The Cranky Ol' Bat

Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - RuPaul


Finnish Taxi v Norwegian Plane in Danish Smackdown!

Somebody must have gotten into the Aquavit....a cab carrying Finnish government officials crashed into the Norwegian Prime Minister's plane on the tarmac in Odense, Denmark. The plane was parked at the time.

The Prime Minister was in the car behind the Finnish delegation.

No Swedes were harmed in the accident, but I'm sure they got a big yuk out of the whole thing.

Weird Ways to Get British Citizenship, Part 42

This sounds like something out of the Tom Hanks' movie "The Terminal"....Sanjay Shah, outraged that the UK would not consider him to be a full citizen (he held a UK overseas citizen passport), decided to protest by living for 13 months in Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport's duty-free section.

Maybe he got the idea from seeing the movie, or by reading about Merhan Karimi Nasseri, the gentleman living in Charles DeGaulle Airport since 1988. In any event, Mr Shah has been granted his wish to apply for full citizenship.


Just in Time for Summer.....Free Ice Cream!

As I write this, it's a relatively cool 106. Yeah, it sucks, but if you are yukking it up in your much cooler climate, remember this: in the wintertime, all I gotta shovel is sunshine, baby!

Maybe I'll mosey over to Starbucks.....get your free samples while they last, kids!

Kelo Might Hit Close to Home for Supreme Court Justice....

Normally I don't get much into politics here on the Jet Set Chick. I save that ranting and raving for other places.

But even someone minimally conscious has heard about Kelo v City of New London. To sum it up, very briefly, the Supreme Court has ruled that the local guvmint has the right to take your property under eminent domain if they can generate higher taxes through a different use.

(The old standard used to be they could take it if it was for the greater public good. Some land the Jet Set Daddy used to own was taken under that standard. Been to McCarran International in Vegas? Some of that land under the runways belonged to my old man.....once upon a time.)

In other words, say someone wants to put up a tattoo parlor/nail salon/malt liquor emporium where your house, the very same house that your family has owned for 100 years, now stands. If you don't want to sell, they can take it to the local guvmint types and try to take it under eminent domain because they promise to pay more taxes than you currently do.

And, oh, by the way, they may decide to just bypass making you an offer in the first place, since under eminent domain, they can pay less than the current market value. Back in the 70's, the value of my dad's Las Vegas land halved after the authorities announced they were thinking of taking it for the airport.

I don't trust the Phoenix City Council to make the decision in favor of the homeowner. Hopefully, you could trust your local guvmint. (Snicker, snicker, snicker.....look, I work for the state, I know what a lot of localities are like. Can you say bought & paid for? Sure, I knew you could!)

The Supreme Court has come up with some really boneheaded decisions in its day (Dred Scott, anyone?), but this has to rank up there with the top 10 stupid decisions of all time. I mean, hell, I never thought I would see left-wingers on the same side as Scalia! Scalia! And Thomas, too, fer Chrissakes!

Anyway....I just had to smile when I read that a private developer has applied with the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire to turn Justice David Souter's house into a hotel, claiming that the town will enjoy greater tax benefits if they turn that location into a commercial enterprise.

He swears it is not a prank. He really intends to do this.

I want to make a reservation, myself......the Tsar's never seen New England in the fall, and it is lovely.....


You Might Actually Want That United Flight to be Late....

United Airlines has come up with a novel compensation idea for passengers who arrive late on a flight leaving Chicago's O'Hare to one of eight other busy airports (Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Newark, N.J., New York's LaGuardia, Philadelphia, and Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport).

If the flight is more than 30 minutes late, for any reason, United's frequent flyers will get an additional 500 miles credited to their accounts.

What are the odds? Not bad, actually. O'Hare was the eighth worst performing airport in getting flights out on time. The offer's good till 31 Dec, and there are no blackout dates (such as the horrific Thanksgiving Day weekend) when it does not apply.

Be Like Martha! Stay at The Big House!

This is one travel "trend" I really don't get. Maybe because I've been in a real jail, and know that they aren't a lovely destination.

Before you get all agitated, remember....I worked for the Phoenix Police Department, and was there as a translator for mopes who got arrested. I could leave any damn time I wanted and didn't have to post bail first. Jeez! What kinda dame youse guys take me for, anyway?

If for some reason you have always wanted to spend a night in jail, Sri Lanka has the joint ready and waiting for you. I had posted earlier about a similar hotel in Latvia, and I've heard rumors of others (including a hostel that supposedly was located in a concentration camp in East Germany.....but that one is just too horrible to be true. At least, I hope that's not true.)


