Travel tips

Traveling on a whim

A few travel tips for the average person

Traveling to another country can be fun and exciting. its can also be scary if its done without any research. Use these travel tips to get ahead of the rest of the travelers and make the most of your vacation!
  1. If you haven’t been to the place your visiting before and didn’t get a true recommendation from a friend.  Book a single night at the hotel and test it before commiting to a whole week. It’s better to find out what the hotel is like before getting stuck. I know I personally need a comfy bed. I’ve booked extra nights and was stuck with a stiff bed. Now I get one night and try it out. If its good, I’ll then book the week. If the area is going to be booked then you might consider sucking it up and getting the week if needed.
  2. Know the rules of the land: in Buenos Aires it’s common for foreigners to get scammed right away when arriving at the airport. I wish I knew this before I arrived and got robbed by that scum of the earth bastard! I hope he crashes in a fiery blaze of death! In Ireland we had to figure out how to rent a car and how to drive on the wrong side of the road.

777 engineRESEARCH

  1. Arrive during the day if at all possible. Do not arrive at night. Know your surroundings. Arriving in Buenos Aires at night and getting robbed by cabbie…. would have been much scarier. Glad we took the red eye and arrived at 0900.
  2. Know if a cab driver grabs your phone to give you pointers about losing your phone… You can bet he is making sure you are not photographing him! I sure wish I took photos of him the cab plate and my money before I got in the cab. That’s a fact!!
  3. Your idea of one place and reality can be two separate things. Check in with friends etc. do your research.
  4. In the US you can only buy water after security and take on the plane. In Argentina you cannot. I bought water after security and it was taken from me. When I got on the plane they told me I could’ve taken the water. Of course I wasn’t about to argue with anyone right before I’m finally leaving.

CRJ TailUSE OF TECH

  1. Google Street view: Use it to know the streets you will be staying at. You could think your staying at a nice hotel. We booked a 4 star hotel that was located on a side street filled with homeless, cracked streets and sidewalks. Street view helped pick our second one.
  2. Google Maps: Download offline maps. You can download an entire area and have it saved on your smartphone. This is probably one of the best travel tips I could offer you.  When traveling abroad the use of cell service especially data can be pricey. You can download these maps and use google maps even when your phone is in airplane mode. You will still receive location and can still get directions even in airplane mode. All without data, saving you money!
  3. Google translate: Download offline languages. Same idea here you can download languages and still communicate in a country where you don’t speak the language.
  4. Have an extra iphone or ipod laying around? Use it as your offline companion. I wish I used just some of these travel tips before I went to Argentina.

Have more travel tips?  Write a blog post for us or send us your travel tips and we will consider adding them.

Be careful of Taxis in Buenos Aires!

Taxi (Cab) Experience in Argentina

While on a flight to Buenos Aires (BA) Argentina from Dallas, TX, USA,  I was speaking with the Captain of the 777 airplane about things we should do in the city. He suggested we watch the taxi drivers- and specifically our MONEY. He said, ‘You will pay them- then you will lose sight of the cash for a split second- then they will give you back counterfeit bills.” He continued to say we should take photo’s of our bills BEFORE we give any to them.

I should have taken pictures of our currency right there while sitting in first class. However, the red eye wasn’t the best place to be laying out bills and flashing lights while everyone around me was sleeping, so I waited.

When you travel to a new destination, you aren’t always thinking the worst. I always give people my trust until it’s taken, then it’s pretty hard to earn back. So I was more focused on the fun that awaited us in Argentina rather than being on high alert not to trust the locals.

Arrival in Buenos Aires

We landed, got past customs and immigration without any difficulty, then it was time to get a ride to our hotel to hopefully check in early. We’ve been up over 22 hours and crossed 5 time zones all we want to do is get to hotel. We walked past baggage claim (past hundreds of people in lines getting car services) and followed the signs for taxi’s just outside the airport.

We, being the trusting Americans we are, were glad to see a line of people waiting to “help” us.

Next, this guy approaches us to ask if we need a taxi. I tell him we do and he walks over to the taxi stand and grabs a “ticket” for us. We wait a few minutes until a cab is flagged down and pulls up to the curb to get us. The driver loads up our bags and we get in. The ticket guy then asks me for a tip. “Tip Tip” he says. All he’s done is walk us from the taxi stand (100 feet) to a line of cabs. ?? Nevertheless, we give him 2 US dollars and are on our way.

