dialectLearn these seven basic phrases of the native language(s) of the place(s) you are going to:

  1. Hello (eg Bonjour, Hola, Guten Tag, Salaam, Namaste, Sawadee Krub)
  2. Thank you (merci, Gracias, Danke, Shukrun, dhanyavaad, Karp Khun Krub)
  3. Good bye (au revoir, adios, Auf Wiedersehen, ma’a as-salāmah, namaste, byebye)
  4. Where’s the toilet? 
  5. Help (Au secours, Socorro, Hilfe, ilHaʿni, maḍaḍ, chûay dûay)
  6. Yes (Oui, Si, Ja, iewa, Haji, Shy)
  7. No (Non, No, Nein, la, Nahin, my)

It is not that hard, the locals will appreciate you trying and it may help you get your point across.

Any other essentials? Maybe “how much”? or “Please?”


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On many of my flights, I have watched the pilot come out of the cockpit to use the lavatory. On some airlines, as he or she has emerged, a member of the cabin crew has replaced him. On others, the pilot or co pilot has left their colleague alone in charge of the plane. The U.S.A had rules before last Tuesday’s Germanwings crash requiring airlines to have two crew members present at all times during the flight. Many other countries allowed airlines to set their own policies.

And this has always bothered me. I have always considered my fears irrational but in the back of mind comes a nagging thought: what happens if something went wrong and the pilot cannot get back in. I have always dismissed that thought as being paranoid. Until this week.

Daily Telegraph

Daily Telegraph

The story of Germanwings 9525, pieced together by prosecutors, is that while the pilot Captain Patrick Sondheimer went to the lavatory, his co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately set the plane on a course of destruction. In 11 minutes the plane went from a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet to hitting a French mountain. In the whole time of the descent, Lubitz’s breathing can be heard interspersed with the audible height warnings, his pilot’s shouting through the door and in the last five minutes, the screams of the passengers.

It feels the ultimate betrayal that reportedly, the person entrusted with the care of 149 other lives chose to end them as a consequence of the bleak depression that was enfolding him. German media are stating, that as a result of failing eyesight, an unstable emotional state and a break up with his girlfriend, Andreas Lubitz was not in an emotional state to fly the Germanwings Airbus 320. A condition he had been hiding from his family, his girlfriends and his employer.

There were two things that could have stopped this disaster:

  1. If a second person had been in the cockpit with him at all times and/or
  2.  if someone had sounded the alarm about Lubitz’s mental health earlier
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

As the plane headed toward down toward its crash point, and Captain Sondheimer fruitlessly attacked the door with a fire axe in a desperate attempt to get inside, those in the first rows of the plane would have been hoping and wishing he could have got inside.  But the reinforced cockpit door with its advanced entry code system was no longer keeping the passengers safe. Even if there had been cameras filming inside the cockpit, which some aviation authorities have wanted, nothing would have changed. The outcome of this makes a mockery of the weapons checks pilots have to go through every time they fly. Lubitz had the ultimate weapon, a 40 tonne aircraft with half of its fuel still in the tanks.

The Guardian

The Guardian

For me, the best result of this disaster is that now, universally airlines are announcing they will be ensuring there are always at least two crew members in the cockpit. Norwegian, Air Berlin, Lufthansa, EasyJet, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Icelandair and Air Canada have all announced this change.

The European Aviation Safety Agency has urged all airlines to do the same. New Zealand and Canada have also brought in the two cabin crew rule for airlines registered in those countries. Australia is doing the same. I will feel safer. If this has been in place, it may have changed the outcome of that day.

The second step to take is to better ensure pilots can take the time they need when they are in some sort of distress. If Lubitz had been helped, 150 people may still be alive. The number of times a pilot has deliberately crashed their plane is so small but we need to make sure they are screened adequately to put our paranoias at rest once and for all.

May all Rest In Peace.


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After 11 September, 2001, airlines and authorities needed to ensure that no unauthorised persons could get into the cockpit. This resulted in the creation the cockpit doors we have on aircraft today. No more did we see the cockpit door left open on flights or people wandering in and out or passengers visiting. The doors themselves are virtually impenetrable.

These may not have been topical until this week when the copilot of Germanwings 9525, Andreas Lubitz reportedly locked Captain Patrick Sondenheime out of the cockpit before deliberately flying the Airbus 320 into a French mountain.

This video (which is a little cheesy in places) shows how the modern cockpit door system works and by association, shows how the Germanwings captain was locked out.

In this system, the pilots operate the door with a switch on their control panel. It has three settings: norm, lock and unlock.

A picture inside a flight simulator shows the door locking system of an Airbus A320 in ViennaOn the other side, there is also a keyboard panel in the cabin area with a green and a red light plus an interphone for communication between cabin and cockpit.

