Talk like Sully

Its time we learn to communicate. Lets email (and talk)  like Sully.


When advised to return to LGA, Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger III  simply answered “UNABLE” and got on with his business of saving 155 lives.

I recommend we use Pilot Radio Communications Phraseology and Techniques for our business communications. It may not sound friendly or polite, but it lands millions of planes a year successfully. So, entrepreneurs, investors, managers, employees, customers, salesmen, consultants, accountants and even lawyers – listen up!

Use these general rules from the world of aviation:

  1. Phraseology is the mark of a professional … reviewed from time to time to sharpen your communication skills.
  2. Listen before you transmit.
  3. Think before keying your transmitter. Know what you want to say and if it is lengthy; jot it down.
  4. Use figures in round numbers

I suggest using these key phrases. I have modified the definitions slightly to be applicable to us non-pilots:


ACKNOWLEDGE- Let me know that you have received my message

ADVISE INTENTIONS- Tell me what you plan to do.

OUT- The conversation is ended and no response is expected.

OVER- My transmission is ended; I expect a response.

ROGER- I have received all of your last transmission. It should not be used to answer a question requiring a yes or a no answer.

HOW DO YOU HEAR ME?- A question relating to the quality of the communication or to determine how
well the communication is being received.

SAY AGAIN- Used to request a repeat of the last communication . Usually specifies communication or portion thereof not understood

I SAY AGAIN- The message will be repeated.

CORRECTION- An error has been made in the communication and the correct version follows.

STAND BY- Communication pause  to attend to other duties of a higher priority.



THAT IS CORRECT– The understanding you have is right.

NEGATIVE– “No,” or “permission not granted,” or “that is not correct.


WILCO– I have received your message, understand it, and will comply with it.

UNABLE– Indicates inability to comply with a specific instruction or request.


CLEARED AS FILED–  Proceed in accordance with the plan

ABORT– To terminate a preplanned maneuver

DELAY INDEFINITE (REASON IF KNOWN)– Used when an accurate estimate of the delay time and the reason for the delay cannot immediately be determined

RESUME OWN NAVIGATION– Used to advise a pilot to resume his/her own responsibility.

VERIFY– Request confirmation of information; e.g., “verify assigned altitude.”

WHEN ABLE– When used in conjunction with instructions, gives the latitude to delay compliance until a condition or event has been reconciled. Unlike “pilot discretion,” when instructions are prefaced “when able,” the pilot is expected
to seek the first opportunity to comply.


ON COURSE – Used to indicate that an aircraft is established on the route centerline.

OFF COURSE– A position fix is reported or is observed at a point not on the approved

FINAL– On the final approach,  course is aligned with a landing area.

REPORT– Used to instruct pilots to advise of specified(real time)  information; e.g., “Report passing Las Vegas


EXPEDITE– Compliance is required to avoid the development of an imminent situation.

IMMEDIATELY– Compliance is required to avoid an imminent situation.

EMERGENCY– A distress or an urgency condition


Note the flow and use it to get things done in the world of business (but keep things in perspective – Sully never used Emergency or Mayday):

Expedite -> Immediately -> Emergency -> Mayday

Please note that I modified the definitions slightly. The original is here.

Finally, so as not to confuse “Talk like Sully” text (aka TLS) from other text in the body of the email, it is suggested to use CAPS. Since ALL CAPS is considered “yelling”, I suggest prefacing the terms with “*” (conviniently located on the number pad to the left of your cup of coffee).

Now back to the usual topics of this blog – airfare savings, frequent flyer info and some New England vacation ideas.
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More Israel Airfare Deals – ElAl, Air France, Delta, Everyone

It seems like the weak economy combined with drop in price of oil left the airlines with no choice but to reduce fares. ElAl’s website and promotional emails list so many deals – I have to pinch my computer to make sure I am not dreaming.  Besides the ElAl Spontani deals ($599 to US), they have deals valid on election day only, deals for residents of the south, etc.. I gave up trying to make sense of it – but you can buy tickets for as far off as the summer and get prices hundreds of dollars lower than last year.

The European carriers seem to be in the $650 to $800 range to New York. Air France has the lowest airfare between Israel and New York and you can spend some time in Paris, to boot. And Delta can do the trip for $775, includes luggage, fuel, water, pillows, the works. The jet age is back!

Equally amazing – Delta can get you  to the West Coast or Orlando for $800.

I will have to update the status of using ElAl Bonus tickets. The fuel surcharge went down, but the spread between bonus (“free”) tickets and paying got much closer.

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Israel FAA downgrade – Fire Shaul Mofaz!

Unfortunately, I was wrong in my November, 2008
post. I am shocked that Israel was, in fact, downgraded to a category 2 country. And there is no category 3 – we are as bad as it can get. Here is the FAA’s press release. And some discussion in the blogosphere.

I am further shocked this has been getting almost no press in Israel (small article in Sunday’s Calcalist on page 6 by Yasmin Gil – compared to a page 4-5 spread about a cleaning company that is going bust!). The Wall Street Journal did think it was important, though. No mention in Jerusalem Post.

And, I am further shocked that the FAA gave Israel enough warning to avoid this and did not succeed. I guess Transportation minister Shaul Mofaz is convinced that his re-election is much more important to Israel than the future of Israel aviation and tourism, not to mention our safety.

In Israel, we do have a tendency to underestimate threats to our safety (crazy drivers, Iranian dictators, Missile shooting fanatics and Amira Hess), and this one is quite serious. Israel is now a full fledged member of this club:

Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Croatia, Ghana, Guyana, Indonesia, Nauru, Philippines, Serbia and Ukraine.

