One of those matters I missed blogging on, because of all thats been going on with me, has been the demise of Thomas Cook, the travel agents, and airline over here in the UK recently. Originally started in 1841, strangely enough by a man called Thomas Cook, it decided it needed to expand its base in 2007, and combined with some of the choices made, and the fact that more people now make their own holiday plans online, rather than using travel agents in town centres, they began to run into trouble, and its all just fallen apart from there. I mean, I cant remember the last time I used a travel agent to book my holiday package, so suspect its the last century, in those good old pre internet days.
Funnily enough, in recent times, I’ve only tended to use 3 airlines for my flights (though last flight was actually with Jet 2, to Portugal) to the US, Delta, American, and Thomas Cook, though I have actually flown with Virgin American, and Alaska, on connecting flights for 2 of the above, but all bookings made through those 3.
Though I would never have called Thomas Cook a luxury airline, the premium economy section was fine, all the same. I couldnt say more, because the staff were clearly not that attentive, as my most ‘ironic’ flying memory is flying that way from New York to Manchester. Firstly, despite having booked a seat (and paid extra to do so), they moved me,with no reason given, from a window seat in one row, to a middle seat in the row in front of where I should have been. As far as I could tell, a couple had wanted seats together, despite not booking them, instead of sitting across the row from each other, and what did other passengers who had booked seats, at a cost, matter?
The thing is (strictly not their action, but?) the guy I was now sat next to, was politely asked to switch off his mobile phone for take off, as he should have done, an action he just ignored, continuing to talk to someone on his phone regardless. In fact, he only stopped when presumably we’d reached a height where he lost his connection! Nothing done by plane staff at all, despite him not even hiding the fact he was still on his phone all that time!
To be fair, I had any number of good, and pleasant flights with them too, but given all the safety talks you get, it did make me wonder just how vital they really were at the time? All the same, I will miss Thomas Cook Airlines, they did tend to be the cheapest way to travel to the US, which when you’re on a budget, was always handy. So who I fly with next time, who knows? But Thomas Cook, no more.
OK, video time. For those of you old enough to remember 10CC, I’d call this line up 2, with half of the original group, plus a few others. I’m sure I must have flown with a few Mandy’s in my time, though thankfully none under the sad circumstances of this song
I did actually mean to do this blog just over a week ago, on the anniversary, but various things got in the way, mainly my health. But anyway…
2019 seems to have been the centenary of a large number of events. I suspect its because of the end of WW1, and the freedom to use technology for beneficial reasons, and not just to kill as many of ‘the enemy’ as possible. In 1919, if you wanted to cross the Atlantic, you had one choice, you went by ship, and it took more than a week to do the crossing. Nowadays its possible to cross the Atlantic in a matter of 6 hours or less! Certainly, on a jet plane, I would guess (if possible) that St Johns, Newfoundland, to Clifden in the West of Ireland would probably be about 4 hours or so. Heck, I can fly from Manchester, to Los Angeles (against the jet stream) in just under 11 hours.
However, on 14th June, from St Johns, Newfoundland, 2 British RAF Officers, Alcock, and Brown, set off to do something that had never been done before, to cross the Atlantic by plane. 16 and a bit hours later, on June 15th, they crash landed into a bog, close to Clifden, in the North West corner of Ireland. There was a prize of £10,000 for doing this, which seemingly equates to about £450,000 today!
In case anyone is wondering, it took another 20 years before the first Transatlantic passenger flight happened, a matter of months before the start of WW2!
The sad thing for Alcock at least, was that 6 months later, he was dead, at 27. He crashed while trying to deliver a plane to France, and died shortly after, from his injuries. Brown, and his son both actually served in WW2, he as an instructor, his son as a pilot who tragically died in the war. Supposedly that led to his retirement, and a deterioration in his health, so much so that he died 5 years later, at age of 52.
Incredible to think that 50 years later, man landed on the Moon!
I wonder how, 100 years from now, people will travel between Earth, and probably places beyond this planet as well. One thing is for sure, I personally wont know, but I wonder if a reincarnation of myself will do so?