There are three possible options during normal flight operations:
1. Authorised access with the pilots allowing someone into the cockpit (switch is set to unlock)
2. Preventing unauthorised access (switch is set to lock activating additional locks in then door)
3. Entering in an emergency should the pilots be incapacitated (switch is left in norm)

In the Germanwings situation, the co-pilot Lubitz triggered the switch which locked the cockpit door. Captain Patrick Sondenheimer kept trying to get his offsider to let him in before reportedly resorting using a fire axe to try and get into the cockpit.

The impenetrable cockpit meant the copilot was able to crash the plane.

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This hilarious commercial invites people to an exhibition celebrating of Air New Zealand by showing nothing has changed in that time. Well worth the 46 seconds as the video shows images from the early Trans Empire Air Lines (TEAL) Days to the current Air NZ days. From flying boats to 747s.

The exhibition is on at the country’s national museum Te Papa, in the capital Wellington.

Air New Zealand, began as a flying boat operator TEAL in 1940. It adopted the current name in 1965. Their 106 aeroplanes currently fly to 58 airports. I have flown Air New Zealand 44 times. I rate them 4.3 out of 5. Skytrax rate them a 4 out of 5.

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File picture of  D-AIPX (Reuters)

File picture of D-AIPX (Reuters)

An Airbus A320 registration D-AIPX, operated by Germanwings, has crashed near Digne les Bains in the mountainous French Alpes-des-Hautes province on Tuesday morning 24th March, 2015, shortly after 10:47am local time. Flight 9525 was carrying a total of 144 passengers, two pilots and four cabin crew. A distress signal was issued by the pilot flying at 6800ft.

We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew on 4U 9525. If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors.“ ” Carsten Spohr, CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG

Set up in 1997, Germanwings GmbH is based in Cologne, has been wholly owned by Lufthansa since 2009. They are an affiliate member of Star Alliance and fly to 86 destinations with their fleet of 81 planes. I have not flown them. Skytrax rates them as a three star airline. They have not had any previous major incidents. There have been over 6450 A320s  built. I have flown in A320s a total of 84 times.

This is the second major accident in 2015. In February, Taiwan’s TransAsia flight 235 hit a bridge after takeoff.  38 died and 15 survived.

My thoughts to all those impacted by this disaster.

More information from:


Germanwings logo greyed out after the crash news (ITV)

Germanwings logo greyed out after the crash news (ITV)

Source: Ryanair

Source: Ryanair

The idea that Ryanair, the Irish budget carrier (and one of my most disliked airlines) would fly to the USA seems to have been raised noisily every other year since 2007.  The proposal is always that there will be ultra low cost economy (coach) fares starting at $US15 and a business class service. The transatlantic services would operate under different branding to the main carrier.

This same transatlantic idea is then quietly retired each and very time. It almost seems like a free publicity strategy by the carrier to increase its current passneger load (currently 90million per year).

On Monday 16th March, 2015, this unequivocal announcement came from the carrier:

The board of  Ryanair have approved the business plans for future growth, including transatlantic. We are talking to manufacturers about long-haul aircraft but cannot comment further on this. European consumers want lower-cost travel to the USA and the same for Americans coming to Europe. We see it as a logical development in the European market.

Media sources reported that the airline would operate from ten European cities (including Berlin, Dublin and London Stanstad) to between 12 and 14 US Cities including Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York and Washington DC.

On Thursday 19th March, the airline said this in a very brief statement released to the London Stock Exchange yesterday:

In the light of recent press coverage, the Board of Ryanair Holdings Plc wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so.

What happened?

  • Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said the airline had “f***ed up”, describing the original statement as “a miscommunication”
  • Did they jump the gun? Ryanair have not placed orders for any long haul aircraft with any manufacturer.
  • Were they trying to take over a transatlantic carrier? It has been aiming at Aer Lingus for years.
  • Were they being mischievous? After all, this is the airline who hinted at making customers pay for lavatories.
  • Was it a St Patrick’s Day marketing stunt designed to drive passengers to their relatively new US website?

Ryanair last year renewed O’Leary, their CEO, until 2019 so I expect more of these transatlantic hints and announcements. Not convinced I will see the carrier flying to the USA by then. Don’t wait for those $US15 flights.

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I enjoy watching safety demos. Air New Zealand, traditionally have had some of the best safety films. I think Air France have a winner with their newest one. Its fun, informative, catchy and of course that French accent is irresistible!

What do you think?


It accompanies the airline’s newest advertisement: France is in the Air

Here is the film about the making of the ad:

Air France, has been the country’s flag carrier since 1933. Their 245 aeroplanes currently fly to just over 200 airports. I have flown Air France ten times. I rate them 3.9 out of 5. Skytrax rate them a 4 out of 5.

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The arm was from falling off a temple in Cambodia not the traffic!

The arm was from falling off a temple in Cambodia not the traffic!

I measure how successful a pedestrian you are by your ability to handle crossing roads in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam! Faced with multiple lanes filled with cars, bikes, motorbikes, buses and scooters, weaving in and out of lanes, I have seen people freeze with fear.  I have escorted people across these roads while they quietly whimper with fear! In many cities, pedestrian crossings and traffic signals mean nothing when pedestrians are involved!

