What you can do at the airport

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How to spend the time you are waiting at the airport

In order to provide organized and secure flights for the millions of travellers passing through the World’s airports every year, passengers are asked to arrive at the airport two or three hours before their flight takes off. Transfers between one flight and the other also may last several hours. If passengers didn’t mentally prepare themselves for this waiting time, it can be quite frustrating to wait for several hours after having checked in and passed security checks..
There are additional challenges if you are travelling with children, as you have to keep them busy.

What you can do at the airportFortunately, many airports are prepared for these events, and offer a wide range of services, entertainment, shopping opportunities and cafés or restaurants you can access during your waiting time. Just be careful not to miss your flight….

Visit an art gallery…

Let’s have a look at the many ways Heathrow Airport is offering relaxation and entertainment to their passengers while they are waiting for their flight.

Heathrow Airport displays one of the World’s only on-airport art galleries at Terminal 5. An ideal opportunity to discover the variety of artwork by renowned artists, and also produced by young artists starting their career. At the Art Gallery your time will go by in a fly…

Relaxation and massage!

How about relaxation, massage, make-up and even manicure? At all Heathrow Airport terminals – and in many international airports – you can get a fast or more extensive massage to relax your muscles before flight. And if you want to look like a movie star, you can even have a specialist giving you make-up and manicure. If you are a man, you might prefer to get your shoes shined… a free service is provided. And the best, these astounding services are free of charge….

Some airports even offer a yoga studio, fitness equipment or ping-pong tables – Relaxation and massage!at Singapore Airport you can find a swimming pool and Jacuzzi. While you can go ice-skating at South Korea’s Seoul Airport, Hong Kong’s airport even offers an on-airport golf course! You may use your spare time to get common vaccinations – like flu vaccination; you may even have your teeth whitened.  So get a health shot…

While Dubai Airport impresses through its wonderful inner decoration, if you travel through Kuala Lumpur you can visit the rainforest – right inside the airport!

Have a nap!

Have a nap at airportTravelling is tiring, especially if you travel through long distances. You may get a solution even to that problem. Many airports now offer comfortable seats, in which you can relax or have a nap. At Heathrow Terminal 3, you can even rent a small Yotel room (for a minimum period of 3 hours), but only during daytime.

Go shopping

Go shoppingYou may also like to go shopping in the luxury duty-free shops, or just have a look at the many items around. Think about loved ones, friends and colleagues to whom you could bring a souvenir from your trip… You could even give some to people at the hotels or places you visit! They will be delighted…

Or play games

Why not choose to play a game. If you travel with other people, a card game, board game or guessing game may be fun, even more so if children travel with you. Some airports also offer gaming stations – for free. What about a “flash mob?” These flash assemblies of people at a certain point of the airport – often performing a short theatrical movement and quickly dissolving – is an amusing way to distract the crowds. Why not be delighted by a “flash mob” done – let’s say – by beautiful stewardesses? You may even participate in one… And can you guess what Las Vegas Airport offers to its travellers? A casino with slot machines of course!

Yes, of course, you are at a busy airport. There are several coffee shops at Heathrow giving you a view on the runways. Don’t miss that exceptional opportunity…

Maybe you feel hungry (or thirsty) and planned to fill your waiting time having a good dish or sitting at the bar.

Another entertaining activity is to observe people from all-over the World passing by. Try to guess where they are from, or observe their clothing and behaviour – you may guess something about their culture, or try to imagine their personal story, their profession, and the aim of their travel… This is also a fun activity if you travel with children, and gives you the opportunity to teach them something about other regions of the World.

Entertain your children

Entertain your childrenAs a similar activity, you may look at the departure board and locate the many towns that appear. Did you know all of them? If not, you can look them up through the Internet. This as well is a curious activity to practice with your accompanying children. Similarly, you can take a seat overlooking the airplane traffic and let them guess the various 50 thingsplane types. By the way, there are some excellent books to keep children busy during your journey (but you might have to buy them beforehand). You can order them online through the following link:


airports also offer a supervised

Some airports also offer a supervised play area for young children.

Are you travelling alone? That may be an opportunity to know new people… If you spot another lonely traveller, you can start a conversation with a friendly “Hello”. You might meet interesting people, and possibly even become friends!

If you still hesitate, you can just use your smart phone or tablet to surf the web – most international airports offer free Wi-Fi connections. Or use your time to read a book or a newspaper, maybe you don’t benefit often from this opportunity.

Take a city tour…

You may have a long transit time until your connecting flight; but don’t be desperate, you may even participate in a city tour! This wonderful idea has been turned into reality by Utah, Istanbul and Singapore airports; they offer a free visit of their city in their own buses for passengers in transit through their place. Singapore even offers a day- and a night-tour… Not only is it an ideal means of entertaining their travellers, they might easily be convinced to come back to their town next time!

Great future!

Singapore’s Changi Airport also stuns its passengers with a 4-storey slide, a cactus garden, a butterfly garden with more than 1000 species, a free cinema as well as free computers and famous TV program displays. A new feature is LG’s “Social Tree”, a large round screen with consoles all around where people can “video chat” in real time. And that’s not all! The airport plans a new glass-covered 134’000 square meter complex, with gardens, shopping and restaurants – but the main attraction will be a 40 meters high water fountain, which will feature laser light illumination and synchronized light and sound shows! This fabulous attraction should open in 2018.