What does it mean on a practical level? It means that Israeli carriers cannot expand service to the US. Its unclear what this does to codeshares. Of course, it means much more – it means that the FAA feels that the day-to-day oversight by the Israel government regulatory agencies are not enough to monitor safety.

What this is not:

  • Not political like the annual UN condemnation of Zionism
  • Not some silly bureaucratic issue – like ISO 9000
  • Not a minor issue blown up by the press
  • Not a statement about Israel’s airline security, still considered best in the world
  • Not a condemnation of any specific airline
  • Not a reason to skip your next meeting in Palo Alto or a romantic getaway in Southern California

But it is a very serious error made by the transportation ministry (among others), which citizens of Israel should know about. And, by the way, Mofaz is also in charge of Israel Road safety. Fire him!!!


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Europe Family Vacation in 4 Hours

Readers complained that I got political with my gaza post. Sorry, but we did have a war. Back to the spirit of this blog – tips for the frequent flyer to the US.

Looking around for the best airfare to the States often results in a stopover in Europe. If the stopover is more than 5 hours you can “Do Europe” (or at least one city). This is aimed at families – business people should stay in the airport and polish up the PPT and couples might get more out of Paris by spending a whole weekend. Four basic rules:

  • Check bags all the way (and get boarding passes)
  • Take almost no carryons
  • Figure out in advance (down to the level of the train schedule and stops) how you will get in and out of the airport
  • Bring Euros

If you tried this in the past and it didn’t work, try again. Because:

  • Airport Transportation is really good in many European cities (but expensive)
  • Europe is too expensive for a real trip
  • Kids will remember 3 hours in Paris as if they were there for a week
  • Not enough time to buy gifts for everyone – a four hour trip might yield as much as a 4 day trip with shopping
  • Its really not much fun waiting in the airport for 6 hours
  • What used to be considered a primitive American style of “Doing” Europe is now quite cool.

I have tested two of these trips on my own family in the past year. We Did Paris (6 hr) and Rome (3 hr).

We arrived in Paris at midnight and grabbed a rented car (no good late night public transport). Took a nighttime tour of the Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe, The Louvre, Notre Dame, The Sienne. The highlight was Ice Cream at McDonalds on the Champs Elysees. Everything else was closed (saved loads on admission). Back to the airport and after a short nap – ready for the 7am flight.

Rome was public transport. 30 minute train to the city followed by a walk past the Coliseum, Forum, the Synagogue and lots of monuments. Highlight was Ice Cream at the Trevi Fountain. We had planned on hitting a second country in the 4 allotted hours – but there was a train strike which caused us to lose some time – so we cut the Vatican.

Anyone interested in the detailed plans, contact me. Or tell me some of your “4 hour Europe” experiences. And by the way, Google now has walking directions. Here is how one might walk from Rome to Paris.
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The Great Lakes are Not So Great

At least according to Air Canada Jazz. Eh?

The airline decided to save fuel by getting rid of the LIFE VESTS. As anyone flying from Toronto knows, planes fly over the Great Lakes. Eh? But they are not so “Great” and all routes are less than 50 miles from shore, so life vests are a luxury the airline can no longer afford. Eh?

Other than that – Jazz is a good airline. This fall you may want to fly them to New York for Fall Colors, to see Virginia Fall Foliage, but not Colorado Fall Foliage.
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ElAl and American Airlines codeshare – LY (El Al) and AA

Almost as long awaited as peace in the middle east, the ElAl / AA codeshare seems to be picking up some steam. ElAl announced that it starts Sept 2. AA has not mentioned it on its website and the other flyer forums have not really got excited yet. There will be a more detailed post later on, but here are the key benefits to our readers:

1. Single ticket Tel Aviv to many US destinations (may be via Europe). Baggage gets checked all the way through. Now may be the chance to see the Adirondack Fall Foliage or Pennsylvania Fall Colors.

2. Possibly better use/accrual of miles. Remember that when dealing with ElAl points, “better” is a relative term. Here is a list of EL AL points you can get on AA, ranging from 240 points for First Class – London to Los Angeles to 5 measly points for lowest class New York to Pittsburgh. AA has not provided information on what changes on their side.

3. Access to AA lounges for Business Class travelers.

*** Details to follow ****

And to my friends at ElAl – The city in NJ was not named after Noah’s boat of biblical fame. Its Newark not “New Ark”. And San Francisco is hard to spell – good thing you tried a few options. Anyone want to volunteer their high school student to proof ElAl’s English Website?

Codeshares may mean lounge access – we like lounges and we discuss how. In SFO, there is enough to do at the airport and you might just find yourself sleeping on a floor at JFK.

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How Olmert, Peres and Bibi get El Al Platinum Status

From Yesterdays Yediot, here is how Israel’s leaders are doing with their ElAl miles (as of 2005):

President Shimon Peres – 6250 (thats only 73/year)

Olmert – (the envelope, please….) – 4788 points

Bibi – 660 points (don’t you get points for marrying a stewardess?)

Shaul Mofaz – 0 points

Zohar Zisapel – 1618 points

Why should my loyal TLV2JFK readers care?

1. Kind of scary that your personal data gets into Yediot

2. These guys all managed to get Platinum or Gold level membership, which gets all kind of nice things. Most of us need to fly almost every week to get to that level. Mofaz got it on ZERO points. So, there is some way to bully ElAl into getting (or keeping) Elite status. Let us know when you find out how.

Glutton for punishment? – More posts on ElAl Frequent Flyer Program – general, freddie awardcitibank and more. Or just read about continental.
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