It is a serious issue for travellers, however.  A UK study found that one fifth of UK road deaths involved pedestrians. 61 per cent of those pedestrians are tourists. 16pc died.  And the Uk is a “safe” country. In many other countries with less stringent driving laws, there are usually even higher pedestrian deaths.

Unfamiliarity with crossing “conventions”, jet lag, distractions caused by sights or scenery, talking with friends and the effects of alcohol all have a role in causing injury and death for tourist pedestrians globally. Yet, ironically we only teach kids about road safety not adults.

I think we need to educate tourists in crossing roads. Every country (and in some cases even cities in the one country) has different conventions for crossing roads and we cannot assume that the conventions we have at home exist in the place we are visiting.

Some tips:

  1. Watch what the locals do. In Paris, for example, do not make eye contact with the driver or even acknowledge the car. Parisian drivers assume you will stop for them. If you pretend you have not seen them, they will stop!
  2. Watch for cars driving on the footpath. This is common in many African, Middle Eastern and Asian cities
  3. Cross at official crossings, overpasses, or subways. Jaywalking may be okay where you are from but you know the traffic patterns where you live. In addition, many tourists have been mortified to find they have crossed the roads”illegally”  and been slapped with a fine. Tourists are not immune! In some countries, jaywalking is the only way top cross the road. Be warned taht sometimes, even in these circumstances, the tourist may still be fined!
  4. Always look right and left at every street. Teach your kids the same. In many Asian countries traffic may actually be coming at you on the “wrong side of the road”. I have seen cars squeezing up both directions in the one lane
  5. Be aware in some countries you will need to press a button to get the lights to change for a pedestrian
  6. In some countries you will get a timed visual (eg Singapore) of how long you have top cross and in others an audible (eg Brasilia) warning.
  7. Do not step onto the road until you are confident to do so. Some pedestrians step out and then look! This can be too late in some cities.

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I have met and seen my share of passengers that have made me smile, giggle or cringe. Ironically, I am typing this while a mother across the aisle, ignores her bored, screaming, bouncing, yelling child! Tempted to take pictures of her for a website I discovered this week that aims to shame.

Passengershaming.com and its associated Facebook page and Twitter account displays pictures of the half naked, drunk, shoeless passengers one hopes not to be sitting next to (one also hopes that one is not a culprit too!).

naked ryna


Graffiti in a dreamliner lavatory


There are some who see this “resource” as a boon and others who are horrified by it. What do you think?

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Tropical Cyclone Marcia made landfall along the central Queensland, Australia coast on Friday, near the city of Rockhampton. The storm made landfall as a Category 5 cyclone, but has since weakened to a Category 1 storm over land. Watch Marcia impact as she made  landfall:

qld-coast-mapDamage has been reported in Rockhampton, Gladstone and Yeppoon. No deaths or major injuries have been reported. Although the storm is weakening, it still poses flooding risks, as it moves southeast between Gladstone and Bundaberg.
This video from Oz Cyclone Chasers shows a roof being torn off a house:
NB Language warning.

The Insurance Council of Australia has stated: “To support government response to this event, as well as any insurance issues that may emerge, Catastrophe Event 152 has been declared….”

Air BnB are offering no charge emergency accommodation with airbnb hosts and have waived all service fees for those impacted by the cyclone.

One bright spot in the whole disaster has been , the Australian sign language interpreter Mark Cave, who has gripped people with his animated announcements. The 30 year old has been signing for 12 years.  cave



Cho Hyun-ah (Heather Cho), the former Korean Air Head of Cabin Service, who demanded staff kneel before her to ask for forgiveness over how they served macadamia nuts in first class, has been sentenced to one year in jail.  I must admit, I am surprised that it got this far!

Heather Cho leaves for a detention facility after a court ordered her to be detained, at the Seoul Western District Prosecutor?s office


On 5th December, 2014 Cho, the daughter of Korean Air’s Chair, ordered flight 86 back to the gate at New York’s JFK airport and had the chief steward removed from the plane.

A South Korean court yesterday found her guilty of:

  1. violating aviation law
  2. changing flight path and
  3. interference of operations.

One of the judges said that Cho was a passenger on the Korean Air flight and could not override crew members and give orders during a flight. He stated that “her actions threatened the development of the aviation industry and inconvenienced passengers”. 

Heather Cho resigned from her post as a vice president at the airline last December and made a public apology with her head bowed, saying she accepted “full responsibility.”

I am kind of flabbergasted at the decision to jail. After all, she has publicly shamed, has lost her job and apologised multiple times. Interestingly, the Prosecutors wanted three years not the one  year that she got. From the very beginning of the story of this incident, up to ten years in jail had been threatened so one year may be light.

What do you think? Excessive or Fair Punishment and deterrence?


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