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The Seat 1A Podcast

Travel

With more than five million miles flown on 6 continents - Seat 1A is a journey into how to use this experience to your flying advantage. Join Geoff Dahl and Vinod Viswalingam as they share travel experiences, tales, tips and interviews.

Location:

Canada

Description:

With more than five million miles flown on 6 continents - Seat 1A is a journey into how to use this experience to your flying advantage. Join Geoff Dahl and Vinod Viswalingam as they share travel experiences, tales, tips and interviews.

Twitter:

@flyseat1a

Language:

English

Contact:

4168210181


Episodes

Experience 078. Swiftly Getting Through Airports. Why is This Airport so Busy Today?

12/19/2023
In this experience we look into the reasons why airports may get much busier than normal. We start out the podcast with a trip review of Vinod who recently flew to London-Heathrow. It was his virgin flight on an Airbus 350. There was no free seat selection with the ticket that he purchased. When Vinod flew out of Vancouver the British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Plaza Premium lounges were all under renovation. This led to an interesting temporary lounge in Vancouver’s International departures. The flight was quiet and uneventful with a landing at Heathrow Terminal 3. It had been decades since Vinod had flown into Terminal 3. Vinod had a chance to meet up with Paul from Layovers while in London. On his return to Vancouver, Vinod had a bag that was at the weight limit. Thankfully there were friendly service staff to help him with the situation. Vinod used the Flighty app which performed very well. The flight had an empty seat beside him and was quick and efficient on the trip back to Canada. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 35. "Beating the queue. Lining up strategies at the airport." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. We dive into events that take over an airport. Taylor Swift is a current example who has caused airlines to do incredible things. Taylor Swift, Like A Hurricane, Prompts Airline Change Fee Waivers Sometimes there are things that you're aware that some airports will be busy like holidays. Other times you may not be aware of things like sporting events, large conventions, trade shows or political events. It can throw you for a loop if you don't know things that are happening at that airport. Geoff remembers flying into Cairo during Hajj and it was a connection point for flights from all over Africa. Finally, there are large international airshows with some beautiful aircraft that may or may not delay you when flying. But you could end up with a wonderful view from your window. News Items: United Airlines Passengers Can Now Extend Their Trip With Deutsche Bahn Tickets Vistara Airbus A320 Turns Back After Dog Spotted At Goa Airport Runway If you have a story about unexpectedly busy airports, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:00:41:12

Experience 077. Can anyone help me? Issues with customer service.

11/4/2023
In this experience we look into the world of customer service and examples when the experience goes sideways. We review the situation of the passengers who were flying from Paris to Singapore with a farting and drooling dog in premium economy. Singapore airlines finally got the issue resolved and credited them for their experience. In days gone by, your travel agent would have been your point of contact. Now you’re mostly on your own. Over the last four years, airlines lost many individuals who were extremely proficient in high-touch customer experience. Even more than ever, airline agents are working from home. Things that can be done virtually can be much different than in person. A key is knowing how to be efficient and work with the people on the other side of the desk. Geoff shares a story of a cancelled Porter Airlines flight to Newark, and the quick actions of a check-in agent to get him on another flight quicker than originally scheduled. Vinod shares a story of remotely assisting a family member with a Cathay Pacific and WestJet check-in. He was even able to resolve some of it while sitting on his sofa! Geoff shares a story of a flight with online information about waiving fees being much different than fees that needed to be paid in person. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 60. "We Appreciate Your Patience. Wait Times and Customer Support." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Vinod shares a story of helping a family re-locate to Ireland. The online system would not allow a check-in without paying but did the passenger need to pay? Vinod also discusses a YVR vacuum cleaner retrieval request. What happens online versus offline doesn’t always line up. If you are able to do things in person, you may have a better chance. News Items: Couple seated next to ‘snorting, farting’ dog on long-haul flight get $1,600 refund from SIAHonolulu Airport Closed Over Medical EmergencyOnly 5% Of Allegiant’s October Flights Are On Tuesdays If you have a story about airline customer service, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:00:48:42

Experience 076. That's the Ticket. Another Look at Bookings.

10/9/2023
In this experience we take a trip into the show’s archives and review tickets and booking. We start out with a review from Vinod about his flight in the summer with Porter from Toronto to Vancouver. As people are looking for good fare prices, this is a good lead-in to a discussion about ticketing. We talked about ticketing in our very early experiences and are revisiting it in this experience. The moment that you purchase the right to travel on an aircraft, you get a Passenger Name Record. Every airline has their own PNR. Make sure you don’t share pictures of your PNR online. But airline ticketing systems are not as advanced as some would think. Sometimes an e-ticket does not get associated with the PNR. Sometimes a booking ends up only being a shell. When you need to fix it, you will need a specialized ticketing representative. This is why an airline representative can't fix it...they may simply not have the access. Vinod shares a story of checking in a passenger and somehow not noticing that there was no e-ticket associated with it. One of the key aspects of any ticket booking is who is in control of the ticket. Is it the airline, the travel agent or someone else. An airline will do everything it can to keep the control of the ticket, including upgrades in certain circumstances. But sometimes things go sideways, and an airline needs to hand over control to another airline. In the days of paper tickets this Flight Interruption Manifest was almost like an I Owe You between airlines. Today, it all gets processed electronically. Things can get a bit complicated when a travel agent is involved. Vinod shares a recent experience of helping with a ticket booked with a travel agent and some of the surprises involved. We look at fare classes which are important when you have to make changes. Is your fare class available anymore when you change the ticket? What do you have to pay for cancellations and/or refunds? We look at how much ticketing has changed with it now being much more transparent than in the past. We also answer that question asked so often "when is the best time to buy a cheap ticket?" We recommend having a budget and if your ticket is in that budget then book it and don't look back! How much talking are airlines doing with each other? Vinod shares a story when he had two tickets flying from Toronto to London to Madrid. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 1. "Maiden Flight." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. When your Passenger Name Record is created, be very careful with entering the name and passport information because it could be very difficult to change the information. News Items: British Airways Reportedly Offering Passengers Money To Avoid Heathrow LoungesSingapore Airlines Passengers Demand Refund After Farting Dog Disrupts Their Flight If you have a story about ticketing, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter/X, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:01:09:41

Experience 075. Celebrating 75 Episodes in Person. 2023 Summer Travel – The Analysis.

