Category Archives: TRAVEL NEWS & UPDATES

Does it make a difference that your flight lands early?

Three of my last five international flights landed early, in fact the last one landed one hour and fifteen minutes early! It was a Qatar Airways 16 hour flight that ended up as a 14 hour 45 minute flight, (almost) flying over the North Pole and experiencing some pretty heavy tail winds. And, then what always happens, happened. We had no gate available, and had to ‘hold’ on the apron for almost an hour for a gate to be available. The non-availability of gates for the passengers to disembark is getting more and more common when a flight arrives early or even late. When a flight departs at its scheduled time, it is assigned a gate at its arrival airport. Since gates are limited, especially at busy international airports, an aircraft must be in and out within its allocated time. An early arrival or delayed departure would probably end up as a big problem. Ever wondered why your connecting flight would not even wait ten minutes for you? It would cost the airline more in fees paid for extra time at the gate than it would take for them to get you on another flight.

The attacks in Turkey

Will the deadly attack in Istanbul, Turkey, leaving 39 dead and several injured put a dent on tourism into Turkey and affect Turkish Airlines as well? As the dead were mostly tourists, the attacker did not differentiate between locals and foreigners, and seemed to target a location that served both. Terrorist attacks and explosions in Turkey are not rare, and I was in Turkey in early 2016 when an explosion disrupted Istanbul two hours before my flight to the US departed. The airport was sealed to prevent anyone getting in and out, and I was fortunate to be inside the airport. At the time of writing, the US State Department has not made any changes to the previous travel warning issued in October 2016 which stated that US citizens should not travel to certain areas in Turkey.

Turkish Airways is one of the best in the world, with an exceptional Business Class service that outclasses First Class on most other airlines. I experienced their service on the long flight from Istanbul to Los Angeles, and was pampered with their food service served on a trolley, menu selection for your choice of bedding, a tea and coffee service fit for royalty, and friendly cabin crew that would go overboard to make you comfortable. It would be a shame to see this airline go down with less passengers flying into Turkey or transiting through there to Asia or Africa.

PREPARE FOR THANKSGIVING TRAVEL

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There are many that will be travelling during Thanksgiving. Here are a few thoughts on Thanksgiving travel from me, and it is not too early to plan.

Some people have asked me what the best day would be to travel during Thanksgiving. The day with the least air travel is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but the airports will still be packed and you need to get there well ahead of time as drop off access roads and TSA lines will be long.
TIP – When traffic into the terminal gets jammed, get dropped off at the ‘Arrival’ level and take the elevator up. It will save you a lot of time, and stress.

Consider Lyft or Uber to get you to the airport, and your friend or family member will not have to inch their way in heavy traffic to
drop you off. Even getting dropped off at a location close to the airport and taking a Lyft or Uber from there will cause less stress for the person dropping you off.

There are no cheap tickets during Thanksgiving, and every flight will be full, and possibly overbooked. Check in early and get to the gate early to minimize your chances of getting offloaded. Most times, it is the passengers that get to the gate last that get taken off. Be careful of falling for ‘voluntary bumping’ for financial compensation, as every flight will be fully booked or overbooked. Once you are off your flight you might not get on one again!

As ticket prices are sky high during Thanksgiving, think about using your airline miles, if you have any. While I would not recommend using miles for travel within the US, this might be the one time you want to do so, after checking the price.

Almost every year, I have flown internationally on Thanksgiving Day or the day after. Most people do not fly on these days and I have found that flying Business Class using airline miles is wide open. Right now, One World and Star Alliance are showing a lot of destinations open if you are using airline miles.

That Note 7 Causing All The Trouble!

We were one of the first travel blogs that came out with the news about the hazards of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. The United States was all quiet, while three Australian airlines banned the phone more than one month ago. Since then the phone started heating up and catching fire on plane travelling within the US.

Effective yesterday, at noon, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone is now banned on flights. This means that the Note 7 is a forbidden hazardous material, which the punishment can result in heavy fines and even imprisonment if brought on board an aircraft.

Last week, Serendipity’Ntravel spoke with one of our readers – a Flight Attendant on Alaska Airlines. The FA advised us that Alaska started carrying a fire containment bag on their aircraft. In case of a phone catching fire, a crew member puts on special gloves and loads the device into a fire containment bag and seals the flap. The fire is extinguished in the sealed bag due to the lack of oxygen. Unlike previous fires occurring on aircraft, there will be less or no smoke, less damage, and no need for emergency evacuation like the last fire on the Southwest flight on October 5.

Pictured below is what a heat containment bag looks like.

