Airline Outrages: Spirit Airline to charge $45 for carry-on bags, Ryanair to charge 1 Euro for using the toilet
Looks like a competition is heating up to see which airline is the biggest airhole this summer. Tough choice. Any thoughts?
Looks like a competition is heating up to see which airline is the biggest airhole this summer. Tough choice. Any thoughts?
Name Seth Stevenson
Who? Author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World and a contributing writer for Slate. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, New York, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and other publications. Seth is a multiple Lowell Thomas Award winner and was excerpted three times in the Best American Travel Writing series. He currently lives in Washington, D.C.
Countries Visited 31
Titanic Award Nominations
1. Worst Drink Some sort of strange Russian moonshine served at a bar in Vladivostok. “You know how improperly distilled alcohol can make you go blind?” my girlfriend said, after taking a sip and grimacing. “This tastes like blind.”
2. Worst Tourist Trap Those tiny towns on the Mexican coast that exist solely as cruise ship ports. (Yes, I was on a cruise ship, which I acknowledge was my first mistake. I plead extenuating circumstances.) You are almost literally trapped amid the jewelry stores and t-shirt shops if you can’t find a bicycle or a bus and escape down the road to the next village.
3. Worst Train Ride An overnight train in India. There were swarms of cockroaches scaling the wall next to my head as I attempted to sleep. It took a decent amount of scotch guzzled from a flask before I could pretend they weren’t there.
4. Worst Toilet Leaving aside the countless spider-infested outhouses all over the globe, I’d have to go with Moscow’s Leningradsky Railway Terminal. There were plumbing tools scattered in the sinks because the guy’d given up on fixing the leaks. The squat toilets were freckled with horrifying human matter of every variety. Adding insult to repulsion: They charge a fee to use these!
5. Worst Hotel I understand the utility of Tokyo’s capsule hotels. But staying the night in one was a miserably claustrophobic experience. Also, I’m fairly certain the dude in the pod across the way was masturbating.
Hard to tell if it’s a real fight or an April Fool’s joke, but just after Australia launched their new campaign “There’s nothing like Australia” Tourism New Zealand put some polemic images on their Facebook page (see below), one featuring Steve Irwin feeding a croc while holding a baby. “It’s nothing personal Australia,” they wrote, “We love your new advertising campaign, it’s just that we’re nothing like you. Love from New Zealand.” Tourism Australia is considering legal action against the creator of nothinglikeaustralia.net.
Looks like an unsuccessful terrorist attack. Or just another whacko driver.
A man driving an Audi sped through a security gate and drove into a parked Boeing 737 in Nigeria’s Calabar City domestic airport. The plane belonged to the private airlines Arik Air.
No causalities were reported.
You’ve knocked back a few too many and are looking for a convenient place to curl up for the night. Then you get an idea: If I can just get to the airport, pass security without a ticket, work my way onto the tarmac, I could probably find a ladder and climb up into a cold Airbus engine for the night. Must have a nice big fan.
However it happened, security at Indira Gandhi Int’l Airport in Delhi spotted a leg dangling from the back of the engine just before take off. He was then removed from the Indian Airlines Airbus A-320 before it left for Raipur. Source: The Times of India
Protected by a shark tattoo? Doesn’t seem like this career path is going to end well.
The wife-carrying competition started in Finland as a joke. Now, Australia has the long-awaited feminist answer to it: Husband Dragging (complete with the historical origins of “dragging their husbands back from the pub”). If the wife-carrying competitions are any measure, it will surely be another successful manufactured tourist attraction. Congrats to Singleton, NSW, Australia!
Name Simon Reeve
Who? An award-winning BBC TV presenter and bestselling author. Simon has traveled the world making BBC TV programs that mix travel with current affairs. His books include The New York Times bestseller The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the future of terrorism, which warned of a new age of apocalyptic terrorism (back in 1998!). Find him on YouTube at shootandscribble. His website is simonreeve.co.uk
Countries Visited +100
1. Worst Meal Zebu penis soup at a roadside stall in Madagascar while travelling around the Equator. A zebu is a type of tropical cattle. The dish is as awful as it sounds.
2. Worst Toilet A basic outhouse on a remote island in western Indonesia. It wasn’t much more than a stick platform extending off a low ridge, designed to dump business straight into the sea. But I had to go during low tide, and hungry village pigs were waiting eagerly below, fighting their way up through the toilet hatch from underneath, trying to eat more than just my arse.