On the drive

In the back seat, I pull out a wad of Cien Pesos (100 Argentinian Pesos) to check my money. I then notice the driver was fiddling with his own money as we started to drive away. I didn’t put two and two together until much later that night, but this started our drive from hell off.

Thinking my driver was watching the road as he drove, I laid out my money on my lap and took a photo of the cash I had. Jen (my girlfriend) asked quietly what I was doing. I wrote my reply on my phone and showed her so we were more discreet. After a few minutes, we start conversing with the driver. He has very broken english (if any) and we speak very broken Spanish. Either way, we are communicating and it seems to be a nice conversation.

The 30 min ride into BA seemed okay at first. The driver was trying his best (or acting his best) to give us pointers to stay safe in the area. At one point he turned around, and grabbed my phone and pointed to it and said to be careful with my cellular. People drive by on motorbikes and grab them out of peoples hands, he tells us. I did NOT like that he took my phone but I was thinking this guy was nice and just trying to help us out.

Prior to coming to Buenos Aires, I downloaded offline maps on google maps to have map access without wifi (Great traveling tip by the way!). According to my map, we were getting close to the hotel and I asked him how much the ride was. He said “$550 pesos”. I pulled out $700 so we were ready when it was time to pay. We got about a block away from the hotel and he pulls the car over on the side of the road.

He tells us the hotel is just on the corner down the block and he can’t drive that way because it’s a one-way street. I give him the money and his tone and demeanor completely changes. He begins to YELL (inside the car) some crap in Spanish at a rate only a native speaker would understand. Little did I know this is part of the process to steal from us!

The next few minutes are extremely stressful and has Jen gripped with fear.

The Setup

This asshole is yelling at us with his fast speaking Spanish and the only thing we are getting out of it is “blah blah blah pesos”.

“BLAH BLAH BLAH PESOS!”. He grabs the stack of extra money in my hand (about 1,000 pesos or 10 x 100 peso bills) and counts it in front of me as he is yelling. He separates the colorful bills with the older looking bills. STILL SCREAMING AT US -he hands me back the money and says something about a ‘banco’. He is screaming at us to try and get us to go to the bank.

Jen is afraid and has opened an envelope of money she had in her purse to offer him a few more pesos to let us get out and go. The Scum of the earth asshole driver (SOTEAD) leans over and is looking from the drivers seat to try to eyeball what kind of stack she has. He then continues yelling and reaches over to grab all the money from her!  I say in a loud voice, “NO NO NO” putting my hand over Jens purse. He turns around leaning in the middle of the car and grabs the stack of money anyway.

At this point we are both thinking just get us out of here, this SOTEAD is freaking nuts!

The Robbery

He holds the stack of money high in the car showing me all of it, pulls out half and begins to count it. After he counts out 5 bills he hands the stack back to me with the 5 bills on top. Little did I realize he has just switched half the stack for another stack (he took two 100 bills and sandwiched a bunch of 5’s in the middle earlier on the ride). So he snatched and switched the stack we had, and hands Jen a small portion she can keep.

Mind you, he has been yelling at us for quite some time now in the car and we just want to get out of this car and into our hotel to safety.

We don’t know if he has a weapon on him or if he is going to take more. But when you are in a foreign country and have a guy screaming at you in a cab and literally grabbing money out of your hand (while refusing to take you to your hotel) all you want to do is get to safe people. He’s not just acting ‘upset’… this man is acting like a crazy lunatic. Jen thinks he is angry because we are not going to a bank like he wants us to.

We are released…

His demeanor changes when he opens the door to get on the public street. He gets out of the car and gets our bags out the back. He is not yelling on the street at us. We get our stuff and think its a good idea to get off the street as no other people are in sight. We powerwalk to the nearest hotel and walk inside. Shaken for sure we pull out our phones trying to figure out where our hotel is and what to do at this point.

We had no idea how much money he got away with but are shaken up because this SOTEAD was just screaming at us and dumped us on the side of a road that is empty. We are in the middle of the city but the streets are shockingly empty where he has taken us. The Starbucks next door is closed and there isn’t a soul in sight except for a homeless person or two hanging around watching us.

We figure out the direction of the hotel we are staying at and start our walk down the one way street.

The sidewalks are rugged and the smell of feces and garbage fills the air. It’s horrid but we have to get to our hotel on foot and want to do this quickly, as we can tell, we aren’t in a safe area.