8/29/2023
In this experience Vinod and Geoff are both in Toronto, recording in person and celebrate the milestone of 75 episodes. We proceed to do an analysis of travels in July 2023. Geoff had a trans-Atlantic adventure, with flights to Germany, Austria, and Turkey. Geoff's trip was from Toronto to Frankfurt with a premium economy ticket that had been booked early in the year but wanted to try for an upgrade. ExpertFlyer helped to figure out the load factor and Geoff tried the Air Canada bid upgrade system. Forty-eight hours in advance the upgrade was accepted. Remember that Air Canada does not have pajamas in business class as part of the amenity kit. Air Canada business class is a solid product but not top of world class. Geoff got a pointer from another passenger on how to get sleep in the airline. When Geoff arrived into Frankfurt he checked if there was shower service in the Air Canada lounge. He learned departing passengers only and Lufthansa will not accept Air Canada passengers in their arrival lounge. Fortunately Frankfurt Airport offers a paid shower directly across from that lounge. Geoff took a train into Frankfurt Main Station and onwards from there, with a scheduled return back to Frankfurt Airport the next day. Geoff proceeded on from Frankfurt to Vienna. A very simple self bag check, and Schengen zone flight. A warning for those using the A wing of Terminal 1 in Frankfurt. There are no places for you to fill a water bottle with cool water and water bottles are sold for four euros or more. The gate Geoff was at did not require a pushback. Overnight in Vienna and a train back to the airport the next day. A straightforward flight on to Düsseldorf. But when Geoff arrived, did they forget all the bags on the tarmac without delivering them to the belt? An overnight in Düsseldorf and onward to Cologne the next morning. Geoff flew with Turkish from Cologne to Istanbul and his first impressions of the massive airport in Istanbul was the very long taxiing time to the terminal. He connected for a domestic flight onward to Bodrum. He returned to Istanbul a week later taking a 777 for a one-hour flight - which managed to have a hot breakfast service. Geoff stayed up all night for a planned Istanbul to Vienna to Toronto trip. There had been issues through the entire trip since it had been booked using points. It’s a long walk through the middle of Istanbul Airport without moving sidewalks until you get to the assorted terminal wings. Geoff was told that his flight was late, and he was going to miss the connection, and was advised to stay another day. But the inbound flight connection in Vienna was late. Would he make it? After waiting an hour for takeoff clearance and arriving at a remote stand with a bus, and a sprint though Vienna Airport, the answer was no. Did Air Canada get passenger information from Turkish? Who knows. Could the Star Alliance connection work better? Absolutely. Geoff rants about the newer terminal at Vienna, the need to use stairs often at the airport and the narrow, dark atmosphere. But who was Geoff supposed to contact. Since it was booked with points, he was told to contact Air Canada. After multiple hours waiting, Geoff spoke to Mina at Air Canada, his trip saviour. He tried with Turkish to get a new routing, no chance. He was NOT going to fly back to Istanbul to start over. Air Canada covered the re-routing of his itinerary – now via Barcelona. After an unplanned short overnight in Vienna, and unanticipated excitement with a missing NEXUS card, Geoff flew via Barcelona. What a difference to Vienna with wide walkways and lots of light. A brief layover in Barcelona and a pleasant return flight to Toronto. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 9. "Our first deep dive into two different flying experiences." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Vinod had a family trip to Toronto with a redeye flight from Vancouver which was not a pleasant...

Duration:01:27:44

Experience 074. Summer Skies. 2023 Plans for Vinod and Geoff.

7/20/2023
In this experience we take a look at our summer 2023 travel plans, and also look at trips we took in June. It’s a very different summer than that of 2022. We’re getting closer to how things were pre-pandemic with higher amounts of staffing, however now we have to really search again for cheap fares. Vinod and Geoff had travels in June in Canada. Geoff flew to Yukon and did a large road trip from there also through Alaska. Geoff flew with Air North which had a terrific Connector Fare deal to Whitehorse from Calgary. There were a few adventures on the way - including waiting on the tarmac in Toronto for technical reasons and Vancouver for connecting passengers; and a bag drop in Vancouver that still required a visit to a check-in desk. Vinod shares his memories of tarmac holds and whether the passengers should be released. Canada is very large. Toronto to Whitehorse is approximately the same distance as Toronto to Bogota, Colombia. Vinod had an early morning flight to London, Ontario. He learned about extra costs if pre-reserving an Uber. All airlines have a headstart focus for their first flights - trying to get out early for the day. Vinod had worked as crew on the exact same Frozen plane that he was flying on. Even though he had worked for years in Calgary, there were new terminal wings he had not experienced before. His arrival in London was uneventful. Vinod returned to Toronto with a rental car. There was added adventures making the baggage cutoff time and unexpected and unpleasant calls to the car rental agency due to a forgotten item. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 22. "Why is my plane parked there? The world of gate assignments." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Geoff and Vinod discuss their upcoming summer travel. Geoff has a transatlantic adventure along with inter-European flights. Geoff shares a tip on how to manage a flight on Turkish Airlines booked with other airlines’ points. Vinod has a family vacation to Toronto. Vinod is trying a new cross-country player in the Canadian air market. We share a tip on how to find the price floor for fares. News Items: Japan Airlines Will Hire Clothes To Tourists To Let Them Travel LightThe Top 10 Most Expensive Airports To Park At 2023Unusual: LOT Polish Airlines Adds Wroclaw To South Korea Boeing 787 Flights If you have a story about 2023 trips that you’ve already completed or are taking, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/.

