“Did you know…Teen Terror Tweeter is Arrested?”

(USA TODAY)

Teen tweeting terror to AA is arrested“hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye.”

The above tweet directed to American Airlines at @americanair, came from the Twitter account of a Netherlands teen named “Sarah” last Sunday.  USA Today reports that the teen has been arrested upon turning herself in.  She was accompanied by a parent and is currently under interrogation in Rotterdam.

“The safety of our passengers and crew is our number one priority. We take security matters very seriously and work with authorities on a case by case basis,” American Airlines said to The Huffington Post. “Regarding (the) tweet, we removed it after it had been addressed in order to be able to focus on our customers.”

Read the entire story here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/todayinthesky/2014/04/14/girl-sends-terroristic-tweet-to-aa-gets-unwanted-response/7694161/

Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown Shares Family Spring Break Tips

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, working with Bank of America and a recent survey they published on family Spring Break travel plans, we learned that nearly half of US families are getting away. This week, the Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown, shares tips for a smooth Spring Break trip.

samantha brown, travel channel• Rehearse the security line
Between taking off your shoes, unpacking our laptops and taking off coats, the security line can get a bit messy. Prepare your kids by practicing with the whole family the night before; pretend the kitchen island is the security table, a salad bowl a bin and a doorway the metal detector.

• Get the first flight out
While it’s hard to get the family up early, the first flight out is always cheaper and most likely leaves on time which is important when you have a connecting flight. For little ones, the TSA now allows children 12 years and younger to walk through airport security with shoes and a light jacket on.

• Never think you’re going to be fed on the plane
Don’t wait to eat at the airport, plan your food ahead of time. Whether you eat at the house or bring snacks it will save you time and money. Just be sure to check TSA regulations to see what is allowed through security.

• Let your rewards do the work
Use credit card rewards to offset the costs. The BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card gives you the flexibility to earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent on all purchases that be used for hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars and more. You can also find the best value by booking a hotel where perks are included, such as a breakfast buffet. It makes the morning easier by being well fed and coffee’d up!

• Don’t get upset when things don’t go as planned
Travel is rifle with missed connections, wrong turns, long lines and unexpected closings. Put together a Plan A and Plan B list you can easily access to prepare for the unexpected. Always remember how you react is how your children will so have fun with it and put a smile on your face!

• It’s called Spring BREAK
So take one. Give your family a break around 3 or 4pm when everyone is naturally feeling a lull. Nap, read a book or magazine and kids can draw and color or write in a journal. Get the whole family involved in the travel planning process. Have each member choose and plan an activity so everyone is invested in the family vacation.

Survey says: Nearly half of American families are headed on a Spring Break vacation

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

According to a recent survey by Bank of America, nearly half of American families are headed on a spring vacation this year. So, what’s on their itinerary? Check out the infographic below and come back next week for some Family Spring Break Tips from Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel.

Families Head for Spring Break

One-on-One with Matteo Sarzana, Founder and CEO of Avionerd

This month, ExpertFlyer talks with Matteo Sarzana, Founder and CEO of Avionerd, an interesting and soon-to-be-released travel app that relies – literally – on the kindness of traveling strangers. Sarzana explains how – and why – elite frequent flyers can share their status privileges with the rest of us.

matteo sarzana avionerd“Our goal is to connect frequent flyers with normal flyers and have the frequent flyers share their status privileges with them.”

– Matteo Sarzana, Founder and CEO of Avionerd

Since Avionerd isn’t even available yet, can you give our readers an overview of what this app is designed to do?

Avionerd is a mobile app which will help everyone fly in a better way. Our goal is to connect frequent flyers with average flyers and have the frequent flyers share their status privileges with them.

There’s nothing like it on the market today and we’re sure it’ll be a killer opportunity for both travellers and airline companies.

How exactly does an elite status flyer pass on perks, like Lounge Access, Priority Checkin, Priority Boarding & Upgrade to a stranger booked on the same flight?

