With more than five million miles flown on 6 continents - Seat 1A is a journey into how to use this experience to your flying advantage. Join Geoff Dahl and Vinod Viswalingam as they share travel experiences, tales, tips and interviews.
Swiftly Getting Through Airports. Why is This Airport so Busy Today?
In this experience we look into the reasons why airports may get much busier than normal.
We start out the podcast with a trip review of Vinod who recently flew to London-Heathrow.
It was his virgin flight on an Airbus 350. There was no free seat selection with the ticket that he purchased. When Vinod flew out of Vancouver the British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Plaza Premium lounges were all under renovation. This led to an interesting temporary lounge in Vancouver’s International departures.
The flight was quiet and uneventful with a landing at Heathrow Terminal 3. It had been decades since Vinod had flown into Terminal 3.
Vinod had a chance to meet up with Paul from Layovers while in London.
On his return to Vancouver, Vinod had a bag that was at the weight limit. Thankfully there were friendly service staff to help him with the situation. Vinod used the Flighty app which performed very well. The flight had an empty seat beside him and was quick and efficient on the trip back to Canada.
If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 35. "Beating the queue. Lining up strategies at the airport." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts.
We dive into events that take over an airport. Taylor Swift is a current example who has caused airlines to do incredible things.
simpleflying.com article Taylor Swift, Like A Hurricane, Prompts Airline Change Fee Waivers Sometimes there are things that you're aware that some airports will be busy like holidays. Other times you may not be aware of things like sporting events, large conventions, trade shows or political events.
It can throw you for a loop if you don't know things that are happening at that airport.
Geoff remembers flying into Cairo during Hajj and it was a connection point for flights from all over Africa.
Finally, there are large international airshows with some beautiful aircraft that may or may not delay you when flying. But you could end up with a wonderful view from your window.
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If you have a story about unexpectedly busy airports, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/
Can anyone help me? Issues with customer service.
In this experience we look into the world of customer service and examples when the experience goes sideways.
We review the situation of the passengers who were flying from Paris to Singapore with a farting and drooling dog in premium economy. Singapore airlines finally got the issue resolved and credited them for their experience.
In days gone by, your travel agent would have been your point of contact. Now you’re mostly on your own. Over the last four years, airlines lost many individuals who were extremely proficient in high-touch customer experience. Even more than ever, airline agents are working from home. Things that can be done virtually can be much different than in person.
A key is knowing how to be efficient and work with the people on the other side of the desk.
Geoff shares a story of a cancelled Porter Airlines flight to Newark, and the quick actions of a check-in agent to get him on another flight quicker than originally scheduled.
Vinod shares a story of remotely assisting a family member with a Cathay Pacific and WestJet check-in. He was even able to resolve some of it while sitting on his sofa!
Geoff shares a story of a flight with online information about waiving fees being much different than fees that needed to be paid in person.
If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 60. "We Appreciate Your Patience. Wait Times and Customer Support." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Vinod shares a story of helping a family re-locate to Ireland. The online system would not allow a check-in without paying but did the passenger need to pay?
Vinod also discusses a YVR vacuum cleaner retrieval request.
What happens online versus offline doesn’t always line up. If you are able to do things in person, you may have a better chance.
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If you have a story about airline customer service, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/
That's the Ticket. Another Look at Bookings.
In this experience we take a trip into the show’s archives and review tickets and booking.
We start out with a review from Vinod about his flight in the summer with Porter from Toronto to Vancouver.
As people are looking for good fare prices, this is a good lead-in to a discussion about ticketing. We talked about ticketing in our very early experiences and are revisiting it in this experience.
The moment that you purchase the right to travel on an aircraft, you get a Passenger Name Record. Every airline has their own PNR. Make sure you don’t share pictures of your PNR online.
But airline ticketing systems are not as advanced as some would think. Sometimes an e-ticket does not get associated with the PNR. Sometimes a booking ends up only being a shell. When you need to fix it, you will need a specialized ticketing representative. This is why an airline representative can't fix it...they may simply not have the access. Vinod shares a story of checking in a passenger and somehow not noticing that there was no e-ticket associated with it.
