Yowza Jason Dixon—your name should certainly be added to the list of ‘do not fly’ names after the little stunt you pulled on May 2.
According to this AOL Travel piece, 32-year-old Virgin Atlantic passenger Jason Dixon became so intoxicated on his flight from Britain to Jamaica that he somehow managed to become involved in a physical altercation with his seat mate (after she turned down his advances, of course), ripping off her clothes and yanking out her hair, and then causing nearly $40,000 in damages to the plane.
Sounds like a model passenger (and person). Really.
Bis bald, friends! In only 6-days time Steph and I will be Cabo-bound! Cannot wait!
Thank you, Mommyish, for turning me on to this crazy story about Air Canada turning away a 19-year-old boy because he had a peanut allergy.
This is my favorite part from the linked story above: “The comments (to a story about how April Burns son was turned away from Air Canada because of his allergy) focus on how far airlines should go to accommodate people with allergies. Some argue Air Canada had a right to deny her son a seat on the plane; others feel any accommodation was an imposition for other passengers.”
First I’d like to point out that those two points are basically the same thing—siding with Air Canada for their refusal to seat the child. Is no one on this kid’s side? What is he supposed to do, never fly because he’s allergic to peanuts?
Secondly, in what scenario would it be appropriate for a fellow passenger to kick up a stink about needing to skip his bag of peanuts (which, by the way, usually contain about 12 peanuts total, if you’re lucky) because a fellow passenger has a deadly allergy to them. How exactly would that go?
As a side note—the boy was on his way to Fiji where he was going to be volunteering for a few weeks.
As an additional side note, the boy had five EpiPens with him. One could therefore deduce that he was not placing the sole responsibility for his peanut allergy on the shoulders of Air Canada.
I feel enraged by this, but maybe that’s just me? Of course the boy would have to assume some of the risk of getting on a flight in general, knowing that other passengers may have peanut products on/with them, and that Air Canada cannot be held responsible for every single passenger on its plans. But to deny him a seat at all? That seems a bit off the mark, if you ask me.
Bis bald, friends! And don’t bother flying Air Canada if you’re allergic to peanuts!
The Wall Street Journal offers a glimpse into the incredible traveling tips of Alice Shin, the advertising copywriter from Miami who beat out 600 applicants to become the launch blogger for Pei Wei Blog Asia. For the job, Shin had to blog while on a three-week, all-expense-paid trip to eight cities in Asia.
Check out her helpful tips and steal some for your own.
I just saw this article and had to share—”The Obama administration said Wednesday it would start requiring airlines to refund baggage fees when luggage is lost as part of new rules that also target ticket surcharges and lengthy tarmac delays involving international flights.”
Sounds like a score to me! I am hesitant to even say this out loud, but I’m one of those lucky few who has never lost her bag in a flight. I can only imagine how frustrating that would be, though. Hopefully these rules will at least alleviate a little bit of that annoyance…
Rodent waste anywhere is gross, don’t get me wrong. But on a plane—that’s just wrong.
According to this WSJ article, Delta is going to need to keep up a bit more stringently with their cleaning practices after U.S. health regulators found rodent waste on a plane in Atlanta earlier this year.
According to the FDA letter, “numerous rodent excreta pellets” were found near areas of the plane where the food is prepared. Some were even found above door panels and passenger seats. Additionally, the “rodent excreta pellets” were “too numerous to count.”
Just ick! Unfortunately my press trip to Cabo was booked today, and guess who I’ll be flying with? Yup. Delta. Hopefully they’ll get their s*&% together (pun intended) before May.
In the wake of recent reports of air-traffic controllers sleeping on the job, Hank Krakowski, the head of the Air Traffic Organization at the Federal Aviation Administration, resigned today. The FAA has announced plans to beef up overnight controller staffing at 26 airports nationwide—but is it too little too late?
Does this story make you think twice about air travel?
As you all already know, I’ve jumped off the frequent flier miles bandwagon. At least I’ve jumped off the bandwagon I was currently hitched to—who’s to say if I’ll jump on another should the occasion arise?
There is, however, a compelling argument to actually use them in today’s NY Times frugal traveler. Take a peak for some sage advice.
Bis bald, friends! I’m off tonight to an informational session for Projects Abroad volunteer work. I will report back forthwith.
Well according to thisWSJ article, it’s true. For those of us who have ever been burned by airline miles (I’ve complained on at least one occasion, myself), apparently the airlines are dipping into a new way to make pay-offs—including plastic surgery, big-screen TVs, lawn tractors (?), and even dinner with the New York Yankees.
