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Tag Archives: Air travel

Work trips abroad

We are traveling again abroad for work. Work-related travel was mostly limited to road trips and local travel (e.g., to Zamboanga) in the past 2+ years. We used to average at least 2 foreign trips per year with my wife usually raising that average due to the nature of her work that used to make her travel to the US at least twice a year.

I got this bear in Arnhem, The Netherlands. He’s supposed to be an Air Force aviator, symbolizing one of those who braved the skies to bomb enemy positions or deliver paratroopers during Operation Market Garden as depicted in the movie “A Bridge Too Far.”

Safest airlines in 2022/2023?

One magazine published an article recently about the safest airlines in the world. This is very relevant as people have returned to traveling during this period despite the pandemic and the new strains coming out. It is useful especially for people who are traveling overseas since airline choices might be very limited for domestic routes. Here is the article:

Puckett, J. (January 5, 2023) “This is the safest airline in the world,” Condé Nast Traveler, https://www.cntraveler.com/story/the-safest-airlines-in-the-world?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=spotlight-nl&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_mailing=thematic_spotlight_010623_2&utm_medium=email&bxid=5bd6761b3f92a41245dde413&cndid=37243643&hasha=cf6c402001bc473063a8744033fe9be3&hashb=ec2bb753c2e6299f5107823241955221da67bd1f&hashc=09f65c608bfb62050199733de500e3cd82827631b36d537ce8386d41a3bd1ff7&esrc=FYL_SEG_APR18&sourcecode=thematic_spotlight&utm_term=Thematic_Spotlight_Afternoon [Last accessed: 1/7/2023]

To quote from the article, the basis for the ranking is as follows:

“The site’s staff analyzes each airline’s records for crashes over the last five years, serious incidents over two years, audits from aviation’s governing bodies and associations; fleet age, expert analysis of pilot training, and COVID protocols. In addition to these criteria, each airline that makes the list is also at the top of the industry in terms of safety innovations and have added cutting-edge aircraft to their fleets, like the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787…”

There are not so many Asian airlines in the list especially if you don’t include the Middle Eastern airlines. Only Singapore Airlines, EVA Air and Cathay Pacific are in the list. I was expecting at least one Japanese airline and perhaps Thai Airways to be in the list. I was not surprised Philippine Airlines was not on the list considering the criteria.

There’s a separate list for low-cost carriers in the article and Air Asia is one though there are actually several Air Asia companies operating out of Southeast Asian countries. It would be nice to see how Air Asia Philippines compares with the mother company based in Malaysia. Cebu Pacific is categorized under LCC’s but with so many of these companies around the world, it won’t be a surprise they didn’t rank among the Top 20 either.

On a canceled trip due to a typhoon

I was supposed to be traveling with my family to Singapore over the Undas long weekend. That did not push through due to the circumstances brought about by Typhoon Paeng. What could have been our daughter’s first travel abroad did not materialize and we were left with sunk costs from the tickets we had already bought online for Universal Studios and the Singapore Zoo. We also had to cancel meet-ups with friends in Singapore.

This Cathay Pacific plane landed safely before noon and later departed for Hong Kong without incident.

An earlier ANA flight arrived and departed without incident. This one arrived mid afternoon but was similarly grounded due to the typhoon.

The airport announced all flights were canceled just before 6:30 PM. This was a late announcement that some airlines were waiting for. Cebu Pacific apparently had advance information as they canceled all their international flights one after the other around 6:00PM (probably to manage the crowds that would file out of the departure area to reclaim their luggage). We were disappointed that Singapore Airlines did not act immediately and decisively on the matter. We were expecting at least an announcement of when we could expect to be on the next flight. For an airline of their stature, I was also expecting that they could have made arrangements for accommodations due to the great inconvenience brought upon passengers. That was the least they could do if they intended to put us in the next available flight (planes were cleared to operate at 10:00PM that night). Apparently, the typhoon (and its implied acts of nature/acts of God aspect) was also a convenient excuse for the airline (and others, too) to practically abandon their passengers. [Note: A pilot friend intimated that these decisions and behavior by airlines are partly due to policies and actions of the previous administration/government of the Philippines where all the blame was put on airlines for cancellations and they were penalized for acting independently or ahead of government announcements.]

Of course, we later received a series of emails from the airline informing us that we were rebooked to flights the following day. I say ‘flights’ here because these the first email informed us of a flight at 10:00AM. A subsequent email then said we were to be in a 12:00 flight. A third then said that we were to be on a 2:00 PM flight. We got to read these emails around 7:00 AM the following day as they were sent overnight when we were already occupied in finding accommodations during inclement weather. Flabbergasted, we decided to request a refund instead of re-booking and rescheduling our trip. It was already difficult to reschedule as there weren’t any weekends long enough remaining this 2022 and this Undas was the ideal time for a getaway. We’ll try again another time.

