How I became a budget airline’s dream passenger

Recently, I became an airline’s dream customer — the person who booked and paid for a flight but didn’t turn up at the airport.

Everyone can, but I didn’t.

In all likelihood, the airline was able to sell my seat again and make a small but tidy extra profit.

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Go your own way – even if that means taking a tour

The path most travelled?

Have you heard about those people who only travel in an “authentic” manner? They eschew organised tours and established modes of transport, insist on homestays over hotels, and avoid the big attractions in favour of the “undiscovered” backroads and byways?

And at least some of them look down on the rest of us who don’t have the time, energy or money to faff about, and just want to enjoy ourselves and see a bit of the world that’s new to us.

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Five things you really can’t leave home without

“Once again, you forgot to mention the Imodium.” That was the Twitter comment about one of my posts that made me realise it’s time to go back to basics.

So, forgive me if you’ve read this before, but here are the five indispensable things to take on your travels.

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How TripCase went all trippy on me

When I travel, I often use an app called TripCase. It usually works like a dream. I just forward my flight and hotel booking confirmation emails to TripCase, and my journey shows up on all my devices. Flight delays and other information is updated in real time.

I’m not looking for New England ..,

On my most recent trip, however, something went awry.

When I sent it my booking confirmations for Cathay Pacific flights CX713, Bangkok to Singapore, and CX712, Singapore to Bangkok, TripCase decided that I was going to New England in the United States.

I have actually been to Augusta, Maine — for Thanksgiving, no less — and I had a wonderful time. But I’m not sure how I could go there twice on successive days starting from different Southeast Asian airports.

My Cathay Pacific business-class experience

I don’t make a secret of the fact that I like to fly in great comfort. This is especially important on long-haul flights, but a premium airline experience is also a treat on a relatively short trip.

After searching online for the usual budget options, I found a great deal *on a business class return flight from Bangkok to Singapore on the wonderful A350 aircraft.

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Five things that can get you arrested when you travel

Even though I love to travel, I’m the first to admit that it’s not without its pitfalls.

Recently, I’ve been reminded about some cases where travellers or expatriatess — usually Westerners — have got themselves into big trouble because they didn’t know what they were doing was illegal.

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No tolerance for violent drunks on planes

“I think [the airports] could do more. I think the retailers could do more as well.”

So says Phil Ward, managing director of Jet Blue, on the growing problem of violence and other disruption caused by drunks on planes.

At least Jet Blue has done something about the problem, by banning the sale of alcohol on its early morning flights. But, of course, thanks to bars and retail outlets at airports that operate 24-7, the offenders can already be in an ugly state before they get on board.

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When you travel, do what the locals do

Not the tablets I bought.

Every traveller knows the adage si fueris Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre; si fueris alibī, vīvitō sīcut ibī (“If you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there”).  Or, more simply, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”.

It’s often easier said than done.

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The taxi driver who’s laying down the law to passengers

Social media in Thailand has gone a little crazy over a sign in a taxi setting down rules for passengers.

The Bangkok cabbie and his rules. (From Radio JS100 on Facebook).

According to this report, the Thai-language sign comprises a list of “don’ts”, including don’t chew toffee, don’t have the volume up when playing games on smartphones, and don’t spray perfume or powder in the cab.

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Tourism opens up the world, don’t shut it down

If ever a headline were designed to boil my blood, this was it. And it’s in The Guardian, that bastion of liberal values.

Cruising makes travel affordable — and that’s a very good thing.

It says: “Only governments can stem the tide of tourism sweeping the globe“. As if tourism, one of the great forces of good in this world, were a disease that needed elimination.

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Travel’s golden rule: respect the place and the people

In places across the world, there’s a growing movement to ban or limit tourism.

Barcelona

It took on an extreme manifestation in Barcelona, when local residents spray-painted an anti-tourism slogan on a hop-on-hop-off bus outside FC Barcelona’s Nou Camp Stadium, and slashed its tyres.

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Five reasons not to believe all that travel advice

This might seem like a strange thing to read on a travel blog, but you shouldn’t believe everything you read, or hear, about travel.

Some things last forever, others change.

It’s a big, bad world out there, and not everybody is being entirely honest in their posts, newspaper and magazine articles, podcasts, vodcasts, tweets, instas, Facebook Live broadcasts and so on.

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Marmite, furry handcuffs and other carry-on essentials

(newegg.com)

I once was foolish enough to put a bottle of vodka — a gift from a Slavic friend — in my hand luggage, and it was confiscated by security at Gatwick Airport.

But is seems that booze isn’t the most popular item that people try to take onboard aircraft departing the United Kingdom.

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Tourism and taboo topics in the Middle East

Updated (see footnote)

I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve become a regular contributor to Quora.com, and that my answers to questions on travel are gaining a small amount of attention.

Well, in the past few days, one of them has gone through the roof. There have been tens of thousands of engagements with my answer to this question: Is it okay to stay in a hotel with a fiancée for a vacation in Abu Dhabi?

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How to join the high flyers in business class

I recently flew business class with Cathay Pacific and I can heartily recommend the experience.

(Cathay Pacific)

I’m also pleased to say that the experience will be open to more people, now that Cathay has joined the airlines offering upgrade auctions.

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How that airline seat you paid for is not really yours

Anyone who flies frequently will know the experience of being asked/ told to change seats. Some have even been dragged off the plane.

EasyJet put an unaccompanied minor off a flight. (EasyJet)

I’ve been relatively lucky. It’s only happened twice — once my seat was doubled booked and I was offered and upgrade to business class (no argument there), and on the other occasion, I was asked to move to an equivalent seat in another row so some family members could sit together.

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