FAA could ban lap infants, JetBlue/Spirit merger finally dies and real-life “Snakes on a Plane” (Saturday Selection)

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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).

The FAA could ban lap infants after Alaska 737 MAX 9 incident

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.

JetBlue and Spirit are TrueBlue: merger blocked

Spirit and JetBlue’s legal team after hearing the judge’s verdict.

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.

Is there a new 60-day window for booking Etihad with partners?

a room with windows and a couch
Etihad First Apartments (drooling Greg the Frequent Miler not pictured)

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

Snakes on a Plane still
Luckily the passengers made it out ok…even without Samuel L. Jackson’s help.

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 PlaneThe 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.

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Viet

People kept conflating between lap infants and parents being cheap not wanting to buy a separate ticket, which at the very least is not true with a lots of parents. For us, even though we buy her a seat every time we travel to have the additional space, the baby refuses to sit on it for more than 10min, and prefers spending her awake time on mommy’s lap, and we gave up trying. Lots of the internet comments are from people who probably could not tell the difference between a baby and a big doll.

Greg

This. The real way to avoid the nightmare scenario (besides obviously making sure planes don’t fall apart mid-flight) is to use something like the Baby B’Air flight vest, so the infant is actually strapped to something. Buying an extra seat does nothing for babies around 1-2 years old, who can’t sit still no matter how much the parent is willing to pay for an extra seat.

Monique

You can also just strap in your infant car seat (like you would in your car with the lap belt). It fits fine. Ideally, time it with a nap and they are out for the flight. When you do that, the ticket is money well spent!

A guy named Mike

It doesn’t always work as well as you want. the plane seat buckle is right in the middle, while a car seat buckle is by the side. If you have a seat base that needs to clamp down on a seatbelt (like our 360 revolving seat), that means the lap belt is looser than it should be to keep the buckle to the side.

I am sure this works fine with many seats, but its not universal.

Kevin

I live in Europe, and on flights here the airlines give lap infants a seat belt for the infant. The adult’s seat belt attaches to the infant’s via a loop on the infant belt, and then the infant belt clicks around the infant. Babies don’t always love it when they’re squirming, but they have a seat belt and can still sit in a parent’s lap. We like it.

Dugroz Reports

Saw a documentary once about the 1988 (maybe ’89?) crash in Sioux City, Iowa. Some kids sadly died in that crash. Many wanted to ban lap infants at that time, but the prevailing logic was that if you charged families for infants, many more would drive cross-country rather than fly. Since driving is far more dangerous than driving, that would lead to more deaths overall.
My gut feeling is that the same logic would still apply. But I’ve not researched it.

Grant

I’m a little disappointed in the snake video. I was expecting a giant boa constrictor not a small snake the size of an earth worm 🙁

Jayson

The Spirit / Jet Blue news is great. Why? My two largest home airport airline is Spirit and Jet Blue and both serve practically the same routes.

If the merger went through that means a sky rocket in airline tickets price. So I’m happy that this merger is block.

Fuzzy

We’ll see what happens to ticket prices when Spirit goes Chapter 7.

Jayson

My thought is that Frontier will buy Spirit at a cheaper price than the original proposal

Lee

Indeed. An internal JetBlue document stated that it would raise Spirit prices 40 percent once the deal closed. Summary judgment for the DOJ.

Last edited 4 months ago by Lee