For people who are intending shopping in the United Kingdom, or who are purchasing goods and services, it’s that time – Value Added Tax (VAT) will be going up from 15% to 17.5% from 1st January 2010. 

Most of you will notice it – thankfully most over the counter reatailers will inculde the VAT directly into the price you pay or the price ticket (unlike some countries where you’re guessing the final price until you get to the till)

Happy new Year from Her Majesty’s Government and Alistair Darling.

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It seems with bomb threats that the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security has something better to do – harass Bloggers and pump them for information.

Both Christoper Elliot and Steven Frischling have had visits from TSA and DHS  “Homeland Security Special Agents”, issuing subpoenas on disclosure of the actual source that these bloggers got their information from.

In the case of Christopher Elliot – the exact wording from his blog is:

“So if I’m reading this correctly, the TSA wants me to tell them who gave me the security directive.

I told Flaherty I’d call my attorney and get back to him.”

With Steven Frischling, the TSA seems to have gone one better, by threatneing to use a criminal search warrant if he did not reveal the name of his source, as well as threatening to get him fired from his job blogging for KLM – and indicated they could get him designated a security risk, which would make it difficult for him to travel and do his job.

In addition, the agents then said they wanted to take an image of his hard drive. Frischling said they had to go to WalMart to buy a hard drive, but when they returned were unable to get it to work. Frischling said the keyboard on his laptop was no longer working after they tried to copy his files. The agents left around 11 pm but came back Wednesday morning and, with Frischling’s consent, seized his laptop, which they promised to return after copying the hard drive, even though the mail was received from a Gmail address, and thus in the cloud. 

The TSA confirms it is investigating how this security directive was leaked.

Quote  “The Office of Inspection is investigating how the security directive was published by parties who shouldn’t have been privy to the document”

This smacks of heavy handedness of the TSA, and a reaction to the wrong problem – rather than dealing with the leaks internally (of a document that has gone worldwide), it has gone after bloggers who received it in good faith and published it when there was nothing but confusion over what directive was in force at that juncture by what airline.

Coverage on this is growing on web, and I can only urge you to read and support these bloggers who it seems the only thing they have done wrong is to post a document (which Air Canada did in the first play as well as WestJet and JetBlue)

I’ll be monitoring this over the next few weeks – suffice to say more directives will head our way, and hopefully the TSA might learn something about themselves in the meantime.

Or not.

Sources and References:
Airline Reporter:
Runway Girl:
Seattle PI:
Upgrade: Travel Better –
One Mile at a time:

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The thing with the British is that we love a flutter on anything – from the Grand National (a horse steeplechase), the winner of Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing with the Stars for our US viewers)  to the Christmas Number 1 Record (or sticking one in the eye for Simon Cowell).

It seems there also seems to be the question of “Which airline will go bust next?

To which according to people betting on PaddyPower appears to be Monarch Airlines from 50/1 to 4/1. Which has displeased Monarch by a long shot.

Tim Jeans, Monarch managing director says “For people to make a game out of betting when an enterprise that’s been around for 40 years will go bust is irresponsible,” he said. “It’s not funny either because we employ nearly 3,000 people and they don’t want to be reading this.”

He also stressed that Monarch is profitable (£8.52 million at the last figures avalible), and it’s ownership secure.

However, lets have a look at the list from PaddyPower….

4/1 Monarch
11/2 Wizz Air
11/2 Finnair
13/2 Malev
9/1 Aer Arann
10/1 Spanair
10/1 Jet2
11/1 BA
14/1 Aer Lingus
14/1 Thomson Airways
16/1 Vueling Airlines
18/1 Bmibaby
20/1 Qantas
20/1 Air Berlin
25/1 Scandinavian airlines
33/1 United Airlines
33/1 Aegean Airlines
33/1 Air One
40/1 Thomas Cook Airlines
40/1 Germanwings
40/1 Flybe
50/1 LOT
50/1 JetBlue
66/1 Czech Airlines
80/1 easyJet
80/1 Virgin Atlantic
80/1 Ryanair
100/1 Lufthansa
100/1 Air France-KLM
100/1 Aeroflot
100/1 Turkish Airlines
100/1 Singapore Airlines
500/1 Vatican Airlines
1000/1 Air Force One

Put it like this: I’m glad I’m not a betting man at all.  Although anyone who is putting money on Air Force One going under has better things to do at night…


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It seems that JAL is edging step by step closer to the edge of its current existence as the Japanese governments will no longer provide any bailouts or extra loans for it as last week – the Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii said the state would not give the airline any more loans, thus JAL would need to file for the Japanese equivalent of Chapter 11 – with stock becoming worthless.

As we all know, American and Delta are pawing after JAL (with if the rumours to be believed, JAL going with Delta and exiting OneWorld for SkyTeam – unconfirmed as of yet mind)

Its stock value has shrunk 60% this year, with a debt pile of 1.5 trillion yen of debt.

Of course, if it goes to bankruptcy – things get an awful lot complex for everyone – with the Delta/American fund injection really up in the air.

Whilst the staff and travellers will be ultimately affected by this (and the ones who will pay the price if JAL goes belly up), the management have not been lucky at all – and with recent events worldwide not making life easy at all for them.

Put it like this: From this standpoint, if JAL wishes for partnership from American or Delta, it can’t afford to head to bankruptcy unless it was finally pushed…

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Well with the massive changes happening, it seems that now this could hurt operators, with shares in Delta and AMR (American) dropping by about 4%, UAL (United) down 3.4% and US Airways down 6.7%, with fears that this incident will depress air travel further than it is at the moment, and that the extra costs of implementing security changes will affect the back pocket – let alone the experience in the ground or the air.

