Archive for May, 2014

“Did you know…United’s pilots have developed a plan to force the airline’s leaders to lead?”


United Chairman, Jeff Smisek; photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

United Chairman, Jeff Smisek; photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

In an exclusive story, reports that United Airlines’ pilots developed a plan that will, they say, encourage CEO Jeff Smisek to “lead or get out of the way.”

While chief competitors, Delta and American, are making headway in improving relations between management and labor, United hasn’t been able to implement the new airline partnership model.

According to and a letter from the Washington pilot leaders, “The gap between Delta and United is widening. Without a plan to force leadership here, we will end up in a distant third and not even be in the same playing field as our two major competitors.

Read the full story on–lead-or-get-out-of-the-way.html?cm_ven=skyg



Four Tips to Make Learning Spanish Easy before You Leave for Vacation

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, top language blogger, Benny Lewis, gave us four of his favorite language cramming tips before you leave on an overseas holiday.  In part two of our language learning for travel series, Lorraine Way, head of The Language Way, an onsite Spanish language training service, is going to give us advice for learning a Romance language, so your vacation takes you to a whole new level of enjoyment.

Lorraine Way

Lorraine with group of students

My company does a lot of work with professionals in social work, human resources, law and law enforcement, who frequently deal with people whose first language is Spanish.

Our language immersion approach is unique and effective. Our clients, with only a beginner level, often achieve intermediate proficiency within a relatively short time period – about 6-9 months.

We use the same technique for clients who want to improve their Spanish in preparation for a trip to a Spanish-speaking country, like Mexico, Spain or various South American destinations.  Our recommendation is to plan a month in advance of your trip to spend three hours a week with us – that is two 90-minute classes per week for four weeks (plus homework).  By the time you are ready to leave, you will have mastered the ability to carry-on very basic conversations, like ordering in a restaurant; exchanging pleasantries – your name, where you live, and your interests.

Lorraine’s key advice for learning a Romance language:

  • Take advantage of cognates, which are words in another language that are easy to remember because they look and mean the same thing as a word you already know in English. Some examples: accident – accidente; restaurant – restaurante; minute – minuto.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of cognates that will ease your vocabulary building. Here’s a useful site to help you get started:
  • Don’t be grammar focused; relax with it, and do the opposite of what you did in school. Interaction is most important.
  • Remember, the person you are trying to communicate with wants to talk to you as much as you want to talk to them, so enjoy it!
  • Get into the culture – music, dance, food, and people. Link your desire to learn the language with what you like. If it’s music, focus on that.

For more information on The Language Way’s programs, visit the website:


“Did you know…Tour plane crash in Salt Lake City kills one, injures five?”

cessna 207 plane

Cessna 207 (not aircraft from crash)

According to a report, Salt Lake City-based sightseeing-tours company, American Aviation, was attempting to land a Cessna 207 carrying six French tourists when heavy winds caused the plane to hit sand and flip over. It’s estimated that the plane crashed about 500 feet from the tarmac.

Read the full story here.

Four proven ways to cram a language before your international journey

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In many foreign countries, Americans have helped generate a stereotypical image, and it’s usually not very pretty – especially when we get called out on our loudness or chubby appearance.  Unfortunately, we are also known for our limited language skills.  Did you know that 53% of Europeans speak at least two languages, as compared to only 18% of Americans?  To help American travelers shake this dull distinction, this month’s Hot Topic series features expert advice from top linguists, so you may quickly attain simple conversational skills before traveling to non-English speaking geographies.

Benny Lewis

Benny Lewis, the Irish Polyglot

Benny Lewis, international language hacker and author of Fluent in 3 Months—the top language blog in the world, agreed to help us with this effort.  When we asked Benny why he thought foreign language skills were not pursued by more people, he said most folks don’t think they can do it or just don’t get around to it.  “I tell would-be language learners, there are seven days in a week and ‘someday’ is not one of them, so start learning and using a new language today.

Known for his take-no-prisoners approach to language learning, we got Benny to share some of his top tips for conquering the basics.  Obviously, Benny wrote a whole book on this, so summarizing an entire language learning process is tough in a few simple tips, but he does a pretty good job of it in this blog post chronicling his intensive experience with Polish – He was able to carry on a simple conversation in about two hours!

