Exit row anyone?

So generally the exit row is a pretty desirable seat. There’s more leg room for a start – and leg room is EVERYTHING these days in economy class flying. But is the exit row really the best option and how much will it cost you?

Traveller’s United sums it up pretty well in this article with 7 reason you might not want the exit row –

  1. If the plane is mostly empty. This doesn’t happen that often, but some flights do still take off with many open seats. If there’s a whole row open, then such a row can be more comfortable even than first class.
  2. You want width more than space between seats. There are several seats open in the regular or extra legroom sections and you care more about seat width than space between seats. One drawback of exit-row seats is that the armrests are fixed, so you can’t lift them up for extra space, even if the row isn’t full.
  3. If you have a tight connection. In a few cases, especially a 757-300, there are two exits, and exit-row seats can be located as far back as row 33 (on United) and 41 (on Delta). But even on smaller planes, the exit rows are located towards the middle of the planes. And from experience, I can tell you those 5-10 extra minutes it takes for everyone in front of you to deplane will feel a lot longer. It also can be the difference between barely making the connection and needing to rebook for the next flight.
  4. You are hungry. If you plan to buy food on board — whether by choice, or lack of time — remember we live in the age of few, if any, free onboard lunches. Of course, no airline can make sure they stock enough food, especially hot food, for all passengers to purchase. But again, from recent experience, and complaints from clients, I know that many food choices can run out in the first third of the plane, and on a cross-country flight, it’s not like there are options for pit-stops.
  5. If the only exit-row seats left don’t recline. On many planes, there are two exit rows back to back, and in those cases, the more forward of the two won’t recline, theoretically to keep from blocking passengers in the second row from getting to the door. In this case, it’s a trade-off, extra legroom vs recline, and I know many people who still prefer the exit row in this case. But it’s worth considering.
  6.  If you’re traveling with a pet. Pets are not allowed in exit rows. Period.
  7.  If you want a window seat mostly for the views. Yes, passengers can see out of the window at the exit row.  But the wing is generally in the way of the best views. A preferred seat in front of the exit might not have quite as much space, but it can have less obstruction.

You have to bear in mind that in this world of seat selection payment you are probably going to pay more for that exit row (as well as a bulk head seat and that’s another whole bundle of pro’s and con’s). Also bear in mind that when you do select and pay for the exit row you have to be sure that you are able physically to help in an emergency – so if you booked and paid for the exit row and the flight attendant feels that you could not physically deal with the responsibilities they can ask you to move.

Sometimes you might find an exit row at no additional cost to pre-book. Be warned – there is no such thing as a free lunch. This is an interesting story from a traveller that was posted on the website – The Points Guy.

I booked a flight from Cleveland to Singapore, the longest leg of which was about 15 hours. I couldn’t believe my good fortune when I checked in, because there was an exit row seat available and it didn’t require additional payment. I should’ve known something was up, but being a novice international traveler at the time, I thought it was just luck and good timing.

Well, the reason that seat was available had nothing to do with luck or timing. As I soon found out, it was up against the storage space for an enormous ladder that would drop down and inflate in case of an emergency. It stuck out directly in front of my seat so that my left leg (the one nearest the window) was just about locked in and unmovable. That made for a very long trip to Singapore.

It was a rookie mistake, but now I know to be leery when I see an exit row seat available. Next time I’ll make sure it’s not an exit row with a gigantic protrusion coming from the wall!

Good advice for sure. Be sure to check out seatguru.com. I always use this website for checking out the layout – BUT – remember that airlines can change the equipment which might affect your choice and also remember that some packages using group airfare, for example, will not allow for advance seat selection. In that case your fate rests with the gods!

Creepy crawlies?

Are you scared of insects. I hear this a lot – especially when putting together vacations in exotic and tropical locations. People want beach, they want sand, they want heat – but they don’t want creepy crawlies. I can understand that, especially if you are not used to them. I could always understand people being scared of spiders or moths or lizards but I could never understand the fear of ants. How to deal with ants in your motel room? One customer years ago had a plague on ants in her motel in Disneyland so she used her toothpaste to seal up the baseboards in her room. Another vacationer to the Cook Islands was so terrified of the insects that hotel staff put a guard at her door. And possibly one of the first questions I get asked about a safari is “will there be any spiders or bugs?”