With all these activities you can do at the World’s airports, you will even regret the waiting time until you board your next flight is not longer….

The life of an airline pilot

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Working as an airline pilot – is it a dream job?


You drove to a London airport with your family, parked your car choosing one of the many airport parking options, and walk into the terminal, be it to fly to your vacation destination – or to offer your family a nice and enriching day out in the thriving airport atmosphere.


Among the many people from all different regions and cultures of the World mixing in the hall, you notice one man in a perfectly tidy uniform, discerning himself from all the people around him. Why? He is a pilot. He personifies the dream I was playing and replaying in my mind in all shapes, colours and variations when I was an adolescent. I peek at my 15-years old son – and see him staring at the pilot with a glimmer in his eyes. I see what is going on in his mind – he is dreaming of becoming a pilot… Even my 12-years old daughter seems to be fascinated by this man – she sees him as a hero, a man who achieved the impossible, admired and coveted by everybody.


But is piloting an airline jet really a dream job? Flying certainly is one of the oldest ambitions of mankind. Who has been flying, even only once in his or her life, usually longs for taking the air again. And whose aspiration is to look at the beauty of our planet from above – and feel the sensation of freedom and excitement the birds made their own – will never stop looking to the sky wishing to be there. That’s why piloting an airline jet is certainly a fascinating activity.

Mental and financial efforts required

But being a professional pilot implies much more than just the “flying” part. It requires huge efforts – both mental and financial – just in preliminary studies and training. Aspiring pilots should complete a 4-years study, preferably in aviation management, aviation technology and aircraft engineering that are combined with ‘pilot studies’ or other studies providing a good understanding of mathematics and physics.

After completion of the university or college studies, the contender will have to Mental and financial effortsobtain an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL). If he (or she) can afford an integrated course, it will last about 18 months – and cost between £80’000 and 90’000. The student may also obtain the licence in a modulated course, allowing him – or her – to work and contribute to the costs.

That’s when the aspiring pilot can finally start flying (unless he or she could afford flying lessons before that) – and fully concentrate on the many skills, constraints and requirements that are needed to fly a commercial airplane.  Beside the prerequisite of excellent knowledge in mathematics, physics, technical an basic engineering, a flawless physical and mental health and sight, the future pilot will also need to demonstrate an outstanding spatial awareness and young pilots desiringcoordination, English language and communication skills, the aptitude to think quickly and make decisions, team-working and leadership skills, and the ability to remain calm under pressure and keep control under difficult circumstances.  There are also essential character traits a pilot must ascertain; inflexible discipline, self-confidence and commitment, and the awareness of the huge responsibilities he (or she) will be bearing. – In addition to a lot of patience.

Can our young pilot finally take the commands of a passenger airliner? No, not yet. Now he or she has to accumulate full 1500 hours of practice to be recognized as a captain – in the form of flight hours. According to his or her progress, the new pilot may find an employment as first officer, and later be promoted to senior first officer.   Beside the huge amount of hours they have to accumulate, the young pilots desiring to apply for a promotion as captain need to complete another intensive training course. When the need for commercial pilots is big, airline companies may agree with a newly licensed pilot and  give him or her the opportunity to fly as much as possible (of course, together with operating crew) , but often at a low wage. Others try to accumulate flying hours by flying small planes, agricultural or fire-extinguishing planes, cargo planes etc.).

Finally a captain…

Let’s say our young pilot – after renouncing on so many activities young people usually appreciate – finally advanced to the prestigious position of captain, andFinally a captai from an average salary to a more attractive remuneration.  So are the constraints finally over? No, they even become harsher. The captain must really love his job to be able to bear them. His responsibility grows; every smallest error or mishap could be used against him. If he flies long-haul flights, he will be away from his home for half to three quarters of the month. That’s especially hard to bear if the pilot has a family, and must renounce on many family events. He will change time zones and climates as well as food habits several times in a week. Furthermore, he will have to sleep at hotels which are not always comfortable. Pilots say they are “living out of a suitcase”… And next day, they will be in charge of another flight that may challenge them to cross stormy clouds or lead them from a burning sun to snow-covered landscapes.

However, what pilots criticize most is the fact that since the last twenty years – with the boom of low-fare airlines – wages, benefits and services to the flying staff all diminished. Moreover, if a senior first officer or captain want to apply for another airline, their career might not be recognized and they have to start the whole career program again.

So is the position of airline pilot really the dream job we imagine? If he loves flying, loves being at the command of the wonderful flying machine that is an airliner, and appreciates the opportunity of discovering the World – country by country, city by city, culture by culture – than the pleasure, excitement and thrill of being in the air – observing the wonderful land and sea formations, flying through the clouds, into sunrise and sunset – and the prestige and admiration people award him, reward him for his sacrifices.

Now, when you join your children in the airport cafeteria in observing the planes on the tarmac, you can tell them what the life of an airline pilot looks like. And you can explain them what efforts, Endeavour and struggle they have to wage if they want to become airline pilots. If they are still convinced they want to achieve their dream, definitely encourage them. There is nothing more fascinating than flying!

London STANSTED airport car parking

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Did you know that London Stansted holds the European record as the airport offering the largest parking facilities? In fact, Stansted parking holds a capacity for 25’726 cars! More than enough to leave your car at the airport – benefiting from the high security monitoring of the parking lots, the excellent price offers and the large choice of options at hand!


