Shut up and listen

I wonder how often a flight attendant has wanted to scream  – “Come on people – Shut up and listen.  I am not doing this for fun!”  I challenge you – look around you on your next flight and see how many people are actually listening to the safety briefing.  I have seen people sleeping, reading, chatting – anything  but actually listening to the instructions.

I wonder why?  Do they think that this will never happen to them?  Do they think that they know it all already – after all they have been on lots of flights before and all this babble is SO BORING …

So how many times have you seen this on a flight

oxygen masks

And you listen – right?  Of course you do.

Until you get your picture snapped during an emergency on a flight.  See how many people below are not covering the nose with the oxygen mask?

Southwest

You see my thoughts are that if you cannot follow basic instructions about how to use the oxygen mask then how the heck are you going to get out of the emergency exit.  This is why airlines think of ingenious and funny ways to capture the public’s attention regarding the safety briefing.  Air New Zealand’s air safety videos are famous by now and worth a watch even if you aren’t going on a flight.  This is their latest ….

When airlines don’t have this sort of entertainment flight attendants have been known to make up their own with some hilarious results.  I am sure you have seen them on youtube.

What do flight attendants really think about having to make these announcements and most people on the flight are blatantly ignoring them?  Here are some candid thoughts of one particular flight attendant –

Nuralia Mazlan, a flight attendant for Air Asia –

       “Personally, when passengers didn’t pay attention to the safety demo, i like to take note of their seat numbers, in case of an emergency, i would know which passengers would be at a disadvantage as they didn’t listen to the briefing.

As cabin crew, we’re trained to be alert and vigilant at all times. It offends us, but there’s nothing much we can do if you refuse to listen. We’re paid for your safety so we take extra precautions just in case. But that can’t be said for all of us, only certain. Sometimes i don’t care as well, and leave it to these passengers to use their wits (if they think they’re smarter than us, then that’s ok) to save themselves in an emergency.

For example, Flight Lion Air 904 that overshot Denpasar airport’s runway crashed straight into the ocean at the end of the strip, most passengers evacuated from the aircraft without their life jackets on. When asked by the authority most of them admitted they were clueless of the location of these jackets as they didn’t pay attention to the safety demo and most of the passengers are not first time flyers either. The life jacket is just under the seats in front of you and if you paid attention, you would know.

Luckily the water was shallow, but what if it overshot and crashed into deeper water? That’s a good example of why you should pay attention to the safety demo. It doesn’t take even 5 minutes of your time to pay attention. This can save your life.”

Well that’s telling them Nuralia.  Keep smiling buddy!

flight attendant humour

 

 

 

Winter blues and tropical snow

This seems to be a winter that goes on and on and on….. and most of us are thoroughly sick of it.  After all it is the middle of April already – and yet this morning we were greeted with thick heavy damp snow.  The trees were smothered and cheeky early spring shrubs were promptly told off by Old Man Winter.

The answer it seems is to get away from it all …. To somewhere warm and tropical.

Well, be careful with your choice – sometimes Mother Nature can have a nasty sense of humour.  Like the time it snowed in Hawaii – (last year).  Hah that’ll teach them!

So I was curious – where in the world can we go on vacation where we are guaranteed it will never snow?  How about Antarctica?

WHAT? You scream.

It’s true –

Snow requires two specific weather conditions: low temperatures and moisture in the atmosphere. In warm, humid places, such as Florida, there is significant moisture in the air, but temperatures are rarely low enough to produce snow. And while many deserts get quite cold in the winter, there is often not enough moisture in the atmosphere to produce snow. Even Antarctica, the coldest and iciest continent, contains a region called the Dry Valleys, where it is extremely cold, but so dry that snow never falls. (courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Centre).

OK – we don’t want to go all the way down to the Dry Valleys – not right now.  Surely there must be somewhere else where it never snows.

Bahamas?  Pretty safe bet – you think?  Freeport had snow back in 1977. What?

Guadeloupe in the Caribbean?  Snowed 31 March this year. Yes – this is not an April fool’s prank. It really did – or did it?

spring meme

Carib Buzz reports –

The title of this article has even us scratching our heads in disbelief! And no, this is no April Fools Day joke. According to reports, snowflakes actually fell in the hills of the French island of Guadeloupe.

