Weigh yourself before getting on a plane

What has weighing you before you get on the plane anything to do with safety? You might recall that sometime back we wrote about a hilarious announcement some years back by an airline seeking passengers relieve themselves before boarding the plane. And you might have also read about some Pacific carriers selling airticket seats by weight in articles some years back…

But what if a mainline carrier in Europe starts to ask you to step up to a weighing machine (read here)? It was voluntary of course. What would zip through your mind and what will your response be?

If you re-read the first paragraph and pull a link between them, you might think that the airlines were trying to manage excess weight on the flights. And remember, the heavier the plane is, the more fuel it will need to use. Afterall it takes energy to move things around right?

However is there a higher purpose to all of this? If you had read the link above, you might know now that the weight that a plane carries is based on estimates. And it is critical just like a ship on the high seas to have a reliable understanding of the weight load that the plane has to carry. Not just for fuel consumption, but also for potential distribution of weight on the plane. You did read the part where it says folks in first class weigh more than economy right?

Can you imagine if the weight too frontloaded on the plane?

Anyhow. The next time your airline asks you to volunteer to be weighed with all you carryon luggage you know why.

Pilotless Planes anyone?

Now you’all know about drones and driver-less trucks, even as such cars are coming on the roads near you. Here in our little red dot, we have extensive driverless subway train networks. It’s a matter of time before more transportation assets are turned over to intelligent algorithms.

But what if the plane you fly in is piloted not by a person, but by the same intelligent algorithm? If this development (read here) moves with that quick a pace, we could soon be at the mercy of AI. Don’t know about you, but we sure are nervous too like the author alluded. Well he said the palms are sweating. We on the other hand might have shaky knees.

Because Boeing is certainly adamant on the testing pilotless planes.

One thought that popped into our heads was this; that the most costly component of operating an aircraft (aside from the depreciation on the multi-billion dollar craft) would be the maintenance and… the highly paid pilots? Perhaps if this can be taken away costs will be reduced (read this)? What do you think? Or could it be that the aircraft maker actually believe that human operated flying machines are still less reliable or desired… perhaps we might see an unemployment line of pilots some day…

Will plane fares drop then? Heheh.

Yes, some day. We might all have to surrender ourselves to the mastery of technology. Put your life in the hands codes of artificial “beings”. Wow. Haven’t we seen these in movies before?

Don’t you love aircraft windows?

We all probably know about the dreaded middle seat and we wrote about seats being misaligned to the window (read here). Or the ones where one need the good graces of the other party sitting next to you to give way. So’d you can get out of your cramped seat for a stretch, or join the queue for the water closet (yeah we’d say toilet, but today we speak Queen’s English ok?). Heheh.

Today we are not talking about that.

Rather, the focus is on the views from the window seat. Assuming it is aligned to the window that is. We’ve said countless times how we enjoy the views from the window. Literally staring out for long periods of time until we realize it does hurt the eyes… The Daily Mail actually had pilots share photo images taken from the cockpit some months back. Made for excellent instagram posts… deraming about someday, beyond the sea air…

Obviously they have wider windows. Unfortunately we don’t, but here is a little slide show with some of the views we captured. Did you spot the one that does not seem right? Which one was it?

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Does this convince you to jostle for the window seat each time you get on a flight?

Large Tarmac letters

Have you ever wondered what those large numbers on the airport tarmac is all about? Street signs perhaps? Well, that’s close. Today’s post is a short one. Because we feel you need to click on this link and watch the short youtube video.

It’s a marvel to learn a few things about geography.

So after reading the article you will know what the numbers mean. For those who did not click on the above link (tsk tsk), they are representations of cardinal directions between 0° to 360°. But it is truncated. Thus if an aircraft’s compass is not working, the pilot can still tell in which direction his/her plane is approaching the airport.

Now you see why they paint the numbers so large… the better that they can see you be seen so said the big bad wolf article… And hopefully now it makes sense to you why there are letters on the tarmac.

But we are not only sharing with you what we’ve learned about these markings and numbers. Recall our post on the language of pilots? Flying is still a complex business, and we are not referring to the business of running an airline. The control of a complicated aircraft with millions of moving parts all coordinated by software is the deal we are talking about. You will come to read our take on the advent of pilotless aircraft in a future post.

Think about that for a moment. No pilot. If that happens, will we still need the large letters on the tarmac?

Long term effects of travel (flying that is)

You might recall that we made mention about how flying dumbs down your sense of taste (read here). Well, yet more articles had been circulating about the health impact of long distance flying. This is probably applicable to road warriors who ply the skies for work.

We are quite ‘avid’ fans of reading the UK Daily Mail, travel section only of course…all to trawl for a good story. And one of their article suggests a wide range of potential health problems afflicting those sitting for long periods in that aluminium can – hurtling at supersonic speeds. Heheh….as if we all did not know of it already.

The list of acronyms representing the different ailments that can afflict one on flights is quite long. And not being medical professionals, we are cannot comment on whether these effects are real and impactful as suggested.

One thing we did note from the article is the amount of UV and cosmic particles one can be exposed to while on a longer haul flight. Wow, 56 minutes of flying is like 20 minutes on a tanning bed…so on an intercontinental flight of 12 hours…Wonder if that would be less if we flew at night? LOL. Seriously, can someone answer that?

The other would how sitting for long periods might lead to increased cardiovascular disease (not just DVT). Sigh, being office workers how are we to avoid sitting down in meetings or at our work desks?

What do you do in your daily lives that may mitigate the effects of flying? Mel and Suan exercise quite regularly. Do you think taking flight will negate the therapeutic effect of the vacation?

Real Class warfare

Actually this has been reported since March of 2016, but it seems that the real deal is finally coming to fruition. What’s that?

The notorious “Basic Economy” class. Click here for a very hilarious comic.

While the limelight had been soaked up by United airlines some time back, the other big 3 (American, Delta and US Air) had been mulling this step for what we thought was the longest of time. Update: AA, United and Delta are now all onboard this new travel class… Many in blogosphere has been highly critical. Honestly we do not think this is really innovative. We are frequent users of Singapore airlines and we are still baffled by the myriad of booking classes on their tickets! In case you are interested, click on this link. What we are trying to say is this : even in economy class, there can be differentiated booking levels that determine how much miles you earn, or do not!

Some though point out that this time IT IS DIFFERENT, for “Basic Economy” is where we quote “gets rid of seat assignments and elite-qualifying miles, forbids paid upgrades and flight changes, and bans overhead carry-on bags“. You are said to only know where you sit when you check in. Perhaps you might end up in the cockpit in the spare third seat behind the pilot. Beats sitting on the wing any day!

Perhaps it’s time to give a better name to the different classes of flying. Some random thoughts,

First class Airline royalty? Hmmm.. or perhaps
Business class La Dolce Vita (or the ‘entitled class’?)
Premium Economy Plebian wannabes
(5354 in the Singaporean context)
Economy Cattle class (yeah we have little imagination)
Basic Economy Les Miserables?

Perhaps someday this boarding announcement will be heard:

We are pleased to invite your majesties to saunter aboard our aircraft.  Passengers enjoying La dolce vita may follow behind our airline royals at your own convenience. You will both have a special lane, where you can wave to the plebian wannabes who are waiting while we prepare to herd the cattle in. And les miserables you will be called as soon as we can depart. Rest assured we’ll find you a middle seat, because that’s all we’ll have left. Thank you for flying with snobbish airlines, a member of arrogant alliance“.

Do you have suggestions on the names of the travel classes? If so, will you share them?