Electronics Ban Issued To Several Mideast / North African Carriers and Countries

Electronics Ban Issued To Several Mideast / North African Carriers and Countries

In news coming out in drips this afternoon, the TSA announced that it was implementing a ban which would prevent certain electronics from being in the passenger cabin on flights originating from 8 Mid Eastern / North African countries, and specifically 10 airports within those countries (According to the AP).    I’ve seen some outlets suggest that the list of countries may be as high as 13.   The airlines that are affected are NOT American or European based carriers.

It appears the airlines being targeted for this ban are several Mideast and North African carriers including Royal Jordanian and Saudia.  The airlines in question received confidential emails today from the TSA alerting them to the forthcoming policy change.   Thus far, only Royal Jordanian and Saudia have come forward with any announcements (at least at the time that I published this post).  It is thought that up to 12-15 airlines may be impacted by this ban.

The TSA has thus far been cryptic with who the 8 (or 13) countries are, or which specific airlines are affected by the ban.   What is clear is that the TSA has mandated that this ban is in effect within 96 hours.   This ban applies not only to the airlines serving the USA, but also to their passengers that may be transiting to the USA through connecting flights.   For example, if a passenger on Saudia was flying from Riyadh to New York via Montreal, but on an Air Canada flight from ‘YUL’,  they would have to check the banned devices on all carriers since their ultimate destination is the USA.

The ban specifically states that any electronic equipment larger than a Smart Phone would need to be packed with checked luggage and not brought into the cabin.    From the sound of ban, it appears that larger cameras would be subject to the ban as well.   The ban does not included medically necessary equipment such as oxygenators, etc.

A similar policy was in put in place temporarily in 2014 that required passengers to power up devices during security screenings to confirm that the electronics were functional.   However this announcement takes it a step further, banning the larger devices from the cabin altogether.

The TSA announced that more information would be forthcoming shortly.

FAIL:  United’s New Economy Fare Policy

FAIL: United’s New Economy Fare Policy

United announced a new ‘enhancement’ that takes it one step closer to turning Economy class into something akin to what a Low Cost Carrier would offer, or worse.

In their announcement, they are now going to restrict certain low-level Economy fare buckets to only allow one piece of carry-on luggage which has to fit under the seat in front of you.  In addition, seats will not be assigned until check-in and it is even possible that passengers traveling together on the same itinerary will not even be able to choose seats next to one another.  ‘United Friendly’ right?

Also, this new fare class will have to refund or rebooking options.   If you don’t fly on that ticket, you’re out the amount that you spent.   According to UA, these fares will also not be eligible for upgrades no matter what your elite level may be.

On top of all this, these ‘low class’ Economy fare buckets will not be eligible to earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM).   How’s that for being ‘Friendly’?  AND you’ll get to automatically board with Group 5, meaning you will be the last person on the plane.   More insult to injury.

Why not just charge for water while you’re at it, United?

Is this next?

Is this next?


United suggests that this will add approximately $5 billion to their bottom line annually by 2020.   I guess someone has to pay for the Polaris product that is coming next month.  So let the back of the plane subsidize the front! 🙂

It’s an obvious cash grab since in my mind I have no doubt that the other Economy Fare classes will have substantial price increases to exploit the passengers wishing to avoid this enhancement.   I can also see Advance Seat Reservation (ASR) fees going up.   Instead of $19 for an ASR or upgrade to Premium Economy from GRR to ORD, maybe it moves to $50.   Good times.

From a passenger point of view, I can only see this as a disaster.   Especially once on board the aircraft.

For example, lets say 25% of the Economy cabin is booked in this new ‘Sheeple’ class, where passengers can only bring aboard one bag that HAS TO fit under the seat in front of them.   This will theoretically create quite a bit of over head bin space.   What’s to stop someone in this fare class from putting their bag into the overhead since it’s empty anyway?    Are the flight attendants who already don’t care about passenger well-being going to police the cabin during the flight and use the passenger manifest to enforce whose bag goes up top, or whose goes under the seat? C’mon.

