Before, during or after winter travel season, the nation’s regions offering ski adventure travel options have something for everyone. The idea of climbing, hiking, camping or trekking through diverse areas had many travelers planning a 2013 winter vacation about this time last year. But those with no plans have options too.
“Put in now for end-of-January trips, but don’t expect deals around Presidents’ Day weekend,” says travel expert Pauline Frommer in a Reuters article.
President’s Day, like many other holidays, is a popular time for leisure travel and a peak booking of snow and cold-related adventures. The best hotel and resort rooms and money-saving packages, offered far in advance to jump-start bookings, are gone. Other discounted promotions will be few but some suggested sources can help.
“Check ski package deals from Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines,” says Frommer. “They both offer good lift ticket and lodging deals – especially if you’re willing to go mid-week instead of weekend.”
Looking to go away from the snow and cold? Land-based resorts, some all-inclusive, are a possible choice along with cruise vacations where unpacking once, we see several destinations on our floating hotel. The winter season brings cruise ships from Europe and around the world to luxuriate in the Caribbean sun. Still, the Caribbean is not the only warm place open for business over the next few months.
“I’ve found some of the best values to be in Central America,” suggests Frommer. “There are fairly decent air fares there. They’ve risen less than other parts of the world. Guatemala and Belize have some good hotel deals and there are some great adventures to be had there.”
Want to find specific ski adventure locations? This video may help:
According to a recent Airfarewatchdog study, a preponderance of surveyed travelers think that of domestic air carriers, American Airlines has the “rudest employees.” United was a close runner-up, followed by Delta.
Ranking last (which in this case, means winner) is a four-way tie, between Alaska, JetBlue, Frontier and Virgin America. Hmm. Seems budget airlines know how to bring it.
Here’s the full list polled in alphabetical order:
US Airways 12%
Virgin America 2%
Our friends at Airfarewatchdog run these unofficial consumer surveys every now and then and this is a great snapshot of the general consumer psyche. Bear in mind though, this data is unsubstantiated and unverified, so take it with a grain of salt. In our experience, most of the airline employees regardless of the airline are pretty darn chipper.
Airline travel tips come from a variety of sources, all with good intentions. Crowd-sourced recommendations have their place, but often amount to more of a popularity contest than information to bank on. Professional travel writers make it all sound easy but shouldn’t they? It is their job to do so. Going directly to the source, airlines offer their own version of travel tips, based on moving millions of people every day.
Alaska Air suggests some everyday travel tips that include keeping our confirmation codes handy for when a reservation needs to be checked, changed or modified. Armed with that gateway code, we can check flight times, know when to arrive at the airport and gate and choose from a variety of check-in options.
On holiday travel, Alaska Air suggests wrapping gifts at our destination since they are subject to TSA inspection and allow plenty of time to get through congested parking lots and airports during holiday travel periods.American Airlines suggests taking it easy between flights in their Admirals Club with a One-Day Pass, available online or at self-service check-in machines to relax in comfort and elegance. The one-day pass can be used at multiple lounges throughout a day of travel.
Buying a ticket and not exactly sure on the flight times? American Airlines reminds us of the relatively new 24-hour hold option we can put on an airline ticket while we firm up travel plans or shop around.
Offering some tips for healthy travel, United Airlines suggests wearing comfortable shoes, getting a good night’s sleep before flying and drinking plenty of liquids, but not caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
“While away, get as many hours of sleep every day as you normally would at home,” says United Airlines on its website. “Taking short naps of 30 to 40 minutes will refresh you as you adjust to the new time zone.”
Light meals and simple stretching exercises can help too, says United with detailed tips to help avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis, the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein, mainly in the legs.
Airports also have travel tips for us, like this one from San Francisco International Airport:
A longtime concert promoter and Oregon native has sparked heated backlash against Alaska Airlines through social media. After a disturbing airport experience, Cameron Clark logged onto Facebook and described the airline as “the worst of humanity.”
According to USA Today, Clark witnessed a disabled man miss his flight because the numerous airport personnel wouldn’t offer him extra assistance. The man had late-stage Parkinson’s disease, and even after Clark brought the situation to the airline staff’s attention, they refused to help. Because he wasn’t able to make his flight, the disabled man missed a limited window of time he had to meet his daughter in Bellingham, Washington.
Clark wrote: “what happened to our collective sense of decency, of compassion, of our disposition to help those in need of extra help. alaska airlines. you broke a man’s heart today. you maintained your policy, and ignored an opportunity to do the right thing. you broke my heart too.”
Although Clark didn’t intend for it to happen, the post went viral. Now, angry people are putting pressure on the airline to change their ways and hold themselves accountable.
Alaska Airlines has a different view of what happened. According to spokesman Paul McElroy, the man never mentioned he was disabled and, when staff smelled alcohol on him, assumed he was intoxicated. Although the man has not issued a formal complaint, the airline did refund his ticket and put him on a different flight.
After building a plastic model airplane I used to fantasize about what it would look like crashing. This urge became overwhelming when my best friend was over at my house trying to annoy me to death. So I sent a B-52 across my bedroom for a bombing run.