Duration:01:13:06

Experience 073. Flew to a Room. A Deeper Look at Airport Hotels.

7/5/2023
In this experience we take a deeper look at the world of airport hotels. Sometimes hotels can be the best thing but can also be the most horrible desolate places on the planet. We’ve discussed many different types of hotels in previous experiences, from the incredible to the incredibly terrible. Big airports have the big global hotel brands. But there is another tier of just a place to sleep. There are some very neat hotels that are attached to airports – Geoff remembers his visit to the TWA hotel at JFK. There are also some hotels with very cramped and tight rooms. Vinod remembers a hotel by Orly airport in Paris. The best experience is a hotel attached to the terminal itself, and Vinod remembers a visit to Frankfurt. If you’re planning to have an airport hotel, make sure you have planned out the logistics. Is it easy to get to the location. Will you have access to your bags. What about transit visas? Will the food service be open and available? Geoff remembers an experience at London Heathrow where he was so disconnected from the rest of London. Vinod shares his experience with Toronto. Airport hotels are convenient for families who have early flights. But they can be very noisy locations since they are twenty-four hour operations. Vinod shares a story of all night entertainment playing next door when he was in Montreal. There are a large number of people passing through airport hotels. As an alternative, is there a city that is close to the airport which has good connections? If you’re not wanting to leave the airside terminal, does the airport offer pod hotel space? When you’re forced into a layover, you may or may not get a comped room. Geoff shares an experience in Ottawa where he got a comped room, and a very sketchy room in New Jersey when he didn’t. Vinod shares some insight from the airline perspective and highlights that vouchers can have some variance. There may be options for you with services like Airbnb. Vinod shares his first childhood memory of staying at a hotel in Mumbai. Geoff shares an experience in North Dakota while travelling from Amsterdam to Saskatchewan. Are there local events or weather that could affect the cost of your hotel? What is the value of putting your head down and having a shower? If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 044. "Sleeping Around. Maximizing Your Rest at Airports." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. News Items: Asiana Airlines Passenger Arrested After Opening Airbus A321 Door InflightSingapore Airlines Decides Against Paper Meal Containers For Longer Flights If you have a story about airport hotels, comped rooms, upcoming trips, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:00:45:56

Experience 072. Complicated Connections. Multiple Stops for Cheaper Fares.

5/25/2023
In this experience we discuss the fact that this summer many people will be flying but the prices for direct connections are often fairly expensive. Often multiple connections are a way people find to save costs. These multi-stops remind Vinod when planes had to stop due to the lack of range. But unlike times in the past today you can see all the travel details related to your trip. As people change their ticket purchasing habits, it can mean a change in the way that they layover. Iceland was one of the first countries that promoted a free layover. Sometimes you can’t find the flight to book even though you have been able to find it on a booking site. There have been some pretty cool milk runs. Vinod shares his experience with the Hawaii Interchange, as passengers from the North American West Coast all changed in Honolulu on their way to Australia and New Zealand. Geoff shares his experience from northern Norway on Public Service Obligation flights flying along the coast. We look at double stop flights and how Dutch airlines have connected to Alberta this way. There is also the Pacific Island Hopper, which led to Vinod wondering how a United 737 made it to Tokyo. A former route that was well beloved was Cathay Pacific's flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver to New York JFK. When you see a cheap flight, pay attention to how long the connection time is. Do you have a chance to get out of the airport to see the city? Will your passport or visa allow you to do so? Will your layover get eaten up by a terminal or airport switch? Are you travelling alone or with family? When you add it all together, even if the ticket is cheaper, how much are you spending to manage through it? Are two one ways cheaper? If you’re connecting to a smaller airport is it easy to take another form of transport if things go sideways? Airlines are doing their best to figure out load factors without the last few years of data. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 024. "Into the mailbag - Part 1. Inflight meal service and free overnight accommodation." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. We also look at Europe to Asian runs, with a critical moment that did not go well. Vinod shares his family connection with it. News Items: Pairing Music With Food: The Story Of British Airways' Sensory MenusUnited Reveals Historic Expansion of Service in South Pacific If you have a story about complicated connections, upcoming trips, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:00:37:59

Experience 071. Silver Wings. Flying with Seniors.

