Tag Archives: air travel

What’s the point of points?

You either love them or hate them – they either work for you or they don’t.

I know several people who very successfully and diligently collect points and are able to use them for flights – sometimes even business class.  Gosh, I have even had some limited success in this field and what a joy when you are able to go online and obtain a ticket for nothing!

But let’s face it – there is no such thing as a free lunch.  So who is winning here?

The banks – most credit cards that give points charge very high interest.  So you spend spend spend, accumulate points point points and end up paying for those points with the very high interest charges.

The airlines – so you are a frequent flyer and you are collecting points.  It makes sense to therefore fly on flights where you can add to your points…..even if it means going a little out of your way or adding a connection or two.  The airlines are buying your loyalty with points that you can supposedly use to get “free” flights.  However getting your free flights might not be that easy – but more about that later.

The corporate traveller – yes those road warriors.  No-one envies them.  Another flight, another city, another night in an anonymous hotel far away from friends and family.  It is a lonely life.  So they deserve the points they get on the flights booked by the company don’t they?  Yes of course they do.  But there is a trap here – there is always a trap!


You see once you start collecting those points you get hooked, so you travel some more, and then you get your status with that airline upgraded.  Now they really have you!  There is something quite nice about boarding before everyone else.  It’s called elite status (or words to that effect).

You get used to this and then if your travel starts to slow down it creates worry.  How will you keep your Double Titanium status if you don’t do at least 100 flights a year.  The stress becomes unbearable while you plot ways to add a few more miles.  You become quite desperate.  Maybe you should fly to Edmonton or Fort St John for the weekend.  Hey wait, here’s a flight to Grande Prairie.  There is no limit to the list of places you can go to in order to keep that Elite frequent flyer status.

And then there is the pain and agony of redeeming you points for a flight.  Not so easy as click and point.  Depending upon the destination or the route the allotment of “reward seats” on each flight might be extremely limited and pretty much disappear almost a year prior to travel.  Sometimes you might be required to book a one way because the return date is not yet in the system but if you wait for that the reward flight will be gone.  Once you add stopovers and multiple segments into the mix you definitely need to phone in and be prepared for a lengthy wait.  Don’t be impatient.  Put the phone on speaker and clean out your kitchen cupboards but preferably do this at midnight or 6 am when the call loads are lowest.  Clean kitchen cupboards, business class flight to Sydney for nothing – double whammy!

The Before Picture

So STOP….take a deep breath.  Celebrate the times that you do earn a free ticket or an upgrade using points.  Forget about the points that have expired (oh wait – have they stopped that now?)

And what about the losers you might ask?  Yes those are the ones who fall for the high interest points earning cards and don’t pay off the balance each month before that crippling interest kicks in.  Better off not to earn points and just buy the ticket you want on the airline you want to the destination you really want to go to.

Just sayin’.






The ultimate whine…..

…….every two minutes, every waking hour, every day – for a month!

ohareThe new runway at O’Hare has some people over-worked up. The Chicago Department of Information reports that in one month last year, one obsessive with no life lodged 11,155 complaints about O’Hare Airport noise. Assuming that he or she was awake and at home for 14 hours every single day, that makes one complaint EVERY TWO MINUTES – for a month. That has to be some sort of record particularly if you consider that airport-noise complaints can only be lodged by phone or by completing an online form with 6 fields! Now that Mr or Ms Griper have been dutifully ignored, here’s hoping they can go back to something marginally normal like moaning to family or, failing that – go feed the cat!nala catnip

And – even worse, they’re not the only grumblers – there are another 24 nutters. Could be the beginning of a Whine Club with new runway obsessions– look out YYC!

For all the gory details go to this link – http://flightclub.jalopnik.com/six-miserable-people-filed-25-000-ohare-noise-complaint-1691471535

So let’s take a look at complaining and how to do this effectively.  Perhaps the Chicago resident thought that the “drip treatment” would elicit results and maybe it will.  The airport authorities would probably do anything to stop the dripping.

Other people use humour in their complaint.  I find this the most effective – how about this sample from a complaint letter to Liat – the Caribbean airline.

“Dear LIAT,

May I say how considerate it is of you to enable your passengers such an in-depth and thorough tour of the Caribbean.

Most other airlines I have travelled on would simply wish to take me from point A to B in rather a hurry. I was intrigued that we were allowed to stop at not a lowly one or two but a magnificent six airports yesterday. And who wants to fly on the same airplane the entire time? We got to change and refuel every step of the way!

I particularly enjoyed sampling the security scanners at each and every airport. I find it preposterous that people imagine them all to be the same. And as for being patted down by a variety of islanders, well, I feel as if I’ve been hugged by most of the Caribbean already.

