Plane Crash in Buffalo, New York Felt Nationwide

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Is it just me? Or does it seem like there have been way too many plane crashes lately? First, we had the plane go down into the Hudson River about a month ago. And now, we have a plane (that departed from Newark) crash into a Buffalo, New York neighborhood. Strangely, both of these flights originated in the New York metropolitan area. Should we be concerned about traveling in and out of the Big Apple?  The official report is that a Continental Airlines commuter plane (flight 3407 leaving Newark, NJ bound for Buffalo, NY) carrying 49 passengers crashed into a suburban Buffalo house late Thursday. The crash killed everyone on-board and one person inside the home. However, the mother and daughter who lived in the house made it out safely and were treated at a local hospital for minor injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board has collected the data recorders and cockpit voice equipment to search for clues as to the reason for the crash.

The details about the crash victims are just starting to come in. There was a senior adviser for the Human Rights Watch – Africa Division, Alison Des Forges; a widow of a 9/11 victim, Beverly Eckhert; and a cantor, Susan Wehle, were killed in this crash. These passengers along with the others on this flight will not be forgotten.

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“It’s hard to make sense of it today, but God hasn’t left us,” New York Gov. David Paterson said at a news conference, expressing hope that people could find comfort in the few stories of survival — or luck — in the crash.




Planes, Trains & Automobiles..But I’m Here for Inauguration 2009

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Whew! I am finally here in Washington, DC for the Inaugural 2009. I almost cannot believe that I actually made it. My first flight out of Los Angeles (LAX) into Pittsburgh was rather uneventful. (Exception: USAirways has decided to charge you for everything such as bags, food, water, and drinks. Didn’t gas prices go down?) However, my connecting flight out of snowy P’burgh was delayed twice for a total of an hour and a half. I made it fun by chatting it up with my travel mates, and grabbing a cold one and a meal at the airport.

Although the trip to DC went much slower than I hoped, I learned a lot about some of the people I was traveling with. Being a journalist, I am naturally nosy and I occasionally listen to conversations around me.

And what I discovered is that the Inauguration activities for President-elect Barack Obama are akin to the biggest Superbowl win and New Year’s eve rolled up into one. People, especially a lot of black people, have traveled far and wide to witness and celebrate Obama becoming the 44th president and the 1st African American president of the United States. I overheard several folks say they decided at the last minute that they wanted to be here. They felt like they had to come. In particular, a black woman on my Pittsburgh flight said she decided just yesterday that she wanted to be in Washington, DC for the Inauguration and bought her ticket last night.

Another older white gentleman, who I will call Bill, told me that he had to be in DC at this time because he wanted to feel the energy of the city. Like most of the people I spoke with, Bill didn’t have a ticket to any of the events. He only held a desire to be a part of history. He said “I’m excited for us to get rid of the old and see the change come to Washington.” He spoke fondly of President-elect Obama’s ability to remain calm and even during times of great pressure and his message of hope. He joked that there were Obama supporters even in Orange County, Calif. Armed with new gloves, he was headed to The Mall to soak in as many Inaugural events as possible.

I also overheard a woman who is traveling to DC because she is responsible for an Inaugural party held by Occidental College (Obama’s first college). She couldn’t believe her good fortune when her boss asked her to go in his place. She felt like she’d hit the jackpot.

And I met another young lady who traveled here to meet up with family and friends to attend Inauguration parties, stand in line to see the parade and try to get as close as possible to see the swearing in. People are spending crazy money, braving the cold and bearing the big crowds just to get a glimpse of President-elect Barack Obama – and to say that they were here.

All of the people I talked to could not believe that I held a ticket to the Inauguration swearing-in ceremony. I actually think getting on the plane and witnessing the lengths to which some people have come (without credentials, passes or tickets) just to be a part of history has made me feel quite special to be here – with or without a ticket.

So, hopping on two planes, airport shuttles, and into my parents SUV was worth it because over the next few days, I get to witness history.

More to come…

The Caramel Bella




Caramel Bella in the Big Easy

If you read my site regularly, you may have noticed that my posts have been pretty slow this week (read: hardly any). It is because yours truly is in New Orleans for a reporting project on race, religion and politics. I hope you have been following my twitters on the site because they should have kept you up-to-date on my Big Easy adventures. Although I’ve enjoyed my stay immensely in New Orleans, I must say it has been an emotional rollercoaster. For me, seeing the Hurricane Katrina devastation has been very sad and depressing but it’s been balanced by the beauty and warmth of the N.O. people. And the food and partying is beyond compare. Thank you New Orleans for giving a me a lifetime of wonderful memories and allowing me to experience your wonderful city. Stay tuned for more posts and tweets from N.O.L.A.