One of the key aspects of any ticket booking is who is in control of the ticket. Is it the airline, the travel agent or someone else. An airline will do everything it can to keep the control of the ticket, including upgrades in certain circumstances. But sometimes things go sideways, and an airline needs to hand over control to another airline. In the days of paper tickets this Flight Interruption Manifest was almost like an I Owe You between airlines. Today, it all gets processed electronically.
Things can get a bit complicated when a travel agent is involved. Vinod shares a recent experience of helping with a ticket booked with a travel agent and some of the surprises involved.
We look at fare classes which are important when you have to make changes. Is your fare class available anymore when you change the ticket? What do you have to pay for cancellations and/or refunds?
We look at how much ticketing has changed with it now being much more transparent than in the past. We also answer that question asked so often "when is the best time to buy a cheap ticket?" We recommend having a budget and if your ticket is in that budget then book it and don't look back!
How much talking are airlines doing with each other? Vinod shares a story when he had two tickets flying from Toronto to London to Madrid.
If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 1. "Maiden Flight." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts.
When your Passenger Name Record is created, be very careful with entering the name and passport information because it could be very difficult to change the information.
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If you have a story about ticketing, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter/X, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/
Celebrating 75 Episodes in Person. 2023 Summer Travel - The Analysis.
In this experience Vinod and Geoff are both in Toronto, recording in person and celebrate the milestone of 75 episodes.
We proceed to do an analysis of travels in July 2023.
Geoff had a trans-Atlantic adventure, with flights to Germany, Austria, and Turkey.
Geoff's trip was from Toronto to Frankfurt with a premium economy ticket that had been booked early in the year but wanted to try for an upgrade. ExpertFlyer helped to figure out the load factor and Geoff tried the Air Canada bid upgrade system. Forty-eight hours in advance the upgrade was accepted. Remember that Air Canada does not have pajamas in business class as part of the amenity kit. Air Canada business class is a solid product but not top of world class. Geoff got a pointer from another passenger on how to get sleep in the airline.
When Geoff arrived into Frankfurt he checked if there was shower service in the Air Canada lounge. He learned departing passengers only and Lufthansa will not accept Air Canada passengers in their arrival lounge. Fortunately Frankfurt Airport offers a paid shower directly across from that lounge. Geoff took a train into Frankfurt Main Station and onwards from there, with a scheduled return back to Frankfurt Airport the next day.
Geoff proceeded on from Frankfurt to Vienna. A very simple self bag check, and Schengen zone flight. A warning for those using the A wing of Terminal 1 in Frankfurt. There are no places for you to fill a water bottle with cool water and water bottles are sold for four euros or more. The gate Geoff was at did not require a pushback. Overnight in Vienna and a train back to the airport the next day.
A straightforward flight on to Düsseldorf. But when Geoff arrived, did they forget all the bags on the tarmac without delivering them to the belt? An overnight in Düsseldorf and onward to Cologne the next morning.
Geoff flew with Turkish from Cologne to Istanbul and his first impressions of the massive airport in Istanbul was the very long taxiing time to the terminal. He connected for a domestic flight onward to Bodrum. He returned to Istanbul a week later taking a 777 for a one-hour flight - which managed to have a hot breakfast service.
Geoff stayed up all night for a planned Istanbul to Vienna to Toronto trip. There had been issues through the entire trip since it had been booked using points. It’s a long walk through the middle of Istanbul Airport without moving sidewalks until you get to the assorted terminal wings.
Geoff was told that his flight was late, and he was going to miss the connection, and was advised to stay another day. But the inbound flight connection in Vienna was late. Would he make it?
After waiting an hour for takeoff clearance and arriving at a remote stand with a bus, and a sprint though Vienna Airport, the answer was no. Did Air Canada get passenger information from Turkish? Who knows. Could the Star Alliance connection work better? Absolutely.
Geoff rants about the newer terminal at Vienna, the need to use stairs often at the airport and the narrow, dark atmosphere. But who was Geoff supposed to contact. Since it was booked with points, he was told to contact Air Canada.
After multiple hours waiting, Geoff spoke to Mina at Air Canada, his trip saviour. He tried with Turkish to get a new routing, no chance. He was NOT going to fly back to Istanbul to start over. Air Canada covered the re-routing of his itinerary – now via Barcelona.