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No, No, No, Delta Is Not Giving Away Free Tickets

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The airline free ticket scam is on again on Facebook (I have cautioned you previously about British Airways and Emirates!) Someone sends you a message that you have won air tickets. You click on the link and enter your phone number. You end up with no air tickets, have several sales people call you or end up at your door step (as phone numbers can be tracked to your home), and your FB page gets taken over.

SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Never EVER click on those free deals, even if it is sent as a personal message. All it takes is a click, and a bug could be inserted into your computer that takes control of your computer and steals/changes passwords. At least 6 people I personally know have had this happen to them. Then, you go on their list as a “sucker”, and your information is shared among thousands of other scam artists around the world. The worst is when they know where you live, and turn up at your doorstep to pick up your “deposit”. Sharing your post with friends only adds more contacts to the bad guys’ list, and your friends are going to be mad at you.

All this happened to one of our members yesterday, and a lesson learned the hard way, but she is wiser now. The bottom line – NO AIRLINE IS GOING TO GIVE YOU FREE TICKETS. NO, NOT EVEN FOR SHARING THEIR DEAL WITH YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS!!!!

What Do You Do If You Miss Your Flight?

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU MISS YOUR FLIGHT?
Two people known to me have missed their flight within the last couple of days. What happens if the ticketed passengers did not boarded the aircraft before the doors closed? It is known as a “No Show”

1. The airline is not obligated to refund your ticket if you are not at the gate at the time of boarding. You might have to buy a new ticket, or if seats are available on a later flight, they could put you on that flight.

2. If you have purchased travel insurance, and “missed flights” are listed on the policy, you should contact the 24 hour number to get the insurance company to handle the problem. The insurance company will require proof of what caused the delay (traffic accident, road closure etc.)

3. A “no show” could affect any of your connecting flights, including your return ticket being cancelled. Two years back I was flying to JFK from LAX, where I would connect on Etihad to South Africa. I had purchased two different tickets, and had purposely left a comfortable 8 hours in transit should my flight be delayed into JFK. The United flight was delayed by almost 7 hours, making the connection to the international flight almost impossible. I called Etihad for a solution, and their answer was that since we had bought two separate tickets, they were not responsible if I was a “No show”, and would have to purchase a new ticket if I did not make the flight. We were lucky…we made it to the gate 10 minutes before boarding commenced.

4. Check your flight time carefully by making sure your 0015 hours flights is at 1:15 am, and not pm. You will be surprised by how many people get their am and pm’s mixed up. It will not only inconvenience you, but cost you dearly with a hefty fine for a “No Show” and re-ticketing.

4. If you think it was the fault of the airline (wrong boarding gate posted, gate change that you never saw) do NOT hand in your boarding pass without taking a photo of it. You should also take a photo of the “wrong gate” or the “wrong flight” posted. Get the name of the agent or supervisor you spoke with. Request for compensation from the airline by e-mailing or via snail mail, and include your photos as proof. If compensation is received, it will be in the form of a travel voucher or miles credited to your frequent flyer account.

Aircraft Configuration Changes, And Your Seats Could Be Gone!

A few months back, flying from Bangkok to Colombo on Thai Airways, I was a witness to a passenger complaint regarding  seat changes to himself and two other members of his family.  He had originally been assigned three seats together, with one of them next to a window. After boarding, he realized that his seat had been changed to three seats in the middle of the aircraft, where there were four seats in between two aisles, and one of those four seats were mine.

What this passenger had not realized was that after he made his reservation a few months back, the aircraft had been changed, and the 3-3-3 seating had now changed to 2-4-2.  I did realize the configuration change a few months back, and changed my seat for an easy get away to clear immigration fast.  But I guess that most people do not do that after they make their reservation.

The Chief Steward came to speak to this passenger, but there was nothing the crew could do as there were no three separate seats together, let alone a window seat.  I believe the airline gave them the best option, by seating them in a row together.  The passenger was threatening to sue and his voice kept getting louder.  It was then that I heard the most absurd statement come out from the Chief steward, who said “Contact your travel agent and he will give you a refund”.  I couldn’t believe what I heard.  So, the travel agent will give you a refund for three tickets (approximate cost of $1400 for this sector only) just because an airline configuration changed?  Good one!

Now, if this had happened in the US or on an US airline, the first word out of this passengers mouth and he would have been arrested for “interfering with an airline crew” – a federal offense, and if the airline was already in flight, it would have landed at the closest airport to have him arrested, inconveniencing and delaying all the other passengers.

http://www.iata.org/policy/Documents/2015-Guidance-on-Unruly-Passenger-Prevention-and-Management.pdf