Stephanie Abrams' Travel Blog
Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams Blog – Nationally Synidcated Radio Show Host
Dear NAACP: Please Fight for All Passengers to Have Civil and Humane Treatment!
October 29th, 2017

Photo of Mark and Stephanie Abrams about to board an Aer Lingus flight from Bradley International Airport to Dublin, Ireland.

Photo credit: Dru Abrams.

The NAACP has issued an advisory to its members regarding the nasty treatment of member passengers on US airlines citing racist roots for rude/abrupt/unkind treatment of minority passengers and ejection from flights.
To our NAACP friends: Don’t take it personally. They treat everybody that way!
The “friendly skies” is nothing more than a slogan of the past. Airline personnel and crew have it on their minds that they are prison officers and the pilot is the warden. Hospitality at airports and on planes, even civility, regrettably, is a thing of the past and if you state your complaint, no matter how politely explained and no matter how rational, you risk being removed from the flight. Only the crew is allowed to be rude and/or obnoxious! So, as much as I can’t refute the racial bias contention of the NAACP, I can tell you that they don’t have the market cornered on being abused by US carriers and their staff on the ground and in the air! I could write a thick volume on my experiences and things I’ve observed traveling by air that have happened to me and to people of all sizes, backgrounds and shades of the color spectrum including some very lily-white folks. I’d love to see the NAACP’s meeting with American Airlines result in better/proper/customer-service-oriented treatment of all passengers! Most airlines today see their function only as providing safe transportation. Oh for the days when flight attendants were charming, smiling, friendly and accommodating. But they’ll be the first to note that passengers of yore were nicer people. They may not be wrong on that score either as I have traveled with strangers who behave badly and don’t know how to deal with sharing space in an airplane!
BTW: even though they’ve had some goofy flight attendants do ridiculous things in flight, I’ll fly to any city JetBlue flies to, rent a car and drive where I need to go if JetBlue doesn’t fly all the way to where I need to go. . .like flying to Chicago and renting a car to drive the 80 miles to Milwaukee because JetBlue didn’t fly there and I wasn’t willing to subject myself to being in the care of those airlines that could have taken me non-stop! JetBlue is the closest you’re going to get to the good ol’ days of Eastern Airlines and Pan Am service which, even in coach class, was spectacular! When you meet anybody in the travel industry who is a pleasure to deal with, chances are they used to work for Eastern or Pan Am!
I pass my silk scarf to the NAACP to go into battle like Joanne of Arc and fight for better treatment for ALL of us because nobody is doing that! Bless your hearts and wishing you great success! Give ‘me Hell!

On another note, it is well known among international travelers that you’re not going to find out what ‘first class service’ means until you leave the US. It was always a source of amazement for first-time travelers to Europe, and especially to Asia, to learn what it means to be ‘well looked after.’ Since the invention of air mileage loyalty clubs and people getting upgraded into first class by using some frequent flier points or credit card loyalty points, there is no such thing as a ‘First Class Passenger.’ Passengers in the US have far too long been interested in free drinks and a wider seat and have not demanded the kind of service that accompanies those features in upper classes of service on international carriers. . . and when you don’t demand fine service the result is that you don’t get it!

The European first class passenger, now the business class passenger, for the most part, has a history of being elegant in dress and behavior. There is a correlation between the dilution of the quality of service in all cabins on an aircraft and disintegration of the demeanor and presentation of the passengers themselves, some of whom look like they’ve just come in from plowing the back 40 acres! When passengers have no respect for themselves, they often find little respect from those who are there to serve them.

In spite of that, the deck is stacked against the passenger from the minute you enter the airport today! Airports and air transportation is no longer about service to customers but about customers entering a zone in which their rights are vastly diminished to very few at all. Sad as it is, airports and airlines, in general, discriminate against all passengers in creating a prison-like atmosphere in the name of security.

I manage to get through the system holding on to my contention that airports are amusement parks for adult travelers, with a few who cater to children and families with wonderful places to play and inspire creativity. Watch for my next blog with rules to live by to enjoy air travel! One of them is choosing air carriers by their customer service friendliness and their safety record and not by who has the cheapest seat the day you want to travel! You know who I like to fly with! You can tell by my smile above!


With Apologies . . .Especially on Yom Kippur for Featuring an Insurance Company Involved in Settlement for Non-Payment to Holocaust Survivors
October 1st, 2017

I am shocked and embarrassed and nonplussed and owe my audiences, especially my Jewish fans, an apology especially for an interview that broadcast on Yom Kippur!

We often create interviews that air on the weekends when our guests aren’t available by doing recorded interviews in person or by telephone during the week before it airs. When there are holiday and other scheduling obstacles, mid-week recorded interviews are the key to successfully creating programing.

So the September 30th program of Travlers411, my Saturday show, broadcast on Yom Kippur, the most Holy Day in the Jewish calendar, included programming that was previously recorded which included an interview with Chris Carnicelli, CEO of Generali Global Assistance, an Italian-based insurance company with offices in Europe and the US.

I am a great believer in the value of buying travel insurance and saw this interview as a public service for my radio and online audiences so I welcomed the opportunity, especially in light of the object lesson to travelers that recent hurricanes and the earthquake in Mexico  have become in teaching those who travel that at any moment the destination you have invested money in visiting in advance of the visit, or your home, may become uninhabitable and the trip is “off!” But without travel insurance, you may have just poured salt in the wound of the loss of the trip by experiencing the loss of your deposits, full payments, and  non-refundables as there’s no place to apply for your refund as the destination is now under rubble!

