Welcome to this week's edition of Cattle Call, a round-up of quirky aviation news to start the weekend with.
Tis the season to be jolly and buy expensive bottles of wine, or at least that is the message from French airport operator Aeroports de Paris (AdP). A shopper "from the far east" spent EUR50,000 on six bottles of wine: a bottle of Romanee Conti 1995, a Chateau Margaux 2003, two bottles of Chateau Lafitte 1982 and two bottles of Petrus 1980. AdP said passengers annually purchase one million bottles of wine and 400,000 bottles of champagne, but high quality wine "sold better at the end of the year".
Paris was also host to some unconventional sales. A 28-year-old photographer based in Canada reportedly made over EUR10,000 selling on the internet items from Air France's first class cabins, including napkins, plates and blankets. Authorities apprehended him in Reunion after a tip from Air France, and discovered more pilfered goods in his luggage. Investigators are now looking into whether this man was "part of a larger ring". Virgin Atlantic has supported in-flight looting by stamping the bottom of its airplane-shaped salt and pepper shakers with the statement "Pinched from Virgin Atlantic".
You might soon notice something else missing from your flight: Alec Baldwin. Following an incident earlier this month in which Mr Baldwin was removed from an American Airlines (AA) flight, the US Association of Professional Flight Attendants has called for Mr Baldwin to not only be banned from flying AA but that the carrier should also remove Baldwin's TV show 30 Rock from their in-flight entertainment (IFE) lineup.
But do not fear, IFE fans, because airBaltic starting 16-Dec-2011 will sell Mini Coopers on board its flights, giving the Latvian carrier bragging rights as the world's first – and so far only – carrier to do so. The Mini Coopers feature a custom paint job resembling the airline's livery.
This is not the first odd sale for airBaltic. Earlier this year the carrier ran an advertising campaign featuring various shoe styles (high heels, work shoes and beach footwear) sporting the airline's livery. After receiving enough inquiries about if the shoes could be bought, the carrier decided to manufacture one design, below. You can see the rest of the designs here.
Should you happen to buy the shoes (EUR55) or a Mini Cooper (EUR24,699) as a gift and need them wrapped, head over to Virgin Atlantic boarding gates at London's Gatwick and Heathrow airports where "Virgin airport elves" will wrap presents this month in exchange for a charity donation.
For a present that is really out of this world, consider sending a loved one's ashes into space. Best of all, it may be tax deductible in the US state of Virginia, where a pending bill would provide USD8000 in tax credits for ashes sent into space (outside of Earth or in lunar orbit), but only if the ashes lift off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island in Virginia. The pending bill aims to help foster a commercial space industry in Virginia. If passed, the tax break will be available to Virginia residents between 2013 and 2021, so plan your death accordingly.
One person who missed out on the space ash offer is Rico, Air New Zealand's affable, if foul-mouthed, sloth-like-thing that was "killed" earlier this month. Out of the death Air New Zealand made an online game where Rico fans could try to solve his murder. The culprit was revealed this week as Richard Simmons. Rico, apparently, managed to do 55 more jumping jacks than the "Fit to Fly" safety video star. Good thing Air New Zealand recently auctioned off Simmons' Swarvorski diamond-studded singlet – Simmons will not need that in the slammer.
Speaking of Air New Zealand, we are still a fan of their IT department's holiday video from last year in which office lights are synchronised to Carol of the Bells, but startup carrier Scoot is starting the festive airline video season with an unusual submission showing management heads popping out of an aircraft window and bobbing along to Deck the Halls. It has a novelty factor – or perhaps what they call "Scootitude".
These videos may be fun and games for the airlines, but Santa Clause is taking no risk to when it comes to his multitude of flights on Christmas Eve. He recently visited Airservices Australia's Melbourne air traffic management complex to ensure everything was in order for his flights.
Air Zimbabwe is also ensuring everything is in order, but is doing so by cancelling flights. The carrier has suspended services to Johannesburg because the creditor of its Boeing 737-200, Bid Air Services, announced plans to seize the aircraft at their next opportunity due to a USD500,000 debt from Air Zimbabwe. The aircraft, The Independent reports, was "nearly" impounded at Johannesburg last week. Perhaps Air Zimbabwe could pop over to Reunion and ask the detained photographer for tips on selling first class goods on the internet.