Itsy bitsy teeny weeny airplane seat

It’s the story of the incredibly shrinking airplane seat.  Which is ironic because as people seem to be getting bigger the seats are getting smaller.  Check out this handy comparison courtesy of Bill McGee of USA Today.
(Note – Pitch = the distance in inches from a given point on one seat to the same point on the seat in the next row)

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And it is not only seat pitch – but as our bottoms are getting bigger the width of the seats have been shrinking

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As the seats shrink the popularity of the “premium economy” seat has risen – at a cost.  Now you can get extra leg room and sometimes extra width on many airlines.  Here is an interesting chart –  Premium Economy comparison on the Seat Guru site.

Now – there is a lot of talk about larger people flying and how this is a huge inconvenience to regular sized passengers.  It’s a difficult topic and while some airlines are trying to get larger people to buy two seats this awkward decision is probably left to the check in agent who seems to be the general punching bag for all the world’s pent-up travel frustration.

While researching for this article I came across this website –

Website – Flying While Fat website.  This is an interesting read and offers a different perspective on the whole issue.  However sympathetic you may be there is no doubt that a few hours flying in a tube in the air in a cramped seat is not going to put you in the best frame of mind.


  • if you can afford it upgrade – premium economy is worth every inch!
  •  Book your flight early and if you have to pay for seat selection do it.  It’s worth it.
  •  If there is an extra charge for the exit row that too is worth your while.
  •  If you are not happy with your seat assigned during your online check in speak to the gate agent.  Remember to smile!  They are people too and you get more with honey than you do with vinegar.
  • If you are travelling as a couple you can try to book the aisle and window and leave the middle seat empty.  The middle seats are usually the last to go – but it doesn’t work all the time (I know this from experience).
  • Cut down on the amount of stuff you take on the plane – bags, hats, coats, books.  It all takes up more of your personal space – especially if the overhead bin is full.

What would we do without the airlines?

We have had commercial flights for 100 years now  with the first paying passenger on a flight on 1st January 1914.  KLM is the oldest airline starting back in 1919.  In its first year of operations it carried 345 … in a whole year!  That’s as much as one plane carries today.  And don’t we know about it?  We love to complain about air travel but it really is amazing how it has opened up the world for us.
How is this old beauty?

Flying in those days was very different.  First of all you get dressed up in your Sunday best.  My first flight was back in 1967 when I left England with my parents to go and live in South Africa and although it was a 14 hour flight (in those days) we dressed up to the nines.  My brother (who was 8) and my father both wore suits with collar and tie.  Big difference from today when flight attendants sometimes have to enforce dress code just to protect other passengers.

In those days being a flight attendant was a dream job.  Today you have to wonder how some of these flight attendants get through the week.  It only takes one difficult passenger to create a major headache for the staff and the other passengers.  That’s not to mention pushing those heavy food and drink carts down the aisle (they can weigh up to 400 lbs) and then there is always someone who decides to use the bathroom in the middle of the service.

Further grumbles from passengers surround the whole paying for baggage issue, the size of your carry on, inflight entertainment, meals on board…. and on, and on, and on.    But let me not go on…. the comedian Louis CK … sums it up best at how much we take things for granted in this great little clip from the Conan O’Brien show

It’s the double kiss

It’s what Italy is all about and maybe it is better than shaking hands.  Let’s face it – with most double kisses you are not really kissing the persons cheek – just rather touching their cheek with your cheek so probably way more hygienic than shaking hands.    And everybody does it ….

Don’t you think Obama looks quite handsome here – wonder what Michelle thought?

It can sometimes cause confusion amongst non-Italians because when does a regular kiss-on-the-cheek greeting become the double kiss?  It’s hard to tell really and then you have that hanging in the air second kiss.  That’s embarrassing.  The best way around this is to make it very clear that you are a double kisser.  Firmly place your hands on the persons shoulders and then lean in for the first kiss, lean back and then without letting go of the shoulders do the second kiss – then no one is taken by surprise – even if they don’t like it very much.

It’s very common for men to double kiss too – not just in Italy but in many countries around the world.

When visiting Italy the kissing double cheek thing becomes habitual.  Sometimes it almost feels rude not to.  It’s kinda nice – makes you feel as if you totally belong and you can imagine that you were raised on ravioli and can carry on a lengthy conversation just with your hands.

You can, however, get carried away.  After an amazing stay in Italy and on our transfer to the airport in Florence the taxi driver entertained us with typical Italian flair – i.e. talking non stop, waving his arms around, having a conversation with his brother who rode alongside on his scooter – you know what I mean!

I love Italy and it was with great gusto that I said goodbye to the taxi driver with the old Italian double kiss.  What my husband didn’t realise was that set the tone and when he tried to shake hands he was grabbed  by both shoulders and yes – double kissed.    Now I have to tell you that our taxi driver had a pretty heavy designer stubble thing going on.  “Is that what you women have to put up with?” he asked.

Um – Yes!
PS – this was NOT the taxi driver……. just thought it would add some glamour to the post.

Are they getting bigger or smaller?

Ships that is!  A listing of the new ships coming on stream for 2016 is an interesting read.  In the past few years the trend was the bigger the better.  Back in 2010 the Oasis class of ship by Royal Caribbean boasted a capacity of up to 6296 passengers.   That’s just slightly less than the population of Banff or Innisfail.  Imagine!