We find our hotel and hurry inside. We find the front desk and luckily a guy speaks english. They say they will do their best to get us a room before normal check in time but can’t promise anything. We sit in the lobby and catch our breath.

In the lobby

We started talking about what just happened. We wondered what the entire thing was all about and why the SOTEAD was nice one moment then just flipped on us. But he knew what he was doing. He targeted us. I figure he stole about $200 American dollars worth of brand new pesos.

It wasn’t the amount of money he took, but the dramatic experience we just had created fear in us and I begin to look for flights home. We were rethinking our safety in BA and Jen was afraid.

After some time we began to think about what else could have happened.

We could have been robbed for all our money, passports, electronics and clothes. We could have been driven to a spot where his friend met us with guns and threatened and our families made to send more money. There are SO many things that could have happened that were worse than what actually took place. But nevertheless we still felt cheated, threatened, and now are angry at every taxi cab driver driving by. But bottom line is we were safe now, unharmed, and now were around kind Argentinian people.

Afterward

The next few days of our trip were like a whole new world. Met some great Argentinian people and saw some amazing things.

This blog, while detailed, is hard to convey the fear we experienced. To be in a foreign place and have someone behind the wheel of the car you are in screaming at you, demanding money, on a street where no one else is around, was one of the scariest ordeals to go through. If our experience can help any traveler be smarter and not experience what we did, then we feel at least we made a difference by sharing this information.

See the blogs for more suggestions and tips when traveling on a whim as we post more insightful info.

Top gadgets to travel with

If you travel often for work the following are suggestions to make your trip a little more fun.

Bose noise cancelling headphones: the reason I

bose headphones choose Bose headphones is simple. They are lightweight and simply the best on the market. You can do your own research on this, you will find Bose is at the top every poll.  Some come close, but for me it was a no brainier.  Buy the best. I fly for a living and commute to work so having some peace and quiet while riding to work is key. If your a business traveler I highly recommend these for both listening to some tunes or watching a movie on your iPad.

iPad, iPhone or tablet: most of you will be reading this article on your phone, tablet or laptop. So this almost goes without saying. When traveling its key to have one of these. Trade in that flip phone!

 Personal network, travel router: when its time to unwind at the hotel I use my hootoo personal travel router to connect all my devices to the hotel network. With just a few clicks I’m able to connect my wireless network to the hotels wireless network. Then my iPhone, iPad, laptop and chromecast all connect instantly. Speaking of chromecast.

 Chromecast: allows me to watch Netflix, Hulu, and any other online streaming services directly on the hotel TV. Note without the travel router you probably won’t be able to connect the chromecast to the hotel network. Without having internet the chromecast is basically useless. I switched to the amazon firetv and really like it better than chromecast…
  Bluetooth speaker: I have found the perfect app that blocks almost all noise at the hotels. It’s called “white noise” and you can find in the App Store or google play store. This app when attached to your Bluetooth speaker will eliminate the noise from the party across the hall. I’ve heard kids running up and down the hallways while in my room watching a movie but as soon as the white noise app turns on its nighty nighty time. I use the mini jambox its small and packs plenty of sound into the small package.

 Travel power strip: I travel with the belkin mini travel strip. It allows me to quickly setup my chargers for phone and Bluetooth speakers and allow me extra outlets if needed.

 Laptop with Plex media server installed: if you have a large library of movies and TV shows. Look at installing Plex media server on your laptop. Once installed you will need to install the Plex app on your phone. With all these gadgets connected you have a full library of media on your hotel TV. It’s very easy.

 If your like me and have dry sinuses get yourself a small travel humidifier. I like to think of mine as a gadget because of its small size and cool blue lights that glow in the night.

Finally, while not a gadget dont forget those anti backterial wipes, neck pillows and if you get cold a nice fleece.  Did you know the tray table has more germs on it than the bathrooms do? All according to LA times, USA today and some other news outlets.

Note: some hotels block the HDMI port on the back of the tv which will not allow you to use Chromecast. Other hotel chains will not allow you to connect the travel router to their network. Although most of the hotels I’ve been to will allow you to connect both. Good luck with these gadgets and safe travels to you all. 

Laser attacks on aircraft!

No this isn’t a post about Star Wars style lasers shooting planes out of the sky. Phew phew! But rather a child’s toy that can do actual damage and make flying less safe. These attacks are becoming more and more frequent. 

