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Airline Releases White Noise Album of Jet-Engine Sounds to Hum You to Sleep

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 08/24/2017, 12:00 AM

Do you sleep well on a plane?  How? The seats are so cramped, and the temperature is never right, and you can't recline more than a couple centimeters, and the lack of neck support means that you either get a cramp from going chin to chest or your head continually does that thing where it nods and then involuntarily snaps up, waking you with a start. About the only thing snooze-inducing about th...

Too Hot to Fly in Phoenix

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 06/21/2017, 4:00 AM

Did you know that it can be too hot to fly? Extreme heat causes changes in air density that make it difficult for planes—especially small ones—to take off.  Travelers are learning that little science lesson this week in Arizona, where a heat wave with temperatures that could reach 120 degrees forced American Airlines to cancel about 50 flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airpor...

No Laptop Ban on Flights from Europe to U.S.—For Now

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 06/01/2017, 4:00 AM

For the time being, a ban on in-cabin laptops will not be extended to flights from Europe to the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security.  However, a spokesperson for DHS secretary John Kelly said that the option is "still on the table." The announcement was made on Tuesday following a discussion between Kelly and European officials.  For security reasons, c...

In Development: A Supersonic Jet That Zips Between London and NYC in About Three Hours

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/16/2017, 4:00 AM

Supersonic commercial air travel between London and New York—which has been on pause ever since the demise of Concorde in 2003—could resume in the not too distant future. Billionaire Richard Branson of Virgin Group has partnered with a startup called Boom Technology to develop a passenger jet that travels at more than double the speed of sound.  That means you could cross the pond in o...

American Airlines Reducing Legroom in Economy Class

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/05/2017, 4:00 AM

American Airlines is taking away some more legroom in the economy cabin.  The carrier's new Boeing 737 Max jets, which are set to begin arriving later this year, will have a "seat pitch"—the space between the same spot on two seats—of 30 inches instead of the current 31 in most rows. Unlucky passengers seated in the last two rows on the aircraft and another closer to the front will have to...

Ban on In-Flight Phone Calls Here to Stay

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 04/14/2017, 4:00 AM

A proposal to relax the ban on in-flight phone calls has been dropped by the Federal Communications Commission, which since 2013 had been mulling over the idea of allowing more cell-phone chatter on planes.  In a statement, FCC chairman Ajit Pai called the abandoned plan—introduced by a previous occupant of his job—"ill-conceived" and said that "taking it off the table permanently will be ...

Trump's Regulation Orders Have Stalled FAA Safety Notices

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 02/08/2017, 5:00 AM

Even if you think the federal government should stay out of most things, you're probably glad somebody's keeping an eye on airplane safety. Too bad the guy in the White House is making that harder to do.   President Donald Trump has moved swiftly to roll back federal regulations on businesses, signing an executive order that put all new and pending regulations on hold for 60 days (a fa...

American Airlines Begins Phasing Out Seat-Back Entertainment

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 01/30/2017, 5:00 AM

Given that the vast majority of airline passengers now fly with one or more portable smart devices (phones, tablets, laptops), it has become clear that the days are numbered for those little screens embedded in the backs of airplane seats. And sure enough, a new batch of 100 Boeing 737s that will be entering service for American Airlines by the end of the year will not have seat-back enter...

Study: Oxygen Could Be Key to Curing Jet Lag

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/25/2016, 4:00 AM

A cure for jet lag is of course the holy grail of travel-related science research. Could the answer be oxygen deprivation?  That's what a new study published in the journal Cell Metabolism seems to suggest.  Working with mice, researchers found that when the rodents breathed air with about a quarter to a third less oxygen than usual, they adapted to a six-hour time change (about what y...

Are Conditions on Flights Leaving Passengers Vulnerable to Sexual Assault?

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/24/2016, 4:00 AM

The accusations from 11 women who say that Donald Trump kissed or touched them sexually without their consent have brought renewed national attention to the issue of sexual assault. And that includes incidents on airplanes; one of the accusers, Jessica Leeds, alleges that Trump groped her during a flight in 1979 (for the record, he says she's lying).  In an article in the New York Times, s...

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