NOTA BENE

Notes, comment and buzz from Eugene Kaspersky – Official Blog

Tag Archives: airlines

September 20, 2014

Suitcase astray – not ok.

There’s an unusual feeling you get… when you sit by the window on a plane waiting for the end of boarding and your flight to begin, observing the workers shoving the luggage into the hold of the plane… when suddenly you see that they’re all done and walk off… but a single suitcase remains of the ground – all on its lonesome. Big and black. And it’s YOUR suitcase!

Washington-Zurich-BudapestHold on… that looks familiar…

This is, indeed, not ok…

September 18, 2014

Like sardines… ‘United’ in a can.

At first I was going to call this post something like ‘cattle wagon’. Then I had a think, and figured that’d be too malicious. Kinda like, ‘Shock, horror! The beluga caviar isn’t spread evenly here'; i.e., hardly appropriate outside my little world, really :).

Basically, this is just a bit of a whinge. One of those petty peeves we all have from time to time due to perceived poor levels of service…

So, there I was, sat on one of eight (8) seats in a row – in business class – on United Airlines’ UA988 flight from Frankfurt to Washington, and I was thinking back to a wholly different avia experience – flying from Singapore to New York on Singapore Airlines. That flight took 18 hours – non-stop (!), and there were just four seats to a row (but of course those seats were priced somewhat differently).

But on United the seats were arranged 2-4-2, to make up eight-to-a-row. What made things worse was that half the passengers in the row were faced forward, the other half – backward. I was lucky enough to be faced backwards, and, well, sitting backwards on a plane is one of the few things in this world that really irritate me. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it was because they drummed it into me when younger that sitting like that on a train is somehow not right… I dunno.

United Arilines

Read on: Singapore Airlines vs United Airlines…

August 1, 2014

Super fly guy.

Just recently I was flying over Baghdad, accompanied by my traveling companion, A.Sh. We were on Etihad EY53 from Abu Dhabi to Geneva. A.Sh. slept; I didn’t – and took some pics:

Super fly guy

Read on: 230 hours in the air…

May 27, 2014

How I missed my plane.

I’m a mathematician.

So, based on the numbers alone – with my constant frequent flying – I’m hardly surprised: sooner or later it had to happen – I missed my plane!

It’s happened just once before – back in May 2010, towards the end of one of my customarily lengthy round-the-world tours. I’d… let my hair down a wee bit too low at a conference in Cyprus, got ’20:00′ and ’02:00′ – or something like that – mixed up, and that was that – late. Flight missed. That was in Limassol, heading for Tokyo. In the end I managed to get a flight the next day.

So, now I’ve notched up two missed flights. Still, that’s pretty good considering I fly hundreds of times a year!

This time I was late for my plane leaving London for Nice in France. So how did I manage it?

Well, due to some bizarre oversight, I looked at the wrong place on the piece of paper that had my flight details on it, and instead of having my taxi take me to Terminal 5, I asked the cockney driver to head for Terminal 4! Once I realized the mix-up upon arrival, I got onto the Heathrow Express to get to T5 – but then that took 40 (!) minutes (I’d have been better taking a taxi, darn it!).

This was after the journey from downtown to the airport, which took 80 minutes (London + Saturday = traffic jams). Should have taken the Tube! The following Monday was a bank holiday (national day-off), so maybe that was why there was even more traffic than usual. And we’d left the hotel with loads of time to spare! All the same, the terminal mix-up decided my fate that day. Late. Flight missed. :-/.

But – oh what joy! Turned out that an hour later a second plane would be taking off to Nice “for those who’d missed the first one” ( :%) ). I really needed to race to make that one – and I don’t mean a steady jog but a sprint. But I rushed in vain. The plane stood for another hour on the ground since Heathrow too was suffering from bad traffic (also due to the bank holiday?). An airport traffic jam. In short, it wasn’t my day. The following day thankfully made up for that…

Heathrow traffic jams

Heathrow traffic jams

See you tomorrow… Au revoir!

December 10, 2013

Seafaring trolling.

Howdy folks!

First, some pix. Actually – screenshots from one of my recent transatlantic flights. Notice anything unusual?…:

Why ship wrecks on air maps?Let’s have a gander…

Read on: in-flight underhandedness…

December 5, 2013

Home is where the snow is.

