Saturday, December 3, 2011

Knee Fender in Defense of Reclining Seats

The airlines have banned it but the product is still available for purchase. The Knee Defender available at is advertised to "protect" the space from recliners. There is no use of language to say that the gadget "prevents" the passenger in front you from reclining his or her seat.

Introduced in 2003, the product costs $17.95 per pair and can only be used while using tray tables that unfold from seat backs. The gadget slots on to one of the struts that hold the table in place jamming the seat in front in an upright position.

There are reports that the gadget has caused arguments and broken seats but states on their website "What the FAA says" from a 2003 Washington Post report: the clips were not against federal aviation rules as long as they weren't used during taxiing, takeoffs or landings.

And so the argument continues on when it is right to recline an airline seat. Internet reports indicate the device does work preventing recline of no more than one inch. Obviously the passenger whose seat is obstructed to recline will know something is up so being discreet about using the device is out of the question. Expect flight attendants to step in and ask the gadget to be removed.

The most polite passengers will let the passenger behind them know they intend to recline. Myself I usually don't recline if I know the passenger behind me is using their tray table to eat a meal. Best advice: some seats have no recline due to their proximity to emergency exits; book the seats behind them.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Baggage Handlers Won't Say....

(photo: dwightsghost/flickr)
We all have something to complain about while flying in the cabin of the an airline jet. Imagine what our checked bags would say about their experience. Since that's never going to happen, has published a list of ten things that baggage handlers won't say.

1. Don't pack light we need the money. Fliers are checking fewer bags to avoid baggage fees but they are cramming more into them requiring more upper-body strength of bag handlers.

2. We're losing fewer bags because there are fewer to lose. Passengers are checking fewer bags so there is less luggage to lose.

3. Some of us have sticky fingers. One passenger lost out filing a claim for a camera missing her checked bag because the airline's 30-day window had passed. Some airlines require you report stolen goods before leaving the airport.

4. Sure we handle your pet but can your pet handle us. Animals are exposed to loud noises and extreme temperatures when flying as cargo.

5. We don't actually do that much. Most of the heavy lifting is done by machines. The primary task for handlers is transferring bags onto the plane.

6. Not all bags are created equal. The materials of some bags are better than others. Ballistic nylon is the pinnacle of the best. Polycarbonate of hard-shell suitcases is lightweight but strong. Though handlers may like spinner wheels which rotate in circles and easier to move, they are more susceptible to damage.

7. Stressing about baggage claim? You should. What happens if someone walks off with your suitcase at baggage claim? Airlines hope it won't happen. It's more of an honor system. Legally until your belongings are back in your hands, they're still the responsibility of the airline.

8. Many of us don't work for the airlines. Many are contract workers employed by ground-handling companies. Third-part vendors are popular as a way for airlines to save money but can mean slower service and mistakes.

9. We can't handle unusual items. Check airlines rules. They may cover rules regarding checking things such as varied as cremated remains, sporting equipment and antlers.

10. If you think we're bad here, just wait till you go abroad. In some parts of the world, smugglers have been known to transport drugs in the luggage of unsuspecting passengers or security is lax and pilfering of bags is of greater concerns.

Visit to view the complete report.

A bagge handler collects critters that look like baby crawfish that
escaped from their checked container.
(photo: scattered1/flickr)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Re-imagined 'The Phantom of the Opera' to Embark on UK Tour in 2012

One of the most anticipated productions in 2012 will not play Broadway or London. Instead a brand new tour of 'The Phantom of the Opera' will play various dates in the United Kingdom. As 'Les Miserables' was rejuvenated for a world tour in 2010 and now touring the U.S., the new 'Phantom' tour will feature new set designs and direction.

John Owen-Jones
In press statement, producer Cameron Mackintosh said: After 25 phenomenal years and a glorious celebration of the show's success at the Royal Albert Hall, I'm delighted to announce that a spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's legendary musical will open its National Tour next March in Plymouth. With an exciting new design and staging, retaining Maria Bjronson's amazing costumes, be the first to surrender to the music of the night and fall in love with the Phantom in the his new guise all over again.