Meanwhile there seems to be some libraliation of the knee jerk reaction, with the following in the TSA Directives:

  • Extended security wait times, allow at least two hours for security at the gate.
  • A physical pat down by security at the gate prior to boarding all flights to the United States
  • A complete physical inspection of all bags being carried on flights to the United States
  • Flight crew may make no announcements or reference to position or landmarks while flying over US airspace

Maddening things like:

  • IFE shutdown T -1 hour before landing
  • Access to carry on items T -1 Hour
  • Blankets

have been recinded, pending further decisions by the TSA, however

  • Satellite Phones
  • Moving Maps

Are still awaiting clarification.

TSA Directive SD-1544-09-06 has been posted at which is the initial response.

President Obama has requested a full review of airline security. In other words, Napoli and the DHS/TSA will have to get their ass out of gear and work for once.

The message for travellers alas is clear as crystal. Arrive early, Expect delays and expect everyone to be twitchy.

More advice and commentary:

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Well it’s Sunday – and a Christmas Sunday to boot, so as a present to all, it’s a trip special of a Virgin Atlantic 747-400 taking off from Las Vegas on the long trek back to London Gatwick


More Airplane p0rn…. next year ;)

(it’s only a few days away!! ;) )

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It seems the airlines are taking deep action after the NW253 incident.

Companies have updated their travel advice to include:

  • Only one item of hand luggage, including items bought airside (British Airways and Virgin will not charge extra) 
  • If your presents are wrapped, check them in
  • Passengers subject to “pat-down” searches before boarding, on top of usual security checks
  • Customers to remain seated during final hour of flight
  • No access to hand luggage and a ban on leaving possessions or blankets on laps during this hour

Anyone can spell the words “knee jerk reaction?”

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British Airways

BA has imposed an immediate bag restriction on it’s US flights, restricting one bag per person only from Heathrow or Gatwick. Expect security checkpoints to have increased as well as well as other airlines following suite .

BAA is reporting  (Heathrow Airport)

“Travelling to the USA?  Passengers travelling to the United States should expect their airline to carry out additional security checks prior to boarding. To support this process, which will take time, please allow extra time to check in and limit the amount of hand baggage taken on to the plane.”

Air Canada has modified its restrictions too

“Air Canada advises passengers travelling to the U.S. that due to enhanced government security measures air travellers should arrive early at airports to allow extra time to clear security screening. Passengers should also expect flight delays, cancellations and missed connections, and limit themselves to a single piece of carry-on baggage.

Air Canada recommends passengers travelling to the U.S. to arrive early at the airport for their flight in order to allow adequate time for additional personal searches. Under new rules enacted by Transport Canada and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, passengers and their carry-on baggage will be subject to full searches both at airport screening points and prior to boarding at the aircraft gate area.

As a result of the added security precautions, passengers should also expect delayed and cancelled flights as well as missed connections. Air Canada will endeavour to transport passengers to their destination as quickly as possible and rebook passengers who miss their connections at no charge.

While these measures directly affect only flights from Canada to the United States, domestic and international flights may also experience delays due to airport congestion and delayed aircraft. For information on a flight’s status please consult

 In addition, new rules imposed by Transport Canada will limit the amount of carry-on baggage to one item per person travelling on flights from Canada to the United States.”

Expect more changes as the story develops

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It seems that Delta/Northwest Flight 253 Amsterdam to Detroit had a little “fun” on it, with an attempted terrorism attempt on it.

A 23-year-old Nigerian man was trying to ignite an explosive device as the A330 begun it’s 20 minute approach to Detroit. He was overpowered by some of the 278 passengers and 11 crew.

Reports say he burnt his leg. No-one else was hurt. The suspect was in a database indicating “a significant terrorist connection” although it did not appear on a “no-fly” list (so much for intelligence eh?)

President Obama, has ordered increased security for air travel. Reports are indicating that  security is being increased at all ports heading to America especially at LHR.


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Well it’s Christmas day in GhettoIFE land.

May you day be peaceful with your IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) working – be it inbuilt, custom made or a television in your front room with you and yours safely.

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This was going to be published yesterday – but I honestly was in superranty mood after the laughable misoperation of the ID Cards. Plus it’s given me more time to write this entry with a few more facts, so all the better really..

American Airlines Flight AA331 was a simple Washington DC (Regan National) to Jamaica Service via Miami service, served by a Boeing 737-800 (N977AN) – much like the Ryanair 737-800 that skidded off the taxiway later on.

Whilst on approach, it seems the weather was very poor, with heavy rain and thunderstorms in the region.
On landing, it appears that the aircraft aquaplaned on contact, and skidded off the end of the runway, breaking into 3 segments and coming to a rest near of the runway 15ft (thats 3 meters or so away) from the sea

The frame itself is 8 years old at the time of the incident, however, in three bits (fractured aft of the wing of the fuselage, the right hand engine has become separated from the body, and the left wing-tip has snapped clean off, along with the nose crushed and a couple of other breaks as well as the landing gear collapsing) -the frame it’s a write off.   

Thankfully, and perhaps more important is that whilst 44 people were injured – 4 seriously, there were no fatalities at all from the 154 people aboard the plane (148 passengers + 6 crew).

For those 154 people – please enjoy your Christmas Miracle.

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