4/7/2023
In this experience we look at the realities of flying with seniors. Vinod and Geoff realize that soon enough they will be in this demographic. As populations age, airlines will have older populations on flights and the challenges that go with it. Since some of today’s seniors lived through the golden age of flying with certain levels of service, there is generational gap. Often elderly parents are put on flights around the world - which Vinod saw in his role as a station manager. The system is not there for everyone to embrace every individual. Airports are larger, seats are closer, and there are language challenges faced while transiting through certain airports. Some people attempt to get around this situation by booking assistance, which often means a wheelchair. The option does get abused. Vinod shares stories of trying to get large numbers of wheelchairs for certain flights, and the "miracles" of people being able to walk. There is a lesser used assistance code "meet and assist". Travelling over multiple days can take a lot out of people. It helps to have a game plan ready in case something goes wrong, particularly if you are not travelling with the people flying. Seniors are different than an unaccompanied minor. Vinod shares a story of his aunt visiting him as a child in northern Canada and the efforts to get her wheelchair off the plane in the snow and cold without a jet bridge. Vinod shares a story of a shocking flight to Prince Edward Island, "Mid-flight something happened to a lav." People unfortunately pass away on flights. There is one trans-Pacific route that is fairly well know. Amidst all the challenges, there are magical moments and conversations that happen in flight. Vinod shares the experience of a black and white photo. Be tolerant and understanding, know what kind of assistance is being provided by the airline and airport and build in extra time for connections. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 042. "Is There a Doctor on Board? Medical Emergencies in Flight." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Remember that sometimes long flights may not have meal service. News Items: Singapore Airlines gets 25.1% stake in Air India group after injecting $267 millionUnited Airlines Enlists Oscar The Grouch For Sustainability Promotion CampaignJapan Airlines Serves A Banana As Vegan Meal If you have a story about travelling with seniors, upcoming trips, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:00:51:19

Experience 070. Snow, cold and delays. 2022 holiday travel stress.

3/6/2023
In this experience we look back at our travel experiences over the December 2022 holiday season. We got where we were meant to go, and fortunately did not incur any of the long delays that many other travellers encountered. December 2022 saw serious weather systems in North America. That was combined with large volumes; technology, crewing, and baggage issues. People thought that the labour issues from the summer of 2022 had resolved themselves, but they were still ongoing. First, Vinod planned a trip to San Diego from Vancouver. He decided to fly to Los Angeles and rent a car, which turned out to be an important factor. The Vancouver-Los Angeles route is a competitive and frequent route. In the week before Vinod's flight there was a major winter storm in Vancouver. Vancouver does not get the same amount of snow as other Canadian airports. On the day before his flight there was another massive snowstorm. Would Vinod be able to make the flight to Los Angeles? He checked the schedules of his plane and the weather of the city where it was going to be before his flight. All flights at YVR cancelled. Airport closed. All arrivals were halted. But what about flights departing? Vinod's flight was still operating. The US departure terminal at Vancouver was mayhem. Vinod learned that the passport scanning terminal could have problems with infant tickets. Flight crew also get stuck when the weather goes sideways, so there was a slight delay. It might have led to de-icing employees getting to the airport, since the capacity to de-ice was less than 50 percent on this wintery day in Vancouver. It took Vinod 3 hours to have his plane de-iced. Vinod looked out on the tarmac, various trans-Pacific flights were stuck on the tarmac, unable to deplane their passengers or get to a gate. Geoff shared a story of crews getting stuck in Ft. McMurray, Alberta from the same storm. Vinod has a love hate relationship with LAX. Right now it is on the hate dial. Vinod was very lucky to make it out that day on a critical feeder route. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 027. "Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Holiday Travel Horror Stories." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Meanwhile, Geoff was scheduled to fly from Toronto on December 24. He had been watching the storm system that affected Vinod, along with other record cold systems moving across North America. Then there was a weather warning for freezing rain and then a blizzard warning. However the morning of December 24, the flight was showing on time. The temperatures had dropped with strong winds. The airport was holiday busy, the lounge was full but seating was still available. The flight was slightly delayed due a baggage issue, but arrival was not too delayed. Geoff's return flight involved a review of food at Calgary security - what happens with solid honey? Calgary had thick heavy fog, and the inbound flight was delayed. The first officer was delayed on arriving due to the fog. The turbulence was very strong, to the point where the crew had to take their seats. Otherwise the return was uneventful, but since the flight was late priority was given to those connecting. Vinod's flight back to Vancouver was much more stressful than it normally was. It started well, with burgers and plane spotting, but went downhill starting with the car rental shuttle bus. Vinod was supposed to meet a work colleague who was connecting - but logistics prevented it from happening. Vinod needed to take apart his child's stroller and put all three parts through the x-ray machine. The stress of the day fuelled into Vinod's child for the return flight, which arrived at Vancouver at the furthest gate from Canadian Customs. Vinod got a good laugh as some American pilots were shamed to get back in the line to exit the customs hall. It is important to book the right routing during periods of travel uncertainty. If Vinod had booked the San Diego...

Duration:01:15:19

Experience 069. That Club. Miles High in the Sky.