Benny’s top pre-trip language cramming tips:

  • Get a phrase book and cram the essentials in a couple of hours
  • Get on and set up a spoken exchange with a real native speaker, practice what you know immediately so you hit the ground running later
  • Make your learning process about making mistakes and not perfection. Practice communication, not perfect sentence structure. Tarzan-ese is absolutely acceptable
  • Use to cram vocabulary through clever mnemonics.

Next week, we’ll talk with Lorraine Way, president of The Language Way, an onsite language training service. The company specializes in helping professionals, like social workers, lawyers, HR workers and other professionals working with people, learn to do their jobs in Spanish.


53% of Europeans speak at least two languages, as compared to only 18% of Americans; Forbes, “America’s Foreign Language Deficit,”



One-on-One with Steve Lewis, Founder and CEO of AirPooler

This month, ExpertFlyer talks with Steve Lewis, founder and CEO of AirPooler, a platform that lets pilots and travelers easily find one another to share expenses on private flights the pilots would be doing anyway.

Steve Lewis, CEO,“Our mission is to make general aviation more accessible and affordable.”

— Steve Lewis, CEO of AirPooler

Where does AirPooler fit in to the air travel industry? In terms of price and accessibility, is your service a real option for the regular air traveler?

Private pilots have been ride-sharing since the days of the Wright brothers. AirPooler is just making it much easier to do. In terms of how this fits into the world of aviation, these are small planes (single or double prop) that fly to smaller general aviation airports that are almost never served by commercial airlines. At the same time, weather is a big factor for smaller planes and pilots cancel or change flight plans often. So ride-sharing on small planes is not a substitute for regular air travel. It is a different option that people can use to expand the range of their regional leisure travel.

Who is your typical passenger and how are they using your service most effectively?

AirPooler’s typical passenger is tech savvy, loves to travel and explore but is short on time and careful about how she/he uses it. They’ll use AirPooler to do something, or go somewhere that otherwise wouldn’t have been an option – especially for short durations like weekends.

How do you vet pilots? If experience is the most important contributor to air safety, are pilots screened by hours of flight time?

AirPooler facilitates pilot and passenger ride-sharing and does not itself offer transportation services or in any way become involved in vetting pilots or the airworthiness of airplanes. However, we work closely with well-regarded pilot clubs which have extensive programs and resources devoted to safety and pilot training.

What types of planes are used and how many people can be accommodated per flight?

Most airplanes are piston-driven single or double propeller planes that can seat from 2 to 6 people, including the pilot. In practice, because of weight limitations, most planes fly with less than their full passenger payload.

How much lead time is required to book a flight with AirPooler?

Most pilots decide on their flight plans a maximum of 4-5 days out. Depending on the popularity of the destination, available spots can fill very quickly or remain open. And since these are flights the pilots would be doing anyway, passengers can often find rides to share very close to departure.

AirPooler was launched last year with service in California. What markets are you servicing now and where are you expanding to within the next few years?

Just to clarify: AirPooler launched to the public in California in March of this year, following a multi-month private beta. We’ve received hundreds of inquiries from pilots and prospective passengers around the country who want to know when the service will be available in their home airports. We’re trying to figure this out now.

Do you think AirPooler will reach critical mass, such that major commercial air carriers will feel a pinch from you competitively? How many flights are you facilitation a month now?

As I mentioned, AirPooler pilots fly mainly to smaller airports that are not served commercially so ride-sharing is not really a substitute for flying commercial. As a small private company, we do not disclose overall usage numbers for competitive reasons.

Is the key benefit to pilots using this service filling empty seats? What’s their feedback been?

Yes. The cost of flying has continued to grow with increasing fuel prices, forcing many pilots to cut back dramatically on their flying time. So, defraying some of their costs is a big deal for most pilots. But many pilots also value companionship.

Are you looking at offering any type of frequent flyer rewards program in the future?

Most likely not. Federal regulations prohibit pilots from taking compensation (passengers on AirPooler pay only their pro-rata share of a trip’s costs) and require pilots and passengers to have bona fide independent reasons for making any trip. We would not want to introduce incentives that may interfere with that.

There have been other startups that have launched similar travel options, like BlackJet and SurfAir. How is AirPooler different and better and how will you succeed where they failed?

BlackJet sold discounted seats on chartered jets. Even discounted, the economics of that are incredibly different: at least $4000 an hour for jet travel, vs. $50-100 an hour on light airplanes. So these are totally different audiences. SurfAir is a commercial airline that operates on a membership basis: customers pay a monthly fee and get “all you can fly.” Flights listed on AirPooler are by private pilots, on a non-commercial basis.