Friday, May 27, 2011

Greener bags

A publisher I once worked for used to proudly tote through airports a boxy leather bag that he referred to as a "green bag." I'm not one of those people with a eye for subtle colors, so it very well could have been a shade of green at an earlier point in its life. But then, it just looked battered to me. 

It was obvious to anyone in the aviation industry, a pilots flight bag, sized perfectly for anything a pilot would need. It had pockets for pens, books, and room for thick manuals in ringed binders and instructions that working pilots need. A fully loaded one is said to weigh more than 50 pounds. 

I thought about his green bag when a couple people passed along the recent announcement by Alaska Airlines that it was eliminating pilot manuals. In its place will be a slim iPad with an application called GoodReader. Alaska is the first airline to put the flight manuals on the iPad. 

"When the iPad hit the market, we took one look at it and said this is the perfect fit," said Gary Beck, Alaska Airlines' Vice President of Flight Operations. 
The newest addition to a pilot's flight bag

The iPad will eliminate something like 2.4 million pieces of paper. It will be easier for pilots to carry, and of course save all that that weight that would be boarded on the the aircraft. 

A search on the Internet that took too much time revealed nothing that could link the old pilot's flight  bag to the term "green bag." However, the weight and fuel savings by programs like the one at Alaska Airlines, could now actually earn a pilot's flight bag that reputation. 

-- Rick Lundstrom

Friday, May 20, 2011

Servair helping with nutrition research

Employees from Servair  began their participation last week in a study done by the University of Paris called NutriNet-Santé.

By becoming what the study called “NutriNauts” employees were asked to give researchers information on their health and eating habits. Volunteers can also take part in clinical and biological check-ups “that will help advance public research and aid to better understand the relationship between nutrition and health.”

Recruiting activities took place between May 7 and 15 at Servair units and offices in Paris. Volunteers got the word out through e-mail, intranet news flashes and NutriNaut table napkins at eating spots in the caterer’s Paris facilities.

The NutriNet-Santé study is extensive and claims to be the largest Internet survey in the world focused on understanding the relationship between nutrition, health and exercise. Each year the group sets a goal of getting 500,000 Internet users to to fill them in on their diet, physical activity, weight and height and eating habits. As of May 11, researchers say that they have enrolled 170,000 volunteers.

The study’s French language site can be found here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

On the street

The natural progression of a hot trend or a sign of difficult times and tight money? 

A little of both seems to be the case in a Virginia college's decision to offer a course in operating a street food business

There seems to be no shortage of customers around the world. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States estimates that 2.5 billion people eat street food each day. The course, at Stratford University  will give students instruction on how to set up a business in a stall, cart or truck. The school offers degrees in Culinary Arts and Hospitality and has with campuses at Tysons Corner,  Richmond,  and Woodbridge, Virginia. It trains students to be bakers and pastry chefs and hotel and restaurant managers

While it seems odd, there's practical reasons for such instruction. Charleen Huebner, the baking and pastry coordinator at the school says a street food business allows entrepreneurs a first step into the culinary business without the cost and risk of opening a bricks-and-mortar restaurant. 

Students also learn how to create menu items that can sell for much less than they would cost in a supermarket or restaurant. The students will also get a crash course on popular ethnic street food from around the world. 

A chef with a few lessons in resourcefulness could be a welcome addition to any kitchen. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The consumers speak

Airlines take note. The recent Consumer Reports findings are out. Passengers like inexpensive, comfortable flights and are becoming rather annoyed with paying fees. They also enjoy a little entertainment,

That appears to be the reason that Southwest Airlines and JetBlue made the top of the satisfaction list. Southwest doesn't charge for checked baggage and JetBlue has a consistently popular live television option. Both the airlines also scored high in seat comfort. Southwest was given high marks for check-in ease and cabin crew service. 

"The pileup of added fees during or after check-in is contributing to many travelers' decisions to fly less, according to the survey. Of the respondents who said they've cut back on flying, 40 percent cited fees as the major reason," said the CNN report on the survey. 

In terms of passenger comfort, there appears to be some relief in sight. At this year's Aircraft Interiors Expo, a number of seat companies showed innovative, lightweight designs, and panelists again discussed the importance of the premium economy product that is taking shape on airlines around the world.  Seating in its various incarnations took two Crystal Cabin Awards.