2/7/2023
In this experience we discuss that infamous club a mile high. We look back to the golden age of travel with beautiful flight attendants and pilots and exotic locations. Now add that to four- and five-star hotels, and crews from around the world it can lead to romance and attraction. Don’t screw the crew...well at least not yours. The captain and crew manager would keep an eye on their crew during layovers, otherwise there was the risk of people making bad decisions. Cancun was a location where crazy stuff would happen complete crews from multiple countries, beaches and alcohol. Sometimes crews would hook up with hotel staff, sometimes there would be action at the beach bar. And sometimes it just went too far...and people ended up getting fired. Crews need to be aware at all-inclusive resorts if they are interacting with their passengers. At some airport hotels, there are party rooms for crews. Vinod shares his experiences at LGA and LAX. Vinod thinks back to a pool in Colombo with an Emirates crew and thinking "one day". There is a serious side to the glamourous interactions. Accusations of assault and misconduct exist, and some airlines have pilots and flight attendants sleep at different hotels. Crew and passengers connect -- Vinod shares a couple of experiences where the individuals ended up getting married. Working for an airline expands the possibilities of international relationships. Vinod shares a story of how he outsmarted Tinder. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 039. "Crew Life Between Flights. Crew Layovers." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. We look at passenger activity in the cabin and remember back to when people were shocked that amorous airline advertising led to amorous activity...who knew?! Vinod shares a memory of his first flight and learning that sometimes you just ignore the oblivious, but sometimes you can have some fun. Are you kidding me? On a Nanaimo flight? In the middle of the day? Oh it was time for fun for Vinod and the crew and a couple of passengers who were passionate in the lavatory. Technically amorous activities in the lav are illegal due to air law - in the event of loss of cabin pressure, there is only one oxygen mask. Often Vinod would discover the evidence after the fact like wrappers and blister packs of pills on the floor. Vinod shares a memory of when the call bell was ringing multiple times but not from the cabin...and the pilot advised there was banging coming through the wall to the flightdeck. The Mile High Club is probably a bucket list thing for some people. And we haven't even discussed private aircraft. However, in 2023, many things have changed. News Items: simpleflying.com articlebusinesstraveller.com If you have a story about aviation relations a mile up or on the ground, upcoming trips, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:01:00:45

Experience 068. Listener Interview. A Saga of Lost Luggage in Lisbon.

12/24/2022
In this experience we are happy to share an interview with a fan of the show, Stephanie, about her experience with a flight from Vancouver to Montreal to Lisbon. This took place during the summer 2022 travel chaos. Stephanie was travelling to Lisbon, mixing business and pleasure. When her and her mother arrived in Lisbon, their bags had not made the connection in Montreal and did not reach Lisbon. They took the time to create the tracking file and met up with others whose bags were missing. She traded information with another traveller who flew from Vancouver. Stephanie had the dilemma of buying clothes due to lost luggage "Are we trying to buy clothes that will get us through a few days, or clothes that we will love a long time?" Stephanie took the time to buy new luggage as well, bright orange. Just what is the value of the item in your bag? On the final day before her return trip to Vancouver, Stephanie got a text message from a stranger with a picture of her bag "Your bag is sitting next to carousel four. Here's a picture of it." Meanwhile the tracker stated that tracing continues. Stephanie and her mother had to leave Lisbon with double baggage, and a shout out is given to the check in staff in Lisbon. Stephanie is still trying to get the full compensation back for the replacement items - the airline would only compensate for one person. We look at key components of Stephanie’s story. An agent can check where the last bag scan happened. She treated the baggage staff with respect. She teamed up with someone to help search for baggage. She did not have much packed in carry-on for clothing in case of lost bags. Make sure you take your medication with you in carry-on. Information on the baggage tag is critical. Do you know the value of your bag’s items? Do you have extra lost baggage coverage? Are there government protections? If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 016. "South by Southw...wait what's happening with our flight and bags?" It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. News Items: simpleflying.com articletravelandleisure.com article If you have a story about lost baggage, travel insurance claims, upcoming trips, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:01:31:20

Experience 067. Gift Ideas. World of inflight essentials.

11/24/2022
Vinod and Geoff have taken some long flights in 2022 and have taken various items onboard. Our take-on items have evolved over the years. As we recorded this experience the 2022 holiday season is approaching, and we wanted to share our inflight recommendations for yourself - or perhaps as a gift idea for someone. Full disclosure - these are our own recommendations, and we are not receiving any sponsorship from any of the products mentioned. We start with headphones, earphones, headsets, and earbuds. There are various products out there but be aware that there is a difference between noise cancelling and noise reduction. You may also want to look at buying a set of audio adapters - in case an airline has a unique audio plug. And if you’re travelling with a battery powered headset, don’t forget to bring a spare battery. We ask what does someone use to watch onboard? Tablets, phones, e-readers - what happens if there is no screen in the back of the seat in front of you. Vinod remembers back to when WestJet removed seatback screens. How do you watch your device properly - are you going to be able to view it while eating a meal, for example? Remember as well to have a power bank for your device, since you don’t know how easy it will be to find power to recharge when you arrive. Vinod always keeps a device plugged in during his flight. Have something with you, online or offline, for the flight. Vinod has a book that is permanently tucked into his luggage. Rest on a flight is key - we look at neck pillows, and Vinod shares a story of his unique Danish neck rest. Vinod shares his disgust of people who walk barefoot into the lavatory and has recommendations for in-flight footwear. He also shares his experiences of hotspot passengers returning to a Canadian winter wearing only flipflops. Shoes without laces can be very useful - either for passing through security, or since your feet swell during flight. When you arrive in your destination, do you have the proper power plug adapter? It is much easier these days than back when we needed a box of different plugs. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 026 "More from the mailbag. The baggage above you - overhead bins." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. We discuss baggage and bags. It may be useful for you to have a bag for the back of the seat to put your stuff in - also since seat pockets are often really unsanitary. If you have a rollerboard bag, it may be worth it to get the wheels changed with inline skate wheels. What should you wear during flight. For long haul flights, you may wish to consider some loungewear. Always bring a clean set of base layer clothes with you as carry-on, just in case there’s a baggage problem, or something happens to your clothes during flight like spills. Vinod shares a dripping lime pickle story. Packing cubes are a great suggestion for people who want structure in their bags, and also for privacy in case security or customs goes through your bag. Water bottles - if you have one you might have to wait for service to fill it. Vinod always takes a sealed bottle of water from the flight. If you use a messenger bag, we recommend getting one that fits over your luggage handle. If you bring food on board, it is usually a good idea to bring something with added protein. AirTags - after the global luggage chaos of 2022, using these can help you keep track of where your bag is. Flying with children - "keep it simple stupid". Are you going to be able to walk the aisle or get in the lavatory with your child and the bag? Connecting clips and lattices - a recommendation when you need to link your bags together. News Items: cntraveller.com articleskift.com article If you have a story about your preferred inflight essentials, upcoming trips, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support...