Stansted offers a wide range of direct-flight destinations – more than 150 – to all of Europe, some North African vacation spots and inland flights to major towns STANSTED AIRPORTof the United Kingdom. Stansted is the major hub of Ryanair, who by its own operates flights to 100 major towns and holiday destinations – mostly year-round, but some season-based. In 2014, 19,9 million passengers used the services of Stansted Airport – an increase of 11.7% from the former year. Recent expansions make sure that your airport experience be pleasant and comfortable. More than 100 check-in desks take care that you can proceed to your check-in without much waiting and access your flight as fast as possible, and at arrival you will be able to pick up your luggage swiftly from one of the several luggage carousels.

Stansted also services large amounts of cargo flights, including fast courier, and handles the second-largest amount of air cargo in London.

A cosy and relaxing separate Private Jet Terminal at Stanford handles a wide range of on-demand and scheduled private jet flights to over 100 destinations. Whether you are a busy businessman needing a fast transfer to your next conference – or just would like to give your next vacation a luxury start enjoying V.I.P. treatment – Stansted Private Jet services offer the right solution for you.  Of course, at that terminal as well you will find an on-site secure parking – which is included in the rate of various private flight offers.


For most travellers coming to Stansted Airport, the best option is to drive to the airport in their car and to park it on a secure parking at the airport. For their peace of mind, the parking lots are all monitored day and night with CCTV cameras, well illuminated and controlled by frequent security patrols. Stansted Parking offers a wide choice of options, so that everyone can find the appropriate parking for his or her needs. In addition to the already competitive official parking prices, you may save up to 70% by booking in advance through the Internet.


Stansted Airport short-stay parking

There are three Short-Stay parking lots, all located next to the terminal; they are divided into “green zone”, “orange zone” and “red zone”. Park your car, and a few steps will bring you to the airport’s entrance. This parking is ideal if you want to save time, if you travel with your family, and have much luggage. It is also the option of choice for short visits to the airport. An automatic number plate reader at the entrance assures a fast and hassle-free parking procedure.

The official prices starting on 1st July 2015 are as follows (you can obtain price reductions by booking online in advance):

0 – 30 mins £3.50
30 mins – 1 hr £7.00
1 – 2 hrs £12.00
2 – 3 hrs £14.00
3 – 6 hrs £20.00
6 – 24 hrs £40.00
Each additional 24 hrsor part thereof £40.00

If you want to leave your car at the Short-Stay parking for one week, you will only pay £55.99 for the “green zone” and £67.99 for the “orange zone” – that is if you book your parking in advance.


Stansted Airport parking meet & greet

For busy business travellers, families, people with heavy luggage – or just the convenience of driving up to the airport terminal and handing over the key of their car to a professional driver who will park their car for them – there are several alternatives of “Meet & Greet” services. The arrival time has to be communicated in advance. After the traveller’s return, his or her car will be brought to him or her at the same place he or she left it.

As beside the official Stansted parking there are several companies offering this services, the prices highly vary.  The fee for this privileged service starts at £33.00 up to £60.75.


Stansted Valet parking

Valet parking is the ultimate V.I.P. service. You drive directly to the forecourt of the terminal, hand over your car to the professional personnel of the Valet service who will keep your car securely parked until you come back from your travel. At that time your car will be brought to you to the arrival exit. Furthermore, you and up to five persons accompanying you will receive privileged fast-track security clearance before your flight. For this package as well, you have to call before your arrival.

Valet V.I.P. service will cost you in average £97.95.






Stansted express set down and pick up parking

This parking is intended for dropping off travellers to the airport or picking up arriving passengers. You may use it if you have just a short visit to do to the airport, but the car can’t be left unattended.

The minimum charge is £2.50 for 10 minutes; every following minute will be charged further £2.50. After you left, you can’t come back to the same parking within 30 minutes, or have to pay a fine of £20.00.


Stansted Airport mid-stay parking

A Mid-Stay car parking with a capacity of up to 5300 cars is situated close to the airport terminal – you reach it in just 5 minutes by courtesy shuttle transfer.  This parking as well operates an automatic number plate detection system for fast processing.

The first hour of parking on this facility is free of charge, two hours cost £1.00. After that, the price for the first and each following 24 hours is £21.00 (or only £12.50 if pre-booked). At the Mid-Stay parking you will pay about £58.30 for one week.


Stansted Airport express mid-stay parking

With this parking option you benefit from the services of the ordinary Mid-Stay parking – with the additional advantage of receiving fast-track tickets for a speedy security clearance at the airport for you and up to 5 accompanying passengers.,for an additional fee.


Stansted Long-Stay parking

Are you looking for a price-worthy solution to park your car while you are away? Stansted Long-Stay parking offers the security and registration convenience the other parking options do, but it is situated a bit farther. Every 15 minutes, there is a free shuttle bus that will bring you to the airport terminal in an 8 to10 minutes ride. This parking lot also offers free parking space for bicycles and motorcycles.

If you book in advance, you can park at the Long-Stay parking for a flat fee of £19.00 per day (or part thereof). If you book online, a week’s stay at the long-stay park will cost around £48.30.


