Archive for September, 2011

“Did you know…The TSA found more than 800 firearms in carry-on bags this year?”

knives found in carry on baggage

Guns, Knives and Grenades Found in Airport Carry-on Baggage

Q&A: Guns, knives and grenades at the airport

Should you pack your gun, your grenade or your carving knife in a carry-on bag when you go to the airport?

Definitely not, but apparently a number of people do…

The best (and worst) countries to do business

With the retail and banking worlds coming to a head over the fed’s proposed debit card fees, The Daily Beast culls the regulatory and economic data to find the best—and worst—countries for business to meet their potential…

Ask the pilot series — Part 3 of 6: Cockpit Automation

Expert Flyer Hot Topics – Where the rubber meets the runway

Expert Flyer is featuring a special six-part Hot Topic series called, “Ask the Pilot.”  Our expert, Patrick Smith, is an aviator and the author of’s popular ASK THE PILOT air travel column.  He also hosts the ASK THE PILOT resource site: Please enjoy this third installment of our series.

(Part 3 of 6)

Cockpit automation – Who or what is flying and landing the plane – man or machine?

Fewer than one percent of landings are “automatic.”  The vast majority are flown by hand, the old fashioned way.

Why?  Because in most respects automatic landings are more complicated, and more work-intensive, than those performed manually.  The technology is there if you need it — for that foggy arrival in Buenos Aires with the visibility sitting at zero — but it’s anything but simple and anything but routine.

This question segues into a larger discussion about the various myths and misconceptions of cockpit automation.  An analogy I like to make is one between flying and medicine: modern technology helps a pilot fly a plane the way it helps a surgeon perform an operation.  Sure, some procedures are more routine than others, but never are they easy, and none are “automatic” in the way that people are led to think.  And thus, a jetliner can no more “fly itself” any more than an operating room can remove a tumor or perform an organ transplant “by itself.” Continue reading →

“Did you know…Laundry tips for business travellers?”

man washing clothes by hand

Laundry tips for business travellers

Laundry tips for business travellers
(Economist – Gulliver)

Most veteran business travellers have had a laundry crisis at least once. That big meeting is tomorrow, but you’ve already missed the hotel’s deadline for same-day service. Don’t panic!…

Angry Birds take flight with Finnair

While some airlines align themselves with more traditional home-grown businesses and icons, Finnair has tapped into the global phenomenon that is Angry Birds…

Ask the Pilot Series — Part 2 of 6: Fear of Flying

Expert Flyer is featuring a special six-part “Ask the Pilot” series.  Our expert, Patrick Smith, is an aviator and the author of’s popular ASK THE PILOT air travel column.  He also hosts the ASK THE PILOT resource site: Please enjoy this second installment of our series.

(Part 2 of 6)

US Airways jet lands on the Hudson

Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III landed a US Airways jet safely on the Hudson after flying into geese. Pilots are not trained for the type of landing he made on Jan. 15, 2009. (Steven Day/Reuters/File)


When it comes to a fear of flying, what keeps a pilot up at night – storms, birds, air traffic, technology issues?
Usually the things of concern to pilots * aren’t * the things that the average passenger worries about – i.e. wings falling off and turbulence flipping the plane over.  Bird strikes and potential runway incursions are two scenarios that jump into my own mind.  A pilot’s worst nightmare?  An inflight cargo fire, probably.

What was your most frightening experience as a pilot?
The only harrowing moment of my career actually took place when I was still a private pilot, in a single-engine Piper (The story is detailed here: ).  Hopefully, this gives you some idea as to how rare full-blown emergencies really are at the commercial airline level.

Stay tuned next week for part 3 of 6, when we find out who – or what – is actually landing the plane.  Man or machine?

New Feature: Paid Seats on ExpertFlyer Seat Maps

Today we’re announcing that ExpertFlyer now has a “Paid Seats” designation in it’s Seat Maps. This designation will be used for any seat that is marked as a seat where a traveler would have to pay to reserve it by the airline.

Since airlines can also mark such seats as free for elite frequent flyers as well as Paid, a second seat designation, Paid & Premium, as also been added. When you see this icon on a seat it means that the seat can be reserved by an elite frequent flyer, or by paying. ExpertFlyer previously shows these seats as Premium Only.

For Seat Alerts®, the “Paid & Premium” seat will be treated the same as a Premium Only seat. Paid seats will be treated as not available.  We hope you find this addition to ExpertFlyer helpful as the busy holiday travel season approaches!Paid Seat on Seat Map