The baseline is that the app connects people on the same flight to share frequent flyer privileges.

Once you attain frequent flyer status, you’re allowed to share your privileges with another companion or your family. Avionerd is putting this under-utilized opportunity to more use by linking a frequent flyer solo traveler with a non-frequent flyer to let him or her experience the perks.

The app will let you know, with a push notification, of the possibility to get in touch with the frequent flyer and connect to organize the meeting or the other way around. We like to call this “sharing economy for the airline industry.”

The mechanism is pretty straightforward. Users sign up and create a profile inserting their frequent flyer information, if they have it, or they can skip this step. They then input their flight information and if on one of the flights there’s someone willing to share their privileges and someone without them, the users will be connected.

After the flight, they will be prompted to share their feedback and points are awarded based on the actions and privileges shared. Users will also be able to see their friends’ activities and search for flights with the most people willing to share their privileges.

Have you piloted or test marketed the app?  What makes you think that frequent flyers will be open to sharing their privileges with complete strangers?  What’s in it for them?

After a lot of research, we know there are no competitors at the moment. The closest thing is the Flight Connect page at FlyerTalk where people post their flight schedule to try to connect.

Market research also tells us that frequent flyers spend an average 18 percent more when buying tickets to stay with one airline for the frequent flyer miles and privileges. Proving to airlines that Avionerd is a marketing tool for them when normal flyers experience frequent flyer perks will be the key success factor to involve them in the project.

There are three main reasons we think frequent flyers will want to share their privileges:

1- To meet new, interesting people.

2- To be the one getting the privileges when they are not able to fly with the airline they have status with. Sort of a karma situation when a Delta Platinum is forced to fly American Airlines.

3- Be part of a global community, and in the future, be able to get even more airline miles.

How do you think the airlines will react to this? Airlines haven’t always looked kindly on those that try to game the system. Do you expect push-back from them?

I don’t think airlines will push back on Avionerd. We think the airline industry will see our app as a marketing opportunity to educate more consumers about the benefits of becoming frequent flyers.  Turning a typical flyer into a loyal frequent flyer means more money in the long run; our research tells us that frequent flyers spend up to 18% more to fly with the airline they have status with.

Also, every airline frequent flyer program offers companion sharing benefits. If an airline changes this rule, people will switch to a different program. Here are some key reasons we believe the airline industry will be interested in the app:

- Frequent flyers are a minority of the people who fly each year

- Frequent flyers usually spend 18% more than people without a status to keep flying with the airline they have status with

- We believe airlines are not exploiting the opportunity of educating more people about the benefits of being a FF, thus they are not leveraging the marketing opportunity

- Educating more people about the FF privileges could lead more people to sign up for FF awards programs, thus making them high spending people

- If airlines can understand that, they should be happy we are actually doing the work for them.

You also employ a points system for users who offer feedback based on their experience.  How are points earned and what rewards do flyers gain them for?

For each action performed by users, such as priority boarding, lounge access or upgrade, there will be a score awarded to them. In the beginning, points will be aggregated in a global ranking. We’re working with partners to give users the chance to convert their aviopoints into airline miles.

How soon can travelers expect to find Avionerd available for iOS and Android mobile platforms?

We are planning to submit the app to apple for approval by end of April. If successful, we’ll start working on the Android version.

 

“Did you know…travel industry praises decision to scrap fee hike?”

(USA Today)

international airline ticketVoices of pilots and consumer groups gave sway against taxing airlines on international arrivals as additional fees have been dropped from a recently approved spending bill.  USA Today reports, “Immigration inspection user fees had been poised to rise from $7 to $9 on each ticket under the Senate version of the legislation. But the final compromise dropped the fee, which would have raised $185 million per year.”

Read the full story here: http://ht.ly/sCVEP

“Did you know…As AA and UA merge, price glitches surface?”

