Sunday musings: WWII plane led to Mac, Affordable airports, Hotel tipping rules

This weekend, we look at how a series of crashes of a WWII bomber ended up starting the user-friendly revolution that led to the Macintosh computer. We take a look at the country’s more affordable airports. And, finally, we dive into the world of hotel tipping.

How the dumb design of a WWII plane led to the Macintosh and user-friendly design

After a series of crashes during WWII, the Air Force took a hard look at the problems. At first, it was determined that the crashes were pilot error. However, that didn’t seem to add up to inspectors. Later, they learned that since the shapes of all levers and knobs on the plane were the same, many pilots thought they were lowering landing gear but were really setting flaps.

That led to different types of knobs and handles for different aviation functions. It was the start of the user-friendly design world… Paul Fitts, a young psychologist at the Aero Medical Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, started the user-friendly journey.

ALSO IN TRAVELERS UNITED: You need to learn reasonable airline etiquette

Fitts’ data showed that during one 22-month period of the war, the Air Force reported an astounding 457 crashes. Each showed the pilot hiting the runway thinking everything was fine. But the culprit was maddeningly obvious for anyone with the patience to look. Fitts’ colleague Alfonse Chapanis did the looking. They started investigating the airplanes themselves. They talked to people about crashes. Sitting in the cockpits, they didn’t see evidence of poor training…

Click here to subscribe The reason why all those pilots were crashing was something else. When the B17 landed, the flaps and landing gear controls looked exactly the same. The pilots were simply reaching for the landing gear, thinking they were ready to land. And instead, they were pulling the wing flaps … and touching down with landing gear still tucked in.

…designing better machines meant figuring how people acted without thinking, in the fog of everyday life, which might never be perfect. You couldn’t assume humans to be perfectly rational sponges for training. You had to take them as they were: distracted, confused, irrational under duress. Only by imagining them at their most limited could you design machines that wouldn’t fail them.

These are the cheapest (and most expensive) airports in the US

It seems that when you find unbelievably cheap airfare you spend more than you saved on your Uber to the airport. Or, airport fees add up. By the time you’ve paid for a few days’ parking and the family’s luggage cart, you’re already out $50. It’s a sting that can take the wind out of the sails of your vacation. And, that’s before you’ve even taxied to the runway.

Flyers who can choose from what airport they depart can find just how much farther their dollar will go at one airport than another. That’s why, for the first time ever, The Points Guy evaluated 50 of the busiest airports in the U.S. to learn which ones offer travelers the best bargains. And, which ones could end up draining your wallet.

We calculate the most expensive and affordable airports in the nation. Common costs incurred by travelers at the biggest airports in the country (by passenger count) are considered. Analysis starts with the average price of domestic airfare, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. We also took into account the price of a baggage-cart rental (with lots of help from the people at Smarte Carte). Then, parking fees and how much it costs to take an Uber from the city center is considered. Finally, what you pay for a coffee at the airport Starbucks, or a comparable chain in airports without a Starbucks.

Here’s how much – and whom – you should be tipping at American hotels

To tip or not to tip: That is the question. Well, one of them.

Download Hotel Early Check-In ChecklistYou may be confused about if — and how much — you need to be tipping hotel staff, from the valet to housekeeping to the concierge.

“No one really has a clear picture,” Ann Sadie Osten, a travel advisor and president of Sadie’s Global Travel, which specializes in luxury travel, tells USA TODAY.

When in doubt, tipping is a better idea than not. How much you tip depends on the type of accommodation. The consistent rule across hotels: Bring cash.

A shuttle service to and from the hotel should … be between $1 to $2 per person in tips or $4 to $5 per party. Osten recommends spending between $5 and $15. If it’s two people, up it to $10 to $20. The amount depends on the individual’s helpfulness.

READ ALSO: A simple airline overbooking solution

You don’t see tipping as much at hotels that don’t have concierge service. If a front desk attendant helps you out a lot, of course, tipping would be a nice gesture. You can also tip housekeeping here, too, though it is not expected.

Make sure you know the typical tipping procedure wherever you’re traveling. Formal rules don’t exist around the world, even from hotel to hotel. “There are certain countries where it’s not a standard practice to tip, and it’s not in their culture whatsoever, so it’s not required or expected.”

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