Does everybody hate the airlines?

Airlines have had a bad rap lately in the press – battered passengers, stranded kids and drunken pilots.  It’s a wonder anybody is flying at all.  Seems, however, from speaking to colleagues in the industry and reading the travel press, the public is not really going to change its plans – because really – what choice do we have?

To get anywhere these days you usually have to take a flight.  Even people who are terrified of flying still do it.  They take the pills, they go to the therapy, but in today’s world flying has become a necessity – albeit an evil one for some.

It’s funny for me when I hear people complaining that the worst part of their vacation is the flight because (honestly) I really enjoy flying.  There is just something so exciting about being in an airport, hearing your flight called, getting on the plane.  Once on board I love getting settled into my seat armed with my ipad and my bottle of water.  I rarely watch the inflight entertainment but I always do take my own earphones (just in case there is a blockbuster that I want to see).  Mostly I just enjoy the ability to sit back and enjoy 3-10 hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet.  My goodness – sounds like I live in a madhouse.  Sometimes it feels like that.
Image result for peace and quiet

So I am wondering what changes, if any, will be made in the airline industry to reassure the travelling public.

Sobriety testing for pilots prior to flights still seems to be raising problems according to a recent article.  http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/is-your-airline-pilot-drunk-unions-are-making-it-hard-for-the-airline-to-be-sure

And flight community insiders are taking an interesting tack on the overbooking scandal.  I found a very I interesting blog post by a pilot’s wife titled – I know you’re mad at United but…. Which does show the situation from another perspective.  https://thepilotwifelife.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/i-know-youre-mad-at-united-but-thoughts-from-a-pilot-wife-about-flight-3411/

But now it is all going to be OK as Westjet has just announced a new no-frills airline.  Goodness me – I thought the frills had gone long ago.  Maybe they are following the path of notorious no friller Ryan Air.  It will be an interesting ride for sure.

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A drop of rum and a room with a view

We all love a hotel near the sea – rooms with a sea view – not a partial sea view.  How annoying it is to get to a hotel that describes the room as sea view only to find out that if you do want to see the sea you pretty much have to stand on a chair and hang your head out the window to catch a glimpse.

So what a joy to discover a hotel where every single room has a sea view because the hotel is in the sea not next to the sea.  It’s called No Man’s Fort and is located right at the entrance to Portsmouth in the middle of the sea.

Amazing-Solent-Forts-17

It has an interesting history which makes the idea of staying here even more attractive.

The tale of The Solent Forts dates back over 150 years when fear of invasion by the French led by Napoleon III resulted in the commissioning of these sea based defences by British Prime Minister Lord Henry Palmerston. Concerned that the naval fleet and Portsmouth dockyard would be a target, work began on five commissioned forts in the 1860s. With 15ft granite walls and armour plating, these magnificent structures are testament to the skill of Victorian engineering. Large stone blocks were used as foundations, transported from the quarry by train, and then by barge before being set in place by divers. Taking 15 years to complete, by the time the forts were ready for occupation, the feared French threat of invasion no longer existed and hence, the forts became known as “Palmerston’s follies”.

Although the forts were no help during the Napoleonic wars they did come in handy during the first and second world wars defending Britain’s shores but being posted to one of these forts was a bit miserable.  They were damp and cold then.

Now the forts have been purchased and are being turned into luxury hotels

No Man's Fort - 1 of 39

– what a great idea all this history and comfort as well.  And getting there is half the fun.

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There are three of them now –

Spitbank Fort

No Man’s Fort

Horse Sand Fort

(Have to be careful when I am typing those names – don’t want any typo’s here 😊)

I wonder if they offer a daily ration of Pusser’s Rum.

Anyone with a Royal Naval background will recognise this name.  Pusser is actually navy slang for Purser and the daily tot was something highly prized by the men.  It only stopped in 1970 on 31 July which became known as “Black Tot Day” and is celebrated every year.

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Now I think having a drop of Pusser’s Rum while sitting on the balcony of No Man’s Fort would be a fine thing to do.

ARE YOUR LEGGINGS BEING DISRESPECTFUL

Maybe you heard about the two girls denied boarding on a United Airlines flight because they were wearing leggings.

http://ktla.com/2017/03/26/2-girls-wearing-leggings-not-allowed-on-united-flight-because-of-strict-dress-code-rule-incident-prompts-twitter-response/

After this was reported then Twitter got involved in the act – as it usually does – (“Sad!)

