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Yearly Archives: 2006

Cruise and Land Travel Passport Rules Extended

In response to heavy lobbying and a system that has not been certified, the passport requirements that were to go into effect at the end of next year have pushed it back a year. This will allow the systems to be set up properly, and give the lobbyists another year to spread their money all over Washington to the politicians.

The extension was added to the appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security.
Congress originally set Jan. 1, 2008, as the date that all travelers entering the United States from other countries in the Western hemisphere would be required to have a passport. The Department of Homeland Security proposed moving up that deadline to Jan. 8, 2007, for cruise ship and airplane passengers.
Now Congress has pushed back the passport deadline for land and sea travel to June 1, 2009. Passports or other secure documents could be required earlier than this date if the government makes a lower-cost identification option available and installs the technology to read these cards at entry points.
Congress didn’t change the passport deadline for air travel. Airlines already ask passengers for passports for international travel, even in the Western hemisphere, so the new requirement won’t disrupt air travel, according to the Travel Industry Association of America.  via the Dayton Business Journal

Holland America will add cell phone capability in March 2007

Holland America will add cell phone capability in March 2007.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE will outfit all its ships with cell phone capability by March 2007, the line said; the service is currently available on the Volendam. The technology allows passengers to make and receive calls and send text messages on their own cell phones or personal digital assistants while onboard and be charged international roaming fees. The line partnered with SeaMobile, which provides the same service on ships for Silversea Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Crystal Cruises.

State Farms Florida Customers See 50 Percent Increase In Insurance Rates

StatefarmState Farm has gotten approval from the state insurance regulators to raise the policy premiums 50 percent in Florida. The scary part is that State Farm was asking for a 79 percent increase and had to settle for the 50 percent bump. The rates will effect new and current customers.

The rates, more than a $1,000 increase on a $2,000 premium, are effective Aug. 15 for new customers and Nov. 15 on renewals. State Farm Florida first sought an average 79 percent increase when it asked for higher rates in May, but the company withdrew that request earlier this month.

State Farm officials have said they sought the rate increase to enable the company to continue to underwrite coverage in the state. Other companies also have sought rate increases.

Allstate Floridian has pursued a different strategy, dropping Florida customers to reduce its risk from hurricane damage. Allstate has plans to drop 350,000 home policies. In March, the company had 529,000 Florida homeowners’ policies.

Nationwide has a pending request to increase rates by 71 percent on the 261,000 policies it has in Florida. via The Quad-City Times Newspaper

US Airways to Advertise on Air Sick Bags

Airsick_bagAmerica West/US Air are looking for money anywhere they can find it. They have gone so far as to put advertising on the air sick bags on their flights. While pricing has bot been determined, the company is thought to be targeting companies like Dramamine to grace the covers of the thier air sick bags.  

Passengers should see the new, commercialized sickness bags in September, he said.
The ads are just the latest initiative the company has used to squeeze out a bigger profit.
America West, which merged with US Airways last year, had the first advertisements in the industry on tray tables, the first airline gift cards and the first in-flight meals for sale.
“Little things like that work,” said Michael Boyd, president of the Boyd Group, an aviation consulting group in Evergreen, Colo. “Barf bags have a lot of shelf life — people aren’t barfing as much in planes as they used to.”
The new bags drew a few chuckles among US Airways passengers at the company’s hub at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
“I would honestly pay no attention to an ad if I got sick,” said Nathan Vierra, 19, a student. “But hey, if skateboarders can sell ad space on their T-shirts, I guess why can’t an airline sell ads on barf bags?” via  MSNBC.com.

Crown Princess Lists Dangerously – Dozens Injured

Crown princessThe newly christened Crown Princess had a dangerous list to the side that caused dozens to be injured and 33 passengers to be sent to the hospital. The ship that entered into service in June of this year. The 113,000 ton vessel had several floors flooded with seawater.

Do you wonder if Princess and the cruise industry just dodged a huge bullet and this ship is not seaworthy? Or was this just a fluke occurance that the steering problem that caused the roll was human error?

One passenger said seawater flooded several upper decks of the Crown Princess, forcing water from a swimming pool “like a mini-tsunami,” and breaking windows and furniture.
The vessel, with about 3,100 passengers and 1,200 crew, had just departed Port Canaveral on Florida’s east coast en route to New York when it listed badly to its left side, said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer James Judge.
The ship then righted itself before returning to port, where the Coast Guard said all passengers and crew had been accounted for.
Besides an adult and a child who were critically hurt, 12 people were seriously hurt and about 70 had lesser injuries, said Cape Canaveral Fire Rescue Capt. Jim Watson.
Thirty-three people were taken to hospitals, he said. Most had bruises and minor back and neck injures.