There are official lists of broadcast/media outlets that PR firms use to find the right spot to get an interview for their client. As it turns out, on the premiere lists in the travel media industry, my shows and I, Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams, Travelers411, Abrams Hospitality Marketing and Stephanie Abrams show up at the very top so, daily, we are approached with a barrage of potential guests. So when I was approached by a public relations firm offering up their travel insurance client, I expressed interest, especially at this very important moment in time when so many people with tour and cruise plans either can no longer visit the destination or can’t leave home to go anywhere until they rebuild a home to come back to! Yes, I was interested in the guest.

I was emailed an overview of information and links to pertinent sites to become better informed about Generali Global Assistance.  Everything I read which was sent from their PR firm looked very good. . . a company selling insurance for well over 100 years with roots in Italy and other European offices and offices in the US for over 20 years! Sounds good, no?

Here’s what happened next:

I went to Google to do a search for “Chris Carnicelli” the CEO of the travel insurance company. I like to Google our guests two or three weeks after they appear to see if the interest  info about our guests is appearing  in search results related to the interview. Chris’ interview first broadcast on 9/24/17, only a week ago so I really didn’t think we’d have pushed through tons of links for a results for this man or the company he represents yet but thought I’d check. In that process, I stumbled up on this enlightening article that you should read:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/30/business/worldbusiness/30iht-insure.4408382.html?mcubz=0

I have seen films, docudramas, documentaries, read articles, heard panel discussions and interviews on radio and television and read print media articles about insurance companies who made a fortune targeting Jewish families in Europe, selling them insurance policies, recognizing that the Nazis would soon be at their doorsteps and taking them off to extermination camps. These insurance companies then  found every reason under the sun not to pay the monies due to the heirs when they were victims of concentration camp deaths! What a surprise it was to me that Generali was at least one of those companies that made a fortune when, after the extinction of those policy holders’ lives, obstacles were put in the way of their heirs so that collection on those policies was rendered impossible. While the article you can read from the above link gives insights into the ’settlement’ (you can find volumes on this subject online with little effort) and the excuses for not not paying off all of the debts owed to the heirs of those who perished in the Nazi Concentration Camps who bought insurance, and while the world looked at Switzerland as “neutral” when, in fact, Hitler wouldn’t have touched Switzerland, not because of its mountainous terrain and not because it declared itself ‘neutral’ during WWII but because Switzerland was the repository for money, gold, jewels, artwork and other treasures the Nazi regime had placed there for safekeeping after confiscating valuables from the homes of deported Jews, until such time as the marauders could retrieve the treasure . . . and do their best not to return them to the families from which these valuables were stolen. . . (see the film, “Women in Gold!” about Austria’s similar actions), I am truly embarrassed that I didn’t look beyond the well-presented information on the company presented by their PR firm that led me to invite their CEO, an awfully nice-sounding fellow whose interview I enjoyed (!), to be a guest on my shows and expose that company to my audiences on air and online.

I have long had the most heinous  experiences resulting from dealing with PR firms.  This is the straw that will long be remembered as the one that broke the camel’s back. After I finish, “1001 Reasons to Visit Ireland,” my first travel guide and “SECRET,” the sequel to my novel, RUMORS, watch for my first business guide, “How to Pick a Good PR Firm or Why PR Firms Suck!”

To all of my listeners, I want you to know that I go out of my way to present to you the best of the best that the travel industry has to offer and in 15+ years in broadcasting I have never been caught up in a situation that comes close to comparing to this web I stepped into. And to everyone, and to all of my Jewish following, at this special time of year, I wish you L’shana tova, a Happy & Joyous Sukkoth, Health, and every Blessing and a reminder to Never Forget. At a time when Germany does a better job of remembering the errors of the past than seems to be happening here in the US, it is ironic that I should be confronted with this awful story and caught by surprise. Trust that I will do my best not to allow myself to be ensnared by surprises again! I can’t tell you what a shock this information was to me that I stumbled upon while looking for something else!

Note that that doesn’t negate the value of travel insurance! Do your own due diligence to find the company whose history, ethics, reputation for treatment of clients and paying debts due and reviews indicate that that is a company you want to do business with and then make your own educated decision as to where you wish to do business, wherever that may be. Travel insurance is such an important protection tool for the traveler and it’s a personal expense that truly touches the lives of those who need to cash-in on what they have bought when it’s time to collect. Choose the company that you feel you can trust to take care of your most personal needs when you are most affected by circumstances beyond your control.

There’s a joke I heard a comedian once tell about insurance:

“Insurance is a product that provides  you with protection while you are paying the premium and is unavailable when you go to collect on it!”

There’s even a commercial on TV running NOW in which the actor says something like, “I had an accident. When I called my insurance company they told me I bought the wrong insurance policy. No, I bought from the wrong insurance company.” That story seems to be as relevant today as it was in the 1940’s and onward! Clearly, it’s well known that some insurers are better than others, have differing levels of customer service availability, especially when it comes time to collect. Don’t buy until you know the company you’re buying from and learn quickly! Deal with companies who have great reputations. Be sure you can count on the company to be there when you need them. That’s fundamental.


