He’s got baggage…

a rather big suitcase and guess who is inside it?  His wife.  What???

Yes they were travelling by train from Moscow to Nice.  That’s 47 hours of train travel.  A long long time to be in a suitcase.   As they entered Poland the border guards inspected the case  and they were totally taken aback to find a 30 year old woman inside.  And why I hear you ask.  Not to save the money on the train fare.  Nope.  She didn’t have a passport.  What she didn’t know was that she didn’t need a passport to enter Poland.   Oh well – there’s one born every minute.

Then there’s the lady who decided to have a few puffs on a US domestic flight while waiting for take off.  Quite brazen she was and then when the flight attendant asked her what the heck she was doing she blamed the guy sitting next to her.  Of course these days nothing is private so the whole incident was filmed by a fellow passenger.
Check it out here

And finally the tip of the week – how to avoid those excess luggage charges.  Just do what these lads did when they found they would have to pay $130 in excess luggage.  They just opened their bags and put on layers and layers of extra clothes, shoes tucked  into waistbands, several hats.
The flyers. Picture: Stou Sandalski

But…. it might have backfired on them because the flight attendant accompanied them to the door of the aircraft to make sure they wore all of these clothes the whole way home.  I feel uncomfortable just thinking about it!

The ultimate whine…..

…….every two minutes, every waking hour, every day – for a month!

ohareThe new runway at O’Hare has some people over-worked up. The Chicago Department of Information reports that in one month last year, one obsessive with no life lodged 11,155 complaints about O’Hare Airport noise. Assuming that he or she was awake and at home for 14 hours every single day, that makes one complaint EVERY TWO MINUTES – for a month. That has to be some sort of record particularly if you consider that airport-noise complaints can only be lodged by phone or by completing an online form with 6 fields! Now that Mr or Ms Griper have been dutifully ignored, here’s hoping they can go back to something marginally normal like moaning to family or, failing that – go feed the cat!nala catnip

And – even worse, they’re not the only grumblers – there are another 24 nutters. Could be the beginning of a Whine Club with new runway obsessions– look out YYC!

For all the gory details go to this link – http://flightclub.jalopnik.com/six-miserable-people-filed-25-000-ohare-noise-complaint-1691471535

So let’s take a look at complaining and how to do this effectively.  Perhaps the Chicago resident thought that the “drip treatment” would elicit results and maybe it will.  The airport authorities would probably do anything to stop the dripping.

Other people use humour in their complaint.  I find this the most effective – how about this sample from a complaint letter to Liat – the Caribbean airline.

“Dear LIAT,

May I say how considerate it is of you to enable your passengers such an in-depth and thorough tour of the Caribbean.

Most other airlines I have travelled on would simply wish to take me from point A to B in rather a hurry. I was intrigued that we were allowed to stop at not a lowly one or two but a magnificent six airports yesterday. And who wants to fly on the same airplane the entire time? We got to change and refuel every step of the way!

I particularly enjoyed sampling the security scanners at each and every airport. I find it preposterous that people imagine them all to be the same. And as for being patted down by a variety of islanders, well, I feel as if I’ve been hugged by most of the Caribbean already.

I also found it unique that this was all done on “island time,” because I do like to have time to absorb the atmosphere of the various departure lounges. As for our arrival, well, who wants to have to take a ferry at the end of all that flying anyway? I’m glad the boat was long gone by the time we arrived into Tortola last night — and that all those noisy bars and restaurants were closed.

So thank you, LIAT. I now truly understand why you are “The Caribbean Airline.”

Love that one!  But here is the best I have seen…  sent to the railway in Anglia UK

Charge for checked bags backfires on airlines and passengers

Well I have had some fun with this in the past on this blog – people trying to take oversized bags as carry on which is a great inconvenience to fellow passengers.  This weekend stories in the media abound about the chaos at airports caused by passengers trying to take as much as possible as carry on, possibly wanting to avoid the checked bag fees.  This has caused delayed flights, lost luggage and other headaches for many travellers.

