Archive for October, 2013

“Did you know…FAA relaxes rules, allows mobile device use on airplanes?”

(Fox News)

us dept transportation

According to a Fox News report today, U.S. safety authorities said they will allow airlines to relax their rules on mobile device use on airborne aircraft, easing a regulation that has been criticized for years.

“The Federal Aviation Administration determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of portable electronic devices during ‘all phases of flight’.”

Read the full story:

“Did you know…What’s in store for the future of aviation?”

(USA Today)


Photo: (cc) Jeremy Kunz via Flickr











Retired U.S. Airways pilot, John Cox, offers his take on the future of aviation in a USA Today Special Report:

“I do believe that we will fly supersonically again. The question is, when will we make the decision to invest the resources to do it?

New technologies are just coming into the industry, such as composite airframes in airliners. This will allow further improvements in efficient design. It is likely that new generation jet engines will use new technologies to be more efficient and reliable, as has happened in the past. In the next twenty years, it is possible we could see breakthroughs in engines that make supersonic flight easier.

We are likely to fly higher, where air resistance is lower and with more comfortable cabin conditions (higher humidity, lower cabin altitudes), and quieter.”

Read the entire article here:


One-on-One with Thomas Rigler, Director & Executive Producer of the KCET-TV series “City Walk”

In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with Thomas Rigler, an award-winning filmmaker, transmedia producer and former TV development executive. Thomas’s diverse body of work at Rigler Creative includes creating and executive producing the KCET-TV / LinkTV series “City Walk,” a unique 8-part series that reveals the way walking is transforming cities across America and, in the process, re-connecting us to our bodies, our civic values and public space.

As the show explores the walkability of these communities, viewers learn about American history by exploring culturally rich neighborhoods, stunning architecture, monuments and beautiful parks that have helped define the character of each city.

thomas rigler, producer, city walk“Viewers have had a really positive reaction to our showcasing of some remarkably innovative urban parks,” explains Rigler.  The High Line in New York City and the BeltLine in Atlanta are perfect examples of how urban designers are breaking new ground to make the outdoors more available to you and me.”

— Thomas Rigler, executive producer, “City Walk”

Tell us how this series came about and why it’s important to you?

This series came about because, having lived in Los Angeles for the past 20 years, I’ve noticed how much Angelenos are perceived as a car-dependent society. In doing this show, we were able to show that there are actually lots of people who love to walk in LA and are actively trying to make it a more pedestrian-friendly society. Coming from Europe, most cities are designed to be pedestrian-centric, but newer cities like LA were designed for the automobile, and City Walk allows us to delve into how we can change that.

The series has focused on six great walkable cities: Los Angeles, Portland, Boston, Atlanta, Washington D.C. and New York.  Why did you focus on these particular cities?

We focused on these cities because they all had a different story to tell: LA is known as a big freeway, Portland is famous for its bridges, Atlanta transformed its railway lines into parks, DC was built on a swamp, and New York is famous for its traffic. Each of these cities allowed us to examine walking in a different light.

city walkFrom a traveler’s perspective, what should folks know about these walkable towns that they may not have considered before?  Anything surprising?

The thing that’s most surprising for travelers is how much more you’ll see by walking. You simply can’t take in the feel of a city from inside a car.

Assuming the series will continue, what’s next?  Will we see more walkable cities in the U.S. or international destinations, such as Europe or South America?

We plan on filming more US cities like Chicago, Detroit, Miami, New Orleans and Arizona.

What have viewers reacted most positively to?

Viewers have had a really positive reaction to our profiles of some of the more unique urban parks that are being created; the High Line in New York City, the BeltLine in Atlanta – these unique examples are showing people that there are designers out there, breaking new ground to make the outdoors more available to you and I. Continue reading →

Redeem Your Dream: How to Book a Round-the-World Award Ticket with Skyteam, Star Alliance or oneworld – Part 3

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

For road warriors who covet frequent flier miles, a trip around the world is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put all those miles to extraordinary use. Jenny McIver closes out our Round-the-World (RTW) travel series by showing how you can leverage frequent flyer miles to score a RTW airline ticket.  If you missed Parts one, two and two+, click the links to catch up on all Jenny’s RTW travel secrets.