STOP SAYING ”BAR-BOO-DA!” IT’S PRONOUNCED”BAR-BEW-DA” LIKE ‘BER-MU-DA!’
September 19th, 2017

The first goofy broadcast news anchor to talk about Barbuda said, “Bar-boo-da” when talking about the destruction experienced on that Caribbean island destination and every . . . EVERY. . . broadcaster after that, right down to someone on TV minutes ago. . . has mispronounced this island’s name. As if the destruction on that island isn’t bad enough, insult is hurled after injury by mispronouncing the destination’s name!

The island, dear hearts, is pronounced, “barBEWda.” Can you say, “Bermuda?” Now take out the first four letters, B-e-r-m,” and insert “B-a-r-b” and you’ll get it right every time! BAR-BU-DA. . . not Bar-boo-da!

Please notify the folks at the radio and televisions stations you tune in to that they are perpetuating a fraud upon this island destination by spreading the rampant mispronunciation that is raging at the moment!

Barbuda’s sister island, Antigua, has also had some painful pronunciation hits as well! Antigua, blessed by mostly receiving damage to palm trees and landscaping and is open for business to welcome and pamper visitors, is NOT pronounced “An-teeg-wa!” No, that place is in Portugal.  This Caribbean sister of Barbuda is pronounced, “An-tee-ga!”

Perhaps the best way to practice the name of Antigua and Barbuda is to plan a visit to Antigua and get your pronunciation under control while you partake in the friendly and pampering service you’ll experience while rejuvenating your spirit in this very special tropical destination! There is a hotel, resort, lodging to fit every lifestyle expectation.

You can hear an interview that I did with Minister Asot (Ascot without the ‘c’) Michael, the Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy for Antigua and Barbuda, this weekend on Saturday, September 22, 2017 on Travelers411 in Hour 2, at 11am ET,  and on Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams on September 24, 2017 in Hour 2, at 7pm ET. Minster Michael reminds listeners that 70% of the Gross Domestic Product of the islands of the Caribbean are based on tourism and that Antigua and its warm and friendly citizens have rolled out the welcome mat for your very special visit.

I’ve been to Antigua many, many times. I know exactly what Minister Michael is talking about. Antigua is wonderful. It’s people are creative, inventive, talented, and skilled when it comes to the needs of visitors and that’s one of the reasons that I’ve returned to Antigua time after time as a destination I love when, in fact, I could choose to go anywhere! Antigua is high on the list of island destinations I am drawn to magnetically!

If you’d like to hear interviews I have done with people from Antigua in the past, click on this link to hear the archived audio of those interviews.

Remember that you’ll be able to hear Minister Michael’s interview podcast at travelers411.com for 52 weeks after it airs this weekend and it is simultaneously be archived in our show notes, in our Directory features, and other in our Forums location for Antigua!

Start packin’ ! They’re waiting for you in Antigua. . .and bring your appetite for the great food you’ll find there as well!

Click here to listen to an interview done at the NYTimes Travel Show about Antigua and Barbuda as I interviewed Derede Witlock who was the Director of Tourism for this island nation.

You’ll find a number of interviews with Antigua’s Rob Sherman from Curtain Bluffs Resort if you click here for results for that search at sAbrams.com. Find the hour in which he appeared and click at the top of the show notes for each date to hear that hour!

But if you click here, you’ll reach the page of show notes for January 2005 shows and if you scroll down that page to the January 23, 2005 show, you’ll find historic archived interviews with key staff that built the super reputation of Curtain Bluffs including an interview with its founder and visionary for this resort, Howard Hulford.

And click here to listen to an interview I did in Antigua with the then Deputy General Manager of Hawks Bill Resort in Antigua!

By early next week, the interview with Minister Asot Michael will be podcast for 52 weeks at travelers411,com and archived indefinitely at sAbrams.com.

Listen while you pack to take off for Antigua!

Hugs to all,

Your personal travel expert,

Stephanie Abrams


Check out Northshire Bookstore Saratoga Springs’ Newsletter About Stephanie Abrams Appearance Scheduled for August 31, 2017
July 1st, 2017

Have a look at this:

https://www.northshire.com/event/saratoga-stephanie-abrams

and join me for a Meet the Author & Book Signing at this wonderland for people who love to read

August 31st at 6pm. . .

See you there. . . or we’ll start RUMORS about you!

Here’s an overview of RUMORS:

Conspiracies, secrets, lies, loves, lust and scandals are woven into the intrigue of the business and personal lives of Frank, and his young wife, Maisy, as rumors swirl around their community. This fast-paced story oft-described by the phrases, “couldn’t put it down,” and “a real page-turner,’ rolls into motion as Frank ventures out in his search of a more comfortable life for himself and his bride. Warned by Maisy’s dad, a retired police officer, that disaster awaits if he accepts a job at a nefarious company soliciting him, Frank’s need to make a better life results in the lives of all around them being sucked into danger. Rumors abound, like a tornado sweeping through the community, threatening the lives, livelihoods, and love relationships of many in this otherwise quiet community! A glimpse into Frank’s welcoming ceremony inducting him into the company sets the stage for the intrigue that follows. Multicultural characters bring into focus timely issues in a kaleidoscope of personalities that readers recognize, laced with intrigue, plot twists and an ending readers will never see coming! Who could ask for anything more?


MEET ME IN SARATOGA SPRINGS AT NORTHSHIRE BOOKSTORE AT 6PM, AUGUST 31st!
June 24th, 2017

SAVE THE DATE!