Lots of comments were posted by people who said that this was discrimination against these poor girls’ clothing choice.  However you have to remember that these girls were travelling on a “pass” from United Airlines which means that either they were employed by the airline or were relatives or friends of an airline employee.

Now this is not something new that United suddenly pulled out of its hat to make life difficult for these girls.  Their policy is quite clear and for those interested these are the guidelines.

Pass attire

It always makes me chuckle (or sometimes grimace) when I see posts on facebook where someone is asking their wide range of acquaintances for a buddy pass.  As a travel agent I do not get the same benefit as the friend of an airline employee. I have paid for just about every airline ticket I can think of.   Contrary to popular belief – being a travel agent does not open the door to free travel.

I was on a Westjet flight once from Nassau where a small group of friends were travelling on buddy passes.  They were all pretty badly dressed but the one guy had some weird bandana type headband / hat.  The flight attendant (knowing that they were using buddy passes) asked him to remove his headgear.  He refused.  She asked him a couple of times and then had to ask the Captain to come down and ask him.  When we got off the flight in Calgary the police were waiting.  Hmm.

Now for paying passengers they can wear what they like – almost.  There has been a lot in the press about people being denied boarding because of wearing shirts with swear words or bare midriffs but honestly there are a lot of people getting on flights and then taking off their clothes – and I would rather have leggings than this….
passenger shaming

or this

passenger shaming 2

or this

passenger shaming 3

COMFIER IN THE MIDDLE SEAT?

COMFIER IN THE MIDDLE SEAT?

You know I have had my gripes in the past about the middle seat – as I am a “middle seat” person by default.  (Seems I always get that darn seat!)   So imagine my surprise and delight when I learned that a newer and better middle seat design is about to be unveiled in Hamburg at the Aircraft Interiors Expo!

Wow – they actually have an expo on Aircraft Interiors.  How cool is that? Great minds getting together to make us more comfy on our flights.  Check out the website – it’s interesting. http://www.aircraftinteriorsexpo.com/

So … they call the new middle seat the Stagger Seat – which made me laugh quite a bit.  It just conjures up all sorts of images –

When you have been flying so long your legs go to sleep and you stagger to the loo.

Or when you have had too many of those teeny little bottles and you stagger to the loo.
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Or you wake up in the night and its dark and – yes you got it – you stagger to the loo.

However it is a good idea and the concept is that the middle seat is set back slightly so that the aisle seat can slide over it to make boarding easier – yay for that.  This new middle seat is also THREE INCHES WIDER than the other seats.  OMG – can you believe that fellow Middle Seaters?  You get the space and that will make those aisle and window seat hoggers green with envy.  Whoever thought of this plan is a genius.
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Imagine seat selection – suddenly you look at the seat map and all the middle seats are gone – booked up – occupied.  This will be an historical event my friends.  This is something that will have never happened before.

Oh and wait – that’s not all people!  The middle seaters get a BIGGER SCREEN.  This just gets better and better.  Can it be true?

I can’t wait for my next boarding pass showing seat number 35B.  I will be laughing!

Dreamiest places in the world

There are some places in the world that you can dream about but you know you will never get to physically go there.  It might be out of your reach financially or it might be out of your reach physically.  Or it might be the sort of place you would love to experience but you know that you don’t have the “guts”, for want of a better word, to go there.

Like Kilimanjaro.  Oh I have thought over this so many times.
Should I sign up for the climb.  What a challenge that would be.  Imagine the feeling standing at the top of Kili.
at-the-top-of-kilimanjaro
My friends have done it and wow, amazing to see their photos on facebook.  I really would like a photo like that.  But I don’t think I could do the climb.  I have heard how hard it is and apparently it is the altitude and not so much the actual climb.
Like Machu Picchu.  It’s easy to sign up for the trek.  You just have to do it well in advance because it sells out quickly.  The training I could do.  I would give myself lots of time and living in Calgary in the foothills we have the most amazing countryside and mountains to train in.  Yep – all of that part would be easy.
inca trailHowever the climb itself can be challenging and this again is due to the high altitude.

Like flying around the world.  I came across this amazing trip at a travel show I went to.  Imagine flying around the world in a specially fitted out aircraft with lie flat beds and a dining room – yes a dining room!
dining room cc

And then after a nice meal – stretch out in your lie flat bed.
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That takes the sting out of jet-lag, that’s for sure.