After an unplanned short overnight in Vienna, and unanticipated excitement with a missing NEXUS card, Geoff flew via Barcelona. What a difference to Vienna with wide walkways and lots of light. A brief layover in Barcelona and a pleasant return flight to Toronto.
If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 9. "Our first deep dive into two different flying experiences." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Vinod had a family trip to Toronto with a redeye flight from Vancouver which was not a pleasant
Summer Skies. 2023 Plans for Vinod and Geoff.
In this experience we take a look at our summer 2023 travel plans, and also look at trips we took in June.
It’s a very different summer than that of 2022. We’re getting closer to how things were pre-pandemic with higher amounts of staffing, however now we have to really search again for cheap fares.
Vinod and Geoff had travels in June in Canada.
Geoff flew to Yukon and did a large road trip from there also through Alaska. Geoff flew with Air North which had a terrific Connector Fare deal to Whitehorse from Calgary. There were a few adventures on the way - including waiting on the tarmac in Toronto for technical reasons and Vancouver for connecting passengers; and a bag drop in Vancouver that still required a visit to a check-in desk. Vinod shares his memories of tarmac holds and whether the passengers should be released.
Canada is very large. Toronto to Whitehorse is approximately the same distance as Toronto to Bogota, Colombia.
Vinod had an early morning flight to London, Ontario. He learned about extra costs if pre-reserving an Uber. All airlines have a headstart focus for their first flights - trying to get out early for the day. Vinod had worked as crew on the exact same Frozen plane that he was flying on. Even though he had worked for years in Calgary, there were new terminal wings he had not experienced before. His arrival in London was uneventful.
Vinod returned to Toronto with a rental car. There was added adventures making the baggage cutoff time and unexpected and unpleasant calls to the car rental agency due to a forgotten item.
If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 22. "Why is my plane parked there? The world of gate assignments." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Geoff and Vinod discuss their upcoming summer travel. Geoff has a transatlantic adventure along with inter-European flights. Geoff shares a tip on how to manage a flight on Turkish Airlines booked with other airlines’ points.
Vinod has a family vacation to Toronto. Vinod is trying a new cross-country player in the Canadian air market. We share a tip on how to find the price floor for fares.
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If you have a story about 2023 trips that you’ve already completed or are taking, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/.
Flew to a Room. A Deeper Look at Airport Hotels.
In this experience we take a deeper look at the world of airport hotels. Sometimes hotels can be the best thing but can also be the most horrible desolate places on the planet.
We’ve discussed many different types of hotels in previous experiences, from the incredible to the incredibly terrible.
Big airports have the big global hotel brands. But there is another tier of just a place to sleep.
There are some very neat hotels that are attached to airports – Geoff remembers his visit to the TWA hotel at JFK.
There are also some hotels with very cramped and tight rooms. Vinod remembers a hotel by Orly airport in Paris.
The best experience is a hotel attached to the terminal itself, and Vinod remembers a visit to Frankfurt.
If you’re planning to have an airport hotel, make sure you have planned out the logistics. Is it easy to get to the location. Will you have access to your bags. What about transit visas? Will the food service be open and available?
Geoff remembers an experience at London Heathrow where he was so disconnected from the rest of London. Vinod shares his experience with Toronto.
Airport hotels are convenient for families who have early flights. But they can be very noisy locations since they are twenty-four hour operations. Vinod shares a story of all night entertainment playing next door when he was in Montreal. There are a large number of people passing through airport hotels.
As an alternative, is there a city that is close to the airport which has good connections? If you’re not wanting to leave the airside terminal, does the airport offer pod hotel space?
When you’re forced into a layover, you may or may not get a comped room. Geoff shares an experience in Ottawa where he got a comped room, and a very sketchy room in New Jersey when he didn’t.
Vinod shares some insight from the airline perspective and highlights that vouchers can have some variance.
There may be options for you with services like Airbnb.
Vinod shares his first childhood memory of staying at a hotel in Mumbai.
Geoff shares an experience in North Dakota while travelling from Amsterdam to Saskatchewan.
Are there local events or weather that could affect the cost of your hotel? What is the value of putting your head down and having a shower?
If you're liking this episode experience, you may also enjoy Experience 044. "Sleeping Around. Maximizing Your Rest at Airports." It's available wherever you listen to your podcasts.
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If you have a story about airport hotels, comped rooms, upcoming trips, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/