Stansted Jet Parks

The cheapest option to park your car at Stansted during your voyage is the Stansted Jet Park. Offering full security features and plate recognition as well, you can leave your car at this parking and take a 10 to 12 minutes bus ride to the airport.

At Stanford Jet Parks, you will pay only around £43.99 for a full week’s stay if you book in advance.




All the parking options at Stansted Airport have special parking bays for Blue Badge holders. The shuttle buses from the Mid-Stay, Long-Stay and Jet Parks are accessible with wheelchairs.


Parking at Stansted Airport is easy, price worthy and convenient. Stansted enjoys very high ratings from its users for all the offered parking facilities and services.


Stansted runway reopens after snowfall

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The runway at Stansted airport has reopened after snow forced it to close for just over an hour.

Services are returning to normal, with most flights now scheduled to leave on time. However, many flights into the airport have been delayed by an hour or more.

The runway was closed at 8.25am while it was cleared and de-iced. Some early morning departures were delayed by three hours or more.

Passengers are being advised to check in as normal, but allow extra time for their journey to the airport.

The Stansted Express is currently running a half-hourly service, with trains leaving the airport at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour, and London Liverpool Street at 10 and 40 minutes past the hour.

For live flight information visit the Stansted airport website.

Parking tips and tricks

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Leaving your car with iPark at London’s Heathrow or Stansted airports before you travel is the best means to feel comfortable and assured your car is safe and well looked after. If you have any doubt, just have a look at the reviews and ratings – they will show you how satisfied most customers are with our services. Your car is in the hands of professionals, secure and under camera surveillance day and night, and it awaits you when you come back. Moreover, you can choose from several options – and the prices are very attractive. You can also find our discounts on the custom prices, which let you save even more.

If you choose the “Meet & Greet” option, you will hand over the keys of your car to a professional driver at your departure terminal, and you will find it back ready to pick you up when you arrive from your trip. You will not have to take a shuttle bus and carry luggage, and will gain ease and time. However, when you are back from travel you will obviously drive your car – and have to park it in crowded and complex environments. That’s why we want to share with you some tips and tricks; with some exercise and practice, you will become a parking expert.

Anticipate and check before parking and leaving

Driving a car involves responsibility, as accidents may happen within seconds. Most importantly you have to make sure before and while parking that the chosen parking space is free of children, other persons and any objects. If you Anticipate and check before parking and leavingpark in a lot with many pedestrians or close to children’s’ playgrounds or schools, you have to be particularly cautious, as while parking you may have to cope with dead angles and low visibility and suddenly appearing children or cars. When you return to your parked vehicle, walk around the car and make sure that no children or objects are obstructing its way. This also lets you check that no damage occurred to your car while you were away. At the same time, anticipate how you will leave the parking in your mind, and make sure the road is free. When parking or leaving a parking space, look into the corresponding direction directly, use both side mirrors intensively and – if necessary – loosen the seat belt to see as far as possible into the dead angles.

Angled parking

Angled parking spaces are the easiest to negotiate.

  • Choose a space which will leave a comfortable 1-1½ meter distance on both sidesAngled parking of your car
  • Signal, approach the free place slowly until you see the centre of the parking space,
  • Turn the wheel sharply, about half a turn, and slowly enter the space head on.
  • When it’s done, turn your wheels back straight so that you can easily back out when you leave.


Perpendicular parking – forward

Perpendicular parking spaces can be entered forward and backward.

  • Choose a parking space leaving enough space on both sides; signal, and position the car so that the front bumper is just beyond the taillights of the car before the space.
  • Turn the steering wheel sharply, and slowly enter the space, until your car is properly positioned.
  • Straighten the wheels, so that you can leave the space straight back.
  • Be cautious when leaving the space, and reverse very slowly, as visibility to the sides is very limited. Reverse only as much as needed to be able to oversee both sides; when the way is free, reverse more and sharply turn the steering.

Perpendicular parking - forward

Perpendicular parking – backward

Entering a perpendicular parking space backwards is recommended, as it lets you leave the space with much better visibility to the side. However, until you get a good practice it may be a little more stressful.

  • Perpendicular parking - backwardChoose a parking space leaving enough space on both sides; signal, and advance until your car’s back bumper is just beyond the
  • taillights of the car after the space.
  • Turn the steering wheel sharply, reversing very slowly, until the rear side of your car just crosses the line below the car beside you. Enter the space slowly, and when your car is aligned straighten your wheels completing the backward motion. Leaving this space will now be effortless.


When parking on a slope you have to make sure that the brake and gear will hold the weight of your car.

  • Drive your car into position, stop and hold the foot brake.
  • Place the gear into neutral position, whether it is a hand gear or automatic model.
  • Push the button on your hand brake and tighten it completely; check it once more to make sure it holds, than slowly release the foot brake. Select 1st gear, or “Parking “ mode on an automatic car.
  • For further security, turn the wheels towards the inner side.




Reverse parallel parking

That’s the most tricky way of parking, but often – specially in towns with narrow streets – there is no other parking space available.


Reverse parallel parking



(Inforgraphics by T.W. White & Sons)

Tracking a flight

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With nearly 31 million airline flights worldwide every year, there is a high probability that you have loved ones or friends who take a flight within these days. It will certainly be reassuring to know where they are just now. Thanks to the Internet and the worldwide air traffic tracking infrastructure, now it is possible to track their flight in real time. If they are coming to a London airport, you can drive to it knowing about when they will arrive. Go to the Arrivals, leave your car with the “Meet & Greet” staff who will safely park your vehicle until you are reunited with the people you are expecting. Even before you see that their plane landed at the arrival board, you can know exactly where their position is in the sky.