The problem is airlines do not have enough staff to check every piece of carry on luggage so this is left to the passenger to self check – which obviously nobody is going to do.  It’s really just human nature.  We will continue to push the boundaries and see how much we can get away with before we will actually follow the rules.  Even Saturday Night Live has had fun with this one.

Has the checked baggage fee been worth it for the airlines?  One wonders.  They have gone to extreme lengths to increase their profits.  Air Canada has recently cut commissions to travel agents down to ZIP and yet recently announced that they have had one of their most profitable years!  Mmmm – so poor travel agents make no money on flights and poor passengers pay for checked baggage and poor ticket agents get abuse over late flights.  Makes for happy times for sure!

Get your gadgets out of my space….

Are we gadget crazy?  Especially when we fly.  People get on flights these days loaded up to the gunnels with all sorts of technical equipment, strange head rests, oversize ear phones.  Here’s just of a few of the wackiest I have seen –

THE STAY OUT OF MY SPACE ACCESSORY
Bizarre travel accessories
This is apparently so you can eat, sleep or do whatever privately.  Pretty weird – I would be a bit worried sitting next to someone with this on.  They could be a serial killer.

YOUR OWN PRIVATE AIR CONDITIONER
Bizarre travel accessories
Have to be careful with this one if you are looking to get chat someone up on a flight.   Apparently the air conditioning fan is inclined to “inflate” the whole jacket making you look ….well a bit puffy

YEAH I DARE YOU TO GET ON A FLIGHT WITH YOUR OWN PORTABLE SAUNA …. go on !
Bizarre travel accessories

NO SEAT BACK USB PORT TO CHARGE YOUR IPOD – NO WORRIES MATE!
Bizarre travel accessories
Just don’t seat me next to the person with this device while you are cranking and sweating.

A FACE-LIFT MASK – EXERCISE YOUR FACE MUSCLES WHILE FLYING AND STEP OFF THE PLANE 10 YEARS YOUNGER
Bizarre travel accessories

ALL JOKES ASIDE -

Let’s face it – it’s as if when you step on that plane you are entering another world with another set of rules.  Rules that need to be obeyed –

  1. Be nice to the flight attendant – it will be helpful later on
  2. The  middle seat person gets BOTH arm rests
  3. Don’t scatter your garbage all over the floor
  4. Think before you recline
  5. On overnight flights go to sleep and don’t leave your light on all night
  6. Don’t talk to the person next to you if you don’t know them.  A simple nod at seating is sufficient and then pretend they are not there.
  7. Don’t let your knee stray over into the next person’s legroom space even if you are a daddy long legs.  You should have booked an exit row.
  8. The bulk head leg room area belong to the bulk head people because generally they have paid extra for this space.  This area is not for crossing from one aisle to another.
  9. Have the courtesy to listen to the in flight safety announcement.  In the event of an emergency it will be all the know-alls who will be panicking.
  10. Remember all the things your mom told you when you were little – close your mouth when you are eating, put your hand over your mouth when you cough, say please and thank you.

Going all the way

It’s something we often encounter – bewildered customers wanting to know why the price they found online was so much lower than the quote we have given them.  Well the first question we ask in this case is …..

 Did you go all the way?  Don’t be coy – we won’t judge you.  Very often what you see on the first screen is not the whole story and yes – you do have to go all the way!

Booking online is not always that straightforward and there is a great deal of smoke and mirrors and hot competition.

So is it really the best travel deal?

The explosion in online travel sites has witnessed a curious struggle by airlines and tour operators for top spot on the results of travel searches – in other words to be identified by the travel sites search engine as having the cheapest price and be at the top of the list that is displayed. Needless to say the unrestrained urge to appear best has resulted in all sorts of strategic lurks such as moving a chunk of an airfare into the so-called “taxes” and calling it some made-up nonsense like a “fuel surcharge” (which oddly, doesn’t reduce with lower fuel prices). Then there are the hidden baggage, booking and other imaginative fees….I could go on but you’ve all seen them. All these nasty surprises tend to show up in the second or third booking screens with the predictable disillusioned response from the no-longer-a booker.

