Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Airport City Codes Update

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

For Airport Code information and our amazing flight distance calculator check out AirportCityCodes.com.     That site will be updated to WordPress format soon.

Hello from 30,000 Feet

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

I’m flying high on Alaska Airlines from Austin to Seattle, enjoying @GoGo wifi service, dinner (!) and complimentary movies.    Although I’m on a frequent flyer ticket Alaska was kind enough to bump me to first class, and gogo was nice enough to let me use their in flight wifi at no charge  (well, actually I promised them a twitter shoutout).

Rick Steves on Rethinking the Massive Cost of Airport Security

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Great post today on Facebook by Rick Steves about how we need to do a rational job of assigning costs and benefits to our Airport Security apparatus.   Although I agree with him I think a lot of the blame is with … those of us who continue to irrationally fear terrorism more than the *hundreds* of other greater risks around us, many of which we could mitigate very cheaply.   For example a smoker is creating fairly substantial death risk for themselves, and could live longer simply by spending *less* on smoking.   In other areas like auto accidents (which kill hundreds of times the number of people killed in terror incidents), we could simply make sure more people buckle up and fewer drive drunk.   The cost of these measures is trivial but the lives saved would be vastly more than we save with our TSA security measures.

Of course a challenge Rick is not addressing is that the irrationality many of us apply to this topic means that if we DO have terror incidents it will discourage many from flying at all.   This irrational result means that it might actually be good policy to provide more anti-terror measures than you would apply in a more rational world, because people’s fear might wind up creating large scale problems with the global transportation system.   Thus we might need to spend billions more than is rational in order to prevent losing tens of billions from irrational economic decisions.

Still, the moral of the TSA story is that our safety is coming at a cost that may not be sustainable.   Therefore we should start educating the public to be more rational in how they assign risk and reward, and start working towards sustainable safety spending rather than excessive and irrational political spending programs.

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Rick Steves on Facebook:
I’ve been through a lot of airports lately, and I have to say, when people joke about TSA meaning “thousands standing around,” it has a ring of truth. In November, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that we spend about $8 billion a year on scanning machines, all that time-consuming checking, and employing those people who stand between us and our departure gate. And that cost doesn’t even consider the valuable time wasted by travelers who need to allot extra time to cover surprise delays at airport security.

 Sure, we need to spend some money and time on security. But does anyone in government have the nerve to raise their hand and ask, “Could we lighten up here a bit?” or even “Aren’t we going a bit overboard there?” Bloomberg Businessweek reports that entire years go by (such as 2011) when TSA doesn’t spot a single terrorist trying to board an airplane. And then there’s s this staggering statistic: “In fact, extremist Islamic terrorism resulted in just 200 to 400 annual deaths worldwide, outside the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq — the same number…that occur in bathtubs in the US each year.”

 

Following 9/11, there was, understandably, a push to strengthen our airport security measures. But these efforts may be costing us even more lives. According to Cornell University researchers cited in Bloomberg Businessweek, after 9/11, frightened travelers switching from flights to drives resulted in over 200 more traffic fatalities every month. In the long term, due to security hassles, about 5 percent fewer people fly than used to, resulting in even more road fatalities. In other words, far more people have died on the road as an indirect result of 9/11 than actually died on 9/11.

 

Maybe it’s time to come to grips with the risk of terrorism and finally put it in a rational perspective. Many will say, “If TSA and all the security saves just one life, it will be worth it.” The way I see it, wasting money wastes lives. Intimidating people into driving instead of flying wastes lives. A nation can reach a point where its passion for showboat security designed to make people feel safe actually kills them. Security is good, but a cost-benefit awareness is simply smart. What do you think?

QuickAid Airport Blog MAINTENANCE ALERT!

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Due to problems from the “Pharma hack” on the QuickAid site we are working to restore the blog portion of our site ASAP.  Thanks for your patience unless you had something to do with the hack. In that case ….

Bureau of Transportation Statistics – a great online resource

Friday, November 18th, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am often amazed at the resources that pop up online without much fanfare.  One for Transportation is the Research and Innovation Technology Administration, thankfully shortened to  “RITA” , which is part of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics at BTS.gov .     Here you’ll find flight, airline, and airport statistics provided by the US Government that include everything from flight delays to jobs in the industry.   If you are a researcher this is an essential resource, and even travelers will find the information very interesting.   Did you know, for example, that extra baggage fees were $887 million – almost a billion dollars –  in the second quarter of 2011.  This is a lot of extra revenue for the airlines and also suggests an obvious budget cutting travel tip – travel light and use a carry on rather than checked baggage!     You won’t save $887 million, but one of the reasons that number is so high is that the extra baggage fees have become exceptionally high over the last few years as many flights do NOT provide any free checked bags.   My personal experience has been that travelling light has many, many advantages.    For example on our 2010 family trip to Venice, Italy we decided to walk to our hotel from the train station rather than hire a water taxi.   This was a charming walk because we only had one bag each to roll along, with more it would not have been possible.

