If you’re a member of American Airlines’ frequent flyer program—and tens of millions of people are—you probably know that British Airways is part of the OneWorld alliance along with American. Which means you can use either AA miles or BA points on both airlines for award tickets. But you should know when to use which.
I understand it’s natural to consider using American miles when you want to book an American flight. But sometimes, that’ll cost you a lot more than using British Airways Avios points. For example, look for an award ticket on a short American flight like San Francisco to LA, and you’ll find that American will charge you at least 12,500 miles for a one-way trip. Use BA’s Avios, and it’s only 4,500 points. For a West Coast to Hawaii, one way trip, you’ll have to redeem at least 17,500 miles on American but still only 4,500 Avios points (and $5.60 in taxes) on British Airways.
This is a lesson you can apply to other airlines, too, in other alliances. Seats on the same flight might cost less if you cash in points or miles on a sister airline rather than on the airline whose name is on the side of the plane.
Shop around before pulling the trigger to see if you can save miles creatively.
How would you like to try one out?
The country’s only full-motion flight simulator (photo of related simulator) to which the public is invited is in the Delta Flight Museum very near Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport. It’ll cost you $425, but it may change the way you look at commercial flying forever. You’ll be strapped in a mock-up of the cockpit of a Boeing 737-200 that will make you feel as if you’re in the air.
You must be 16 or over to do this, and it’s not recommended if you have back pain, are pregnant, or suffer motion sickness. After a ten-minute pre-flight briefing, you’ll have 45 minutes of flight time and then a five-minute review of how you did after that. You get to pick just about any airport in the world to lift off from and to land at.
Through the magic of computers and amazing graphics—not to mention that realistic motion—you’ll feel as if you’re 35,000 feet above the ground. Here’s a link to the Delta Flight Museum’s simulator page.
Are you packed yet?
The United States isn’t the only country in the world that’s festival crazy. There’s that festival in Spain where participants throw tomatoes at each other. And, of course, that other one in Spain during which people with a low regard for their health try to avoid getting trampled by bulls running through narrow, village streets.
Closer to home, you can sample garlic ice cream during the annual garlic festival in Gilroy, California. There’s that roadkill cook off in Marlinton, West Virginia, and one in Alaska after the whaling hunt ends in which people use a sealskin blanket to throw people up in the air. And you’ve probably been to the Wisconsin State Cow Chip and Throw Festival.
But Duck tape? Turns out while Duck tape is made in North Carolina, it’s shipped out from Avon, Ohio, for reasons I didn’t understand even after I interviewed its organizer on my weekend radio show. Sure, there’s a contest to learn who can make the best clothing out of the 250 varieties and colors of Duck tape (pictured).
You didn’t think they’d forget that, did you?
[Care to know the difference between “Duck tape” and “duct tape?” The answer is here.]
I first visited the resort town of Phuket, in southern Thailand, about 30 years ago. What was once a charming, seaside resort with dirt roads and water buffalos standing on golf course fairways is today a frenzied resort town with an over-crowded main beach called Patong Beach (pictured). Not all of Phuket is like that, but enough for me to say, “It just isn’t the same.”
It’s a phrase I hear too often.
It used to be exciting to land in Hong Kong because the approach to the downtown airport was thrilling and dangerous. Planes had to twist and turn, and you could almost see what residents of high-rise condos just outside your window were having for dinner. Now, the in-town airport is closed in favor of a more modern and safer-to-approach airport.
It’s just not the same.
If you find yourself using that phrase, remember this: Nothing ever stays the same. Not the French Riviera, Heidelberg, or New York. Well, maybe Sicily, but “it’s just not the same” is the lament of someone who wouldn’t want their life to stay the same. (Smoking on planes? No cell phones? No Internet or seat belts?)
So don’t expect the world to stay the same. Embrace it today because when you return . . . it just won’t be the same.
Why is Paris so darn romantic? Maybe because it’s been that way for a couple of centuries. That’s the well-researched finding of author David Downie whose new book is titled A Passion For Paris: Romanticism & Romance In the City Of Lights.
The world is filled with romantic cities, from Florence to New York to San Francisco and maybe even Hong Kong. But Paris is the place lovers often think of visiting. There’s a reason artists, writers, and singers tend to live there, at least for awhile—there’s some kind of zeitgeist that seems to promote creativity and languor that lends itself to thinking of things other than work and life’s annoying problems.
Downie’s book is sort of a walking tour—though it’s not a guide, per se—of his quest for the roots of romance, at least the roots as exemplified by Paris residents in the 19th century. Names such as Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, Balzac, George Sand, and dozens of others mix and mingle in a city whose architecture and attitude still provide a lovely backdrop to Parisian life.
If you’re interested in colorful history and literature, A Passion For Paris is the book for you. Read it before you visit or return to the city—you’ll be the richer for it.