Fortunately growing up in Africa has raised my tolerance level quite a bit so I am pretty unfazed by spiders, lizards, ants even snakes. I was however pretty surprised to read a report of a passenger on a flight from Toronto to Calgary who was bitten by a scorpion. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/scorpion-air-transat-flight-1.5050236

Boy I bet she didn’t expect that! No wonder she was so freaked out – and I would be too – even having grown up in Africa. A scorpion is not a nice thing to find in your sweater. Even the flight attendant was amazed as she tried to persuade the passenger it was just a gum wrapper.

Now where the heck did that come from? Someone in my office guessed that it might be someone’s support animal gone astray? Someone else guessed that it was one of those touristy paper weights but that it wasn’t quite dead. Someone else mused that maybe it came aboard in a bunch of grapes – but then I thought who the heck gets grapes on a flight from Toronto to Calgary? Someone else thought that maybe it stowed away on the flight – hoping for a better life… in Alberta??

Nothing quite like a creepy crawlie to stir things up. Arriving as new immigrants to South Africa many years ago we were greeted by more insects than we were used to in England. The funny thing was, it was my Mom who was the Insect Warrior. While us kids screamed and ran away and my Dad stood on a chair my mom would stride into the bedroom and find that pesky spider and just batter the life out of it.

R.I.P. Mr Spider

Where have all the people gone?

“Please listen carefully – Press 1 for English, Press 2 for French. If you were born on a Tuesday press 4 …. thank you for holding. Your time is important and we will be with you as soon as possible. Your current wait time is 24 minutes.”

Does all this automation really speed things up? I am really not sure. Have you been through arrivals at Calgary airport where you feed your form into the computer and then have to go and stand in a line so a man can tell you whether you can leave or not. ???

Same as e-tickets and checking in online. You get to the airport and you still have to go to another computer to print out baggage tags – or maybe I am missing something – so how come you have to go and stand in another line up. And … something I have to vent about …. I still cannot manage to get those baggage tags on my bags without the help of one of the airline staff.

Where will this all lead us? Will flight attendants be next? Just get on the plane yourself and find your own seat. Get yourself seated and it is up to you to check that you have your seatbelt on. Can’t always depend on someone else to look out for you. A robot can’t do that job. What happens if there is an emergency mid flight? Or someone has a baby? Or they run out of the pasta option. Who’re you gonna complain to? Robots don’t care – they don’t have feelings.

It’s alright – we can all relax. Flight attendants are the least likely people to be replace by robots according to http://www.replacedbyrobot.info who record as follows –

0 % Chance of Automation

“Flight Attendant” will never be replaced by robots.

This job is ranked #250 out of #702. A higher ranking (i.e., a lower number) means the job is less likely to be replaced.

What a relief! I really don’t want to be on a flight without a flight attendant who can do all these amazing things. You should read the list on the website – https://www.replacedbyrobot.info/56127/airline-flight-attendant

After reading this report I got curious….. Mmm – “they” keep saying that travel agents will go the way of dinosaurs. I wonder what http://www.replacedbyrobot.info thinks about travel agents ….. deep breath – click search ….

5.7% Chance of Automation

“Travel Agent” will not be replaced by robots.

This job is ranked #143 out of #702. A higher ranking (i.e., a lower number) means the job is less likely to be replaced.

Whew! That’s a relief. But what is the job most likely to be replaced by robots I wondered ….

Right on top of the list – TELEMARKETERS…. well I am not sorry but I do feel a bit bad for those who might lose their jobs.

Other aspects of travel that we don’t want to be replaced by a robot would be hotel check in. Now I know it is a nuisance sometimes when you get to the hotel and there is a big line up for check in. This is particularly common when everyone arrives from the airport on the free shuttle (maybe a reason to shell out for a taxi). However how can you explain to the robot that you absolutely hate a connecting door in your room? Yes I know you can put in that as a request when you book your hotel but we all know that no-one reads that kind of thing. How many times have you heard “Yes we know you wanted a king bed but it does say that this is on a request basis only”. No, give me a person any time. You know why – you can smile at a person, be nice, be chatty, (honey attracts more bees than vinegar) …. you can’t do that to a computer!