(TravelWeekly.com)

american airlines logoThankfully, as travelers, we don’t have to get beneath the layers of complexity associated with the merger process of American Airlines and US Airways into one mega air carrier.  As the airlines take initial steps toward integrating their flights, pricing structure and human resources, there’s bound to be fallout.  This week, TravelWeekly.com reported, “American and US Airways began offering codeshare flights last week, but savvy agents and fare watchers quickly noticed wide disparities in ticket prices, depending on where they searched or which code they used.”

“In some instances, seats on US Airways flights booked as American flights were more than twice the price displayed for the same seats on the US Airways site…” Read the full story here: http://ht.ly/sQQMg

“Did you know…The Guy in the Window Seat Wants to Talk to You?”

talking on a placeWhy don’t airline passengers, sitting inches apart for hours on end, utter a single word to one another?  Most likely, because we assume that the other person doesn’t want to talk and we rather not risk annoying anyone.

Since the ups and downs of air travel always pique our interest, we were drawn in by a recent New York Times article written by Jeff Kaye, a co-C.E.O. of the executive search firm Kaye/Bassman-Sanford Rose Associates and C.E.O. of the recruiting training company, Next Level Exchange.  Since the 1990s, Jeff has been contradicting the assumption that our seat mates don’t want to engage.  In fact, he says, about 90% of people DO like to chat and share.  Since Jeff travels all the time and all around the world for business, he makes a regular habit of greeting fellow passengers and asking a few polite questions.  In addition to interesting company, he’s been rewarded with advice, recommendations and anecdotes that made the trip fly and in many cases left him a little bit smarter.

Next time you’re on a plane, say hello to your seat mate.  You never know where the conversation will take you.  Read the entire story here: http://ht.ly/t21aq

How to Pack Light to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees: Part 1

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Airline baggage fees can quickly add up for frequent flyers. At $50 per roundtrip flight, checking a bag is too expensive to be practical.  We’ve shared our own packing tips in the past, but we thought we’d give everyone a fresh perspective from Fred Perrotta, co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks, to get all the facts and fixes for packing light as a means to avoid baggage fees. Even if you have the status or a loyalty credit card that allows for a free checked bag, you’re still at the mercy of the airlines. Checking a bag is always a risk. Your luggage could be lost, misrouted or damaged.

Traveling carry-on-only is ideal. You’ll save money and spend less time waiting around for your bags at the airport. Packing light doesn’t have to be as difficult as many travelers imagine it to be. Below are the guidelines you need to know for traveling with only a carry-on bag.

The Basics

Carry-on luggage rules vary by airline. Most airlines do not allow bags larger than 45 linear inches (length + width + height). If your airline breaks it down by each dimension, 22 x 14 x 9″ is the most common configuration. These dimensions are a good rule of thumb when shopping for luggage.

Forty pounds is the usual weight limit outside of budget airlines, which are more strict. The lighter you can travel, the better.

tsa 311 for carryonsToiletries

Airlines are strict with liquids and gels. The TSA’s rule is 3-1-1.

Your liquids must be in bottles of 3.4 ounces or less. You must carry them in a “1 quart transparent plastic bag hermetically sealed.” Each passenger may carry one such bag.

The TSA is not flexible on these rules so follow them to the letter.

You can find travel-sized toiletries at Target or your local drug store. If you can’t find your favorite brand, try 3 Fl Oz, which only sells travel-sized bottles. For any must-have products that only come in larger sizes, buy a GoToob. GoToobs are refillable, rubber travel bottles for your toiletries.

You don’t have to scour the internet to put together your toiletry kit. Most products can be bought at your destination for the same price or less as at home. Buy anything that costs less than $10 and that you won’t need in transit after you land. I find that having a toothbrush, toothpaste, and face wash on hand can be a lifesaver after long flights.

Fred Perrotta helps travelers pack everything they need without checking a bag. He is the co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks, makers of the ultimate travel backpack.