Seems odd, to me, but then again, I could use a big-screen TV?
Would you cash in your miles for something other than, you know, miles?
Well we did it, we booked a trip to Mexico. Cabo turned out to be a bit too far to trek for just a few days, so we went with the classic Cancun instead. Still, I’m beyond excited. It definitely gives us something to look forward to when it’s 9 degrees outside (seriously, it’s literally 9 degrees outside right now).
Anyway, we booked the all-inclusive RIU Cancun in what will allegedly be an ocean view junior suite. That definitely sounds like somewhere I want to be. And I’ve never done all-inclusive before (besides the Toilet-of-the Sea cruise to the Bahamas, of course), but they promise to include everything like daily meals and snacks, unlimited local and imported alcoholic beverages, regularly restocked minibar and liquor dispenser, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, hot tub access, access to sun loungers, parasols and towels, gym and sauna, nightclub entrance, tennis, non-motorized aquatic sports equipment, entertainment, taxes and gratuities. It sounds too good to be true. We did our research, though, and all the reviews seem to say that it really is what it says it is. I certainly hope so.
The only downside to the experience of booking the trip was discovering just how little our airline miles for United actually got us. First were the blackout dates and restrictions. We were able to book an outgoing flight that was pretty decent, but there was nothing available for purchase using our miles to get us home, so that meant we had to pay for it. Then there were tons of fees associated with booking with our miles. About $55/person, actually. All in all, using miles to book the trip probably saved us about half the cost, or a little more, but I was more than a little disappointed with the flight availability and the ridiculous fees. Next time, I think I’ll be booking with a different airline.
It’s not a totally new story— there are now 385 full-body scanners at 70 U.S. airports, with another 1,000 scanners planned by the end of the next year. There has been an uproar. People are mad. They feel defiled. They feel like this is American and what happened to our civil liberties? I mean, you’re practically naked on those things!
I know how my dad feels. He sent the family a long email on his sentiments—and they weren’t happy.
Me, I’m not sure where I fall in this argument. I’m all for things that will make me and other people feel safe when traveling. But to be honest, I’ve been on many a plane since 9/11, and I haven’t once felt unsafe.
And that was before full-body scanners.
So what’s the impetus? What’s the point in taking such drastic measures? And now with all this backlash, the Transportation Security Administration said today that they would reconsider the policy on passenger screening, although no immediate changes will be made. So what message does that send, exactly? We think this policy is important enough to use in the first place, but now that some people are complaining about it, we take it back?
What are your thoughts on the full body scan? Will you be getting one this Wednesday, one of the busiest travel days of the year for the U.S.? Click here to read a discussion on the NY Times about it.
Bis bald, friends! I’m headed upstate for Thanksgiving day and then to Jersey the day after for second Thanksgiving. Have fun wherever you’re headed!
There was a piece in the WSJ today about how certain European air officials are accusing the U.S. of imposing “useless and overly intrusive travel security measures.” These officials called certain practices “redundant” and “burdensome,” and even, in some cases, a violation of travelers’ privacy.
Now yes, I’ve complained about airport rules before. The lines are long. The fees are insane. The people can be rude. But the one thing that you won’t hear me complaining about is the security. Sure, it’s annoying to have to wait in a long line and take your shoes out and pull your laptop out of its case and occasionally be pulled over for a random search (yes, this has happened to me more than I care to remember), but I feel much better knowing that every single person around me is being held to the same standards of the search before boarding the same plane that I am getting on.
That’s not to say that there might not be some redundancies in the system, and that’s not to say that there isn’t ever any corruption, but at the end of the day I still say— if you’re going to give up something that’s redundant within the system, don’t make it within the security system.
In the article the British Airways chairman, Martin Broughton, is quoted as having said, “America does not do internally a lot of the things they demand that we do,” and calling on British authorities not to “kowtow to the Americans every time they want something done.” But the article doesn’t specify exactly what these “things” are that we don’t do here in the airports security-wise. We take off our shoes, too, Mr. Brougthon. We take our laptops out of our bags, Mr. Broughton. If you could be more specific, I know I’d certainly be interested to know what it is that we aren’t doing here (and if maybe we should be).
In case anyone out there was actually worried about the airlines (I mean, why would a company need to charge for crazy things like toilet usage if it was actually doing ok?), it appears they are actually doing okay. The third quarter results are in and—shockingly—the airlines actually made money off of us (insert gasp here).