Plane tracking can become a hobby

Even if you don’t know anybody riding the skies just now, it is interesting and fun to track flights – and it can easily become a passion. You might see an airplane out of your window, or flying over you, and wonder which airline it is Plane tracking can become a hobbybelonging to, or where it is coming from. Maybe you like to know the various airplane types, or taking pictures of planes taking off or landing – you might be amazed by the beauty of your photographs. The above picture for instance is a composition of 75 photos taken by U.S. photographer Michael Kelley showing take-offs of planes at Los Angeles International Airport during  8 hours. The picture below was taken of a commercial airplane just before landing. The vortices created by air swirling at its wing tips from the lower side of the wing to the upper side  – which has a lower pressure, may be seen if the plane is crossing colder air. This event is part of the wake turbulence, the agitated air behind a fast-flying aircraft, and it can create amazing and almost surreal views.

Many websites let you share your images with people having similar interests, and you can find new friends among the “flight tracker” community.


How to track airplanes in real time

You can find numberless airport and airline websites letting you enter the How to track airplanes in real timenumber of a flight – or a date, departure and destination airports, and see if the flight has taken the air, is in mid-flight or has arrived. But it is much more exciting to search for a flight on one of the several websites giving you the opportunity of “live air tracking”.

One of these sites is flightaware.com.
Over a simplified but zoomable World map showing all airports, it shows you the planes flying in real time. Point at them with your mouse and you will see their flight number and details. The site also lets you search by carrier, airport, airplane type etc., and traces a plane’s route. Moreover, there is a large photo page where you can share your pictures with other flight enthusiasts.

Another nice site is planefinder.net/. This site shows a very nice map with How to track airplanes in real time1physical properties and even roads and airport outlines. Pointing at an airplane shows you the airline logo, flight number, the call sign, altitude and flight speed.  It also lets you search for a flight, carrier, airport or location – and even integrates a “ship finder”, that lets you locate any major commercial and passenger ship. The site retrieves the ADS-B plane and ship data sent by commercial and private planes and ships to transmit their name, position, call sign, status and lots more and adds departure airport, destination and photos for presentation on planefinder.net.

ADS-B plane

A further live flight tracking site, flightradar24.com ,  is also a great site to track flights. You can just zoom into a location or region, or search by flight, plane type, carrier company – to see its whole fleet being in the air just now, see the picture and details of each plane and its route, and much more. further live flight trackingIt also offers the possibility to change the World map to satellite map. The information being “real time”, it shows the features specific to our time. For instance, zooming into the Middle East region you can observe that war regions are diligently avoided by commercial aircraft.  flightradarThere is only minimal traffic to Iraq, none over Syria and over Yemen, and almost none over Libya. It also shows some politico-economic features: Greece and Egypt, which were major travel destinations, wrongly don’t show a great affluence of airplanes. Despite the news stir about Greece’s economic problems and Egypt’s low-level unrest, low-level unrestboth countries are entirely safe for tourists – and prices are at their very lowest level just now. So travellers should benefit, both of the discounts and of the facts that the countries are not overcrowded with tourists. Turkey, on the other hand, seems to benefit from this situation – a lot of Turkish Airline planes are in the air…


Airplane tracking is really an enjoyable and amusing activity, even if you just do it as a hobby! And very soon you might well drive to a London airport, park your Airline planescar in one of our safe parkings and take a ride on an aircraft yourself, knowing that other air tracking hobbyists are following your plane’s voyage just now!

Flying – the safest way of travelling

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Being a land – bound creature, the human being feels a natural apprehension when he has to leave the secure fixed ground under his or her feet. At least, that was the case before technology made air travel the safest means of transport.

However, there is no other method of transportation being followed, regulated and scrutinized in such a systematic manner as is aviation; that’s why you are about fifty times safer travelling by airplane than you are travelling by car and twelve times safer than travelling by train.  If you feel anxious about flying, just bear in mind that you are exposed to much heavier dangers sitting on a motorcycle, driving in your town or even walking in the street. Even at work or at home the probability of being hurt or succumbing to death is higher than sitting in an airplane.

Safety first – the heaviest tests

During the development of a new airplane, advanced computer simulations are  already performed to test the design and used materials in normal and extreme flight situations, giving the developers a hint of the best configuration to use. A static airframe is than built and after it is tested digitally, by a so-called “iron bird”. After that, is submitted to extreme mechanical tests – not only simulating the real flight conditions, but also conditions that the airplane will never encounter in its future flights. Airbus for example subdued its A350 XWB Airbus to a test bending its wings up to nearly 90 degrees – a situation which will never occur, even if the plane enters a huge thunderstorm. Any commercial airplane has to resist at least 1.5 times the stress it would encounter in the most extreme flying conditions at full load.

In a wind channel further analysis is performed, simulating extreme flight and temperatures, take-off and landing conditions and examining the influence of heavy water and ice on the wings and engines.

And that’s not all – during tests, birds and fowl are shot at the airplane wings and cockpit as well as at the engines through a compressed – air cannon called “chicken gun” – to test the resistance of the plane and reliability of the engines in case the plane will encounter a flock of birds or wild geese in flight.

