The Travek Angel Show is a show Hosted by DJ Rev. Cindy Paulos.
It is an entertaining show featuring experts in the Travel field.
Cindy has a trave angel app and book out.
for info go to cindy paulos.com
Aloha. Cindy Paulos is here with the Travel Angel Show and this is a show dedicated to looking at how to gain a little bit of wisdom to make our flying time and travel time a little bit better and I am so excited about our show today. We have got Barbara Peterson who is the senior correspondent for aviation at Conde Nast Traveller. She also wrote a book called Blue Streak: Inside jetBlue, the Upstart that Rocked an Industry. She has been the winner of the Lowell Thomas Award for Investigative Reporting and the Gene DuBois Award for Excellence in Travel and Aviation Reporting. She has been doing work in this field for 20 years, I think you have a great job Barbara. Welcome and Aloha.
Well, thank you.
Well, I guess I have to ask you in the beginning how did you get started?
Oh well, I started out actually as a reporter in Washington and I covered among other things the airlines. As part, they were regulated by the government and they still are regulated in a lot of ways which I think people don't realize even though they are deregulated in terms of their pricing. So I just happened on it, it was, you know, I have always loved to travel and love to fly but that isn't really how I got into this. I really got into it looking at it as an industry and as an industry that we all have contact with a lot and yet a lot of people don't understand how complex it is to move people from point A to point B. So I guess that's __1:42__. I got to go covering it and sort of never, never stopped, never looked back because it is just a fascinating subject and I have moved on to covering up to New York and as you mention I write for Conde Nast Traveller magazine. And as a travel magazine, we feel it is really important to write about all aspects of travel, the good and the bad and the ugly and so that's you know we don't pull any punches when it comes to covering the airline and so that's been great for me and I have been writing about all different sides of it and also airports and airport security.
Well, you know that's such a huge subject and I am so glad to find out that you have such a variety in the back hand, because these are things I think we really owe it to ourselves to learn a little bit more about and because it's impacting our lives. I mean of course living on Maui here, you fly anywhere you want to go pretty much either way. Yeah, we are here in the middle of the Pacific. You have to learn a little bit about what it takes to get from destination to destination. And I just have to ask with your background, there has been a lot of discussion about oh gosh, with the things the way they are and all those consolidation of airlines, do you think it would have been better if we kept regulation over deregulation?
Well, I think it's hard to make a case really, a strong case for either outcome and the reason is this, is that deregulation has brought a lot of advantages to consumers and airfares are on average a lot lower now. It went adjusted for inflation than they were before deregulation. So clearly deregulation really did lower prices. I think people tend to forget before 1978, it was really expensive to fly and while we are all complaining now about fees and these you know little pin charges and things like, it is still very affordable. I mean airfares have really not risen that much over the last 10 to 15 years when you look at it compared to other consumer services that we pay for. So and that's even amid a time when oil prices have gone way up and jet fuel is like one of those airline's single biggest expenses. So that's pretty remarkable that that fare is a state of way. However, I have to say that the equality of the experience has really degraded I think overtime and maybe that was inevitable. You know when it goes from being in a very elite service to being something that's a lot more you know democratized I would say, you know it's inevitably you know the focus is going to be on finding the cheapest flight and that's it, you know. It is not I think airlines have found after experimenting with different services and more like them all that but a lot of people really don't want to pay for that. So they have stopped doing that and I think in some certain cases, yeah, they will offer it for an additional fee. They have made it more of an optional thing. So what you get? Should we have maybe kept regulating the airlines?
You know, I think that the marketplace is the best place to sort these things out ultimately. I think though that it is very important that safety continue to be regulated and it is and that wasn't part of the regulation. And I think that there are other aspects of the airlines, anything to do with health and safety and you know the things like that which should not be subject to the market. You know, those should be regulated and are fortunately and should continue to be.
