Aug. 15-21: Airlines Gearing Up For Cuba; Flypocalypse Strands Thousands Of Travelers; Disruptive Passengers; & more

This week’s round-up brings the latest airline and travel news – from airlines gearing up for Cuba, Flypocalypse strands thousands of travelers, and man missed flight because of artificial hip, to passenger billed over $4K for flight disruption, passenger tasered over carry-on, and baby born on plane becomes flight attendant. Enjoy!

Airlines Gearing Up for Cuba

Since 1963, the only way to get to Cuba from the U.S. is to either fly to Havana from another country, usually Canada or Mexico, or fly on a charter flight, which is not part of an airline’s regular schedule. But as the Obama administration have tried to ease travel restrictions to Cuba, U.S. based airlines are making plans to offer direct flights to the largest Caribbean island. JetBlue has already started a direct charter service between New York’s JFK Airport and Havana, in addition to its existing charter service from Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. And on Tuesday, American Airlines announced that starting on December 12 it will start a nonstop charter service from Los Angeles, making it the first direct flight from the West Coast to Cuba in a long time. Other major U.S. airlines including Delta Air Lines and United Airlines haven’t made any announcement, but spokespersons for both airlines indicated an interest.

Flypocalypse Strands Thousands of Travelers

If you had the unfortunate luck of flying from or to Baltimore or Washington, D.C. this past Saturday, you were no doubt dealing with a delayed or cancelled flight. The snarl in the air traffic over the mid-Atlantic region, dubbed Flypocalypse in social media, was caused by a new air traffic control system, known as En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM), which is supposed to replace the aging World War II-era radar technology and provide air traffic controllers with more tools. The new system has been disabled while the systems contractor completes an assessment of the malfunction. All in all, 8,224 flights were delayed and 888 were cancelled on Saturday.

Man Missed Flight Because of Artificial Hip

Imagine missing your flight because airport security refused to conduct a secondary screening due to your gender. Robert Hart was trying to go through the security at the Northwest Regional Airport in British Columbia, Canada, when his artificial hip set off the security alarm. The security agent told him he would have to miss his flight because the all-female security staff refused to conduct a secondary screening on him that would require a full-body pat down. And because both male staffers weren’t around, Mr. Hart had to wait nine hours for when the male screener was on duty. Mathieu Larocque spokesperson for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) said, “I can’t disclose these procedures specifically, but there are procedures to have passengers screened when there are no same sex officers. We will apologize because it was our mistake.”

Passenger Billed Over $4K for Flight Disruption

A passenger who flew on, a low-cost airline based in the United Kingdom, from Glasgow to Ibiza back in July 13 was fined £2,716 (approximately USD$4,263) for his abusive behavior towards a cabin crew member. When the plane landed, Jamie Ferguson reportedly left his seat and ran towards the crew member, who was still seated, and started yelling obscenities at her because he had to use the toilet. His behavior led to a two-hour delay for the return flight. Mr. Ferguson was later arrested by the Spanish police and has since been banned by the airline. When you gotta go, you gotta go!

Passenger Tasered Over Carry-On

Yesterday, a passenger onboard an easyJet flight, another low-cost airline based in the U.K., from London Gatwick bound for Belfast was tasered by the police over his two carry-ons. easyJet only allows one hand luggage, including handbags, and they inspect all carry-on bags to ensure they comply with size limits. Other passengers on the flight claimed the argument started at the gate when the unidentified man tried boarding with his second carry-on, a “man purse.” The passenger was allowed to board, but things just went south from there. Police were eventually called to the scene and when they weren’t able to calm the passenger down, they shot him with a taser. He was arrested and charged with breaching the peace. The flight eventually arrived at Belfast 90 minutes late. Here’s a word to the wise: don’t mess with low-cost European airlines!

Random Story of the Week: Baby Born on Plane Becomes Flight Attendant

What do you grow up to be if you were born on a plane? In the case of Erkan Geldi, work for the airline he was born on. Back in 1990l, Mr. Geldi’s mother was on her first flight from Istanbul to Frankfurt onboard a Turkish Airlines flight when she went into labor midair. He was delivered with the aid of a newly graduated gynecologist. Named after the pilot of that fateful flight, Mr. Geldi, who started working for Turkish last year, said when he was asked why he wanted the job during his interview process, his answer was, “actually the occupation chose me.” While there have been numerous babies born midflight, Mr. Geldi may very well be the first to end up in the airline business.

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