The FAA might finally ban lap infants in the US, the JetBlue/Spirit merger is killed for good and passengers on an an Air Asia flight get a real-life version of “Snakes on a Plane.” All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from around the interwebs (links to each article are embedded in the titles).
Unless you’re living in a cave, you’ve probably heard about the recent, terrifying episode of “explosive decompression” that occurred on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9. In the aftermath, all 737 MAX 9s operating in the US were grounded, hundreds of flights have been cancelled and an incredible tale came out about a guy’s iPhone getting sucked out of the plane, falling 16,000 feet to the earth and somehow still emerging unscathed!
There was another story from that flight that’s also getting some attention, but this time from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Evidently, a mom and her lap baby were sitting near the hole in the plane’s fuselage, and the infant’s shirt was completely sucked of its body and out of the plane. Both mother and child were understandably shaken, but unharmed. However, the FAA says that, had the mom and baby been sitting closer to the missing panel, the infant would have most likely been sucked out of the plane. As a result, the agency is encouraging parents to buy an additional seat for children under 2, despite the fact that those kids of that age are almost universally able to ride for free on their parents’ laps. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have long been uneasy with lap infants and, as the linked Daily Mail story indicates, there’s scuttlebutt that the “lap infant getting sucked out of a gaping whole in a passenger jet” scenario might cause them to finally take final step and ban lap infants entirely.
Ending an on-and-off again, Romeo and Juliet-like tale of star-crossed lovers pining from afar, JetBlue and Spirit have been officially blocked from consummating their two year-old plans to merge. The Department of Justice had filed a suit against the airlines, under the auspices that US consumers were better served by having access to two medium-sized, sub-par, budget airlines instead of just one, larger, sub-par airline. Last week, a US District Court judge agreed, blocking the merger as a violation of the Clayton Act, which prevents mergers that would “significantly” lessen competition, thus presenting potential harm for consumers…who have already been harmed enough by having to fly Spirit in the first place. JetBlue legal didn’t help the situation when it accidentally released internal projections that prices on some routes served by Spirit would increased by up to ~40% post-merger, in contrast to public assertions that pricing would be lightly-affected. Spirit stock plunged over 50% after the news broke, leading some analysts to project that the airline was on its way to the afterlife (something Spirit denies). Some folks were bitterly disappointed by the news, including Greg the Frequent Miler, who was recently matched to JetBlue Mosaic status and was hoping to be able to leverage that on Spirit’s sizeable route network from his home airport of Detroit. Alas, it wasn’t
in the cards part of the Mosaic. Hopefully, getting helicopter-taxied around Manhattan will be enough to assuage his grief.
Etihad Airways has a variety of marvelous first and business class products…including the First Apartments, which is Greg the Frequent Miler’s favorite airline “seat” in the world. For years, Etihad has partnered with both Air Canada Aeroplan and American AAdvantage and, during that time, seats have usually been relatively easy to come by. Recently, that’s changed. Over the last year, itineraries booked through Aeroplan were “broken” and involuntarily cancelled, then re-booked by Aeroplan, and then cancelled again. Months later, some folks are still sorting through the mess and Aeroplan appears to have completely removed, or lost access to, Etihad premium cabin award seats. Now, One Mile at Time writes that Etihad appears to be limiting premium cabin bookings via American AAdvantage to within 60 days of departure (a commenter says that the same thing also is happening when searching via Virgin Australia as well). It’s not uncommon for airlines to limit partner award availability in order to give preferential access to members of their own frequent flyer program and it would be a bummer if this Etihad sixty day limit actually is standard going forward. That said, at least it’s not as bad as Lufthansa First Class, which only opens up to partners 14 days before departure.
Real-life “Snakes on a Plane” hits Air Asia flight
Samuel L. Jackson has a prominent role in two of my favorite “B” horror movies of the 2000’s: Deep Blue Sea (which features the most unexpected hero death scene in the last century) and Snakes on a Plane. The latter features the riveting story of an FBI agent on a Hawai’i-to-LAX passenger flight with a witness who’s due to testify against a vicious mob boss. Little do they know, said mob boss actually has arranged for hundreds of deadly snakes to be released into the plane during the flight in order to “silence” the witness. It’s as good (or bad) as it sounds. But that could never happen in real-life, right? Well, the folks on a recent Air Asia flight between Bangkok and Phuket got to find out the answer to that seemingly rhetorical question, when a fairly large serpent suddenly slithered right above the passenger’s heads with the plane in mid-flight. As can be seen in this now-viral TikTok video, the snake tried to make a run towards first class (can’t blame it), before a courageous flight attendant was able to finally corral it in a bag. She then proceeded to calm the hundreds of screaming passengers who thought that they’d almost become the latest victim of…snakes on a plane.