What Flight Attendants Know About Passengers

Flight Attendant Carrie A. Trey shares what the flight attendants know about you:

Once boarding of a flight is complete, we flight attendants are handed a departure (or final) report that lets us know what to expect for/from our actual passengers. Awash in codes that all have a special meaning (e.g., SVAN, KSML, LTRQ, SEMN, WCHR and MAAS) this important document requires us to learn a whole language designed to teach us who our passengers are before we even meet.

It’s not unexpected that they have codes like this, but the sheer number of them surprised me. Click over for the full run down.

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The 16 Least Visited Countries In The World

The Russian Abroad lists the 16 least-visited countries in the world. Number eight on the list is Madagascar:

Despite beautiful endemic wildlife, spectacular beaches, and astounding biodiversity, the Madagascar travel industry isn’t even close to reaching its full potential. The government is working extremely hard to promote tourism in Madagascar, where 70% of the population still lives in poverty.

It’s one of the two countries I’ve been to on this list (the other being Bhutan). Some of these are fairly surprising.

(via Point Me to the Plane)

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Six Rewards Programs That Make Award Travel Easy

Excellent overview from Jason Steele on which reward programs are easiest to use:

In this post, my mission is to cut through the complexity and recommend two of the best airline, hotel, and credit card rewards programs for readers who are just getting started in this hobby. These programs might not necessarily offer extreme rewards, but they do offer the best return for the least amount of time and effort.

I don’t know what this says about me, but as I enter the fourth year of doing this hobby, these are, for the most part, the programs that I find myself using the most. For me, it’s that these programs provide the most value for where I’m looking to go or trying to do. I’ve never really considered it, but there may also be something about how easy these programs are to use that draw them to me, as well.

The only program I personally feel is missing is Hilton. Not for ease of use of the points program, but for ease of redemption: almost anywhere you go you’re going to find a Hilton property. The points themselves may not be the greatest value proposition, but there’s something to be said for keeping your points in a program where you know you’ll be able to use them.

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Anonymously tracking phones through airport security cuts waiting time by a third

Filed under creepy, but probably useful, 9to5 Mac reports that Blip Systems has designed a phone tracking system that supposedly cuts airport security waiting time by a third:

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport says that anonymously tracking smartphones through airport security has enabled it to cut the average waiting time by a third.

The system, developed by Danish company Blip Systems, scans both WiFi and Bluetooth connections to look for MAC addresses of mobile devices passing through security. Counting the number of devices in each queue enables the system to estimate the length of the queue. The queue length is displayed to passengers in minutes, so they can choose which queue to join, and also used to help the airport allocate the right number of security personnel.

Blip says that it anonymizes this data, and only uses device counts.

As 9to5 Mac notes, iOS 8 has automatic MAC address spoofing when scanning for networks (i.e. your iPhone hides its identity when joining public networks). One can hope that this, in addition to Blip saying it collects its data anonymously, will protect privacy a bit. I see how useful this is, but this still makes me a bit queasy.

It’s the ultimate question: how much privacy are we willing to give up for conveniences?

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Is Travel Relaxing?

Ben Schlappig on whether or not travel is relaxing:

While I’ve spent a vast majority of the year so far outside the US, the time I’ve spent in the US has been mostly with my parents in Florida. Spending time with my parents in Florida really makes me reflect on life in a good way, since it’s one of the few places I actually feel like I can “relax.”

He continues with:

Having collectively spent about three weeks so far this year in Florida, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is probably the most relaxing place in the world for me. And that’s with me pursuing this hobby ~80 hours a week. When I’m in Florida I get a ton of work done, get caught up on sleep, get to the gym every day, eat healthy, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s not necessarily a good thing. My “passion” isn’t being functional and at home, but rather my passion is always being on the road. That being said, even when I’m traveling to the most relaxing destinations in the world, it’s not actually relaxing for me. And that’s fine, because “relaxation” isn’t what makes me happy.