In the end, my round-the-world tour turned out to be reasonably zig-ah-zig-ah:

Moscow – DublinAbu DhabiCanberra & Sydney – SingaporeAustin (via NYC and Dulles) – Riyadh – Tokyo/Osaka/Tokyo – and now: home!

The trip turned out to be a high-pressure one, with a tight schedule to fit all the work in and little time for chilled sightseeing. To be honest, it took a lot out of me. I’m real tired. Dog tired. Totally beat, burned out, wasted, done for, dead on the feet, whacked, fried, frazzled, KO’d, ruined… Walking to the gate at Narita airport in Tokyo, I nearly fell asleep while standing on the horizontal escalator thingie :).

Notes:

Out of the array of programs and films on offer on the screen in the back of the seat in front of me, I often opt for the flight route map. It’s a bit like cricket. Not much happens, what does happen occurs at a snail’s pace, but if you’re one for taking it real easy all day it’s the one to go for!

Tokyo-MoscowAerial cricket

Read on: some like it hot!…

December 3, 2013

What goes around comes around gets jetlag.

A few days ago I flew Cathay Pacific from Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, via Abu-Dhabi and Hong Kong and towards Japan. In Abu-Dhabi I realized I was last here just three weeks ago for the Formula-1 Grand Prix! So yes, once again I’ve managed to pull off a round trip right round the globe: DublinAbu-DhabiCanberra (and Sydney) – SingaporeAustin – Riyadh – Abu-Dhabi. 1 full circumnavigation + 2 equator crossings.

What stuck in the mind during this global marathon?

First off, that Saudi Arabia is a fiercely dry country – in more ways than one. If you drink alcohol there it’s multiple lashings with a stick, plus a fine, plus jail time for you. But you’ll have a job boozing there anyway – we found absolutely ZERO liquids on offer stronger than coffee or yoghurt. Even in the Ritz-Carlton.

Curiously, no matter what airline, up above Saudi Arabia in its airspace there’s also no liquor getting poured either! Not even a wee dram! Flying in on Saudi Arabian Airlines – well, we kinda expected that. But flying out on Cathay – we had to wait eons for our glass of shampers until we reached UAE airspace! Not that I was desperate for a drink or anything, of course (cough), but a little sharpener would have been nice.

Here I want to mention one other idiosyncrasy of round-the-world multi-stop plane trips.

They come in two flavors: ‘western’ (following the sun), and ‘eastern’ (towards the sun).

Western round-the-worlds are much simpler and pleasanter than eastern. You fly into the ‘minus time zone’, so accordingly sleep needs to come later (better – a lot later), and so in the morning you wake up also later. So, if flying from Moscow to, say, Boston, then at nine in the evening local Boston time, in Moscow – i.e., as per your biological clock – it’s 6am of the following day – already long past bedtime! So getting off to sleep at the impossibly early hour of 9pm in Boston is a doddle, as really it’s 6am for you. The only slight problem with this is you often find yourself waking up VERY early next morning (local time) – like 4am early. (How many times have I been Stateside and been queuing at the ‘Please wait here to be seated’ sign for breakfast at 6am sharp after strutting the lobby and environs for hours already!)

On the other hand, with eastern round-the-worlds everything is just the opposite. Jetlag is always a lot trickier to deal with. You desperately want to sleep all the time, but actually getting to sleep without a little medicinal assistance is all but impossible. Totally zombified! To conquer this condition there’s just one option – to try get your head down in the daytime and sleep for some 12 hours. Better 14 hours. But, alas, it doesn’t always work out: either your bodyclock simply refuses outright (hint: melatonin), or a packed schedule or large doses of extreme hospitality on the part of super nice hosts gets in the way!

Well, that’s your lot for today folks. I’m off for some much needed kip. Night night, sweet dreams, and sleep well!

But for those who can’t sleep – a brain teaser for you:

100 kilograms of cucumbers are made up of 99% water. After shrinking, there remains 98% water. What’s the mass of the cucumbers after shrinking?