Damn Commies Wrecking Travel Plans AGAIN!

Only this time, it's in Nepal. (Even Peru's commies wised up and decided Mao isn't cool, even if he did come up with a designer jacket.) The US State Department issued a travel warning on Friday for American citizens, urging them to put off all non-essential travel to the country, especially if you wanted to go outside of the capital city of Kathmandu. The UK has not issued a warning at this time, but the Australians have. Canada issued a warning for its citizens back in April.

Another country the State Department is advising that you avoid is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, currently enjoying a prolonged civil war, with occasional UN peacekeeper fatalities. The UK travel warning also highlights the Marburg fever outbreak along the Angolan border (think Ebola, but possibly slightly less deadly. Or maybe it's the other way around. I forget.) Canada chose to highlight the massacre of Tutsi refugees along the Burundi border. Australia has no comment.

The Jet Set Brother will be pleased to see he has a new reason to avoid Malaysia, as the State Department has issued a public announcement about piracy and kidnapping outbreaks in that country. (A public announcement is one step below a travel warning.) Australia, the UK and Canada don't seem to be big fans right now, but have not elevated their assessment of risk in travel to that country.

That's it from the Jet Set Travel Warning Summary! Now....go hit the road and have an adventure (hopefully NOT in the above countries, dahlinks)!!

Two Zeros and a Hero

First, we have two strong contenders for the 2005 Stupid Ex-Airline Employee of the Year Award!

Our first dishonorable mention goes to Gay Wilson, an off-duty flight attendant who's idea of a "joke" was to write a fake bomb threat note on board an American Airlines flight in 2004. She'll be enjoying a five-year layover in federal prison for that stunning bit of stupidity.

Our next dishonorable mention goes to former British Airways captain William A McAuliffe. A Norwegian court has sentenced him to six months for preparing to fly even though his copilot and purser were snockered. Mr McAuliffe himself was sober, but was faulted for not using his authority to ensure his crew's fitness to perform their jobs. The purser, Michelle Giannandrea received a sentence of 45 days. The case against the copilot, David J Ryan, has been postponed.

And now, for today's hero....

An unidentified US Airways co-pilot narrowly avoided a collision with an Aer Lingus flight at Logan International Airport in Boston on the evening of 9 June. He spotted the Irish jetliner taking off from an intersecting runway and ordered his captain to keep the plane down. The Aer Lingus jet passed over the US Airways jet, which took off without incident further down the runway. The planes missed by 171 feet, and both were going in excess of 160 miles an hour. 381 passengers and crew were aboard the flights.

The near collision is currently being investigated, and both air traffic controllers involved have been kept from authorizing landings and takeoffs until they can be re-certified by the FAA.


Sounds Like Bullshit to Me....

A 26 year old woman has decided to sue the DEA for confiscating almost $47k stuffed into her bra when she was at Boston's Logan International Airport.

The DEA claimed it was drug money. Ms Valdez claims she was going to use the money in Texas to pay for plastic surgery on her breasts and butt.

Riiiiiight, sister.....

The Horror of Seat 29E!

I was almost tempted to include this as a "Place to Avoid Going To If You Can", but, I started laughing too much over it. If you have Adobe Acrobat, click on the PDF link for the full artistic glory of it all.

Yup, Snopes has this thing for airline toilets.


Finally....A Trail for Tsar Charming and the Jet Set Brother!

Lots of places have wine trails. New York, however, wants to start a beer trail highlighting the brewing history and tradition of the Empire State.

Get this....the guy who sponsored the bill in the state legislature doesn't even drink! Bummer....I guess my two favorite gentlemen will have to buy him a root beer!

Sprechen Sie Singapore?

Singapore Airlines keeps coming up with new things that make their competitors look like lazy slackers. The idea of broadcasting quick in-flight language lessons isn't new, but bringing your passengers up to eleven choices in languages definitely is. Later this year, nine more languages will be introduced.

Passengers who take advantage of the opportunity for onboard Berlitz lessons will be emailed a certificate. This program is now available on about two-thirds of Singapore's fleet.


A Travel Poster I Really Like.....Oh, Baby, Yes!!!!

I haven't covered the EU debates on this blog, but maybe you have read about the mythical "Polish Plumber" that a bunch of French & Germans got in a tizzy about. Supposedly if they liberalized the EU working rules, eastern Europeans were going to take work away from western Europeans, who won't work for the same low wages.