Absolutely. You know it's interesting because what happened at some of the economy-class services have gone down, people seem to be wanting more and more to play the miles game to get into first class and you know, it's that courage to kind of urge you to take either flying more miles which has been my case. I always want to fly more miles because I love my upgrade or you know, you just pay the fee, but once you have gone to first class, sometimes it's hard to go back and I am sure you get a chance with this many miles as you fly to always be able to upgrade, right?
Well, actually that's interesting. Because of my job, I feel like it's important to fly as many different airlines as possible, I want to try each one when I can and even with consolidation, there is still quite a few airlines out there. So I never fly on a single airline enough to get to that premium you know level which gets the old and nice perks.
So no, I regret to say I doubt and that is one of the drawbacks of what I do. So it's hardly you know like George Clooney and up in the air, it's not like that. And we like to fly like most our readers do and so we always fly incognito.
And yes. And I think that's the best way to do it because you know as I say, we don't want to get any special treatment, but tell us what you are saying? Yes, I think that a lot of our readers have complained lately that it is harder and harder to get that upgrade. And you know, flights are fuller, the capacity, in other words the number of flights that the airlines offer has really actually gone down over the last few years as airlines have said "Hang in there, we want to make money and we have got to stop having all these empty seats out there". So I... You know if you have flown lately, I am sure you've noticed that you're very proud and so it is getting tougher to get those upgrades. If you fly a lot and you have that premium status, you have a much better chance of doing it.
I have to ask you and I hope that you can do it because you are working for a wonderful travel magazine, Conde Nast Traveller, but do you have a favorite airline?
I do get asked that a lot. No, as I said I really don't necessarily have a favorite airline. I have favorite, for example favorite places to sit on the plane. I have some strategies for you know getting a better seat and you know that sort of thing, but you know I don't really have a favorite airline. So I do think that there still is a big difference between the US airlines and their foreign counterpart. That's just the reality of it. I think that well, it's clear that the past decade has been particularly tough on the US airlines so ever since 09/11, they really have had a tough time making money. They had to put off requiring new aircraft and that is I think one of the single biggest drivers of the customer experience and we tend not to think about it so much we think while we are looking for flight number you know 200 or something to between these two places, you don't think about so much where I'm also booking in particular kind of aircraft. Is it a new one or is it an old one and that sort of thing and what are the seats like? That to me is more important to what kind of experience you are going to have.
I agree. Okay, so a couple of questions on things an experienced traveler like you, I guess how many miles do you typically fly in a year?
Oh it can vary. It can be anything from the 25,000 to you know almost 75,000. It just depends on the year and if I am traveling overseas and that sort of thing.
What do you find as your - I guess that's called on with your own reward system. What do you find is a must-have to make yourself feel comfortable that you bring on board to your flights?
Well, I first of all bring on something to stay warm and I think that I can __9:50__ mountain climbing. No, but it is the climate on the aircraft that is one of the toughest things to predict and you have no control over it.
And I have flown in the middle of the summer when I wasn't necessarily going to pack you know a heavy coat and had been frozen to death so I always bring you know there are these great little jackets that can also double as a sort of a neck rest like something that you can put like a small travel pillow so that is one of the things I love to travel with. I also of course go with travel with a bunch of different gizmos with the headphones. The headphones are really important, I guess the noise-cancelling headphones because first of all, aircraft really are noisy.
They are a lot noisier than we think they are...
When you go to sleep or try to sleep, you really noticed that don't you?
Yes exactly and then it also is a way when I am traveling alone, I often just want to be left alone. I want to read a book or I want to watch movie or whatever but I definitely, I am always on-guard against you know the overfriendly seatmate. I mean that may sound like a terribly nice thing to say but there are times when you are captive on a plane and if you get stuck to somebody who wants to go on for two hours about their gallbladder surgery, you really do need what I call t he escape room and so yes, I always travel with my sort of built-in armor. You know, I've got my headphone and I have got my Kindle and you know that's - so basically a lot of what I put in my carry-on bag is that sort of gear and that is already a lot and that is kind of, you know, I think I don't like to load it up with too much other things. I do not want to travel on like you know you see a lot of people who are seemingly carrying on a little bit of worldly goods on the plane.