This song has been recorded more than a few times, but in truth, this is the group that are probably most famous for doing so
Well, yes, if I was allowed to drink alcohol nowadays, the title might be an even bigger clue to the video, but I suspect some will work it out anyway. Lets just say I would love to have been one of the ladies in this crazy video. As for all those spirals…?
Its funny, you know how you get those emails from companies, pretending to be sorry that they’re messing up your plans, but you know they dont really mean it? Yes, had one of those last night, from the Flight/Holiday company I’m going to Portugal with next month. Yes, they’ve changed my flight time. But yes, actually, they’ve done me a favour by doing so!
Originally I was due to fly out of Manchester at 9.30 in the morning, a thought that wasnt actually filling me with joy, even more so as I cant see a practical way of having the day off before that, due to holiday time, and flexi time having been rather used up thanks to my health issues, and stuff. Even more fun, as I’m planning on being out on the Thursday evening too, that really should be fun, I dont think?
So yes, when I opened my email box last night, and saw I had an email from Jet2 Holidays, stating that my flight time had changed, I groaned. Then I saw it, it was now leaving 90 minutes later, so I changed the groan, to a grin. I mean, dont get me wrong, still going to be early enough, for an 11.00 flight on a Saturday morning, but its better than 9.30! It also means I’ll be 90 minutes later coming home, the following Saturday, but thats less of an issue for me.
I mean, call me a cynic when I say that I find it hard to believe they didnt know they were changing the plane time 5 weeks ago, when I booked it (Yes, flying with Jet2), and just didnt want to admit it? As it happens, it does me a favour, but if it had been the other way around? Especially as I booked with them because it was a reasonable flight time, but anyway…
No, funnily enough, no mention of a reduction, or anything like that for the inconvenience, isnt that strange? Of course, for me, its a good thing, not bad, but I’m sure there are others who dont see it that way? Would all be so much easier if I had my own personal space craft/flying saucer, but sadly, thats not been delivered as yet, nor I suspect, is likely to be, lol!
Right, video time. Probably the only song that has been a one hit wonder, twice!
One of the things I’ve got used to over the years, when flying to the US, is that the airlines provide you with a meal on the flight, each way, so its not something I think about too much any more, when making flight/holiday bookings. Some charge for seat selection, especially in economy class (I tend to fly premium economy now, when available), but meals, and soft drinks at least, are provided.
So, anyway, today, I was booking my trip to Portugal for November, to try and get some healing sun, and heat into my back, before the UK winter, package holiday style. Hey, given I have all these hotel chain cards, I normally book everything separately, but needs must…
So yes, cleverly, I put enough on my prepaid credit card to cover the cost of the holiday (which has gone up since first checking, due to pound collapsing against Euro, due to Brexit, rolls eyes…), and a little bit to spare. Only, by the time I’d selected my seats (I’m a window person, darlings), and paid the cost of package, I was beginning to cut it fine. That was when I found out I had to pay extra, again, for meals on the plane! Oops! Anyway, I’ve compromised, I’ve got a meal going out, but nothing coming back, but beyond boredom issue, shouldnt be a problem, as its an afternoon flight, and I should be able to have lunch before leaving Portugal, and survive till after I get back to UK. Of course, alternatively, before November, I can put more money on card, edit the booking to add a meal, and issue solved. But, old habits… No, cant remember last time I paid for a meal on a plane! Oh well… Oh fine, the card now has a balance of £0.04! Lol!
Who knows, I might even get to wear that cute little swimsuit I got yet. Yes, the skirt kind, which will hide a million sins. Unless anyone buys me a burkini in interim (are they legal in Portugal?), and dares me to wear it, at least!
Right, video time. I never thought I would find a live version of this, but lo and behold, I have!
As I mentioned a couple of months back, I had actually managed to build up the funds to pay for my holiday next May, and at that point, normally I would pay for it, get the whole matter sorted, and in this case, look forward to Seattle. But yes, there was one thought nagging at the back of my head about whether the body was up to a West Coast flight, and stay in a hotel, given the state of my back. In truth, my biggest concern wasnt the length of the flight, though that doesnt fill me with joy, it was the idea that if I stay in a hotel, I will be expected to get out, at least for a while each day, and I had no idea how that was going to work out. In truth, in a sense, I still dont, as of course, I dont go out every day, just 4 days a week, and even then, the 2 days in a row leaves me a bit sore, let alone 7! In truth, I think the public transport is probably a bigger issue than the work, and walking around, though most likely, its a combination of all those things.
