In brief: Google launches hotel search tool
Investigators reveal their findings from Air France Flight 447's black box, Google launches a hotel search tool, Qantas faces labour disruption, Jetstar is accused of labour exploitation, and more. Here are the stories travellers are buzzing about:
Investigators reveal the black box findings from Air France 447
New details were made public this morning about how pilot mistakes, mixed with faulty speed sensors and other factors, led to the 2009 crash of an Air France jet into the Atlantic Ocean, reports Reuters. The crew ignored "stall" warnings and didn't realise until it was too late that the aircraft was plummeting. The crash killed 228 passengers. Investigators are recommending that pilot training be changed worldwide to give greater emphasis to manual flying techniques.
Google launches its Hotel Finder tool
Yesterday, the search giant unveiled its experimental service called Hotel Finder for travellers visiting US cities. The tool lets you set the boundaries of where you want to search for hotels by drawing a shape on a map of your destination. The site then fetches a partial list of relevant hotels, which you can sort by luxury level, user rating and prices "compared to hotel's typical price", a factor that Google describes mysteriously as "historical average" rates. Some might find the tool intriguing, while others may think it's not yet ready for prime time.
Labour strife causes problems for Qantas
Today in Australia, up to 300 warehouse workers took part in a 24-hour work stoppage, while many long-haul pilots continued their first week of "low-key industrial action". Scheduled flights have not been delayed, reports the Sydney Morning Herald, but pilots have broadcast unauthorised announcements about the dispute during many flights.
Jetstar cabin crew claims abuse, safety risks
Jetstar's Thai-based flight crews are often working shifts in excess of 20 hours, imperilling their ability to handle potential in-flight emergencies, according to an investigation by Australia's ABC TV programme Lateline. The work hours are far longer than are allowed in the US or Europe, yet they are legal under the contract terms. The budget carrier, which is owned by Qantas, says it is reviewing its practices.
"A Gap Year for Grownups? http://awe.sm/5PrCO Otherwise known as a sabbatical, of course. I'm torn. I think it's a fantastic idea -- and hugely self-indulgent. I guess I lean towards "fantastic". Hm. Reckon I'll take a year off now."
--Tim Harford, author of the Undercover Economist, Adapt, and other books, posted on Google Plus. He was commenting on Marc Freedman's article in the Harvard Business Review, which notes that there are "approximately 200,000 gray gappers in Britain each year".