Here’s the breakdown:
U.S. Airways: $420 million profit
United: $387 million profit
Continental: $354 million profit
Delta: $363 million profit
AirTran: $36 million profit
Southwest Airlines: $205 million
JetBlue: $59 million
And while I can’t imagine how much money it takes to actually keep an airplane in tip top shape (and believe me, we want them in tip top shape!), I still can’t help but wonder if all the wacky fees we’ve been hearing about as of late are really necessary….
In anticipation of my first ever solo trip to another country [yes, I know. Technically I can’t really consider it solo if I will only be alone for a little over 24 hours, but still…], I’ve spent the past two hours studying my Fodor’s ‘Munich’s 25 Best’ book, its maps, the subway…everything. And seriously—I’m getting pretty excited about it all. I’ve mapped out the route from the airport to the hotel, and then from the hotel to where I will start my walking tour for the day. And in honor of my new-found independence, let’s all marvel at the subway map that I figured out all on my lonesome:
Due to some unforeseen circumstances, it turns out that I will actually be spending a bit of time alone on my trip to Munich next week. I’ll be flying out myself, checking into the hotel myself, spending from Friday at 11 a.m. until Saturday at 6 pm. alone…
When I first found this out, I did everything I could to try to make it not happen. I tried desperately to convince sisters and friends to pick up the extra ticket and come with me. Last minute. Next weekend. To Munich.
As any sane person would mostly likely deduct, no one could make this happen that quickly.
And so, here I am. Traveling alone for the very first time. And I gotta say, as scary and daunting as it first seemed, I’m beginning to finally come around to it. So it will be an adventure. So I’ll be forced to figure out everything from flight transfers to directions to activities all by my lonesome. It will be the beginning of a new era—and if all goes according to plan, maybe this will become a new thing for me. Vacations just for me, only taking into consideration where I want to go? Could be that I’m on to something new….
Bis bald, my friends! (And I think I’d better learn a bit more German before I head off to Munich by myself next week than just that one phrase…I’ll have to work on that).
I cringe at the thought of writing yet another news item about the airline industry, but this one is just too good to pass up.
According to Travel Weekly, the Italian manufacturer Aviointeriors has finally done it—they have created and patented a stand-up seat for airlines that, they say, are getting “strong interest” from carriers around the world.
The seats would force passengers to half-sit, half-lean with their feet on the floor. The distance between the front of the seat and the back of the next row would only be 23 inches.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for innovation—and apparently these seats would be offered to passengers at a discounted price. But still, I don’t think I’d fly in this seat for free.
Well by now it’s practically old news. Poor flight attendant Steven Slater (yes, I say poor, and I’m sticking to it!) had just about had enough of the crankiness of certain passengers when he decided to depart the JetBlue flight into Kennedy International Airport on his own terms on Monday. The story goes that after Slater asked a passenger to remain seated until the appropriate time to get his baggage, the passenger ignored him and continued to pull down his luggage, which hit Slater on the head. When Slater asked for an apology, the passenger cursed at him. So, an irate Slater took matters into his own hands. He got on the plane’s public-address system and cursed the passenger out, all but gave his resignation, then activated the inflatable evacuation slide at a service exit and slid out of sight.
He even managed to grab a beer from the beverage cart before taking off to his home in Belle Harbor, Queens, where he was later arrested.
Unfortunately, as the NY Times article points out, this is just the latest in a string of violence and hostility between airlines and passengers. In fact, a new study by the International Air Transport Association that was quoted in the story found an increase in instances of disgruntled passengers and violence on planes, with the chief cause being passengers who refuse to obey safety orders.
So what’s the deal, people? I’m not saying every single flight attendant I’ve ever met has been all smiles and pleasantness (although, now that I really think of it, I can’t quite remember ever meeting a toxic flight attendant), or that sitting on a crowded plane with extra fees and no more peanuts is the best fun I’ve ever had either—but is that really the flight attendant’s fault? And why wouldn’t this man just stay. in. his. seat? If everyone else has to do it, why was he so special?
To add salt to the wound, a neighbor of Slater’s said that when he was not working, Slater was usually in California caring for his sick mother, as he had also done for his father when he was dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Now listen, I know there are two sides to every story, but I gotta say—this one is looking a little lopsided.
My favorite is the last quote in the piece from Slater’s neighbor and a former flight attendant. “Enough is enough—good for him,” she said in the piece. “If he would have called me, I would have picked him up.”
Touche Ms. Bavasso, touche.
Bis bald friends! And please, behave on those flights!
You learn something new every single day—at least that’s what they tell me.
Today I learned from thisNY Times article that in Europe, airlines are required to pay penalties of up to 600 euroes (approximately $750), when a problem occurs for a passenger and it is the carrier’s fault. That’s nice, right? Right. But what about this? They are even responsible for covering hotel rooms and meals when the problem is not their fault—ala the recent rumblings of a certain volcano that kept many people grounded at the tail ends of their European adventures.