On the air that you breathe when inside aircraft

I am sharing a different kind of article this time. It is still on transportation but more health-related in the sense that the article’s topic is about the air passengers breathe when inside a plane. This is very relevant as we continue to grapple with COVID-19 and other diseases such as influenza, while also trying to get back to our normal activities including traveling whether for family affairs, work, recreation or other reasons.

McGee, W.J. (September 20, 2022) “How clean is the air on planes?” Condé Nast Traveler, https://www.cntraveler.com/story/how-clean-and-safe-is-a-planes-cabin-air?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=spotlight-nl&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_mailing=thematic_spotlight_092122_2&utm_medium=email&bxid=5bd6761b3f92a41245dde413&cndid=37243643&hasha=cf6c402001bc473063a8744033fe9be3&hashb=ec2bb753c2e6299f5107823241955221da67bd1f&hashc=09f65c608bfb62050199733de500e3cd82827631b36d537ce8386d41a3bd1ff7&esrc=FYL_SEG_APR18&sourcecode=thematic_spotlight&utm_term=Thematic_Spotlight [Last accessed: 9/21/2022]

Obviously, there are concerns about the air inside the cabin. But there are other items that one needs to be mindful of if you are truly concerned with the risk of infection.

To quote from the article:

“But some experts have expressed more doubt about the ability to completely scrub the air for zero chance of spreading flu and COVID. “Transmission of infection may occur between passengers who are seated in the same area of an aircraft, usually as a result of the infected individual coughing or sneezing or by touch,” WHO warns. Cabin crew members agree with this assessment. “It’s naive to think an airline can protect passengers 100 percent because you’re in an enclosed space for however long the flight is,…””

The article also provides the following recommendations to travelers (quoted directly from the article and highlights mine):

  • If you’re concerned about aircraft cleanliness, try booking the earliest flight possible that day, as most airlines do a deep-clean each night. And if your itinerary allows it, consider nonstops rather than connecting flights, to limit your exposure to multiple dirty cabins.
  • Wipe down your airline seat and surrounding area with a sanitizing wipe to kill any lingering flu virus; pack an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and wash your hands often.
  • The CDC recommends that most travelers get a flu vaccine in September or October; it also advises to get up-to-date with your COVID vaccines and boosters before any travel.
  • Practice social distancing throughout your journey—at check-in, security screening, boarding, baggage claim, etc. Select seats apart from other passengers (often in the rear) and ask to be moved if possible.
  • Although there is no longer a mask mandate for air travel in the U.S., the CDC still advises travelers ages 2 years and older to opt to wear a face mask in indoor areas of public transportation—such as airplanes, trains, buses, ferries—and in transportation hubs like airports.

There seems so many of what are being termed as revenge travel these days. Many people were not able to travel particularly for family (visits, homecomings) or recreation (vacations) the past 2 years. They are now traveling again as more countries open up for tourism and more people have been vaccinated or gained immunity from the virus. The recommendations above should be heeded as there’s really nothing to lose if we follow them and particularly continue good practices to avoid infection.

 

What’re closed and what’re open – shops and restaurants at NAIA Terminal 3

I promised to post more photos about NAIA Terminal 3 yesterday. Prior to entering the pre-departure area, we decided to have our breakfast at the 3rd level of the terminal where most of the stores and restaurants are located. Prior to the pandemic, we ate at the area shared by Chowking, Tapa King and Army Navy Burgers. We also wanted to see which stores and restaurants were open as most of us were traveling via Terminal 3 for the first time since February 2020 (almost 2.5 years ago). Here are photos taken yesterday at the 3rd level. The scenes remind me of how friends described Haneda, Narita and Hong Kong, which also have a lot of shops, stores and restaurants still closed.

The Victoria’s Secret shop is open. So is the Bath & Body Works store across from it.

Some of the

Many of the small stores have closed. One wonders if these will eventually reopen or they will just be replaced by other stores once things get back to ‘normal’.

These used to be stores selling sports and outdoor wear including an Adidas store and a swimwear shop

What used to be a WHSmith convenience store is now boarded up. I assume there are still some items inside unlike the other closed stores where only the shelves remain.

McDonald’s is open and attracts a lot of people looking for that familiar meal.

Some stores selling chocolates and donuts are open. I saw that there are two other Krispy Kreme stores at the pre-departure area of the terminal. One is just after the final security check and the other is at the ground level near Gates 132 and 133.

Max’s is closed. Hopefully, it will reopen once the demand returns.

Chowking and Tapa King are closed. That means your options for no frills, inexpensive meals (particularly all-day breakfasts) are limited at the terminal.

Chinese restaurant Mongkok is also closed.

