ask several different flight attendants for the same thing.

  5. Talk to us with your mouth full, thus showering us with your food and spittle.

  6. Come back to our galley, and pass gas or throw up.

  7. Let your kids run around unattended.

  8. Ask for three or more drinks at a time.

  9. Take a bite out of your meal and reconsider entree choices.

  10. Hand us your warm and gushy sick bag or diaper.

Through the years, I have been there when passengers were actually removed from an airplane. The following is an actual list of things passengers did to get them kicked off a plane:

  1. Board a flight drunk and put your face directly into the chest of a well endowed flight attendant while yelling the words ?Blobby, blobby, blobbly.?

  2. Snatch a man?s toupee and play ?Keep Away? during boarding.

  3. Take a swing at me and then at the pilot. He missed on both tries but did land in prison for six months.

  4. Smoke marijuana in the lavatory and then insist it is for medicinal purposes. *

  5. Openly read a book on how to make bombs, underlining parts of the chapter on commercial aviation.

  6. Charge the cockpit, shouting ?Allah be praised,? and then upon reaching the front say, ?just kidding.? *

  7. Be a well endowed female, take off all your clothes, and start your collection of Mardi Gras beads on your way to New Orleans.

  8. Open an exit before takeoff to see if the emergency slide really works. *

  9. Have such incredibly bad gas that it makes everyone around you sick. (This has happened twice.)

  10. Pull out a realistic looking gun, aim it at a flight attendant and start squirting. *

The most bizarre case, although I did not personally witness it, was a story that made the headlines. On a flight from South America to New York, a passenger was so drunk that when he was cut off, he rebelled by going up to first class, defecated on a service cart and smeared the walls with his feces.

Upon arrival, the airline had him greeted by the police, and later filed a lawsuit against him. He filed a counter suit claiming the airline was liable, because they had served him too much alcohol.

He lost his lawsuit, and was forced to reimburse the fares of all the passengers in the first-class cabin (approximately $100,000), and was blacklisted from ever flying with that airline again. The shocker of the whole episode is that this guy was the CEO of a major company.

Can you imagine waking up the next morning and saying ?I DID WHAT?? He really gave a new meaning to the term, ?crappy flight?.

(*) = Resulted in jail time.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

A 'free' vacation can wallop the wallet


WASHINGTON - If you say yes to the telemarketer or the Internet pop-up ad offering a free trip for two to the Bahamas anytime in the next year, what happens next?
Often, veteran travel-fraud investigators say, fees and taxes add $200 to the cost of the "free" trip. Still, it seems like a bargain. Then the hotel rooms set aside for the package are booked when you want to travel. The agent offers an upgrade to another room that's available. That's another $200.
Want electricity in that room? That's extra. And expect to attend an all-day, high-pressure sales pitch for a time share. You won't have your companion to help you. The strategy is to separate couples and pitch to them separately, aiming to sell one party on the deal and have them sell the other.
Travel fraud -- dominated by these so-called vacation certificates -- is growing, fraud specialists say, often with help from online auctions, virtual travel agencies and pop-up ads.
"The Internet is fantastic, but has also created fantastic problems," said J.R. Kelly, the director of Florida's Division of Consumer Services.
Kelly should know. When it comes to travel scammers, Florida is Mecca. Complaints to his office doubled last year, and he expects the same this year.
Vacation certificates made up three-quarters of Florida's 4,400 travel-fraud complaints in 2004, according to Kelly. They involved Florida as a destination and as a place of business for scammers.
When people get tricked in travel scams, the average loss is about $1,200, according to the National Consumers League, a coalition of government and non-profit consumer groups.
In one brick-and-mortar case, travel agent Casandra Littles of Roxbury, Mass., sold cruises and trips that she'd bought using stolen identities. Littles, who's now serving a 21-month federal prison sentence, racked up $45,000 in charges on stolen credit cards before the Secret Service nabbed her in 2002. In addition to protecting presidents, the agency investigates bank and wire fraud, including cases involving credit cards.
Scammers offering vacations -- whether free or as prizes in online raffles -- sometimes obtain credit card numbers by saying they're needed for "verification" or to guarantee payment of unauthorized charges. The scammers sometimes disappear after taking supplementary payments for "free" vacations.
The pitch for real estate can be very convincing, says Keith Bellows, the editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine. Bellows, at 27, was talked into a $7,000 time share he couldn't afford.
"No matter how much we think we're experts -- and I think I'm a pretty savvy traveler -- we can get ripped off," he said.
Kelly thinks he knows why.
"We're all greedy to some extent, and we all want the cheapest price for something," he said.

I personally never liked timeshares and think it is a waste of money to invest in one!

"Sometimes that can get you into trouble."Anyone wishing to respond to my notes posted in this weblog can do so on the we8there forum.