Tipping is fairly straightforward the US. Tip 15% for good service in a restaurant. Tip more or less if your server was extraordinarily good or bad. Tip a valet parker at least $3. Tip a bellman $1 per bag at a hotel. Tip a hotel concierge $10 or $20 if he or she provides extra special service. A tip is not necessary for asking a concierge to recommend a local steakhouse. Leave a housekeeper $5 every day.
Things get more complicated abroad. Restaurants in Dubai add a 10% tip to your bill; cab drivers there don’t expect a tip. Japanese servers don’t expect a tip, but leave your room attendant at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese guest house, $5 for a one or two-night stay. Always put the cash in an envelope.
Go to the Internet, type in your destination, and ask about tipping. Or ask a local. It’s that easy. Tipping shouldn’t be stressful—good information is just a few clicks away on your computer.
It turns out, superstitions abound in the travel world.
Some flights to Vegas are numbered 711; traditionally 7 or 11 are good opening roll numbers for craps players. There are no flights numbered with three sixes, considered a sign of the devil. And airlines retire the flight number of any plane that’s crashed.
Pilots and passengers all have their talismans or routines to ward off bad luck. Some passengers kiss the skin of the aircraft as they board flights. Some wear the same socks or shirt every time they fly—after all, it’s worked to keep them safe so far.
I had a bizarre experience on a flight in which I was seated next to a young man in a US Army uniform. We didn’t talk the entire flight, though I noticed he was closely examining a personal journal in which he’d written all kinds of strange symbols and numbers.
Our flight encountered turbulence as we began to land, and he turned to me and whispered, “Don’t worry—I’m actually the person controlling this plane.”
I hoped his wasn’t the finger on any nuclear trigger.
When might US flyers enjoy that kind of recompense?
A European Union regulation requires airlines to pay passengers for bumping or delays except for events beyond an airline’s control such as bad weather, a strike, or a bomb threat. A flight is considered delayed if it departs three or more hours late.
Anyone—not just Europeans—can take advantage of this—if you’re flying in Europe. You’re also due compensation if that delay causes you to miss a connection. And these payments can run into the hundreds of dollars.
In the US, flyers are usually offered vouchers for giving up their seats on overbooked flights. I was recently offered a $1,300 voucher by Delta for giving up a seat on a flight to London, for example. If not enough people volunteer, the airlines can remove passengers but must pay cash.
I’d like to see those European rules become part of consumer protection laws in the States.
An extraordinarily high number of Indonesian airlines—59, to be exact—are currently banned from flying in European Union airspace. And Indonesia’s death per million passengers is 25 times that of the United States.
Trigana has been involved in at least 15 accidents in its 23-year history with 10 hull losses, which means the plane was a write off. Since 2001 there have been at least 40 air accidents in Indonesia that resulted in fatalities. That contrasts with just six such accidents in the United Kingdom, all involving small jets with fewer than six passengers aboard.
The odds of perishing during a flight with an Indonesian airline are still long, but the country doesn’t show well against other countries. Insurance companies reportedly charge Indonesian airlines nearly double the global average because of their poor safety records. The country scored just 61% in “airworthiness” in May of 2014—that’s worse than less-developed countries such as Laos and Myanmar.
Part of this is because of the rapid growth of the airline industry in Indonesia. But clearly pilot training, aircraft maintenance, and better inspections are in order.
Maybe you’ve heard of these pop-up dinners in the US and Europe in which all the guests wear white and sit at tables with white table clothes –sometimes as many as 2,500 guests at a time? Here’s a little history.
These all-white extravaganzas were started 27 years ago in Paris by a Frenchman. That’s still where the largest event takes place; Montreal isn’t far behind with 5,500 guests at a single dinner. Guests know the date of the event but don’t find out the location until the last minute.
In Paris, these dinners—called diner en blanc— have taken place on the grounds of the Eiffel Tower (pictured), on the Place Vendome, around the Champs Élysée, and other well-known sites. Last year, the diner en blanc in Washington, DC, was set on a 42-acre development on the Anacostia River waterfront known as “The Yards.”
You get invited by knowing someone who is invited. I know that’s not very clear, but that’s how it works. Last year’s soiree in DC cost $100 per person; some cost as little as $30 per person.
But this pop-up evening with this pop-up crowd is meant to be a social gathering that graces a city with a photogenic event. Don’t be surprised to see one appear suddenly in your city.