Don't know about some of the ladies out there, but I'd hire this guy for the same rate charged by the westerners. After all, 'tis only fair, right?


The Kind of Thing I Wanna See on a Day Like Today

Yesterday in Phoenix it was 112 degrees. It's supposed to be 111 today. This is the kind of day when I love to watch a movie like "Fargo" and change my screensaver to the one with a tree covered in snow up in the mountains.

So, on a day like today, it just seems appropriate to me to read a story about de-icing equipment malfunctioning on the way to Honduras. Fortunately the two injured people aboard the American Airlines flight only had minor boo-boos.

Nothing that couldn't be cured by a frozen margarita.

Happy Solstice to everybody stopping by the Jet Set Lounge!


Italian Art Africa?

If you remember your history books, the Italians had a piece of real estate in the horn of Africa before World War II. Like other colonial nations, Italy thought they were never going to have to leave.

They sent over some architects to design buildings for administrative purposes and for other needs of the colonists. Amazingly for an area that has been ripped by civil war, some of the buildings still stand. The need for renovations is obvious, but check out the beautiful lines on the ones featured at the link. My personal favorite is, of all things, a gas station.


Name That Kid!!

Remember back in April when I said I was going to sort-of be an aunt?

Well, the mama found out yesterday it's going to be a healthy little girl.

So, any of youse guys got a good name for the baby? No guarantees that the mama will use your suggestion, but....if you were having a daughter, what would her name be if it were up to you?

The ground rules:

1) No Madison, Kayla, Ashley or Mackenzie. Those names are SO done, think of something else.

2) Nothing inspired by the drugstore or something icky. ("Lavoris! Stop hitting your sister Chlamydia!")

3) No guys' names. Sorry, but when I think of "James" or "Michael", some little angel playing with a Barbie doll (even a little angel blowing up a Barbie doll, like I would have loved to do) is not the image that comes to mind.

If it were up to me I'd probably pick something like "Maria" or "Margaret". Trust me, those names ain't so common any more out there in kiddieland. (Besides, I like the fact there's about fifty nicknames for either one so you could come up with something that reflects the kid's personality.) Or maybe "Rosalia" because that was my grandmother's name, and I think it's pretty.

So....what would YOU pick??


Want to Track Down a REAL Atomic Cafe?

Sorry this is so late today. Combine a splitting headache with a backache and a pressing deadline at work, and you got a late blog entry. My bad and my apologies.

Now, back to our originally scheduled programming, now in progress....

If you are a science or history geek like me & the Tsar, well, the usual tourist traps don't satisfy. Maybe I'm deficient in chick hormones, but getting an all-expense paid trip to the Mall of America just doesn't get me excited like it does for some other people I know. Disney characters? Puhleese. And sitting around in a smoky casino with a watered-down drink is nothing short of Purgatory.

I want history, I want to work my brain, I want to go where some shit has blown up.

That's why I was really jacked to run across the site for The Bureau of Atomic Tourism.

It has handy links for the different sites listed, including Tucson's own Titan Missile Museum (I thought it was pretty funny to have the Tsar "inspect" the missile silo, but then again I'm warped), and the Trinity Site (where I celebrated my birthday a couple of years ago during one of its open dates).

Just a wee bit of warning for anyone going out to the Trinity site.....don't pick up the glass and take it home. It is pretty, it is intriguing....but most of all, it is radioactive. Take only pictures standing on Ground Zero, and leave only footprints like the good rangers say.


The REAL Reason I'm Never Taking Up Mountaineering

I don't know if any of you have ever read "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer. If you haven't, get thee to a library or bookstore! I still think it is one of the best books I have ever read.

Anyway, towards the beginning of the book, there is a description of base camp at Mt Everest that will turn your guts. You might think that it is pristine, with crystal clear mountain streams and bracing fresh air.

Nope. No way, no how. Although this article is about Mt McKinley, the same conditions that Krakauer describes are present there.

Mountaineers are icky.

Don't try to defend this behavior. I don't wanna hear it. They're just lucky I'm not in charge of determining their punishment.

I'm just going to admire those mountains from afar. And preferably not downwind.


Places to Avoid Going To if You Can....An Ongoing Series of Opinionated Reviews

Been a while since I did this, so, here's another little slice o' hell on earth: The Hotel Continental in Venice, Italy.

The above link is to the official web page. It looks pretty, but tells you absolutely nothing about the place. Maybe because it seems like no one likes it if they are forced to stay there.