In Part 2 of our packing series, we will cover how to pack a light wardrobe while still looking good.

 

One-on-One with MikelParis, professional artist, keyboardist with the rock band, O.A.R. and creator of “TuneTrek”

MikelParis, "TuneTrek"

 

In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with MikelParis, best known as a keyboardist for the popular rock band O.A.R., about some things you may not know. Aside from performing in the long-running off Broadway production, “Stomp,” MikelParis is the creator of a unique travel series called “TuneTrek.” We asked Paris to tell us about that project, as well as what’s on the horizon.

 

I love that feeling of discovering a place for the first time.  The project also motivates me to get out of the hotel or off the tour bus to see and experience the places that I’m visiting.

– MikelParis, Musician, Artist & Creator of the Travel Series, “TuneTrek”

Our readers may be wondering why ExpertFlyer is featuring a Q&A with a rockstar from O.A.R., so let’s kick things off with your “TuneTrek” project.  Tell us about this unusual travel video series and how you got started with it.

TuneTrek is a travel and music show where I find interesting historic landmarks or scenic vistas and tell the story of each site through pictures, video and music.  I’ve got a guitar on my back and camera bag on my front and I’ve filmed 25 episodes, so far, and released eight.  The idea came out of my love of traveling, exploring, nature, architecture, and of course music.   I love that feeling of discovering a place for the first time.  The project also motivates me to get out of the hotel or off the tour bus to see and experience the places that I’m visiting, while traveling the world playing music.  Each 5-7 minute episode gives a little history and shows the journey of my discovery of the site.  I find a good acoustic and visual spot to perform some songs and feature one of the songs at the end of the episode.  The rest of the music I use to underscore each episode.   I do everything on my own in this project:  Researching and advancing each location; setting up camera angles; interviewing the local Docent or historian; creating the story board; editing the video; and mastering the music. I’ve been forced to learn a lot about editing.  I use Protools 10 to master the music, Adobe Premier to edit the Video, Pentax cameras for visual content, and the Zoom H4N for live audio. You can watch the episodes at http://www.mikelparis.com/#!tunetrek/czaf. Continue reading →

How to Pack Light to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees: Part 2

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In Part 1 of our packing series, packing expert and head of Tortuga Backpacks, Fred Perrotta, outlined the basic rules of traveling carry-on-only and how to keep your toiletries within the rules. In Part 2, he’ll cover how to limit your wardrobe without looking like a bum.

how to pack a carryon most efficiently

Pack to maximize carryon efficiently

Packing Clothes in a Carry On
Never Pack for More than Two WeeksEven on long trips, never pack more than 7-14 days of clothes. You’ll need to do laundry, so pack for a shorter trip and wear the same, laundered clothes again every week or two. No one will notice and you’ll save a ton of space in your luggage.

Wear Neutral Colors
Choose a neutral color palette for your clothes. Neutral colors are easier to mix and match. Re-wearing them will be less obvious. I wear a mix of blues, grays, and muted greens.If you prefer bright colors and patterns, limit them to accessories like leopard print flats or colorful scarves.

Mix and Match
Pack interchangeable clothes. Each top should be able to be worm with each bottom. Neutral colors make this much easier.For example, don’t pack three complete outfits. Pack three tops and three bottoms that can be worn in combination. This strategy yields nine outfits, not three.

Dress in Layers, Not in Bulk
Traveling somewhere cold? Plan to dress in layers, not in bulky sweaters and jackets. The latter are huge space eaters in your luggage.Instead of packing a huge sweater, pack a base layer t-shirt, long-sleeved mid-layer (or two), and a lighter jacket. These items will take up less space than a sweater and will be more versatile in different temperatures.

