Archive for September, 2013

“Did you know…Possible gov’t shutdown could put a serious damper on travel plans?”

(Fox News)

Capital buildingFox News answers travelers’ top questions should the Federal Government shutdown on October 1st. “The possible government shut down doesn’t just impact tourists; it can affect school trips, weddings and have a detrimental knock-on effect for local business that rely on tourism this time of the year.”

Read the story here to find answers to:

Will airports be open and security screening take place?

Will my flight take off?

Can I get a last minute passport?

Will all national parks, museums and zoos sites really be closed?

Can at least watch the Panda Cam?

Wait!  What if I am already at a park at a remote camping site?

Can I get a gun permit for a gun I want for my hunting trip?

Should I plan on taking Amtrak for my trip from Boston to Washington?

Will I be able to get back into U.S. after my trip to Niagara Falls?

One-on-One with Lee Abbamonte, travel writer, expert, TV personality and global adventurer

In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every sovereign nation in the world (193 countries as defined by the United Nations list of member states). Lee is aiming to become the youngest person to visit all 321 countries and unique destinations on Earth as noted by the Travelers Century Club list.  At 35, with 307 total countries under his belt, Lee is well on his way to beating the record holder who was 37 years, 9 months and 17 days old when he completed his journey.

In addition to his status as a global adventurer, Lee is a popular travel writer, travel expert, and television personality. He appears regularly on the Fox News Channel, as well as the Travel Channel, NBC, CBS, CNN, BBC, ESPN and many others. He’s also been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, Bloomberg, Discovery Channel, Sky Scanner, Travel Zoo, Smart Money, Slate, OK! Magazine, Peter Greenberg radio, among others.

Lee Abbamonte, travel expert

Lee heading to Pitcairn Island, one of the most remote places on Earth

“The best advice I can give travelers is to bring cash in multiple currencies and denominations as cash remains king in many places around the world.”

— Lee Abbamonte, travel expert, blogger and TV personality

How old were you when you started traveling? When and how did it become a goal to visit every country in the world?

I left the country for the first time when I was 20 years old in 1998, to study abroad in London my junior year of college.  It changed my life immeasurably.  It never became a goal until about 2006-07 when a friend emailed me about a record to be the youngest to visit every country.  So I decided to go for it as I was already more than half way there simply by chance and that I loved to travel and had done so already quite extensively.

When do you think you’ll reach your 321st country and final destination and which country are you saving for last?

Well in terms of finishing the Travelers Century Club list, I should be down to two by March 2014 as I have 9 planned for this fall and another 3 in March.  The last 2 are subject to governmental permit and approvals.  It is a real bureaucratic process that has been a real thorn in my side the past few years.  For each destination, Wake Island (Pacific Ocean) and the British Indian Ocean Territory, I have had 2 separate trips cancelled on me in the past few years.  This has been quite frustrating but I am continuing to move forward with it and I have some feelers out there now for those permits.  If all else fails, I may just wing it! Continue reading →

“Did you know…United Airlines is bringing back the ‘Friendly Skies’ ad campaign?”

(Chicago Tribune and AdAge)

United Airlines Friendly Skies ad campaign

Replete with a full and booming orchestral onboard performance, the famous United Airlines’ commercial jingle gives rise to the “Friendly Skies” once again.  The Chicago Tribune reports, “United, the world’s largest airline, said the new campaign came from customer feedback and a desire to focus on technology improvements and product enhancements made over the last few years.”

First introduced in the 1960s, the campaign had to be reinvented.  In an interview with AdAge, Gordon Bowen, chairman-chief creative officer at Dentsu’s McGarryBowen, says, “Today’s air travelers require more, so we redefined the tagline through the lens of what customers nowadays are expecting…and that includes a ‘flyer-friendly’ airline that delivers on consumers’ needs like global Wifi, convenience through features like multiple power-charging outlets on planes, more destinations than any other airline, more legroom and more non-stop flights.

Read the Chicago Tribune and AdAge articles for the full story and to view the television commercial.


“Did you know…Airline pilots may be relying too much on automation?”


empty cockpit


After a number of plane crashes in which the causes were questioned in relation to pilot’s confusion after auto pilot systems malfunctioned, the University of Iowa initiated a new study investigating whether automation is making pilots lazy in the cockpit, causing them to check out in flight. According to, researchers are testing pilots’ reaction times in an emergency.

“You’re spending 90 percent of your time being a supervisor, and as such you eventually lose touch of the stick and rudder skills,” explained Dr. Thomas Schnell, founder and director of the Operator Performance Laboratory at the University of Iowa, where the tests are taking place.

The post also concludes that, “…losing touch of those skills could spell disaster. In 2006, an industry study interviewed hundreds of pilots and instructors and found a “pilot’s proficiency … in basic flying seems to diminish” the more they use automation.”

Read the full story here:

Comeback Towns Worthy of a Second Look – Part 3: Maldives & Manitou Springs

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In our final series post, we’re going to the Maldives Islands and Manitou Springs, Colorado.  If you missed Comeback Towns Part One and Two*, click the links provided to catch up.

The Maldives Islands


Photo: (cc) Sarah Ackerman via Flickr

According to Wikipedia, Maldives is listed as one of eight countries suffering the greatest number of casualties and damage in the devastating December 26, 2004, Indian Ocean earthquake and resulting tsunami. Despite having 20 of its 200 islands destroyed on impact, Maldives has recovered, largely due to a protective sea wall around Malé, its capital, built years prior to the tsunami.

Since 2004, another interesting measure taken by the country is the addition of Hulhumale, a new and beautiful island. It’s a land mass built by engineers, not volcanoes and it’s several feet higher than the rest of the Maldives. Hulhumale’s height helps it to escape flooding that rising sea levels are causing with greater frequency.

If you’re game to consider the Maldives on your next big adventure, here are Hulhumale B&Bs and Inns ranked in the top three by

  1. Le Vieux Nice Inn
  2. Hotel UI Inn
  3. Velima Inn

Manitou Springs, Colorado

Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway - Photo: (cc)Richard Masoner via Flickr

Not unlike the Jersey Shore, Manitou Springs, the historic resort community at the foot of Pikes Peak, west of Colorado Springs, has had its share of natural disasters. In the last 15 months, the city was threatened by the destructive Waldo Canyon forest fire, which burned the mountains just north of the city and this summer, flash floods poured down, destroying homes, ruining businesses and killing one person.

Since the 1860s, the resort community has had several floods owing to its location along Fountain Creek, which flows southeast from the high mountains to the Arkansas River at Pueblo. Yet, the city continues to rebuild after flooding and welcomes back visitors.

Easily reached from both the Pikes Peak Airport and Denver International, Manitou Springs offers extraordinary attractions of natural beauty, including the Cave of the Winds, Pikes Peak, with its popular cog railway, the historic Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Seven Falls, the red rock outcroppings of Garden of Gods and many other regional destinations. The city has many hotels, motels and bed and breakfast establishments; the most famous is the historic Cliff House, which opened in 1875.

*Regretfully, shortly after we posted our second installment featuring the Jersey Shore, news broke about the destructive Seaside Heights fire, which has again, decimated part of the Jersey Shore boardwalk, including many of its popular eateries and shops.  Sadly, the borough was set to celebrate its centennial anniversary.