But equally, I said that, in January, I’d have to make a decision on the matter, and its now January! In truth, Thomas Cook have sort of twisted my arm by having a sale at present, so it makes sense to get in during that, if I’m going for it. Given that the back doesnt seem to have deteriorated further, I’ve decided to give it a go, and see what happens. Crazy? Yes, maybe, but if I dont try it, I’ll never know. Its not like I dont know I cant do a US flight, I did one with same issue in September! But that was East Coast, not West, a whole lot shorter flight.
Even more so, given that flying out, I will need to travel all the way down to Los Angeles, and then fly back up to Seattle. Thankfully, coming back, its a direct flight. Yes, Thomas Cook only start their new direct flight service that weekend unfortunately, or I could have done it both ways. I would love to have flown out via Las Vegas (gentler route on back, and would allow me to add Nevada to my States visited list, earlier arrival too), but thats £50 extra, and thats an extra too far on my new budget restrictions lol!
One thing I do know, that will be the only trip to the US this year, for sure. Yes, the second trip was always an interesting (but doable) budget challenge when on a 5 day working week, but on 4, impossible. Possibly for the better, less strain on the back, and all that, but sad news, all the same. I’ll do something in September, only over here, and just for a few days instead.
But yes, I’ve decided I will throw my back into the unknown, and hope it doesnt fail me!
The amusing, and some might say, annoying thing about my planned hotel is that as a ‘group member’ I get a discounted rate. Whats annoying about that you’re probably asking? Well, its the fact I can get said discounted rate for a standard room, but not an accessible one! Fine, I probably dont really need it, but extra mobility room, and a suitably designed bathroom might have been handy. But again, $17 per night, for 8 nights, just to get that, I dont think so!
So now, once the money has been transferred, I can get it all booked, and get my wheelchair rides booked! Yes, this time, no qualms about doing that lol, I am officially disabled, though thankfully just mildly!
If anyone knows anyone in the Seattle/Seatac area that I can use as a ‘support’ during my stay, I’d love to know. Positive I wont need it, but just handy to know that if one day I need a little assistance, its only a call away! I know, but no harm in asking?
Right, video time. As so often with me, big clue in the blog title!
I remember the days when British Airways were supposedly a top class airline, for every one of their passengers. In truth, I havent flown with them now for many years. Certainly to some degree, thats because I tend to be on a budget, and they have never been cheap, but the service was good, so I’m told.
Nowadays, they still arent cheap, the service is generally at the quality of budget airlines (and I dont mean the good ones), unless you are flying first class, or maybe business class, though I’ve heard comments that suggest the service is going downhill there in the latter as well?
The snag is, any publicity they get of late is not of the good type. The seemingly more regular failures of baggage delivery at their terminal in Heathrow, the reduction of services in economy class to budget airline levels, while tickets cost premium prices, and then of course, of late, their strange decision to go with the walk of shame for passengers paying the cheapest prices for tickets, in making them board last, regardless of where they are sat. So, when one of their premium customers is flying for free, on his saved miles, therefore having paid nothing, I’m sure they’ll break the rules! Or heaven forbid, would they really care about losing more passengers nowadays?
Seemingly their latest faux pas shows that maybe they’re a little bit (or more) racist too? This week, on one of their subsidiary feeder airlines, in South Africa, they moved 2 black musicians out of their expensively paid for business class seats, so that a white woman in economy class, who complained that her seat was broken, could be moved into business class. When they objected to this, they were put off the plane, and that they were seen as terrorists by the staff on board! They did get a later plane, but surely if anyone should have been made to wait, its the woman who was flying in economy class, not them? But no, colonial racism got the better of good sense!