Although in average there is only one plane hit by a lightning every year, a test is also performed to make sure the plane will resist any lightning storm without major damage. In the U.K., such tests are performed at the Cardiff University’s “lightning lab” .

After all these thorough examinations, prototypes of the plane are actually flown in all most extreme situations possible – including landing and taking off from the hottest airports, the coldest airports in the World and the highest airports where air is thinner – and flying higher and faster than the actual cruise altitude and speed.

In addition, every single built airplane is examined with ultrasound tests to make sure the materials and joints are solid, and  it is also tested in flight, fitted with sensors retrieving its structural data, before and after entering into regular flight service.

If at any time you have doubts about flying, remember that every plane has withstood impossibly extreme conditions before you travel in it.


Airplane maintenance is extremely detailed

fixing palnEven during its active use, every airplane is regularly checked for utmost safety. It has to undergo regular tests prescribed by the national and international air traffic administrations. Every 250 flight hours – or 200 – 300 take-offs and landings – it is submitted to an “A” check needing between 20 and 50 man-hours of work, depending on the type of aricraft. A more detailed maintenance is performed every six months. Every year a “C” check is performed, with in-depth inspection of many components of the plane. The most comprehensive examination of the plane occurs every 6 years. During the “heavy maintenance visit”, most of the airplane is taken apart for inspection and overhaul. This test grounds the airplane for up to 6 months, and needs up to 50’000 man-hours.

Can you imagine if your car had to be inspected every250 hours you drive? Or be taken apart every 6 years? No doubt road traffic would become much safer, but also much more expensive.


Statistics say: take a flight

Although statistics greatly vary depending on the time period or the method pilatused, they all conclude that air travel is much safer than any other means of transport. Here are some statistics to give you a general idea:

  • Per every billion kilometers traveled, trains have a fatality rate 12 times over air travel; by comparison, fatality rates for cars are 62 times greater than air travel.
  • In 2010 there have been 30,566,513 commercial plane departures worldwide
  • There is 1 in 3.4 million odds of being on a flight with at least 1 fatality in 78 major World airlines; only 1 in 4.7 mio odds of being killed
  • 1 in 10 million or 1 in 19.8 mio in one of the 39 airliners with less accidents
  • 1 in 1.5 mio and 1 in 2 mio in one of the 39 bottom-rated airlines
  • There is a 53% survival chance if aircraft ditches in controlled flight


  • A US government study found there were 568 plane crashes in the US between 1993 and 2000, involving a total of 53,487 passengers and crew. Of these, 51,207 – or over 90 per cent survived. Even on the 26 crashes deemed the worst, more than half the passengers and crew survived.
  • Even on one of Europe’s smallest and scariest runways, there’s never been an accident
  • Commercial aviation was the safest mode of travel in the US, with 0.07 fatalities per billion passenger miles – a person taking a 500-mile flight every day of the year would have a fatality risk of 1 in 85’000


  • Arnold Barnett, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, fund that between 1975 and 1994, the death risk per flight was one in seven million
  • if you didfly every day of your life, probability indicates that it would take you 19’000 years before you would succumb to a fatal accident.
  • Despite afifty percent increase in passengers during the ten years after deregulation, there was a forty percent decrease in the number of fatal air traffic accidents and a twenty-five percent decrease in the number of fatalities, compared to the ten years before deregulation.
  • Whenever we fly, we have a one one-hundred-thousandth of one percent (.000014%) chance of dying!

( U.S. Bureau of Safety Statistics)

It is safer to fly than to go to bed…

You are more likely to die from a bee sting – or accidental gunfire – than to be killed in an airplane accident. In fact, the simple act of going to bed is more perilous than flying. In Great Britain, 20 people perish each year on average falling from their mattress…

Flight accidents overstated in the media

Every day, there are hundreds of accidents – at home, at work, on the street, all adding to health incidents. However, when an airplane crash occurs, it is described and detailed in the media during several months. On the Internet there are also plenty of videos showing landings in difficult conditions. On the other hand, car and motorcycle accidents – which result in many deaths and heavy injuries daily – are rarely mentioned. As a result, the impression arises that flying is overly dangerous, although the opposite is true.

Of course, every accident death is deeply regrettable. But there is no means of transport in which the causes of every incident are examined as deeply as in air travel, and the international and national aviation federations spare no effort in order to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Turbulence? Less scary than a roller coaster ride

If you drive a car, you are obviously less scared of traffic than if you sit beside the driver, as you are busy and feel in control. In an airplane you can’t replace the pilot, you are forced to sit as a passenger. If you are of an anxious nature,  keep yourself busy. You may be scared when you see a slight bending of the wings; in this case,  remember the tests airplanes are undergoing. The wings are flexible to absorb turbulences and give you maximum comfort. Nevertheless, turbulences are inevitable – air is not an “empty” space (that’s why airplanes are flying), it is filled with movements of the air which can vary – and even oppose each other – according to temperature, speed, wind and weather conditions. So obviously you will feel some “bumps” when flying – light up and down movements or shivering of the plane. However they are natural occurrences and shouldn’t alarm you, as wouldn’t any bumps you can encounter on the road. Just imagine that a roller coaster ride is much, much scarier – and you still enjoy it.