Pack Quick-Drying Basics
Buy basics like underwear and socks made of quick-drying fabrics. Then you can quickly hand wash them between laundry cycles. You could pack as few as two pairs of each, alternating them each day. No one would know how often you’re re-wearing them.You don’t need to be that extreme to see the benefit. For a ten day trip, you could pack five pairs of socks and hand wash them in your hotel’s sink once in the middle of your trip. For five minutes of effort, you saved bringing five extra pairs of socks.If you pack basics made of quick-dry fabrics, you can hang them to dry overnight. I recommend ExOfficio for underwear and Smartwool for socks.

Wear Your Heaviest Items
Wear, don’t pack, your heaviest items when flying. Boots and jackets are much easier to wear than to pack. You can still bring them without sacrificing the space in your luggage.

Roll, Don’t Fold Your Clothes
Rolling your clothes, instead of folding them, takes up less room in your bag. Even flight attendants recommend rolled packing.

Condense Your Load with Cubes and Folders
Keep your clothes organized and condense them even more with packing cubes and folders. Cubes come in a variety of sizes to fit any luggage. You can also buy two-sided cubes to separate types of clothes or to keep dirty clothes away from clean clothes.Packing folders are ideal for anything that needs folded like dress shirts, blouses, and slacks. If you need something for a business meeting, consider packing it in a folder.

Conclusion
Packing light is easy once you have a system in place. Start with the advice above then adapt it to your own travel style and wardrobe. Once you have your technique nailed down, you’ll know what you need for every trip and will be able to pack quickly without dreading it. Keep that $50 in your pocket, not the airline’s.

 

 

“Did you know…Airline industry considers cracking down on unruly passengers?”

(CBSNews.com)

unruly passenger on IcelandairLast year, after a man on an Icelandair flight to New York downed a bottle of duty-free alcohol and became unruly and aggressive, passengers had to restrain him with duct tape.  A Frontier Airlines passenger was booted off the plane when she lost her cool over not being able to fit her carry-on in the overhead bin.  She lashed out at a fellow passenger who was recording the incident, grabbing and throwing his phone.

These are just a couple of examples of  a growing trend of air rage aboard international flights, in particular.  CBSNews.com reports that the industry is considering new rules.

Long lines, baggage fees and canceled flights: For passengers, the experience of flying today can trigger enormous stress. But internationally, airlines are focused on another pressing problem: incidents of air rage that are on the rise…between 2007 and 2011, reports of passenger misconduct increased dramatically, from 500 to more than 6,000, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Read the full CBS News report here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/airline-industry-considers-cracking-down-on-unruly-passengers/

“Did you know…8 digital travel trends to watch?”

(Mashable)

digital travel trendsMashable’s list of eight digital travel trends to keep an eye on:

  1. Brands engage in real-time marketing during holidays and big events
  2. Brands can make viral videos on a budget by engaging customers
  3. Hotels invest heavily in next-gen guest experiences
  4. Airlines improve in-flight entertainment to attract flyers
  5. Airports adjusts regulations to make room for taxi-booking apps
  6. Cities make it easier for tourists to explore with Wi-Fi hotspots
  7. TripAdvisor’s plans to continue acquiring startups
  8. Amtrak attracts riders with less security and better Wi-Fi

Read the entire post here: http://mashable.com/2014/02/18/8-digital-trends-this-week/

One-on-One with Bob Diener, Co-Founder of Hotels.com & Getaroom.com

This month, ExpertFlyer talks with Bob Diener, Co-Founder of Hotels.com & GetaRoom.com.  Bob Diener has been a pioneer in the hotel consolidation and online travel industry for more than 25 years. In 1984, Diener and his college classmate, David Litman, began a career in the airline consolidation business. The two later founded Hotel Reservations Network, now known as Hotels.com, in 1991. Diener talks to ExpertFlyer about his latest venture as President and Co-Founder of the online travel site, www.getaroom.com, a resource specializing in the best hotel rooms at the best values.

bob diener, getaroom.com “We are more of a niche site, but we are growing at triple digit rates because consumers want value and we figured out how to deliver that.”

