March 2010

Here are another six books that have inspired me to travel of the years. Over the years, the one thing guaranteed to hold my attention most in a book is a vivid description of somewhere I want to visit, or better yet a vivid presentation that creates a desire to visit a new place. Simply put, the location is, for me, the best character in the book.

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A recent poll by TripAdvisor suggests 51 percent of air travelers say they’d rather fly while infected with the flu than pay a $150 airline change fee. A similar survey by msnbc.com found nearly 60 percent of travelers would fly infected instead of taking the hit to their pocketbook.

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Now, in the past, the way airlines have dealt with peak travel dates was either showing the flights sold out for lower fares, or flat out saying there are blackout dates to the lowest-fare tickets. Not anymore. Especially since this new method allows them to lure passengers to begin the buying process with fares that will never be available.

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WestJet looking for codeshare partners, UAL sees recovery in the Pacific, near miss at SFO

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We have a job opening for you! Head of the TSA! Apply now! What traveler wouldn’t want this job? You get to bust terrorists (the goofballs responsible for that two hour wait to get on the plane and the numerous invasions of privacy) and give some pushback to the airlines (the goofballs that raise and lower fares more times than the flag outside that Capitol, charge you for everything but breathing in the cabin, and keep you stuck on the tarmac without so much as a peanut for 11 hours straight).

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I normally try to talk clients out of mixing airlines. The potential problems usually far out-weigh most perceived time and/or money savings.

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Sure, the latest customer surveys suggest customer satisfaction scores have plummeted to their lowest levels in years. (How bad is it? In one notable case, the industry celebrated a customer-approval grade of C-.) And if you read this column, you can try to count the many times the travel industry has let its customers down.

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Easter egg hunt at the Joule, Ryanair takes cell phone service off the air, Air France crash victims’ relatives sue in U.S.

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Going back to when I was about ten, I remember pouncing on the Harlequin romances a relative left sitting around. I couldn’t wait to read them — not for the romance (which was admittedly tame back then) but because many of them featured stories set in exotic (to me then) locales — Italy, Greece, or Australia. While thin on plot, the books were often chock full of lavish descriptions of local points-of-interest and lush landscapes.

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The Fairchild FH227B was quite commonly used both here and in Europe (the original design was built by Fokker in Germany and built under license by Fairchild here in the United States) for this kind of flying before the market was ceded to commuter airlines. It was a commuter workhorse.

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