Air Travel – Not Great These Days

Air Travel 

Optical effect of high speedI believe over the last few years all of us, no matter whether frequent or leisure flyers have experienced progressive troubles with Air Travel.  Gone are the days (I think I never saw or experienced them) when traveling by plane was supposedly glamorous.  Today, while accessible to larger and larger percentage of the world’s population, flying has become tedious and borderline uncomfortable.

Personal experiences and those of others described in multiple articles are uncovering tons of issues that the traveling public experience while taking flights, especially in the US.  

Why is the number being so large these days?  What drives this apparent increase in frequency of occurrence?   

I do believe the issues have existed all along – but previously, the boiling point had not been reached.  Now we have tons of actions being taken by the airlines

  • Reducing seat pitch – i.e. the between seats distance.  American Airlines is reportedly cutting the space from a spot in the seat to the same spot on the seat in front of it (otherwise known as seat pitch) from 31-inches to 29-inches.    This is a big deal!  For most traveling people – this will hugely impact comfort — i.e. forget about comfort…Period!  (these changes are apparently only on American’s Boeing 737 – so most likely only on US flights – but still – you could be on a plane with that seat pitch across the continent – i.e. 5+ hours!  Ouch!   
  • Then you have United with multiple issues:  They completely misdirected a passenger – sending her to San Francisco instead of the ticketed – Paris – destination.   Beats me!  How can that happen – with all the security checking and intrusion in your time at the airport – to send a passenger on a completely wrong plane!  Incredible…
  • Ready for a fight?  Literally…!  As per American Airlines’ certain employees, that is how problems can be resolved!  In the case described in multiple articles and YouTube posted video, it is seen how aggressive some employees could be.  




The list can be continued, but I think at this point in time you get the picture.  There were certainly mess ups before.  I have encountered on multiple occasions when the airline personnel was not aware of their own airline rules and would hold on tight to their belief and be pretty snotty all the way up to the point in time where I would have a supervisor from the call-in center speak with a supervisor at the airport to correct things….!  This has happened to me (and I am a frequent flyer with multiple airlines) – American Airlines in Chicago – the situation was pretty tense – I decided to hold my ground and eventually had a supervisor from the exec platinum desk on the phone with a Chicago airport supervisor to correct the view of a gate agent!!!  So I can fully believe the situations we just read about and saw in publications – links above….

High-Above-AsiaWhat I am very curious about is why so fewer issues with air travel on Asian airlines.  I certainly fly frequently with Air China, JAL, China Southern, China Air (Taiwan), EVA and some times with Singapore Airlines and JET Air….Rarely had the experiences listed above.

Do you think there are similar issues there?  Comment on this article….

In the mean time, try to be patient and hopefully things will improve now that there is so much pressure on the airlines to get their customer service in order….Let’s hope!

 

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Voss Water – Crazy Expensive

Voss Water

I thought I had seen it all – not really – but an interesting saying nevertheless… Voss water shocked me.  A couple of weeks ago my family and I traveled to the Bay area.  We stayed in a Marriott hotel, downtown San Jose.  This was all uneventful until I came across a bottle of water, for sale, in the hotel suite we stayed in.

What is special about this water?  Nothing, based on what I understand….except for the PRICE!  Please see the picture below

Voss Water

So, what is on the photo – the PRICE of $4.00.  Yes, the water is transported from Norway.  But still…!  $4 for 500ml 




Now, what does this translate to – well, to a humongous price.  Let’s compare it to price of gasoline.  In the US, the price of gas is about $2.5 per gallon.  OK, in California it is $3.5 per gallon.

So, do the math…. This 500ml bottle of water is approximately 1/8 of a gallon.  Therefore 7-8x the price of the bottle of Voss will be the volume of a gallon of gasoline.  7-8x $4 is $28~$32 per gallon!  –> so the price of VOSS is about 8-times higher than that of gasoline!

What a great deal….NOT!

Well, I am not buying it.  But then, that is the beauty of market pricing.  There must be enough folks who are willing to pay….Good luck!

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Shanghai Skyline 上海

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Shanghai Skyline How about the Shanghai Skyline…?  You can see it below.  May be you can recognize some buildings that you know.  Or may be you will get excited and plan to visit the city. Related PostsMorning Run – Shanghai … Continue reading

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Gifts for the Traveller

Gifts for the Traveller

The holidays are coming fast.  Just two days from now is Black Friday and eventhough it has lost some cache as the one day for major deals, it still serves as a reminder – have you bought gifts for the traveller – the friend or relative in your life that is either a road warrior or travels just for fun.