The light snow fall took place on March 31, in the hills of St. Claude and has stunned meteorologist both locally and internationally.

French meteorologist, Alain Museleque, explained the extraordinary phenomenon on Guadeloupe Premiere TV.

“We had a mass of clouds that arrived over St. Claude,” he said in French and translated by McCathie Marie. “Accompanying this mass of clouds was some very cold air. In this very cold air, in the mass of clouds, we had the creation of some snowflakes which fell to the ground. This has never before been seen in Guadeloupe. This is an exceptional event that we will never forget.”

BUT – others say no way –  Roy Spencer, a NASA scientist said –

“On April Fools day (April 1), there was a report of snow on the tropical island of Guadeloupe on the night of March 31, 2016. Guadeloupe is an island in the northern Lesser Antilles. The news report even mentions a light dusting on the ground.

I’m calling BS on this report.” …… (I think he was wearing this t-shirt).

bs

Well …. you be the judge.

On the flip side there are people who love the snow – granted, they are people who don’t generally live in a snowy place and for them it is a total novelty.  I recently had a visitor from South Africa who stood outside my office in the snow with his arms spread out to the heavens and the fluttering snowflakes.  “This is fantastic, guys”  he said.

“yeah…right!”

But there must be some good about winter – it inspired some beautiful prose –

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Lewis Carroll,

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
John Steinbeck,

“My old grandmother always used to say, Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.”
George R.R. Martin,

So let’s not despair – Spring cannot be far away.  I only have now question – does anybody know what the heck is snow mould?

 

 

 

 

This is a biting question!

Mosquitoes are strange creatures. It seems that there are different varieties all over the world with very different patterns of behaviour.

Now you would think that they would be worse in hot tropical locations – but that is not my experience.  I grew up in South Africa and of course mosquitoes are very common there.  But .. we were only bothered by them at night.  So all the houses in South Africa had mosquito netting on the windows and every night as the sun starting going down you prepared yourself for the evening.

My Dad used to call it Mozzy Time!  He would go around the house closing windows and making sure those pests couldn’t get inside.  Thing is he was just neurotic about anything that flew or crawled.  The mosquitoes were not a problem at all.  The drill was if you are sitting outside just spray some Peaceful Sleep Peaceful Sleepon your exposed arms and legs and you are done!  We entertained outside on the verandah with no problem at all.

We also did a lot of camping and again the same precautions would come into play.  Even the little ones would play outside well into the night with minimal problems.  Of course there were the odd mozzy bites which were a nuisance but for the most part it was no big deal.  

One camping weekend trip I realized that I had left the tent at home.  No problem – we used the jib from our sailing dinghy and erected a temporary shelter – slept on the grass under the stars.  With the help of the ever handy Peaceful Sleep we had an undisturbed night (except for when a huge monitor lizard scrabbled through the grass next to us on his nocturnal jaunt).

So when we decided to emigrate to Canada I thought well, I can deal with the snow and the cold and at least there won’t be any mosquitoes.

WHAT?  Was I ever wrong.

My goodness me.  Where do these creatures come from?  First of all they are massive compared to our little African fellows.  They are also slow.  Our African chaps zip around so quickly it would be hard to swat one and they are difficult to see in any event.  These Canadian mozzies seem to be in slow motion in comparison. They also have no decent sense of time.  Any self-respecting mosquito would realise that you don’t hang out during the day looking for a blood snack.  Rest up during the day and then come out when the sun goes down.  That’s the procedure.  Didn’t they read the manual?

It makes me chuckle when people talk to me about travelling to exotic locations and very often the first question is “What about bugs”.  Seriously?  Have you ever been out in the Canadian wilderness?  Just google Canadian bugs and you might not go out again.  Along with mosquitoes we have stink bugs, black flies and spiders galore.  I found this interesting article …

Even the web site of the Salisbury Morse Place School states:  “Winnipeg is [incorrectly] known the “Mosquito” capital of Canada.  The mosquito is jokingly considered Manitoba’s provincial bird!!!” In reality the capital designation rightly belong to Komarno, Manitoba, about 70 km north of Winnipeg.  In fact the name Komarno is Ukrainian for mosquito.  There is a 4.6 meter statue of a mosquito, built in 1984 in Komarno.  Apparently the town is now saving up for a big bug zapper.