3. Worst Airport Mogadishu, Somalia. As a UN flight landed briefly in Mogadishu, quickly dropping off just two colleagues and me, a gun-battle broke-out at the airfield. The only other planes were bringing in bundles of qat, or khat, the local narcotic of choice, which we had to buy in bunches for the team of heavily-armed local mercenaries who protected us. I went to the local market and bought a Somali diplomatic passport in my own name from a man called Mr Big Beard.
4. Worst Hotel I’ve visited dozens of places untroubled by even medieval hygiene standards, but a dark, dank, mouldy hotel room in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, was particularly memorable. I was standing at a sink, vainly waiting for brown water to turn clear and watching two huge cockroaches mating or wrestling, when I trod on a sharp rat-trap the size of a house-brick.
5. Worst City for Driving Bangkok is still terrible for driving. Endless hold-ups with cars and trucks belching out toxic crap. I’ve been stuck in jams for hours there, retching from the fumes. And nobody switches-off their engine. It would be healthier to suck on a hosepipe running from the exhaust.
Break out the champagne. Why? Hard to believe, but this huge number represents an improvement of 23.8 percent while the number of passengers only declined by 2.9 percent. That is, they lost about 7.8 million fewer bags than last year.
Over half the bags went missing during transfers and another 16 percent never made it onto the planes to begin with according to SITA and IATA.
And the missing bags only cost airlines $2.5 billion. Guess who’s going to pick up the tab for that (if bankruptcy laws don’t get in the way)?
The bright side is that the “vast majority” of bags were found and returned within 48hrs… just in time to check it back in for your return trip. Only 3.4% (850,000 bags) disappeared for good.
Name A.J. Jacobs (pictured here having his “worst night of sleep” at sleep study he tried last week)
Who? A.J. Jacobs is the Editor-at-Large at Esquire magazine, and the bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically, The Know-It-All and The Guinea Pig Diaries.
1. Most Overrated Tourist Attraction The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. Needs more flowers, less statues and gravel.
2. Worst In-Flight Made-Up Rule A mean flight attendant decided not to let me pass. “It’s a galley, not an alley!”
3. Worst Hotel Wake-Up Service A B&B in Martha’s Vineyard where the owner’s Labrador barged into my room at 5 am and started barking maniacally.
4. Worst Train Ride The Long Island Railroad in New York, where I was forced to sit on the floor with my family, in the stream of refuse coming from the broken toilets.
5. Worst Souvenir The Elvis “Love Me Tender” Milk Bath at Graceland (that I purchased).
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Seen this old chestnut before. Turn a house upside down and charge admission. Yawn.
Name Daisann McLane
Who? Writer, photographer, and (as yet undiscovered) calypso singer. Daisann writes the Real Travel column for National Geographic Traveler and just won the North American Travel Journalist’s Association’s first prize for best magazine travel column. Her book, Cheap Hotels (Taschen) won the Lowell Thomas Gold Award for best travel book of 2003, for what the New Yorker describes as “glimpes of urban excitement and exotic tranquility tinged with the inevitable sadness of transience.” She has worked as a staff writer for Rolling Stone and penned The Frugal Traveler column for The New York Times. She now splits her time between Brooklyn, New York and Hong Kong — where she recently started a private food tour company to help travelers avoid the Titanic pitfalls of badly translated Chinese menus. Check out her Real Travel blog here.
Countries Visited 56
1. Worst Toilet Shanghai’s Fuyou Antiques market. A vendor pointed me to a corner by the stairwell. It had no cubicles, toilets or even water–you had to squat over a communal concrete sluice of shit that angled down to a hole in the concrete wall. Occasionally an attendant would come and slosh a bucket of water to keep all the stuff moving through. Later, traveling around China, I discovered that this was a common public toilet setup, dating from the pre-economic boom days. Now in China you’re more likely to find high-tech sensor-powered flush toilets. But there’s one thing you can always count on: hi or low tech, you won’t find any toilet paper in your mainland Chinese stall.
2. Worst Plane Ride Air Tonga, from Va’vaau to Tongatapu on a nine-seater twin prop. Some big chief’s funeral was going on, and I was waitlisted, standing on line behind what looked to be the entire Tongan rugby team. Their carry-on consisted of bundles of taro roots and whole roast pigs. The flight manager made each bereaved Tongan stand with his luggage on a old-fashioned metal scale, then wrote a figure down on a clipboard. He added everything up, scratched his head, added the column again, then looked up at me and shrugged as if to say: You want to try?