On the optimistic side of things, United has done a piss poor job in enforcing previous passenger enhancements.   Remember when your bag had to fit into the sizer next to the gate?   Yep, fail.  In 2 years and dozens of flights,  I still see Hockey Bags, Backpacks destined for Everest, and babies still board aircraft! 🙂

This may very well fall under the heading of all bark and no bite since getting their crew to enforce these measures will be the hardest part as far as policy enforcement is concerned.


SWISS Bringing Enhancements To A330 & A340 Aircraft

SWISS Bringing Enhancements To A330 & A340 Aircraft

SWISS has announced that over the next 2 years, it will roll out upgrades and enhancements to the long haul fleet, focusing on their A330 and A340 aircraft.


Beginning in December, SWISS will begin to retrofit their 14 Airbus A330 aircraft with Wifi connectivity.   Obviously this will not happen overnight, but SWISS anticipates that all of their A330s will have the retrofit complete by the end of 2017.    Math suggests that approximately one aircraft per month will be taken out of circulation for a few days to complete the work.  WiFi is currently available only on SWISS 777 aircraft.

The A340….

SWISS has also stated that their A340s will receive the same First Class cabin as the Airbus A330.  The big advantage of the newer F product is the increased size of the television screen and an enhanced IFE system.     The fact that the seats will be brand new will also go a long way to refresh the cabins and give them a brand new look and feel.   WiFi is also planned during this upgrade.   SWISS expects that it will take through 2018 to complete this retrofit on their 10 A340 aircraft.

Related:  First Class Aboard SWISS A330


SWISS First Class:  What It’s Like To Have The Entire Cabin To Myself….

SWISS First Class: What It’s Like To Have The Entire Cabin To Myself….

Lighting has struck twice in my travel ‘career’.

Back in 2012, when Lufthansa received their first 747-8i (D-ABYA), I was in Frankfurt to participate in the delivery events and had the good fortune to fly her back to Washington DC a few days later and was the only passenger in First Class.    Now I can add a SWISS flight to the list where I was the only passenger to sit in First Class.

The particular flight was aboard SWISS LX6 from Zurich To Chicago.   My wife and I were homebound to GRR after spending 10 days in Africa on a Safari trip.  You may ask why would I sit in First and not my wife but the answer is simple:   She had sat in Lufthansa First for the flights to Frankfurt and then on to Johannesburg and she insisted that I take the final leg home in First.

Our tickets for the trip were a combination of paid fares, some miles, and a couple of Miles & More eVouchers.  Once all of that was mixed together, my wife enjoyed the trip from Chicago to Johannesburg in Lufthansa First while I ‘sucked it up’ in Business Class for the flights.  On the return, we both flew SWISS business from Jo’burg and then my wife made the sacrifice to sit in Business while I took in the LX First Class experience from Zurich to Chicago.

I became cautiously optimistic about being the only passenger in First when I checked in for our flights a day earlier and saw that the cabin was empty.   I assumed there would be at least some last minute upgrades by passengers but that never came to pass.    When we boarded, my suspicions were confirmed when I was greeted by the Flight Manager who told me I was the only passenger in the cabin for the flight and thanked me for being a Miles & More ‘Senator’.

Knowing that I had a SWISS A330 (HB-JHE / delivered Jan 29, 2010) to serve practically as my private jet for the 9.5 hour flight, I imagined things would go well.   I underestimated!

The 2 flight attendants working in the F cabin were wonderful and saw that I thoroughly enjoyed the ride home.   After the initial formalities where they referred to me as Mr. and sir, I asked that the drop the fancy-speak and just treat me as if I were a friend or family member aboard the flight.  I know they have to follow a certain standard of service, but I don’t deserve or enjoy being treated with the ‘formal’ approach.     I’ll leave that to the maximizers who enjoy squeezing out everything they feel they are entitled to, including being talked to like royalty 😉 …but wait, Maximizers can’t find their way easily into a SWISS First cabin, but I digress.