The end result was a crash that was a bit of a let down.
Someone at the Discovery Channel recently had a similar idea, albeit on a more grand scale. Back in March, Kate Nixon, a producer working for Discovery, emailed me looking for a ‘727 guru.’ She told me that they had purchased a Boeing 727 that they would be crashing in April for a scientific study. I’m sure the fact that it would make for some great T.V. was also part of the plan.
I explained that I was hardly a guru on the old three-engine Boeing, but that I might be able to put her in touch with someone. At the end of the exchange, I asked her what the “N” number was of the airplane to be crashed.
“Our aircraft is a 727-212 built in 1978 registration N293AS,” She said.
A quick check revealed I had flown that exact airplane when working for ExpressOne International (pic), a passenger charter airline. In fact, my sister Kim had flown it as a flight attendant at Alaska Airlines (pic), the original operator of the doomed airplane.
Kate swore me to secrecy and explained that the planned crash that would be extensively filmed for an upcoming special. They were mounting cameras inside and outside to capture the event. I suggested testing some AmSafe airbag seat belts that I had recently seen while sitting on a 737 at a bulkhead seat.
Of course I wanted to share it with all my friends at those two companies. But I had to keep quiet, at least until now.
They apparently used a pilot and some form of radio control device operated by a chase plane to guide it during the final moments. The pilot jumped out (D. B. Cooper style?) before the final descent into the ground.
And of course, in this day of cell phone cameras everywhere, someone managed to capture the crash, and it looks like the results for the Discovery Channel are far from a let down:
Here’s the full press release from the Discovery Channel:
DISCOVERY CHANNEL CRASHES A PASSENGER JET FOR SCIENCE DOCUMENTARY
A Boeing 727 passenger jet has been deliberately crash-landed in a remote and uninhabited Mexican desert as part of a scientific experiment for an unprecedented international television documentary for Discovery Channel, Channel 4 in the UK, plus Pro Sieben in Germany. The pilot ejected the 170-seat aircraft just minutes before the collision after setting it on a crash course, it was then flown remotely from a chase plane. The crash went according to plan and there were no injuries or damage to property.
Rather than carrying passengers, the plane was packed with scientific experiments, including crash test dummies. Dozens of cameras recorded the crash from inside the aircraft, on the ground, in chase planes and even on the ejecting pilot’s helmet. The program is being made by award-winning British production company Dragonfly Film and Television Productions.
The project aims to recreate a serious, but survivable, passenger jet crash landing with a real aircraft in order to allow an international team of experts to study the crashworthiness of the aircraft’s airframe and cabin as well as the impact of crashes on the human body, plus possible means of increasing passenger survivability and evaluating new ‘black box’ crash-recording technology.
The plane was crashed in a remote and unpopulated part of the Sonoran Desert of Baja California, Mexico. The location was chosen after an extensive international search to find a suitable location offering the perfect conditions for this groundbreaking scientific project.
For safety reasons, an exclusion zone at the crash site was manned by security teams, as well as the Mexican military and police. Ahead of the crash, a full safety review of the project was undertaken by the highly-qualified pilots and commanders as well as the Mexican authorities who concluded that it was safe for all concerned.
Following the crash, the aircraft will be salvaged and an extensive environmental clean-up operation is being carried out by a reputable agency with the full co-operation of the Mexican authorities.
“This ground breaking project features an actual crash of a passenger jet and explores the big questions about how to make plane crashes more survivable; it’s the ideal premiere episode for our CURIOSITY series that stirs the imagination of our audience, bravely asking questions and fearlessly seeking answers. This latest production captures that audaciousness perfectly and I can’t wait to share it,” said Eileen O’Neill, Group President of Discovery and TLC Networks.
“For the first time, leading scientists and veteran crash investigators, who have been enthusiastic supporters of this project, witness a plane crash in real time and explore what happens to the airframe and cabin, as well as the effects on the human body during a catastrophe of this magnitude. We hope to provide new information about how to improve the chances of survival while providing scientific results on passenger safety and new technologies, including new ‘black box’ flight data recording systems.”
Executive Producer, Sanjay Singhal, from Dragonfly Film and Television Productions, said: “NASA were the last people to attempt a crash test of a full passenger jet three decades ago. Now, with the improvements in filming and remote control technology we felt that the time was right to do it again. It’s never been safer to fly, but we want to use this as an opportunity to provide scientific data that might help to improve passenger safety in those extremely rare cases when a catastrophic aircraft accident does occur.
“This has been an extraordinary feat of organization, involving up to 300 people on location, including the production team, pilots, experts, risk management, plus local crew, military, fire teams and police. This is the culmination of four years of planning and hard work. We’re particularly grateful to the Mexican authorities for their assistance and support.”
The crash and the results of the accompanying research will be shown later this year in a feature-length documentary on Discovery Channel in the United States, Channel 4 in the UK plus Pro Sieben in Germany. The program is made by award-winning production company Dragonfly Film and Television Productions.