IBIT post: anatomy of an airfare.

Check out this blog post from I’m Black & I Travel. Here’s an excerpt:

Why does international air travel cost so much? A breakdown of a single transcontinental flight reveals just how much you pay in taxes and fees โ€” and why.

Read more here >>> Airlines: Anatomy Of An Airfare http://imblacknitravel.com/airlines-airfares/

Take off.
Take off.
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Why awesomely cheap airline flights are actually terrible

Interesting viewpoint on travel with discount airlines and how traveling with these airlines may affect the environment.

Re-blog: I Will Never Fly With United Airlines Again

Originally posted on talinorfali:
On the night of October 18th, 2012, I had embarked on United Airlines from Las Vegas, Nevada to Cleveland Ohio for a layover to where we were supposed to fly to our final destination to Buffalo International airport, which never happened. We were supposed to fly out by 8:30am from Cleveland…

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As an expatriate who travels home at least twice per year, travels elsewhere one or more times per year, and now has a chronic injury, comfort & quality service are most important to me – especially for long-haul flights. I’ve also had a few travel horror stories of my own over the years.

Check out the original blog post and read about this person’s recent travel annoyance(s), then come back here and let me know about your travel horror stories.

talinorfali

On the night of October 18th, 2012, I had embarked on United Airlines from Las Vegas, Nevada to Cleveland Ohio for a layover to where we were supposed to fly to our final destination to Buffalo International airport, which never happened. We were supposed to fly out by 8:30am from Cleveland to make it to Buffalo at almost 10am in the morning, but that never happened. They kept announcing that there is a delay, the plane has not arrived from Newark, New Jersey, and kept making us wait and wait, and then the announced that the plane has arrived, but we have to wait again until 10:30am to board our plane, that never happened either. At this point, people started getting really mad and saying, canโ€™t we just board any plane to buffalo? The Airline personnel were very rude to people, and not being professionals at all, and they wereโ€ฆ

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Bom dia: Lisbon, Portugal – day 1.

This was the day. I’d been excited about it for a while. I don’t know about any of you, but when a trip is coming up, I don’t get excited about it until the last minute.

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https://twitter.com/#!/spinstercompass/status/192316251643707392

04.06.2012

This was the day. I’d been excited about it for a while. I don’t know about any of you, but when a trip is coming up, I don’t get excited about it until the last minute. I might have fleeting moments of excitement in the days or weeks beforehand, but the excitement always grows at the last minute. It’s surreal – I know that I’m going somewhere but it doesn’t feel real until I land in my destination.

I made sure to get enough sleep to manage the trip on public transportation the next morning. I didn’t feel like paying for a cab this time around, at least for the trip to the airport. It went well overall; it took 90 minutes to get there, which isn’t too bad for a major world airport like Heathrow and on a holiday weekend. The only thing that annoyed the hell out of me was the price for the Heathrow Express – ยฃ19.00 one way.

I got to the airport before the rest of the group. Oh, I forgot to mention the group…

I joined Meetup about 3 months ago as a way to get out a bit more, as a challenge to myself for 2012 and beyond. (I may write a post or two about how that’s going in the future.) Among other things, I looked for traveler groups and sure enough, I found one that caught my eye: Solo Travelers. As someone who likes traveling solo, this group and its description sounded perfect. This group already planned its 2012 trips, and while I’d love to go on each one of their trips, I’m not rich. But there were a few that appealed to me, and Lisbon caught my eye first – affordable, 2 hour plane ride, long weekend (I hate very short trips). A few days after joining the group, I paid a deposit and secured my spot. While I prefer traveling solo, traveling with other solo travelers made sense to me for a couple of reasons:

1. While we arrived & departed together from each airport, staying together was optional. If we didn’t vibe together, or wanted to do our own things, we could always split up.

2. This was another way to challenge myself to more & make new potential connections.

So there you have it – I traveled with other solo travelers. How did that go, you ask? Stay tuned.

The group went to the wrong gate because of a mix-up, so the group leader sent a text message on my way to the airport and I met the group at the correct gate instead. They arrived 10 minutes later, and the group leader introduced himself & the other group members. We checked in, got our boarding passes & went through security together, but split up until we got on the plane. While we were split up, I tried getting some cash out of my account, but the ATM declined my card . No sweat, though… I’d try when we arrived, and at least I had enough elsewhere.

