Large Tarmac letters

Have you ever wondered what those large numbers on the airport tarmac is all about? Street signs perhaps? Well, that’s close. Today’s post is a short one. Because we feel you need to click on this link and watch the short youtube video.

It’s a marvel to learn a few things about geography.

So after reading the article you will know what the numbers mean. For those who did not click on the above link (tsk tsk), they are representations of cardinal directions between 0° to 360°. But it is truncated. Thus if an aircraft’s compass is not working, the pilot can still tell in which direction his/her plane is approaching the airport.

Now you see why they paint the numbers so large… the better that they can see you be seen so said the big bad wolf article… And hopefully now it makes sense to you why there are letters on the tarmac.

But we are not only sharing with you what we’ve learned about these markings and numbers. Recall our post on the language of pilots? Flying is still a complex business, and we are not referring to the business of running an airline. The control of a complicated aircraft with millions of moving parts all coordinated by software is the deal we are talking about. You will come to read our take on the advent of pilotless aircraft in a future post.

Think about that for a moment. No pilot. If that happens, will we still need the large letters on the tarmac?

Why me? Tell me…

Yeah you. It’s called murphy’s law, or Mr Murphy. Have you ever wondered why, oh why does things happen to you? No. No we are not ranting about something bad that has occured with us. And no it’s not about the horse either…

Because today’s post first pokes fun at the tribulations one may experience when embarking on a journey. Check out these hilarious comics about the thrills and spills of traveling these days. Does any of the comics relate to your personal experiences? We found the last one to especially apt. Oh why do we have the urge to go to the restroom when the plane’s about to land?

And now we get to the serious stuff. Because it is not only air travel where you can be a little stressed.

Our postulation is this. No amount of planning will prevent or insulate one from mishaps. You might read later in our story on getting back to the cruise ship while in the Grand Caymans after a swim at Stingray city. Why of all days were there like 20 ships anchored there? Don’t they have a schedule to follow? Can you imagine if the traffic snarl would have really caused us to miss the tender back to the ship?

Did you recall this lady trying to swim to hers?

Ok that was a little extreme. If you were in the same situation, what would you do?

Air Milers’ headache

Yeah. Miles, the sort you accumulate as you spend your way in today’s consumerist world. Today our post is drawing from an article we read some months back (heheh told you we schedule forward right?).

You earn them for many possible reasons, but chief amongst them might be the opportunity to swap the miles for a flight or stay at your dream vacation. Well, one of the columnists in our local news publication set out to debate that air-mile owners may find it extremely hard to get use their miles to redeem the flight of your dreams. Well, it depends…

For us, we consider other risks to how you may not be able to fully utilize your hard earned miles. We wrote about air mile mergers (here and here). But that’s not all. We found out a couple of months back that our favorite accumulation programme had changed. Since the end of March, the discount for redeeming online (it was 15%) ceased. In addition, the miles required for redemption of certain sectors were increased…

chill-out-ice-cream3
Maybe redeeming this would be better?

A clear double whammy! No prizes for guessing that the most popular routes had the mileage requirement increased. Sigh. See, this is one more subtle hurdle that has been thrown our way. Raising the bar seems the right thing to do for the airlines or other mile awarding programmes, for if too many can attain the requisite miles then they’d be handing out free flights and hotel stays ‘left and right’, as an expression we use here in the little red dot says…

Perhaps the writer is correct in her observation that it will not be in our favor to get that redemption seat on a very sought after flight – like one or two days before Christmas. Airlines will prioritize revenue generating passengers right? Can we expect them not to?

Do you think its better to just revert to accumulating points and redeem a free ice cream instead? Are you an Air Miler?

They call it ‘crop dusting’

Something a little humorous today.

Alright, this can be serious stuff for some. Readers who fly often enough know that one frequently need to release tension at their rear ends while in the air. Yeah, we’re talking about farting in public. And specifically on the aircraft. Many explanations are pro-offered for this, including this article from the Huffington.

HAFE – High Altitude Flatus Expulsion. What a mouthful.

Essentially it means flatulence, or in other words – passing of gas out of you know where. So why do we have to HAFE in the air? Well that probably varies from person to person, but it is mainly due to the gas in the intestines expanding when you get higher up in altitude. Lower pressure outside the body, higher inside…

And there are suggestions in the article on how does one can combat it. Keeping it in is NOT one of the solutions. In fact, the medical professionals interviewed for the article suggests that keeping it in will not only lead to discomfort but also more bloating and pain. It may even lead to inflammation of the colon. So, one have to learn to let it go. Aye…. feel better now?

