November 19, 2015: Well, as noted in this recent sales pitch email, our friend Rick Steves is showing his friends (maybe customers a better word?) that he wants to help spend your travel gift dollars and clear out some inventory too. His guide books are very good and mostly up to date — and along with his tour programs and paid speaking engagements offers a selection of travel gear and other non-essential items — many that if you have to have them you can find a better quality and maybe even better price? Steve’s is using his public broadcasting platform — and guidebook reputation — to aggressively expand himself (marketing folks would call that his brand) to other profitable travel “stuff.” He has a large mostly older following so why not. Hopefully when he lands it won’t be too hard — his guidebooks are very good!
November 20, 2015: The $46 convention center lunch for two at the LA Auto Show. One million people are expected to visit the show over the next 10 days. The Travel Curmudgeon says go to the show, but bring a lunch!
November 18, 2015: Yes, unbelievable as it may be, travel guide guru, (and now money intense Steves brand selling tours, luggage, DVD’s, maps, and other marginal travel items) Rick Steves, refused an interview with the Travel Curmudgeon on a recent speaking tour of Northern California. Seems, according to a Steves PR gatekeeper, he was too busy traveling and if I wanted to speak with him – “well just buy a guide book and stand in line for his autograph—then he might talk to you!” And even better, Steves’ 90-minute travel talk is not so much about travel, but his view on travel politics and more “international freedom” in the legalizing and dissemination of drugs. And no packing demonstration either – buy the DVD if you want that help. By the way, TC open interview policy – no cost to interview (glass or bottle of good wine appreciated)!!!
November 16, 2015: Las Vegas-based low-cost carrier Allegiant Air showed “no class” in firing one of their flight captains for declaring an inflight emergency on his MD-80 jet (when told shortly after take off that a crew member smelled smoke) and made an emergency landing at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport in Florida and used the evacuation slides to get passengers quickly off the plane. Ground observers also are quoted as saying they saw smoke coming from one of the jets engines. Apparently the captain hadn’t received proper authorization from his company to off-load the passengers on the airport runway — so they fired him. Also be aware that Allegiant Air has been under pressure from their pilots the last few months during contract talks — who say the airline is not keeping up adequate standards in aircraft maintenance and safety. Allegiant serves 17 destinations, including Hawaii, in the US. I don’t know about you, but I think I would go along with the pilot’s decision — maybe punish him if they must by promoting him to management to help oversee internal issues?
November 13, 2015: Both male and female travelers in Italy – don’t expect to find the usual porcelain throne in all Italian restaurant bathrooms – quite the contrary. This photo showing the ground level top of the “facility” is found in one of the nicer restaurants in Milan with less room than an airline coach bathroom – and not much turn around space so go in the direction you need. Makes use of the “mile high club” facility look estate like!
November 11, 2015: Not unusual in Italy—especially when visiting smaller towns—to have the sidewalk just disappear into the road. Or stop completely. And you find yourself walking into a busy street along with cars, trucks and a bus or two. Or needing to move farther into the street as other walkers come your way. And if you think the already crazy Italian drivers slow down for you—you’d be very wrong. Italy is one country where jay walking might be safer?
November 8, 2015: Gotta give Dubai based Emirates, soon to be one of the world’s largest airlines, credit for great tv spots and now “outstandingly unusual and creative” pr moves. Up, up, and away for sure!!!
– Here’s a rumor worth paying attention too — two high profile loser airlines – ever unpopular Spirt Air and “barely hanging in” Frontier are talking about a merger? And, add to this, both carriers have announced that for the upcoming holiday season they will be increasing their fees for any carry on bags!! Two bad service airlines coming together do not in anyway become a good service air carrier! Flyers beware!!
– United, an airline that should be working to improve customer services, is talking about charging a fee for gate check bags – the ones they run out of space for – instead of more closely monitoring the growing number and expanding size of carry on!
Look for TSA Pre-check – you know that special supposed-to-be-shorter airport security lane for frequent travelers – to be in for some revisions that hopefully add some requirements for users. As it is now, seems more and more crowded each week!
And this month starts the heavy holiday travel stampede – fewer flights, planes even more crowded, customer service also on holiday – and even longer lines at airports. Pack a lunch and patience!
November 2, 2015: Thumbs “up” to the folks at WestJet – Canada’s low cost Southwest style mass market carrier for their imagination to cut a deal with Disney and paint a couple of their 737 jets in the in the popular Frozen-themed livery. WestJet serves the Southern California market so why not have a little fun—and knowing how Disney operates these days, I am sure it was a very profitable partnership for them.
October 28, 2015: This new TV spot by the UAE’s Emirates Airlines, using well-known celebrity, Jennifer Aniston, is pretty much “spot” on. Within the next couple of years, three already big Middle East Airlines – Emirates, Etihad Airways (UAE based) and Qatar Airways will be the largest carriers in the world – number of planes, passengers carried and destinations served. Prestige more than profits is a better philosophy from these carriers from oil and gas rich countries – and with ground services and staff like other carriers used to have.