Boarding Pass Series: Hats off, TWA!

TWA, airline, Trans-World, boarding pass, flying history

Many, and I mean, MANY, years ago I had the pleasure of flying Trans-World Airlines, or “TWA“, a now-defunct airline absorbed by a lesser player many years ago.  This airline, steeped in history, had an incredible international route and rivaled the likes of PanAm (and outlasted it by a few years).TWA, airline, Trans-World, boarding pass, flying history

I got to fly it only domestically in the U.S. but grew to love it quickly with its friendly flight attendants and the occasional -and welcome- complimentary first class upgrades without having to accumulate a gazillion miles before being treated to a free upgrade…  And those flight attendants in first class did pour the wine gleefully even in short flights.  Not in an I-do-the-first-serving-as-part-of-the-standard-thing and maybe-come-by-and-offer-you-a-refill-out-of-obligation-and-more-only-if-you-happen-to-catch-me-or-ring-me, as many U.S.  airlines do today.  No, they really just were happy to keep you happy!

So, ex-TWA-ers, if you read this, hats off to you.  And that earns you this boarding pass series post.  Thanks for the good rides!

Boarding Pass Stories: Dar es Salaam

Boarding pass, Emirates Airlines, Dubai, Dar es Salaam

This installment of the Boarding Pass Stories goes to Dar es Salaam – via London and Dubai! Boarding pass, Dar es Salaam, Emirates, airline, travel, flight, Dubai

The destination, the when(s), and the reason(s)

While working for an international non-profit, I traveled to visit field projects and to do an internal audit.  It was a toss-up between Bangladesh and Tanzania and the latter was just a bit more interesting to me so that’s the one I went for.  The trip was in 2007 and to get the cheapest price possible, I did a 2-stop itinerary via London and Dubai. I could have done a one-hop via Amsterdam or London but I was being thrifty with our limited funds. A 6-hour layover in London and a 9-hour one in Dubai were enough the wear me down. But it was neat to fly Emirates Airlines and to see the incredible Dubai airport (Atlanta to London was on my local airline, Delta).

The airline

Emirates was phenomenal. Though I flew coach, I felt I was being treated like a business class customer. The plane was the first I had ever flown with nose and underbelly cameras. I loved the camera viewing especially at takeoff and landing.

What fascinated me about this experience

Well, it was my first trip south of Egypt in the African continent so that, by itself, was fascinating.  Dar was interesting.  A mainly expat district helps expats stay as if in their country.  But I greatly enjoyed my time at work, where I got to collaborate and eat lunch with Tanzanians who worked for the same organization.  Their friendliness and soft-spokenness warmed me up immediately to them and, to them, I say asante sana!

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa, travel

Driving along a main road in Dar es Salaam

Boarding Pass Stories: Constantinople! OK, Istanbul

boarding pass, Istanbul, Air France, trip, travel, explore, adventure, exotic, airplane, flight, Turkey, Charles de Gaulle, airport

boarding pass, Istanbul, Air France, trip, travel, explore, adventure, exotic, airplane, flight, Turkey, Charles de Gaulle, airport

The destination, the when(s), and the reason(s)

My knack for taking one trip idea and expanding its scope is not a recent event.  That’s how I ended last year exploring a country I may have never visited otherwise:  Moldova.  It pre-dates my travel blogging days by a bit.  As I joined a group of friends last-minute on a trip to Egypt (literally, like two weeks before the trip), I wondered what else could I do as I had plenty of vacation time at work.  I contacted a former co-worker who had moved back to his hometown of Istanbul and asked him if I could visit and he said yes, of course.  I got a free ticket to/from Istanbul with Delta and then bought a separate ticket between Istanbul and Cairo so I had to fly through Istanbul to head to Egypt first and then I would come back and stop in Istanbul from where I would fly through Paris again (as the boarding pass above shows).  This was in 1998, eons ago, it feels.