Earl Carpenter
John Owen-Jones and Earl Carpenter will share the role of the 'The Phantom" and Katie Hall will play Christine. Laurence Connor, director of the 25th anniversary celebration, will stage the tour with new choreography by Scott Ambler. Lighting design is by Paule Constable and sound design by Mick Potter. The production is overseen by Matthew Bourne and Mackintosh.

'The Phantom of the Opera' New UK Tour Dates. John Owen-Jones stars as The Phantom until Sep 29, 2012; Earl Carpenter assume the role on October 1, 2012:
Theatre Royal Plymouth, Feb 27-Mar 3, 2012 
Manchester Palace Theatre, Apr 4-May 19, 2012 
Bristol Hippodrome, May 22-Jun 30, 2012 
Dublin Grand Canal Theatre, Jul 4-Aug 4, 2012
Leeds Grand Theatre, Aug 8-Sep 15, 2012 
Edinburgh Playhouse, Sep 19-Oct 20, 2012 
Milton Keyes Theatre, Oct 24-Nov 24, 2012
Cardiff Wales Millenium Centre, Dec 4, 2012-Jan 12, 2013
Southampton Mayflower, Jan 22-Feb 16, 2013
Further dates to be announced.

Visit for more information. Play the teaser trailer below.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Keeping A Cruise Ship Afloat: Oasis of the Seas

The Oasis of the Seas docks in Port Everglades where every Saturday
by 6am, semi-trucks unload 750 pallets of food, flowers and supplies.
Entertainment deck
(all photos: Barbara P. Fernandez/WSJ)
The Wall Street Journal published an interesting article about keeping 6,300 people fed, housed and having the time of their life while on one of the world's largest cruise ships. Here's some info about and what it takes to operate the Oasis of the Seas operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises.
  • Five times as large as the Titanic.
  • Population during a seven-day Caribbean sailing is larger than many American small towns.
  • More than 8,600 are on board when fully booked including staff.
  • As long as five Airbus A380 airplanes.
  • Includes a small-scale imitation of New York's Central Park surrounded by some of the ship's 24 restaurants.
  • Three smokestacks can retract to pass under the bridges.
  • Includes a helicopter landing pad for emergencies.
  • The ship has a jail where lawbreakers are held until the ship can reach port.
  • Entertainment options includes a carousel.
  • 700 tons of new supplies are loaded each Saturday.
  • Guests consume about 20 gallons of maraschino cherries and 80,000 bottles of bear.
  • Activity spots include two rock climbing walls, a zip line and surf machines.
  • Competitor Carnival Corp compares the ship to the Mall of America.
  • The ship is too big to dock in popular spots such as Venice and Bermuda.
  • The outdoor Aqua Show is cancelled about once a week due to rough seas.
  • Dozens of people and 18 robots wash windows each day.
  • The laundry room hums 24-hours a day with 34 crew members.
  • 20,000 pieces of linen such as towels, table cloths and sheets are washed daily.
  • Three doctors are on board.
  • An intensive care unit can keep one peers at a time on life support.
  • One of ship's doctor reports that ever few weeks a passengers has a heart attack.
  • During a seven-day sailing, the medical staff dispenses about 2,000-3,000 meclizine (a drug that treats seasickness).
  • 200 crew members are dedicated to entertaining passengers.
  • 26 kitchens feed the thousands on board.
  • Each Saturday trucks unload about 750 pallets of food, flowers and supplies on to the ship.
  • Supplies are fluctuated: When more Germans are on board, extra pork is ordered; Americans tend to favor chicken and beef; in the summer when lots of families sail, more ingredients for Caesar salad is needed.
  • To prevent disease, food storage, food preparation and actual cooking are done in separate areas.
  • Weights 225,282 tons.
  • Three Azipods (giant propellers) under the ship's belly can rotate 360 degrees.
Visit to learn more about the Oasis of the Seas. Click HERE to view the full Wall Street article.

Where's Julie McCoy: The cruise director manages a 200-member
staff who work in entertainment on the ship.
The ship's recycling center.
Top loaded alcoholic drinks: (in order) Corona, Budweiser and Bud Light.
Common area inside the ship where guests enjoy food and drinks.
One of the three doctors on board.
The ship pulling out of the Port Everglades.
Loft Suite.
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