And then there are the hotels – everyone in North America has encountered the compulsory “resort fees” that suddenly show up after you’ve gone for that killer online room rate. And now it seems those are being increased – largely because consumers stopped complaining. (Read the excellent analysis of that little money-grab by Chris Elliott on the link below) So Caveat Emptor – (Buyer Beware – apparently even the Romans faced similar issues) – that online deal may not be so dealicious when its time to put in your credit card number!

http://consumertraveler.com/columns/commentary/uh-oh-hotel-resort-fees-are-on-the-rise/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+tripso+%28Consumertraveler.com%29

Hold on while I grab my phrase book -

Good luck with that one!  Standing in line in Paris waiting to buy a train ticket I was struggling to remember my schoolgirl French.  Unfortunately it did not run to purchasing “billets” in first class.  It did mean that I could ask the ticket vendor if he had seen the pen of my aunt…. and that was about that.

We are always told that a few words in the local language go a long way in any country – but I wonder.  Do you think the locals get a real good laugh at our pathetic accents and attempts to communicate in French, Spanish or even more complex, let’s say, Greek?  OMG – can you imagine what we sound like.

It’s always made worse by the fact that so many people in Europe today speak such good English.  It almost makes our attempts to page through the phrase book look extremely silly.   Unless you have the totally wrong phrase book as happened in an old Monty Python sketch where he thought he was asking a polite question in Hungarian “Can you direct me to the station” what he was actually saying was “Can you fondle my bum”.  Well of course that was just a comedy routine and very unlikely to happen in real life.  However sometimes there is reverse silliness that goes on where maybe the sign writers in foreign countries have got their English phrase books mixed up – with hilarious results.

But wait – some English signs by English speaking people are even more hilarious

Yup – it’s a weird world out there for sure.

Canadian Loonie Tunes

Oh misery me – the mighty US Dollar is dwarfing our Canadian Loonie and now where – oh where – can we go on vacation.  Better not to go.  After all – convert out what you will pay in US dollars into our miserable weak Canadian dollar and we are paying twice as much.  What is the point of a vacation if we have to live on KFC every day.

Hang on a minute!  

Who says you have to go on vacation and spend US dollars?  Really?  So let’s look at where you can go and spend your Canadian dollars so that you feel like a super hero instead of a super flop!

That’s right!  You tell them Super Canuck!

FIJI – (60c Cdn buys you one Fijian dollar) – use Fijian dollars to buy your Kava fix.  This face-numbing, drowsy-making root is ground up with water usually in a large communal bucket – placed in a cloth that sometimes looks like grandad’s old sock and then everyone has a good chug and after a few cups they don’t care what the hell has happened to the Canadian dollar.  Good medicine!

What’s a Loonie anyway?

COOK ISLANDS / NEW ZEALAND – (92c Cdn buys you 1 New Zealand dollar)
Still winning here – and even more so because there is NO TIPPING IN THE COOK ISLANDS.  That’s right.  No need to think about having to add on 15% to the bill.  Even in New Zealand tipping is not expected and is not customary.  So what can you spend your money on in the Cooks (as it is affectionately known)?  Well you could do a tour with Pa – legendary medicine man ex surfing champion and quite the guy.  $70 NZD buys you a nature walk with Pa.

GUESS WHAT?  You don’t use US dollars in Europe!
Cdn $10 will buy you 7 Euro’s.  That’s better than it used to be.  So where is the cheapest place in Europe at the moment?  According to the BackPacker Index for 2015 no surprise that Kiev in the Ukraine is the cheapest place at the moment.  Better give that one a miss!  However there are some great cities out there such as Budapest and Bratislava offering great value for money.

OH AND WHAT ABOUT BALI?  No USD there either?  The only USD you will need there will be for the visa upon arrival.  Once there – go crazy!  Bali is a shoppers paradise.  But be prepared to negotiate for a good deal in the markets.  It is a national sport – especially where tourists are involved – and let’s face it … they are going to know you are a tourist.  Trust me – they know.