Statue of Giant Mosquito in Komarno Canada

And how about Deer Flies – heard of them?  “Deer are nice and flies aren’t so bad, but deer flies are nasty — something you already know if you’ve ever been camping in Canada. These knife-jawed bloodsuckers will saw through your skin, drink your blood and leave you nothing but pain and a potential allergic reaction for your trouble. Nice.”

Mmm – let’s put the sleeping bags on Kijiji and sell them.  As a friend of mine once said “The closest I get to camping Darling, is staying at the Holiday Inn”

 

IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN

That’s what I often hear.  It will never happen – I am going on this vacation no matter what.  They’ll have to carry me up the stairs to the flight with my leg in a cast – I am going and that’s it and NO THANK YOU – I don’t need insurance.

insurance cartoon

Yep – and then you see the newspaper headlines about people stranded in hospitals outside of Canada with sky-high medical bills that are climbing every day and guess what?  They don’t have the insurance to cover these expenses.  Because if they did then it wouldn’t be news.  They would simply call the insurance company who would step in and take over the whole process.  Of course, travel insurance policies vary from company to company.  That’s why it is up to the traveller to be responsible for themselves and to make sure that they are properly covered.  The best policies will include a generous amount of medical coverage – at least $5M – as well as coverage for cancellation and interruption.  What does interruption mean?  It means that if you are travelling and you miss a connection due to bad weather or mechanical failure you are protected. 

Yes – I can hear you.  Some people say travel insurance is a scam.  From personal experience I can say that every time I travel I take insurance.  And yes, I have made claims.  And yes, I have been paid out.  I have probably paid more in insurance premiums than I have received back from the insurance company in claims because fortunately my claims so far have been fairly small.

But I would never travel without insurance because I don’t want to leave my family and friends feeling that they have to bail me out.

This Go Fund Me business makes me mad.  People make stupid mistakes, travel to a foreign land, maybe have an accident and now the whole world has to pay for them just because they didn’t have the sense to take care of themselves.

Stuff happens – we know that.  That is why companies have to pay Workmens Compensation Insurance or Errors and Omissions Insurance to protect themselves and their employees.  It is the same reason that people buy insurance to cover their homes against fire or flood.  It is what sensible people do.

Reading the heart breaking stories on various Go Fund Me campaigns is hard – even more so when you consider that a little pre-planning could have avoided all of this.  Here is an extract from a campaign where a young girl was injured in a car accident in Bali

“XXXXX  was critically injured in an accident on 10/12/17 whilst overseas and is currently in a foreign hospital where the medical bills to save her life are mounting.
Her parents are retired and the medical bills are causing a huge stress on top of the fact their daughter (our niece) is in a foreign country so badly injured. Distance is so hard under these circumstances. We now have some of her family members bedside updating us on her progress.
Her injuries are substantial and we would appreciate any help towards getting her well enought to come home to her loving family.
Her parents are heart broken to say the least and it is christmas time as well so even harder. This is our way of helping to get her back home to her family and we would be so truly grateful if you can help in anyway through our Go Fund Me page

The funds we are raising will be used for the current medical expenses approx $150000 incurred overseas to date.  Her parents are retired and are currently using all retirement funds and resources to get their daughter home, their funds are being exhausted to save the life of their daughter and this is why we are helping them.”

Now how sad is that?  Can you imagine the stress and worry her parents are going through.  What is so frustrating about this is it could have all been avoided.

But how much does it cost?

Let’s say we have a young person (under 30) going away for just over two months (62 days)  – they can get a policy giving up to $5M medical expenses for $301.94.  That works out to $4.87 per day Cdn $.   But let’s say that same young person is going to Vegas for 3 nights – the same medical insurance offering cover up to $5M is just $19.  Why would you take the chance?  There are a number of Go Fund Me campaigns on the go for Canadians injured in the Vegas shooting.