So seriously, please, take my advice, dont ‘fly the flag’ with British Airways, unless by some miracle their customer service improves dramatically, but I cant see that happening, as their bosses ideas seem to relate to flying the wealthy, and putting up with the rest, even if they pay business class fares, at their inflated prices.
Video time. A spoof take off of the ‘Fly The Flag’ advert, wonderfully done by Nicola Keen, and Jan Hartley. Having them as the stewardesses is about the only way I’d ever fly with British Airways again! If you’re not at the age of consent in your country, I wouldnt play it!
Fine, I’ll get to the title matter in a minute, but for now…
Sunday evening started with a change of plans, a trip to the cinema, to see It. No, not the 1927 silent movie starring Clara Bow, though I’m sure she would have looked adorable, even in a clowns outfit. No, this was the recent (shock horror) movie based on the Stephen King book instead. Something very different for me, but impressed with it, all the same. Mind, the final outcome (of this section at least) appealed to me no end. The actress playing Beverley caught this actresses eye, as someone to watch for the future, just saying…
After that, a dose of ‘The Orville’ which is a new series on Fox over there, which seems to be a witty take off of Original Star Trek, among other things. Yes, the big attraction for me, the chrome robot, no surprise. Yes, if they ever want an actress to play his female companion… 😉 Suspect its just CGI, in truth, sadly. Not sure when I see any more of it mind, over here, but will keep an eye out for that.
Yesterday was the last full day (for a while) in the US, most of which I just spent relaxing, before heading for home, via JFK, in a shuttle. Yes, wisdom prevailed, given the state of my body at present, only way to go. Before that, I did get to see the Creature from the Black Lagoon thing, though sadly not wearable lol. But if anyone wants to make one, and let me wear it…?
Beyond the traffic levels to JFK (its NYC, for pity’s sake), that all went smoothly, and so did the ride through security. Then the fun began! I was taken to the gate on my boarding pass, for my plane home, fine. Thing was, the departures board was showing a different gate, some distance away, and some ‘know all’ told me my plane was going from there. So I struggled down there, only to find a short while later that my pusher had known what she was doing, and the know all was an idiot! So yes, I struggled back to the original gate I’d been left at.
There was 1 wheelchair waiting there, mine, and yes, someone came this time, and took me to the plane. At this point, someone asked me to swap seats, so he could sit with someone, and I agreed. Unfortunately, the idiot I soon discovered I had the ‘delights’ of sitting next to on the way home, thought rules were for everyone but himself. As in, mobile phones must be switched off before leaving the gate, and only be put back on, in flight mode, when we were in the air. Him, oh no! Trying to hide from everyone (very badly) that he was still using his phone after this point, and indeed continued to use it, until after the plane accelerated for take off. Even then, I’m not sure if he switched it off, or just hid it away. He was certainly still doing something with it post take off (not meant to be switched back on while seat belt light is on), so who knows? Put it this way, he was still using it this morning, up to, and including landing, long again after having been told to turn it off. Oh, and then everyone else decided to be an idiot, as more than half the people in the plane were standing up, long before the seat belt light went off at Manchester.
Then it got, err, better! There was only 1 wheelchair used at JFK to load a passenger, mine! So, at Manchester, only 1 is sent to the plane, to disembark me. Thing is, seemingly, 5 other people then decided they needed a wheelchair to disembark, despite not requesting one. My name was called, I stood up to get in, and another woman took my chair! She clearly wasnt going to move willingly, so in the end, they tried to round up another wheelchair for me, only to discover 4 more people wanting one! No, Manchester Airport doesnt employ psychics, to know that all these additional people suddenly would want a chair.
Finally, and I do mean finally, I was on the move. Snag was, with 4 pushers, and 6 chairs, movement was erratic, and slow. Not improved when I finally got to passport control, and there is a group of 3, from the sub continent, who were clearly being shifty about their reasons for entering the country. Finally, he decided to let them in, I passed through quickly, but then we had to get all these wheelchairs down to baggage claim. Then pick out the right black expanding suitcase, from dozens of them, but we got there in the end. So only about an hour later than expected, freedom, and greetings! Then at last, go home!