But you must take some herbals, you take any herbal treats for yourself just in case you get that bad air or you are next to someone sneezing or do you have any particularly medicine or herbal medicine kits you take on your trips?
Yes, well I always take the -- first of all, I always take something like just one of this I don't know what you called this thing where you inhale them, you know, that it's like an Afrin __12:15__ or something like that. Those are great because of the changes in pressurization and lots of moisturizer because planes are very dry. I mean the humidity is really and that is interesting because that is another factor in jetlag. How jetlag do you feel is often directly related to how dry the plane is.
Which is really strange but it has actually been shown to be true and that is why the newest aircraft like the Boeing Dreamliner with 787, those are going to have higher humidity because they are constructed a lot more from other materials other than metal. You will see metal fatigue has always been a series of concern in the industry so that partly is why they are so, you know, they have got to keep that humidity really low. But the newer aircraft are going to be able to have higher humidity inside the plane which is going to make you feel a lot better.
Have you been on the Dreamliner yet?
I have not because you know it has only really started flying in the United States. So it is flying over the Pacific and well fortunately, there should be a lot more of them out there in the coming year.
Well you know what, there is going to be a concern because a lot of these planes are now being made for longer flights, the Dreamliner is one that can go a lot longer distance because it is I guess lighter that does not need as much fuel but you have certain considerations and I am sure you have found this too, what do you do to stay exercise and to protect yourself from DVT and other things? How do you keep yourself well exercised when you are on a long flight?
Well, I always get up every few hours. I tried sometimes to get up even more than that so that is why, you know, when I mentioned one of the things that affects your experience as where you are were sitting in the plane and I would always sit on an aisle seat.
So I have to climb over, you know, a couple of seatmates to get to the aisle and I get up a lot and I know sometimes that crew does not particularly like that.
Yeah, do not you feel that I mean I definitely feel the intimidation in like they do not want you standing anymore. It is like you can only stand here, you can only stand there but there is little space to stand.
Exactly yeah. So, now that is really a post 9/11 problem because I think they are very concerned with anybody congregating in the aisle. But it is really important to your well-being to be able to get up as much as you can and so I try to do that, I try to wear comfortable clothes, I take a small aspirin like the baby aspirin right before I get on the plane. That's another thing that a number of doctors have told me that that is some protection because, you know, the deep vein thrombosis.
DVT because they say it actually if you take a baby aspirin, it can thin your blood and strangely enough people who have are on blood thinners because of heart conditions are less likely to get DVT, deep vein thrombosis, because then basically your blood does get thicker at the higher altitude and then you can get DVT but if you -- nothing, they say it's electrolytes, drinking not just water but electrolytes really help.
Yeah, yeah exactly. You know treated almost as if you where an athlete. I mean one of these things that is physically so much challenging, you know, I mean you're on a plane, you're on this aluminum tube for hours and you really have to sort of prepare for that.
Well, I am going to talk to you about a subject a lot of people are interested and you've written some articles about it. There was one you wrote called Are we close to being able to use iPads on airplanes? This is a very hot topic and I didn't know until I read your article that these are called PEDs. PEDs? What's a PED? And I like "Oh there is actually a term for portable electronic devices" and you have done some study on this and I know it is a topic of a lot of interesting debate so I was going to ask I did not even realize until I read your article that there really is or has been a lot of concern in the older model planes that there really could possibly be some interference that could be cost up to I guess 10,000 feet you said? Up to the 10, 000-foot level?
Yes. Exactly, and that is why we have this policy. It's basically on all flights in the United States which is that you are supposed to turn off any portable electronic device, that's known as the PED. Literally the time, the plane goes down the runway. I mean sometimes they'll say when we shut the door but that's where you hear about all these disputes between passengers and flight crews over when exactly you have to power down and but once the plane is you know getting ready for take off, you'll really suppose to have them all off and then usually, you get that announced but then you can turn them back on, the ones that are approved by the way. We have to really be clear that we're not talking about cell phones at least in the voice mode because that could be quite an unpleasant experience having a plane full of plane full of people screaming into their cell phones. But we are talking about everything from an iPad to a Kindle or an iPod or even a camera. I mean there have been cases where people use their video cameras to take footage from their window as they were taking off and they have gotten in trouble for that.
