Click on a label to read posts from that part of the world.
Nov 2nd 2012 11:28PM Of course! I take the suggested precautions and often a few others, especially for multi-leg international trips. I DO carry fresh pix of my bags and their more important contents as well as the details of make/model and serial number of gear that simply must be checked. Truth told, I do NOT want to make a reimbursement claim or receive a check; I want MY BAGS at MY airport and when I arrive. Some additional tricks that I have learned, often the hard way...
1. Connecting flights, especially for long, complicated international trips are a fact of life. Making the human connections between these flights can be a strain and stuff does happen. Allow extra time for yourself - and for your bags. Your odds of success will improve. (If you've faced with a long layover and perhaps are not flying on a front cabin ticket, pony-up and buy your way into the best lounge that you can find. If the layover is >2.5 - 3 hours, it is usually worth the extra expense. The longer layover also gives your airline(s) a much better chance to get your bag(s) onto your airplanes. Be patient! That lounge access fee may be the best $50 you've ever spent!
3. When possible, ask the lounge or gate agent to scan your bag check ticket to find out where your bag is resting - or being loaded. Some can do it and will gladly do so. Others cannot - or will not, but it never hurts to ask. If reports suggest that your bag is still at the city of origin, or worse, someplace not on your itinerary, start asking some polite, but pointed questions.
I guess the take home here is to allow at least as much connection time for your bags as you do for yourself. If you've got multiple legs ahead of you, don't be afraid to ask that check-in agent about baggage routing. Allow time for t hem to do their transfer work and understand that it is not as simple as your walk from gate A-1 to gate G-29 and a half. It usually works, but don't push a nearly broken system with extremely short connections; it won't work.
As everyone always says, that carry-on, always with you, must contain fresh personal linen (your undies, dude!) and any essential medications. Your documents stay in your pocket and good luck!
Aug 20th 2012 12:03AM You've just got to be kidding! As a senior male, I buy the seat (and cabin) that I want. If some snot-nosed kid comes along, they are welcome to occupy the seat next to me, but ONLY if well behaved. I've been through this countless times and I can report that the majority of kid ARE extremely wll behaved. However, if there is is an issue, tht airline, fulk airplane or not, had better move the kid. I've paid a small (or extremely large) premium for my specific seat and I find NO NEED to move. Unless I'm offered an instant upgrade (difficult, since I usually fly BC or FC) I will decline until ordered to do so. If the airline does not want to seat a kid near be, so much the better. They have birthdates as a part of the booking process, so don't assign the kid to the seat next to me and damn sure don't leave it up to the poor FAs to sort out. And if it really matters, I do not like 'little girls' or 'little boys.' Accommodating these seating requirements is the airline's responsibility, and damn sure not mine!
One other note: That poor 'Female Passenger," next to whom the at-risk waif should be seated (per policy) is NOT necessarily a toding grandmother with six grandkids of her own. That "Female Passenger," is just a likely to be a drug-crazed broad, speaking obscene words, smelling to high-heaven and dressed like an undressed hooker. She may easlily be none of those, but in today's Coach Class market, the FAs may do some Customer Profiling. Take your choice: The hooker-like woman who smells, or a well-dressed, elderly gentleman who does not enjoy the close presence of over-active children. Which seating arrangement poses the least threat to the waif? Personally, I'd rather see the kid moved to that disgusting female's side, but the remaining ounce of compassion says that I should smile. and all of that applies to the Unaccompanied Minor (UM) passenger.