Still scared of flying? Now you can download an app

If you want to be more at ease, now you can download the SOAR Fear of Flying smart phone application from https://engtechmag.wordpress.com/. It is available in versions for iPhone, iPad, and for Android devices. The application includes a G-force meter that you can use to chart the amount of turbulence that you are personally experiencing. Together with the above information, it should reassure you.

How your grandfather would have flown

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Did you ever wonder how air travel – the comfortable, fast and affordable luxury most of us take as granted today – would have looked like for our grandfathers and grand-grandfathers?

In the 1920’s, our grandparents witnessed a period of fast industrial and technological development, despite the after-war economical constraints. Like many of us are amazed by the progress of personal computing, the Internet and mobile phone technology, the generation of the 30’s marvelled at motor cars and the improvement of aviation.

The Beginnings of Commercial Flight

As for much of technological advances, World War I had generated the development of better, faster and more secure aircraft, although their primary purpose at the time was fighting. The war also saw the emergence of a series of small airfields around London– with earth or grass fields – whose primary mission was to protect the town from attacks by Zeppelin airships.

After the war there was a surplus of aircraft, and wealthy entrepreneurs founded small airlines to transport mainly businessman and statesmen. But demand for this way of transport was considered risky, and it wasn’t until four of these companies merged into Imperial Airways that civilian aviation really took off. With its stated aim of competing with French, Dutch, Belgian, German and later American companies and reaching locations throughout the British Empire, the company switched from the wood-based biplane airplanes of the 20’s to the faster aluminium-based monoplane that reached up to 200 mph and were easier to maintain.

Airmail – a precursor for many new itineraries

Airplanes started carrying mail since 1911; but it was only after the end of World War I that regular airmail flights were accomplished. In 1930, the Belgian Prosper Cocquyt was the first pilot to bring mail to London in a night flight. Similarly, airplanes carrying mail and newspapers were often the pioneers seeking out new flight routes and trying new plane types.

London’s International Air Travel

old airpot 1London’s airports also evolved during this period; beside Hounslow Heath close to today’s Heathrow Airport, and Penshurst Airfield that provided an alternative in case of dense fog, Croydon Airport became the main airport for international destinations. In 1925 Imperial Airlines offered regular flights to Paris, Brussels, Cologne, Basel and Zurich.

In the early 30’s long-distance flights  to various regions of the British Empire were added, flying passengers to Cairo, the Arabian Gulf, South Africa, India, and Singapore.  In fact, they were really “long-haul”. In 1937, advertisements prised Imperial Airways flights from London to Singapore in “only” 8 days, with 22 scheduled landings – half a World Tour! From Singapore, in 1935 Quantas Empire Airways and Tasmanian Airways relayed travellers to the British Empire’s remotest locations – Australia and New Zealand. To India and South Africa our grandparents could have flown in less than a week, cutting travel time much shorter than the more traditional voyage by railway and ship.

Bumpy, but luxury!

Despite the technical advances in airplane design, the flights were quite bumpy. The cabins were not pressurized until the early 1950’s, so the planes couldn’t fly at high altitudes and were subjected to harsh weather conditions and turbulence.  But the airlines tried to compensate by providing luxury, comfortable seats and even beds. While the flying style brought up a new fashion, it remained expensive and a privilege of the wealthier sections of society. A flight ticket from London to Singapore could be bought for £180 – about 17’600 of today’s dollars if adjusted for inflation. The fare for the longest route available in 1938, from London to Brisbane / Australia -spanning 12’00 miles, corresponded to today’s $20’000. The price covered everything except for alcoholic drinks. Today you would pay 10 times less for a round-trip ticket.  Nevertheless, from 1930 to 1939 close to 50’000 people flew with Imperial Airways.


old airpot 2As air travel became widespread, smaller private companies also started their own flight routes – competing with Imperial Airways mainly on European routes. In 1935 they merged into British Airways Corporation, which operated out of the new London Gatwick airport. Both companies were nationalized in 1939 to form British Overseas Airways Corporation – BOAC. Although during the interwar period airborne flight was mainly reserved to a very small section of society, it was the period in which commercial flight witnessed the most astounding technical advances. It greatly reduced the time people needed to reach any part of the World, improved trade and allowed written communication and news to spread, linking all continents of the Globe. Obviously, the start of World War II brought a drastic reduction in passenger flights – and the end of the Golden Age of Flight.

The love for flight matched by the love for cars

In the 1930’s it wasn’t only the huge improvements of flight that captured the Londoner’s interest; improvements in motor techniques also benefited road vehicles, making them faster and more resistant. Your Grandfather may very well have been fascinated by cars. The new motorised vehicles invaded London’s streets, superseding horse carriages.  In fact, in 1934 nearly 2½ million motor vehicles were registered in Great Britain, roughly half of them being private cars.  Although a speed limit of 30 mph was introduced in built neighbourhoods, it was rarely respected, and 1934 became the year with the most traffic deaths.  7,343 people, mostly pedestrians, died being hit by cars. Compare that to 1,713 traffic deaths in Great Britain in 2011, and the 25 persons only who died from airplane crashes in 1932, although air travel was still considered dangerous.

The cost of a new car in the 30’s was nearly half the price of a flight ticket to Singapore – private vehicles were available for between £100 and £135. But the increase of the number of cars also generated the need for new traffic regulations, and new parking space. In 1934, a driving test was introduced, and traffic lights were installed in London slightly before. The first parking meter was installed in the USA in 1934.

