Airport, Aircraft and Air Travel News

Written by Kate Goldstone

It’s that time of the week again, when we trawl the web to provide you with the latest news about all things air travel: crashes and near-misses, foolish in-flight behaviour, airport parking news, stories about airport lounges and more.

easyjet preparation

Another Easyjet Flight is Prepared

Here’s this week’s pick of the crop: mucky planes, aircraft catching fire, Lufthansa’s latest strikes, in-flight pranks going horribly wrong and a peep at the brilliant BA Dreamliner plane.

Travelmath airplane hygiene study reveals muckiest bits

According to a story from CNN, when the website sent a microbiologist to analyse 26 samples from five US airports and four flights handled by two major carriers, they got more than they bargained for.

The lab results were scary, revealing how the tray table in front of every seat is the grubbiest and least hygenic part of a passenger aeroplane. Apparently aircraft tray tables come complete with an average of 2155 colony-forming units – clumps of thriving bacteria – per square inch.

How come they’re so grubby? It looks like it’s one of those areas that gets neglected in the rush to get an aeroplane ready for its next flight. Staff have limited time to get everything done, and tray tables are a low priority.

Bacteria Cultures

Bacteria Cultures

Does the dirt really matter? You could easily end up transferring bacteria from the tray to your mouth, a fact that’ll worry some people much more than others. To those of you who think a constant stream of dirt is an excellent way to keep your immune system in good nick, it won’t raise an eyebrow. To those of you who spray anti-bacterial stuff on every possible surface and live in horror of the ubiquitous tiny organisms you can’t see, it’ll probably put you off going anywhere near a tray table, ever again.

Airport drinking fountain buttons proved the next-worst offenders, followed by the over-seat air vents in the aircraft themselves. The loo flush buttons come next, with seatbelt buckles and toilet stalls completing the list in sixth place.

If you’re shuddering with disgust as you read this, there’s good news too. Travelmath revealed that none of the samples taken contained any really nasty beasts like E.coli, which can be infectious and, if you’re vulnerable, can make you very ill.

In-flight salt ‘joke’ goes badly wrong for 14 Brits

As reported on the AOL website, 14 British tourists have been banned from Jet2 for life after a remarkably stupid prank. The men’s “disruptive behaviour” forced an emergency landing and their plane, which set off from Glasgow and was headed for Tenerife, was diverted to Portugal.

Why all the fuss? One of the men apparently stuffed a bag of salt into a friend’s luggage for a joke. The aircraft’s crew spotted the bag mid-flight and, worried it was drugs, diverted to Faro after the entire group became aggressive and verbally abusive when challenged. Thankfully the Portugese police boarded the plane at Faro airport and escorted the offenders safely off the craft.

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Oddly, there are conflicting stories. Some passngers say the men weren’t causing any problems at all. Others say the salt should have been spotted much earlier, before the men boarded the flight. What, after all, are security gates for if not to pick up stuff like that? The airline, however, said the men’s behaviour towards the cabin crew was so aggressive and verbally abusive that the captain made an instant decision to divert for everyone’s safety.

It just goes to show, ‘jokes’ like this are simply not funny in an air travel context, when most passengers are quite nervous enough without their fellow travellers behaving like fools.

Lufthansa staff strike bites… but 500 flights are still operating

According to the BBC, Germany’s biggest airline, the strike-weary Lufthansa, has announced that 500 flights are still operating despite the latest round of industrial action by pilots.

The Lufthansa subsidiaries Germanwings, Eurowings, Swiss, Austrian Airlines or Brussels Airlines are not affected, with flights running as normal. But the airline pilots’ long haul strike has already been extended to cover short and medium haul flights.

The pilots’ union is called Vereinigung Cockpit. They’re involved in a long running argument with the airline over pensions and pay. And this is the unlucky 13th strike in just a year and a half. A Frankfurt court prevented the company from stopping the current strike and the union is unrepentant, promising more in future unless their demands are taken seriously.

Why all the trouble? Lufthansa wants to restructure in the face of stiff and increasing competition from other carriers. The Gulf airlines and cheap flights operators are taking over their core market and they want to hang onto market share. The resulting changes to pilot contracts have proved incredibly unpopular, even though they bring pilots’ pay and conditions into line with cheap flights operators.

Germany’s employers’ association, the BDA, claimed the industrial action was damaging the entire German economy. At the moment there’s an impasse, and you might want to double check your Lufthansa flight is still going ahead.

BA jet bursts into flames at Las Vegas

We awoke this morning to find the new filled with reports about a BA plane that caught fire just before take-of from Las Vegas airport. It looks like the cause of the fire was a faulty engine, thankfully shut down by the aircraft’s crew before evacuating everyone.

British Airways Fire

British Airways Fire – from

Fourteen people were injured, making this a lucky break indeed: the past record for fires abroad aeroplanes isn’t a good one. There were several deadly incidents during the 1980s including 1985’s horrific fire during an aborted take-off by a British Airtours plane which killed 55.

This is another hint that air travel has got a whole lot safer in the past three decades. Improvements to the aircraft themselves and staff training plus better maintenance means such incidents are much less likely, and the results much less deadly than they used to be. It looks like the old adage really is true: these days, the riskiest element of air travel these days is the car journey to and from the airport.

Got a few spare £££? Test-drive the ultimate in aircraft luxury

If you happen to have £2,500 spare, why not book yourself a first class flight on the latest and greatest plane around, BA’s remarkable new Dreamliner?

The craft’s first class cabin is a technological marvel, a masterpiece in passenger comfort. And the new planes arrive at the end of this month, with an inaugural route to Delhi plus flights to Abu Dhabi and Muscat to be added in November. The first class area has just eight seats, you can charge your phone from your seat and there’s cutting edge split-screen entertainment courtesy of a 23 inch telly.

So what does it look like? Prepare for a Star Trek of an experience with space age seat design, masses of personal storage, mirrors for grooming your gorgeous self and a handset to control your very own in-flight entertainment. Most fun of all, you can fix your reclining seat in a total of five extra different functions including ‘lumbar inflate’, and there’s even controllable personal lighting.

Why is the lighting bit so cool? You can set it to cut jet lag dramatically by making sure it reflects the time of day. This positive effect is strengthened thanks to the raft’s big windows. Last but no least it’s pressurised to a lesser degree than a regular plane,with an internal altitude 2000 feet lower than the usual at just 6000 feet above sea level. This has the added effect of keeping the air more most, less dry. So you arrive feeling less crispy!

Visit us next week for more air travel news

Come back next week for more interesting, intriguing and stimulating news from the wonderful world of air travel. Whether it’s airport parking, airport news or fresh information about airport lounge innovations and openings worldwide, we’ll keep you posted.

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