With that objective in mind, I am putting together this posting – hopefully as a useful guide to help you find the gifts you need.  Have I tried all the items on this list ?  Well, no, some of them are too new, as well as, I have had enough experience with these and similar products in my travels to be able to assess their potential.

While today’s planes (especially those bound on international flights) offer power outlets with increasing frequency, some of the items on the list below are intended to help you arrive with charged mobile devices and ready to roll.

The list below is no particular order – it is truly reflective of my own experience of traveling 200K miles on planes this year (and in previous years)…Hence the recommendations:

  1. Noise canceling headphones.   I like the ones which are IN EAR – why?  The over the ear ones cause physical discomfort after pressing on my ears for 8 hours (or 16 hours on a flights like Dallas to Hong Kong)… As a result I like the Bose headphones shown here           
  2. Charging power banks:  I am sure you have arrived at your destination only to start searching immediately for power outlet to charge your phone so you can make that call to find your car, or colleagues.  The need is even greater when you arrive at a foreign airport and the person who was supposed to be waiting for you is not there….or your plane was late… The portable power bank becomes invaluable in those situations.   Which one to buy?  I have used multiple – Mophie, Sony, Anker… I usually look for the one with at least 15K mAh capacity so you can charge several devices at least once each.     if you prefer a very slim one with the power to charge one to two mobile devices once, then the Mophie is a good one.  I have used it for over one year and am happy with it.      
  3.  Portable Keyboard – it is a great tool for you while traveling.  If you are going on a leisure trip you most likely do not want to lug around big laptops (no matter how small they have become these days).   A mobile device (tablet or a smart phone) plus a keyboard like the one reviewed here is the way to go.  

I will pause here and let you think if any of these work for your plans.  The next installment will come out in a day or so.   In the mean time – please give me feedback…!

Japan

 

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Nanjing – From Bird’s Eye View

Nanjing Bird’s Eye View

Greetings!   I have always been amazed at the different views one gets when staying at high floors of either hotels of appartments we all live in.   This time around – let’s have a view of the city of Nanjing….

Here are a few photos – and more will come by the next weekend.  Enjoy

 

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More from India — The Taj Mahal in Photos

Taj Mahal

Agra - Taj Majal

  Agra Taj Mahal

This is probably one of the world’s most photographed sites.

The mausoleum and its surrounding buildings (like the guest house shown on the photo here) are all incredible demonstration of architecture and art.

But my words and descriptions are not much compared to the actual images – so you can just go ahead and browse them…

I have migrated my photo galleries to a new Blog.  The objective is to provide a much more focused and easy to use – I hope that is the case, but you be the judge – interface and overall setup. 

The new Photo Blog is located here and the Taj Mahal set of galleries on it can be accessed via the image link below.  Enjoy and do let me know with feedback.
Thanks!

India Taj Mahal

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Sleeping in China

Sleeping in China

ChinaSleeping in public in China – is a national sport.  Almost.  There are so many instances of it in any given city on any given day, that you will be hard pressed not to encounter it. Is it wrong ?  No!  Just amusing to some extent to the unaccustomed foreign visitor.   For those who have lived / stayed long enough in the country – it is a regular occurrence, and something not to be surprised about.

Having said all this – well it is still pretty entertaining – not so much to find people sleeping out and about, but to find all the different ways and places people find as comfortable whether for a small siesta or a serious sleep.

China Chengdu  China sleeping    China street  China sleeping

While to us (the foreigners) this may seem odd, sleeping in public shows some interesting (potentially) characteristics of the Chinese society – namely:

  • Expectations for public safety – it seems no one is really concerned that their well being may be threatened while asleep
  • Surprising expectation of no petty theft – which is strange because there is certainly enough of it in China….May be the petty thief stay away from sleeping folks – their sleep is special state and in an unspoken way, protected….
  • Everyone is really used to loud noise.  I know from experience – I was.  Living in a hussle and bustle of Shanghai, you get accustomed to the noises around you and you tune them out.

So all in all, not a bad set of traits and tricks to learn to leverage.   Those will help you!

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Sleeping On Planes – Best Tips and Tricks

Sleeping on Planes

Brussels-Hannover-plane Plane rides could be long and tiring.  On top of that, once you make it to your destination no matter whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, you want to be on top of your game, and not fall a victim of the dreaded jet lag.