Think I'm kidding? A Mr Joshua Friedman has literally dedicated an entire blog to how much he hates the place. That's in addition to the terrible reviews he has given to the hotel all over the internet, conveniently linked on said blog.

Yeah, it's easy enough to dismiss one dissatisfied customer, but Hotel Chatter's Hotel Hell has nominated it for the "Worst Hotel in The World".

Tsar Charming keeps saying we should go to Venice someday. I sure hope he doesn't "surprise" me with The Hotel Continental!


Cocktail of the Week

Yes, I know I've been slacking on the so-called "regular features". I promise to make amends.

Anyway, yesterday was one of those days where you desperately need a drink and you still have 6 hours until you can sneak out of the office. I realized that I had forgotten to get my coffee fix once the withdrawal headache kicked in. I had one employer who can't figure out how to fill out a basic form, even after she was provided with an example sheet and coaching over the phone. Our IT department was doing their damndest to show why their jobs should be the next ones outsourced to Bangalore. And, oh yeah, it was supposed to be monthly close for our July payroll.

What a lovely Monday.

So while our brilliant computer geniuses decided to take their third smoke break of the afternoon (only one of them smokes.....I'm sure her unborn kid was having a nic fit, yeah, that's why she was out there), I took a rest from fixing the chingasos.

I remembered, I have a bottle of sloe gin. Sloe gin fizz. Deacon Blues said they were good. Logged on to the Cocktail Database to find the formula. (Yes, I did that on company time. Mama of the Year took her nicotine on company time, too, after creating a bunch of job security for me and my boss. I think we're even.)

However, I found a Gin Rickey Variation instead when I typed in "sloe gin". Hmm. Sounds good, I thought.

Pour into a highball glass:

1 1/2 oz sloe gin
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz grenadine

Fill with 7 up, ice

So....went home and whipped one up when I came in the door. That, and the tiny tax refund that finally found me & the Tsar kept the day from being a total loss.

And then, when I looked the recipe up again to type it in here, what came up? You got it, "sloe gin fizz". It's pretty similar to the above, but there's sugar instead of grenadine.

Like I said, it was that kind of a day.


Think You Know the Answer?

For the longest time, the most popular tourist destinations in the world have been France, Spain, the US and Italy. However, a new country has hit the number four spot. Think you know which one?

Click here to see if you guessed right...

UPDATE: Yes, it's one of those days for me! If you are one of the unlucky ones who have to register to get to the article (Sorry DSiA!), just go to the comments to find the answer.

If you want to read the article, by all means, use my registration. Email address is "", and password is "jetsetchick".

Pinche LA Times!!!


I Got a Thesaurus, and I Ain't Afraid to Use it!

This article has some pretty good stuff in it about diving.

The first two paragraphs, however, are classics of overdone prose. Check it out for yourself!


Yet Another Luxury Airline Set to Take Off

Eos, the latest venture from a former British Airways executive, is planning on entering the NY-to-London market, pending regulatory approval from the United States.

The carrier will feature increased amounts of space on its 757 fleet, with only 48 seats per plane rather than the normal 200.


2 Ex-Amateur Worst Pilots Convicted of Drunk Flying

Thomas Cloyd and Christopher Hughes face up to five years in prison after being convicted of being drunk in the cockpit 1 July 2002 while being taxiied at Miami International Airport.

The two tried to claim that they weren't in control of the plane because they were being taxiied to the runway,'t try that excuse in Arizona, or apparently in Florida, either. (I'm not completely up on the Sunshine State's laws, but here in AZ you can be convicted of driving drunk even if the car is not moving, simply because you are in the driver's seat and could theoretically be considered "in control of the vehicle". Using that same standard, the minute the two gentlemen parked their happy butts in the cockpit, they were considered in control of the plane. Plus, if there are other people in the car, it's considered aggravating circumstances and will raise your sentence beyond the normal limits, especially if there are kids.)

Moral of the story....if you are a commercial pilot and have just finished 14 beers with your copilot six hours before takeoff, sleep it off in the hotel room.

Proof Positive That Sexy Voice May NOT Belong to a Hot Chick.....

She's got a walker, she uses an inhaler, she's 80 years old.

And according to the state of New Jersey, she's a madam and owner of "August Playmates".

That's an unusual way to supplement social security checks!

Stowaway Found in NY....Ok, Parts of Him Found in NY

A South African Airways plane on approach to JFK dropped a charred partial torso, shoe and leg onto a Long Island house.

