Posted July 17, 2009 by Katie Blais
As a single gal I'll admit, at times the dating game can be a little daunting. Those magical moments of meeting someone by accidentally grabbing the same gallon of milk at the grocery store or randomly sitting next to a handsome, rich, smart, funny, well dressed, and single stranger during your plane ride seems to only happen in movies.
Air New Zealand is hoping to change all that--well, at least the plane scenario; if you're on the prowl at the deli counter, you're still on your own. My favorite Kiwi airline is offering a match-making flight complete with special guest stars Jason Mesnick and his gal pal Molly Malaney from The Bachelor. Will there be a rose ceremony in place of the usual in-flight movie, or at the very least some tips for finding the guy or gal of your dreams, maybe right after the in-flight safety talk? I'm rooting for it.
Hopeful singles should book a round-trip flight for September 19, 2009, departing from Los Angeles (LAX) and landing in Auckland the next morning. Book by July 19 and you'll receive $200 off your ticket. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to find your soul mate in the friendly (or, in some cases, maybe even frisky) skies, you can still use your cheap flight to New Zealand to check out all it has to offer, culturally and romantically. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your match during your stay! All the better if he looks like Bret from Flight of the Conchords!
Posted May 18, 2009 by Katie Blais
I think that Memorial Day is one of the best holidays. The official kickoff of summer ushers in a season of vacations, warm weather, and barbecues in a patriotic package that for most Americans is also an extra day off. Plus, we get the go-ahead to pull our white pants and skirts out of cold storage!
A reported 32.4 million Americans will be traveling over Memorial Day. A majority of travelers will be hitting the highway due to lower gas prices—down about $1.47 from last year (yay, recession). Those flying will most likely score sweet airfare deals . The slightly bruised travel industry is taking full advantage of this up tick in travelers by offering tons of Memorial Day travel deals. Look for 50 percent off hotels, added coupons and extras, and discount flights.
So whether you travel by land, sea, or air, take advantage of this wonderful country of ours and wear your white duds without any scorn from the fashion police.
What are your Memorial Day plans? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Posted March 5, 2009 by Carl Unger
As the old saying goes, "If you've got it, flaunt it." That may be the thinking behind the TSA's new security scanners, which uses a high-tech imaging system to reveal what passengers have hiding beneath their clothes. The technology, called millimeter wave imaging, can detect non-metallic items such as plastic weapons and liquid explosives, which conventional metal detectors miss. And the new machines work well, meaning flying will be theoretically safer once they are fully implemented. But there's a catch: These machines can see everything beneath a passengers clothes, and I mean everything.
Needless to say, such a revealing form of passenger screening has brought outcry, notably from the ACLU and other privacy advocates. And who can blame them? Most people don't disrobe in the airport, and these machines effectively force you to do so. But the TSA claims passengers' privacy is protected because the screeners viewing the images can neither save the image nor see the passengers' faces.
Still, the idea of a TSA screener seeing a black-and-white image of your bits and pieces is too much for some people to bear. As of now, passengers can refuse to use the machine and choose the metal detector instead, though the TSA says these passengers may require a pat-down following the metal detector. After all, a person refusing such a thorough search could be trying to protect something, even if it's just their dignity.
What do you think about the TSA's new technology? Is your privacy worth sacrificing in the name of security, or is this an unfairly harsh way to treat innocent passengers? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. Thanks!
Posted February 5, 2009 by Zak Patten
Back before international air travel could fit somewhat comfortably into most everyone's budget, immigrants to these shores rarely had the opportunity to return home, and the journeys they faced were long and arduous (steerage, anyone?). Today, despite the economy, recent immigrants make such trips annually, if not more often. And if you're interested in traveling abroad, you can use this to your advantage.
The trick is to find a city where there's a big population of relatively recent immigrants from your desired destination and then check flights departing from there. It's not a guarantee that fares will be lower, but the higher level of demand from all of the people regularly traveling back should translate into savings on your part.
For example, say you live in Boston (as I do) and want to visit India (as I have). There's definitely an Indian community in Boston, but apparently not enough to warrant an Indian airline taking up residence here. A much better bet is to head down I-95 to New York, where I can take a nonstop Air India flight to New Delhi or Mumbai. Other examples that come to mind are Chicago for destinations in Poland, Los Angeles for South Korea, and Boston for Ireland.