So instead of Go Fund Me – why not Go Take Care of Yourself – and don’t rely on others to pay for your mistakes.

 

EXCESS BAGGAGE?

Passengers are getting bigger and bigger.  Not sure how airlines are going to deal with this one but they certainly are trying.  Now we all know how hard it is to lose those extra pounds and in this day and age we are all encouraged not to judge people by their bodies.  Those who used to delight in fat shaming are now in disgrace and nobody finds their memes or snarky comments funny.

So in this new politically correct scenario in come the airlines with a new idea – let’s just measure their waists to see if our seat belts will fit.

How embarrassing and humiliating.  How will they do this?

Well, in fairness to Thai Airlines who suggested this procedure, it has to do with the new aircraft and safety issues.

Here is a full article on the whole thing written by Bruce Parkinson for Open Jaw –

“Thai Airways has imposed a waist size limit on passengers and banned passengers carrying infants on their laps in business class on its Dreamliner planes.

The reason? The airline is planning to install seatbelt airbags on business class cabins on its new Dreamliner jets. That’s good news for nervous flyers, we suppose, but bad news for those carrying extra weight around their middle, because they simply won’t fit.

Passengers with a waistline of more than 142.24cm (or 56 inches) will not be able to fasten the new seatbelt airbags in a way that meets safety standards, according to Flight Lieutenant Prathana Pattanasiri, VP of TG’s safety, security and standards department, the Bangkok Post reports.

To put things in perspective, 56 inches is a waist size achieved only by a select few. According to some research, for a long life a human’s waist should be approximately half their height. Using that ratio, you’d have to be 9 feet, 4 inches tall to accommodate a 56-inch waist, which would definitely present other airline seating problems.

The new airbags will also make flying difficult for parents of young children, who will now be forced into economy if they plan to travel with kids sitting on their laps.

The seatbelts can’t be extended because of the airbag mechanism, according to the Post.”

Now I totally get that this is a real technical issue and there are in fact very few people who would have a waistline measurement of more than 56 inches.  But how do they determine who needs to be measured and who doesn’t?  Oh yes – it all comes down to the poor old check in agent again.  It will be he or she who will have to make the embarrassing call.  Will they actually have a tape measure?  And where will this be done?  Maybe in a curtained cubicle to spare the embarrassment?

It is a very difficult situation and yes – difficult for parents with young children on their laps and what about someone who is pregnant.  I googled waist measurement for pregnant woman and found that some reported to be 52 inches waist measurement at 9 months.  Well you wouldn’t be flying at 9 months I would imagine.  Interestingly many airlines don’t restrict pregnant women in any way while others will require a doctor’s note at certain stages of pregnancy.

Refer http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/airline-rules-traveling-while-pregnant

So in today’s world where we are all getting larger and obesity seems to be a real problem – especially in North America.  CNN reported that our children are getting fatter and fatter.

(https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/26/health/childhood-obesity-in-the-us-study/index.html)

So I guess the airlines will have to start making bigger and bigger seats in their aircraft if they want to world to keep flying.

SAD

 

ELITE FLYERS BEHAVING BADLY

Just because you are an elite flyer doesn’t mean you can behave any which way.  Aeroflot has had to discipline its elite members because they are just behaving badly.

On its website recently it published the following announcement –

Moscow, 6 March 2018. – Aeroflot will revoke the Aeroflot Bonus elite status and associated privileges from passengers who violate the rules of conduct during pre-flight services and on board its aircraft. Any miles accrued while participating in the loyalty program will be voided, and the participant’s account will be closed.

Aeroflot has seen an increase in cases of disruptive behaviour on board its aircraft. Since the beginning of 2018 alone, there have been nine cases of physical violence against employees of the airline. Closer scrutiny of these incidents has revealed that virtually all the disruptive passengers were elite-level participants in the Aeroflot Bonus loyalty programme. A number of silver, gold and platinum Aeroflot Bonus card-holders consider it acceptable to treat the airline’s employees as second-class citizens, behaving not only rudely and aggressively but also in some cases resorting to violence.

first class

Aw sweet – there you go – all tucked in for the night in your jammies

So what led to this?  The bad behaviour is worse than you can imagine.  A flight attendant who is a contributor to The Points Guy news website commented online –

“I’ve been told to go f— myself because I had run out of a meal choice, heard a colleague called a horrendous homophobic slur for asking a passenger to get off her phone while we taxied to the runway, and had another colleague spit at for tripping over a passenger’s leg (that was dangling out in the aisle) and waking him up. I’ve even seen a mother throw a dirty diaper at a crew member because the crew member wouldn’t collect it from her without gloves. This behaviour is simply not acceptable.”