I did not realize that. I did not realize it.
Yeah anything with a battery and the reason is that anything with a battery when it is on is emitting some sort of signal and it could be a very faint one but it is there and that could potentially interfere with airline's systems, with aircraft systems that are built into the plane that you don't see so it's really -- you think well what is this all about? I mean people tend to think that all of this is just located in the cockpit because that is where the pilots are and that is where the controllers are mainly, but no it is all through the plane and it is very, very rare. Some would day at the outset. It's not -- you know, people are thinking why, if this so dangerous, if this is a concern, why should we even be allowed to bring these things on the plane at all and that is a good question. But it's not that something like this if you leave your laptop on or something, it's going to cause the plane to crash. No it's not like that but it is potentially going to cause some interference which for example could make say the navigational equipment go off a little bit or it could disable the smoke alarms or something like that. Now, that is still a series of issue so that is all by way of saying this is why the federal government is taking it very slow before they ease up on any of these rules which say that below 10,000 feet which means of course if you are ascending or descending, you are supposed to keep these things off. Now, here is the reality of it, the reality of airlines have done their own surveys, crews have done reported in as well, people are either inadvertently or intentionally leaving these things on so let's be realistic, there is really the sense that this is a lot of fuss about nothing and it is true if you look at it and totally, there had been very few cases where there is any documented interference...
But there still are few cases and for some a people few cases is too many so I think what's going now is they're looking into testing each one of these devices, you know everything from y our Kindle to their Kindle -- you know, they have to test each variation up until which you can imagine, there's going to be a lot of testing. But I think that the airlines and the federal regulators are sensing this is a hot issue. The reason it's a hot issue I think is because -- there is something about flying, the reason why a lot of us dislike it or feel uncomfortable is all of your -- it seems like you have no say in anything. You feel totally -- you're being told what to do.
You do give up your control, absolutely, yeah.
So this would be one tiny way in which yes, you can feel like you have some control over something and it would be just I think a welcome distraction frankly because anybody who is at all nervous about flying, it's important to have something to take your mind off that.
Well, they are kind of our pacifiers. We've let our electronic devices or PEDs which I'm hopefully starting -- we let our PEDs, they are distraction devices to keep us if we are nervous, to keep our mind busy.
Exactly. So it's like a security blanket and the other aspect of it is that I think devices like a Kindle in particular -- an e-reader it was designed really and with travelers in mind. I mean it's affordable, you can bring multiple -- you can bring a whole library with you and so it's kind of ironic that one of the places where its use is restricted is on an airplane. I mean it should be -- of course it's only in a small part of the flight and especially if you're talking about a long-distance flight proportionately, it's not a long part of the flight. However, if you are on a one-hour or two-hour flight, it is a big inconvenience so I'm hoping that -- and I think most of our readers and your listeners will probably agree that would be nice to have some relaxation of that rule.
I think people would really applaud it but it's interesting because I try to always take with me a journal that I actually can dig handwritten notes and I use that time to make a few notes about my trip, things about coming back from trip, things that I really love that I want to remember. My trip going out, I like to write things that are kind of things I want to get accomplished or things that I'd like to do that I'm looking forward to so I love journal -- do you keep a journal with you? Do you keep notes the old fashion way in handwritten notes?
Oh yes, I still carry my reporter's notebook with me, yeah.
It's really valuable sometimes to just be able to jot things down. Even though we have our electronic PEDs, it's still sometimes nice about writing things down and taking notations about things that we encounter so it's hard to convince people to give up even 5 minutes or 10 minutes their PEDs but you can bring a journal with you and I like to always encourage people to consider that to keep a little travel journal on their travels. It's a nice thing to be able to do I think, but you know flying is and I am glad you started out the show saying that you love to fly and you know what I love to fly too and there is so many people that talked about stress and how terrible it is flying that sometimes we forget that there are ways really to love flying, right?