Not too shabby.
The article points out another nice little catch as well. The law apparently applies to any European Union airline flying to or from a member state—including all flights departing from the European Union, regardless of the passengers’ nationality. So if you happen to be flying American, Delta, Continental, United or US Airways from Europe to anywhere else in the world, you too are covered by these laws, my friend.
Take a look at the article for more info on international flight rules and how to pursue a claim.
Last Thursday, at around 11 p.m., Steph and I had made it to our final European destination—romantic, wonderful, beautiful Rome, and as tired (and sweaty and dirty) as we were, we were really excited to be there.
So remember that backpack that I mentioned back in Paris? The one that had all the travel documents in it? It also had detailed directions of which train to take from the airport into Rome, and walking directions from the Termini to our hotel, hotel Le Petit, which was only about an alleged 7 minute walk.
But the thing was, had our flight left on time, we were supposed to have arrived in Rome around 7:30 instead of 11 p.m., which would have made it a bit less sketchy for us to fumble our way around a foreign country, and find our way from the train station to our hotel (I can now tell you, having lived through this trip already, that it’s laughable how close our hotel was to the train station. Make a right, walk five minutes, make another right and you literally walk right into the train station. But at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, after picking up our luggage, we had no way of knowing how easy it would be).
So as we entered the main part of the airport (no customs, no luggage check, no passport stamp. What’s up, Italy?!), I started to wonder if taking the train was really the best idea, still (despite my detailed notes….thanks to you, Chris!).
Turns out, I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it before we were approached.
“Need a ride?” a man with a thick Italian accent approach myself and my sister.
Okay, now let’s pretend like we’re back to last Thursday, which would make it our last morning in London, before catching an 8 am. train to Paris, before flying out of Paris later that afternoon to Rome……
Steph and I had seen a concert Wednesday night and didn’t make it into bed until around 1 a.m., so we weren’t exactly sure what it would be like getting up at 5 a.m. to catch the train. With jet lag. To a new city where neither of us spoke the language.
Turns out it wasn’t too terribly awful. Must have been the excitement. We knew we would only have a couple of hours in beautiful Paris (or so we thought), so we had decided to hop on the subway from the train station and take it immediately to the Eiffel Tower. After that, we’d cop a squat at the closest cafe we could find near there and pack in all the coffee and crepes that we could….
Lucky for me (and Steph), my thoughtful boyfriend had lovingly printed out the Paris subway map for me, highlighting which stops we would need to take to get to some key places—the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre and our airport, etc. And that fantastic little map stayed tucked in my backpack with a ton of other important documents—print outs of flight confirmations, hotel address, maps of other cities, etc.
And then, as soon as we stepped off the train and into the train station and were enveloped in “crying” women (seriously, mobs of them), asking if we spoke English and shoving pieces of paper in our faces asking for money, the subway map was promptly forgotten.
There have been very few times in my life when I’ve actually been surprised by something. I live in New York City. I’ve seen a man with a top hat traveling down 42nd street on a pogo stick. I’ve seen a boy getting mugged. I’ve seen a person literally hanging out of a 12th floor window to clean it, with nothing even remotely holding said person in place besides shear strength. I’ve stumbled upon movie sets, routinely walked past cops with machine guns in Grand Central and, every day, depart my subway stop for work to the sounds of a lovely lady who, painstakingly, takes the time to alert me that “Jesus is coming.”
I’ve seen all of this, and yet, at this train station in Paris, within 4 minutes of stepping off the platform, I was surprised. These women were swift. They were relentless. And another person, perhaps a person who has not been through the craziness of living in a city such as New York, would have been in a worser position than my sister and I were.
Still, it threw me off a bit. Then I couldn’t find the subway map. And the map that I was looking at on the wall, yeah, that one seemed a bit different than the one I had studied (seriously, studied) that was somewhere hidden in the eternal blackness of my backpack. And this, my friends, is where my sister and I got into our first (and if I remember correctly, last) traveling tiff.
Standing at the map next to my sister, not understanding what I was looking at (and becoming ever more frustrated that I couldn’t understand what I was looking at), I glance over at the little one, who is not even looking at the map.
“You’re just standing there!” I’m exasperated.
Sister looks at me, in surprise. “What?”
“You aren’t even TRYING to help me at all!”
I unleashed all of my frustration at this stupid Paris train station right then and there on the little one, and she took it like a pro. “Cheryl, I don’t know how to read these things, and I think we should just ask someone,” she said calmly.
