If you’re an attractive woman who’d like to see the world on someone else’s tab . . . or if you’re a man who’s willing to pay for one of those women, the web site you want is called MissTravel.com.
The informational video on the web site begins this way: “Are you attractive but don’t have the money to travel?” It goes on to promise there are doctors, lawyers, athletes, millionaires, bankers, executives, and entrepreneurs who are looking to travel with attractive women and, “best of all they have the money and are willing to spend it on you.”
And, oh, yeah—you’ll get to collect frequent flyer miles.
Now, I think I mentioned this site a couple of years ago when it went up, but it came to mind recently when I listed the airlines that MissTravel say most women prefer. The top three are Delta, United and US Airways. And the site says a survey revealed that 64% of women say they speak to strangers while at an airport or on an airplane more than anywhere else. Call me cynical, but I think a woman posting on Miss Travel might be in for a lot more than just conversation.
The site says it has 275,000 members looking for new, um, friends.
I recently interviewed author and aviation consultant Mark Gerchick about his new book, Full Upright and Locked Position. He’s a former FAA chief counsel and Transportation Department official, so he knows that of which he speaks. He has good news and bad news about the state of the American airline business.
First the good news: Flying the skies in US airlines is very safe. It’s been years since there was a major crash involving a US carrier.
Now the bad. Flying has become commoditized, meaning there’s little distinction between one carrier and another, at least in coach class. Smaller seats, more of them in an aircraft, and iffy customer service have turned flying into what I call Bus Station Nation. Rarely do regular flyers consider an airline trip much more than a chore.
Blame the threat of terrorism and a drive for profits. But here’s what’s not fair. If my car breaks down on the way to the airport and I’m delayed and miss my flight, I may have to pay hundreds of dollars to take another one. But if there’s a mechanical problem with an aircraft, no one pays me any money. If I need to change an advance-purchase ticket, it costs $200; if an airline changes my flight time, I get no money.
Heads they win, tails you lose.
One of the regular guests on my weekend show is the terrific reporter who writes on airline subjects for the Wall Street Journal, Scott McCartney. His column, “The Middle Seat,” appears in the paper on Thursdays, and recently he took a humorous look at how differently airlines operate from other businesses.
Scott took typical airline rules and applied them to other businesses. For example, a one-way ticket on an airline often costs more than a round trip. So by that measure, if you ordered half a sandwich at a deli, you’d pay more than if you ordered a whole one.
An airline sets prices depending on the date you want to fly. If a men’s clothier did that, the price of a pair of slacks would depend on what day you intended to wear them. Thanksgiving might mean the pants cost a lot more than wearing them on an average Tuesday.
And those season tickets you bought for the hometown baseball team? You won’t be able to give them to anyone else to use.
And what about those airline extras like headsets and bigger bags of nuts? What if a hotel only sold you a hotel room with four walls? You’d have to pay extra for every amenity you wanted–hot water, a bed, or television.
I think you get the point.
We’ve got AirBNB that allows folks to put their homes or apartments up for rent to travelers. We’ve got Couchsurfing.org that allows strangers to spend a night or two in our homes with us. So I guess it’s only natural there’d be a site that allows you the share a hotel room with a total stranger.
The website is called Easynest, and it invites someone who has a hotel room by him or herself to be a “host” and share an extra bed with another person. It’s either the next, best social website idea or, at least, it’s a way to stay in a hotel that might be nicer than you might otherwise since you’d be sharing the cost with someone else.
How do you know who the heck your host is or—for that matter—how does the host know who the stranger in his or her hotel room will be?
Both parties must create a profile with links to their social networks such as Facebook. Then type in your destination and see what’s on offer and use your best instincts to choose a hotel partner.
The two of you can talk before you make a deal to share 50/50 the price of the hotel room. Call the hotel if you want to make sure there are two beds in the room.
I’m sure some great friendships will be forged via this site and maybe even a romance or two. But I’d want to make sure I knew who I was sleeping with before I committed to sharing a bedroom with another user of Easynest.
Charles MacPherson owns a Toronto-based firm that trains butlers for hotels as well as for private residences. And for my weekend radio show, he’s my go-to guy for all questions of etiquette.
I asked him how one should be a gracious summer houseguest, and here’s his advice. Arrive Friday in time for dinner and leave Sunday right after lunch. Don’t stay longer even if your hosts insists–it’s a lot of work having houseguests.
Before you arrive, find out the plans for the weekend to see if there’s anything you can bring for the weekend, food-wise. And never show up empty handed. Flowers and wine are always welcome, but baking a pie or cake is always nice.
Always volunteer to help the host, and even if he or she shoos you away from the kitchen, fluff the pillows on the sofa. Help out any way you can. Don’t hog the bathroom and always leave it as clean or cleaner than you found it. Send a thank you gift. Maybe a drawing by one of your children or an appropriate book related to your host’s interests.
You can find more great advice on travel etiquette in Charles MacPherson’s new book, The Butler Speaks.