Jenny McIver in Cairo

Jenny McIver in Cairo

My Delta miles have funded one first-class and eight business-class RTW tickets —each valued in excess of $35,000 had I paid for the flights individually. If that’s not a perk of frequent business travel, I don’t know what is.

Unlike paid RTW tickets, award tickets are an entirely different and often confusing ballgame. However, if you have enough miles to book one (especially in business or first class), it is undeniably worth the Herculean effort it may take to get through the process. Unfortunately, the onus will be on you to understand the convoluted rules and work them to your advantage.

The most important thing to remember with award RTW tickets is that like any award ticket, the flights you want must have award availability, often at the lowest award level. This means doing research on your own before calling your airline to book. If you’ve ever been frustrated while trying to book a regular award ticket, tack 15 more segments onto that experience and you get the idea.

All three of the major airline alliances offer RTW award tickets though none can be booked directly with the alliance. Instead you’ll need to book through the airline where you’ve earned the miles you want to redeem. Most RTW award tickets have similar options and rules. Here are a few universal words of advice for booking:

  1. Try to book at least six months in advance. The earlier you book, the better luck you’ll have
  2. Before you call, do your homework. Use the alliance website to search routings and note flight numbers. ExpertFlyer is a great tool for researching award availability in your cabin of choice. Never rely solely on the agent to find the flights you need. Have your ideal itinerary mapped out (including flight numbers), but flexibility is key so have back-up dates and destinations ready for each stop.
  3. When you call, if you can get at least 50% of what you want, ask them to hold it. Then wait 24 hours and try again. Availability changes daily, but even more likely, you’ll get a different agent who can find alternate routings; and
  4. Remember that your award ticket is not entirely free. You will still be responsible for applicable taxes, fees and surcharges. Now let’s take a look at each alliance individually with respect to RTW mileage awards:

Star Alliance

Unlike its well-defined and hugely popular paid RTW ticket, Star Alliance itself offers no award version for RTW travel. Instead, RTW award tickets must be booked through member airlines. This cannot be done online so you’re forced to deal with often inexperienced agents at your airline’s RTW desk.

If your miles are with United, you’ll book through United using their mileage award levels. Same goes for US Airways.

Here are the current RTW mileage award levels for United:

Economy – 180,000

Business – 260,000

First Class – 350,000


  • Maximum of 5 stopovers, 16 segments
  • No backtracking

Here’s the breakdown for US Airways:

Economy – 200,000

Business – 300,000

First Class – 400,000


  • Maximum of 5 stopovers, 10 segments
  • No backtracking

The United ticket is a bit stingy allowing just five stopovers but the award amounts are reasonable considering the high quality of airlines. The US Airways ticket is worse. It requires more miles for a substantially lower number of segments. Though it also allows five stops, you may have a hard time getting them all in with just ten segments. You’ll need award availability on the most direct routings, which is difficult.


If your miles are with Delta you’ll be booking the Skyteam RTW. Here’s the scoop on their award ticket:

Economy – 180,000

Business – 280,000

First Class – N/A


  • Maximum of 6 stopovers, 16 segments
  • No backtracking

This is a pretty generous RTW award ticket, especially the business class award. Sixteen segments are adequate to reach all six of your allowable stops and include a few fun free stopover cities. The biggest downside? No first class award option.