Oh yes. I love just the feeling of completely changing your environment, you're getting on a plane and realizing that -- maybe the next time you touch down, you could be halfway around the world and I've taken some of those really long distance flights that -- the ultra-long distance ones I called and there are -- that's remarkable. I love that. I love that you're being sort of transported and it still strikes me something of a miracle that we can do that so I haven't lost totally by sense of wonder of flying no matter how aggravating certain parts of it can be.
Well, it's also interesting because I think it's a really good time when you're flying because it takes so much just to get ready for the trip and to get out of your environment, to do the packing, to go through the airport but I think it's really nice to just have a little bit of time to know that you're going to change your state of mind. You have that time to get ready for your trip or to reflect back on your trip if you're coming back for a trip so I think it's an important time too and it could be used like that.
Oh absolutely and that's why I was sort of disappointed -- when there is this big push now to have Wi-Fi on all the planes and now that you can get in receipt -- you an write emails, you can get them and -- of course some people think inevitably we'll be able use our cell phones too and that would be really I think unfortunate because I think that the airplane, one of the good things about it is one of the last refugees from, in true sense, phone calls and emails and whatever so -- I'm hoping that we can preserve this as a place where you can go and be cut off from things.
I agree and it's really interesting because the last couple of flights I had I was on planes that actually I think the old continental planes of that United, their movie screens were so small and so many aisles in front of where I was sitting, then I'm going -- I am not going to even try to watch that. I'm going to write actually a written -- a couple of books at times I would have watched a really bad movie that I couldn't see well with the way they have these small screens now.
Oh, that's funny, yes.
Well, you know because you know I'm talking and some of these screens are like, they've to be kidding, no I can't see that but I just really appreciate your time Barbara. You do have a website and people also can go to the -- I love Conde Nast, a wonderful website that they have and people can actually download that for their -- I call them PED devices as well because it's a really good one to read when you are traveling. It's really become a good interactive site at Conde Nast.
Oh thank you. Well, it's a very easy device -- either you type in Conde Nast Traveller or cntraveler.com and there is lot of information there and there is guide and there are lots of advices for travelers as well.
Yeah really good advice and I love your writing and you have a lot of interesting articles. People can check you out at barbaraspeterson.com and I just really I love your insights about travel and air travel and I am so glad to see there is someone out there that has the information we need to make our traveling time and air time a little more comfortable and interesting so I thank you so much for the time you've shared today Barbara and I really enjoyed speaking with you and next time you come over to Hawaii, please look us up, I'd love to speak to you in person.
I would love that too and thanks so much for having me on your show.
Aloha Barbara. And it was so nice talking to Barbara. I do have an app, the Travel Angel app and a book coming out, the Travel Angel handbook, e-book should be out in about two weeks and the hard copy about a month after that. You can go to travelangel.net and I have a blog that post these shows and other information that I get on my blog site at travelangel.net and I really enjoyed talking with Barbara. She is a great lady, really interesting, what a background. I will be doing another Travel Angel show soon and I do appreciate you listening in. You can e-mail me. If you want to contact me to the radio station, I worked with KAOI Radio Group and you can contact KAOI Radio Group as well if you have questions and thank you so much and I really do appreciate you listening. Part of my goal is to really provide positive information for people who are traveling. Traveling really can be a great time if you use it correctly. When you get up there near, get a journal, do a little meditating, clear your mind, relax and sit back, make that space really your space. Lots of ways to do that but I will be telling you more about that when I get the book out and I'll be picking in travel tips from that, the Travel Angel handbook will be coming out soon and again, you can get the app which is really great. It has got some exercises to do to relax, stretches to do on the plane, deep breathing, positive affirmations, it has great travel quotes and that's at the travelangel.net. Thank you so much and very happy travels to you and you know, I remember just a practice a lot of kindness when you travel. You can be a travel angel by just being a little kind and helping someone out, it may just be a smile or saying something nice or helping someone with their luggage and just be a little bit extra aware and you'll be a travel angel too. Until next time, happy flying, Cindy Paulos.
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