Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

American Airlines grounds planes and strands passengers

MD-80 AircraftYesterday, American Airlines grounded hundreds of planes so that they could make some changes in wiring configuration to comply with FAA regulations. They started grounding planes mid-day, all of them from the McDonnell-Douglas Super 80 series, a descendant of the DC-9. According to the admittedly mixed reports, they have grounded all or nearly all of the MD-80s, which number 300 planes in American’s fleet. American flies many of these planes through La Guardia, mainly because the planes serve short and mid-range destinations from there (no cross-country flights). A quick glance at their flight schedules (and the frightening amount of knowledge I have compiled from flying upwards of 400,000 miles on American in the past 3 years alone) tells me that the bulk of their flights operated through La Guardia are MD-80s. They also operate several routes with MD-80s from Newark. This midday grounding has left thousands of passengers stranded around the country, many of them in La Guardia or trying to get home to La Guardia. This will likely continue to affect New York area airports for days since many connecting flights into and out of the New York area on American are served by MD-80s or are connecting through Chicago or Dallas, which are AA’s two hubs and are being heavily affected by the cancellations as well. Update: They have canceled 850 flights today.

American has not stated how long the groundings will last. They’ve said that there was no immediate safety concern, and that they were grounding the planes to comply with FAA regulations. The issue is with the bundling of wires that are located in the aircraft’s rear wheel well. In the MD-80, the engine and wing are located near the rear of the aircraft, and the engines and fuel tanks are very close to the rear wheels. The FAA’s concern is that improperly bundled wires could spark and ignite a fire from fuel or fuel fumes, leading to loss of control of the aircraft from a fire or electrical failure. Sounds like a safety concern to me.

Vote for NYC!

NYC is your favorite city, right? Well, now you can let everyone know why. Travel + Leisure magazine is running a survey for America’s favorite cities. The survey allows you to rank things like how good the city is for travel, culture, nightlife, etc. Let’s kick L.A.’s butt by taking the survey and making sure our city gets the awesome props it deserves. The survey takes only a few minutes to complete.

18 Steps to NYC Tourist Experience

Gridskipper has a great list of stuff that is left out of tourist guide books. If you are visiting our city anytime soon, you may want to read these.

1. Don’t Just Stand There, Ask for Directions.
When I see tourists looking lost or confused, I have the urge to come to their aid and set them on the right path. It’s as though it hurts me personally if they have a bad New York experience. Almost every New Yorker is happy to help tourists with directions and show off their city knowledge, even if it means consulting with other New Yorkers and making up stuff.

2. Fear Not the Subway.
Everybody complains about the subway, but it really works well overall, and you should use it with alacrity. On crowded trains, remove your big-ass backpack and hold it to your side. Learn the difference between local and express trains, and beware the empty subway car on an otherwise crowded train — it’s empty for a (smelly) reason.

3. Wear Black.
If you’re looking to blend in, just wear black. That’s it. Oh, and for the love of God, ditch the fanny pack, sports jersey, shorts, Tevas, and Greek-letter sweatshirt, but you knew that already.

To get the entire scoop on all 18 points head over to Gridskipper

MTA Fare Hikes=Better Service=How Naive

So the MTA fares are going up — once again!!! This is not a surprise.

But what IS a surprise, are the numbers of people interviewed on the street for the different news reports. I was left to wonder who are these people who went on camera to say “Well…..I would hope this [fare hike] will mean better service….” Of course, the MTA says we can look forward to more service on the dreaded L line, among its promises.

But if you have been through many fare hikes over many decades [I won’t age myself], you have to be thinking that the interviewees who think fare hikes=better service are either:
a) very young
b) recently relocated here
c) clueless
d) smoking some good stuff
e) all, or any combination of, the above

The Vegas view of NYC

I’m currently in Las Vegas and though I didn’t ask for it, they put me up in a room that has a view of the New York, New York hotel. I thought it was kind of nice to have a “home” away from home.

A Kid-Friendly Car Service

Two weeks ago I wrote on this blog about a tragic accident involving children riding in a taxi in NYC. Sadly, a child was thrown out of a cab from the back seat. The child was on his mother’s lap, but there is no law mandating a child seat in a taxi. Realizing that it was difficult for a parent to carry a car seat for taxi travel, I put the issue out there, and wondered how to get car seats into livery cars.

Well, I am happy to learn that there is a company in NYC. They advertise “child safety seats professionally installed in every vehicle” BINGO!!! Check out the website

Hey, I applaud anyone who sees a niche and runs with it!!!