Of the three alliances, oneworld has the simplest and most generous RTW award. When booking with American Advantage miles, they use a system based on the total countable miles of the intended RTW itinerary known as “Distance Zones.” The highest two tiers offer enough mileage distance to accommodate a RTW itinerary. They are:

Distance Zone 8 (allows 25,001 – 35,000 miles):

Economy – 140,000

Business – 190,000

First Class – 280,000

Distance Zone 9 (allows 35,001 – 50,000 miles):

Economy – 160,000

Business – 220,000

First Class – 330,000

Oneworld awards begin at very reasonable levels. Distance Zone 9 is especially generous in that it allows itineraries up to 50,000 miles. You can get to a lot of places on 50,000 miles and it’s easily worth the small bump in miles to go with Zone 9. But the greatest benefit to these tickets is the virtual absence of rules. You have a year to use the ticket and there are no restrictions on backtracking or (seemingly) number of stops. If your desired itinerary conforms to the mileage limit and there is award availability, you can book it. But be careful of British Airways flights as their fuel surcharges can make the ticket significantly more expensive.

If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to do your homework on routings and flight availability and exercise patience with the sometimes laborious booking process you can truly get the greatest possible value for your hard-earned miles with a RTW ticket.


“Did you know…New Walking Dead Fan Book Offers Travel Deals for the Living Dead?”

dead sexy walking dead book “Dead Sexy: The Walking Dead Fan Guide to Zombie Style, Beauty, Parties, and a Ghoul-Lurching UNLifestyle,” is the second pop culture book by author Paula Conway to feature exclusive limited-time offers for readers.   “Dead Sexy” features a section on travel with recommendations on where the dead (and their friends) go to unwind.  The exclusive travel discounts for readers are from some of the most haunted hotels in America.

The book, “DEAD SEXY” assumes we are living in a present zombie apocalypse, and that many people around us are in fact, zombies.   The UNlifestyle guide includes: a section on zombie etiquette from celebrity etiquette expert, Dawn Bryan; zombie dating guidelines; dead sexy travel destinations; and more than 70 exclusive dead sexy deals with deep discounts on fashion, food, beauty, travel, and more.

“Zombies don’t make the same travel choices as the rest of us,” said author Paula Conway.  “They look for destinations that are quiet, relatively underpopulated or great places to enjoy a thoughtful haunting.  Cities like New Orleans that are rich in voodoo and zombie culture, also with a lot of great haunted graveyards, this is where zombies want to unwind.  And since they make decisions slowly, offering a discount or perk tends to get them to book a bit faster.”

The exclusive “Dead Sexy” travel deals include:

·         Two frightfully fabulous offers from the legendary luxury liner, The Queen Mary: The Dead Sexy Dark Harbor Stay and Scare Hotel Package ($229); the one-night stay includes tickets for two Dark Harbor admission tickets, plus two fast fright front of line passes; and the Dead Sexy Dining with the Spirits Hotel Package ($237); the three-course dinner for two at Sir Winston’s includes a paranormal investigation with a trained guide exploring the Queen Mary’s haunted hot spots, plus one night aboard The Queen Mary.  Known as “The Grey Ghost” during WWII, when The Queen Mary served as a transport ship, hauntings aboard the QM are numerous.  Among them, the cook who was cooked because the troops didn’t like his meal, and the little girl who broke her neck on the pool deck sliding down a bannister.

·         20% off overnight accommodations at The Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri, where the hauntings included the spirit of a little boy named Zeke.

·         25% off any room booked at a standard rate at The Victoria Inn in Anniston, Alabama.  Among the hauntings in The Victoria Inn, footsteps are heard at night from spots where no one is found, and music from the piano room when it is empty.

·         Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa in Pray, Montana will provide ghoulish treats in “Dead Sexy” guest rooms upon arrival.  Legend has it that the ghost of Percie Knowles, who built the original structure with her husband in 1900 and died on the property, appears from time to time wearing a white dress.

·         Take 15% off food service at the Story Inn, Nashville, IN, where “the blue lady” walks at night and has been spotted by literally hundreds of guests.

·         Dead Sexy guests of The Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee, Arizona take 15% off rooms up to king-size.  There are apparently more than 16 recorded entities, including Billy, the boy who steals coins and Julia, who slinks under the blanket in room 315.

All deals, discounts and offers require a unique code, varied and set by the merchandiser, which can only be obtained by purchasing the book. Many also have embedded links, only accessible through the book.

Happy Halloween!