Wow – pretty bad hey?

Just for a moment let’s compare economy with first class …

coach vs first

There’s cool … and then there’s uncomfortable

This is not a new phenomenon apparently – Sid Lipsey summed it up pretty well in an article dating back to January 2016….

“There is a class of entitled travelers that don’t just believe that they deserve to be treated better than the rest of us; they believe that they are better than the rest of us,” says Christopher Elliott, travel journalist and founder of the travel site elliott.org. In a column Elliott wrote for USA Today, he discussed the growing phenomenon of “silver spoon travelers” — a class of travelers who believe their elite platinum or gold loyalty program status, their insane collection of airline miles and/or their very presence in first class entitle them to lord it over airline staff and fellow passengers. And the stories Elliott told are shocking aerials tales of “oh-no-they-didn’t” audacity.

Take one passenger, Camille Jamerson, who told Elliott she was once “ordered” to give up her first-class seat by a fellow passenger who said he had Medallion status and, therefore, wanted to move his friend from back in economy class to Camille’s seat. “That didn’t happen,” Camille told Elliott.

And there was an airline employee, Brian, who told Elliott of an incident at the gate where 90 people, many of them with some sort of elite status on the airline, were competing for 22 seats on the upgrade list. “The scene at the podium can be fun to watch,” Brian told Elliott. “Grown men and women acting like children when they don’t get their upgrades.”

boy crying

We hear tales galore of air rage in cramped economy class flights but tantrums in first class is a bit much people!  Just kick back in your pod and chill!

Courtney Love was arrested at Heathrow Airport in 2003 after Virgin cabin crew reported her for “verbally abusive” behaviour. Police were called before the plane landed on the overnight flight from Los Angeles, where Love, then singer with the band Hole, was travelling in a Virgin Upper Class Cabin.  (from traveller.com).

Looking forward to my next economy flight – there are some benefits to being 5 ft short!

 

 

A LITTLE BIT HERE AND A LITTLE BIT THERE

Bit by bit …. That’s how airlines manage to run profitable businesses.  They charge extra for things like seat selection, meals and now even for a good spot in the line up.

This $9 charge will annoy a lot of people

So is this how to make money?  Apparently so because it seems to be working. Don’t forget in this online world the cheapest flights will be reflected up in the top of your search screen.  What the online booking engine won’t tell you is how much you will have to shell out for meals, drinks, cushions, blankets and now even a place in the line up.

The nickle and diming upsell is not just common in the airline industry – think about the world around you?

Would you like fries with that?

Shall I super-size that booster juice?

Would you like to go with the 9 oz glass of wine rather than the 6 oz?

large glass of wine

So it is understandable that especially when you come to low cost products such as economy airfare or those really cheap cruises then of course you are going to get sold to …. And sold to …. And sold to… until it drives you round the blinking bend.  A colleague who recently went on one of the big big cruise ships said she got utterly sick of people trying to sell her dining reservations and drinks packages.  You would think you would be in the clear when you buy an all inclusive package – but no – at many resorts you get hounded by time share reps and even if they are not around you get hounded on the beaches – at least in Mexico.  That is one thing that can be said for Cuba – you don’t have that same kind of aggressive sales people.

Ah well – everyone has to make a dime.  As the old saying goes “Cheap is expensive” in the long run you end up paying for it.

Many of the luxury cruise lines do interesting comparisons between their cost per day and the main stream non inclusive cruise lines and the numbers seem to show that you end up paying one way or another so might as well pay up front in Cdn $ if you can and at least have a relaxing holiday.

The problem is – we all love those deals – and we end up paying for them!