Tornado hits Omaha airport, Russia jams Finnair GPS and how to spot an American in the wild


A tornado devastates Omaha’s Eppley Airfield, Finnair accuses Russia of jamming its planes’ GPS and how to spot an American in the wild. All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from other sites around the interwebs.


Tornado causes chaos at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield

Eppley Airfield in the wake of last week’s tornado (image courtesy of Omaha Airport Authority)

I grew up in Nebraska (aka, “flyover country” for those of you on the coasts). When I was a kid, no one could understand how people could live with the constant threat of earthquakes on the West Coast, or hurricanes in the Southeast. When folks would mention tornadoes, we’d look at them dumbfounded, “all you have to do is go down to the basement.” Indeed, tornado warnings happened several times each summer, accompanied by spending a few hours in the basement with a radio and flashlight in case the power went out…which it rarely did. Things have changed a bit since then, and it seems like every summer we see reports of disastrous storm systems laying waste to small towns in a broader tornado alley that’s expanded beyond its traditionally midwestern borders. Last week, Omaha was hit with several twisters, with one even touching down at Eppley Airfield (OMA) itself. The entire airport was evacuated into shelters for an hour while the tornado destroyed hangars, 30+ private airplanes and tossed debris throughout one of the runways. After an hour, the airport resumed normal operations, which was probably met with a bit of skepticism by the folks who’d just spent an hour hiding in storm shelters.

How to spot an American in the wild

An American traveling to Europe circa 1930.

Recently, my wife and I were having breakfast at a hotel in India in a dining room that was fairly full. There was a decent amount of background noise from various conversations, but suddenly two women’s voices emerged above the fray…and they weren’t even inside the restaurant yet. Americans. They both were from Texas, were on a tour together and had been out much too late the night before with a few too many drinks (as we learned from their “elevated” conversation several tables away from us).

Over the years there’s been a lot of ink, both physical and digital, spilt about the “ugly American abroad.” We stand out like a sore thumb: monolingual, loud, wearing white socks and generally getting in everyone’s way…or so the story goes. I’ve aways taken these stereotypes with a grain of salt. Yes, there’s certainly plenty of unpleasant American tourists out there flitting about the globe; there’s also a decent amount of difficult French, Italian, Chinese, Indian and Australian travelers…as well as many courteous, curious Americans. That said, every stereotype holds a grain of truth and I do get a kick out of reading observations about the peculiarities that set us “USAers” apart. Points from a Crew gave their thoughts on a fun one: “Forty Ways to Spot an American Abroad.”

SAS leaving Star Alliance, will join SkyTeam September 1

a man in a grey hoodie looking at a group of people

In 2022, Scandinavian Airlines declared bankruptcy and then was sold to a group of investors that included Air France/KLM, leading most of us to postulate that an eventual change in its airline alliance allegiance would soon follow. Sure enough, by Fall of 2023, the airline informed Star Alliance (home of United and Lufthansa) that it was ready to move on to a more invigorating partnership with SkyTeam (home of Delta, Air France/KLM, etc.). Since that announcement, SAS and Star Alliance have been uncomfortably living in the same home, awkwardly avoiding each other at breakfast time and using separate bathrooms. Now, a date for the final divorce is set, and SAS will officially become a SkyTeam member as of September 1, 2024. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that’s flown SAS over the Atlantic, as the business class awards are about as common as a Delta SkyClub without a line. However, maybe now that they’re joining SkyTeam all that will change and we’ll have access to its well-reviewed business cabin for the low, low price of 1.2 million SkyMiles.

Finnair suspends route due to Russian GPS jamming

Russia’s war with Ukraine has had a massive impact on commercial aviation, with thousands of hours of cancelled flights, detours to avoid Russian airspace and increased airfare (and operational) costs. Last week, we saw another ripple, when Finnair reported that one of its flights experienced “GPS disturbance” that kept it from being able to operate safely. As a result, the airline is suspending the route (to the Estonian city of Tartu) until the end of May…at the earliest. Russia has long been suspected of interfering with GPS signals near its borders; both via jamming (where a plane’s GPS location can’t be fixed) and spoofing (where the location is incorrect). Tartu is ~25 miles from the Russian border, and Finnair was the last international airline providing service. The Independent breaks down the situation and what’s behind it.

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I’ve flown SAS J transatlantic. This was maybe 8 or 9 years ago. There was a period of time where SAS availability was good.

It was just OK.

Tonei Glavinic

I think you may have grabbed the wrong link for the ‘how to spot an American abroad’ section – it takes me to “ 30 American Things That Don’t Exist Abroad”


It was still a good illustration of differences, a lot better than that ridiculous one from PWAC where they just named every stereotype they could come up with. 30 American Things That Don’t Exist Abroad is at least mostly right.