[good reads] belize

June 11, 2017

This summer, I decided to go on a trip to Belize! Belize isn’t the cheapest country in Central America, but the vast majority of Central America is just so cheap that not “as cheap” doesn’t mean that much. Since I’ll also be going during the summer, most things will likely be cheaper because summer is their low season. You might be wondering why summer is Belize’s low season. This is because Belize (like most more tropical locations) only experiences two season: wet and dry. Summer is their wet season. I was a bit worried when I found this out and, yes, perhaps the water won’t be as clear for scuba diving, but it really only showers hard during the night and sometimes at certain times of day, which can be easily avoided. Plus, low season means fewer tourists and cheaper prices!

The biggest attraction in Belize is its Blue Hole Natural Monument (a giant hole in the ocean). It also has beautiful cayes, Mayan ruins, and lots of jungles for some fun jungle trekking. I’m also super excited to relax in the towns of San Ignacio and Hopkins; and, of course, visit the baboon sanctuary near Belize City. Who knew there were so many exciting adventures packed into a space the size of New Hampshire?!?

The recent United Airlines (UA) incident of a passenger forcibly dragged off the plane, started with UA involuntarily bumping passengers from a fight.

I’m sure it got all of us asking: can the airline really do this – that is, involuntarily bump a confirmed and boarded passenger off a flight? Actually, yes, they can. Because, you signed a contract when purchasing the ticket, giving the airline that right.

I checked. United Airlines’ Contract of Carriage has this language. It’s also in the confirmation email that the airlines sent you. They not only make it in fine prints, but also in light-color fonts. We recently bought tickets (from a different airline). Sure enough, it’s there.

 

 

 

 

The language is actually part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

14 CFR 250.11 – Public disclosure of deliberate overbooking and boarding procedures

NOTICE – OVERBOOKING OF FLIGHTS
Airline flights may be overbooked, and there is a slight chance that a seat will not be available on a flight for which a person has a confirmed reservation. If the flight is overbooked, no one will be denied a seat until airline personnel first ask for volunteers willing to give up their reservation in exchange for compensation of the airline’s choosing. If there are not enough volunteers, the airline will deny boarding to other persons in accordance with its particular boarding priority. ….persons denied boarding involuntarily are entitled to compensation.

Certainly, injuring and dragging a passenger off the plane is not what the regulation has in mind. For most other bumped passengers, other than monetary compensations, you have very little recourse. What compensations are you entitled, when involuntarily bumped?

  1. 200% of the fare, with a maximum of $675 USD, if the airline arranged for you to arrive at your destination, more than one hour but less than two hours, after your original planned arrival time.
  2. 400% of the fare, with a maximum of $1,350 USD, if the airline arranged for you to arrive at your destination, more than two hours, after your original planned arrival time.
  3. You can insist on the airline issuing a check for the compensation, rather than accepting an airline voucher.

The recent sickening incident of United Airlines (UA) injuring and then forcibly dragging an involuntarily bumped passenger off the plane, speaks volumes about the corporate culture at UA. True to form, the CEO of United Airlines soon proved beyond any doubt the toxic culture he created and the stupidity of the man in charge.

These days everyone has a smart phone with a camera. In no time, the video of the entire horrid episode is available for the whole world to see – how United Airlines treated its passenger. CEO of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz, sent an email to UA employees, further inflamed the outrage. Just like the video, didn’t Mr. Munoz think the email would also get out for the whole world to see?

Mr. Munoz supported the actions. “Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this.” You mean established procedures like forcibly dragging a passenger off the plane? He commended their actions. “I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond” I think the world would agree injuring and dragging a passenger off the plane is indeed going WAY above and beyond.

The employees of UA would not have acted this way without the CEO establishing a belligerent culture at the company. The employees of UA would not have acted this way without explicit or tacit approval from corporate higher-up. Mr. Munoz also said “we are taking a close look… Treating our customers…with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are.” No, apparently, treating your customers with respect and dignity is NOT your core value. And, dude, as for your close look, look no further than in the mirror. You, Mr. Munoz, are the problem.

Whatever United Airlines and this CEO thought they would gain (about getting 4 staff to their next flight), pales into such insignificance when compared to the bad publicity and damage to their brand. Apparently, damaging to the UA brand is no big deal for this CEO. The victim has already lawyered up. This will end up in court, and costing UA millions. Is the United Airlines Board of Directors watching the news? There is an idiot running your corporation. Do the one and only defined duty of any board – show the CEO the door.

{iceland} ring road day 9

February 28, 2017

Our final day in Iceland turned out not to be a full day because we were headed to the airport to (sadly) leave this magical place. We did get to spend some fun times in the city of Reykjavík though, exploring some of their more interesting architectural sites like the Harpa Symphony Hall and the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral.

In closing, I’m feel so incredibly lucky to have visited the amazing nation of Iceland, especially since their soccer team happened to be beating all odds and headed toward the World Cup (last summer) while I was there. This amazing country is so beautiful and I hope that all the attention is positive and brings conscientious travelers who are as into preservation as soaking in the natural beauty.

Read more about our Iceland adventures here: ring road day 1ring road day 2ring road day 3ring road day 4ring road day 5ring road day 6ring road day 7ring road day 8

The ninth Icelandic photo adventure:

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{iceland} ring road day 8

February 27, 2017

Our eighth day in Iceland was spent doing some of the more touristy Icelandic things that people do if they only have time in fly into Reykjavík and see a few surrounding attractions. These attractions are together called the Golden Circle so we spent the day driving and enjoying the Golden Circle. This included Thingvellir National Park Mid-Atlantic rift valley, Gullfoss waterfall and the Strokkur and Geysir Hot Spring Area. And while not officially on the list, we ended with the Kerid Crater in Selfoss, a volcanic crater lake. What a great way to end the nature-only portion of our trip and reintegrate ourselves into civilization! It was almost strange to see so many people at all these attractions, including high school students taking senior photos since we hadn’t been near this many people at the same time for an entire week!

Read more about our Iceland adventures here: ring road day 1ring road day 2ring road day 3ring road day 4ring road day 5ring road day 6ring road day 7

The eighth Icelandic photo adventure:

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