Well I don’t have to imagine actually. I was on one of the inaugural sailings of the Oasis and you know – it wasn’t that bad!  For someone who doesn’t like crowds (me) I found that the ship was very well planned with smaller spaces throughout.  The problem is to me it doesn’t feel like being on the sea.

So what’s the smallest cruise ship you can go on?  No – I am not talking about this?

There’s no place to put the champagne!
THIS is what I mean by a small cruise ship.  And oh did I tell you it is all inclusive.  Yes Darling!

The Tere Moana is owned by Paul Gauguin Cruises and hosts just 98 people.  Imagine that – like having your own private yacht or being a guest of Jackie O.  Those were the days!

Other smaller cruise ships are those included in the expedition class such as the Stella Australis based in Patagonia.  This is a small ship equipped for exploration but still offers all the little luxuries on board.

And remember – it’s not all about what happens on the ship (although hopefully it stays there) – it’s about what happens when you are off the ship…. as in ….
Swimming with the rays

Being prepared

And having fun on those shore excursions

It’s all out there waiting for you folks – BIG and small…

Why you wouldn’t go to Honolulu

Well – here’s the reason.  If you booked a flight from Toronto to Honolulu with a plane change in Vancouver it might be cheaper than a regular Toronto Vancouver ticket so you actually wouldn’t want to go to Honolulu.  You would just get off the plane in Vancouver.

Does this really work?  Apparently so – according to a report by Global News.

So what does this mean?  Well you certainly wouldn’t be able to check any luggage on the flight.  It would also mean that your seat from Vancouver to Honolulu would remain unsold.  Or would it?  Don’t airlines routinely over-sell? If you don’t have a seat reserved on a scheduled flight you run the risk of being bumped in favour of those last minute full fare folks.  So maybe nobody is feeling sorry for the airlines.

So how to find these “hidden fares”?  Difficult really – bit of a gamble and you would need lots of time on your hands to search out numerous itineraries and then do fare comparisons.  Voila!  Along comes an app!

They are currently doing battle in the courts with United Airlines.  These airfares have become a big big hassle.  Many travel agents today won’t do air only requests.  First of all the airlines don’t pay any commission and most fliers feel that they don’t want to pay a service fee – unless you are working on a very complex itinerary – then a travel agent will be you new BFF.

In the meantime if you think Skiplagged is doing a great job then you can contribute to their legal action at this link

Me?  I am just going to cough up and pay so I can check my bags all the way to my final destination.

Just Go.

Lesley Keyter:

Now this girl has the right idea –
Go Helen Go!
Run Forrest Run!

Originally posted on tripstravel:

This is pathetic. I have not posted anything here in THREE YEARS! What does that tell you about my life, hey? Not many adventures have happened since Greece in 2011 (pause for a quick reminiscent daydream).

So Helen, why now? What’s going on? Let me tell you! Because honestly, I am bursting. I’m pretty sure I’ve told everyone at work, even people I don’t talk too very often. It’s been a very long time that I’ve wanted to take this trip, but it will finally be happening. Come March 2016 (yes, a whole year away) I will finally be going to INDIA!

Those of you who have already visited India will know that there are only two reactions you get from people, upon sharing with them your upcoming travel plans.

Reaction #1: ”That’s amazing! I’m so jealous. You’re going to have a great time!”

Awww, so lovely and sweet and…

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When you feel like a good whine…

Sorry – I actually meant wine!  I just returned from Bordeaux in France and there is nothing to whine about with this destination.  Just a wonderful week of wine tasting, food tasting, wine and food pairing and much more.  The area is just full of the cutest chateaux surrounded by vineyards.
Over this time of year of course the weather is not the most brilliant – that would be the only whine I could think of.  The benefit was however that nowhere was crowded as you can see from this photo taken in Bergerac.  Pack for the weather, remember good boots and a great raincoat.  My best friend was my Tilley waterproof hat which went everywhere with me.

Seeing this part of the world was easy on a river cruise.  I travelled with Uniworld and it was interesting for me to sail on them as I have in the past sailed on Viking and AMAWaterways and have been on board Avalon.  There is a river cruise company out there to suit every need and every budget.  It’s just a question of speaking to an expert.

The area is very quaint and abounds with lots of cute bed and breakfasts like this one.

Or you can do it in style as I did (and there is no whine here, believe me) with Uniworld River Cruises in this beautiful stateroom.  Oh my goodness the linens on these beds were amazing – so soft.
The staff were so helpful and a major part of my enjoyment on this cruise was the fact that gratuities are included so obviously the staff are well paid and not chasing you all the time just for a tip.  They were gracious and knowledgeable – especially when it  came to the area, the wine, the food and top class hospitality.

The best thing ever about doing a river cruise is that you get into your room and unpack and then cruise the countryside with beautiful views from your window.

And if you don’t feel like wine you can always go cognac tasting.  This area of France is where you find Cognac and only brandies produced in this part are allowed to be called Cognac.  We made the trip out to Remy Martin and did some sampling –

This was just before I knocked over my glass.  Oh my goodness – how embarrassing.   They were very gracious however – especially after I bought a rather expensive bottle of Remy Martin XO.  Every wonder what those initials mean – VS, VSOP and XO.  Quite simple really – Very Superior, Very Superior Production and Extra Old.  Not quite what I expected – I thought that they would stand for some throat gargling French word.

So my only whine ……umm – actually nothing to whine about.  I had a wonderful time and now I am home and as Dorothy said “There’s no place like home”.