November 19, 2013

SQ22: The world’s longest flight. For a few more days…

Hurray! One of my long held dreams has come true! To fly Singapore to New York – the longest commercial flight route in the world (almost), and probably the all-time longest in the history of commercial civil aviation. The flight takes from around 18 to more than 20 hours (depending on the wind). No stops, one fuel tank, 16,000 kilometers. Strewth!

SQ22 - the longest flight in the worldJFK EWR – thank goodness

// I wrote ‘(almost)’ above… Actually, the longest flight route in the world is the one that goes in the opposite direction – from New York to Singapore. It’s 15 minutes longer, as the wind tends to be kinder in that direction.

Read on: So what on earth to do during all that time?…

October 6, 2012

From Columbia to Colombo.

Hi all!

Now, if you’re not too hot on geography, I’m writing this from Washington, D.C., with the D.C. standing for District of Columbia, don’t you know. There’s another Washington – Washington state – on the other side of the American continent, but without the D.C. There’s a Colombia – the South American country; then there’s Columbia University in New York; there’s Columbo – the TV detective fond of beige sack-like raincoats; and to add to the confusion, round the other side of the globe there’s Colombo – the largest city of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), which is where we’re headed today.

Our three days in Washington whizzed past like a film on fast-forward: As per, we were whizzing about all over the place getting to event after event. And I really mean whizzing – just like a (non-D.C.) squirrel in a wheel – unlike the local squirrels here, which royally, haughtily and languidly stroll about parks as if they own them – not the easily-startled beasts I’m used to.

I won’t tell you all about all the events we took part in here – there’s not much point and it’d probably be pretty dull reading! (Note to event organizers/participants – your events were not dull to me :) I’ll just share with you one comment about the Billington Cybersecurity Summit where I got to speak about cyber threats, more info on which you can read here.

I really enjoyed personally meeting a whole lotta highly placed officials at the event and discussing with them in some detail the topic of cybersecurity and fighting computer maliciousness around the world. I was pleasantly surprised by how much these ladies and gentlemen – on whom a lot of US policy and thus security depends – know about the subject, and especially pleased to discover that their positions are very much like mine. Phew.

Work done, come Saturday we were able to get a bit of sightseeing in. We even managed to visit a couple of museums. The National Museum of Natural History we didn’t think too much of – all those dug-up mastodons and dinosaur bones look kind of unconvincing. While the Air and Space Museum… oh yes – that was more like it. All sorts of interesting stuff to see there, from the Wright brothers’ first airplane to the very latest drone. There are Messerschmitts, an SS-20, a Pershing, copies of Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz, and so on and so on. I decided against taking photos – there are plenty on the Internet. But it’s best to see it all in the flesh, of course.

The White House

More: Columbia-Doha-Colombo …

June 6, 2012

A Nice, Quiet Evening In… (a Plane).

Ciao all!

Oh how I love long haul flights – you can get through all your work you’ve been putting off for days or weeks, finally get through your latest book, watch a film you’ve had your eye on, study some geography through the window (I prefer to book a window seat), and intermittently in-between all that – simply catch some ZZZs – that is, if the plane isn’t being rocked around by turbulence, no one’s pestering with their phone calls or e-mails, and the stewardesses are only very infrequently offering meals or another Manhattan (for those who read my last post – you’ll notice I like to rotate my classic cocktails:).

I recently completed one such avia-marathon, from Australia to Italy, 35 hours door (of hotel) to door (of hotel), almost 22 hours in the air, and the rest of the time spent on connections and waiting in airports (with the usual war with Wi-Fi) plus road journeys between hotels and airports and vice versa. It all adds up to an absurdly long time spent on a journey – so long it looks like a record: I’ve never had a day and a half traveling before; that is, besides a couple of force majeure instances.

The second leg of the journey was the most interesting: we flew over India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Crimea, and then on to Romania and the rest of southern Eastern Europe to Italy. By the way, this completes my first time round-the-globe this year; my second one’s coming up soon. It’s a pity we only flew at night, since all I could see out of the windows were stars (Let There Be More Light!), then come the morning all that could be seen were the snow-covered Austrian Alps. Still, there was plenty going on in my booth inside the plane to make up for the lack of visible external scenery down below…

World Map

More: Something to read, watch and listen!