I should have sat next to a group member, with whom my intuition sensed good vibes, but she was gracious enough to allow a couple to sit together. That was very nice of her… but not for me because the woman in the couple was so annoying that I wanted to punch her in her jackass face & throat. ๐Ÿ˜ Lucky for me that I usually fall asleep on flights because I slept for at least half of the flight… which meant that she annoyed me only half as much as she would have if I was awake for the full flight.

When we landed, it was a nice surprise to disembark to nice weather since the weather authority predicted rain in Lisbon for most of the weekend.

Not too bad.
Not too bad.

Before we took our taxis to the hotel, I told the group leader about my ATM issue and he said “No problem, I’ll cover you until you get access to your account. These things happen.” Quite embarrassed – it’s my issue and I take ownership of it – but relieved that it wouldn’t be a huge issue. Our hotel was a short distance from the airport, and the taxi fare was pretty cheap for European standards – well less than โ‚ฌ10.00 for each taxi.

We arrived at the hotel, and I was quite impressed. I should have shared a room with an older British woman, but she must have made a good connection with another group member because upon hotel check-in, she said that I was sharing with someone else instead. (That turned out to be a good thing. Stay tuned.) New roommate & I went to our hotel room; were we impressed again. I forgot to take a photo of the outside & our room, but check out the view from our window:

Taken as soon as we got into the room.
Taken as soon as we got into the room.

We settled in, chose our beds, got some help with our TV & internet settings from hotel staff, and relaxed (except for contacting my U.S. bank) until it was time for dinner. For the first night, we all dined together. We weren’t sure where to eat, but at least there were options within walking distance of the hotel. We walked a bit and I spotted an ATM – perfect time to give the group leader his money back. I inserted my card, figuring that there was something wrong with the ATM at Heathrow since the bank didn’t see anything wrong with my card during our phone call.

Of course it was my card. Cash machines in Portugal are pretty damn good because unlike at Heathrow, the ATM flashed the following words on the screen:

Your ATM card has expired.

FUUUUUUCK. ๐Ÿ˜

Sure enough, I checked the card and it’d expired 6 days before the trip. I was even more embarrassed. I told the group leader and he was fine with it. He asked if I was alright for dinner and I assured him that I was. Unlike a few years ago, I didn’t throw a temper tantrum or cry or hide away in my room for the night. I just kept calm and thought about what to do next.

We decided on a restaurant across the street from the hotel; unlike a few of the other restaurants in the vicinity, this one was more affordable and there were locals eating there, which signaled to us that the food was probably decent.

Sete Mares.
Sete Mares.

Since my money was funny, I ate within my budget.

Cheese omelet with chips (French fries) & salad.
Cheese omelet with chips (French fries) & salad.

It was very good – no need for condiments or seasonings, it tasted good as shown in the photo. The restaurant specializes in seafood, though.

Yes, they're live.
Yes, they're live.

Some of the group members liked their food, while others could have taken or left it. The main complaint for those who could have taken or left it – the food was too oily. Thank goodness that mine was good.

We stayed for 2-3 hours, and some of us were tired so we went back to the hotel afterwards to get some rest for the next day. I called my family to tell them about the money situation, and my aunt said that she’d wire money the next afternoon. That was fine with me, as I wouldn’t be spending much money anyway, even after getting her money. It was quite annoying to know that I had money that was inaccessible, but it wasn’t worth turning the trip into doom & gloom. Thank goodness for age, wisdom, growth, and back-up plans. New roommate & I chatted a bit, then watched some TV and settled in for the night.

Stay tuned, everyone.

Boa noite.
Boa noite.

Day 2 ahead…

Spinster’s travels.

Hello ladies & gentlemen. I have an announcement to make.

Before being crazy enough to move to another country, I’ve always had a deep love for travel. Last year, I made one of my travel dreams come true…..

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Hello ladies & gentlemen. I have an announcement to make.

Even before being crazy enough to move to another country, I always had a deep love for travel. (Please see my Hello world! entry.) Last year, I made one of my travel dreams come true, thanks to a dare that I looked into for kicks & giggles but wound up becoming all too real. I definitely don’t regret it because it was something I always wanted to do, but if anyone told me in the past that this would happen so early in my life, I wouldn’t take the person seriously. As a result of my trip, I blogged about it afterwards, entitling the blog And She’s Off!: Spinster’s Travels, but abandoned it a while later. (Believe it or not, I entered all but the last 2-3 days of the trip into that blog. Not to worry though – for those of you who’d be interested, that blog will resurrect again for my future travel jaunts. It’s hidden for now and under construction.)