But how to get to the gateway city and then home again, without taking too many flights and spending too much money? In the case of India, if I want to be really frugal, I can hop on a bus to New York for little more than the cost of lunch. Obviously, if I fly, the cost to me will be higher, as will the possibility of delays and cancelations. Driving my own car brings a different set of charges, such as paying through the nose for airport parking. So remember that flights from immigrant cities are not always the cheapest way to get to the Old Country—but they just might save you a few bucks.
(Photo: iStockPhoto/Octavian Babusi)
Posted December 31, 2008 by Nicki Krawczyk
Gather ‘round, ye friends and neighbors, as 2008 draws to a hasty close. We shall now take a moment to reflect upon the departing annum and remember what was most important to us all throughout the year. Obviously, I’m talking about BookingBuddy Blog posts.
Here at the BookingBuddy offices, we’ve filled our cups of wassail, nog, and grog and toasted together in glad tidings as we perused our posts for the year. Read on, goodly reader, and enjoy our Top 10 Countdown of the Best Posts of 2008.
10. In a mere 20 days, we’ll get a new president. So, ask not what you can do for your president, but what your president can do for air travel. We had a few ideas.
9. Good news for some, bad news for skeevy old men? Nanoseconds after airlines announce they’ll be offering Wi-Fi, they also announce that they’ll be blocking porn.
8. High-speed trains could move at the speed of light! Okay, not really&elips;but only slightly slower: Potentially 300 miles per hour. Frickin’ awesome.
7. A new age for crime dawns when a couple steals 5,000 airplane tickets. The kicker? She worked for Southwest, he was a bailiff at the Bexar County Justice Center, and his coworkers were customers. Classy.
6. What’s better than being strapped into a seat for two-and-a-half hours? Being strapped in there and getting all jacked up on energy drinks. This dubious plan comes courtesy of Southwest, whose new slogan may be "We crave overstimulated passengers."
5. This was not a big year for refinement and class, especially in the airline advertising category. Remember Spirit’s "We’re Having a Threesome" Sale?
4. When journalists go undercover as flight attendants, it’s like 21 Jump Street for the airline industry with all the excitement and agony of a prime-time drama. Tune in.
3. It may be the final frontier, but that’s not stopping Sir Richard Branson. The gazillionaire makes plans to launch you (or a richer version of you) into space with Virgin Galactic space tourism.
2. The lips that launched a thousand [air]ships. Delta makes safety videos strangely steamy with a pair of luscious lips and a rather naughty finger wave.
1. You read it, you marveled at it, you puzzled over it, and you sent it to friends but not necessarily to your parents. That’s right all, I’m talking about the absolute, A-Number-One, Best Travel Story and Trend of 2008: Nakations.
Happy New Year from all of us at BookingBuddy. May 2009 bring plenty of travel lunacy and mayhem for us all to enjoy.
Posted June 26, 2008 by Nicki Krawczyk
The sound of teeth gnashing.
The sound of wallets exploding.
That’s right kids, it’s everybody’s favorite love-to-hate-it topic: airline fees! I know, I know, this is well-covered territory. Air travelers across the country are up in arms about the extra charges. Checked-bag fees! Seat-choice fees! Snack fees! Why, it’s tantamount to ordering a pizza and having them charge you for each individual topping!
I’ll let you mull that over. Meanwhile, let’s move on to the good news. Thanks to a combination of editorial forces not unlike the Justice League, the good people over at our sister sites—SmarterTravel.com, AirfareWatchdog.com, and SeatGuru.com — have joined forces (and information) to bring a boon to the masses: The Ultimate Guide to Airline Fees.
Dark clouds are clearing …
This regularly updated Compendium of Extra Expense promises to put an end to that unpleasant sensation of Fee Ambush. No more “How much to keep Fluffy out of the hold?” or “Is it cheaper to check Junior as baggage?” or “If I forget my wallet, do I have to lap water from the lavatory faucet?” Indeed, find answers to all of this and more in a convenient chart format. Who knows where the fine print is that matches that tiny asterisk? The Ultimate Guide to Airline Fees knows. Oh, it knows.