Fine, point taken. But I’ll be damned if I asked someone how to read a subway map! So after another five minutes of studying the wall, I finally figured out where we needed to go. Then, the ticket machines were broken.
So we stood in line for another half hour waiting to buy our ticket. But that was okay, because in that line I got a chance to calm down. Take in my surroundings. Realize it’s all going to be okay? (and that it wasn’t Stephanie’s fault).
On the subway, however, we had another trying moment. After waiting for another half hour for the subway to even arrive, Steph and I jammed our way (backpacks, purses, suitcases and all), on a subway that seriously is one of the most busy ones I have ever been on. Then a woman got on with a stroller, and at the next stop, the shouting began. People couldn’t get on (because of the stroller, of course), so shoving and French yelling ensued. Of course we didn’t know what was being said, exactly, since neither one of us speaks French, but we could get the gist. And it wasn’t fun.
After that, things were uphill. Well, besides the pouring rain and three-hour delayed flight to Rome, that is. Still, figuring out the subways after that were easy-as, and we made it to the Eiffel Tower. And we found our little cafe and we ate our crepes (mine Rum soaked, Steph’s with blueberries). And all was right with the world….
At around 2:30 we made our way back to the subway so that we could get to the airport to catch our what we thought would be 5:45 p.m. plane. It was not a 5:45 plane. A strike of airport workers backed up all the flights, and so Steph and I spent a few extra hours in the airport that would have gladly been spent in another part of Paris—but it was okay. In the end we got on the plane around 8:30, and landed in Rome around 11.
It was a really, really long day, but finally, after all of that, we were in ROME!
My sister and I finally set off into the sunset on our Euro-Adventure this Sunday—although I feel like we should have been there and back about a thousand times already, with all the planning.
From back in February, when we really started searching for flights and hotel reviews and travel plans, our itinerary has morphed into something that we’re pretty happy with—but planning certainly didn’t come without its stresses.
I mentioned a while back that I was reading a book a friend had recommended to me–and I just had the pleasure of finishing said book. And so here goes my first foray into an actual travel book review…
“Grounded: A Down To Earth Journey Around The World,” written by Seth Stevenson, chronicles the tale of the author and his girlfriend as they travel around the world, roaming from latitude to latitude, without ever setting foot on a plane (well, spoiler alert, that’s not totally true of both of them). They take container ships and cruise ships, buses, trains and rental cars. They even book it for a while on a bike journey.
I have to say that what I liked most about this book was how Stevenson managed to tell his personal journey so well, while teaching me something about the history of travel in the process. (That, and the fact that Stevenson settled it for me—I could never travel around the world the way he and his girlfriend did!) I’ve never known more about the origin of air, ship and train travel. And who even knew you could catch a ride on a container ship?
I covet this cute little carry on bag from Pan Am brands. According to the site, “When jet travel began in ’58, Pan Am gave this bag to all its first class passengers traveling to Europe. The perfect traveler with its grab ‘n’ go 15″ handle or its over the shoulder strap..”
In the process of reading Grounded, author Seth Stevenson and his girlfriend, Rebecca, have so kindly done the research for me as to how I can circumnavigate the world, should I ever feel so inclined. Here’s the Crib Notes version:
1. Start and finish at the same place.
2. Cross all longitudinal meridians going in the same direction.
3. Cross the equator.
4. Cover at least 25,000 miles—the length of a great circle around the earth.
All good things to keep in mind, for a weary wanderer such as myself….
More on the book to come later. I’m on page 121, but I’m going as fast as I can!
Editor’s Note: The photo is purely for visual pleasure. For the sake of accuracy, I feel I should note that Seth and Rebecca are making their trek around the globe via all forms of transportation pertaining to the ground—hence the title ‘Grounded.’
While we are still on the subject of money, I received my Frommer’s newsletter today, chock full of fabulous info, like it always is—but there was one item in particular that really caught my attention.
On the heels of my post the other day about how Spirit Airlines is charging for carry-on bags that don’t fit under the seats comes this, even more absurd update—Ryanair’s announcement that it is making a move to charge £1 (or approximately $1.50) for the use of the toilet on their planes.
Add this to the growing list of other things we already have to pay for on flights—extra baggage (or any baggage at all, in some cases), headphone usage, overhead carry ons, etc.—what will they think of next? Does an action like this by an airline company—which seems to be so desperate and made with complete disregard for its customers—deter you from flying with them, even if their flights might be a bit cheaper? Do you think this type of change shows that they are in no way concerned about customer satisfaction?