Smooches (especially to New Orleans),

The Caramel Bella




Kanye West Arrested at LAX Today

Pure craziness today is that Rapper Kanye West was arrested today at LAX airport for attacking two paparazzi. He was formally charged with felony vandalism. According to reports, Kanye and his bodyguard/manager, Don Crowley, destroyed the photographer’s equipment valued at over $10,000. (And I thought I was having a bad day.)

Maybe someone needs to breathe and relax.

Smooches,

The Caramel Bella




High Fuel Costs + Lots of Travelers = Unhappy Airline Travels

If you want to feel the effects of the economy without driving your car, try flying the friendly skies.

The increasing fuel costs have hit America’s airlines pretty hard. Yesterday morning, on my way to Denver for the Democratic National Convention, I experienced the airline woes and U.S. economic troubles firsthand. The storm began upon my arrival at Los Angeles International Airport around 7:15 a.m. for an 8:45 a.m. flight. I was following the standard time allowances – 1 hour and ½ for domestic flights. My arrival was met with a snake-like line that emptied out of the United Airlines check-in area into the street, where passengers were getting dropped off. I immediately sensed trouble. I was up against the 45-minute cut-off for getting your bags checked-in. So, I stood and stood and stood. And I watched the clock tick away my entire 45 minutes before the 8:00 a.m. time limit to check my bags.

At first I couldn’t understand why United’s check-in lines were so long and their agents were so unhelpful. Where did the customer service go? Why didn’t any of the agents care if I was going to miss my flight? For that matter, why didn’t any of the agents worry about the mile long line of passengers about to miss their flights?

Why? The current economics of airline travel created this entire monster. The high fuel charges faced by the airline industry have been passed on to the customer in a very inefficient way.

To begin with, United Airlines now requires $15 for the first checked bag and $25 for the second bag. (I stopped looking at the prices after the second bag.) And if your dear bag or bags should weigh over 50 pounds, you, my fellow passenger, are looking at another $125 charge for an overweight bag. Yikes. These new costs, created to help United offset their increasing fuel expenses, were the cause of most passengers missing their flights and standing in long check-in lines. Each customer, even those with an electronic ticket, were forced to stand in lengthy lines to pay for their baggage at the counter. Several passengers were seen transferring packed items to additional luggage or trash bags to avoid overweight charges. In short, it was an inefficient zoo!

The long wait to check-in led to many customers missing their flights and lost baggage. Due to my bag missing the cut-off window, I was placed on standby for the next flight. My plight was a shared one. More than 50 people were on standby for the following flight. Some less fortunate travelers were still on standby from flights on Sunday.

Although I arrived in Denver yesterday, the process getting there wasn’t a pleasant one. I endured long lines, baggage costs, sub par customer service, and spending more time at the airport waiting to fly standby than on the plane.

But I’m here in Denver now and off to cover and explore the Democratic National Convention 2008 activities. And I am looking forward to hearing the Dems’ approach to the economic problems, especially oil troubles, we are facing.

Smooches,

a weary Caramel Bella




I’m back.. I know you missed me.

Ha ha. Yes, I’m back. I should say… I hope you missed me.

Over the past two weeks, this Caramel Bella has been SUPER busy (and with little internet access). I finished my apprenticeship with a major cable network (boo hoo.. I loved that job). I moved out of my fab studio in New York City. I drove back across country to Los Angeles, and visited friends and family on the way. My stops included Cleveland, OH; Gary, IN; Waterloo, IA; Silverthorne, CO (outside of Denver); and St. George, UT; before arriving in my homebase of Los Angeles. I hope you were reading my twitters.

And now my travels and career find me in Denver, Colorado for the Democratic National Convention. I’m writing for PopandPolitics.com. So, please stay tuned for my adventures and mis-adventures at the DNC.

Smooches,
The Caramel Bella




Beauty rest on JetBlue has a new price

My favorite airlines, JetBlue, announced today some innovative ways to offset increasing air fuel charges. The company has decided to charge customers $7 for a pillow and blanket on flights extending more than two hours.

 

According to JetBlue, the pillow and blanket are eco-friendly, and made of a new fabric developed by CleanBrandsLLC. This special material is said to block “pesky critters like dust mites, mold spores, pollen and pet dander.”

 

This kit will help offset the carriers soaring fuel prices. In addition to selling pillows and blankies, JetBlue has a $15 fee for the second checked bag, a ticket change fee, and a charge for additional leg room.

 

I remember when JetBlue was the best bang for the buck. Nowadays, it is getting harder and harder to find a good flight deal.

 

I recommend JetBlue and Frontier airlines for comfort, convenience and modern technology like in-seat television (which makes coast-to-coast flying go by a lot quicker). And I’ve also heard really good thing about Virgin America airlines. If you are looking tofind the best rate, check out Kayak.com. I’ve used it recently to locate some great deals between Los Angeles and New York.

 

Happy traveling. And be sure to drink lots of water on the flight.

 

Smooches,

The Caramel Bella




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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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