The airline

Air France offered great service as usual in those days for many airlines.  I flew business class since I had plenty o’ miles and it was going to be a LONG trip.  Class…

What fascinated me about this experience

I returned from Cairo to Istanbul to visit my friend and explore this “epically historic” city for the first time.  I wait for my friend and nothing.  An hour passes and I begin to get a little antsy (these days, cellphones were not what they are today and I believe you still couldn’t use a U.S. in Europe, had I brought mine along).

So I nervously wondered if my friend confused the day or time of my arrival.  I realized I should call him at work and see.  Since these were the days you could still find payphones, this would not be a problem.  Except I first had to exchange money, hope for coins, figure out how much to pay for the call, etc.  I called and it rang and rang.  I kept trying and no answer.  I was beginning to worry more now.  I decided that surely someone was sitting around his desk or office so maybe I just had to keep calling until someone, in exasperation, decided to walk over and answer the darned phone.  Someone sure did.

They plugged me through to my friend’s secretary and she told me she had been expecting my call (!) as my friend had unexpectedly and last minute been asked to make a trip abroad.  So he left instructions with her to connect me to his girlfriend so she could let me in his apartment, etc.  I rang her but in talking to her I realized his apartment was not near the city center which was the area I was going to be exploring and since my friend was not around, no point in staying far out.

I pulled out my travel book and found a hotel, the Pierre Lotti, which had availability and ended up working perfectly due to its proximity to all the places I wanted to see!  What was great about this experience was that I explored Istanbul for 5 awesome days, met other travelers with whom I then did more social/less-touristy things, and had a great time!  I did meet my friend’s girlfriend for lunch which was neat and which led to me getting lost on the way back to the hotel.  But that, my dear reader, will be food for another post!

Hagia Sophia, Holy Wisdom, Istanbul, Constantinople, Byzantiu, church. mosque, museum, architecture, history, photo, mosaic, art

One of the mosaics uncovered in the Hagia Sophia – beautiful

 

Boarding Pass Stories: Little Rock, Arkansas

boarding pass, delta, airline, travel, Little Rock, Arkansas, hotel

Boarding pass series goes to:  Little Rock, Arkansas!!!

boarding pass, delta, airline, travel, Little Rock, Arkansas, hotel

The destination, the when(s), and the reason(s)

A pretty unlikely destination, you may think, but I went there for a few months for business around 2001.  Bill Clinton’s presidency had just ended and the presidential library would be located in this town which seemed to have gotten on the “national mindset map” when he first ran for President.

The airline

Delta was graced with my “passengership” as it was the only airline offering a direct flight.  And ilivetotravel is fond of direct flights!

What fascinated me about this experience

Well, small town as it was relative to Atlanta, Little Rock positively surprised me (fascinated may be too strong a word).  We stayed at the Doubletree downtown and it was neat to be able to run downtown by the Arkansas River and around the Central Business District early in the morning.  The commute to work was not bad and we found a great place to eat Mexican food and enjoy margaritas.  So, though not Paris or DC, we managed to find a way to enjoy this southern town while business took us there!

My Top 5 Inflight Pet Peeves

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA, sunset, airplane, flying, airplane engine, reflection, sun, plane, flight

As I flew back from a recent trip, having experienced a few random annoyances, my mind immediately sought to mentally catalog all my pet peeves about flying (I did have nine hours to kill…).  A few months ago I shared my hotel pet peeves.  I greatly enjoyed hearing from you on your own hotel pet peeves, so I thought I’d share what came to mind during that flight – and I hope I hear back from you on yours as I am sure five pet peeves cannot be all there is!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA, flight, plane, flying, blue sea, flyover, view, view from plane, Tampa Bay

Flying over Tampa Bay, Florida

Nota bene:  I will even skip the obvious one:  what passes for food (or snacks)…  Too easy.

