Now Is A Good Time To Become A Pilot

If you’ve ever wanted to become a pilot, now is a good time to follow through on that desire. According to USA Today, airlines are now preparing to face a pilot shortage that will leave the industry needing almost half a million new pilots by 2032.

Three of the biggest factors behind this swelling need for pilots are expanding fleets for many airlines, more complex laws enacted regarding pilot safety, and approaching retirement for many pilots. The increase in pilot demand is greater than previously reported by Boeing and the fact that flight school loans can sometimes reach $100,000 isn’t helping to narrow the gap between pilot supply and demand.

So if becoming a pilot has always been a dream of yours, now is a good time to realize that dream –- the travel industry needs you.

Airline Adds Live TV To In-Flight Entertainment Choices

in-flight

Emirates Airlines has raised the bar on in-flight services for quite some time, offering over-the-top amenities like a shower in first class, Bvlgari amenity kits, dine-on-demand service and more. Now, Emirates has figured out how to add live TV from a variety of sources.

“Installing the type of satellite communication that allows live TV on an aircraft is no easy feat,” said Adel Al Redha, Emirates executive vice-president of engineering and operations, in a Breaking Travel News report.

Currently offering a choice of four live TV channels, Emirates allows passengers to choose from BBC World News in English, BBC Arabic or Euronews.

Sports 24 is a channel with exclusive live coverage of sporting events around the world. Upcoming events include English Premier League and Bundesliga football matches, coverage of the Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open Tennis, ATP Tour Masters 1000 Series, ATP World Tour Finals, US Open Golf and the British and Irish Lions Tour.

That’s in addition to information systems that allow passengers to follow the progress of their flight and see what’s going on outside the aircraft with external-mounted cameras. Already in place are in-flight phone calls both to ground and other passengers on the plane, as well as the ability for sending and receiving text messages, email and over 1,400 channels of premium entertainment.

Available on select Boeing 777 flights flying over the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and North America, Emirates live TV service is provided via expanding satellite technology, soon to be offered worldwide.

Want a taste of the Emirates first class experience? Check this video, just in:



[Photo credit - Flickr user BriYYZ]

Tom Stuker Flew Over 1 Million Miles This Year – Why?

tom stuker frequent flyerTom Stuker took the term “frequent flyer” to new heights this year, logging just over 1,000,000 miles in 2012 all on United, all in first class. The 59-year-old Chicago native and New Jersey resident says he’s flown a total of 13 million miles, much of that in his capacity as an independent consultant and sales trainer for automobile dealerships around the world.

This year, Stuker says that about half of his trips were for pleasure, but how much fun it is it to fly 20,000 miles per week and did he actually see anything or did he spend the entire year in transit simply to break this milestone?

I caught up with Tom via Skype from Lombok, Indonesia, on Friday to find out.

So we have just a few days left in 2012, how many miles will you have logged for the year?

I’m going to finish the year just over 1,050,000.


Did you fly mostly for business or pleasure- what was the point of all this travel?

Once I realized I had a truckload of miles, I thought, ‘I may as well try to get to a million.’ I didn’t want to end up with 938,000 when 1 million is such a sexy number, so towards the end of the year, I planned it out and made it there.

It was about 50/50 business and pleasure. I took a lot of the year off just to travel. I flew with my wife more than 200,000 miles just on long weekend trips, so that consumed a lot.

How many miles did you fly last year?

About 825,000, most of that was business, that’s why this year I decided to take more time off.

Why are you so loyal to United?

I’m very brand loyal, they’ve been very good to me and I’m very good to them.

How much did you spend buying all these airline tickets this year?

A lot. I never disclose exactly how much I paid for my tickets. I have a contracted rate with United. I fly predominantly all first class and I give away a lot of my miles to close friends and relatives.

Tom StukerSo does United give you a special Batline to use to book flights?

I have a special Batline. I book everything on the phone – I’m old school. It’s a hotline for Global Service people.

It’s very expensive to fly first class, are you paying for first class tickets or do you pay for coach and they upgrade you?

I pay a negotiated rate for first class travel. They know me by name when I call United.