The three major NYC airports are each seeing more laser strikes this year than last. LaGuardia had 54, JFK had 17 and Newark had 18 through Oct. 17, according to the FAA. The site LaserPointerSafety.com noted that 3,894 laser illuminations were reported to the FAA in 2014 up from just 46 in 2004 when they became mandatory to report. 

  

Public domain photo from the U.S. FAA, showing how a laser beam spreads over long distances and can fill the windscreen.
Public domain photo from the U.S. FAA, showing how a laser beam spreads over long distances and can fill the windscreen.

These small toy lasers that most people would buy to play with their cat can be very dangerous when pointing at aircraft. Not only can they temporarily blind the pilots but some of the more powerful ones can burn the retina of the eye. CBS news reported a story about a ferry boat captain having his eyes burnt by one of these lasers back in October 2015. 
Message to the users:

While these toys can be fun to use with your cat or at night in the woods… Use extreme caution when playing with lasers. If you point them at any moving vehicle, person, plane etc you can and will be prosecuted and possibly jailed. More and more incidents where people are pointing towards aircraft are being caught. The FAA is not taking these cases lightly. 

For pilots: ALPA encourages us to report laser strikes at www.alpa.org/resources 

So you want to be a pilot…

12,000' flying east

In 1998 a friend of mine came to me and asked if I wanted to learn how to fly… He knew I always wanted to be a pilot. He needed the hours instructing and I had the desire to learn. I thought maybe I can get my pilot license and just fly north to go snow skiing instead of driving the four hours… Little did I know I would make a career out of it.

looking out the window of Airbus
Riding to work

He said if I rent the plane he would teach me for free. I’m getting free instruction (usually about $30/hr maybe more these days)  with my friend and he’s building his flight time to move on to the next level.

When you start your pilot career you are always trying to build time. When you first start out you trying to build solo time, then instrument time, then multi-time etc… Let me explain that.

So he’s getting to build his experience by teaching me how to fly and we are both saving money in the process. Seems like a win-win for us both! We met up and went to the local airport to start building flight time. Just ten short hours of flight instruction over the course of a few weeks and I was hooked! I always knew I wanted to fly but never really knew how to get started. I didn’t realize it was this easy… just drive on down to the local airport and find a flight school. A quick internet search will bring up the closest one to you.

Looking down at NYC at night.
NYC at night

They are located at almost every small airport imaginable… The schools are always willing to help out because they want to sell you the time to keep their business profitable, but every experienced instructor I’ve met truly has the desire and passion to help. The ones who have been there seem to have that natural desire to help people. Most of the guys there are building flight time to move on to the next step. Whichever that is for them. Flying for a private owner, flying for a charter company, flying for the airlines or possibly to fly their own plane. We all have “the next step” almost everything in life has this. For all pilots, there is always something to do when you get more flight time… for private owners once you reach x hundred hours or x thousand hours you might lower you deductible or lower your insurance payments. For charter and airline pilots, you need a certain amount of hours before you can upgrade to the bigger plane or move to the captain’s seat. For airlines, for instance, you must fly as a first officer for 1,000 hours in the airline environment before you are eligible to go to upgrade training and become a captain.

If you want to be a pilot be prepared to be hooked. It’s pretty addicting once you catch the aviation bug. Once I started I knew I wanted to do this full time so I started selling all the toys I had. Motorcycle, gone. Truck, Gone, Car, gone. Cheaper car purchased and off to a four-year aviation college. No bills equal more flight time. More credit cards equal more flight time. Once I racked up as much flight time as I could get with all my ratings needed to be a professional pilot plus a college degree I was off to fly for a living…

photo taking about 12,000' near Portsmouth, NH looking east towards the atlantic
Looking towards the Atlantic Ocean

That can be an entirely different article so I’ll save that for another time. For now just know it’s easy to get started, the flight schools all have access to loans. Be careful what you get yourself in though. This field is very expensive to get started and the payout doesn’t come for a long time. be prepared to work for low pay for a while, be prepared to live on the road, make sure you significant other understands you will be gone often. It’s not all fun and games when you start flying for a living its hard work traveling all the time. Eating on the road and living out of a small suitcase. But it’s very rewarding. Just know eventually the pay will be there. The life isn’t for everyone that’s for sure. The flight school staff want to share the beauty of flight with us all. They will find a way to help you with the cost of it all. again, it’s not cheap but its possible and its a dream come true.

