Why your airplane tickets just became even MORE expensive

Shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks, the TSA was introduced to oversee security at all US airports (and establish standards that must be met at international airports where flights depart for the US).  To pay for this, a fee was instituted on all airline itineraries: $2.50 for a one-way trip, $5 for a nonstop round-trip, and $10 max for a roundtrip with a connection.  This fee was capped at $10 per round trip itinerary. Continue reading

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Going to the French Open

My first night in Paris was nice and relaxing.  I was chomping on some Pringles from a random Carrefour Express near the Park Hyatt Vendome (where I was staying), and happened to see some highlights of the French Open on ESPN.  “Wait, that’s going on right now?  As you can tell, I’m a MASSIVE tennis fan.  While I admit I don’t follow it as closely as others, I always enjoy watching the majors throughout the year.  I’ve long been a fan of Roger Federer for the same reason I’m a fan of the San Antonio Spurs: they’re boring, quiet winners.  Federer has a ruthless efficiency, even as he’s gotten older.  The French Open features a clay surface, which has notoriously not bode well for Roger, but he had started reasonably well this tournament, so that was good.

Wait, I was watching highlights of Rafa Nadal from that day’s match, and they usually alternate the big names day to day, so that would mean that Rog…wait, seriously?  Could it be?  COULD I RANDOMLY STUMBLE UPON ROGER FEDERER PLAYING IN THE FRENCH OPEN?!

Spoiler alert

Spoiler alert

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Park Hyatt Paris Vendome: Eurabia, Part V

In the points and miles world, there are what people call “aspirational” hotel properties.  These are properties that cost an enormously prohibitive amount of money for most people, but even the most average of joes can stay there using points.  We’re talking typical nightly rates upwards of $1000.  Among the most well-known are the Conrad Koh Samui, the Park Hyatt Sydney, the Conrad Maldives on Rangali Island, and the property in front of which I found myself on a cloudy Tuesday about midday: the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome.

The Park Hyatt Paris Vendome

The Park Hyatt Paris Vendome

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MH17: what do we do now?

People crave control.  Control over their surroundings, control of how people think about them, and control over their physical and emotional safety.  It’s just part of the human condition.  We usually fear the unknown, i.e. what we can’t control.  That’s why some people are afraid of flying.  They bring up a certain point that is 100% true: when you step on an airplane, you’re giving up much of your autonomy and entrusting your safety (and that of your family) to 2-3 people flying the plane and 3-10 crew taking care of the passengers.

As a fairly frequent flyer, I’ll admit that I’m a very nervous flyer.  I don’t like turbulence.  What I have to continually remind myself is turbulence means there is air around the wing, which is actually great news, because that’s what generates the lift necessary to keep the plane airborne!

Yesterday, a Malaysia Airlines 777 was shot down near the (now “disputed”) border of Russia and Ukraine.  It appears to be a random act of violence directed at what the perpetrators thought could’ve been a military aircraft.

All of this leads to a really important question:

What do we do now?

Continue reading

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Please read headlines with a grain of salt: Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashes in Ukraine near Russia

Very sad news from Eastern Europe.  A Malaysia Airlines 777 with 280 passengers and 15 crew has crashed in Ukraine.

In the days ahead, you will see lots of speculation about what caused the crash, especially with the military actions in the area.  Like I mentioned in my post about the near-miss, headlines are about grabbing attention and page views, a lot of media has transformed into “newsertainment” in recent years.

The best thing we can do right now is keep those aboard the plane (and their families on the ground) in our thoughts and prayers.  The truth will eventually come out about what happened, but rampant speculation in times like this doesn’t help anyone.



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Paris, A Stroll: Eurabia, Part IV

Ah, Paris.  City of Lights.  City of Romance.  City of [stereotypical French laugh].

Anyhoo, this was my first time back to Paris since 1997, so I was curious what had changed since the last time I was there.  What I found was absolutely amazing…

A street.

A street.

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Venice: Eurabia, Part III

Ah Venice.  The culture, the canals, the gondoliers, the billions of cruise ship passeng….dang it.

Let’s get right to it: Venice is touristy.  But that’s ok.  You just have to go into Venice expecting it. Continue reading

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Dallas-Venice on US Airways Coach: Eurabia, Part II

(I meant to say “A330″ instead of “A380″ in the above video)

I’ll be honest: this probably won’t be the most exciting flight report ever.  It was mainly US Airways international coach service on their A330.  There were no suites, no sliding doors, no showers, no caviar.  It’s a wonder how I survived, huh?  I know I know, I’m a bit spoiled, but at the end of the day whether I’m in the front of the plane or the back of it I’m still traveling!  I’ve always said I’d never let Coach stand in the way of a good trip, and plus I’d get to check out a new airline’s international service.  All of this is what I told myself to get me psyched up for what I was sure to be a big ol’ bucket of meh. Continue reading

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The ONE Thing You Must Pack on your Next Trip

My trusty carry-on

My trusty carry-on

My blog doesn’t quite have the following that, say, Tim Ferriss or Chris Guillebeau have, but I hope this post reaches a little farther than usual.

Sometimes I forget to pack something, and I regret it every time.

I forgot to pack it when I went off on the tour company representative on our cut-short cruise of Halong Bay.

I also forgot to pack it in a restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong.

I sometimes forget to pack it on flights or when things change at the last moment. Continue reading

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Two planes have a near-miss over Houston, or: How to Read Headlines about Airlines

Singapore Airlines 777-300ER (from Wikipedia)

The American news media could more aptly be described nowadays as “newsertainment”.  Headlines follow that trend.

News about airlines is sometimes really fun to read.  For instance, American Airlines recently announced a redesign of Business Class on their 777-200s.  That’s good news (mostly).

Then there are headlines like this one today: Two Planes in Near Miss at Houston Airport Continue reading

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