You have so many miles, shouldn’t you be able to redeem all your miles and travel for free?

I have – I’ve taken plenty of free trips. I took two free trips last week. I make sure all my relatives get miles when they need them. And I spend miles on other things too.

People are going to read this and wonder how well off you are. Are we talking Bill Gates or Mitt Romney territory or just comfortable?

I have just enough money to afford a good life of travel. I have two homes. I have a pretty good business. I work to live but I don’t live to work. I get a lot of criticism for traveling so much.




How so?

People say I have no home life. It couldn’t be any further from the truth. My two boys are grown. My wife and I, we both love to travel. We do everything together and we spend a lot of quality time together.

In order to hit more than 1,000,000 miles in a year, you’d have to average almost 3,000 miles in the air every day. How is that logistically possible?

I don’t know how I did it myself. Between time on planes, connections, transfers, booking travel, it comes to about 80 hours per week. How did it happen? I don’t know, the year flew by – no pun intended.

How many flights did you take?

I never added it all up. I had some time off at the beginning of this year and I said, ‘I’m going to fly 12 days straight.’ On January 12, I passed 100,000 miles, so I got off to a really strong start.

I did a lot of work in Australia though, and just going back and forth there is 20,000 miles right there. I got to Hawaii 4-5 times per year and we’ll leave on Friday night and come back on Sunday. That’s 10,000 miles.

You visit Hawaii from New York just for the weekend?

Two or two and a half days, yes.

And you’d spend only 3-4 days in Australia?

I’d get in on a Tuesday morning and leave Friday morning, so that’s three days.

What’s the longest you ever stayed in one place this year? Did you stay a full week anywhere at all?

I don’t think I’ve been at home for a full week in about 18 years. I’ve been married and divorced twice but it had nothing to do with all the flying.

But why not travel and stay in these places a bit longer? Go to Hawaii and stay for a week or two, explore, get comfortable there?

First of all, I’m ADD. I can’t pay attention too much. I lose focus. I get what I want from a destination and move on. Relaxing to me is weird. I’m not a lay-by-the-pool person. I relax by planning trips and communicating with people from all over the world on Skype and doing other things.

Some would argue that you traveled a lot but didn’t see much. How do you respond to that charge?

I would say, ‘look at my photo albums.’ My wife and I have flown 2.5 million miles together. I’ve been everywhere and done everything. I’ve done desert safaris, I’ve been to the top of the Burj Khalifha, I’ve been on the pyramids, I’ve done a safari in Africa, elephant trekking in Thailand, I walked the China Wall. OK, so I’ve never been to Antartica! So shoot me!

Let me guess – you haven’t been to Antarctica because United doesn’t fly there?

That’s one reason plus I’m not a cold weather person. I’ve been to every state, every Canadian province. I did four days in Rio – that was enough for me. I’ve been to every island in the Caribbean. All over South America. I did three or four days in Buenos Aires.

How do you pass the time on all these flights? Do you talk to neighbors, watch movies, work, read?

A combination of all those things. I’ve met so many amazing people flying in first class. I read magazines and newspapers until we get up in the air and then sometimes I try to get work done. I think my company was built on airplane cocktail napkins. I can’t watch movies because I’ve already seen every damn one of them.



I understand your going to be the star of a reality TV program?

It’s called “Car Lot Rescue.” It’s something like “Kitchen Nightmares” but at car dealerships. I go in there, find problems, address them like a bull in a china shop, get push back and solve their problems. That’s going to be on Spike and it debuts February 10.

What’s your least favorite destination?

I wasn’t too excited about Greece. The history is phenomenal but I found the people there to be a little on the rude side, which will offend all the Greeks who read this.

I’m surprised. Greece is one of my favorite places. Where were you?

Athens, Mykonos, Santorini. But there are rude people in New Jersey too, so New Jersey isn’t the friendliest place either. Australia and New Zealand are the friendliest places.

Speaking of rudeness, what kind of rude behavior have you seen on flights this year?