This is something that I’ve been trying to write about for a while now. I don’t know if I’d go as far as saying relaxation doesn’t make me happy, but it’s definitely not the only consideration when I have time off. It’s part of the reason I like to schedule beach vacations for only a few days at a time; relaxing appeals to me, but at some point I just get bored with it.

I can pretty assuredly say that I can’t and don’t really want to live my life like Ben: constantly traveling from destination to destination and only spending a minimal amount of time at home. But the great thing about traveling as a hobby is that there’s no real right or wrong way to do it. If you want to live like Ben, then it’s attainable. If you want to just have free flights home for Christmas and Thanksgiving, that’s attainable too. I’m somewhere in the middle and I imagine that’s where most people want to be.

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The world’s longest non-stop flights, mapped

The Washington Post mapped the 20 longest flights in the world.

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The longest flight I’ve ever been on was last year from Washington Dulles to Seoul Incheon, which clocks in at 6,950 miles taking 14 hours and 35 minutes. I do have #7 (Hong Kong to New York) booked for this August (8,056 miles taking 15 hours and 50 minutes)

According to Loyalty Lobby, the previous winner was Newark to Singapore, which was 9,354 miles. That flight was all business class, but I still can’t imagine staying in a single seat for close to 20 hours.

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On the Fly: United Global First® to Kuwait City

I’m venturing to Kuwait for my first time, and what a better way to start the journey than with 12 hours in Global First® to KWI.

United service tends to always be first rate.  Departing from Washington Dulles, I spent a little time in the Lufthansa lounge (my personal favorite at IAD) before boarding direct to Kuwait City.

Aboard their Boeing 777, the service features:

  • Flat-bed seats that recline to a full 6-foot, 6-inch bed
  • Hot towel service
  • Customized dining experience with menus featuring appetizer, salad and choice of entrée, including local cuisine where available
  • On-demand programming with a 15.4-inch video monitor with more than 150 hours of programming on all 767 and 747 aircraft, and select 777 aircraft
  • Premier Access check-in, baggage handling, boarding, deplaning and security lanes (where available)
  • Access to United ClubSM and Star Alliance® member lounges

IMG_20150313_185204Ticketed and ready to jet!

IMG_20150313_214605Pre-departure bubbly.

IMG_20150313_220138Complimentary Global First amenity kit featuring premium skin care products.

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Appetizer of tempura shrimp.

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A delicious mushroom soup.

IMG_20150313_235116Salad with vinaigrette.

IMG_20150314_000205  Fillet of Turbot with creamy lobster sauce, zucchini, carrots, and spinach.

IMG_20150314_001700The always tasty and ever-glutenous United premium sundae.

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Complimentary Turn-down service with sleeping cushion.

IMG_20150314_091348Breakfast of cereal, yogurt, and fruit.

I’ll have more detail on Kuwait City and beyond coming up.  In the meantime, you can follow us on Instagram @LeapForwardTravel.

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Travel Rewards March Madness is Here: Cast Your Votes

The Points Guy is running a March Madness for travel bracket:

Here’s how this will work. We’ve come up with a list of 16 popular (and lucrative) travel rewards covering a variety of points and miles-related topics. These 16 rewards were then randomly assigned spots in a single-elimination bracket. Every week (beginning today), I’ll profile each match-up and ask you to vote on whichever redemption you value most. The reward with the most votes moves on, while the one that comes up short heads home.

It’s unfair that distance-based British Airways awards and credit card lounge access were paired together.

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36 Million Credit Card Points for the low, low price of…

Bloomberg on what is decidedly the most credit card points earned in one transaction:

Liu, who used miles earned in July when he used his American Express Centurion card to pay $36 million for an ancient Chinese ceramic known as the Chicken Cup, didn’t even know he qualified for them at the time until asked by Bloomberg.

“Since you wrote the story, I started to pay attention to the points,” said Liu, who flashed the plastic again today at Christie’s for the thangka, requiring him to sign 31 separate AmEx receipts because the system can only swipe transactions up to a maximum amount.

“Oh, I didn’t even know I’d earn points on this $36 million purchase”. That sounds like me at Target (minus the $36 million part).

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