Dozens injured after cruise ship tilts – Yahoo! News.

Southern California Air Traffic Shut Down

It looks like all air traffic in and out of southern California is stopped as a power outage at the main radar facility occurred.

Tell me how this is possible.

A power outage at a radar facility Tuesday cut communications and brought incoming and outgoing flights in Southern California to a standstill, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said.
“We lost everything. We lost all power to phone lines, computers, everything,” said Allen Kenitzer, a regional spokesman for the FAA.
The outage at the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center was reported around 6 p.m., Kenitzer said, and the cause was not known.
The center is located in the high desert near Palmdale. via ABC News

Man Attempts Cockpit Invasion on New York to Tampa Flight

A man on a flight from LaGuardia to Tampa St Pete was subdued by passengers in first class as he attempted to gain access to the cockpit of a Delta Air Lines flight. He has been taken into custody, but this is a great example of how a 9/11 would have a hard time occurring. No one will stand still for someone creating an inflight incident.

A man who tried to force his way into the cockpit of a Tampa-bound Delta Air Lines jet was undergoing mental evaluation on Friday, Tampa International Airport officials said.
Passengers said the man ran up the aisle toward the cockpit door just before the flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport was about to land in Tampa on Thursday night.
Passengers in the first-class section of the plane tackled and subdued the man, who was turned over to police after the McDonnell Douglas MD-88 landed. Airport spokesman Lewis Miller told a local television station that the man was unarmed and that his intentions were unclear.
Cockpit doors on all U.S. airliners have been locked since the September 11 hijackings.

US News Article | Reuters.com.

Airbus Planes new Crash-Avoidance Maneuvers Worries Pilots

AirbusAirbus is offering a new system for their planes that will help avoid midair collisions. The system will rely on the autopilot to take evasive maneuvers if a collision is about to occur. The pilots dislike the system and for once I will side with them.

Pilots go through stringent training to deal with these issues. If there is a chance of collision how can anyone expect a pilot to sit back and leave his or her life and those of the passengers to the fate of a computer. You would have to be nuts. I would much rather have a pilot making these decisions than a computer. Because computers do not die. Pilots do.

Known for its pioneering use of computers and software to push the automation envelope, this time Airbus has decided to cross a new threshold in replacing pilot decisions with computer commands. For the first time, flight crews of Airbus planes will be instructed and trained to rely on autopilots in most cases to escape an impending crash with another airborne aircraft. Currently, all commercial pilots are required to instantly disconnect the autopilot when they get an alert of such an emergency, and manually put their plane into a climb or descent to avoid the other aircraft.
The change, which hasn’t been announced yet, comes after lengthy internal Airbus debates and despite skepticism from pilot groups and even some aircraft-equipment suppliers.
In spite of significant pilot opposition, the proposed shift sets the stage for broader use of computerized safety systems down the road to protect commercial planes, business jets and other aircraft from other hazards, including flying into natural or man-made obstacles.

WSJ.com – Airbus Planes to Use Computers In Crash-Avoidance Maneuvers.

Space Shuttle Launch – July 1st, 2006

Spaceshuttlelaunch

The Space Shuttle Discovery is expected to launch out of The Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the 1st of July. If you have never witnessed a Space Shuttle launch live, it is one of the most spectacular events in modern times. The launch is scheduled for July 1st, but the launch window is from the 1st to the 19th of July.

If you are planning on being down in the Central Florida region, it is a great day trip to attempt to see a launch or to visit the facility and museums.

Directions to The Kennedy Space Center

Order Tickets to Launches or Kennedy Space Center Attractions.

Ebola On Virgin Atlantic Flight Scares Crew and Passengers

VirginThe crew and fellow passengers are a bit nervous after a passenger on a Virgin Atlantic flight died of what seems to be ebola. The flight that landed yesterday carried the woman whom was vomiting and ended up unconscious on the flight to London.

The unnamed woman is understood to work at an embassy in the African kingdom of Lesotho.
Before boarding a Virgin Atlantic flight from Johannesburg to Heathrow she visited a doctor complaining of flu-like symptoms.
She was allowed to fly, but during Flight VS602 to the UK she suffered a violent fit which left her unconscious.
Cabin crew and passengers rushed to her aid but towards the end of the flight she began to vomiting.
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When the Airbus A340-600, carrying 267 passengers and crew, touchdown at Heathrow she was rushed to nearby Hillingdon Hospital, West London.
Her symptoms matched those of the viral haemorraghing fever, ebola. The results of a post mortem are awaited. via Mirror.co.uk