Never one to shirk my fair share of the burden, of course, I’m willing to pitch in and offer a little added-value advice on how best to reference this chart and retain the information. First, of course, I recommend bookmarking this page so you can get to the link and print out the PDF anytime you need it (Suggested Bookmark Title: Another Resplendent Piece of Writing! And fee chart.) Good plan. Of course you could just bookmark the SmarterTravel blog page directly. Bear in mind that you miss out on this blog if you go straight to that one. I’m just saying.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are a couple of easy-reference methods that I’m not going to recommend. Tattooing, for example. Painful. Time-consuming. Hard to update. Skip it. Also, don’t bother with mnemonic devices. Unless you’re willing to put this chart to song in, say, the 17 minutes of In A Gadda Da Vita, I wouldn’t bother. I include these merely as suggestions, of course, you’re free to do as you wish. (In fact, I’d like to sponsor a contest. The best YouTubed rendition, as judged by the BookingBuddy team, of the Ultimate Guide to Airline Fees set and sung to In A Gadda Da Vita wins special mention on the blog. Tell your friends.)
So there you have it. One chart and four pieces of relevant advice. Plus one opportunity for international stardom. Don’t you kind of feel lighter? Like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders? I’m guessing those fees don’t feel so bad anymore. Or at least you haven’t really thought about them since I got Iron Butterfly stuck in your head. See? We’re all about the helpfulness.
Posted June 10, 2008 by Carl Unger
Airline fees have been piling up lately, a sign that the industry is struggling just to break even in the face of sky-high fuel prices and a weak economy.
Therefore, it was startling, although not entirely unexpected, to hear that several airlines would begin charging passengers for excess emotional baggage. The airlines initiating the fees have not yet been revealed, and there's a good chance they don't even exist (a real good chance), but several anonymous CEOs spoke with the press to explain the rationale behind the charge.
"We simply felt it was a fair way to collect extra revenue from passengers who, figuratively speaking, weigh more," said one CEO. "A bunch of us were talking about it and, you know, strength in numbers, so we're going to give it a go."
"Many people will wonder how we determine when a passenger has excess emotional baggage," said another CEO. "Basically, we used ourselves as benchmarks for what 'normal' people are. Take me, for example: My father left home for the circus when I was seven, and only communicated with me and my mother through postcards sporting two- or three-word messages like 'Very good.' Sometimes he sent sketches of bears and lions, but no message. Then one day when I was in college he showed up at my dorm dressed as a clown and told me I was adopted. I mean, that's normal, right? So there you go, there's your benchmark. It's pretty normal, anyway. I'm normal, right? RIGHT?"
"Actually," said a third CEO, speaking privately of the CEO with the circus-clown father, "he'd be facing roughly $200 in excess emotional baggage fees."
"The real process for determining excess emotional baggage," added a fourth CEO, "involves a series of forms featuring a number of highly-intrusive and potentially embarrassing questions, to be filled out and assessed at the check-in desk. All of that information then becomes part of public records shared among the airlines. This will hopefully speed up the assessment process in the future."
"That said," he continued, coughing nervously (in my opinion), "we're not expecting any significant increases in wait times at check-in. For serious."
When reached for comment, CEOs at actual airlines such as American and United, reacted as if I was making the whole thing up, saying, "Yeah, yeah, whatever, kid," before hanging up.
Regardless, the prospect of airlines charging for psychological baggage has to be a concern for passengers. As the price of oil continues to rise, and the number of previously free amenities for which airlines can charge dwindles, it only makes sense that carriers have to look deep into the very souls of their passengers for new sources of income.
"Look," said the first CEO, "We love our passengers, don't get me wrong. But in this economic landscape, we need to be realistic. If someone is carrying on 40 years of repressed anger toward a sibling, or a deep emotional scar from parental pressure to be perfect at all costs, we need to account for that somehow. It's only fair."
Posted June 6, 2008 by Kerry Sainato
We’re data geeks here at BookingBuddy.