– Bob Diener, Co-Founder of Hotels.com & GetaRoom.com

There are many hotel booking sites in the marketplace offering “best hotel rooms for the best value,” including your former company, Hotels.com, and newer contenders, like Room77com.  Describe what getaroom.com is all about and what is the unique value-add that the service offers travelers?

We are the only company that offers unpublished rates which are typically 10-20% off and as much as 60% off the lowest rates online. We have over 25,000 hotels participating. The hotels give us lower rates than they offer direct or offer anyone else – and they are only available by contacting our call center at 1-800-468-3578 (1-800-HOTELS8).

We also offer a large number of flash sales daily. Flash sales are special sales for limited periods of time typically up to 48 hours. You must book the hotel within the flash sale booking window but can usually stay whenever you want. The discounts are usually 10-60% off the lowest online rate. This causes consumers to make a decision quickly to take advantage of the deal and fills a large percentage of the hotel rapidly.

 

Your home page prompts visitors who “want a better deal” to call for “secret unpublished rates.” Can you elaborate on that and why you would you want to move customers away from your website to a call center?

90% of the interaction is done online. Hotel comparison shopping, view amenities, descriptions, user comments, maps, directions. They only call us to get the lower unpublished rate.

Since being acquired in 2001, Hotels.com has become part of the largest online travel company in the world.  Do you think you have the right mix of features and market demand in getaroom.com to create another Hotels.com?

We are more of a niche site, but we are growing at triple digit rates because consumers want value and we figured out how to deliver that.

Is getaroom.com essentially a hotel room consolidation business?  Are your relationships with vacation properties unique? What’s different or exclusive about your inventory?

We are a consolidator. Some of our relationships are unique. For example, we have properties, such as the Luxury Suites at the Signature MGM in Las Vegas, where we offer large deluxe suites on the Las Vegas Strip from $79 a night through a special block of rooms within the property. We have properties like this in many major destinations.

There’s a growing trend and demand among dollar conscious travelers who are opting for lower-cost rental accommodations in residential homes and apartments.  Sites like www.airbnb.com and www.homeaway.com have surged in popularity over the past few years.  How are you competing with these options?

We now offer “shared bath” accommodations at great properties like the Jane and Pod in New York with rooms typically close to $100 a night even during the busy season. These are trendy, popular and well run hotels in central areas that either have part or the entire hotel set up with a hallway bathroom for several units, similar to a B&B. Rates can be as much as 80% less than the same hotel room with a bath, just without the bath in the room.

What other exciting developments can we look forward to from getaroom.com over the next year?

We are adding destinations at a fast pace. We are almost up to 100,000 hotels, resorts and vacation rentals worldwide and will continue to add. We are also expanding the hotels participating on both our unpublished rate program and our flash sale program. We will continue to innovate to find special values for consumers.

 

“Did you know…Airline passenger leaves nasty note to pilot?”

(ABCNews.go.com)

note to westjet pilotYou can’t make this stuff up.  A passenger (of unknown gender), left a nasty-gram for WestJet pilot, Carey Smith Steacy.  Decidedly sexist and rude, the note was posted by Capt. Steacy on her Facebook page – she has received nothing but support from WestJet fans.  Read the note and full story here: http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/airline-passenger-leaves-nasty-note-pilot/story?id=22784067

“Did you know…new theory emerges on how long Malaysian plane kept flying?”

(theguardian.com, Wall Street Journal and nbcnews.com)

malaysian airlinesAfter five long days, Malalysian Airlines flight MH370 remains missing and new theories and questions concerning the disappearance multiply.  The Guardian reports today that the plane may have flown on for hours beyond its last reported sighting.

“The Wall Street Journal, citing two people in the US familiar with the details, said US investigators suspected the Boeing 777 actually stayed in the air for about four hours past that time. The startling assessment was based on data automatically sent by the plane to Boeing’s engine department as part of a routine maintenance and monitoring program, the Journal said.

