Bad Travel Day

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I’ll put the disclaimer up front – this is a rant. I’ve had lots of glorious travel days, full of soft-focus sunsets and sweeping orchestral music. Every once in a while, though, the odds are not ever in your favor and you end up with a bad travel day. This was mine.

Potential cure for a bad travel dayI suppose I was asking for this, since my last post talked about the illusion of control. That illusion was shattered last week when I tried to get home from a business trip.

Meetings ended a day early, so I switched my flights to come home a day early. So far, so good. I arrived at the airport at 8 am for a 42 minute flight to Newark. As we taxied to the runway, I smiled at the pink flamingos that someone had put in the grass at the far end of the runway. Cute, I thought. Then the captain announced that due to a mechanical issue, we were returning to the gate. Still not a bad travel day, just a temporary delay. We de-planed and waited for an update.

The updates trickled in throughout what became an eight hour delay. I could have driven to Newark twice in the time that it took to not fly there. To make things worse, this was not a large airport. Roughly the size of my high school. Entertainment and food options were limited. To say that I’d missed my connection to Hong Kong was something of an understatement. We finally arrived long after dinner time.

The airline put me up in a hotel near Newark. Thanks to the efficiencies of the New Jersey highway system, we passed the hotel twice in the shuttle bus before finally turning into the driveway. After a fitful night’s sleep, I schlepped my stuff back to the airport to try again.

I will hand it to the airline staff though. They were patient, courteous, and helpful. I appreciated that and I tried to show that appreciation by being courteous in return. Even on a bad travel day, keep in mind that the staff are not to blame.


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Are Budget Airlines Safe?

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Budget airlines offer significant savings for travelers, but at what cost? Several high-profile aviation accidents in the last few years may have you wondering if budget airlines are as safe as the major carriers.

Budget airlines are cheaper because they offer reduced services, amenities, and service. You may have to pay additional fees to check luggage, get a meal, or pick your seat. Major carriers include these features automatically but pass on the costs to you in the price of the ticket. Budget carriers give you a choice about whether to have those amenities. They don’t cut corners on safety.

budget airlinesAccording to the annual safety index of the world’s 60 largest carriers produced by the Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre in Germany, several low-cost carriers (AirAsia, JetStar, and EasyJet) were rated safer than 2 of the major U.S. carriers.

So the short answer is – Yes, budget carriers are just as safe as major carriers. Airlines realize that accidents are going to have a significant impact on business. They may cut corners on meal service, but not on safety.

If you’re still worried, there are a few ways to research the airline in question. You could consult the EU Banned List to see which airlines are not allowed to operate in the EU. The FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment doesn’t apply to specific airlines, but instead deals with the Civil Aviation Authority in the countries that they are based in.

If you’re still nervous, maybe you should book your travel with a major carrier. Just realize that you’re going to pay more, and it’s not because they’re safer.

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International Museum Day

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Thursday is International Museum Day, an annual celebration coordinated by the International Council of Museums.

About International Museum Day

International Museum Day was established in 1977 to raise global public awareness of the role museums play in the development of society. In 2016, more than 35,000 museums in 145 countries participated.

In honor of International Museum Day, here are 3 of my favorite museums for kids.

Smithsonian – Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian isn’t one museum but 19, all with free admission. Ranging from the National Zoo to the Air and Space Museum, this complex is known as “the nation’s attic” and holds more than 130 million items in its halls.

Vatican Museums – The Vatican

It’s hard to describe how ancient Rome feels. The name itself denotes centuries of history. There’s a lot to see in the second smallest sovereign state in the world. Saint Peter is buried under the Basilica. A tour of the Vatican museums includes masterpieces from the Renaissance and antiquity. It ends in the Sistine Chapel, famously painted by Michelangelo.

American Sign Museum

The American Sign Museum in Cincinnati houses an impressive array of signs. The collection demonstrates the history of signs in Amercan, from early trade signs and goldleaf signs of the early 1900s up to the neon age and the plastics used in the 1950s. There’s a free tour, which I highly recommend. The finale of the tour is a re-created American main street. This was a very cool place to stop. Big hat tip to Atlas Obscura, which is where I heard about it.

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