The kids made me do it

We just had to go to Disney. For kids who where born and grew up in a small kingdom in Africa the idea of a trip to Disneyworld was so incredible we just had to make it happen. It was a long trip – a four hour drive from our home in Mbabane Swaziland to Johannesburg International airport.

Then 11.5 hours flying time to London – and then another 9.5 hours to Orlando. Boy this Mickey Mouse better be worth it. And he was, as well as the Ninja Turtles and Goofy …. just the look on the kids’ faces was enough reward for me.

Having said that I did have to laugh when I came across this British comedy skit of a travel agent booking a Disney trip …. if you have time check this out. (“It’s just a man in a suit!”)

The mom’s face says it all

So I did Disney (twice) and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think the kids had more fun looking at me being terrified of the rides. And we did pace ourselves. Disney can be pretty exhausting if you are determined to get your money’s worth. I had to laugh the last time I was down there for a travel function. I have honestly never seen so many crying children and so many moms with strollers where the beverage holder had a beer! Well maybe it was a Coke!

Are we having fun yet?

Family holidays can be a challenge at the best of times but they do create some wonderful memories and some good stories to share over dinner.

Fishing trips were a big one in our family and the kids were taught at an early stage to fly fish. We took many camping trips while we lived in Africa. We would hitch up the trailer and drive down to the coast. The beach was miles long and almost deserted and we had to take the 4×4 to drive along it. Lunch in the cooler box, a fishing rod and not a life guard to be seen. Alas when we got back to the camp we found the monkeys had cleverly broken into the trailer and opened every Tupperware container they could find. What a mess!

No – I am not having fun – so there!

Or the time we took a cruise from Durban stopping off at a small port on Madagascar island. We took a taxi from the port to a nearby beach. Imagine the look on the boys’ faces when they saw that there was no floor in the car at the back – it had completely rusted away – so they had to keep their feet up away from the axle. And you wonder why they call that port Hellville!

Or our first cruise in North America – out of LAX along the Mexican Riviera. Our first sea day sitting up on deck I could not find the youngest one anywhere. I started to panic until I saw him leading the conga line – having the time of his life! That’s what you have to do on a family vacation – just roll with the punches and make sure you get a photo!

A funny airport welcome – not

I am sure you have seen those signs when you enter the arrivals hall after a flight. There might be a group of people with flowers, balloons and signs. Welcome home – Granny we love you – Welcome to Canada. Well there is a twist on those airport welcomes as was seen recently in Australia. This guy find out his girlfriend had been unfaithful – this was his welcome home sign for her as she stepped into the arrivals hall …

Well that’s a bit embarrassing …. I feel a bit sorry for the girl and so apparently did a lot of people online. This welcome certainly generated a lot of opinion. As someone said – he must have been pretty upset to put himself out there in public as being cheated upon. In medieval times being a “cuckold” was something to be ashamed of so he must have been pretty upset to humiliate himself like this. Someone said on twitter that if she was the girl he was meeting she would have just walked right past him without stopping as if she didn’t know who he was. Good call!

These kids had something else in mind to greet their mom when she arrived at the airport

Or this wit … how to call someone out

But I think I like this one the best

Airports can be bewildering places and it is always reassuring to see someone there to meet you – even if it is not family. I always book a transfer so that when I come through into the arrivals hall there is someone there with my name on a sign. Nothing worse than arriving tired and jet-lagged in a strange airport and not knowing what the heck to do or where to go. Also a pretty nice service I have found is the VIP fast track where someone meets you at baggage claim and then walks you through immigration. What a pleasure that is – I had this service in Egypt and also in Barbados and it was so quick and easy and no need to stand in a long queue.

But as always – it pays to keep your sense of humour whether at arrivals or departures.

The airline that doesn’t care

On a recent TV show in the UK a pilot who used to work for Ryanair said that the company “detests” its crew. That’s a bit rough but maybe true. In fact Michael O’Leary the controversial head of Ryanair once described pilots as glorified taxi drivers.

The full article is available on the Daily Star Online website (a UK online newspaper) but in that they state other woes that the airline has gone through – See below.

 2017, hundreds of thousands of passengers had their travel plans wrecked after Ryanair admitted it had “messed up” the planning of its pilots’ holidays.

The airline was forced to cancel 20,000 flights – a move that, along with strike chaos throughout 2018, lead to it issuing profit warnings.