In an NBC News story this morning, it was reported that Malaysia’s transport minister denied this report, saying, “A report in the Wall Street Journal – that the aircraft’s engines had continued to transmit data long after the plane’s last confirmed position – was ‘inaccurate.’” “…However, asked if it were possible that the plane kept flying for several hours, he said, “of course, this is why we have extended the search.”

See story links:

theguardian.com

NBCNews.com

Wall Street Journal

Wild (life) Travel Adventures: Part 1

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics: Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

When you think about exploring places, like Indonesia, Galapagos, Namibia or Manitoba, what comes to mind? If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, these exotic destinations are likely on your bucket list, because they are home to some of the rarest and most beautiful animals in the world.

world wildlife fund logoWith help from Tania Segura, Associate Specialist of the World Wildlife Fund’s Travel Program, we take a special look at these unique destinations and their native wildlife.

NAMIBIA

Namibia is soul-stirring. Here on the southwest edge of Africa, orange sand dunes rise a thousand feet high against a cobalt sky. The coastal desert is washed by the relentless ocean, while inland the sun bakes the plains into a cracked puzzle of dried mud, pocked with grass and thornbush. There is water here, too, though its presence is subtle. It is the source of life in the stark Etosha salt pan, whose waterholes attract fantastic numbers of game, including feline predators. Springbok, oryx, kudu and dik-dik run to elude them, in a great and ancient desert dance.

Namibia Safari

If Namibia is not on your bucket list, it should be.   Only in Namibia can you experience breath-taking landscapes, vibrant populations of lions, cheetahs, rhinos, and elephants, and a nation of people whose livelihoods and future are bound to wildlife’s freedom to roam. Taking a Namibian Safari with WWF, you can expect the following highlights:

- Fly between secluded luxury camps on private reserves to maximize time for wildlife drives and exploration

- Track rhinos on foot and experience some of Africa’s most exciting wildlife viewing, with many uniquely desert-adapted species amidst Namibia’s striking geography

- See cheetah and leopard up close, and get a “behind-the-scenes” look at efforts to conserve them at the AfriCat Foundation at Okonjima

Price tag: 12-day tours from $11,895 – multiple departures June, August and September

polar bears, churchill, manitoba, canadaCHURCHILL / Polar Bear Expedition

If Namibia is too hot for your taste and your fascination lies with Arctic creatures, like the great Polar Bear, then look no further than Churchill in Manitoba, Canada.

The WWF’s Polar Bear Expedition brings you to the “Polar Bear Capital of the World.” Imagine looking out onto the snowy tundra, and spying them, white on white. Alternately regal and whimsical and always awe-inspiring, polar bears in the wild offer a natural encounter charged with drama and magic. The WWF expedition guides use Polar Rover vehicles, so parties can approach at close range without disturbing the animal, offering a chance for an incredibly moving wildlife experience. From heated confines – or standing on an outdoor platform – travelers may see mothers with cubs, young males play-fighting or a huge, solitary male ambling over the tundra. When you join a Polar Bear Expedition with WWF, here’s what to expect:

- See the world’s greatest concentration of polar bears in the intimacy of a small group, on WWF’s flagship polar bear tour

- The most comfortable vehicles, with innovative mesh steel flooring on the outdoor observation platform, get you safely up close to the bears

- Professional Expedition Leaders with unparalled experience, enhancing your polar bear adventure at every turn with their in-depth knowledge

Price tag: 6-7 Days / Oct & Nov, From $5,595

In our next installment, Tania Segura will show us intriguing highlights from their Galapagos Experience and Snorkeling Adventures in Komodo, Indonesia.

 

 

Wild (life) Travel Adventures: Part 2

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics: Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, Tania Segura from the World Wildlife Fund’s Travel Program, took us to the Namibian Bush and snowy landscapes of Manitoba, Canada, where we checked out some of the best vacations for travelers who yearn to get up close to lions, elephants and polar bears.  In Part 2, we visit the Galapagos and Komodo, Indonesia.  If you missed Part 1, click here to catch up.