When I started this blog last month, I received positive feedback from George, whose main site is CheapOair, a website/search engine for cheap airline tickets. Because he liked what he read, he asked if I’d be willing to do a guest post on his site. I said yes. A few things got in the way but now it’s finished.

So without further ado, please take a look at my guest post for CheapOair about my trip to Oz. Click on the link below. Please leave feedback on my blog (and CheapOair too, if you want). Get a drink, sit back, relax and enjoy reading it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

My humble thanks goes to George for giving me this opportunity.

My CheapOair guest post >>> Spinster’s Travels: The Wizard of Oz

Oz.

Take-off and landing.

Since my original flight with Icelandair was canceled, I booked my new flight with…..

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Since my original flight with Icelandair got canceled, I booked my new flight with Aer Lingus, an Irish airline. Have you ever heard “when Irish eyes are smiling” (or something to that effect)? Well, Irish eyes must have frowned when it finished building that airline. ๐Ÿ˜

At first I was happy because like many introverts (and possibly extroverts) would be in my situation, it was great to have a 2-seater row to myself. I’d be able to lie down, maybe enjoy a TV show or movie, stretch out without worrying about another person sitting next to or behind me. That’s what I appreciate about flying to other countries – more often than not, having extra space is the rule and not the exception. This would be a great flight!

Or so I thought.

The row I sat in was the last row in my airplane section. That would’ve been great if it weren’t for the fact that there was a wall behind me, so I couldn’t lean my seat back like I wanted to. This placed more pressure on my already-bad back, something I’ve lived with for years, and my neck. In addition, the armrest that divided the 2 seats wouldn’t raise up the way it would on most normal airlines, so I couldn’t lie down properly and go to sleep. I love sleep. I value sleep. I missed sleep. Needless to say, I was mad. ๐Ÿ˜ I can’t remember how many hours of sleep I got, but it couldn’t have been more than 2 hours. Considering that I had a layover in Shannon, Ireland, that wasn’t a good thing.

I woke up from my “nap” right before landing in Shannon. What I most remember is seeing nothing but a sea of green fields and pastures under the fog & gloom, weather which is quite customary for the United Kingdom. Although I was cranky & annoyed, that made me feel a bit warm & fuzzy inside. It’s been said that Ireland is the Emerald Isle; based on what I saw in the air, it’s a beautiful island worthy of the name. (It just needs to ground that god-forsaken airline.) I plan to visit, as my acquaintance is there and would welcome me with open arms. I’ve been interested in learning the history & geography of it. Yes, I’m a nerd. Deal with it.

My flight landing was an hour late, but so was my flight to my destination so it evened out in the end. As I went through to customs, an advertisement caught my eye. It showed an underaged girl who was asking for help to get home. She’d been trafficked into Ireland, presumably for sex or slave labor. I’m unsure if the girl in the advertisement was a trafficking victim or a model for the ad, but I didn’t know that human trafficking was a challenge in the United Kingdom. I’d later learn that it’s more common than most people think. (I’ll also discuss it at a later date.)

Going through customs is a real pain in the ass. It’s bad enough that I went through months of waiting for my paperwork approvals and spent possibly thousands on this move, including USD $446.00 on my visa/work permit. Now I had to wait for clearance through bullshit customs? I wasn’t a happy camper. Thanks a lot, September 11th. ๐Ÿ˜ Thank goodness my visa got sponsored by my new employer because I got through a bit easier than some of the people on the flight. I dragged my tired ass to the next gate to catch my last flight when I realized….. I dropped my favorite ring on the plane. It was a silver ring that I bought in Arkansas a few years ago whilst visiting my father. I couldn’t go back to the plane of course, so I had no choice but to let it go.

The delay was over and my flight was finally ready for take-off. It took about an hour so it made no sense to go to sleep. I landed in London, United Kingdom a little after 10:00 a.m. GMT. I’ve visited London twice before, but this was different….. now I’d be living here for at least the next few years. What the hell had I gotten myself into? ๐Ÿ˜ That question, and many others filled with doubt, are part of the process. If you’ve ever lived abroad for a long time, I’m sure you’ve had those doubts cross your mind at least once – thinking that you’re crazy for doing this, wondering if it was the right decision, wondering if it’s worth it, etc.