After I had settled in, the pilot came to introduce himself and thanked me for being a SWISS customer.  He spent a few minutes talking about the flight time, routing, and anticipated trouble spots for turbulence.    It’s always interesting to receive a personal briefing from the person in charge of bringing you safely to your destination.   I asked if we can fly via HKG as a technical stop, but we didn’t have enough relief pilots on board.

With all the verbiage aside, here are the photos from the flight.  First will be the hard product and then the meals.  I suspect the photos will replace the need for words.


A view from 1K across to the port side of the aircraft



Row 2

Another view of 1K

View of seat 1K



View from seated position. The Ottoman moves out via electric motor which allows for a guest to sit across from you.



Another look at 1K….



Seat control pad and remote control for the IFE system.  USB power as well as the headphone jack is installed in this compartment.   The IFE System was excellent. Over 80 movies and dozens of TV shows ensure there’s something for everyone on board.    WiFi will be introduced aboard the A330s beginning in January 2017.  I only watched one movie since I was busy sorting through nearly 13,000 photos that came back with me from Safari.





Storage for the large table. It’s a nice size especially when a guest sits in the Ottoman. The small panel in front of the tray table storage area contains the 110/220v power outlet.



A dedicated control pad for your seat provides you with complete control. The remote control allows you to adjust every angle of the seat, as well as lighting settings and seat cushion adjustment. The SWISS First Class and Business Class seats have adjustable air-filled cushions for complete control of your seat’s comfort.



The larger IFE screen is found on SWISS’ newer A330 aircraft…..


The Amenity Kit was full of useful items.

The Amenity Kit was full of useful items.   Separate kits are available for male and female passengers.   Pajamas are also provided and are made from a high quality cotton blend similar to high quality T-shirts.


The food aboard the flight was just as excellent as the hard product.   The multi-course experience featured some outstanding options and were healthy sized portions.    So well sized that I had to take a break between the Salad and Main Course to recover from a bit of a food coma.



The pre-departure snack consisted of a fresh fruit cup and almond pastry.



The Balik Salmon appetizer is a signature dish in the SWISS First Class cabin. This style of Salmon traces its roots to the Tsars of Russia and today the recipe is trusted to only a handful of individuals. Phenomenal!


Click here to learn more about the history of Balik Salmon.



Another excellent appetizer. A combination of cold cuts from some of Switzerland’s finest butchers…..



The beet and greens salad is delicious. Complimented perfectly by a Balsamic dressing.



The main course of Veal Filet literally melted in your mouth. There was no need to use a knife. Cooked and seasoned to perfection, and a nice sized portion.


I forgot to take a photo of dessert, but it was a choice of Mövenpick ice cream served either in a waffle cone or in a bowl.   Other desert choices included fresh tarts,  fruits, and cheeses.



Approximately 90 minutes before landing, a light lunch was served. The grilled chicken club sandwich was excellent.


Now that you’ve had a glimpse at life aboard SWISS’ First Class cabin, take a look closer look at SWISS’ beautiful new First Class lounge that opened earlier this year in Zurich.


Are Hotel Safes Actually Safe?  A Canuck Says No…..

Are Hotel Safes Actually Safe? A Canuck Says No…..

Another headline caught my attention today while things were quiet from the LH Front.

According to a DailyMail UK piece including video evidence, a Canadian business traveller stumbled across a safe in his hotel room that has a default passcode that can be entered to override any combination and open the safe.    The traveller suggested that the hotel staff told him the default code is 000000 when he called the front desk to ask them to reset his safe after he had forgotten his code.   The article goes on to explain other ways to bypass hotel safes as well.   None are difficult to master.

I’m not sure if this is a big problem and one that extends to a variety of safes in hotel rooms around the world.   But if it is possible in a hotel room somewhere in Ontario, then it may be likely to be possible anywhere.

So the next time your in a hotel, try it out.   See if the passcode default is nothing but 0’s, thus rendering the protection of your valuables fairly worthless.