PLAN A TRIP  TO

MEET ME AT

NORTHSHIRE BOOKSTORE

424 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

AUGUST 31, 2017

6pm

We’ll talk about RUMORS,

Do a book signing

and

Adjourn to the marvelous

Pavilion Grand Hotel

30 Lake Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

to vege and hang out together

just 2 minutes away from Northshire Bookstore

a glorious place I always think of as an amusement park for people who love books!

PUT AUGUST 31st on YOUR CALENDAR NOW!

Go to travelers411.com

Ask Stephanie

or

facebook.com/stephanie.abrams.94

and let me know that you’ll be there

and who is coming with you!

So exciting!


Kilkenny Ireland’s Newpark Hotel’s Brochure & Website Only Show One Exterior Photo Making You Think This is Where You Will Stay!
June 13th, 2017

What if I showed you a brochure for a 4-star hotel in Ireland and a corresponding website for that hotel where the only exterior photo shown was of a very impressive castle? Would you assume that that is the building where your hotel rooms are being booked? I wouldn’t fault YOU if you made that assumption.

What if you wanted to stay in a hotel that looked like the photo above but when you arrived, while the interior rooms were lovely, would you feel cheated if the hotel looked like a modern building?

One of my radio listeners brought her experience at the Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny to my attention yesterday and I have to tell you that I’m quite upset by the brassiness of these folks to present a brochure and website that is so misleading to the traveler who has never been there to know better!

I’m really disgusted by the sleazy marketing approach that leaves the traveler with the impression that the beautiful interior rooms shown in their brochure and online do not lie inside the gorgeous castle they have  featured and promoted on the cover of the hotel’s 12 page full-color brochure. You’re going to be knocked out by this story!

Here are the facts followed by the punch line so don’t stop reaching until you get to the moral of this story!

It’s not unusual to see a brochure for a 4-star hotel in Ireland that looks like a castle, manor house or rook in a chess game.  Such is the look of the edifice that is featured on the cover of a 12 page brochure about Ireland’s Newpark Hotel, located in Kilkenny.  If you go to www.FlynnHotels.com and click on the link for Newpark Hotel, you’ll see that same historic, majestic castle building on the home page for the hotel. Note that the photo of the castle they features is not  the exterior of where you’ll be staying!

Inside the 12 page full-color brochure for the Newpark Hotel, there are no other photos of the hotel’s exterior itself, not on the cover nor inside the brochure!  On the cover, the top 60%  of the page is devoted to the castle and then there’s a gold line across the cover page.  The rest of the page names the hotel, its location, displays 4 gold stars and indicates that this little brochure is your “Guide to The Newpark” a place for your ‘escape Health Club and Spa.”

On the website for the Newpark Hotel, you will see big banner featured images scrolling across which focus on beautiful interior photos of the hotel but the only exterior photo is that of  Kilkenny Castle showing the view from the back which features the castle in an L-shape and is present among other local attractions and named in captions to indicate there are sights to see nearby. These photos are located in their online “gallery.” The front of Kilkenny Castle is not shown in the website’s gallery of photos at the hotel’s site. If the front of Kilkenny Castle were shown, you’d notice at once the incredible similarity between that castle and the hotel’s (erroneous) facade featured prominently on the home page of the website and their brochure.

So the other shoe is about to fall!

NOTE: the cover photo of the brochure, and the only photo of a building in the entire 12 page brochure, and the banner image feature that drift across the home page of the website for Newport Hotel in Kilkenny, Ireland is not the image of the  hotel at all but clearly gives those looking at the material the erroneous impression that that gorgeous castle is where they will be staying if they book the Newpark Hotel! The photo being displayed that one would logically conclude is the hotel is actually Kilkenny Castle, an historic attraction in Ireland! Repeat: that singular photo in their brochure on the title page is NOT the hotel; it’s a museum castle property you can visit while in Kilkenny!  The Newpark Hotel has a contemporary modern façade and, while the interior looks very attractive, the romantic, fairytale ambiance of Kilkenny Castle, if that’s what you are looking for during your stay in Ireland, is not what you are going to get when you arrive at the O’Flynn’s Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny!

I have to tell you that if I booked into the Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny thinking I was getting to stay at that beautiful castle and found that it’s just another modern hotel, I’d throw a hissy-fit! I have met one of the owners of the hotel group that owns this hotel and a few other hotels  in Ireland and, frankly, this prank does not really surprise me given my experience with one of the Flynn brothers at the hotel he oversees but it does disgust me!

People, if you’re going to Ireland, talk with a bona fide travel agent who specializes in Ireland before you get fooled into booking into  what you’re not looking for! If you’re looking for a contemporary modern experience inside and out, maybe the Newpark Hotel will do it for you but if you think you are entering a fairytale at the Newpark Hotel, the jolt to your senses as you approach the actual hotel will be significant and, if you’re like me, you’ll feel like a complete fool that you fell for their deception  since you won’t be checking into Kilkenny Castle!

You’ll find me in my  study or my snug, a small spot conducive to creative thinking and a spot you can often find in real castles in Ireland,  for the next 2 weeks so I can finish my first travel guide, “1001 Reasons to Visit Ireland!” which is clearly sorely needed by travelers to Ireland in order to keep travels on a path that leads to nothing but perfect travel days and nights.  Life manages to get in the way of my time daily so I’m going to step off the merry-go-round and whip what needs to be done into final shape  to get my guide off to my publisher pronto! Clearly, travelers need a guide they can count on!

