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!

Zippers and small change

Zippers and small change and just a few things that will slow you up at airport security.

For those who travel frequently airport security can be a breeze.  They will have their electronics out, they won’t be carrying any fluids, there will be no loose change in their pockets.  BUT ….. if they get stuck behind a newbie then they might be held up much longer than they expected.

Small change might seem obvious but what about zippers?  –  Not just the zipper on your trousers …. that won’t cause a problem.  But those fancy jeans, trousers and jackets covered with decorative zippers – yep – those are going to set off the alarms for sure.

So keep it easy and wear sweats.

Of course if you are travelling for business then you can’t get away with sweats (unless you work for Google maybe) but frequent travellers have got this under control.  For newbies here are a few tips –

  • Have your boarding pass ready – a real old fashioned printed one.  Forget about having it on your phone – it is a hassle.  And double forget about having it on a smart watch.  Just give the man the piece of paper – that works!
  • Do you really have to travel with all those bottles of liquid?  I can understand medication but honestly I have seen people go through security with large plastic bags full of bottles of liquid that they obviously cannot live without.  Pack your liquids in your checked luggage.  If you lose your luggage you have insurance (you do have insurance don’t you????  Seriously!) and you can buy new stuff.  BUT … an  apology to all those super heroes who travel around the world with carry on.  I did it once (a 2 week trip) – I SALUTE YOU!
  • Wear shoes that are easy to slip off.  It sounds simplistic but how many times haven’t you seen people fiddling with laced up boots.  Why?  On the other hand – wear a pair of socks if there is a chance that you have to waddle through security barefoot – yuk.
    feet airport
  • Ladies – leave the charm bracelets at home.  Nothing more irritating standing behind someone who has to remove multiple pieces of heavy jewellery with difficult clasps.

Nothing beats that feeling when you are able to put one bag and your boarding pass in a bin and walk through security without setting off any alarms.  Yay – success!  I even read one frequent traveller’s story about how when he gets through security successfully he gives a fist pump in the air as a victory salute.  He says that security see the funny side of this and he always gets a smile.  I wouldn’t be too sure about doing that.  It might get you into secondary before you know it!

 

 

You took how many photos??

You know how it is these days in this era of instant gratification and cell phones.  You go on vacation and you just take photos of everything you see.  Literally – everything.  Because you know you can review them and delete – my goodness you can even photoshop them to make yourself (or the view) look better.  So you click, click, click …. and then what?  You have hundreds of photos clogging up your memory or (even worse) your icloud which constantly sends messages to you that you need to upgrade (i.e. pay more for more room).

Ugh ….

It’s like a discipline – you have to come home and edit the photos – cut them down to the ones you want to keep and the ones you didn’t like or – let’s face it – the ones where you have forgotten where it on earth it was taken.

Now I know there are some organised people out there who sit in their hotel room every night and go through the day’s photos editing, deleting and even putting in captions.  Not me!  I don’t want to waste a precious moment spending more time staring into my phone.  I just wait about 2 years and then look at the photos and think ….

“Where the hell was this?”

“What happened to that hat?”

“I have to bin that shirt”

“Not sure if I liked that haircut”

“Does this photo make my butt look big?”

It’s so different to how it used to be.  You remember the old days when you bought a film, put it into your camera and took photos which were developed when you got home.  You were more careful in those days because you paid for each developed photo so you didn’t want to waste money.  When you finally got the photos back what excitement going through them.  Well … excitement and sometimes disappointment …. because the shot you thought you had captured perfectly was … well … a bit of a flop.

coach tour fail

What kind of tour did you go on Granny?

scared boy on slide

Look how much fun we are having son!

Yup – those were the days – right ladies?

vintage vacation

So just remember – when you see that camera – just keep smiling.

keep smiling

 

 

 

Nature’s sense of humour

 

Many people travel to experience Nature’s wonders – the migration of the Serengeti, the gorillas of Rwanda, the penguins of Antarctica, the amazing waterfalls, mountains and forests of this world.  But sometimes we think that we are the traveller going to experience Nature – we are in control of where we go and what we do.  We are after all superior beings – are we not?  Nope – I think Nature has us there and loves to exercise her sense of humour as often as she can.

Take this gorilla – All he is doing is hanging out in his back garden having a munch only to see these strange creatures struggling through the jungle.  He just can’t believe his eyes.

laughing gorilla

Nice hat????

mosquito hat

Let’s say you plan a trip to Antarctica.  Well it seems that you are going to end up wearing a lot of clothes.  Special boots, snow trousers, special monogrammed parkas.  Well at least that is what the majority of tourists wear.  So what do you think the local seals thought about this chap?

Tad

This is what they thought – and they are still laughing.

seal

And when you go on safari and you have driven all day looking for animals and have had no luck at all – you come around the corner and run into an elephant with an itch.  A serious itch.

elephannt

Try explaining that one to the rental car company.    You see Mother Nature is in control for most of the time – that is until we start clogging the seas with plastic straws.  But she fights back – again and again –

tree eating   flooding

NATURE TAKES OVER

The interior of an abandoned building where the floor has completely decayed and has been replaced with overgrown plants. (Thomas Windisch/Caters News)

Maybe we should cheer her on!