It is believed that a man stowed away aboard the flight in Dakar, Senegal, before the plane began its transatlantic crossing. The man apparently was crushed by the landing gear after climbing into the wheel well. In any case, he was very unlikely to survive the flight, due to the lack of heating or pressurized air in the wheel well.

Other body parts have been found in the wheel well, and the plane is undergoing minor repairs to fix damage from the incident.

Is That Person Really an Airline Employee?

No doubt you have heard the nightmare stories about customer service in Bangalore. If you are a Dell customer, you've probably experienced it first-hand. (Me & the Tsar finally gave up when we ordered our last computer and did the customer service thing via e-mail. There was no way either of us could understand the customer service rep on the phone....)

Well, the airlines have bought into outsourcing in a big way. This article in the New York Times (subscription far, it's still free) details how the trend is spreading in the industry. As the article states, soon pretty much all the employees except for the flight attendants and pilots may be contractors.

Too bad no one has figured out a way to outsource CEO's or boards of directors. Imagine how much money would be saved!


Fisking the BBC with....Salon's "Ask the Pilot"

I like the BBC. Really, I do. Journalists who are technological idiots and morons with "Dr" in front of their name, however, I can't stand.

Case in point, this article from Auntie Beeb, stating that people are getting oxygen deprived by flying. Yup, your oxygen levels drop below what they would be at sea level when you are streaking 'cross the sky at 35000 feet.

Now, I doubt I can explain precisely why Dr Susan Humphreys and her Belfast team are in need of some medical refresher training as well as Patrick Smith does in his Salon column Ask the Pilot, but for those of you who can't access the article (either because your software blocker won't allow you to do that, or you just can't stand to sit through yet another "I suck as a parent and instead of doing something constructive about it I'm going to whine here about it" article that they seem to specialize in lately), let me go over some of the basic points and maybe add one or two of my own.

First off, remember that the air is not pressurized to sea level conditions. It is pressurized to approximately the same air concentration that you would find at 8000 feet. Is it possible to pressurize the air to the same concentration that you would find at sea level? Yup.....but then you would really strain the metal and potentially cause a hazardous situation.

When you ascend in altitude, even by going from, say, Callao (Lima, Peru's seaport city) to La Paz, Bolivia (altitude 12000, approximately), there is going to be a little less oxygen. Most people can handle that change if they take it easy. That means, no marathons upon arrival. Sit and rest a bit, don't walk too far, and most people acclimate within a day or two.

Now, I don't know about you, but it's been a damn long time since I would have been able to run up and down the aisles of a 727. Maybe when I was a toddler I could have done it, but not now. There's just too many people trying to stuff too many bags into the overhead compartments...for the most part, I just, well, sit and rest a bit, and don't walk too far, like the rest of the passengers.

And, oh yeah, did I mention I have asthma? So did my Dad. His was even worse than mine. How many times did we require medical attention while flying? Zero. Zip. Nada. Ok, there was one time my dad could have possibly used some medical help. But that was when he & the Jet Set Brother got food poisoning and were tag-teaming the lavatory. Oxygen concentration levels had nothing to do with that. Inferior airline catering in Hong Kong definitely did.

The article makes a big deal out of the fact that hospitals administer oxygen to people who have blood oxygen concentrations that are below 94%, and some people experience blood oxygen concentrations of 93% while flying. Let's keep one thing in mind here, kiddies....those people getting oxygen administered to them in a hospital setting generally are in bad shape, anyway. These are the kind of people who probably couldn't get medical clearance to fly unless it was some kind of life threatening emergency. I'm talking heart patients, people with emphysema, that kind of thing. People who can't get the normal amount of oxygen when on the ground are going to have a hell of a time while airborne or at high altitude. I wish the good Dr and her team would have used a bit of common sense before making a statement like that.

I can't wait to see what that crack Belfast medical team would have to say about scuba diving......I mean, dear sweet Jesus, you are at double the air pressure when you dive down 33 feet. I've gone down to 139 feet. That's about five times the pressure at sea level.

I'm a reckless daredevil, I really am, messing with air concentrations like that......


Another Hip Travel Tip From The Jet Set Chick

Now, I know some people think postcards are for losers, but then again, they never got a postcard from The Jet Set Chick or her jet setting little brother. (I still have the ones he sent from Europe when his former employer sent him there....they are extremely amusing viewpoints from the bottom of a beer glass. A very big, very potent beer glass, no less. Compared to him, I'm an amateur.)

But postcards can be quite the pain in the ass for the traveler. I found one way to make it a bit easier.