Oh, and one last thing before we move on from the holiday, and back to more mundane events, one of the movies shown on the flight across. A movie called Blended, which given my knowledge of modern movies, I had to look up when I got home. Take my advice, give it a miss. It has a shocking review rating, and the actress in the main female lead role was dreadful. One look on her face throughout the movie, basically rabbit caught in headlights! Yes, I swear even now, after a few years off, I could have acted the pants off her! So come on Hollywood, let me prove it, lol!
Thats it, then. Lets close by thanking Kate, Stacie, and Eric (mainly, but there were others) for such a marvelous holiday experience. Yes, being Maid of Honor, at a wedding, very special.
So what happens now? Another suitcase, in another hall (Evita)? Probably not! To a big degree, a lot depends what the doctors say about my back in the next couple of weeks, and how many days of work, per week, I can get through, post medication. I’m currently suspecting the answer will be 4, but we will see. Maybe a magic cure, or a nice new cybernetic body lol? Oh, I wish for the latter! I suspect I will be getting the airport wheelchair experience again too, but we will see?
In theory, if I could get there next month, I could go to NYC again for a reading for a production by 2 friends, surrounding the life of Clara Bow, but money (definitely), and holiday time (possibly) mean thats unlikely to happen. Ah well, might have knocked them over on Broadway, especially if they were looking for a middle aged woman confined to a wheelchair for a role lol. Still, keep on dreaming…
Right, video time. One thing a plane is called, is a silver machine, though I doubt thats what they’re talking about here! Dont think its a robotizing pod either, but its almost more likely! Yes, thats Lemmy, of Motorhead fame!
Its fair to say that most of my flying in recent years would come down to 3 current Airlines, American, Delta, and Aer Lingus. There was also US Airways, but they are now part of American, so…lets talk about someone else!
As far as I can remember, I’ve only ever flown twice on United Airlines in my life. The first, around the turn of the century, was an uneventful trip to Richmond, Virginia, via Chicago from Heathrow. It was in fact my first solo trip to the US, and all I vaguely remember is the long queues at Immigration in Chicago. So long that they actually took my case and loaded it onto my next flight before I got through to get it.
The second, and final time was a flight to Seattle, and though the service was OK, the fun started when I got back to Chicago. At Seattle they had been surprised when they couldnt issue my boarding pass for my second flight, but then I found out why, when I got to Chicago, they’d cancelled the flight, not that they really seemed to care! I actually got out that night, after complaining, via Heathrow, but obviously was late into Manchester, and they didnt do as requested and inform the people picking me up over here as to what was happening. So that was it, never again, I pledged. In fact, shortly after that, the Chicago route changed, first to British Midland (equally as bad), and then American (decent service), and I found it easy to ignore them after that.
So yes, I’d forgotten all about United until recently, and their ‘magic moments’. I dont know enough about their rules for people flying on free/reduced company tickets to comment too loudly on the recent leggings issue, but it was children, not likely to be assumed to be airline staff, so heavy handed was a fair comment. Not as heavy handed as at the weekend, clearly! Just when Delta thought they might get bad publicity for their cancellation issues because of weather in Atlanta, along come United to rescue them, and make them look like saints! Hopefully you’ve heard the tale of how not to deal with paying passengers, to get staff travelling for free on a plane, surely?
Heard tonight that their share price has fallen dramatically, presumably on top of all the bad publicity everywhere, especially on social media, so…I dont think United will be having so many insufficient seat issues in the near future! Hope not, anyway! Seriously, one social media disaster is bad, but 2 in about a month, oh dear me! The CEO blamed the passenger, no one else, absolutely unbelievable. Ah well…
Right, video time. Frightening to realise this is nearly 50 years old, and I remember it, but…For those who remember the 80’s reincarnation of Brotherhood Of Man, this isnt them! This, as Tony Burrows probably gives away, was a session version from 1970. Not one member of this group was in the second band, but anyway…
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a member of a couple of airline loyalty schemes, 2 of my preferred trio from the past life. I have no idea why I never joined Aer Lingus, but besides that…Yes, the conglomerate now known as American, who gobbled up my other loyalty scheme with US Airlines, and Delta.