Even in first class, I’ve seen everything from people clipping their nails, polishing their nails, people who take their shoes and socks off. People who won’t put their seats up to let people get to the bathroom. People who will kick my chair because my seat is reclined.

What are your travel plans for 2013?

I’m going to London a couple times. Vegas. Phoenix. We’re taking a long weekend in Buenos Aires. And this is all just in January.

Why go all the way to Argentina just for the weekend?

I’ve been there before; I just want to revisit some places I haven’t been to. I want to go to a new tango place.

A British expat named Fred Finn claims to be the world’s most frequent flyer with 15 million lifetime miles. Do you want to take that title away from him?

He says he has 15 million miles and I’m not going to call him a liar. He gets paid for appearances as the world’s most frequent flier. I don’t mind being number two, with 13 million miles. I think he’s about 70, so he’s got a dozen years on me. God willing, if I live to 70, I’ll probably pass him but it’s not on my bucket list. I fly for one reason, to create memories, not miles.

[Photo credit: Tom Stuker]

Pricing Travel Takes Creative Turn On Airlines, Cruise Lines

pricing travel
When it comes to pricing travel, common complaints from air travelers concern fees charged for checked luggage and changes to tickets after buying. Cruise travelers are often surprised to find out that the advertised price they see is not the total price. Both want more options, flexibility and pricing that fits their needs. Several travel companies are making moves to give them just that.

American Airlines recently rolled out simple three-tier pricing aimed to take the unknown out of the equation, make comparing prices among airlines easier and perhaps adding value.

“This will eliminate the fear about what-ifs,” Rick Elieson, managing director of aa.com


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/12/3139557/american-airlines-rolls-out-new.html#storylink=cpy

said in a Miami Herald report. He said it will encourage customers to compare airlines by quality and reward those, “like American, that invest so much in its product.”

Now, American Airlines lowest and refundable fare brackets are divided into three options:

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/12/3139557/american-airlines-rolls-out-new.html#storylink=cpy

Choice fares are the same as how tickets are done now and will be the lowest fare. If someone wants to check a bag, they pay for it. This is the basic fare. This is no doubt the fare to compare with other airlines.

Choice Essential fares add $68 per round trip but include one checked bag, no change fees and early boarding.

Choice Plus fares add $88 per round trip, and include the Choice Essential benefits plus bonus miles for frequent fliers, standby privileges, a free drink and other perks.

Will other airlines follow American? Probably, as disclosure, transparency and a traveler-friendly system of pricing and booking seem to be the direction travel companies are headed.

This year, we saw a new U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) rule that requires airlines to include all taxes and fees in their advertised fares, among other consumer-friendly features. Cruise lines have no such rules and commonly do not include taxes and other fees in advertised pricing.

But in what we believe to be an unprecedented move, Princess Cruises began advertising the total price per person, including port charges, taxes and government fees, in advertising for their Season of Saving sale, running through December 21.

“These cruise fares include government fees and taxes so you can see what each voyage actually costs from the start,” says Princess Cruises on its website. “It makes planning your next vacation easier and saves the surprises for the pleasant ones you’ll discover on your cruise.”

Reaching further, Carnival Cruise Lines added new pricing options this month with what appears to be something for everyone.

Some time ago, Carnival came out with their Early Saver Fare, a restricted fare that was guaranteed to be the lowest price, no matter what. Throughout the life of a booking, if the price went down, the difference went to the buyer in one way or another via the Early Saver Fare’s price protection quality.

Like a discounted airline ticket, the Early Saver Fare came with some restrictions too. Topping the list was that the deposit was non-refundable and any changes incurred a $50 per person, per change administrative fee. It was the best price but not for everyone. A traveler with uncertain travel plans? This was not for them.

So Carnival increased the number of fare codes they offer from four to seven, adding additional fare codes that allow more flexibility, options and the ability to find a better fit for each individual traveler. As booking a cruise is more complicated than booking an airline ticket, more complicated are the Carnival fare codes as well.

Some Carnival fares are available far in advance of sailing. As time grows closer to sailing, other fares with different rules, aimed at those who are entering the booking arena are introduced then fall off as time marches on.