3. Most Annoying Tourist Attraction The Pyramids, hands down. I think I took a wrong turn at the McDonalds, and had to baksheesh my way through four rings of attendants before I even got close. It’s an ancient wonder, indeed: the world’s oldest and most authentic tourist trap.
4. Worst Hotel Bedspread Barnacle Bed and Breakfast, Big Pine Key, Florida. (see photo below) My book, Cheap Hotels, had a whole chapter devoted to the worst bedspreads I slept on during my six years as The New York Times‘ Frugal Traveler. This one was at least clean (while researching, I discovered that the average US hotel chain usually washes its spreads only once every 60 days!) but aesthetically, it was like coming home every night to a velvet cat painting.
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A new ad for a luxury train service aimed at wealthy tourists, Maharajas’ Express, shows a map with New Delhi located inside Pakistan. The map also shows Kolkata in the Bay of Bengal. You might say that the ad agency made good on their claim of showing “an India like never before!”
No more hard benches for Metro-waiting Parisians. At least not for another week. And not at certain stations.
Name Kim Mance
Who? Host of Galavanting.tv and editor of the online travel magazine GoGalavanting.com. She also writes a bunch of travel stuff around the internet (eg The Huffington Post) and is host of TBEX ‘10, a gathering of travel bloggers and new media writers.
Countries Visited 33
1. Worst Cliché Found in Travel Writing “I’ll definitely be back soon.” Yes, we’ve all wanted to return to a place. We get it.
2. Worst Airline Air Tran. When the flight attendant began screaming in my face, the first thought that came to mind was, “Hmmm, I wonder if she’s bi-polar or just really hates her job.” Either way, it didn’t bode well that for the next few moments of flight prep as I tried to turn off my cell phone as quickly as possible while she continued to scream. And though the other passengers were all looking at me as if to say, “Don’t worry, we know it’s not okay: But the tickets were cheap — and they lost our baggage too”, I couldn’t help but look at my friend and giggle and while thinking to myself that shouting at passengers is inappropriate, whether or not I turned off my cell phone within a split second of notifying my husband the flight was ridiculously delayed. But that giggle did not please her in the slightest and she threatened to throw me off the plane. Wow. It was then I decided that I would never again fly Air Tran. Ever, ever.
3. Worst City for Driving Tirana, Albania. Driving in Albania was both one of the worst and most exhilarating experiences of my life. I was driving, but on parade. It’s one of the places on earth where women are quite expected to stay in the passenger seat. And when they don’t it’s a downright public exhibition. But I was legally allowed to drive — so I did. Traffic police at various intersections neglected their duties to gawk at me, pedestrians stopped to stare. Male drivers glared as though I might as well have been a mass murderer. For I dared to drive. And in the meantime, I seamlessly negotiated traffic that was similar to what I would imagine to be Parisians on crack.
4. Worst Ride on an Animal Jerusalem, Israel. Soon after being lifted into the air atop the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City, the camel seemed sad and I seemed clichéd. Then after mere moments, the camel — defeated — bent down and I paid its owner some Shekels. I quickly wished I were back in the Arab Quarter eating greasy falafels marveling at citizens carrying weapons and learning to play a lute. Followed, of course, by a very chewy cup of coffee served by the charming shopkeeper.
5. Worst Beer Brussels, Belgium (surprisingly) Before I really liked beer much, a friend convinced me to taste raspberry fruit beer in Belgium. It made me want to vomit. It turns out, I was more of a Guinness girl. Sorry, Belgium. I love thee otherwise, and have since realized many of your beers are delicious and nuanced; but that was some seriously icky stuff.
Just when you thought SAS stock couldn’t drop any lower, a fire broke out in an SAS cabin mid-flight after departing Copenhagen, forcing it make an emergency landing at Malmo airport.
The plane was carrying 33 passengers and en route to Lithuania. The crew was able to bring the fire under control and no one was injured. Still no news what caused the fire.
Megan Barnes, a 37-year-old woman in Florida, reportedly caused a car crash when she decided to shave her bikini area while behind the wheel.
She told authorities she was visiting her boyfriend and wanted to be “ready for the visit.”
Apparently, Barnes should not have had the wheel even without a razor. She has been convinced of a DUI the day before and had a suspended license.