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South America Captured Beautifully In Video

Watching this journey through South America will fill you with wanderlust unparalleled. The composition of this video is amazing. It captures the beauty of the region, from the people to the cities to the landscapes, and the score is subtle and moving. Cheers to Vimeo user Vincent Urban for a job well done. We're amazingly jealous.

Audio Slideshow: From Helsinki To Suomenlinna

Gadling Labs takes the ferry out to Suomenlinna, the historic fort on the outskirts of Helsinki, Finland. Click to watch the audio slideshow above.

[Photos by Stephen Greenwood and Grant Martin]

Time-Lapse Video Captures Montreal On Fire

Time-lapse videos are a dime a dozen these days, but once in a while something unexpected is captured. In the above video by E Kital on Vimeo, a simple time lapse of Montreal turned into something much more dramatic when a fire broke out in the old city. As reported by NBC News, the blaze lit up the night sky and provided some eerie contrast against the serentity that's usually core in a time lapse. It's a great unique perspective on a very unfortunate event.

Flew American Airlines, Nothing Happened

Flight 371, Sunday night, hurricane Sandy lost in our contrails. I'm on the last flight out of LaGuardia and heading into Chicago, the last flight home before New York airports shut down and the city buttons up for the storm.

This will be my fifth flight on American Airlines in four days, starting in Chicago, passing through St. Louis, turning around in Dallas, going back through Chicago and then looping through New York La Guardia.

It's been a quiet ride. On some flights I flew in coach, in some I flew in first. On the leg between Dallas and Chicago I was crammed into a window seat with a spacious and friendly neighbor. Right now, on 371, I'm choosing to skip the roast beef sandwich in lieu of some apple juice and cashews.

Life goes on for the frequent flier on American Airlines. There's been a lot of negative focus on the airline over the last few weeks, from an issue with loose seats on several 757s to hysterical complaints from the New York Times. No doubt, American has to get their act together and service needs to improve. Pilots need to stop fussing over their contracts and the executives need to stop worrying about compensation and prepare their company for exit from bankruptcy.

By and large though, the furor over operations starts to fade after taking a few dozen flights. It's true that there are still a few bad apples – one pilot on my trip sarcastically pointed out that "among other things, the APU in this MD-80 was out of service" – but the flight arrived on time. Most employees and passengers carry on in good will and the airplanes continue to fly.

You can expect the same on American for the next few months. Your chances of cancellation and strife from the bankruptcy naturally will go up slightly as the airline continues to reorganize and unions battle for posturing. Maybe 7 in 100 flights will be delayed instead of 5 in 100. But there will be no catastrophe. Your miles wont disappear. Pilots won't sabotage planes. In a few months, the industry will settle and we'll get back to complaining about the buttonhole in napkins and overhead bin space. And throughout that I'll keep flying, American or United or Virgin or whoever gets me from point A to point B at a reasonable price. You should too.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user Fly For Fun]

Live Blog: Onboard United Airlines 787 Launch

It's an historic day in Houston as United Airlines prepares to launch service on the 787 Dreamliner. Though plans were set back slightly by the delivery schedule at Boeing, one inaugural 787 will make the flight from Houston to Chicago to Houston to Los Angeles this fourth of November, ferrying passengers in the country's first commercially operated, domestic Dreamliner flight.

This isn't first time that America has seen the 787. Several carriers including ANA and JAL have operated flights from their respective home countries to the United States, but none have operated commercial flights within the country, and none have been on an American carrier. With this flight, United becomes the first domestic operator of the long awaited Dreamliner.

United plans to fly the 787 on domestic routes for the next month to get the country acclimated and then shift routes internationally.

Follow along as Gadling labs joins the United crew in welcoming the 787 to American skies. We'll be live blogging the event in Houston as well as the arrival ceremonies in Chicago. Sadly, there isn't internet service on this composite aircraft, but we'll keep you updated as connectivity permits.

Update, 10:37AM: Our coverage of United's inaugural 787 is wrapped up. Check back later for more details on the Dreamliner!