Army Navy is also closed at this area. They are open at the ground floor pre-departure area.

Even the kiosks are closed.

Ka Tunying’s Cafe, which was also a popular breakfast place, is closed.

Ramen Nagi is open.

What remains open is Mary Grace where you can get really good meals. However, if you’re on a budget, look elsewhere for food. Breakfast here can set you back 500+ pesos, which can cover the meals of 3 people elsewhere.

Kenny Roger’s Roasters is open along with the Jollibee at the same level.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL) cafe is open as well as the Wendy’s beside it.

I have yet to see which stores and restaurants at the ground floor (arrival area) are still or already open. I hope I can take some photos when we return later this week.

Inflight snacks in the time of Covid-19

Inflight, there wasn’t really much difference pre-Covid-19 and now (not yet post-Covid-19) except perhaps that the flight attendants were wearing PPEs and masks. We were on full flights both outbound and inbound of Manila and the airport terminals were also already crowded. We flew on Philippine Airlines so there was no food and drinks for sale on the flight. But they did distribute some snacks and drinks to passengers.

Butter cookies and water were our inflight snacks for the MNL-TAG flight. For drinks you actually can opt for coffee or tea.

 

The cookies were by Figaro and not from some obscure manufacturer.
We had green peas and water on the TAG-MNL flight.

 

Nutrition information at the back of the pack.

 

The guisantes pack was manufactured in Cebu and is certified Halal.

 

I assume that longer flights on board full service airlines like Singapore Airlines or Japan Airlines would have modified their inflight meals service in light of Covid-19. We are hopeful that we can soon travel overseas to again enjoy the attractions in other countries.

Articles on air crash incidents

I posted earlier this month about references online on railway crash incidents. This time, I am sharing a site where you can find articles about air crash incidents. There are many interesting articles here including some of the most well-known incidents that involved pilot error, weather-related crashes and those involving aircraft defects or issues.  There are also articles here about terror attacks that led to air crashes.

https://admiralcloudberg.medium.com

I have shared a few of his articles before including one on the Concorde crash and another about the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. I have found these articles to be very interesting as the manner of writing is investigative and evidence-based. I have myself been in several near incidents, which I have related in this blog.

Another goodbye jumbo?

With the phaseout of the Boeing 747, there was much expectation for what was supposed to be its successor in the Airbus A380. The latter was hailed as the worthy successor to what was probably the most popular and versatile plane in the B747. Unfortunately, after so many orders for the A380 were delivered and the plane being deployed by major airlines along the long-haul routes, it is now being reconsidered. Here’s a nice article on what is perceived as the decline of such supersized aircraft.

Alexander, K (October 22, 2021) “3 Reasons Behind the Premature Demise of the Airbus A380,” Medium, https://kevinaalexander.medium.com/analyzing-the-premature-demise-of-the-airbus-a380-c56d50ec827d [Last accessed: 1/5/2022]

A model A380

Traveling abroad soon?

I miss traveling, particularly overseas. My last travels abroad were to Sri Lanka in September 2019 and to Singapore in December 2019. My long travels within the Philippines was to Zamboanga in January 2020 and Cebu in February the same year. We were supposed to go back to Zamboanga to do some field work in March 2020 but the trip was canceled when the first lockdowns were enforced. I was supposed to travel to Hiroshima last September 2021 for a conference that we highly anticipated partly because of the opportunity to go to Japan again and do another sentimental trip to certain places in that country, including taking the Shinkansen and other trains to go around.

Recently, the US reopened to international travelers and friends have already crossed the Pacific to be with family/relatives there. Here is an article from The New York Times about what you need to know when traveling to the US; including vaccinations:

NY Times article about the basics of traveling to the US

Air crash mysteries

I wrote about the Concorde recently and how I at one time dreamt of flying in one. I shared an article in that post about the air crash that doomed the Concorde. While it appears morbid to certain people, there is that fascination about air crashes not because of the deaths but because these often lead to better designs for aircraft and policies for the aviation industry. Here is a recent article about the still missing (vanished without a trace?) Malaysian Airlines Flight 307.

Admiral Cloudberg (March 27, 2021) “Call of the Void: Seven years on, what do we know about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370?”, Medium.com, https://admiralcloudberg.medium.com/call-of-the-void-seven-years-on-what-do-we-know-about-the-disappearance-of-malaysia-airlines-77fa5244bf99 [Last accessed: 9/23/2021]

Unlike other disastrous crashes that include weather factors, pilot errors, instrument or engine failures, we cannot learn (much) from this crash as the black box or any other parts of the aircraft were never recovered. Of course, not in the same category as these types of crashes are those that were blown up or shot down whether by accident or deliberately such as the ill-fated Korean Airlines Flight 007. There are other lessons to be learned if not yet learned from those tragedies.