Duration:00:59:23

Experience 066. Connecting at the curbside. Airport options with your flight.

10/28/2022
As we continue on from Experience 065, the wayfinding and signage often leads us to the curbside. Vinod and Geoff think back to their childhoods and how much the curbside has changed. Even with all the changes, people can still get all twisted around at the curb in their own backyard. Geoff shares an experience from Regina, Saskatchewan of a wrong-way driver. There are various options that one can encounter when you get to the curb after your flight. The curbside experience can be impacted by something as simple as the airport geographic layout. We look at trains, which can be a lot of different things in different countries. Connecting to the train can be confusing as well. Vinod shares an experience from San Francisco connecting to a train by bus. Continuing with buses, Vinod shares his amazement at the number of buses at US airports. There are “Rocket” buses in Toronto connecting to the airport. And make sure you have an ability to pay for your transit since some places still require coin change. Vinod shares his memories of crew buses. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 015. "Railway to Runway - your train and the plane." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Geoff and Vinod discuss rail to rail transport which exists in numerous cities. Ride share is an evolving method used at various airports. Vinod shares his experience in Brazil of an Uber lounge while waiting for his ride. We save taxis for the end. Vinod shares his experience of using airport taxis in Russia to avoid the dodgy drivers. Geoff shares his experience of haggling over fare in Mozambique. Vinod shares his “not quite a real taxi” experience in Spain. Vinod also shares an experience from years ago with taxi queues. Geoff and Vinod share memories of Cairo taxis. Remember that there are curbside minders who will make you move along or you will be ticketed. Vinod shares the unique car rental return situation in Calgary. Vinod and Geoff remember the parking shuttle scene from “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”. News Items: simpleflying.com article If you have a story about curbside experiences, upcoming trips, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:00:54:26

Experience 065. I Saw the Sign. Wayfinding at Airports.

10/3/2022
As seen in the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2022, many travellers have returned to travelling. However, quite often passengers check in their brains and don't bring their brain into the airport. This is why wayfinding and signage is so important. Sometimes there is common signage across a country - the black and yellow UK signage, for example. Sometimes signage is difficult to read – Vinod shares an experience from a number of years ago in Salt Lake City. Often signs are unilingual, and often signs are unclear what a passenger needs to do (for example: does the sign mean straight ahead, or go up to the next floor level?) Looking through crowds to see signage can be difficult. Understandably, the signage can define the passenger experience. Many airports have a check-in zone with a big letter to show the aisle. Vinod and Geoff share their love of the departure flipboard sign in Frankfurt. Signage details starts right on your ticketing information. And if you need to deal with ticketing, it could be in multiple locations. Moving along to pre-board screening and security, are there other scanning locations that will get you through more quickly? Lavatories and eating – sometimes the signage intent is very unclear. Vinod shares a story of finding a Japanese breakfast in Tokyo. Some airports don’t announce the gate until a short period before departure, which can lead to a mass rush of passengers. At the gate itself things can go sideways with signage. Vinod shares a story of changing a gate three times in Hanoi. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 023. "Sometimes the situation just goes bad. Making the most of the experience." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Sometimes signage is a simple as something like lettering. The boarding card has to also correlate with the wayfinding. A passenger gets to Customs and Immigration – are there restrictions on which citizens use which queues? And once you leave the airport, what is the signage for your transportation? News Items: simpleflying.com article onemileatatime.com article If you have a story about airport signage, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:00:55:37

Experience 064. Reviewing 2022 Summer Travel. A Look at Vinod and Geoff’s Adventures.

8/29/2022
Vinod and Geoff have returned from their summer adventures, and their meetup in London Heathrow for Experience 063. After all of the concern we had for meeting up at Heathrow, it ended up being very anticlimactic. Vinod shares some interesting insights into how providing certain destination information could affect a London cab driver’s ability to take airport fares later in the day. Geoff and Vinod rave about the terrific new Elizabeth Line in London. Geoff’s flight from Toronto was quite late leaving for Copenhagen. We will do a future experience on when should you really show up when your flight is tremendously delayed. He shares his experience of the flight. Geoff shares his experience of checking in at the Priority Pass International Lounge in Toronto. Indeed sometimes it is just nicer to find a quiet gate than going to a lounge. Geoff then flew onward to London from Copenhagen. Copenhagen Airport has a practice of passengers scanning their boarding passes to enter a waiting room and then board, instead of scanning when boarding. Vinod shared his experience of flying from Vancouver to Heathrow. What a coincidence -- one of the pilots on the flight was a friend of his. For the avgeeks, it was a non-ETOPS flight, and the landing was greased in...so smooth. Geoff continued on with Eurostar from London to Brussels and then onward to Cologne with a German ICE train. The Eurostar was fine, but the ICE train was so full Geoff sat in by the door in the vestibule for 2 hours! Geoff had some experiences with the German trains not being very German. First, a fire on train line. Second, technical issues before the train even starts the journey. Third, random stops in the middle of nowhere in Bavaria. Geoff reviews his flight from Vienna to Frankfurt with neighbouring passengers not having to return their beer bottles before landing. As Geoff was checking into his flight to Johannesburg, he learned that Lufthansa only issues baggage stickers at certain desks at Frankfurt -- not all check-in machines. We give a shout out to friend of the show Paul Papadimitriou -- Geoff and Vinod both met him in person in London, and great times were had by all. Paul you’re welcome to visit Canada any time. We talk about the tight connections that are often faced in Frankfurt, knock on wood no problems for either Vinod or Geoff...yet. Geoff flew to Johannesburg in a 747-800 upstairs in business class. When Johannesburg is busy with international flights, it’s busy. Geoff continued his adventure through South Africa to Kruger National Park and onward to Mozambique. He had a super early flight from Maputo to Nampula with an onward land journey to Ilha de Moçambique. Geoff’s return to fly out of Nampula was an adventure in itself. Police checks, racing to the airport, honking horns, and arrival after check-in desks closed. Did he make it? Narrator: He did. Then Geoff continued onward from Maputo to Cape Town via some connection adventures in Johannesburg. Geoff returned from Cape Town to Frankfurt, and then homeward bound to Toronto. Toronto’s baggage situation was uneventful. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 020. "Go or no-go? When Vinny and Geoff's rail travel plans went sideways." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Vinod’s return to Vancouver saw waves of people sent through to security at Heathrow, and people who aren’t managing the queues properly. Security made Vinod put his stroller through the baggage scanner. When he arrived in Vancouver there were no issues with the baggage, but there were no baggage carts. There was no random COVID testing openly visible for either Vinod (or Geoff in Toronto). Geoff noted that in Mozambique there were staff matching your claim sticker with the baggage tag. Geoff also had very favourable reviews of the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Frankfurt -- which, depending on your departure time, may be a better lounge option that the Lufthansa...