It’s so unusual to find, especially in Ireland, a clearly forged message designed to misguide the traveler. That is so “NOT IRISH!” I’m truly distressed by what my radio shows fan reported about her experience at the Newpark Hotel and there’s more to the downhill experience her family had there  but the cheesy approach to misrepresenting the property cannot be excused on any level.  But I’ve had my own less-than-pleasant experience with one of the brother’s in the family that owns the Newpark Hotel and this stunt is in keeping with my memories of that meeting.

You know I can’t leave this alone! I will be reaching out to them and others in Ireland and Irish tourism to get this misrepresentation of this hotel corrected. But you can do your own little experiment in the meantime.Have a look at the castle shown on the home page of the Newpark Hotel and then look at Kilkenny Castle! What do you think?

Post your thoughts at www.facebook.com/stephanie.abrams.94


It’s 3:45am. I’m Still Awake Suffering from the Trauma of that UA Passenger Dragged Off of the O’Hare to St. Louis Flight!
April 11th, 2017

Good Grief!

The story about the doctor who was dragged from a United flight from Chicago to St. Louis on Sunday just won’t quit in my mind and now that I”ve seen the videos displaying his bloody face from being dragged from his seat and having his mouth hit the metal armrest and the indignity of being dragged by his arms down the aisle with his bare stomach exposed and his eyeglasses hanging on his face between his nose and upper lip with passengers screaming and hurling instructions to the security people to stop this maltreatment but helpless to do anything to help him lest they risk getting clopped in the chops as well. . . as a person who has invested much of her adult life to the sale and marketing of travel and tourism suppliers and destinations. . . I’m just sick to my stomach!

There are so many layers to this horrendous story but let me see if I can simplify it to try to give some understanding to those of you who never want to fly again for fear that that man’s experience could be your experience.

1. What we saw in that video is not normal! The flight crew could have handled this so much better in so many ways.  There was a time when United was the number one choice by so many US and International passengers and I was among them! Something happened in the culture at that airline many years ago and you could see the drizzling down of what was once a very caring airline proud of its Friendly Skies approach. I can tell you that the people at Continental, who were just an amazing bunch from check-in to lounges to flight crews and who were happy, upbeat, accommodating whether you were on short trips or long-haul flights halfway around the world.  If you had gone New Jersey’s Newark (Liberty) Airport shortly after the merger of United and Continental, you would have met the most demoralized, unhappy, depressed lot of ex-Continental/now-United Airlines employees who felt unimportant, unwanted, unloved and unappreciated.  Morale couldn’t have been lower and I’m not convinced it ever bounced back.  Sad because United was once a prototype of excellence on the ground and in the air.  And somebody’s not paying attention as is evidenced in this article about a United pilot’s meltdown reported on February 12, 2017! Have a look: http://liveandletsfly.boardingarea.com/2017/02/12/united-pilot-removed-odd-onboard-rant/

If that’s not enough for you, how about the fracas reported on February 19, 2013, when a passenger on  United Airlines was removed for taking a picture of his Business First seating area when he was seated in the Business First section of what once was a Continental plane which became part of United’s fleet after that merger:

http://liveandletsfly.boardingarea.com/2013/02/19/thrown-off-a-united-airlines-flight-for-taking-pictures/

What happened to the doctor on Sunday’s United flight was unconscionable but is the result of the shift from many airlines’ flight crews seeing themselves evolve from air hosts projecting the image of the airline’s brand as members of the travel and hospitality sectors of the industry to safety providers there to serve passengers in an emergency who just happen to be stuck with the tasks associated with food and drink service.

The techniques imposed by the airline and the security crew that was summoned, especially after seeing the film, “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” this past weekend, were reminiscent of the tactics used by Nazi forces pre- and during World War II. (That’s a MUST SEE film, people!). Good Lord! They were dealing with a man sitting quality on a plane in a confirmed seat whose sole purpose was to get safely home to St. Louis!  While many people may have had a less compelling reason to get home on Sunday night, this gentleman had patients expecting him to be on call on Monday morning!  Regardless, where in the mission statement of United Airlines is the line devoted to roughing up passengers.

2. The overriding and underlying problem here is that, in actuality, the seats in the airline belong to the airline. Passengers are only renting the seat for a period of time.  Passenger tickets, even confirmed space tickets with seat assignments, have varying degrees of priority status.  A full-fare ticket with confirmed seat is at the highest level. . . but that doesn’t mean you can’t be bumped from the flight. Generally, a person flying on frequent flyer miles will be among the first to go right after any travel industry professionals who are flying on reduced-rate or so-called ‘free’ tickets. While free tickets, free of ticket cost, free of taxes and free of fees, are rare, they do exist. In theory, a positive space “status OK” ticket can still be subject to being denied boarding. This situation was made worse by having boarded the passenger and then removing the passenger by force. Horrifying!

