Pssst Buddy – Eight Bucks For A Blanket?

February 9, 2010 on 8:29 pm | In, air travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel industry, travel news | Comments Off

American Airlines announced yesterday that it is going to charge those passengers who want a blanket, $8 for a blanket and inflatable pillow that can not only can be used on the flight, but also kept for future use on upcoming flights. How gracious! American joined Jet Blue and U.S. Airways as the three major airlines that charge for blankets – and we have not seen a pillow in an economy section in a long time.

We can just see adding “Pillow and blanket” to our preflight checklist when at home preparing for another departure. How cheap can these people be?

Yes, we realize that American Airlines lost $1.5 billion over the last year. However, the reason they lost that much money has nothing to do with providing flyers with a blanket or a pillow. American has cannibalized its routes to such a degree that is it almost impossible to fly them.

Recently, we tried to fly American from Orange County, CA to San Francisco – nope, American no longer flies that route. The following week we were back in Orange County and wanted to fly to Dulles Airport in northern Virginia, but we had an afternoon meeting with an editor and needed to make the meeting. Nope, not possible from Orange County. How about LAX? Nope, not possible from LAX, unless we wanted to leave the day before and fly all night, arriving at six in the morning. No thanks, American. We took a United Flight that, although it left at 6 a.m., got us to Dulles at 1:30 p.m.

American has adopted a hub and spoke logistics concept and it is almost impossible to fly them anywhere distant if you want a non-stop in order to avoid an extra three hours in your schedule. The reason they are losing money is that they no longer offer flights and schedules that are appealing to their once loyal flyers (we have flown over one million miles on American (and other airlines as well) but do not think of American as our first choice any longer, since we can never find a schedule on American that meets our needs.

I guess the corporate wonks have divined that asking people to pay for pillow and blankets will improve their financial performance. Alternatively, maybe, the price of those pillow and blankets will cover the subsidies they are providing to JAL to remain their OneWorld partner?

And you know what is next – Yep, the Pee Fee, a trial balloon once raised by RyanAir, although no one has yet proposed the “bowel bond”. However, we think that American will take a few more small steps before charging travelers to use the toilets. Like -installing electrical sockets in the the seatbacks and charging you to plug in and view the entertainment you bring on board when your battery cannot last the trip? You haven’t seen anything yet!

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Paris and The Parisians

February 6, 2010 on 11:46 am | In France, France Travel, Paris Travel,, personal travel, things travelers need to know | Comments Off

Paris is many things to many people. Tourists consider it one of the most popular cities on earth. Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, the Louvre, the Latin Quarter and other sights make visiting Paris a chance to see some the best attractions the world has to offer. However, many travelers (and, indeed, the French outside of Paris) consider the Parisians to be haughty, impolite and cold.

We have found difficult people around the world and do not think that there are more of them in Paris than elsewhere. However, Parisians are matter of fact, reserved and choose not to participate in small talk. In addition, when they think you have made a bad decision, they are likely to tell you. However, they do not discriminate against travelers; they will tell anyone when they have made a bad decision.

Once, when coming from Orly Airport to the city, we took the Airport Transport Bus to its station in Paris and planned to take a cab to our hotel from that location. When the cab driver eyed our bags, he raised his voice and seemed to be berating me. It took me a second to translate and realize that he was telling me that I had wasted my money on the bus, since I had to buy two tickets and now a cab fare and that I could have traveled from Orly to the hotel by cab for less. He was right and I was not offended at his response, since I had learned something.

Some travelers feel differently about the Parisians and there is an excellent article on the topic of “service” in Paris published by the BBC.

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Negotiating Airport Security Checkpoints When Traveling With Kids

February 5, 2010 on 5:45 pm | In air travel, air travel security, things travelers need to know, vacation travel | 1 Comment

ThereArePlaces has added two important articles to our section on Things Travelers Need to Know about air travel. The two articles cover how to prepare for airport security if you will be traveling with kids, while the second is how to do the same when traveling with children with disabilities. ThereArePlaces based both articles on information provided, in part, by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

We hope these articles will help parents and kids get through the security checkpoints with less aggravation than seems to be the norm.

Click for the ThereArePlaces article on Parents, Kids and Airport Security Checkpoints

Click for the ThereArePlaces article on Children With Disabilities and Airport Security Checkpoints

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Stikes and Travel in Greece

February 4, 2010 on 2:57 pm | In Greece Travel, strikes, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know | Comments Off

Greece has been unusally hard hit by the current economic downturn and the problem is reflecting itself in strikes, border stoppages and other unrest. See this article from the BBC on the current strike.

At present the budget deficit in Greece is over four times higher than Eurozone rules permit. The government of Greece is responding to these measures with an austerity budget that will limit governmental spending, increas the retirement age and add a higher gas tax. It is likely that further measures will be needed to rectify the situation and, if this is the case, the citizens of Greece will likely respond with wide-spread strikes that influence both the public and private sectors.

The 2010 travel season in Greece might be a little rocky. In normal years, strikes in Greece seem to pop-up frequently, although most do not last long. It is possible that this season will be the exception, with more and longer strikes. Farmers have already closed roads to Bulgaria as a show of their unhappiness with the government’s lack of financial subsidies and we suspect other strikes will occur this spring and summer

If you are going to travel to Greece this year, be prepared. If your travel is interrupted by a strike, well, we can’t think of a better place to be stuck for a few extra days. Perhaps the best way to try to avoid the influence of strikes on your next vacation in Greece, is to take a cruise of the Greek Islands and let the cruise line worry about the strikes.

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