Backlog roundup: Skybus flies, directors shoot, curry explodes, TSA moonlights, and much more

It’s been a tough few weeks, so the posting machine has been running a bit slow. Time to clear some of the backlog:


Survivor: Skybus edition
Jaunted’s Mark Johnson played anthropologist in the airline world last week, doing some participant-observation onboard ultra-cheap negative-frills airline Skybus. The whole saga, with videos and pictures, can be found here. Photo above is Mark’s pic of a $9/hour Skybus flight attendant selling goods (on commission). Ah, the ubiquitous Toblerone, official chocolate of 35,000 feet. But ice wine? And those crew uniforms look remarkably like the folks in those hotels TV ads…

Bonus: Skybus is adding three cities to their roster. “Hartford/Springfield” — which is really Westover Metropolitan (CEF), 19 miles from Bradley (BDL). “Jacksonville/Daytona Beach” — which is really St. Augustine/St. John’s County (UST), a whopping 42 air miles from Jacksonville (JAX). And San Diego. Yes, it’s really San Diego. One out of three ain’t bad.


At least he didn’t threaten the flight attendants
The TSA reportedly detained director Mike Figgis for five hours at LAX, after he told security screeners that he was in town to “shoot a pilot.” What, LAX employees never heard the television-industry parlance of “pilot”? UPDATE: This never happened. Mike Figgis himself says it’s BS. But it’s a good story, I tells ya.


Arthur Frommer had better watch out
Latest competitor to Fodor’s, Frommer’s, and Lonely Planet? Borat!


Canadian citizenship for Kip Hawley?
Even though the Canadian government has created their own security lists, Canadian airlines are still using American no-fly lists. Will TSA Director Kip Hawley freedom baggies be far off?


I’d rather pay for my mortgage with miles
Gary Leff wants to pay his mortgage by credit card, so he can earn points. And it will soon be possible, via American Express and a small set of lenders, who take a $395 fee up front. Years ago, I checked out a rental apartment that let you use Visa to pay your rent. (I didn’t rent it.) The apartment sucked, but think of the miles I left on the table!


Villa livin’
Wendy Perrin has written a great guide to finding an affordable villa or vacation home. But the prices she mentions are still not ultra-cheap. I’m already a villa convert: In December 2005, my wife and I rented a small beachfront house in Anguilla. The house had its own pool, looked across the strait to the beautiful, mountainous island of St. Martin (or St. Maarten, if you prefer), and cost a little over $200 per night. It had no butler service, and, while comfortable, it wasn’t “luxury,” but it was amazing value.


Spend green to go green?
The city of Denver wants passengers to buy carbon offsets when they fly out of DEN. They’re setting up kiosks that let you buy offsets just like you might buy that Mutual of Omaha travel insurance. At the same time, Republican Congressmen are, perhaps ironically, championing a greater role for the federal government: regulating carbon offsets. Might not be a bad idea. I’m all for supporting the environment, but I’m suspicious of the offset idea. This skeptical op-ed in the Times of London doesn’t help.


Explosive curry
Explosive curry damages a Boeing 747. Say no more.


Boxers = Boeing, briefs = Airbus
Great moments in headline writing: “Hong Kong tycoon buys B787 jet after seeing passenger in underpants.”


Yes, that hamster is happy to see you
Jetlagged? Try popping a Viagra. After all, it works for hamsters!


Downgraded: Presidential security
The Secret Service is overburdened. So they’re bringing in the TSA! If presidential candidates look like they haven’t washed their hair, because their shampoo was confiscated, this will be why. God help us all.


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