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Travel Log

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Frequent Flying Is a Privilege

Chris Cloud notes all is not well in frequent flyer programs, aka Nickel 'N' Dime Land:

"In March American Experess started charging a fee per point (up to $50) for transfer of Membership Awards points to frequent flier miles. Diner's Club also tacks on $.95 for every 1,000 miles redeemed throught its Club Rewards program."

Olivier Travers | November 1, 2004 | Trends | Permanent link | Comments (1)
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Health Travel on the Rise

the pic and caption are just for good fun, ok?
Redone with parts from
12 different countries

A stream of articles during the last few weeks and months shows there's a growing trend to kill two birds with one stone and get some medical procedure done while traveling abroad. In some cases medical care is the main goal of the trip, leisure coming only as a bonus. Even accounting for the cost of flight and lodging there are significant savings to be made.

Western Europeans enjoy cheaper plastic surgery and dental work in Central Europe countries which have recently joined the European Union such as Poland and Hungary, since EU membership simplifies things from an insurance coverage perspective (Molvanîa however seems left behind again). Meanwhile, India and Thailand seem to attract significant attention from Asian and even American patients (it was not reported whether these were considered to be Benedict Arnolds by John Kerry). Don't forget to import your post-surgery drugs from Canada for a fully-globalized healthcare experience.

Now for the educational part:

Olivier Travers | November 1, 2004 | Travel Ideas | Permanent link | Comments (3)
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Woman Leaves for Vacation, Returns to Find a Stranger Moved In

And you are?
I didn't leave the
lights on, did I?

You're supposed to come back from a vacation rested and free from stress, ready to get back to a productive schedule. Georgia resident Beverly Mitchell wasn't so lucky. She took a 2-1/2 trip to Greece only to arrive home and find that some nut had moved into her house, was wearing her clothes, had changed the utility bill to her name and redecorated the place to suit her tastes. Police say they'd never seen anything like it. CNN reports.

Rick Bruner | October 30, 2004 | News | Permanent link | Comments (1)
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Look Smart, Buy Cheap

Did you know Indonesia is at a crossroads?
Look at me.
I'm reading The Economist.

CNN lists ways to achieve the best travel deal. I didn't know you could "achieve deals," but CNN has professional editors and I learnt English as a second language, so who am I to criticize?

Among other things, you are advised to buy cheap tickets on overcrowded flights but to look the part for a business upgrade. That, a fresh breath, fluent use of polysyllabic language and not ostentatiously staring at the check-in personnel's sexual parts will get you a long way to an upgrade. Notice how I myself obviously fully qualify. Thanks CNN for the precious insight.

Olivier Travers | October 29, 2004 | Advice | Permanent link | Comments (6)
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Molvanîa, a Jetlag Travel Guide

Molvania

Amusing faux travel guide: Molvanîa: A land untouched by modern dentistry. From Jetlag Travel Guides, "Taking you places you don't want to go." The book appears to be not-so-loosely based on Romania, in my estimation. From the back cover:

Molvania, birthplace of the polka and the whooping cough, is often overlooked as a tourist destination, but thanks to this updated Jetlag Travel Guide, the keen visitor can now enjoy one of Eastern Europe's best-kept secrets...WHEN TO GO: Those wanting a quieter, less-crowded experience might consider visiting in the "off season" periods such as winter or during the Lutenblag Jazz Festival. WHERE TO EAT: Cafe Cravben is run by a married couple — if the arguments from the kitchen are anything to go by — and the menu is changed frequently. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the table linen.
And so on.

For whatever reason, the publisher promises a whole series of these make-believe travel guides.

Rick Bruner | October 28, 2004 | Featured Destinations | Permanent link | Comments (0)
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Airports To Discover Electricity, Hot Water

airport crowd - MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik
The efficiency of
large organizations

According to Reuters airports are to cut queues with software. The idea is to let airports tap actual passenger numbers in order to properly staff critical areas such as security checks or baggage handling. I'll believe it when I see it, as inefficiency, not to speak of ignorance if not downright contempt for travelers, seems deeply ingrained in airport corporate culture. After all, as a passenger you are not really the airport customer and it shows.

These bland, cold, inhumane and generally-speaking unusable environments are quite telling. Or maybe I'm the only one feeling lost in a huge hospital (one that would smell slightly less bad than usual) everytime I need to take a plane. Back to Reuters article, don't hold your breath. IBM, which is creating this software in partnership with Amadeus, said their system is about to be in trial in one European airport, so there's a long way to go before it actually works and gets rolled out in enough places to make a difference. Fume on that next time you're standing in a queue for an hour to get frisked and asked to go around shoeless.

Olivier Travers | October 28, 2004 | News | Permanent link | Comments (0)
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Delta Airlines Flight Attendant Is Inappropriate

Ellen Simonetti
Come on,
wardrobe malfunction?

The BBC's science and technology reporter (no less) tells us the tale of Ellen Simonetti aka Queen of the Sky, a flight attendant grounded without pay by her employer Delta for posting "inappropriate" pictures on her weblog. Presumably her short skirt, long legs and inviting smile were too much to bear (or maybe it was cleavage shown on another picture), but said employer reportedly didn't bother to even point to which pictures weren't fit for online publication or warn her and ask her to remove the pics before suspending her.

Ms Simonetti seems quick to publicize the event and consider alternate gigs, but Delta, you really need to lighten up.

See additional thoughts from Michael Fox (an Employer's Lawyer) and Cathy's World. No, the First Amendment has nothing to do with it, and yes, Delta looks like a bunch of prude control freaks now.

Update: Queen of the Sky has been fired, puts back offending pics on her site.

Olivier Travers | October 28, 2004 | News | Permanent link | Comments (1)
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ATA Goes Chapter 11; American Airlines Discover Life Overseas

The New York Times reports that ATA is the first U.S. budget airline to seek bankruptcy, however the company will honor all tickets and maintain its usual flight schedule.

Meanwhile, USA Today explains American airlines flex international muscle because there's more money to be made there. Long flights is an area where low cost carriers are not really competing (yet?).

Olivier Travers | October 27, 2004 | News | Permanent link | Comments (0)
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Routing Around Airline Stupidity

John Engler explains how he went to great lengths to avoid yield management gone wild with the help of his travel agent. Experienced travellers will tell you that the best price is not always available online... He also mentions the growing trend that business travelers are increasingly giving up on the much more expensive refundable tickets, another nail in the coffin of the traditional airline business model.

Olivier Travers | October 27, 2004 | Best / Worst | Permanent link | Comments (0)
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Now That's Some Dedicated Voters

According to Reuters, U.S. expats jump on planes to vote in home states. Seems Reuters is making a big story out of a few rare examples, but some people apparently really didn't like that they didn't get their absentee ballots.

Olivier Travers | October 26, 2004 | Upcoming Events | Permanent link | Comments (0)
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