PEDs on Korean Air

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Roaddoggin has contacted Korean Air for a statement on personal electronic device (PED) use in all phases of flight. The airline has no plans to allow PEDs during taxi, takeoff and landing.

If the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport provides new guidance in the future; Korean Air may, at that time, consider changes to its policies on PED use.

FAA Rules Electronics OK

Personal Electronic Devices OK

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta today announced that the FAA has determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight, and is immediately providing the airlines with implementation guidance.

The FAA has lifted it’s requirement that airlines ban personal electronic use in certain phases of flight (full press release). Both Delta and JetBlue have committed to implementing a change in policy as soon as possible. This is great news for the traveling public. Until policy changes are implemented and communicated throughout each airline’s inflight workforce, please be kind and obedient to your inflight crews over the next several days or weeks. It is an FAA requirement that passengers comply with all crew instructions.  Note that cellular phones and any device with communication capabilities must still be put into flight/airplane mode for the duration of the flight.

In an official statement, the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority notes that “CASA currently has no specific regulations governing the use of electronic devices in aircraft.” and “Currently in Australia all airlines restrict the use of electronic devices during critical phases of flight – such as take-off and landing”. CASA does acknowledge that they are “examining the US Federal Aviation Administration’s announcement on the use of electronic devices on aircraft.”

At the time of this writing (2:30 a.m. GMT) the UK Civil Aviation Authority had not responded to a request for a statement. This article will be updated when a response is received.

What’s All The Ruckus? JFK T4 Delta Sky Club

Over the past several months leading up to the opening of Delta’s new Terminal 4 Sky Club, travel blogs have been going nuts about it.  Reading some of these blogs, one might expect that this club would be the greatest thing to happen to air travel in New York City since the jet engine.

Today was my first flight leaving from terminal 4 since the Sky Club’s opening.  While it’s nice, I really don’t see what all the hubub is about. The club is much bigger than any Sky Club I’ve been in, except maybe in Atlanta.  While it has the fresh styling of recently-renovated Sky Clubs, such as the one at LAX, it offers nearly the same exact amenities that are already offered at every other Sky Club.

One item I’ve not seen in Sky Clubs elsewhere is the menu of for-purchase meals and snacks.  I’ve often complained about Delta’s “no outside food” policy seeing as how the don’t sell any food.  This offering is somewhat self-service.  There are iPad-powered stations where you make your selections, swipe your credit card, take a theme-restaurant-style pager, and then wait for a runner to bring your order.

The other differentiator, the Sky Deck, is an interesting novelty, but you can’t catch a breeze thanks to what I suspect are FAA-mandated solid barriers around the outdoor space.  If you could (which can be accomplished by standing near the small gaps between the barriers), that breeze would be (and is) pregnant with jet exhaust.

In short, the Delta Sky Club at JFK’s Terminal 4 is very nice when compared to other US domestic airline lounges, but pales in comparison to just about any non-US lounge, domestic or international.  The Air New Zealand lounge at SYD (which Delta is a client airline of), for example, blows this new Sky Club out of the water with plentiful power outlets more than adequate seating, complimentary bar and complimentary buffet-style full meal service.

Delta Medallion Benefits on Virgin Australia

DeltaBeginning September 12th, 2012, all gold or higher status Delta medallions will receive priority check-in, priority boarding, priority bag handling, and priority security lines when flying Virgin Australia.  Silver medallions will receive priority check-in and priority boarding on VA-operated long haul flights.

Anecdotally, I have been flying Virgin Australia on and off for the past three years, and they have always extended these benefits as well as lounge access to me as a Delta Diamond Medallion when flying VA within Australia.

If you’re a Delta Medallion, you may have already received this notice, unless your spam filter ate it…

Delta Medallion Benefit Chart for Virgin Australia

Walkers Shortbread on Delta!

Walker's Shortbread on Delta

Buttery joy on a plane.

On one of my last Delta flights, I was greeted with one of my favorite things, Walkers shortbread cookies!  It’s such a small thing, but it’s a huge improvement over the less expensive, and in this writer’s opinion, inferior Biscoff cookies that have been the Delta staple up until now.

Clearly, individual tastes vary, but I’ve never found the Biscoff cookies worth eating.  Their consistency is like compressed sand, and I often choke on them if I happen to inhale while chewing one. On the other hand, Walkers shortbread is rich and buttery.  Given the choice between the two, I’d go for Walkers every time. As someone trying to maintain somewhat healthy eating habits, I can think of better things than Biscoff cookies to spend the 120 calories on; like the roughly 80* calories of the Walkers shortbread round, letting me save the rest.

A cursory browse of frequent flyer forums verified that this change has happened in the first class cabins of many Delta flights.  Reports from other Delta customers seem to indicate that Biscoff is still being served in the economy cabins and in Delta Sky Clubs.

That same investigation showed that Biscoff does have its supporters.  There is a vocal group of Biscoff lovers on some of the forums I’ve visited.  The student of human behavior in me wonders if those Biscoff supporters are suffering from peer pressures, irrational brand loyalties, or the simple human resistance to change similar to what killed off New Coke back in the 80s**.  In the New Coke scenario, blind taste tests showed that even some of the people clamoring for the return of the original formula actually preferred the new product.

Biscoff 2-packs retail fo $0.14.  A single Walker’s shortbread round has an estimated retail price of $0.42***.  At three times the price, this demonstrates a refreshing investment in customer satisfaction.

In related news, Sun Chips have been replaced with Goldfish crackers in the first class snack baskets.  I won’t offer an opinion on that change as I don’t particularly care for either item.

According to Delta’s First Class Dining webpage, both Walkers and Biscoff are listed as available on flights of an hour or more.  Sun Chips aren’t mentioned at all.

Do you have an opinion on either of these changes?  Please share in the comments.

* The calorie count for the shortbread round single pack served by Delta was extrapolated from the Walkers retail 2-pack.

** See for further information.

*** Prices listed in US Dollars and taken from the respective manufacturers’ websites on October 31, 2011.  The estimated Walkers single pack price represented above is one-half the price of a retail 2-pack.