If the parents and/or other (adult) family aboard the same flight, but did not bother to book contiguous or nearby seats, often at an extra fee, their accommodations is NOT my problem. They had the chance and they declined it. Now, on board the aircraft, I'm supposed to give up the extra seat that I paid for, just to accommodate their lack of planning, or more likely, their lack of payment, in honor of The Family? I don't like to use ugly words, but those families have one more thought coming their way: You lack or planning (or payment) does **not** offset my enjoyment of an extra-fee service that I chose to **PAY** for. In other words, Mr. and Mrs. Cheap, Ain't No Fucking Way! If you can afford to fly your family to wherever, you can also afford to PAY the FEES necessary to secure the contiguous seats that you want and without causing any inconvenience to other passengers. Replying on the "Family Option," is now a PAID extra service. WIthout PAYING the extra fee, you are NOT entitled to displace others, most of which HAVE paid modest additional fees for their seat of choice. Got it? To put it even more bluntly, that you have a few too many children than you can afford to support in the style that you can afford is not, repeat NOT my problem. As a full-fare paying customer who may have bought a seat preference or other perk, I owe absolutely zero accommodation to those who are/were apparently unable to control their breeding habits. Is that a bit strong? Yes, it is. Just the same, if those families flying in-mass whant to sit together, they, like everone else should pay the necessary fees. Expecting me, also with extra fees paid, to accommodate their needs is beyond belief. If my seat could be upgraded, I would do so, but under huge protest to the airline. If a purchased upgrad was not availabe or for very loing flight, I'd gram by bag and walk, more than willing to duke it out with the airline at a later date. There IS a reason for business and first class, even at the excessive prices. One of the best reasons for those curtains is the isolation from screaming, hyper-active children. And yes, I wholly support a ban on kids (age to be determined) from BC and FC cabins.
Why have I said this much? I just suffered through a 'Premium Class' slight from JFK to SFO, in full-fare BC ("J" fare) with THREE miserably behaved children near my seat. The entire flight was hell-on-a-wing and the airline has already heard about is. Superiour classes of airline service ar extremely expensive! When one pays those rates, one has more than plentiful right to expect a QUIET, peaceful flight. It was recent and and airline involved has not yet had ample time to respond. if they don't reposond in what I think is a proper fashion, I will make a full and detailed report here, as well as to DOT. The as yet unnamed Major Airline is investigating. Allowing them a bit of time to do so is only fair. So help me, dspite paying multiple premiums and an exorbitant fare, the recent flight was probably the worst in my ~~40 years of frequent flying! Got it?
Aug 19th 2012 11:04PM "Reasonable" requests are just fine - an extra pillow or a non-wool blanket if necessary. In the end, it really depends upon the grade of hotel that you buy - and whether or not you have any Special Status with said chain. It also depends upon how truly important the request is perceived by the hotel staff. If it is a heaelth or safety concern, they will probably do their best. If it looks like the guest is trying to extract more service than their rate or status warrants, expect charges or a flat (if always polite) refusal. While true for all hotel groups, I'll use Accor here as they have ample hight end properties. At a better house, your request for "More oranges and no apples" in the welcome fruit basket will probably be honored and without a quibble. Try that a Motel-6, also an Accor brand as I recall and you WILL get laughed at when you check in.
In most (at least US) markets, when the daily room rate gets close to $250, you may get some attention. At the $500 mark, requests WILL be considered, but you may or may not pay extra for same. At Accor's Motel-6, if one asks for clean sheets, housekeeping may spite and smite you, just for asking. At Accor's Motel-6, you'll be darn luck to get a shower than works and a room that is bug-free and P l e a s e don't wait too long for that fruit basket! At $50 - $90 per night for a single, it is still a Motel-6, folks! I don't want to make fun of dear old Motel-6, but in the hotel business, you generally get what yo PAY FOR. Perks, discounts and loalty coupons aside, please keep your Special Requests in line with what the house typically offers. While tis may be an extreme example, even sillier requests are **not** uncommon. To get the very best from your stay, one short night during a road trip, or a week of fluff and fancy, keep it reasonable and with the house's normal routines - if you like to hear, "Yes."