3. The airline could have upped the offer of the amount of the cash payment to get someone to volunteer to get off the plane. At some point within allowable limits, someone would have caved and gotten off to get the jackpot. Done right, you can negotiate with the airline to get the money AND a FIRST CLASS ticket to fly home on the first available flight the next day. Years ago, I got the refrigerator I wanted because my husband volunteered to fly home the next day. He had a first class ticket and my recollection was that they paid double the ticket cost plus another first class ticket to get to JFK from Shreveport, Louisiana! I was thrilled when he called and said he’d be home the next day with a present from Delta because he volunteered to be bumped! And, if you need to overnight because you are getting bumped, be sure you get a voucher for dinner, breakfast.. . if you’re not on a breakfast flight. . . and a hotel overnight at an airport hotel.  But there is no question that this is a teachable moment for United and any other airline that has concerns that that PR nightmare on United’s Chicago flight should not happen anywhere else!

The latest report is that the airline needed to clear 4 seats to replace passengers with flight crew heading for STL airport to work a flight from there.  The passengers were offered a  $1000  for each one who got off the flight. Flight crews are authorized to go up to $1300 per person. If that doctor HAD TO BE on call on Monday, he wouldn’t have taken the money even if it was $1300 as he had to be back for his patients.  But I can tell you for sure that there were others on that flight that would have gotten off for $700 or $1000 or certainly for $1300 as that’s just how it is! And it appears that passengers were only told that $100 compensation was being offered and didn’t mention a hotel to overnight in and dinner and breakfast and maybe even first class seats the next day!  With the airline so in the black. . . and probably never having removed the fuel surcharge from the cost of tickets (I’d check that one out!) that was imposed when fuel was $140 a barrel or something crazy like that and therefore their profits are soaring now that fuel is less than half of that amount, a bit of their profits could have diverted a billion dollars worth of horrid press! Can you only imagine how much the settlement to this doctor is going to be??  So many high up executives and staff down-line can work tirelessly, passionate, and with all their good intentions have one person make the wrong decision at the customer level and they can bring down the whole house in less than 5 minutes.  Some serious training is in order here.  Do you need as many flight attendants if you’re flying close to empty?  One passenger on that flight who has a return ticket on United was on CNN in the wee hours this morning commenting that he’s in the midst of exchanging that ticket for a flight on another airline.  Not good for business at United, people. Crew: Are you listening?

4. Because of all the rules put into effect after 9/11 that expand the authority of airport and on-board personnel, the last thing you want to do is mouth-off to an airline employee as they will have you arrested and then they’ll get mean!  The doctor on the flight kept his composure but did not comply with the requests and you see how that ended! I had a neighbor who was a teenager in Mussolini’s Italy who said to me every chance she could, “Stephanie, guard your liberties!” We have seen far too many intrusions on our liberties including free speech and if you express unhappiness about your seat or anything else on a plane you may risk the ire of some crew person so be happy, read a magazine, watch a movie and keep your opinions noted somewhere to share with the company after you are safely on the ground.

5. Ther”"e is no question that airlines, like people, have personalities and it all starts at the top.  See the film, “Only You,” with Robert Downey, Jr. and Marissa Tomei. At the start of the film, she is trying to get to Rome with TWA, carrying a huge wedding gown over her arm but the door to the plane is closed and TWA won’t let her board, although she is crying and begging with ticket in hand, and they call security guards to take her away from the gate area.  At the end of the film, again she needs to get on a flight from Rome to Baltimore and the door to the plane is closed and the plane is ready for take-0ff.  This time it’s an Alitalia flight and when the ground crew alerts the pilot that the person Marissa Tomei’s character loves is on the plane and she must board, everyone smiles, the gateway is opened, and she boards the plane while all of the Italians rejoice because who cannot be happy when the story is about ‘Amore!” And if you want to fly with warmhearted people with a sense of humor who go out of their way to keep passengers happy and treat everyone well. . .actually, it’s referred to as, “You’ll be well looked after” . . . fly with Aer Lingus!

6. For many years now, the only domestic airline I fly with is JetBlue. They do an excellent job of customer care and customer service with attention to ease and comfort and all those things you want when you travel served by ground staff and air crew that smile, are friendly and actually seem to care about passengers while enjoying their work! Imagine! And that’s why, the last time I went to Milwaukee for Irish Fest and Midwest Airlines fleet of 2-across planes where every passenger felt like they were in First Class even though the whole plane was coach had been absorbed into another airline that let that concept die, we flew with JetBlue to Chicago, rented a car and drove the 80 miles to Milwaukee because JetBlue didn’t fly to Milwaukee!  I was so happy we didn’t have to drive father but if JetBlue’s closest city was 500 miles away we would have taken the drive to avoid taking another domestic airline! Know why? I like to be treated well when I travel and I can count on them to deliver on that concept! I’ve flown all over the US contiguous states, Hawaii and  Caribbean with JetBlue because I like me and I haven’t done anything I need to punish myself for!

JetBlue has an agreement with Aer Lingus and if you don’t live in one of the very many cities where you can fly to Ireland and beyone with Aer Lingus, you can check your luggage in your local city for your JetBlue flight and you won’t have to worry about picking up your bags until you are on the other side of the Atlantic making a smooth connection from JetBlue to Aer Lingus and flying with Aer Lingus beyond Dublin to many European destinations! What I’m telling you is that you can find sharp fares that won’t break the bank and not give up being treated like a VIP even when you choose to fly in Economy Class!  But if you can afford to fly in Business Class or any upper class of service, treat yourself! It is so worth it!  Although, I must say, I love the premium seating available on Aer Lingus where the seats are a bit wider and the space between rows gives you more legroom and you have priority boarding to get on board and settled in before economy class passengers and the difference in price between these seats and the rest of the plane’s seats is minimal. . .and worth it!