GALAPAGOS

iguana in galapagosClassic Galapagos Adventure

Six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, surrounded by open ocean, a volcanic archipelago straddles the equator. The Galapagos Islands, forged of black lava and named for the giant tortoises that are among its most noted inhabitants, are like nowhere else in the world. Home to a profuse array of wildlife, the islands offer an immersion in nature that feels primeval, where iguanas and penguins and blue-footed boobies share the beaches with us, unconcerned by our presence. Herman Melville called the Galapagos “Las Islas Encantadas,” or The Enchanted Isles, an apt moniker for a realm that remains otherworldly, even today. Choose between two vessels: our distinctive yacht, the M/Y Letty, or the ultra-deluxe M/C Athala II.

What to expect:

  • WWF’s flagship itinerary is among the best week-long Galapagos experiences, with the islands’ most highly trained naturalist guides
  • Seal at GalapagosWith the best guide-to-traveler ratio in the islands, guests are ensured personal encounters with the extraordinary nature and wildlife of the Galapagos
  • Snorkel with sea lions, sunbathe with iguanas, scout for whales and dolphins, and spend a night among wild tortoises at an exclusive highlands camp

The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s premier nature travel destinations, and deservedly so: there may be no better place on the planet for close-up encounters with wildlife than this remote archipelago that’s home to an assortment of unique and gentle creatures. It’s thus essential to experience the Galapagos in a way that affords intimate interactions with wildlife, with personalized interpretation by top naturalists—something you don’t get with larger cruise ships and formal lectures, or less qualified guides.

Price tag: 11 Days / Year-Round, From $5,695

Komodo National Park, Indonesia

komodo snorkelerKOMODO SNORKELING

The Coral Triangle is one of the most biodiverse marine regions in the world. Komodo National Park is a place of raw natural beauty. Its islands are home to such exotic animals as the giant carnivorous Komodo dragon, and its crystal-clear waters are home to thriving corals and a variety of fish. WWF’s newest snorkeling adventure gives you an opportunity to see both.

What to expect:

  • Go on daily snorkeling outings in some of the planet’s top spots, including one consistently on experts’ top 10 lists.
  • Snorkel in search of electric rays, manta rays and big pelagic species.
  • Take a guided tour to look for Komodo dragons in the forests of Komodo National Park.
  • Live aboard a comfortable, small private yacht with just 12 fellow travelerskomodo dragon

Foray into the diverse waters of the Coral Triangle during snorkeling outings at the reefs surrounding the marine reserve of Moyo and the uninhabited volcanic island of Satonda. Huge sponges, healthy corals and massive schools of such fish as bannerfish and red tooth triggers abound.

The area around Gili Banta offers great chances to swim with the big guys. Sharks, mantas and dolphins are regular visitors to the current-bathed waters around Gili Banta.

Hike with the islands most famous inhabitants, Komodo Dragons! Because this region possesses geology unlike any other place on Earth, the three islands that comprise Komodo National Park have developed endemic species that epitomize nature at its wildest. Avid birdwatchers and others will enjoy an early hike on the beaches and trails around Horseshoe Bay to catch glimpses of several endemic species.

Price tag: 12 days / July 4-15, 2015  |  From $9,020 per person

 

 

“Did you know…You can get $1,000 for your Lost Baggage?”

blue ribbon bagsA new insurance company called Blue Ribbon Bags gives travelers peace of mind in the event that they experience suitcase separation. For a mere $5.00 service fee, Blue Ribbon Bags pays luggage-less travelers $1,000 for each bag lost by the airline after four days missing.  Even better, you don’t have to come up with any receipts for baggage contents to receive payment.

Who says insurance isn’t exciting? Visit www.blueribbonbags.com to learn more.