 

Nice Printable Travel Guides from PBS Travel: Burt Wolf’s “Travel and Traditions”

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Although some appear a bit dated, PBS’ travel host Burt Wolf has some great printable guides for the many cities he has featured on his PBS’ Travel show “Travels and Traditions with Burt Wolf” As an example see this Boston Guide in PDF form: Boston by Burt

Some will obviously prefer large guidebooks that have a lot more information, and my personal approach is to plan my trips with a file featuring all the things I want to try to see, cut and pasted in from pre-trip surfing.   However Burt’s guides offer a very nicely organized, compact alternative to heavy travel guides, especially if only be staying in a city for a short time.

PBS’s Travel hosts are many and varied and in my opinion some are better suited to different travel styles.   Young adventurous budget travelers may relate best to “Globe Trekker”, though I also find it the most entertaining of the shows.   Legendary European expert and guide Rick Steves is by far the best known on the PBS Travel team, and I highly recommend his website for  great “insider” travel tips you may not find elsewhere.

Prohibited Items in Carry on Luggage

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Even a frequent traveler can get confused and confounded by the rules regarding what you can put in carry-on luggage, in checked baggage, and what you cannot bring onto the airplane.    It’s all getting a bit mathematical, so don’t forget these two important rules:

3-1-1  Rule.    This regards LIQUIDS in CARRY ON luggage and means that you must place all liquids and gels in containers that are UNDER 3 ounces, place them in a SINGLE clear plastic bag or pouch that is ONE QUART or less.  Unless you travel very rarely it’s a great idea to have separate a separate stash of tiny bottle of shampoo, toothpaste, and other personal care items etc so you don’t have to reorganize too much every time you go.   Note the rule generally includes medicines in liquid form.   I think there may be an exception for medicine, but this is probably more hassle than it’s usually worth.

45 inch rule:  Although it’s routinely not followed, your carry on measurement in inches is supposed to be 45.    e.g. a bag 12x13x20 = 45 inches should be fine, where a bag 15x15x20 = 50 is technically too large.

I just learned that  “gel insoles” for shoes are NOT allowed in carry on or in your shoes *unless* the gel is built into the shoe.     Also surprising to me was that scissors are allowed in carry on as long as the blades are less than 4″.   That said I wouldn’t try to bring on a pair as I’m guessing many TSA folks would confiscate them as they did with considerable fanfare when they took my daughter’s plastic barbie scissors some years back, undoubtedly landing her in some TSA database for life or on the  9 year old, 4′ 2″ watch list.

For those of us who prefer not to check baggage it’s getting a bit harder to pack because now any prohibited “carry on” items can’t simply be stuck in the checked bag.     As with the 3-1-1 rule you need to be cautious or you’ll wind up getting valuable items or expensive liquids taken away.

I’m about to make a trip from Reno to Philadelphia and not sure if my electric shaver is allowed in carry on – I think yes, but no mention of that object at the TSA site.

TSA Official Website “Prohibited Items” lists are HERE

Medical Tourism and Medical Travel

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Our new project is a blog and database featuring  Medical Travel and Medical Tourism.    This is very relevant to our work here at the QuickAid Airport Directory because an enjoyable medical travel experience is going to need a nice transition from your home country to your medical tourism destination.

Thailand has become one of the world’s most popular medical tourism destinations as Thailand offers first class medical care in several hospitals located in Bangkok and at other tourism hotspots around the country.

Obviously medical travel is not a good option under some circumstances, but for those who are self-insured or have high deductible health insurance and need expensive routine procedures or even complex operations that can be scheduled ahead of time this may be a way for you to save enough money to pay for a deluxe vacation and still have money left over.

Reno-Tahoe International Airport – RNO

Friday, October 15th, 2010
Airport Website:  RenoAirport.com
The  Reno-Tahoe International Airport is a regional airport that (RNO) serves more than 4.43 million passengers a year who are traveling to and from the Reno Nevada, Sparks Nevada (right next door to Reno), and Lake Tahoe Nevada and California   (the city of Lake Tahoe actually straddle two states – California and Nevada.   Lake Tahoe is a  popular gaming and outdoor recreation destination with some of California’s most beautiful mountains and lakes.     Don’t miss “Emerald Bay”, an inlet of Lake Tahoe that has awed visitors for over 100 years.     A beautiful hike takes you to an amazing state owned estate located on the lake – Vikingsholm.
Parking at Reno Tahoe Airport
Address and Driving Directions
Airport Terminal Map

Ash Cloud Updates from the Telegraph UK

Friday, May 21st, 2010

The Telegraph (UK) has an excellent regularly updated feature here with the latest delays from the Iceland Volcanic ash cloud that has disrupted travel to and from Europe – especially the UK – on and off for over a month.

As of May 21 almost all restrictions appear to be lifted and flights are proceeding mostly as planned, though the unpredictability of the eruptions means that travel to and from Europe this summer could have some problems.

The silver lining, reports CNN, is that some European destinations such as Ireland are creating special promotions in the hopes of recapturing some of the lost business.  Furthermore the decline of the Euro vs US Dollar due to the Greece financial crisismakes this summer a particularly inexpensive time to visit Europe for Americans using their stronger  currency.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/7605660/Iceland-volcano-latest-travel-news.html