As horrendous as this United story is, I’m so glad it’s not worse because some over-zealous security person might have tasered this man because he didn’t just get up and leave his seat. Worse yet, I’m guessing he has some martial arts skills like karate, or jujitsu or kong fu, and if his marital arts training had automatically kicked in and he gave one of the security guards a karate chop, I’d hate to think of what would have happened next. Clearly, the gentleman, who was quietly sitting in his seat awaiting his flight home was turned into a traumatized individual in need of therapeutic attention for a professional in the mental health industry. The poor man! Who knows what past trauma in his life was brought clearly to the forefront that sent him into the tailspin of traumatized behavior that he exhibited immediately after being dragged through the plane.

Lastly, I can only hope that the CEO of United makes a better effort to apologize for the unforeseen behavior of those in charge on that plane because, while he clearly doesn’t want to validate the passenger’s lack of compliance with requests to vacate his seat, a lack of an apology projects the idea that United isn’t concerned about the experience of that doctor AND the experience of passengers, including children, who were on that flight and who had to be thinking, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.” If that treatment can be doled out to the fellow across the aisle who is breaking no laws and creating no disturbance, logic would dictate that you or I could be next.

Will this stop me from flying? Not at all.  But I will continue to exercise my sense of brand loyalty by choosing to fly with those airlines that have consistently remembered that without passengers there is no business and to keep customers coming back because of great service, the airline must continue to provide great service.  Changing brands, like changing sox, whether for airlines or hotels,  because of some perceived economic savings which may be minimal and, in actuality, may not be a savings at all given specific services that a “favorite brand” provides and if it did cost a bit more to fly with an airline you have confidence in to do the job well, wouldn’t that just be worth it? Find the brands you love, as I have, and stick with them!

This whole story has worn me out.

I’ll be talking about this story on the air so be sure to check podcasts at travelers411.com and archived audio of shows once they have broadcast coast to coast at sAbrams.com along with show notes and links to the websites of our guests.

Also, be sure to check our Directory features at travelers411.com where every guest we interview on radio is featured . . . well worth a look!

It’s now almost 6amET and I have a busy day and so wound up from this awful story that I’m hoping I can calm down enough to go to sleep to meet a busy day head-on! My big concern is that you focus on voting for companies that you like with your dollars and continue to travel and don’t vote for those you are concerned may not have your best interests to heart.  Know the rules. Follow the rules and live to talk about it! Stephanie Abrams Travel Fairy Godmother has your on her mind always! Do it right and Travel Richly!

Hugs,

Your Personal Travel Guru,

Stephanie Abrams


Northern Ireland Reliable Sources Credit Radio Show Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams with Significant Growth of Visitors on Antrim’s North Coast
April 11th, 2017

Giant’s Causeway, Antrim Coastline, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, a National Trust Northern Ireland/North Coast Site

April 9, 2017

BOSTON, April 09, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — National Trust Northern Ireland/North Coast (NTNI/NC), the agency responsible for safety, conservation and marketing for that region, last week implemented one-hour visitation time limits at Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, the sixty-six foot long, eighteen inch wide attraction in County Antrim. This new policy, implemented on April 7th, reports the Belfast Telegraph, is deemed necessary due to “significant growth in visitor numbers” to the attraction.  Those words caught the attention of travel expert and nationally syndicated radio travel talk show host Stephanie Abrams, whose radio shows and award-winning websites have been featuring NTNI/NC tourism venues, including Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, on her two three-hour weekend travel radio shows, Travelers411 and Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams and her associated family of award-winning websites, sAbrams.com and travelers411.com. Features include interviews, photos, podcasts, archived audio, show notes, features, banner ads and online Directory postings that create a compendium of information about the destination.  “When I read, ‘significant growth in visitor numbers,’” Abrams rejoices, “I knew we hit the  BINGO moment. We rejoice in our contribution to the North Coast’s significant growth!” Abrams states.

Abrams radio and online features bring laser-focused awareness to destinations and hospitality venues that fit her mission to connect travelers with places she believes they will return from “enriched, enhanced, inspired and uplifted.  “Our exposure results is increased tourism to places I love,“ Abrams notes.  “I’ve been recognized by destinations that described our efforts as ‘significantly contributing to the growth and development of travel and tourism,’ including: The 2010 Goddess Artemis Award from Greek National Tourism Organization and Mayors of Athens and Mykonos; named, in 2006, Ambassador to North America for Saxony Germany Tourism; named 2007 Honorary Friend of Saint Patrick by the Saint Patrick Centre in County Down, NI; recognized 2015 by NTNI/NC with a necklace commissioned to represent Giant’s Causeway, the only UNESCO Heritage Site in Northern Ireland.”

Abrams telephoned authorities in Northern Ireland for credible information on the new procedures for visiting Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge which she will be sharing with her coast-to-coast audience on radio and those in over forty countries who listen to podcasts and archived audio of shows online at www.travelers411.com and www.sAbrams.com.  Reliable sources confirmed that Abrams’ radio shows and websites are being credited with playing a significant role in the increase of visitors to the whole Antrim coastal route region that is being experienced including Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Giant’s Causeway, the quaint village of Cushendun, and Portstewart Beach where Harry’s Shack provides, “a fabulous panoramic view of the beach and a great place for a delicious meal. Try the mussels!” Abrams adds. “We’re happy to ‘take the rap’ for creating the crowds that need management at Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge! We rock like the rocks at Giant’s Causeway!” Abrams beams.