Avoid salty and fatty food and drink more water. But wait. Did we not know that food served on the plane are normally more savory? Read here for our take on that. How about walking about the plane to ‘improve the flow’? FAA regulations discourage ‘loitering’ about the plane… Perhaps anti-gas medication is indeed one of the better solutions but we personally would not consider it. We still think the ability to let go is best.

Afterall, when you are on your journey you want to be in the pink of health when you arrive at your destination. Nothing is worse than being cramped up when you land. If there is need to visit the lavatory more often on the plane, so be it. Don’t hold back, its good for you.

Hmm…wonder if the same effect takes place when we get to places of high altitude? HAFE you experienced this when you fly?

A bed for the flight

Now even business class fliers can experience having a double bed while flying 30,000 feet in the air in this article. If Qatar Air’s antics are emulated, we just might see even more airlines offering the same experience in this increasingly cut-throat segment of the airline industry.

The new design on the aircraft is said to be able to close out an area of 4-seats into a family pod! Qatar is sure trying to woo passengers away for a larger market share! You might recall how we wrote about first class travel (here) being neophytes when it comes to that level of luxury in the air. But this requires a couple or a family to share the bed or ‘communal space’…what if one were only traveling with a colleague for business?

Wow.

First we had the craft beer for the flights (read here). Then we have bars on the planes. All of them were for whom we called ‘airline royalty’ (read here). Perhaps we should start considering flying on air-ships that take a little bit longer than aircraft to get where we want to. And in the process, check into a cabin for the super long flight enjoying wonderful meals on top of the world. Literally…

Will we soon see the rise of cruise lines in the air? You just need to know that back in the early days of flying commercial, it took literally days to get from one end of the world (eg Australia) to the other (eg London). There were many flight stops along the way where passengers relaxed and changed. As if they were disembarking from a cruise ship.

Would we be headed back in that direction? If we can have Uber and AirBnB (a reboot of the old sharing economy), why can’t we have the same in aviation? Perhaps that all of this might be heralding in the second golden age of flying?

Slow planes or was it slow coach?

It’s sure interesting to know that perhaps our aircraft journeys have lengthened. If this article is to be believed, we now take a longer time to get to our destinations. Did you notice that too? Or is this just a figment of imagination?

Actually we noticed something too.

HND to NRT.jpg
Would it take 30 minutes to fly 73km? LOL

A few years ago, the company that Mel worked for had a corporate policy of flying coach for flights 7 hours or less. Scouring the flight schedules, it was found that a SIN/NRT flight takes 7 hours and 5 minutes. The alternative SIN/HND flight on the other hand was 6 hours 30 minutes. Having to visit Japan rather frequently, he chose the Narita flight…heheh. But a difference of 30 minutes between the two airports?

Now either the plane to Narita was much slooower, or the one to Haneda flew faster. Or perhaps they both were slower? If you had read the article above, you would have realize that the reason for ‘slower’ flights could stem from the urge by airlines to save on fuel costs. Recall that oil prices spiked up close to US$150/barrel in July 2008?

Like driving a car, it does not mean that getting into the top speed will mean the maximal use of the gearbox. If one were to google for fuel efficiency, you’d find that 55mph (90kmh) is prescribed as the optimal. In fact driving faster leads to a drop in fuel efficiency. Guess this applies to airplanes too right? Afterall, airlines are for profit organizations. They’d do anything to fill up the plane and drive fly it more economically.

A funny story

Some years ago, Mel & Suan went on a journey to Hokkaido. We were waiting at the boarding gate for a domestic flight to Sapporo from Tokyo. Boarding annoucement (first in Japanese, then later in English): “Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to start boarding. Prior to boarding, may we ask that you take use of the airport’s restroom facilities.” – weight, that could be what they are trying to reduce! Saves fuel you know if the airplane is lighter you know…heheh.

Anyway. Mel’s mom used to call out to him ‘hey slow coach, catch up!’ (Mel’s not a tomato btw), while on hikes when he was little. Was Mel a slow coach? No. He was just walking at the optimal speed using the least amount of effort and energy.

Did you notice your plane turning into a slow coach? Tell us!