No. Really. We rank ourselves in order of Excel wizardry.
when I needed to report on popular routes for the year, I saw a strange anomaly: Searches for flights between Los Angeles and Honolulu doubled from March to April. In fact, LAX to HNL was our number-one-searched route for April and beat January, February, and March’s top-ranked route (Detroit to Las Vegas) by 18 percent!
Of course, being an analysis nerd, I thought, “Look at that variance! Something must be wrong with that number!” But then my brain kicked in to gear. I remembered that April saw the end of ATA and Aloha Airlines; both carriers specializing in flights from the West Coast to Hawaii. I guess people were frantically looking for other ways to get to the Big Island and eat their weights in Spam.
Now, if I could just figure out why so many people from the Motor City (DTW) want to visit Sin City (LAS) every month, I’d feel like a real sleuth.
Posted May 29, 2008 by Nicki Krawczyk
Throughout the 20th century, there was one man who dared traverse the world in search of adventure and glory. One man whose lust for lost antiquities knew no bounds. One man who single-handedly saved the world from Nazi and then Soviet domination. And one man who could switch without a care from brunettes to blondes and then back again.
That man was Dr. Indiana Jones.
In today’s blog entry, the second in our occasional series, we will explore the Seven Wonders of this renowned adventurer, professor of archeology and globe-hopping gadabout. Read on and explore the marvelment.
7. Crystal Skulls
Obviously, it’s no mystery as to why these (completely real) artifacts are hotly pursued and ardently collected. Those with a penchant for potential paranormal powers, not to mention pretty sparkly things, have more or less locked up the market. The mystery, instead, is where and when they came from. Are they from ancient Aztec or Maya civilizations? Did they originate, instead, in19th-century Europe? Or, are they from some strange race of glass-jawed people that managed to avoid head trauma to leave their crystals skulls for us to find? Could it be that we actually all have crystal skulls but science has kept it a secret because they don’t want us cracking people open just to have a look? I have no answers, only more questions.
6. Area 51
Located in a remote portion of southwest Nevada, Area 51 (technically: Air Force Flight Test Center (Detachment 3)) is one of the U.S. Air Force’s most-secret sites. Supposedly, this airbase is used to test experimental aircraft and weapons systems. I put this to you then: Why not just let me in to take a look? Though I did once steal bubblegum when I was six, I currently have no domestic or international criminal contacts. If it’s just planes and stuff, why not let me in to verify that it’s just planes and stuff? And yet, all of my letters of request have yielded no response. It should come as no surprise, then, that people all over the world speculate that the government is not actually testing planes, but instead, poking around in UFOs and alien brains. Based on my experience, I am inclined to agree.
5. Ruins of Petra
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Dr. Jones and his dad, Dr. Jones, tracked the Holy Grail to this amazing rock-cut architectural phenomenon in Jordan. Personally, I find this a little obvious. If I were going to hide the Holy Grail, I think I’d bury it in a vat of ice cream with an unpopular flavor, like Pralines and Cream, and stash it in the stock room of a Des Moines Dairy Queen. I’m certain no one would ever find it there. All of which leads me to this Wonder’s big question: How does the current mortgage crisis affect cave-housing? I simply do not know.
4. Catacombs of Venice
Once again, we return to the Third Installment. In Last Crusade,” Dr. Jones the younger and a foxy-yet-Nazi Dr. Elsa Schneider search the catacombs of Venice where Dr. Jones the elder was last seen. Okay, interesting. Now, here’s where the wonder comes in: According to the “Venetians,” there are no catacombs under Venice. “What?” you cry, “what?” It’s true. Upon reflection, it does kind of make sense that a city built on a seawater lagoon might have trouble keeping underground chambers dry and cozy, but that only presents us with a bigger wonder: Where was Indy and how did he get there? Was he drugged by Nazi thugs, transplanted to real catacombs in Rome, and told he was in Venice? And if so, why? I suspect that all will be revealed in the Fifth Installment, Indiana Jones and the Secret of Why We Said There Were Catacombs in Venice.