Winning at the new Carnival Cruise Lines fare code system seems to be a lot about timing and determination.

For example, those who need or prefer to book at the last minute might like Carnival’s new Instant Saver Fare, available 30 to 45 days prior to sailing.

Choosing this option, the cruise line requires that full payment is due at the time of booking and is 100% non refundable, among other restrictions. But someone booking further in advance will have a different selection of fare codes to choose from.

Available between five and three months prior to sailing, Carnival’s Super Saver Fare has a non-refundable deposit, no changes can be made for any reason, there is no price protection and the cruise line selects the passengers stateroom on the day of check-in at the pier.

Aimed at travelers who missed out on the Early Saver Fare because they waited too long to book, the Super Saver Fare is offered closer to sailing but with more restrictions.

Significantly new to booking procedures on some fares is that the cruise line (rather than the passenger) selects the cabin at the time of pier check-in. Now we’re into that “determination” comfort level and passengers who need or want to have their stateroom at a certain location on the ship will not like this qualifier. Those prone to suffering from motion discomfort commonly look for a stateroom location closer to the middle of the ship, where the laws of physics say the ride is smoother.

At the end of the day, those booking Carnival Cruise Lines may want to consider travel insurance more seriously in response new restrictions and use the services of a travel agent that works with this system daily to be sure they select the right pricing option.


How to Pack Your Carry-On for Holiday Travel

[Photo Credit- Flickr user Simon_sees]

Fees And Penalties Waived By Travel Companies: Nice Or Strategic Move?

fees and penalties

Frequent travelers know that fees and penalties happen when we change plans. Booked elements of a travel plan, especially when discounted, often carry heavy charges to prevent changes. But when major disruptive events happen – situations beyond our control that force plans to be modified – travel companies often waive those fees. It seems like a logical, good business move to make. But sometimes they need a little encouragement to do so.

Weather events, like a hurricane, a massive winter snowstorm or even disasters far away like an earthquake in Japan can throw off air schedules, empty or fill hotel rooms and make normal operations nearly impossible. When that happens, airlines, hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines and more adjust quickly to do the best job they can under the circumstances. Commonly waiving cancellation or change fees for these situations out of our control, it’s a show of good will by travel service providers. They don’t have to do that.

But it’s also a strategic move since the rescheduling is going to be done anyway, putting a severe strain on reservations systems and personnel. It’s kind of like the boss that is mad when someone calls in for work vs. the understanding employer who wishes them well and hopes they get better soon. Either way, the worker is not coming in today but the understanding employer gains good will with his workers. The mad boss? Not so much.As Hurricane Sandy caused aircraft to be grounded or moved out of harms way, United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson told USA Today, “We will likely suspend operations scheduled for tonight and tomorrow at several airports in the region. Conditions are likely to keep us from operating with an acceptable margin of safety.” Delta went on to suspend change and cancellation fees, as did most major airlines, asking passengers to consider departing earlier, postponing or re-routing their travel. At the time of Hurricane Sandy, it made sense.

After the storm passed and normal operations resumed, back came the fees and charges. But on the ground, the lives of those affected where far from back to normal. Homes left standing were still without power in many areas, forcing residents to live in hotels, scramble to find a rental car and change plans well into the future. For a while, it looked like airlines were going to hit passengers with fees again until Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) stepped in to lobby airlines on their behalf. As a result, airlines reevaluated their policies and made the right move.

“JetBlue and Delta have stepped up to the plate for those teachers and families with students whose travel plans have been ruined by Superstorm Sandy – now other airlines and cruise lines should follow suit ASAP,” said Schumer on his website. “Having to cancel a long planned vacation because of the storm is bad, but being forced to shell out hundreds or thousands in cancellation or change fees is worse.”

Whether it is nice to do in order to earn or keep our good will, or a strategic move that should make resuming normal operations more efficient, we’re always happy when fees we don’t think are justified are removed, regardless or what (or who) caused them to happen in the first place.

Want to know more about how to avoid fees? See this video that tells us fees are big business for airlines, between 3 – 4% of their income:


[Photo Credit: Flickr user swanksalot]