Customers came forward to tell the Channel 5 show the tales of appalling rudeness experienced by those who dared complain.

One woman, who was charged €300 for Ryanair to print out the boarding pass she had forgotten, was told to forget about a refund.

The general tone was that “it was your f***-up”, she said.

Daily Star Online has approached Ryanair for comment.

Well as long as they don’t ask Michael O’Leary for a comment – but they probably won’t get one. The travel industry press had great fun back in the day when O’Leary would entertain us all with his outrageous statements. It seems however that Ryanair has somehow managed to shut him up and we haven’t had comments from him for a few years. Here are a few beauties from the past …

On British Airways: “BA have got waterfalls in their head office. The first thing I’d do if I were in charge of BA is turn off the waterfalls. The only time we have waterfalls in the Ryanair office is when the toilet leaks.”

On how to keep employees motivated and happy: “Fear.”

On refunds: “We don’t want to hear your sob stories. What part of ‘no refund’ don’t you understand?”

If you can’t find a low fare on Ryanair: “You’re a moron.”

On charging passengers to use the loo: “One thing we have looked at is maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in the future. If someone wanted to pay £5 to go to the toilet I would carry them myself. I would wipe their bums for a fiver.”

The list is long and full of **%#@@ words but if you want to have a good chuckle go to https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/lists/Michael-OLearys-most-memorable-quotes/

My personal favourite ….

On travel agents: “Screw the travel agents. Take the ******* out and shoot them. They are a waste of bloody time. What have they done for passengers over the years?”

Fly and flop

I made Leslie Horton laugh when I first used that expression.

FLY AND FLOP

It is a bit of a British way of making fun of the annual holiday down to Mallorca. Pack up, get on the plane – get to the hotel – and flop for a week. Never mind that rubbish about sight seeing, churches, museums – heck no. Get on the plane – get down to the beach and …. yes that’s right – flop!

Look – there’s nothing wrong with that. After a whole year of working hard, taking the kids to hockey practice, cleaning the house, shoveling the driveway – yeah – hardworking people are quite justified in their desire to get somewhere they don’t have to make beds and cook meals and they can just lie on the beach for a week – even if it is pouring with rain!

Of course it has bred a whole sub-culture of the locals who laugh at the tourists and regard them as a necessary pain in the butt. I understand that. I grew up in Mullion, Cornwall – a pretty village with spectacular beaches. There was always a bit of a panic in the air towards the end of June – the “visitors” were coming. And you could spot them a mile away. Dad would have a hanky on his head and would be enjoying an ice cream cone.

Mom would be struggling down the main street with an oversized beach bag and very burnt arms. We fled to beaches that only the locals knew about and waited there until 4th September when peace in the village was restored and the visitors all went home.

And here we come to the “flop” part – it’s problematical. Finding somewhere to flop that is. Pop your head out of the window of your hotel in the early hours of the morning and I bet you will see people sneaking down there to drop a towel or a book on a couple of chairs to reserve them. The hotels don’t like this and nor do the other guests. But a place to flop is very very important.

The strange thing is that the all inclusive hotels these days have so many activities on the go you would be hard pressed to spend the whole time flopped in your chair. What with aqua aerobics in the morning and karaoke in the afternoon round the pool and name that tune in the evening. (Can I run away now???)

So if lying on the beach all day is your thing – Go for it! I say. You worked hard. You deserve it. It is your holiday and you should spend it how YOU want to spend it and forget about any criticisms. Just remember the suntan lotion and don’t fall asleep in the sun.

The final word is from Jokesoftheday.net. It says it all…..

A guy fell asleep on the beach…
A guy fell asleep on the beach for several hours and got horrible sunburn, specifically to his upper legs. He went to the hospital, and was promptly admitted after being diagnosed with second-degree burns. With his skin already starting to blister, and the severe pain he was in, the doctor prescribed continuous intravenous feeding with saline, electrolytes, a sedative, and a Viagra pill every four hours. 
The nurse, who was rather astounded, asked, “What good will Viagra do for him, Doctor?” 
The doctor replied, “It won’t do anything for his condition, but it’ll keep the sheets off his legs.”

Read more on page: http://www.jokesoftheday.net/joke-A-guy-fell-asleep-on-the-beach/2017073022