Duration:00:48:53

Experience 063. A quick one. Live from Heathrow

8/15/2022
Vinod and Geoff met up and recorded this special experience live from London Heathrow Terminal 2. Heathrow on a Friday afternoon was much calmer than Vinod and Geoff had expected. Vinod has never been through immigration at Heathrow faster, and Geoff was quickly through the e-gates. Vinod’s bags were delivered quickly. Geoff’s took a bit longer but still fairly quickly. Geoff and Vinod were meeting up with our guest interviewee from Experience 038 - Paul Papadimitriou. It is great to be back travelling again. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 019. On the RTW road with Vinny and Geoff. It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you have a story about your trips in 2022, or any other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:00:04:40

Experience 062. Into the Chaos. Summer 2022 Travel Plans.

8/12/2022
Vinod and Geoff are jumping into the travel chaos this summer – and are getting ready for the backlogs and delays that could ensue. Outside of the airport and airline backlogs, there are backlogs with passport offices around the world. Vinod had to get a new first passport for his child in Vancouver, Canada. He discusses his hellish journey through the backlogs, the processing that didn’t happen, the phone wait times, the overnight queues to get passports processed, the backup plans to drive to another city. “When do I really need to panic?” was in full effect. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 036. Epidemic Unplugged. What's happening and what does the future hold? It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Geoff shares his experience of trying to get entry visa information to Mozambique. Multiple requests to multiple locations in English and Portuguese. No answer. Vinod shares a memory of getting a visa for Vietnam. Remember – watch out for sketchy companies with visa and passport services. They may only be providing information and not getting you the physical document. Airports are crazy busy. Vinod shares a situation at Heathrow where the airline ran out of hotels for customers who had missed a connection due to a late flight. Remember even if you show up super early, some airports are doing flow control. Geoff looks back to the summer of 2020 when there were hardly any passengers in Toronto Pearson. As advised by our friends at AvTalk – “Arm yourself with everything you can in your arsenal” to help you get through airport chaos. Look at the arrival time of your flight. What else is arriving when you do? Geoff and Vinod share their travel plans. Geoff to Europe and Africa (including a 747 upgrade), while Vinod has first flight with a child to the UK. Vinod reminds us that there is a weight limit for a basinet and that children have to be on lap during turbulence. We’ll record live on location somewhere for Experience 063. If you have a story about your trips in 2022, or any other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on . Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:00:52:28

Experience 061. A Very Special Interview. Selling Airbus in China.

7/11/2022
In this experience we are happy to bring you an interview with a wonderful guest Dee Leon. Dee met Vinod while working at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. When he told Vinod that he had sold Airbus in China, Vinod knew an interview was a Seat 1A priority. Dee worked for Airbus in the 1990s as the aviation market in China was just waiting to evolve with exponential growth in the local market. It was not an easy start for Dee as Boeing had a very strong presence in the Chinese market. This had started back when Nixon had visited China in his Boeing 707. Chinese aviation had copied Boeing through the 1970s and 80s. The selling of confidence for Airbus at the very beginning was more important than selling product. We ask Dee what the selling factors were, if Airbus sent other items with the aircraft (e.g. simulators) and what was the first success. China was previously not a hub and spoke system. And in the 1990s, the domestic bullet train was not yet a competitor. We ask what the environment was like in neighbouring countries at the time. What exactly did "do a demonstration" entail? And what was the leasing market like in China at the time? How was Dee's travel life like? How did physical aircraft get presented? And what did Dee do when a translator was not available for a seminar -- an incredible amount of reading followed! We ask about Dee's love for aviation as a child. Did he think that Airbus in China would be as successful as it is now? Dee has an interesting take on favourite airports along with personal travel recommendations. His favourite Airbus product may surprise you. Seat 1A appreciates the wonderful and candid interview with Dee. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 038. Layover with a Special Guest. An Interview with Paul Papadimitriou. It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. News Items: simpleflying.com articleflyertalk.com article If you want to share a shoutout to Dee, have a story about aviation industry sales, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:00:53:37

Experience 060. We Appreciate Your Patience. Wait Times and Customer Support.