Let’s work our way to the number one pet peeve…

5.  Poorly engineered entertainment systems

Ahhh… I sit down and get comfy.  I turn on the entertainment system.  How cool, I get to watch some movie I have not watched that I have been wanting to see.  And then takeoff rolls around.  Blip.  Entertainment system turns off and when it finally re-starts, we start from scratch.

I have never really thought there was ANOTHER WAY.  Until a recent flight where that did not happen.  I was blown away!  I was able to pick up the movie where I had left off.  What a frigging concept!  And then the system did not shutdown 20 minutes before landing – all that time to kill until I could get up to exit the plane.  I have never understood why the cursed system could not keep me entertained up until the rows ahead of me had cleared out and my turn to walk out had come.  Soup-to-nuts entertainment is what I want on a flight.  Is it THAT hard?  Some engineer somewhere must have the answer!

4.  “8-track age” PA systems

Those public announcement (PA) systems on the plane used by the flight attendants to tell you 100 times during boarding to stow one carry-on under the seat in front of you to save overhead bin space…  Is it impossible in this day and age to get clear sound coming out from speakers???  Please, give me a break!!!  Feedback and noise are easily solvable these days, folks, come ON!  Spend some money on engineering please!  And then the pilot comes up during the flight and you can’t hear a thing.  Really???

3.  Continuing the entertainment theme

My next pet peeve applies to airplane configurations where there is a personal TV screen in the back of a seat and where said screen is a touchscreen.  I imagine you can guess what this one is about… It’s about the fact there always seems to be a boxer behind me who thinks the touchscreen is a punchscreen.  PUNCH.  PUNCH. PUNCH.  Hey, idiot, the force of the punch makes no difference.  TAP IT!  I normally do not confront people when they are being inconsiderate but on this one, after a few rounds of PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH, I will turn around and inform them tapping is preferred.  I have a lot of patience to be sure it was not a one-off PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH but after a round of these, I do turn around…

2.  Slingshot seat

Oh, boy, do I just HATE this…  Especially when I am FINALLY asleep (it is hard for me to fall asleep when flying) and the moron behind me thinks the back of the seat in front of them is PURELY for leverage when they get up.  It is one of the most inconsiderate things in a plane in my book…  Added propulsion as I sit placidly, in turn, in a propelled metal tube…  I will give said fellow passenger a look on the second or third incident and after that, if it is a long flight, I do speak up because I don’t want this game going on for hours…

And, drum roll please, …. the number one inflight pet peeve…

1.  Parents behaving badly

Even more than the slingshot seat, parents behaving badly is about the most intolerable things in a plane.  It is not the screaming child that annoys me.   OK, that does, but I understand that toddlers are not always controllable and I can deal with it.  However, it’s the dumbass parents who think the time we are all trapped in a metal cylinder being propelled through the atmosphere by combustible fuel is the time to demonstrate the ideal child-rearing parental behavior are just FREAKING RUDE.  What do I mean about the ideal cihld-rearing parental behavior?  Well, it is that behavior in which you don’t tell the child “no.”  You just let them go on and on yelling (not crying) though it is an overnight flight because you don’t want to “traumatize them.”  Well let me tell you, some day, someone will step up and yell at them and traumatize that child.  It will not traumatize the child if for once you act like a mature adult and be considerate to others around you!

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So, there they are.  What do you think???  But I don’t want to leave just thinking about why flying can be so annoying.  Because flying also affords us great opportunities to see the world and some magical images of our planet and our sun – as this picture shows!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA, sunset, airplane, flying, airplane engine, reflection, sun, plane, flight

One amazing sunset and my plane all captured on the engine!

Boarding Pass Stories: Delta Inflight Drink Options Circa 1985

Delta boarding pass 1986 airline history vintage

I ran into this little memento going through old photo albums.  It is a boarding pass from a flight from 1986.

Delta boarding pass 1986 airline history vintage

Nothing peculiar about the front.  But once you flip to the reverse…  The menu of inflight drinks was conveniently placed behind the boarding pass!  I guess so you could plan how to get your drink on while waiting to board the plane at the gate?  Or, more likely, back then these were not in the inflight magazine -or- there was no inflight magazine to begin with…  And note the rules.