Emer Coridan, GM of Cahernane House in Killarney, Has Painting of Mr. Herbert, Esquire who looks like David Butler of Carrageen Castle!
April 8th, 2017

This is the painting of Mr. Herbert, Esquire, I found at Cahernane House in Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland and it looks like David Butler whom I met at Sammy Leslie’s 40th birthday party at Castle Leslie in County Monaghan a bunch of years ago.  Look at these photos! You can’t miss the resemblance.
This composite photo shows me with David Butler at Sammy’s party on the grounds of Castle Leslie next to the photo above. Uncanny!
Note that this was the first White Tie gala I had ever gone to. So elegant! Ladies needed to wear tiaras. While Sammy Leslie’s tiara was a family heirloom given by King George IV to his “secret” wife, Mrs. Fitzherbert. I’ll tell that story another day!
My tiara was bought in target, a Disney product I paid $9.99 for and included earrings that I didn’t use!
BTW: I got MASSIVE compliments on my tiara! I didn’t tell anyone that day that it was plastic!
This is Sammy Leslie in Mrs. Fitzherbert’s tiara and I”m standing with her in the reception area of the Castle Leslie in County Monaghan. An ancestor of the Leslies, Lady Jane Leslie was “Lady in Waiting” to Mrs. Fitzherbert and, after her death and the tiara passing a couple of generations along to Mrs. Fitzherbert’s first adopted daughter and then granddaughter, the tiara came back to Castle Leslie and stayed in a curio cabinet for the longest time but was passed along not that long ago to a relative who chose to sell it! What a shame for the family to lose that special treasure! So there is Samantha Leslie in her ancestral tiara adorned with diamonds and pearls and me in my Disney plastic tiara! Hot stuff!

Sounds Like the Cow Jumped Over the Moon and Brad Pitt in Newry, Northern Ireland!
April 8th, 2017

More and more films are made at destinations that I love! You know that the first year of “Game of Thrones” was filmed on location in Malta and has been filmed in Northern Ireland for the most part, for the last several seasons but I”m told by the folks who live on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, in the Republic of Ireland that some of Game of Thrones was also filmed there. And Star Wars 2015 and 2016 and already filmed parts of Star Wars 2017 were filmed in the Malin Head, on the Inishowen peninsula of Ireland’s County Donegal, while other parts were, Mizen Head in County Cork, and on Skellig Michael, one of the Skellig Islands which can be visited or seen by boat off the shoreline of the towns along Ireland’s southern coastline and easily reached for the town of Portmagee where you’ll find The Moorings Inn & Restaurant and Bridge Bar right on the waterfront. That’s where some of the crew and cast members of the Star Wars 2015 film stayed during the film shoot on Skellig Michael.  (Food is terrific and the pub bar is adorable. . . and they know how to pour a proper Guinness, unlike most US pubs and restaurants who don’t have a clue as to how to pout Guinness on tap!  In recent days, HBO has been airing “By the Sea,” the Angelina Jolie film with Brad Pitt shot on Malta’s island of Gozo and today, the Belfast Telegraph is reporting that Brad Pitt’s newest film, “Lost City of Z,” caused quite a stir among local farmers and their livestock when that film was in production in Newry, Northern Ireland, which is about 90 minutes drive, more or less, from Dublin. . . more if you stop to sightsee along the route!

Have a look at today’s news article in the Belfast Telegraph about the ruckus the filming of ‘Lost City of Z” caused among the locals and livestock. It sounds like “Hey diddle diddle. .  . the cow jumped over the moon!”

Locals cried fowl over Brad Pitt shoot, but film may have

put east Antrim on movie map

By Victoria Leonard

April 8 2017

A Co Antrim film location where animals were left “terrified” after a series of staged explosions and gunfire has been transformed into a battlefield of the Somme in a newly released Hollywood movie.

The Lost City Of Z, which stars Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson and Sienna Miller, was shot near Ballygally by Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B.

In September 2015 locals told of their shock after explosions, gunfire and billowing smoke from fires caused chickens to flee their coops and cows to jump hedges.

At the time local man Jason McKillion told how his poultry and pet dog “went daft” and his neighbour was almost trampled by a herd of stampeding cattle amid the chaos.

The Lost City Of Z is based on the story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who journeyed into the Amazon three times in search of a lost civilisation, which he named Z.

The footage shot outside Larne is the most dramatic of the movie, showing Fawcett fighting at the Somme during the First World War.

In the film the rolling hills around Sallagh Brae, which also feature in Game Of Thrones, have been transformed into a maze of trenches and bunkers as Fawcett and his men prepare to go over the top into No Man’s Land.

As the soldiers charge the screen is filled with deafening explosions and German machine gun fire as the Allies seek to dodge barbed wire.

Fawcett is overcome by chlorine gas, but eventually recovers enough to make his third and final trip to the Amazon.

On that occasion, he and his team vanished without trace and numerous rescue attempts failed to locate the explorers.

Ballygally businessman Grahame Todd, who served many members of the film crew at his Spar shop, said that the east Antrim area was fast becoming a popular location for the filming of movies.

“People around here certainly won’t forget the filming of The Lost City Of Z in a hurry,” he said.

“But in the end it was worth the hassle. It’s great for the area.”

Belfast Telegraph


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