Hear Dave Seminara On Public Radio WBEZ Talking Chicago Suburbs

If you've ever heard the call letters "WBEZ" in your public radio adventures, it's probably because you were listening to "This American Life" or "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me," two shows produced in Chicago and distributed across the nation on NPR. BEZ is the local station here in Chicago, and is the station that both Dave Seminara (an Evanston resident) and I listen to every day.

Their "Morning Shift" program caught wind of the article "10 Suburbs That Don't Suck" by Mr. Seminara last week and interviewed him for the show. Take a listen to the full story below.

Live Feed: Watch Felix Baumgartner Make The Highest Skydive In History

Update: October 14th, 2012, 1322: A successful jump! Congratulations to Felix and the Stratos crew!

History is being made this morning in Roswell, New Mexico, as Felix Baumgartner rises quickly through the atmosphere to in a specialized helium balloon.

This is the team's third attempt after weather conflicts during the week. Mr. Baumgartner plans to break the record for the highest and fastest skydive, rising to an altitude of 120,000 feet before falling from the sky. For the mission he's been outfitted with a special space suit that will supply oxygen and pressure during the flight, and he'll wear that throughout the fall.

More than the record for highest skydive is on the line though. If successful, Mr. Baumgartner will be the first human being to cross the sound barrier during free fall, reaching a speed of over 700MPH.

The entire event is being live streamed (with a several second delay) at the above feed, and you can see more details over at the Red Bull Stratos page.

Godspeed, Felix.

Paris Versus New York In Animation

I've fussed about the differences between Paris and New York several times in my writing career (hint, nobody is rude) but few things make the comparison better than a side-by-side video. Tony Miotto did a great job with this one on Vimeo. Its beauties, I think, are in the subtleties of the comparisons, the way the design at the Parisian Louvre parallels that of the Apple Store in Manhattan or the ways that Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle are circuitously drawn by wandering airplanes.

There's so much happening that I had to watch the video several times to pick up on all of the quick comparisons. You should too. It's a great video.

ExpertFlyer Launches Seat Alert App

With airlines constantly reducing the number of free seats available at booking, more and more passengers are finding it impossible to guarantee seating when they purchase their tickets. Because of this, many travelers wait until they reach the airport to get a seat, resulting in parties being separated and less than ideal assignments near the back of the plane or in between other passengers.

The airlines take most of the fault for this, but there are a few neat tools to use if you want to get around the seat monster.

ExpertFlyer just released theirs for the iOS (Apple) platform. The tool basically takes a look at the seats available for each flight on which you're traveling then alerts you when something changes. So if you're stuck in a middle seat on UA 884, for example, you can ask the tool to search every day and then nudge you when a window seat opens up. The service is free, and is an extension of the greater offerings that ExpertFlyer provides.

Check out the iTunes page for more information.

Delayed Passenger Treated To VIP Service On Private Flight

When Brad Hartley checked his messages on Monday morning he wasn't expecting a private flight to New York City. The airline called to tell Mr. Hartley that his flight, originally scheduled to depart from Nashville at 7 that morning, had been delayed and that he could expect to leave around 10:30. But when he got to the airport, still an hour before departure, he noticed that something was awry.

"I finally went to the gate at 10:30 and nobody was there," he told Gadling last night. After waiting a few minutes he checked with the gate agent who told him that all of the other passengers on his flight had departed on different scheduled aircraft. He was the only passenger remaining, and after being personally escorted to the aircraft by the gate agent, he found a regional jet (pictured at right) all to himself.

Realizing the situation, the crew decided to give Mr. Hartley the VIP treatment, taking requests to play music over intercom before departure and referring to him as "Mr. President" occasionally during the trip.

Though he arrived several hours after his scheduled time, he didn't mind the delay. "Those guys were completely awesome today," he beamed on the phone. And though he admits he was excited when he posted an update to his friends and family on Facebook, he asserts that the crew were both professional and by-the-book.

An excited recount of his journey went viral on Reddit last night, where numerous users expressed amazement and elation at Mr. Hartley's good luck. Joked one user: "I'm sure the First Officer filled out the most exact Weight and Balance form of his career. Passenger: 1"

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