Vintage, Detla, boarding pass, 1985, cocktails, airline, history, travel

Drinks and rules on the reverse of the boarding pass

I don’t remember much from those flights.  Of course, I remember the smoking and non-smoking sections.  I do remember getting a tray with a full meal (of airplane food, mind you) no matter how long the flight was.  I remember being able to get a free deck of cards or my own wings.  Those were the days, ey?

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Did you miss reading about my boarding pass collecting habit or the first in the boarding pass stories series or my boarding pass story about Christchurch, New Zealand??

Boarding Pass Stories: Christchurch, New Zealand

Boarding pass, Air New Zealand, Christchurch, NZ, travel, flight, airline

Boarding pass, Air New Zealand, Christchurch, NZ, travel, flight, airline

The destination, the when(s), and the reason(s)

After spending two weeks there, I flew from Melbourne, Australia to New Zealand.  My entry point:  the very livable and lovely town of Christchurch.  This was in 2009, so before the large earthquake that did so much damage to this beautiful town.  I got to see it before it suffered such destruction.

The airline

Air New Zealand.  The carrier that I chose to fly me from Los Angeles to Australia/New Zealand.  I landed in Auckland where I connected with a flight to Sydney.  After spending two weeks in Australia, I returned to NZ to explore it.

What fascinated me about this experience

Christchurch was a place I could actually live in.  The neighborhoods, the city center – it all fit my likes.  I found good restaurants and a charming bed and breakfast.  It was a great launching point too to explore the south island of New Zealand and I sure hope to return some day!

Christchurch, New Zealand, cathedral, earthquake, destruction

Indoors at the main cathedral that, unfortunately, had to be condemned after the damage it suffered during the earthquake

I sure hope to return to Christchurch and explore it and the area more!

A Boarding Pass Collection – My History of Flying

Airline boarding passes Alitalia TWA American Lufthansa Aerolineas Argentinas flights travel

I have been flying since I was a pup.  My first time on a plane was around 2 yrs old though I do not remember it.  I flew again when I was 6 but I do not remember the plane part though I am sure it was exciting for a 6-year old boy to get on a plane (on the flip side, I remember a lot about visiting Disney!).  The first flight I actually remember was when I was 8 years old when I flew alone from San Juan, PR to Miami, FL.  I remember getting on the plane and running into someone who worked with my Mom.  I remember the flight attendant taking care of me.  It was an ADVENTURE!!!!!

Eastern Airlines plane ticket cover circa 1982 travel nostalgia flight

Bring any memories??  I flew Eastern almost exclusively for over 15 years as they dominated the SJU-MIA route.  Loved their L-1011s!

Since then I have flown countless airlines (over 50), to go a multitude of airports (maybe a hundred or so?), and had my fair share of the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of inflight experience (talking about both airlines AND fellow passengers…).  I have been on airlines that have lasted decades (Delta, Lufthansa, Air France) and on others that disappeared (PanAm, TWA) and on others that are barely a blip in airline history (Kiwi).

Flying has been a part of my life all along and I have the evidence to prove it…  A couple of years after traveling weekly for work, I opened a drawer at home and realized I had been dumping boarding passes in it – and had a good collection.  So I found a box and continued the habit.  To this day.  Here is how a sample of my flights looks like – in boarding passes!

Airline boarding passes Alitalia TWA American Lufthansa  Aerolineas Argentinas flights travel

Airline boarding passes flight travel Varig Emirates Jet Kiwi Lufthansa Delta British Airways Austrian United Air New Zealand

Lots of cool airlines traveled. Notice Kiwi on the top left? No, not in New Zealand – I flew it between Newark and Atlanta.

These boarding passes will be helping an anchor short writeups on airlines and destinations – stay tuned!