 

Enjoy your journey!

 

What is too much travel?

When is it too much travel? I’ve been on the road for years now and I always wonder when I’ll have enough travel.
So many lonely nights at small hotels with very limited services. Eating dinners alone when you don’t have a good crew to “hang” with. Walking around the area just to walk and try to overcome boredom.
Traveling is fun for most. My question is when is too much? Whether you are a business man/woman who travels often or just someone who loves to travel. When is too much?

Luckily I personally haven’t hit the too much mark but I wonder when I will. Leave some comments below if you’ve hit the too much travel mark before.

No more Brasilias…

Soooo many Brasilias parked on the ramp at FAT Fresno Air Terminal airport. It’s crazy to see so many just sitting there. I used to fly these airplanes for a charter company all over the country. We had planes in NY, CA and OH. Flying them for sports teams and for public charters. Had some really great times flying these birds. It’s sad to see so many of them just sitting now.  I think the public sees a propeller powered airplane now and thinks it’s not as safe as a jet.

While this could be argued on both sides you can’t deny the cost savings of a turbo-prop vs jet airplane. Turboprops are just mini turbine engines that sip fuel and provide great power to the propeller. I took this photo while taxiing for departure as a passenger. I believe this is a maintenance facility for Skywest airlines, I don’t know any other provider of so many of these EMB-120 Brasilias.

 

Miserable life? Happiness pre-check available! 

Image by artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Getting to fly people around the country, I absolutely LOVE what I do for a living!

Though we all strive for more money in life to live abundantly, for me that will come hopefully sooner than later as Image by cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.netairline pilots make significantly less income than the public is aware of. But despite whether I earn a generous salary or earn peanuts, no matter the tax bracket I’m functioning in,  I still choose to live my life with happiness!

According to the people closest in my life, this happiness ideal exudes from both my personal and professional life. Often creating a warm persona with my coworkers, to humorous adventures with friends, to random smiles given to strangers, I try to live daily by choosing happiness.

For this reason, I often wonder how some people get through life living just….unhappy.          I mean, I feel it’s a personal choice in how someone chooses to conduct themselves at work/ in family life/ etc. despite their circumstances which could be gravely negative.

I believe people possess this ability to make the choice to be happy despite their situation.

If life seems difficult, just remember….. things could always be worse. Example: think of the worst thing that could happen to you in your life right now (loss of a home, a family member passes away, you wrongfully go to prison, you lose your job, a spouse leaves, your child runs away). Now add to it a broken bone, or a horrific skin condition that prevents you from being able to receive hugs, a tumor, cancer, complete memory loss, blindness, etc .  No matter what your original issue was, if you add the physical pain into the equation … things could be drastically worse.

Despite this exercise in happiness perspectives, I understand everyone has a bad moment from time to time. But as I divulge into a direct encounter with someone’s use of their own unhappiness to negatively impact others, this brief encounter puts into perspective just how astonishingly hurtful life can be when you are rude to others because of your own underlining issues. It also can cause an enormous amount of unprofessional-ism and liability when a disgruntled employee is representing a company name.

This was my direct hit by an airport employee:

Image by stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.netMost larger airports have what’s called KCM or known crew member privileges. This is a program where crew members who have been checked by TSA through government security background checks, can go through security in a much more relaxed environment. Most airports that do not have KCM access will allow crew members to use TSA pre check lanes. And most airports will at least give known crew members professional courtesy.But …..not the miserable human being that dealt with me this day.

Using the normal passenger screening line, I asked if I had to remove my laptop and shoes etc… The agent gave me a sarcastic yes of course you do. I then walked near the metal detectors accidentally setting one off.  The agent had such an immediate combative attitude and said because I set off the metal detector I would be required to have a full pat down. I kindly and calmly explained it was probably my belt, took it off, then walked through detector again.

This time the detector was silent. No security breach at all. In a larger airport where these discrepancies happen often, the passenger usually just passes through the metal detector and is then finished with security.

Yet this lady stated, quite condescendingly, that  I was still required to have a pat down. Not only was she going against the grain of normal procedure, but she was being unnecessarily nasty to me, Image by phasinphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.netas though I had personally offended her.

