For my birthday, I got an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. This was very exciting because I am a big fan of reading and even though I just love having real books, they get really heavy when I’m traveling. Now I have the ability to bring my travel reading to a whole new level with my birthday present!

I especially like that with my Kindle, I can borrow and read books (all the while not having to carry them around ever), which gives me the ability to read all kinds of crazy things even if I’m not so sure I’ll like it. One of these random reads was Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. by Chelsea Handler.

I hadn’t actually heard of Chelsea Handler before, since I clearly live under a rock, but I assumed she was a comedian. It turns out I was correct, surprise, surprise. I do love the way she writes (even if a bit crude at times) because it’s like a running train of thought that tells all kinds of stories that have happened to her. Of course these types of books always sell because people are generally nosy and like hearing about other people’s lives. It makes sense really. Because most of the time, the most ridiculous stories in our lives you can’t even make up! Like the time she went to Puerto Rico with her dad. Or the time she got into a real street fight after taking kick boxing classes. Hahahahaha … I just couldn’t stop laughing. You’ll have to read it yourself though!

Advertisements

Hello!

Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to visit the tiny country of Luxembourg as part of a longer trip to a few countries in Europe. I took a 45 minute train and bus ride to a small town called Vianden in the north of the country, where you can find the Chateau de Vianden, or the Vianden Castle.

The view of the castle as I was walking down the hill back into town

I chose a good day to come – there happened to be a medieval festival happening at the castle the week I was in town, which really brought the restored time-period architecture to life. Pictured here is a dueling knights show!

I also got to try my hand at shooting a crossbow – I definitely need some more practice with this. My aim was not the best…

Check out this supposedly medieval era carousel ride! The operator needed to hand crank the wheel for the seats to start moving. There was way more than I can fit here, but the festival also had a glass blower, many stands selling handmade goods and sweets, medieval dancers and music performances, and even a hawk you could pay 2 Euro to hold!

Here is a model of what the castle would have looked like in 1643. In the 1800s, the castle was essentially reduced to ruins, as pieces were sold off for money, but it was restored to its former glory in 1983, which is how you see the castle today.

Overall, a very satisfying day. Luxembourg in general is such a beautiful country (apparently, 30% of the country is covered in forest), and Vianden had just the right amount of quaint small-town feel for a day trip out of Luxembourg City.

Until next time,

Attrace

[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.