Like swimming in the Dead Sea.  Not that you can swim in it – more like lie on it.

dead seaIf you have ever used Dead Sea salts or exfoliating products you know how amazing your skin feels afterwards.  Well imagine how incredible you would feel after actually floating on the Dead Sea.  Of course it might not be everyone’s dream.  My friend who visited there said that it felt like stepping into snot!  Oh well!

Like walking the Camino.  This is something that I really want to do.   I have watched the documentaries and the films and have seen the people crying about the blisters on their feet and how emotionally and physically draining it can be.  I just really want that feeling of walking into the square at Compostela de Santiago and then going to see that crazy swinging incense burner in the cathedral.  Duck your head!

 

 

 

 

Standing room only

Pakistan International Airlines is investigating reports that seven extra passengers were allowed to stand in the aisles on a packed flight to Saudi Arabia.

Dawn newspaper claimed flight PK-743 from Karachi to Medina carried 416 passengers last week, seven more than its total seating capacity of 409.

Pakistan Airlines said that this was nonsense and that it would not be possible to travel on a three hour flight standing up all the way.  Mind you – sometimes when you are squashed between two people in the middle seat you might be better off standing up.  The problem is that in an emergency you have no harnessing equipment and also no oxygen masks.

Standing only flights are not a new idea.  Airlines are trying very hard to maximize the number of passengers they can take.  It’s all about bums in seats – or in this case – bums with no seats.  At one time a few years back it was rumoured that Michael O’Leary – the head honcho of RyanAir – was interested in the idea of “standing flights” or “vertical passenger plans”.  Don’t you just love how corporate-speak makes this ridiculous idea seem almost sensible?

But back to Pakistan International Airlines.  Wow – where would you put seven extra passengers without anybody seeing them –

overhead bin

No – that’s not a passenger – it’s a flight attendant.  We all know that they would probably want to hide from us if they could.  But there is NO HIDING PLACE
overhead bin 2

RyanAir’s idea shows that in many places there is not much difference between a bus and a plane these days – just transportation.  So having to stand all the way on your flight would mean more passengers and lowest ticket prices.

But how the heck did these extra passengers get onto the Pakistan flight?  When you think about all the checks that you have to go through to get onto a flight.  First at the airline desk in the airport – usually after having shown your boarding pass to an official “guarding” the line up.  Then you have to present it to the check in agent.  Then you have to go through security and present it again.  Finally you have to show your boarding pass to the gate agent.  All this checking, checking…. doesn’t seem to work!

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Is this a face crime?

Face-crime?  I must explain a little.  I have been re-reading 1984 by George Orwell and in the regime of Big Brother one is always under observation so any facial expression that might convey your real feelings or thoughts can be very dangerous.  In Newspeak this is called facecrime.

So what has this to do with travel?  Well think about when you go through customs or immigration.  I don’t know about you but I always feel guilty and I am not sure why.  Is it the uniforms or the way they look at your passport photo and then at you.  Then I feel that I need to explain that when I had my passport photo taken I was wearing my hair straight and now I just let it go curly.  And the man in the uniform just stares at me as if to say “Why?”  And in any event how can they match my passport photo with me.  That’s not really me in my passport photo with that blank expression on my face.  I am usually laughing or crying – nothing in between.  So I walk up to immigration and hand over my passport with a big smile.  Yes this is me – big smile – curly hair.  Yes this is my passport – sullen face, straight hair.  What the heck?

Seems that our facial expressions and other bodily movements are very revealing.  According to a leaked CIA travel memo on Wikileaks  – Security officials, it noted, are more likely to single out travellers who exhibit “shaking or trembling hands, rapid breathing for no apparent reason, cold sweats, pulsating carotid arteries, a flushed face, and avoidance of eye contact”.   OK well that’s handy to know what security is checking for.  According to the Economist –

“When passengers collect their baggage in Mauritius, they are monitored by zoomed-in cameras so officers can study their facial expressions. Secondary screening can be triggered by switching lines in Cote d’Ivoire, appearing to study the customs process in Tokyo, and travelling alone with a backpack in Tel Aviv.

And if you do get picked out for attention, the CIA advised, try to avoid saying “ah” or “um”, biting your lips, adjusting your clothes, using expressions like “to be honest” and “swear to God”, and providing overly specific responses.”

So you definitely don’t want to have this expression on your face –

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