And again, I apologize to Motel-6! They never get any stars for anything - and they have never earned any. Still, they have their place for the traveling public. - and they have a fairly good reservations system. Despite their sad reputation, their are MANY other branded chains that operate similar houses, often worse and at slightly higher prices. At MOtel-6, at least you know what to expect. As one who travels far too much, I use Motel-6 when appropriate as well as four and even five-star houses, When Appropriate. I cannot stress the appropriate part enough. Buy what you need, ask for modifications if really necessary, but don't become a piss-monster, demaning a Southern exposure and fresh flowers at Motel-6. For about the third time, you get what you pay for (or have earned) and don't push your luck. Overyly demanding guests CAN be tossed out and a few (genuine jerks) really are. Be careful what you ask for, understand what you are asking for and be prepared to pay for it, if it costs the house more than pocket change, perhaps 5% of the basic room rate at the very most. Accommodating your special needs will not, repeat NOT transform a mid-level, three-star house into a four-star. Some other time, we'll talk about that Breakfast Included option.
Aug 19th 2012 10:21PM Sad, yet sort of hilarious. I've traveled the world, heavy emphasis on all of Europe for years, but never resported to a commercial name or housing-swap service. I guess I've just met enough people that making connections *reasonably close* to where I want to go is rarely a problem. Although Iive in a rural, rather isolated part of Amerika, I of course reciprocate the graces for friends and friends-of-friends, as long as they understand that my home is NOT dead center in the middle of a thriving metrololis. I tend to stick with semi-close age-peers (I'm 61) and I've yet to have a problem. I welcome these folks, gladly show them the best of my little part of Amerika and then deposit them as needed for the next part of their journey. In nearly 30 years of exchanges, I've NEVER failed to recieve a note of thanks and a reiprocal invitation. In a few cases, visits here and the reciprocals there have become liffe-long friendships. (When I visit rural Holland, a much-favored country, my friends seem to compete in their hosting offers. All four (singles couples or small families) have been to my home and I love them all as if they were 'kissin' cousins. We work it out. In the case of my Dutch friends, we are all rural folks, not high spending city snoots (yes, there is a little opinion embedded in that). While it is always about having fun and enjoying new experiences, rural folk also understand work. WIth no firm schedule, we also exchange a little labor, mostly for the pleasure of it. If the extra hands get the chores done a bit earlier, the day includes a bit more time for pleasure. The details are very informal and the duties usuallt light and safe. I don't do dairy or livestock in Amerika, but helping one of my Dutch friends with a few days of milking and cheese making has become almost an annual event. They don't grow a lot of dense, 85-100 year forests in Holland, but my friends enjoy a day or two of helping me do exactly that. And we eat! Nothing is off limits and genuine dislikes are extremely rare. We recognize the possibility and often joke that a scrambled egg sandwich (with a side of cheese) is always available a plan B. If you love the people, you will learn to love their food. I guess I should add that by agreement, we try to avoid the huge, festive holiday feasts and serve ordinary, everyday meals. The one exception for my Dutch friends is Amerika's traditional Thanksgiving Day Feast. They seem very fond of it, so I cook the real McCoy about five or six times a year. As often as I can get to Holland, I have friends to welcome me, more delicious yet *simple* food than I can eat, and plenty of activity. It beats the heck out of art collections and monuments, 'ya know? In three of the four Dutch cases, we now share such intimate details and births, deaths and other family events - among international folks who were total strangers, save a chance encounter, 20 or 30 years ago. In April (2012) I made a special trip to Holland (Island of Amaland) to join the wedding party of a young woman whose birth I had witnessed some 23 years ago. We have no blood connection, but I'm 'uncle,' and she cannot wait to bring her new husband to 'uncle's' house in Amerika. I'm not sure how or why all of this happened, but no complaints. I think a big part of it is just trying to be nice to others, appreciating and **Respecting** their cultural norms and being polite. A few Amerikan citizens get it - ad it works. Most do not and the State Department and government darn sure do NOT 'get it.' In the end, Amerika cannot - and should not try to buy these countries nor Amerikanize their cultures. (And we damn sure cannot afford it.) In my view, the very best of Interenational Relations are made on a personal, 1:1 relationship and money stay out of the conversations. That's my experience with Holland. Want to hear about the Middle-East or perhaps Eastern Europe of the late 80s and early 90s? The personal relationships are similar, but their economic situations were (are) so vastly different that I've had few guests from those regions. Despite some effort, the relationships are also far fewer. Eastern Europe is now easier because their citizens have lost their fear. In the Mid-East, I suspect that my personal methods are deemed unworthy, save the odd opportunist. As much as I hate to say it, far too many of of those folks were born with and taught too much hate. The odd breakthrough is possible, but a life of shared, inter-cultrual experience and genuine love remains elisuve. The one or two that exist are so fragile that I dare not mention them.