I’ve checked American’s site, and changing my name, and gender, while keeping my mileage stored there, not seemingly an issue. No, not actually done it yet, as it will be next year before I fly with them at the earliest. Irony, their miles only last 18 months, so I had to give back 1,000, to keep the other 34,000 via a charity scheme, but thats fine by me.
So then I look at Delta, expecting it to be the same situation, but no, you cant even change your name by yourself, let alone your gender. Must be crazy when people get married, but anyway…The big snag? Well, on their website, it says that to change such things, you have to send it in writing to Atlanta. Yes, fine if you’re in the US, but if like me, you’re in the UK, not a serious option, especially if you might be booking with them in a month or so. I know, I could open a new account, but again, I have about 35,000 miles on the scheme with them, and even if I’m never likely to travel enough for an international flight, fitting in a US domestic one, hmm, as they dont expire, ever!
So, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I sent in a question about the matter, and included in the attachment, the deed poll of my name change, and half expected them to say, fine, but you need to send it to our UK office or something. No, the first working day (Monday) after I did so, I came back home to a lovely email saying all was fine, account was changed, name and gender, and wishing me all the best for the future!
To be fair, the September trip, if its into Boston, and out of Boston, I’m flying Delta after that! I prefer them anyway, as you get more leg room options than Aer Lingus. If either way involves flying via Hartford, its probably going to be Aer Lingus, and make my knees suffer, simply because they have the direct flights, that Delta doesnt to that airport. But yes, if its only outward from Hartford, I might look at Delta, now, all the same.
OK, video time. Fine, it took me seconds to come up with this one. A not greatly edited version of the obvious song, but its live, and not only do you get Helen Reddy, you get Glen Campbell too
Oh, and while we’re talking transgender airline moments, 50 days from today, my first flight as a woman, cool! 😀
Earlier today, while trawling through the headlines at MSN, I came across a list of the supposed best 10, and worst 10 airlines in the World. Now, forgive me, given how much of these sort of things are personal taste, and about getting the right, or wrong flight, and things can lead you wildly astray. But anyway, curiosity, and all that, I went and took a look.
As to the best 10, I’ve only ever flown on 2, and one of those (British Airways), has never jumped out at me, as being that great. The other was Air Canada, about a decade ago, and I must admit, I was impressed. The fact I havent flown with them more recently is down to the fact that the 1 time I flew to Canada since then, Air Transat had the direct flight from Manchester, so hey…
Up until now, I’ve had concerns about returning to Canada, as a woman, because their security/immigration folk are supposed to have changed the rules that you have to look like the gender on your passport, and well, up to recently…Can do it again now, without issues, if I ever get enough money to do so.
The one I thought that might have made it, and didnt, was Jet Blue, who seriously impressed me when I flew with them. But as I say, these things are personal taste, so…
I’ll be honest, the worst list had a few culprits that I wasnt surprised to see there, from past experience. Easy Jet, and Ryanair, no, I wouldnt rush to fly with either, given the choice. Aer Lingus also made the list, and I will say that their express flights are an awful experience in economy. Their long distance flights wouldnt win any awards, for leg space, service, or food, but I have been known to bite the bullet, because doing Immigration in Ireland is a million times easier than doing it in the US, compared to certain airports over there!
But the one that surprised me, on that list, was Virgin Atlantic. Third worst, seriously? I first flew with them in April, it was great, one of my better flights of all time. And yes, they matched it in October too. Now I know I might not be the most demanding passenger in the world, but they would be on my praise list, not bad one! I know, that was the premium economy experience, but I saw the other seats, they didnt look that bad!
A couple of my ‘favoured’ airlines made neither list, American Airlines, and Delta. Yes, I’m in their frequent flyer schemes for a reason! If you asked me to pick between the 2, probably say Delta, but I’d happily fly with either, or most definitely, with Virgin Atlantic. Certainly would rather fly on any of them to British Airways, for sure.
But if anyone wants to pay for me to do flights on these other airlines, purely for survey purposes, I wont say no.
As I say, surveys are funny things, arent they?
Right, the video. I dont think I’ve used this one before, and besides its a lovely song, if I have.