June 20-26: New Int’l Routes, Cracker Rage Costs United $550K, Singapore May Reclaim Longest Flight, LOT Grounded After Hack & Unwanted Stowaways

This week’s round-up brings the latest airline and travel news – from new international routes on budget and mainline airlines, cracker rage costs United $550K, and Singapore may reclaim longest flight, to LOT grounded after hack and unwanted stowaways. Enjoy!

New International Routes

If you live in Baltimore, Boston or New York City, there’s a high chance you’ve heard of budget European airline, Norwegian Air Shuttle, who is known to offer roundtrip fares to Europe for under $600. Beach lovers can now rejoice as Norwegian will begin to offer nonstop flights from these three cities to the often overlooked French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique for as low as $247 roundtrip, starting December 3. By comparison, the cheapest roundtrip fare from New York City to Guadeloupe in December is $718 roundtrip, and to Martinique is $774 roundtrip, and both require a stopover.

While we’re on the news of new routes, a few other international airlines also added new service from the U.S. Copa Airlines on Thursday started its direct service between New Orleans to Panama City, and will offer the service four times a week. Turkish Airlines will begin nonstop service to Istanbul from Miami in October and from Atlanta on May 16, 2016. And another budget airline, Toronto-based Porter Airlines, will offer a new route and new destination to its list of city’s served. Starting September 21, Porter will begin nonstop service between Pittsburgh and Toronto City Airport, located in downtown Toronto. Introductory fares will start at $286 roundtrip, compared to $385 roundtrip for the next lowest price at current pricing.

Cracker Rage Might Cost United $550K

This past Sunday, a United Airlines flight from Rome to Chicago had to be diverted to Belfast when a passenger became unruly mid-flight. The man got up from his seat twice soon after take-off and refused to sit down until he got his crackers. The crew relented the first time, but after being denied his demand the second time, the crew deemed him a security risk, and diverted the plane to Belfast, but not before dumping 13,000 gallons of fuel in order to ensure the safety of passengers during the unscheduled stop. The cracker-fan was taken off the aircraft by the police and charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft. Passengers had to spend the night in Belfast because the crew had reached its maximum allowed working hours. To add insult to injury, because of the lack of available rooms, passengers had to sleep at the Belfast terminal. While United won’t release the cost of this diversion, but it’s estimated to have cost United $550,000. I’d imagine that these passengers would have welcomed a night in a military barrack complete with a hot meal.

Singapore May Reclaim World’s Longest Flight

Back in 2013, Singapore Airlines ended its 19-hour nonstop flight between Newark and Singapore, which was then the world’s longest commercial flight. The 9,000 nautical mile flight was flown on an Airbus A340, and was deem unprofitable because of the amount of fuel needed for the flight which only carried a maximum of 181 passengers. Now Singapore is in talks with Airbus and Boeing to bring the flight back and reclaim the title of world’s longest commercial flight. There’s no word on when this route will begin again. Good luck surviving this flight if you’re stuck in coach.

LOT Grounds Flights after Hack

Another day, another airline has to ground flights due to a cyber-attack. This time the unlucky airline is LOT Polish Airways, who on Sunday had to ground 10 flights out of Warsaw Chopin Airport because of the hack, stranding over 1,400 passengers. The attackers gained access to LOT’s computers which are used to create flight plans. Fortunately flights that already left or were on the way to Warsaw were not affected, and the issue was resolved by 9 p.m. local time.

Random Story of the Week: Unwelcome Stowaways

Two separate airlines had a little run-in with an expected traveler recently. Emirates Airlines had to cancel its flight from Birmingham to Dubai last week when a mouse was spotted running around the cabin. The crew spent 30 minutes trying to catch the rogue rodent before it escaped through a vent. The flight was cancelled and passengers were provided overnight accommodations. Perhaps the mouse was hoping to go somewhere warmer?

Perhaps more frightening than a mouse making itself comfortable in the cabin is a wasp buzzing around an enclosed space. Allegiant Airlines on Thursday had to divert its St. Petersburg-Clearwater to Niagara Falls flight to Orlando when the plane had an issue with a sensor. The airline later found that a wasp was starting to build a nest that may be the cause of the sensor issue. According to Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler, “It turns out … this happens from time to time in Florida.” That’s certainly news to me.

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