6/19/2022
As the Northern Hemisphere arrives at summer 2022, many travellers are getting things figured out. Travel is back – but it’s a madhouse. People have had long delays and wait times to rebook their plans. From 2020 to 2022 it has been a toss up of who or what is providing support to customers. Take all of these issues and multiply them "world-fold". There are many customer service issues that will arise. We ask, "What do you do to plan for customer care"? Why is there a long hold? In many cases the support can only come from the provider - which isn't always the easiest to determine. Is there enough staff to hire, have experienced staff left the industry? The situation of experienced staff leaving an industry goes far beyond just the travel industry. When you call, have the knowledge and the request with you. Vinod shares a story of getting caught up in a loop with a point upgrade credit. Aeroplan...if you're listening... Geoff shares an experience of getting stuck in a "shadow ticket" loop and it eventually getting fixed. Vinod shares a frustrating experience with a gift card and trying to utilize it for control of family seating. Geoff shares props with Lufthansa for a quick response to a call he had with them. In most cases, airline call centres are regional. Due to this regionality, there can be a disconnect between global staff and local realities. Vinod shares a story of how he used local knowledge to his advantage and building a personal connection. These days, patience is virtue. Be adult and cordial – you will likely get further. We also look at the current situations with massive queueing and lineups in person – in various cities worldwide. Since many people haven’t flown recently their attitudes are amped up. Take the time to analyze the peak periods of the airports that you are visiting. If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 011. Flight delays, cancellations, diversions, and the airline's obligations. It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Vinod and Geoff share their travel plans for the summer of 2022. Geoff with Canadian, European and Southern African journeys, while Vinod has a first trip to the UK with a baby toddler. We’re packing patience - and are making sure to have the paper copies as backup! News Items: Ryanair Passenger Spends 5 Days In Zagreb Airport After Traveling With Wrong Passport Canada's busiest airport battles delays ahead of summer travel If you have a story about travel customer service stories, upcoming trips, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/

Duration:00:45:07

Experience 059. Flight Into the Closed Loop. Round-The-World via Beijing.

4/13/2022
In this experience Vinod shares his experience of flying to and from Beijing in the first quarter of 2022. Due to Chinese regulations he was required to be in a closed loop separate from the general public. That included flights. In pre-pandemic times there are many flights between Vancouver, Canada, and various cities in China. Currently there are none. So...how do you get a Canadian (and others working with Vinod) into China? Due to complexity of the situation, Vinod only got his booking confirmation four days before departure. He needed to follow very specific timelines for COVID testing. The routing had three stops: Vancouver to San Francisco to Tokyo-Haneda to Beijing-Capital. All of his timings for entrance were based off the final leg of his flight. His flights took place in January 2022, while airspaces were still normal. The flight into Beijing was restricted without any general public on them. Due to China being the end destination, online check-in was not possible. As he departed Vancouver with Air Canada, the region was still under the impact of the Omicron variant and the airport was eerily quiet. When he arrived in San Francisco, it was as if there was no pandemic at all. Then Vinod boarded an ANA flight to Tokyo-Haneda. The amount of legroom was amazing on an incredibly clean plane with impeccable service. Vinod had a very early arrival into Tokyo. He had stayed at Haneda in the summer of 2021. Then he left for Beijing on Japan Airlines and was blown away by the service, an incredible premium economy seat and one of the best in-flight economy meals Vinod has had in a long time. As the plane took off, Vinod could see his hotel room from Summer 2021. The plane took a very scenic route with beautiful views of Tokyo and Mount Fuji. And then, he landed in Beijing. Terminal 3 was sequestered for Vinod and other flights coming into the closed loop. There was throat and nasal COVID tests -- Vinod has never had a worse nasal test than this one. Surface sanitizing was everywhere, the ramp crew was all wearing PPE, and all that sanitizing had aged the new terminal vey quickly with corrosion and white gunk everywhere. Plexiglass became opaque -- which made for a humorous moment at immigration. He picked up his bag and boarded a bus. As an avgeek, the experience was incredible Vinod -- riding airside at Beijing Capital. As they travelled on the highway the bus had a police escort. Two hours later Vinod ended up at his hotel and waited for his test results, at which point he was able to continue in the closed loop. 38 days later... It's time to go home. There were limited slots and passenger load factors available for Chinese flights. Based on these limitations, Vinod had a round-the-world return to Vancouver -- of about 39 hours door-to-door. Beijing to Doha, Qatar, to Toronto, to Vancouver. Upgrades were available for a reasonable price, so Vinod took the upgrade. And three days before departure, he learned that the Qatar Airlines flight had an upgraded interior. Leaving China was much easier than arriving. Yet again, the airport was empty -- with no services open, except for one solitary water fountain. They boarded early. In Vinod's words, "When I stepped on that [Qatari] aircraft, I thought I was going to cry." He had a suite with a door with incredible levels of service and quality. The bed, the food, even the lavatory -- Vinod had a pinnacle level of experience. Then he arrived in Doha for early morning transfer rush hour. Vinod had to stand aside for a few moments and let his brain recalibrate. After some duty free shopping, he boarded his very long Air Canada flight 059 to Toronto. It was February 24, 2022, and normal routing was no longer available over Ukraine. Once the flight reached the Red Sea, it made a hard left turn and then flew up through western Turkey. The flight kept going and going and going...eventually landing in Toronto. Canadians can be chosen on landing for a random COVID test...Vinod...

Duration:01:17:49