But here’s the thing – I’d arrived. The physical aspect of the move – leaving one’s home country – is one of the biggest parts to overcome. Vomit or not, like it or not, my hard-earned money, blood, sweat and tears brought me here. There was no turning back.

I went to baggage claim, got a trolley and lugged all of my baggage (which cost an extra USD $250 to bring on the plane, by the way) on it. No one offered to help me, an obvious solo traveler, because why would anyone offer to help? Chivalry & kindness are dead. ๐Ÿ˜ I came outside, where car service (thank goodness!) was waiting for me to take me to my gracious friend’s house.

As an aside, I was lucky to have such a gracious friend. I didn’t even ask if I could stay with her; she offered for me to stay with her until I got on my feet. I hate being a burden to people and would’ve (stupidly) spent money that I didn’t have, to stay in a hotel or hostel had she not offered her home. I’m grateful for her friendship and, even though she never asked me for money, gave her a little money for the time I stayed with her. I mention this because most of my American colleagues had to stay in hotels, which is very expensive, until they found places to live. Many expatriates don’t have the luxury of having friends in the countries to which they move, so often the only choice is to stay in expensive accommodation until finding a house/apartment/flat. Another option is a house share, where you rent out a room in a house shared with other people; some people like it and stay sharing, where others, like me, prefer to live alone. The good thing about house shares is that it’s often cheaper than living alone, what with shared rent that often includes other bills, and it’s an option until one can find his/her own place if one so chooses. The bad thing about it is that not everyone should live together.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming…..

Car service was waiting for me and took me straight to my friend’s house, where she was waiting for me. She knew what I’d gone through over the past few days, so she allowed me to leave my luggage downstairs until I got some rest. And rest I did. I remember talking with her for a bit, then my eyes got heavy and that’s all she wrote. ๐Ÿ˜

I slept for a while and, upon waking up, figured that I should let my family know that I arrived in one piece. My friend’s laptop was out of commission, so she offered to walk me to an internet cafe to e-mail a few people back home. I was still tired, but it wasn’t far away so off we went. She left the cafe before I did and I told her I’d meet her back at her place. Getting back to her house was very straightforward despite the fact that I landed only less than 12 hours before.

As I walked back to my friend’s house, I walked past a man who was proselytizing – handing out church pamphlets for some crusade/concert something or other. Now, just to let you know, I’m a former Christian turned agnostic humanist, for lack of better words. The pamphlets he was handing out caught my eye because they were colorful and laminated. Anyway, I took a look at the pamphlet and, upon realizing what it was, politely said “no thanks”. Why did I say that? ๐Ÿ˜ He began giving me a mini-sermon, trying to convert me in the middle of the street. He even asked me “What’s a pretty girl like you doing out of church?” and a few other priceless gems that seem exist in every proselytizing handbook worldwide:

“What happened to you?”
“Who did something to you to leave the church?”
“You can’t live without Jesus.”

and whatever other questions are in that worldwide proselytizing handbook. You know, kinda like the worldwide parenting manual. ๐Ÿ˜

As he tried to save my soul, he was also trying to become more than friends. I’d landed less than 12 hours ago, I was jet lagged, and I looked like shit. He offered to give me some church books, as well as a mobile phone to keep in touch with me. I declined both. I was too tired to get New York City nasty towards him, so I told him that I had to go. He tried being slick and ask for my address, but that wasn’t gonna happen.

As an aside, the men here are very polite overall. They don’t really approach women on the streets, unlike the men back home who will approach a woman any time, any place. The men here are a bit bolder in social settings and even then, they’re not as aggressive as the ones back home. This cuts across all cultural backgrounds & ethnicities. So it threw me off a bit that this guy was so persistent. And by the way, even if he wasn’t trying to convert me, I wouldn’t talk to him any further because he smelled like he hadn’t bathed in a week. ๐Ÿ˜

I escaped the mini-sermon and took my weary, heavy-laden self back to the house. The new job didn’t begin for 1 week, so I had the luxury of sleeping the jet lag off. It took longer than that to get fully adjusted to the time difference, but sleepy or not, my job was calling.

My next stop – delving into the wonderful world of social services in a foreign land.