3. The Rope Bridge Outside Pankot Palace
Perhaps the biggest takeaway we receive from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is that, while India can be lovely, cults are just no fun. The second movie in the series sends Dr. Jones, nightclub singer Willie Scott, and sidekick Short Round (who was short, but not round) from gangster-infested Shanghai to Thuggee-infested India. As you’ll recall, our heroes are tasked with eating monkey brains, defeating a Kali-worshipping cult, keeping their hearts from being ripped out by Mola Ram and his sternum-piercing fingers and, finally, freeing the village children, who had been imprisoned as minor-miners to dig for the last Shankara stone. Phew. Then, as if all that weren’t tough enough, Indy et al are forced to cross a rickety old rope bridge outside the young prince’s Pankot Palace. And that, of course, leads me to my question: What kind of lousy engineer builds a rope bridge outside a child’s house to cross a gorge? In the States, we call that gross negligence. Therefore, if you’re heading to India, I suggest that you not partake of their rope bridges in boycott, and, instead, bounce over to South Africa to ride the world’s longest zip-line. So much safer and more socially responsible.
2. Kate Capshaw
She’s a looker, it’s true. But the question remains: How did Ms. Capshaw beat out 120 other actresses to land the role of Wilhelmina “Willie” Scott, lounge singer and shrieker-extraordinaire, opposite the esteemed Harrison Ford in Temple of Doom? I’m cheating with this one—there’s no wonder here. In 1991, Capshaw wed Indy director Mr. Stephen Spielberg. And, um, there’s no real wonder why she didn’t do much acting after that, either … Ahem, I mean, because there’s no way to top being in an Indiana Jones movie.
1. Harrison Ford
Perhaps the Ark of the Covenant conferred immortality. Maybe the blood of Kali Ma functioned as an elixir of eternal youth. There’s a chance that Sean Connery passed on his secrets for Dreaminess in an Advanced State of Gray. Or, it could be that bullwhip-wielding is just an insanely good cardio workout. But the question remains: Just how is it that Harrison Ford is still able to leap and cavort and save the world? Frankly, I don’t know. But we’ve reached the end of our wonders, so I’ll tell you what I do know, namely, that a.) all of these questions should make up for cheating on Wonder #2, and that b.) Dr. Indiana Jones aka Mr. Harrison Ford, 65-year-old World Traveler, Adventurer, and All-Around Debonair Guy, is still millions of otherwise grown-up and responsible peoples’ secret hero. And that in itself, is, you know, kind of wonderful.
(Photos: crystal skull, British Museum, blogowogo.com; Area 51, lazygranch.com; Petra, carolynbrownphotographer.com; catacombs, updatecenter.britannica.com; rope bridge, www.chez-nousbb.co.uk; Kate Capshaw, movieactors.com; Harrison Ford, blogadeur.com/)
Posted May 2, 2008 by Heather Gilbert
Readers, you’ve come to expect colorful, off-beat travel coverage from your pals here at the BookingBuddy blog. You hardly batted an eye when I shared with you the various forms that nude vacations (or nakations) are taking these days. Just another day at BookingBuddy HQ.
Well, it looks as if the New York Times wanted in on the action, because in Sunday’s travel section, up popped a piece about nakations! (And in the Times piece was a quote from Tom Mulhall, owner of the Terra Cotta Inn in sunny Palm Springs … the very same Tom Mulhall that was kind enough to comment on my previous nakations post!) Hello nakations, we’re glad you’re back!
The Times reported that nude vacations are on the rise, especially in the high-end sector of the business. There’s the $300 per night all-inclusive Hidden Beach Resort in Mexico. They even have a nude disco, which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “shake your booty.” There’s the Sea Mountain Inn resort and spa located in Desert Hot Springs, California, that runs up to $900 per night (no single men allowed!), and even luxury cruise lines participating in no-clothes cruises. What’s next, a clothing-optional condo resort? Check. Welcome to Mira Vista, near Tucson, Arizona, where you can get a two-bedroom condo from $244,500. I’m sure the views are worth every penny.
Apparently the nakations are here to stay. Whether you’re young or old, prefer land or sea, are straight or gay (yes, there’s a gay-only naturist group ), your next vacation could be a nakation. A high-end, luxury nakation. With lots of sunscreen.