Get some sticky labels from an office supply store. Write the addresses of those you wish to grace with your on-the-spot goofy reviews, obnoxious bragging or just flat out "having a great time, you sorry piece of $#@*!" messages on the labels, and leave the address book at home.

Advantages: 1) You aren't going to lose your address book, 2) They probably take up a lot less space than your address book, and 3) You can speed up the time it takes to dash off a "Damn, I'm stuck in a tropical paradise again" note back home by affixing one of the labels to the addressee part of the postcard.

And of course, if you are traveling in the states, be sure to get postage before you leave. That's one less thing to worry about. (Don't buy any postcards overseas if they won't sell you the stamps, too. It sucks to have to hunt down a post office when you could be sampling the local brews!)


Canadian Fighter Jets Scramble For Virgin Atlantic Flight

Virgin Atlantic flight 45 from Heathrow to JFK has been diverted to New Brunswick after sending out the hijack code. When the captain was contacted, he said everything was fine but continued to send out the code.

When the jets made contact with the plane, nothing unusual was noted aboard. There are also no known matches to the "no-fly" list from the passenger manifest.

UPDATE: Thankfully, it was just a false alarm. Mechanical failure. (I know I should have updated it sooner...but was busy taking care of Tsar Charming after his oral surgery. Four wisdom teeth & a bone graft. So far, no dry sockets, but he does look like he took a couple shots to the face.)

Something Too Damn Crazy Even For The Jet Set Chick

Have you ever heard of something so crazy, so insane that it makes a bar bet gone bad look rational?

I bet I found something that trumps that. It's called ferret legging.

What the @#$% is that, you ask? Well....imagine putting on a pair of jeans, and then letting two crazed ferrets into your pants. No jockstrap, no boxers, no briefs, no thongs. You're going commando on this mission, buddy. Then they tighten up your belt as the little bastards try to fight their way out.

Yes, they are going to nip at your 'nads.

If this sounds like fun, quite frankly, you scare me. But if you want to read the article, click here to learn about it.

The OTHER Irish Airline.....

If my brother ever ran an airline, I imagine it would look a lot like Ryanair, the European discount carrier. He'd probably even act a lot like the guy in charge, the ever-quotable Mike O'Leary. Let me put it this way.....he makes Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines look, well, boring.

This article on Tech Central Station is a good introduction to Ryanair and its unusual founder.

Hey, anyone who disses the head of Lufthansa is ok by me!


Pre-60's LSD Trip?? It Was Definitely Legal, But Not What You Think....

Yes, believe it or not, you could take a LSD trip in England starting in 1919.

Click on the link above to find out more.....


As A Valued Customer, United Wanted Me to Know....

that they wanted me to get off my butt and fly them, dammit!!

(editorial disclosure....yes, I am part of United's frequent flyer plan. I haven't flown them for a while. Getting married tends to decimate your former travel budget....)

"This week United is pleased to share two important announcements with you. The members of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) ratified their tentative agreement. Also, following a constant, good faith engagement, United and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) reached an agreement in principle. Together these actions set the stage for the completion of our restructuring and ability to offer you the very best service for years to come.

As always, our employees continue to deliver exceptional service. That's why United ranked #1 in on-time arrivals of the seven major U.S. carriers during the past 12 months ending March 2005, as measured by the U.S. Department of Transportation in their most recent report.

Thank you for flying United. We appreciate your business and look forward to welcoming you onboard soon."

I've never gotten an e-mail like this from my other frequent flyer plans, so these rumors must have really rattled the management this time.


My father was a retired airline employee, with a decent pension. United employees and retirees aren't going to have as secure a retirement as he did. The federal government is taking over the pension fund that United is jettisoning because it became "too expensive" after they had been robbing it for years to pay for all kinds of stupid crap.

Meanwhile, I am sure that the management will have pretty nice golden years.

Yeah, as an employee of a public pension fund, I have a problem with that.

I've talked to members who only had their checks to rely on. For whatever reason, they weren't able to save up much money. Bad luck, low pay, general ignorance about money, there were lots of reasons. But at least they have enough to pay the rent, get some food and have some basic dignity.

Thank God I didn't follow the family tradition and go into the airlines myself.

Look, if a pension fund is run correctly (ie. not being treated like a rainy day fund, having reasonably competent investment managers), there should be very little reason for most of them to go bankrupt. This ain't rocket science, kids. Really.

If there are any United employees reading this, my heart goes out to you. To get screwed by management is one thing, but to have your union basically go along with it until it was too late is another. Best of luck to all of you in the months ahead.