Top Five Worst Travel Stories of the Week

AirTran plastered a pinup on the nose of one of its 737s -- a picture of a spike-heeled swimsuit model, part of a publicity stunt celebrating the airline's partnership with Sports Illustrated.

The effect is kind of similar to a World War II B-24 adorned with a rendering of the pilot's best girl, but some AirTran flight attendants didn't think it was funny. Their association released a statement saying the bathing beauty was offensive to female employees and didn't do much to help the airline's "family image" either.

Upside: The promotion will end shortly, and the pinup plane will soon be pristine again.

#5: Two Sad Retirements

US Airways Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, of "Miracle on the Hudson" fame, announced his retirement. And the music video saga of "United Breaks Guitars" has also come to an end.

Capt. Sully, you'll recall, was the cool and composed pilot whose training and skills saved a planeload of passengers when his engines flamed out and he gently landed his plane in New York's Hudson River.

Dave Carroll soared to fame after his guitar broke during a United flight and the airline wouldn't do anything about it. So he began composing a three-song saga, detailing the airline's shortcomings, which became a YouTube favorite. His final music video was released last week.

Upside: Carroll points out in the lyrics of Song #3 that, "They're not all bad apples at United; some of them are only slightly bruised" -- so I guess the airline can breathe easier. And Sully will continue to speak out on safety, as he proved recently by gently admonishing a TMZ cameraman shadowing him outside an airport to "get out of the traffic." Another life saved.

Honorable Mention: "Stewardess" Stereotypes

At first glance, the new reality show "Fly Girls," featuring attractive Virgin America flight attendants, wouldn't seem to belong on anyone's "worst" list, unless you're concerned with stereotypes. Here's a description of the series from the creative types:

"Real, down-to-earth young women who happen to have landed in an exceptionally glamorous, high-flying career filled with exotic locations and handsome strangers."

I bet real flight attendants are laughing themselves silly over that "glamorous" part -- or they would if they weren't so busy with the safety instructions and hustling those drink carts down the aisles.

Upside: If past audiences are any indication, this show could be a big hit: in the publicity photos released last week, we saw that the cast includes a pretty blond named Farrah. Deja vu, anyone?

This work is the opinion of the columnist and does not reflect the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.

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