Child and Infant Car Seats in Taxis and Livery Cars

This week we saw a tragic story. Not being a mom myself, I am interested in feedback from parents on this. A family was traveling in a livery cab, when the vehicle was involved in an accident, sending a young child flying out onto the street.

If it were a private car, we could say “that mom was careless and not obeying the law by not having that child in a belted-in child car seat”. But there are no such regulations for children traveling in taxis and livery cabs, and passengers in back seats are never required to wear seat belts. So in “closing-the-barn-door-after-the-horse-escapes” fashion, the question has arisen as to whether we should impose child-car-seat regulations for taxis and livery cabs. I am interested to find out if there are mothers out there who really do carry car seats with them, when traveling with kids. I would think the majority of these rides are short-distance hops, but an accident can happen anytime and anywhere, and even while standing still.

I am curious to hear from parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children who regularly travel in taxis and livery cabs.

l a cab or livery service vehicle

Car services can suck it

Today I had a really fucking awesome day. It started in sunny Florida as I headed to the airport for a 12:30 flight to La Guardia. After checking in and heading through security at about 11, I found that the flight was a little delayed. They boarded us around 1:30, and then deplaned us an hour later because of air traffic control delays here in NYC. I get it – it was raining all day. It happens. I occupied myself by listening to my fellow passengers’ theories on how the airlines are all in a conspiracy to make us late for stuff. We finally took off around 6 PM and arrived at La Guardia at 8:20 or so.

I had a reservation with the LimoRes car service (formerly Crown Limo) since I was traveling for business. The normal procedure is to call them when you arrive at the airport and they’ll dispatch your assigned car to you. I called, and they told me they couldn’t get a car to me for about 20-30 minutes, because they were delayed overall due to the rain. I’ve dealt with them before during a snowstorm – they told me it would be 30 minutes twice and then finally told me they couldn’t tell me when the car would be there and I should seek alternate transportation. I figured that would be the case again and called my trusty fiance to come get me – but didn’t cancel the car just yet. I called them again 40 minutes after my first call and, sure enough, they told me they couldn’t have a car to me for another 30 minutes. I’m glad I had a backup plan, but I need to look into some alternate options since I travel a lot.

First, a tip – the taxi line outside Terminal B arrivals, on the American end (near concourse D) had about 100 people in it and maybe 4 or 5 taxis showing up every 10 minutes or so. The one around the corner past the end of the terminal had maybe 20 people in it and a friggin’ huge line of taxis waiting to pick people up. I’ve seen this before but forgot this time. Duly noted.

Second, a question – can you recommend a car service that doesn’t suck? LimoRes is fine most of the time, but they’ve had billing errors and scheduling problems before, and I’ve used Dial 7 and Carmel and both of them are kinda dickish too. Any experiences? Or do you find that buses from La Guardia work best? Tell me what works best for you!

What You’re Missing By Living In New York

You are missing out on some things by not living Pittsburgh.There are some very cool things and a lot of cool people who are a little more free to pursue their personal creativity.

One of them is an artist named Tom Sarver, who was able to convince a famous center for installation art, called the Mattress Factory to give him a house, in which he has created an ever evolving personal world, that is part art studio, part installation and part museum–or sort of a deconstruction of formal museums. The Tom Museum is both cute and powerfully subversive.

Tom’s background is in puppetry and performance projects are always a big part of what the place is about. The project was originally funded for a year and though it’s now lived beyond that, it won’t last forever. At least one NY blogger liked his visit there.

I hope to have a few works by Tom Sarver in the space I’m renting in the East Village in November.

NYC Subways Down

Copyrights Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press via

Commuters hitting the subway stations in Brooklyn Queens and the Bronx were taken aback to learn that the subway system has been crippled due to the torrential downpour last night.

As of 7 a.m., the MTA was reporting no R Train subway service between the Canal Street Station and the DeKalb Avenue Station due to flooding at the Lawrence Street and the Canal Street Stations.

Due to flooding at the Times Square-42nd Street Station, shuttle service was unavailable between Grand Central-42nd Street Station and the Times Square-42nd Street Station. [link]

Most major lines are out in some or the other section of their route.

The MTA website was inundated with people trying to get the latest updates. Due to the overload their website went down at 8:09 am.

Traffic is a nightmare in the boroughs leading to the bridges to get into Manhattan. From my home in Clinton Hill it was a parking lot scenario on all streets leading upto the Manhattan Bridge. Thank God for my motorcycle which allowed me to zip past cars.

Surprisingly the traffic in the city is better than normal. This would be a wonderful case study for the congestion pricing initiative.

So, if you are at office wondering where your colleagues are, now you know

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