Despite what we may have been taught, simply being NICE to folks in other countries, cultures and with different beliefs is a darn smart move and can pay huge, personal dividends. Please don't be that "Ugly Amerikan," a phrase so popular in the late 50s and 60s. We CAN do better, even if it is only one family at a time.
Aug 12th 2012 8:37AM Thanks. A truly fun post and yes, very casual train transportation has no equal for pleasure. And sadly, you are also correct in that you 2 & 4-YO son's could never enjoy blowing the horn anywhere in Amereika. I'm not sure about the 2-YO, but I assure that your 4-TO son will never forget the event! (More than fifty years ago I was privliged to honk the horn on a DC-6 airliner. To this day, I know where the little red button is located.) Nice post!
Jun 14th 2012 4:45AM I think it sucks. How's that! And one more stupid, ?revenue-generating? stunt for the FAs to deal with. FAIL!
May 10th 2012 1:12PM In fairness, Steve (above) is correct, to a point. For some kinds of special purpose cruises, that big floating hotel is n early the only choice. He's also correct that some of th e annoying add-ons can at least be reduced, if one is extremely careful. And please, don't get me started on the "Mandatority" gratituties that seem to begin at 18%. Last I heard, a gratituity was a gift of appreciation for superior service, not a mandatory odd-on imposed by management as a substitute for paying fair wages! I've always been a generous tipper, at least when good service is recieved - and I'm happy to do so. That said, nothing will curdle my blood faster than being told that it is mandatory, rates begin at 18% etc. In the end, crusing is decidedly not my thing unless I really need a boat to get to some exotice destination. I'm also not a huge fan of flying, even in First Class and also view it as necessary transportation toward another, far more important objective. At least most of the attendants on interenational airlines are not yet hustling tips from their customers. That too shall come once of these days. I wonder who will be first: RyanAir or Aeroflot. With the latter, one can perish 'with' the thought. Ouch!
May 9th 2012 9:26AM Sorry, I don't buy it. Some of the above is even flatly not true. For example, in an effort to keep their package and advertised daily rates - the "Headline Rates," as low as possible, nearly all lines have migrated to the "Nicke and Dime you to death" pricing model. The classic example is basic drinking water. With the recurrent sanitary issues aboard cruise ships, only a fool would drink the piped-in domestic water. Yet be prepared for some wallet rape if you want safe drinking water - as in bottled. Not gourmet sparkling waters... just ordinary water that is clean. Want a soft drink? Be prepared to pop $2.50 or $3 each. Enjoy a cocktail or two? Bend over and smile; booze is a huge profit center for all cruise lines - and no, you may not bring your own. They search ALL luggage and impound all booze, not for safety reasons as they claim, but to enhance their bottom lines. If you like cookie-cutter travel, where one size fits all, you'll love today's cruise lines. If you want even a bottle of safe water or an extra wawfer of bath soap, pony up and at the highest possible price. One cruise experience was more than enough for a lifetime. Never again!
May 9th 2012 8:58AM If Himex's concerns are entirely safety related, we must salute them for their exceptional caution. Adventures are just that, but safety must remain the promary concern. If, however, there are undisclosed financial issues, perhaps the problem is is more involved than weather alone. I sure hope not. Himex's clients make a substantial investment in any of their climbs, including years of preparation, training, gear as well as a very substantial cash out-lay for THE BIG TRIP. I wonder what protections their clients may enjoy - or not, when an entire season is cancelled. I think this needs a second, more detailed look.
Apr 11th 2012 10:05AM Thanks, CAPTAIN Kent, for another great post. Hilarious, sad, and informative, your ten suggestions are excellent advice for someone moving up - and any industry or profession. Best wishes for success as a four-striper on the MD-80.