As a result you must learn the tricks of the (frequent flyer) trade….Sleeping on planes….an art, a skill, and overall something which could pay great dividends, not matter if you travel frequently or not!

What are those tricks you may ask….?  Here is a list – probably a partial one, as many things that work for some, may not be as effective for others.  Nevertheless, let’s review at least some of them.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

If there is one big item and a VERY important item that you must always bring with you on a plane, that will be your favorite noise cancelling headphones.  There are tons of reasons why this is SO VERY important…..Do you need me to list those?   Oh, all right, let’s itemize some, and you will quickly remember all those other ones you have encountered and experienced by yourself:

  • Infant or small child traveling on a seat near you…
  • The drone of the jet turbines…After all, you are traveling at a very fast speed….Why would you think that will be noiseless?  The plane engines are pretty loud!
  • Intense talkers sitting near by and not understanding that NOT everyone is interested in the story of their aunt Betsy, or how their latest vacation included going to strange restaurants where they did not have (gasp…) even Coca Cola….
  • …and on and on….and on

Therefore, yes, please remember, pack those noise canceling headphones and before packing them – do check the batteries….or Else…!!!

Here are some good (in my opinion) headphones to have:

         

Ignore the Drinks

Do not partake in heavy drinking on the plane.   Those that tell you “get a couple of drinks to tie you over…” have no clue what they are talking about.   Tie you over to what??? Relax you how???

The reality is that while you are on the plane there is very little you or your friends could do or say to further improve your comfort.  You are best off to sleep on the plane…have some cool water, may be some juice and get ready for snoozing off.

The Aisle or the Window Seat

This all depends on what kind of sleeper are you ? If you are a light sleeper – you need to take extra precaution of our arrangement.   Take the aisle seat if you are easily bothered by people getting up and going to the rest room.  If you (like me) prefer the aisle seat and can handle interrupts from fellow passengers – then jump in and leverage the goodness of the seat….!

Want more tips and tricks – drop me a line via this Web site and we can figure it out together

So, all in all, if you want to get a few more pointers – please drop me a line.

Otherwise, please keep in mind – travelers need to be nimble and as such always be ready with your original itinerary….so you can show what drives hin,

     

Happy Travels!!!   And just close your eyes, put on your noise cancelling headphones, lower a shade over your eyes and just drift to your happy place…..

Here are also some interesting photos from places around the world…!  With more to come…

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Shanghai Friday Night

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Shanghai Friday Night A picture is worth a thousand words, right….?  Shanghai-Waitan-on-a-Friday-Night….! Related PostsAnd now lets go back in time to 1988-1989 Shanghai…. Trip Down Memory Lane….Some Old Photos from China (Beijing and Shanghai) World Expo 2010, Shanghai, China — … Continue reading

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Entertainment in the Air on Planes

Entertainment in the Air

I have often been surprised how restrictive the US air travel is when it comes to many aspects of the creature comforts up in the air.   Let’s see – how do we compare flights in many countries of Asia and in the US?  Let’s list the services (besides getting from point A to point B) offered:

  • In-flight food:  On all US flights, food is unheard of – unless you are one of the few traveling in First / Business class of the plane.  At the same time, in China, and other Asia countries as well as in Europe, the crew serves warm food to everyone on the plane.  No matter wheter you are taking an in-country flight on Air China, or Shenzhen Airlines (to name a couple), you are going to get your boxed lunch consisting of a stir fry over rice.
  • Entertainment:  The intra-China flights or intra-India flights are usually operated with bare bones planes which do not have the right equipment to show much in the form of entertainment.  Having said that, it is likely to get entertainment if you happen to be on a newer plane…. Now lets compare that to te US – until recently, the usage of entertainment was fee only based –> now both American Airlines and Delta are starting to offer free entaiment following Delta’s first mover act.
  • Why is free entertainment important?  Here why:
    • Makes time go by faster
    • It creates a lot more relaxed crowd on the plane
    • It should help reduce the booz drinking on the flight
    • Finally, it will make for a much happier flyers and potentially return business for the airlines.
  • I would like to hear from the readers of this blog… Don’t hesitate – share your experiences and what you think makes sense on board an airship….
    • How would you like to pass your time?
    • Is getting food on-board the plane important to you?
    • What do you consider best in class services when traveling by plane?

Happy Travels

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