I also found it unique that this was all done on “island time,” because I do like to have time to absorb the atmosphere of the various departure lounges. As for our arrival, well, who wants to have to take a ferry at the end of all that flying anyway? I’m glad the boat was long gone by the time we arrived into Tortola last night — and that all those noisy bars and restaurants were closed.

So thank you, LIAT. I now truly understand why you are “The Caribbean Airline.”

Love that one!  But here is the best I have seen…  sent to the railway in Anglia UK

Airport etiquette and strange sights

Honestly, airports bring out the worst in me.  What is it about an airport that turns ordinary sensible intelligent human beings into zombie like creatures who wander around aimlessly and get  in the way.  My pet peeves –

Checking the arrivals / departures board – Don’t stand right in front of the board so that nobody else can see.  Share the space.  After checking the board move away.  Don’t stand there having a long conversation on the phone because other people want to check their flights too.  

airport departures sign

Waiting for your luggage at the carousel – How does it help for everyone to stand anxiously at the very edge of the carousel thus blocking anyone else’s view of their luggage.  This results in panicked passengers pushing and shoving past people as they chase after their case.  If everyone stood behind the yellow line it would be much simpler for all concerned.

luggage carousel








The chair hog – You’ve seen them.  They commandeer the comfiest armchair and then proceed to sprawl across it so they take up two and put their feet all over where someone else will soon have to sit.
two chairs







Shame but I do feel sorry for her in this picture having spent a night on the floor in Dallas airport.


The techno maniac – Yep, he’s got an ipad, a cell phone, an iMac and he needs to charge them all.  Didn’t he think of charging them before he left home?  Never mind that he has taken up all the available charge ports.  But let’s face it – you have to have power and you have to stay in touch so businessmen will find themselves sitting on the ground in their suits.  There’s nothing dignified about travel these days.









Fortunately sometimes it is indeed a laughing matter – airports are like a little unique universe, a collection of the masses and if you keep your eyes open you will come away with a chuckle or two for your journey.  Like these beauties –

babeneck pillow

kiss and goodbye

need pants

You lost my luggage?

If it has happened to you in the past you are a rare beast. Statistics tell us that 99% of luggage arrives safely at its destination. Which is incredible if you think about it. I always look at my suitcase trundling down into that Neverland of suitcase mayhem and wonder if I will ever see it again. I get to the other end (of the world) and lo and behold there it is! It’s a miracle.

Look how happy she is.
Look how happy she is.

Not so much fun is losing your bag – forever!  Yes we have all had baggage delays and then that nice man from Calgary airport arrives at the front door at 11 pm a couple of days later with the missing bag.  But what about when it disappears completely?  What happened?  Did the baggage tag fall off?  Did your address label tear?  You know you should have bought the sturdy leather one and not rely on the last-minute paper labels at the check in counter.  And you do realise you should have put your name and address inside your suitcase?  Otherwise how will they ever know it’s your bag?  Another problem is filling in the form for the lost baggage.  Can you remember actually what colour or make your suitcase was?  I know I couldn’t.  Mmmm – did I take the red one or the black one this time?  Did it have two wheels or four wheels?  Maybe the best thing is to have such a distinctive bag that it really stands out in a crowd.

And talking about crowds…. what is it with the baggage carousel? People stake their claim to a place right in the front leaving the late arrivals bobbing around trying to peak between shoulders to see if they can identify their bag.  Then when you do see your bag you have to rugby scrum your way through the crowd to get to it before it scoots along the line and disappears down the hole again!

Your bag is not there yet!

Your bag is not there yet!

So eventually when your unidentified suitcase lands up in the warehouse someone has to go through the contents to see if there is a way of identifying the owner.  Not a nice thought.  Remember that next time you cram all your dirty washing in a plastic bag.  Imagine that after a few weeks in a warehouse in Barbados!

Apparently there are giant warehouses all over the world where lost luggage piles up and the contents are eventually sold to defray expenses.  John Smith of the Toronto Sun described how he went to what they call “Roll Out Tuesdays” where unclaimed items are sold sight unseen by the pound. http://www.torontosun.com/2013/01/29/where-does-unclaimed-baggage-end-up .  A bit like Storage Wars.  There is even a whole website devoted to one such operation down in the States.  You can buy just about anything and their blog makes interesting reading.  http://unclaimedbaggage.com/

I guess you could come away with some great bargains – including wedding gowns!  Imagine how mad that bride was…..I wouldn’t like to be the airline representative for that airline!  Mind you – some wedding dresses might be better off lost for ever…..bride