The next agent walked me through the pat down process but failed to mention he would be moving my nutsack from one side to the other in order to feel my legs. TWICE in the back then TWICE in the front. Oh yeah, then once more with the back of his hand along my penis.

Was all this seriously necessary? All because I’m a crew member who is NOT in uniform who needed to remove my belt? Would being in my uniform actually have made any difference? Or did this woman just decide to use her unhappiness full throttle against me for no reason?

Normally, when going through security in uniform, I’m allowed to bring water bottles and to leave my belt on. I’m allowed to walk through metal detectors with my shoes on. I’m given some professional respect. My badge has been earned with endless courses, hours and hours of study, oaths that I take pride in, and great sacrifices I made to get to this point in my career. To be treated SO disrespectful as an affiliate airline crew member, was beyond rude. It was literally unfathomable.

I’m not claiming I should be less “screened” as a crew member. I am however claiming that this particularly disgruntled  human being hand- picked me out of a larger group and focused solely on my demise. It was as though her intention was to make my experience miserable. To be frisked in a public setting with unnecessary roughness to my genitals was not only awkward, but honestly I was violated.

Things did not end there.

When mImage by Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.nety girlfriend and I couldn’t get on the first flight we had, we had four hours before the next flight out of this particular airport. I wanted to check on rental cars as a backup plan, so this caused us to have to go back a second time to security.

The second time through security, I told my significant other to keep a watchful eye on the psycho employee who put me through the wringer before.

We read the witches lips and she clearly said,”he is NOT crew”. As though she wanted to be superior to me.

I guess my badge means nothing to her, or to this smaller airport. Yet it allows me the right to walk through KCM at the most trafficked airports in the country. For an airport employee to ignore my badge that is to save me and others time and security concerns, defeats the purpose of the badge if it is to be ignored.

The second time I took off my shoes and belt, I  didn’t even bother showing my badge. I asked the screen technician if my iPad should be placed out of my bag. He told me no -it would be fine. But guess what happened on the other side of security? The disgruntled security woman attacked me again and this time wanted extra screening on my bag.

Are you serious I thought! It was so hard to keep my mouth shut at that point. I just smiled and said, “No problem”. Her claim now was that my bag was ‘cluttered’ and must be re-screened. I said, “It didn’t have to be re-screened last time, but okay, whatever makes you happy. ”
I wonder if some crew member that looked like me broke her poor little heart? What on earth happened to this woman for her to treat me witch such a vindictive attitude? In our brief encounter, it seemed as though she was just a miserable human being with a personal vendetta against me….a stranger.

My point is, is if you are like this witch of a person and simply miserable, you need to take a good look at yourself. A big part of ‘professionalism’ is to represent a company well despite however you may be feeling during the time of your work. Image by satit_srihin at FreeDigitalPhotos.netTo treat others appropriately, to exercise fairness to all, and to follow procedures accordingly is something you should do no matter your personal feeling crisis.
And just in case you think you know this difficult lady, she was of Asian decent from an area on the west coast that’s about a two hour drive to the ocean or three to the bay. She works for TSA obviously, and looks like she has enough years on her to know better.

Next time I’ll be going through her checkpoint, I’ll be wearing my uniform.

But no matter what unhappiness you may face in your own life, remember it could ALWAYS be worse. And of course, we all have bad moments or a bad mood in our day to day life every now and then. But your own unhappiness is not a valid reason to discriminate against people or to be purposefully rude and unprofessional.
Choose happiness. Choose to treat people with love and respect even if you are miserable in your own life. Choose happiness for your own sake and for the sake of others. And if you have a bad moment or are unkind to someone, have the integrity to apologize and make the situation right.

Whether you fly high in the sky, or clean toilets. Whether you run airport security or run a daycare, choose happiness and find something to be grateful for.

After all, success is not determined by what you do per say. It’s often determined by what you choose.

Aviation charts (jepps)

Does anyone know what this icon means?  

 I didn’t either when I was riding jumpseat on USAirways. I asked the flight crew who also didn’t know what it meant. Said its been there for a while. They just assumed it meant American. Well it’s almost true. Recently at my place of employment we were given upgraded charts. I found out the icon simply means this is an airline chart. Specially designed for use with airline pilots. I would guess any pilot could pay the extra for these charts but the icon itself means airline. As well as the squared off icon on the page numbers.  

 
I’m just glad I was able to answer my own question from a month ago when riding in the flight deck across the country.