Now you can easily imagine how it would have been like for your grandparents to experience flight in the 30’s, if they had the chance to own a car, park it at the airport, and board an airplane for a far-away location….

Be delighted meeting lost relatives

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Since the end of the 19th century, huge migration movements changed the face of the World. Young people who didn’t find work at home – or just hoped for adventure and a better future in a New World – embarked to cross the oceans to the Americas, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and other regions. New migrations waves followed during the World Wars, and many more people hoped to escape periods of economic depression.

Many families were torn apart at a time when the means of communication were still sparse, and the parents lost contact with their emigrated children, and brothers and sisters with their siblings. This situation changed with the spread of the World Wide Web. On the Web, it is easier than ever to search for lost relatives, for your first love, for formers study colleagues, for a friend you didn’t hear from for a long time…

If you know the name and possibly the last location of your lost relatives and friends, a good place to start searching for them is by entering their name and supposed location on the respective country directory on http://www.infobel.com/en/world/. There you will find the phone directories, white and yellow pages and other directories of any country on the Planet. If you know their phone number, you may also do a “reverse search”. But these directories are mainly based on land phones, so it may be difficult to obtain a result. You could also search the widely used Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn directories, or just type their name and location into a web search engine with the hope they are registered with social media or a company, but if their name is common it will be difficult to find the right person.

The easiest place to find people may be the United States of America. There you can easily find a person, his or her phone number and her address. Beside the White Pages, you can access http://www.instantcheckmate.com/ where you will find the age and possible relatives of the searched person. If you continue the search, you will access even more information about the searched for person – including a wider range of relatives and public offence reports. If you agree to use the information only for personal purposes, you will have to pay a 1 month subscription for of US$22.86 (to retrieve your report). You could also try http://free.discoverancestry.com/ , which also accesses U.S. archive sites.

However, your lost relatives or friends may live in another part of the World. That makes the search somehow more difficult, but not impossible.
A site including search in the US, Canada and Australia is called http://people-search-free.com/international/ . There are also paying national sites. A site giving more options and countries is . There is an organization called http://www.lostfriends.org/ ; there you can enter several data, like when you had the last contact with the searched for person. The enetered data will appear publicly on their website, with the hope the desired person will find it. On http://www.ehonissa.com/ , you can also access a face search, but you have to sign up first. If all these attempts brought no results, you may try a site matching the dna data, for a fee of US$ 99; http://familylinks.icrc.org/en/Pages/online-tracing.aspx .

The ICRC established a free website allowing you to locate a loved one in a crisis location, be it in a region hit by a natural disaster or war. This website allowed numberless families to reunite or at least obtain information about their endangered relatives.

Now, if you found the lost relatives or friends, try to contact them through social media, e-mail or by SMS or phone, identifying yourself and reminding them of your family relationship or place you shared as friends.

After the first contacts you may decide to meet in person. You might opt for a stop at their place while you are traveling. Or possibly the searched person is traveling often; this will be the easiest way to meet. Just let him or her stop or meet you at a UK airport while they are on their way to another destination. You can drive to the airport before their expected arrival, let a professional driver from Meet & Greet collect your car and park it in safety, and enjoy meeting the lost family member or friend – or their descendants – with all the emotion and excitement such a meeting involves.

Relax and reboot – with city breaks

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Why should you wait six months – or even one full year – until your next vacations? In fact, our busy and stressful daily life is grinding on our health and our mood. If you have to wait many months to get a refreshing change, you might well have lost hope and lapsed into gloominess.

Of course, you will tell me that traveling is expensive, and the days you can allocate to vacations are limited. That’s true. But there is an ideal solution, which allows you to travel for a reasonable price –and just use some extra days off beside the weekend and official holidays. It will allow you to get a deep mental and physical revitalization.

So, what’s the magic? It’s called City Break, deals including flight and a hotel stay in the chosen city from one to five nights, according to the package and the distance of the city of destination.airpot

How about discovering enchanting Istanbul starting from only £179 for a 2-nights stay in a 5 stars hotel?  Or spend 4 days in Marrakesh starting from £159 to escape fog and rejoice in the sun? In spring and autumn, you may chose 3 days trips with 2 hotel nights to admire the calm beauty of Prague, the amazing history of Rome, have a romantic escape to Paris, enjoy fabulous Venice, or select one of more than 30 other destinations for £199 and less – starting even at £99.


One of your escapes could even lead you to amazing Dubai, where you will pay £379 for a 3-nights stay in a 5 stars hotel, or let you discover the Northern Lights in Iceland complete with a 6-hour ‘Game of Thrones’ tour  for £249.

Imagine the thrill of exploring several different towns, countries, cultures and traditions, taking amazing pictures, experiencing different types of climate, and all that within the same year.


Are you convinced? So start planning the dates for your city escapes, preferably avoiding the touristic high seasons. Look out for “sale” options on several travel websites, or get surprised by “last minute” offers.

Now you are done – ready to drive to the departure airport, to leave your car on its secure car parking, and to board your plane for a new adventure, forgetting your daily routine. You will be stunned how radical the invigorating effects of even a short trip can be – and feel energized to take up your daily tasks again, with your next city break in mind.

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