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Some of the boarding pass series:

–  Christchurch

–  Dar es Salaam

–  Delta drinks menu

–  Denver

–  Flying TWA

–  Istanbul

–  Las Vegas

–  Little Rock

My Delta Special Service – a Real Treat – and My Friends’ Reactions

A couple of weeks ago, I was treated by my hometown airline and my preferred airline, Delta, to a very nice airport arrival in Atlanta.  The following week, the same wonderful welcome was offered again.  Not only was the actual special welcome so enjoyable, fun, and appreciated, the response from my friends was equally enjoyable, fun, and appreciated!

The Welcome

I landed on A31 in Atlanta Hartsfield, the end of Concourse A.  I remember thinking “ugh”, having to walk down the terminal at peak hour to get to the train, to get to the shuttle bus, to get to my car, to drive, and, finally, to get home.  No, it is not a horrible thing but sometimes I am just tired.

I get off the plane, I mean, I literally step out of the plane, and from the corner of my eye I catch my name on a sign being help up by a guy in a suit.  I never look at anything or anyone when I am deplaning.  I am on a mission to get the heck out of Dodge.  Along with my name is another name.   What is this?  Did I have too many SunChips?

I identify myself to the suited guy and before I can ask anything, the other name shows up, a guy in a suit who tells the guy greeting us that he is traveling with someone; the guy greeting us says it is OK.  I ask what is this about and the greeter tells me, I am taking you out of here.  I was not sure what that meant and asked for clarification.  He said he had a car downstairs (downstairs from the jet-way) and that he was driving us to baggage claim.  I don’t know how many seconds it took me to process what he had said.  What was this?  The other two guys seem to know what this was about and, as they all started going down the stairs, I followed.  I see a black Porsche Cayenne at the bottom of the stairs and my first thought is “I need a picture of this”.  I had a camera with me but those 2 suits traveling with me looked too darn serious and I figured I need to act serious too, especially if I am being driven away.  I kicked myself for this for about a week afterwards – I wanted a picture of this most unlikely situation for me.  Our driver dropped us all off and gave me the card:  Delta Elite Services Team.  (I hope I didn’t just reveal a secret!  Please do not remove my Million Miler status!!)

I speculated about what all this was about.  During the drive I understood that this is normally something done for government officials or celebrities so they do not have to traverse the airport but I still didn’t know how I fit into either category.  I did write-in my name once in a ballot in some election but, last I had heard, I only got one vote.

I regretted not having taken my picture and told the story to people saying that.  Well, God really wanted me to get the darned picture because the next week, landing on the A1 gate in Atlanta, once again I saw a suited guy holding a sign with two names and one of them was mine again!  This time I knew what this was about and felt much smarter.  This time it was a white Cayenne and I was drive out in style.  BUT, as I went down the stairs, I asked the greeter/driver to please take my picture though this time I only had a smartphone camera.  He took some pictures of me where I am all smiles.

Also, this time, I got to ask about how regular folks get the service.  The greeter told me that usually when there are none of the VIPs above, they pick up Delta frequent fliers with all the right calendar and lifetime status who may have tight connections, or lacking any of those, fliers who land at the far gates in a concourse.  That made tons of sense and seems to be a brilliant way for Delta to surprise and reward a very frequent flier every now and then (and I am hoping more “now” than “then”!).

The Pictures

After a week of kicking myself, I GOT THE PICTURE!  In fact, I got a few.  Here are two!

Delta frequent flyer

Now to the Funnies

Alright, since I did not ask family and friends if I could show them here as I shared comments to the statuses in Facebook on these two events, I feel obliged to protect their anonymity but I invite them to comment here if they read this!  I laughed at some of the comments!

In Conclusion (I Have to Be Serious, Don’t I?)

Thanks to Delta, from this Million Miler and charter Diamond Medallion, for that extra touch.  CRM is key to any business.  This is great evidence of good thinking.

Thanks to my friends for allowing me to enjoy this little pleasure a little more by sharing it and hearing from them!

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