FUEL SURCHARGES AND BETTER DEALS
It's not a lot, but some airlines are starting to drop or reduce their fuel surcharges.
With the price of oil dropping faster than you can say "Green Shift," Air Transat recently said it would drop some surcharges by as much as 17 per cent. Air Canada, bless it's red-and-white heart, might be about to do the same on some international routes, having already dropped them for the North American market.
An attempt to tentatively book a European jaunt the other day showed a $700 return fare from Toronto to Frankfurt on Canada, but there was a whopping $330 fuel surcharge; almost the cost of the one-way, $350 "tourist" fare.
It’s said to be a truly awful sight.
“For many tourists, coming to Luang Prabang is like going on safari,” said one observer. “But our monks are not monkeys or buffaloes.”
In a recent Canadian Press story, Air Canada spokesman John Reber said fuel surcharges don't fully cover fuel expenses, which are expected to increase by $800 million for Air Canada this year.
But who says the surcharges are supposed to cover all fuel expenses? We didn't have fuel surcharges 10 years ago, if I recall, but the airlines still had fuel costs. We all understand fuel costs have skyrocketed, but aren't our regular fares supposed to help cover some of those costs? We aren't paying for steak tartare and Dom Perignon in tourist class, are we?
Some experts say they expect a break is on the way for ordinary travellers, but that business folks will have to continue to pay high fees for the fancy seats.
THEY LIKE US ... WE THINK
A company called TNS recently released a study asking 8,000 Americans where they had vacationed in the past year. Although visits by Americans to Canada were down in August, the TNS survey found Canada was the number one international travel destination for Ameri-cuhns, not surprising given the proximity and all. Second for U.S. travellers were Bermuda and various Caribbean countries, followed by Mexico, the British Isles and France. Pretty standard stuff.
What was kinda interesting was that the company also asked American travellers to rate their favourite international destinations from their past three years of travels. Australia topped the charts (must be the meat pies), followed by London, Ireland, Scotland and, ta-da, British Columbia.
SAME SEX SEATMATES
Gotta agree with the U.S. folks on this one. A research firm called Synovate did a survey and found that 65 per cent of folks from Hong Kong prefer to sit next to someone of their own sex while on a plane. Only 19 per cent of Americans felt the same way. For all the math-challenged folks out there, that means a whopping 81 per cent prefer a seat mate of the opposite sex.
I'd be curious what readers might think, so drop me a line if you're so inclined - email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - and let me know.
NO KIDS PLEASE, WE'RE BRITISH
In another part of its survey Synovate found that 55 per cent of Brits get frustrated when they sit next to kids on a plane, compared to 45 per cent of Americans. There was no word on Canadian feelings towards children on a plane, but only 15 per cent of Germans said it bothers them to be near a kindergartner. Only 19 per cent of folks from Taiwan and Malaysia said they get frustrated sitting next to children. Interesting stuff.
SHOW A LITTLE DIGNITY, PEOPLE:
Really nice item in the San Francisco Chronicle the other day on Luang Prabang in Laos, which used to be secluded but now is overrun with “scruffy European backpackers and well-heeled American tourists.”
Apparently, whenever the time comes for the area’s Buddhist monks to come out of their monasteries in their daily ritual, the tourists crawl all over each other like rabid dogs angling for a pork chop as they jostle and push and shove to get the right angle for a picture.
Sounds perfectly dreadful. Not to mention shameful.